Another World Is Possible

Never have I been so reluctant to write about something. I have shadowboxed my intention to put thoughts to paper for days now, ducking and jabbing, aching to capture it but surprisingly unable to approach the table. The growing collection of others’ thoughts pushes me into the chair and sticks pen in hand, demanding, “Write!” My reward will be to finally read everyone else’s thoughts about the XOXO Festival.
I am a different person than the one who left for Portland last week. My world has shifted irrevocably. I have ignited a creative spark that I promise to nurture and not let sputter out. The constant drumbeat of Create or Die!, follow your passion, create the world you want to live in, focus on what you love, put something out there, if you fail, try again.
The festival was loosely organized around those concepts, framed by the tone-setting on opening day where the Andys explained that XOXO was really about hugs and kisses, not about tearing stuff down but about adding value. Speaker after speaker demonstrated that we have the tools to create and reach our audiences. Embrace others, stop cowering in the corner, build something of value and offer it to others.

“Doing what you love for a decade… I’d take that over a billion dollars.” –@moot of 4chan
“Work on some thing you’re passionate about because if it becomes successful you’ll have to do it all the time” – Dan & Tom from StudioNeat
“Find your voice, shout it from the rooftops, and keep doing it until the people that are looking for you find you.” – Dan Harmon

What if you treated everyone you met as if they were an XOXO attendee? This is a paradigm shift, to approach everyone and expect the best.
I’ve hung my festival badge on my window so that every morning I face a constant reminder that I live in the world of my own creation. It’s up to me to make it amazing. It’s up to all of us to create, encourage, inspire.
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Collection of descriptions of the event:
BoingBoing
Ben Ward (“Maybe it’s terrifying that a positive, uncynical and honest event like XOXO should come as a culture shock at all.”)
Kottke
Anil Dash’s liveblogging
Twitter #xoxofest hashtag

In Praise of Laundromats

I’m doing a little guest blogging and fairly happy with the laundromat piece. Excerpt:

This is where the revolution will begin. These are the dispossessed, the weary, the downtrodden, the forgotten, the left-behind. These are the eagled-eyed scanning the floor near the change machine. These are the grey hulks of men, slouched napping in the hard plastic chairs. These are the nearly-robotic folders, an army of daughters wading through the crop of laundry harvested from the dryers. This is the place where handmade signs abound, advertising services and roommates and music lessons, with takeaway slips pre-cut for your convenience. This is a place where you can smell boredom. And that smell will cling to you until you shake it off and rise up and take to the streets and march to save our laundromats. Take one for a spin today before it folds.

Golden Gate : the story of San Francisco harbor

Great historical account published in 1940. Felix Riesenberg’s books have gone out of print, but I was alerted to their existence via the great Neglected Books site. They mention his service in the Merchant Marine, work as a civil engineer, running a nautical school, then his decision at age 44 to write his first novel. The history I read was non-fiction, written 15 years later, and an entertaining, well-researched history indeed. Most of the items are typically found in SF histories, but I was interested in this bit:

Vioget’s saloon opened early, usually in response to the knocks of big Bob Ridley, clerk for the Hudson’s Bay Company. The good-looking Scot had prodigal drinking habits, seldom failing to take several “London Docks” long before noon. His huge capacity for brandy led eventually to his purchasing the saloon from Vioget. (1840s)

Google seems to think Ridley was merely leasing the joint, but I prefer the dreamy splendor of one’s best customer ponying up the cash to purchase it. Google also tells me that a London Dock drink recipe is half rum, half red wine, with honey, cinnamon, lemon and nutmeg.
I may have already come across this, but also found this footnote interesting:

The name California first appeared in the romantic, medieval novel Las Sergas de Esplandian, and the land was described as “an island abounding in gold and other delights, located to the northward of New Spain.

Overall: a delightful look from a mid twentieth century perspective on the history of San Francisco.

The Consolations of Philosophy

Surprisingly unsatisfying work by de Botton. I’m normally head over heels with any of his writing, but perhaps I’ve been spoiled since reading the specific works that he skims over in this. His guidelines to which philosophy books have been most helpful sent me on a quest for Seneca, Socrates, Montaigne, Schopenhauer. Now reading this work, I’ve experienced the electric magic of the originals, thus this feels slightly dingy and pedestrian. He breaks the consolation into six sections: unpopularity, not having enough money, frustration, inadequacy, a broken heart, and the vaguely named “difficulties.” If you don’t have enough time to read the originals, perhaps this is a good crib sheet.