Category Archives: Culture
Joseph Mitchell was born July 27, 1908 and defined the spirit of New York City with his many interviews, profiles and intimate conversations with the men and women who truly built the city, brick and soul, in the 20th century.
Like Gay Talease, Mitchell reinvented journalism and did so by giving voice to the butcher, bartender and street sweeper; invigorating working class pride and putting the true unbreakable spirit of everyday people in the pages of countless magazines and newspapers.
Having been a guest on former Federal prosecutor Preet Bharara’s podcast, “Stay Tuned With Preet,” Bassem Youseff decided that if Preet could get a show from Cafe, so could he.
Bassem was a surgeon in Egypt who, during the Arab Spring, started a YouTube series to show what was really happening on the front lines of the protests. This grew in popularity until he was offered a TV show, and that grew in popularity until he was hitting 14 million viewers a week and being called the Egyptian Jon Stewart. And until the government decided his humor and honesty was dangerous and tried to arrest him. He tells a hilarious story while speaking with Preet about being brought in for questioning by the authorities, and as much as I laughed at this, I can’t believe someone in the government or a member of the pro-Islamist faction that also hated him, didn’t find some reason to execute him.
That’s the shorter, less funny version of how Bassem essentially had to flee to America, so definitely go and listen to his appearance on “Stay Tuned” when Preet went live at the Apollo theater, and then check out his new podcast, “ReMade in America.”
It’s the second episode of his show that made me stop what I was doing and really listen, as it seemed to be a convergence of multiple ideas and stories that had been circling me recently. In this episode, Bassem speaks with Baratunde Thurston about controlling your own story, your narrative, and how the United States was essentially built on destroying an entire race’s ability to do just that. As George Orwell said, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
As Baratunde begins to talk about that, about the history of slavery and the systemic, institutional racism that is the inoperable cancer of our nation, I was reminded of a passage by James Weldon Johnson that I came across the other day, that I believe comes from his book “The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man”.
“…but if the Negro is so distinctly inferior, it is a strange thing to me that it takes such tremendous effort on the part of the white man to make him realize it, and to keep him in the same place into which inferior men naturally fall.”
The Washington Post recently published a piece in their Speaking of Science section that claimed science has finally and definitively proved the superiority of the double space after a period.
The late Roy Hobbs, who we’ve written about before, would have rejoiced at this headline if he wasn’t dead (and fictional), and subscribed to the print edition of the Washington Post, as this would be the only way he’d hear the good news. Let’s face it, he wouldn’t have owned a computer or tablet or smart phone in order to read it online, a fact he would proudly boast about as if his intentional ignorance towards technology and an evolving world in general was a badge of honor or sign of superior character.
“One space between each sentence, they said. Science just proved them wrong,” read the headline that Roy would have cut out of his newspaper and mimeographed so he could mail out copies to his grandchildren.
But the devil is in the details and with all those extra spaces between sentences, and Roy’s glaucoma, he’d probably tire out and stop reading before the revelation in the article itself that the study barely proved anything at all. At the very most, it proved that those who already double space (and playfully shout at friends over the landline in their kitchen, “will until it’s pried from my cold dead fingers”) are faster readers only by milliseconds when double spaces are used. And that is the only measurable benefit. Reading comprehension is not effected at all. But when was comprehending anything actually important?
“Reading speed only improved marginally, the paper found, and only for the 21 “two-spacers,” who naturally typed with two spaces between sentences. The majority of one-spacers, on the other hand, read at pretty much the same speed either way. And reading comprehension was unaffected for everyone, regardless of how many spaces followed a period.”
So science proved two spaces are better for people who already double space and refuse to evolve. Groundbreaking.
This kind of regressive scientific study doesn’t come cheap though, so that’s why the estate of Roy Hobbs is asking for your help to keep the march of progress from taking even one step further. For a limited time you can support a cause dear to Roy’s heart by purchasing your very own “Make America Double Spaced Again.” hat.