A few months ago, I introduced a blogroll on my site, making me probably the first person in more than half a decade to get excited about a blogroll. But my exuberance is based on the quality of the people listed there: I wholeheartedly endorse their work, and delight in being able to link to their personal blogs, where they create work of substance that they own and control, instead of merely feeding it on to someone else’s social network or onto a corporate site.
As far as I know, no one’s ever clicked on a link to someone’s site from my blogroll. But that’s now why it’s there. In fact, my motivation is reflected in its name, “Leaders of the New School”, which is a half-joking, but fully loving, tribute to the influence that I believe their work has. Its namesake hip hop group has been on my mind of late, especially because of Busta Rhymes’ recent re-ascendence in the pop sphere due to his appearance on Chris Brown’s “Look At Me” and his brief cameo in the A Tribe Called Quest documentary. (See below)
To my delight, there’s even been a recent standout performance among the awesome writers assembled in my blogroll which rivals Busta’s legendary guest spot on “Scenario”, by Paul Ford. My friend Paul has just spit out piece after piece of some of the best-written, most thoughtful, most compelling writing of late. It’s as exciting as hearing a guest verse on a Tribe song and knowing a star has been born. Here’s a quick sample:
- In New York magazine today, Facebook and the Epiphanator:
Social media has no understanding of anything aside from the connections between individuals and the ceaseless flow of time: No beginnings, and no endings. These disparate threads of human existence alternately fascinate and horrify that part of the media world that grew up on topic sentences and strong conclusions. This world of old media is like a giant steampunk machine that organizes time into stories. I call it the Epiphanator, and it has always known the value of a meaningful conclusion.
- Last week, anchoring a beautiful redesign of The Morning News, The Age of Mechanical Reproduction:
Jay Street was miles away—a two-hour walk even without two feet of snow, or without a limping wife. The clinic itself was more than 10 miles away, an impossible distance. I didn’t know what to do. Life before this morning was all planning, percentages, and optimism, but now all hope left me. I leaned against the wall of the station, thinking of the trudge back to the apartment, the thousands of dollars in chemicals slowly leaching out of my wife, all that health and all those eggs wasted. I thought: We didn’t get to try
- Just before that, on his own Ftrain.com, Woods+:
[T]he new thing from the Gootch makes it really easy to sort people into the holes, which is good, because this lets you divide people into clusters and lie to each group in different ways, which makes it easier to preserve the fictions that make up our polite racist society. And it looks pretty sweet and works well so far, which probably means that there will be a huge battle-in-earnest between the Gootch and the Books, between Circles and Friends. For example, I don’t know if you saw this but according to the New York Times Mark Zuckerberg is taking walks in the woods with people he’d like to hire. If he really wants you to work for him he takes you for a walk in the woods. It’s gotten that serious. And this is a responsibility of a well-educated American, to think about Mark Zuckerberg taking walks in the woods with multiple unnamed sources.
The amazing thing is: We all can do this. Now, normal people like you and me can’t write as well as Paul Ford. It’s alright, he can’t sing as well as you, so we’ll call it even. But! What we can do, all of us, is put it out there. Write what we know, and what we live, and what we love, and put it under our own names where nobody owns it but us, unless we say otherwise. I’ve made a whole list of people who’ve done just that, at the bottom of this page, if you need inspiration.
Or, you can look to those who used a few moments to create a standout, passionate performance. I think one of the best of all time was Busta Rhymes; You might find your own. But at least be one of the people who gets nominated for having a great guest spot.