GUSSYING UP NYC, BIRD BY BIRD

You won’t read about Avi Gitler in the NY Daily News.  Or on Page Six.

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Gitler teamed up with The National Audubon Society and created The Audubon Mural Project to showcase threats to our nation’s bird population.

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John James Audubon would be pleased. He spent the last ten years of his life on 156th Street and is buried in Trinity Church’s uptown cemetery, right across the street from the largest of the murals.

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Gitler coordinated with local businesses, supporters, and artists to paint images of North American birds.

Take a look at these roll-down gates and once-barren walls.

 

Curious to see the artists at work? Click here.

The Audubon Mural Project continues to add murals. Want to paint one? Become a supporter? Contact Avi Gitler.

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On my next trip to NYC, I’ll be birding in the West 140’s and 150’s. Central Park? Fuggedaboutit.

Toni 11/29/15

 

 

LINES WRITTEN IN THE DAYS OF GROWING DARKNESS

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by Mary Oliver

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

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November’s Beaver Moon, courtesy of Mother Nature.

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On Thanksgiving night, the full moon will be as plump as the turkey at your Thanksgiving table.

 

If Mary Oliver were Italian, she’d say,
Guarda la luna, la bella luna, just like the old man in my favorite movie of all time. Capice?

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Thanks, Norman Jewison. And Buon Giorno del Ringraziamento to all.

Toni 11/25/15

I ♥ TAL. EVERYONE HAS A STORY TO TELL. WHAT’S YOURS?

Twenty years of This American Life

November 1995-November 2015

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Ira Glass is journalistic excellence in a suit and spectacles. He tells stories in a quirky quiet manner, stories that document lives I don’t hear anywhere else.  They’re inspiring, challenging. They open my heart.

We live in a world where joy and empathy and pleasure are all around us, there for the noticing.
― Ira Glass

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Glass, the spike-haired and baby-faced center of the “This American Life” cult, is a revolutionary. He tells stories that are changing what we think stories are.

 

This American Life is documentaries, monologues, overheard conversations, found tapes, anything we can think of to illuminate a theme.

 

I have so many favorite episodes. Like the story about two bulls. The theme is “reality check” and the lesson of the day is that if you try to bring back someone from the dead, “that never comes out well”. Two ranchers, Ralph and Sandra, clone their prize bull. Hilarity and enlightenment ensue.

 

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Every story is a movie… for radio. There’s drama, humor, raw emotions. The narratives are always astonishing. And a real romp. There’s the contest where everyone stands around a truck for days until only one person is left on their feet. In another, a grown man tries to convince a skeptical friend that not only has he heard the world’s greatest phone message, but that it’s about the Little Mermaid. Then there’s one about a man who’s obsessed with Niagara Falls, lives minutes from the Falls, writes and thinks about the Falls all the time, but can’t bring himself to actually visit the Falls because, as he says, “they’ve ruined the Falls.”

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Where to begin? Go the archives.  Start with these ~

The Twentieth-Century Man is the story of a preacher-in-training who becomes an actor, then a Beat writer, then a man in a gray flannel suit, then a hippie, then a born-again Christian ~ as told by one of his daughters. A half-hour documentary by Alix Spiegel is about her journey to Colorado Springs, where she, a secular Jew, attempts to understand a group of evangelical Christians who spend their days praying for strangers.  Careful Who You Pretend To Be is a show about people pretending to be something they’re not, such as an historical interpreter who plays a slave-owner and spends his days screaming at “slaves.”  In Do-Gooders, Glass travels to a poor Missouri town where a middle-class couple moves and tries to improve things ~ with very bad results. Elna Baker’s bizarre story of working at the F.A.O. Schwartz “newborn nursery” may just surpass the hilarity of Sedaris-as-Holiday.

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Are you already a Glass Groupie?

What episodes are your must-listens?

Share away.

 

TAL’s aim is to tell stories that help us empathize and help us feel less crazy and less separate. And just, you know, go straight to your heart.

 

Ira’s stories aren’t about today’s news or celebrities. They are about people like us, our neighbors and friends, everyday lives, personal lives, what it’s like to be here, now, in the world.  He presents reality without tabloid hype, told in old-fashioned ways in a newfangled format. His stories take you someplace you’ve never been and make you see something you’ve always seen, but never noticed.

 

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Are you thinking you have a story to tell? Don’t we all?

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Submit it to TAL. Tell what happened in a page or two. Brevity counts. You don’t need to be formal about it, just tell the story the way you’d tell it to someone over drinks or coffee. Email it to storypitch@thislife.org. Or tell your transcendant tale right here in the comments.

 

There are still enough moments out there. I feel the stories in my heart. There’s still a huge, undiscovered country.

Ira Glass is a genius. So, a word of caution. He’s a master storyteller. His stories hold fast for days, weeks, months, some linger for a lifetime.

That’s some serious power and why I never miss a show. It’s that good.

Toni 11/23/15

 

Subscribe to the podcast here.