Friday Inspiration, Vol. 260(!)

screen capture from The Peace Of Wild Things

A quick note from me:

One evening sometime in the past week, and it was either while listening to the Dolly Parton’s America podcast (recommended by a friend) or reading Bill Hayes’s book Insomniac City (also recommended by a friend), I had a moment in which I sort of zoomed out on my life and considered all the art I’ve been lucky enough to experience in my now-many years: murals on buildings I bicycle past on my way to grab a coffee, museum exhibits a thousand miles from my house, digging through crates of old records in the basement of a music store literally halfway around the world, sitting at a concert with 10,000 other people, lying on my bed as a teenager reading liner notes and lyrics from hip hop CDs that described a world completely foreign to my own, the hundreds of paperbacks I’ve read, zines I picked up in a bookstore, essays forwarded to me by friends, and movies I’ve gone back to the theater to see twice in a week and a half because I just had to.

Today’s post is Volume number 260, which means it marks five years of me, every single week, writing and publishing a collection of things I find inspiring. I started doing these posts in November 2015 for a couple reasons: I love sharing art and stories with other people, and I was hoping to make up for a slight decrease in traffic to my website, basically to prove to a company that their ad space on the site was worth it. As of 2020, I don’t have an ad on the website anymore, so I don’t necessarily need to worry about traffic, but I really enjoy doing these Friday Inspiration posts every week. Some weeks, the interesting stuff seems to fall in my lap, and other weeks, I have to sit down on Thursday and spend four or five hours scouring the internet to find worthwhile stuff to share.

In the afterword of “Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself,” David Lipsky writes about David Foster Wallace: “David thought books existed to stop you from being lonely.” That line stuck with me when I read it this spring, because I think it’s true in a couple ways. Our favorite pieces of art put into words or images a feeling we have but maybe haven’t expressed, and they make us say, “me too, exactly.” Some of my favorite conversations with friends feel like we’re just talking about all the art and books and movies that move us, as if our relationship is based on experiencing art on our own, then getting together and telling each other about that art, and repeating those two steps. And I love that.

If you’ve been reading these posts for five years, or two years, or a couple months, or just since last week, I hope at the very least they’ve given you a few pieces of art to share with your friends or family, and brought you a small amount of joy. As I have mentioned, there are no ads on this website anymore, so the weekly work I do is completely supported by a handful of wonderful people who contribute to the Semi-Rad Patreon every month. They keep showing up every month, so I do too, and that feels like an honest relationship. If you’d like to help this whole thing continue through Patreon, you can find more information here. Thanks for reading.

This week’s links:

If you need 76 seconds to remind you how great it is to spend a tiny bit of time outside, here’s Wendell Berry reminding you with a short poem set to some lovely animation (video)

Powell’s Books Is Releasing a Fragrance that Smells Like a Bookstore

When I announced the Periodic Table of the Elements of Adventure posters this summer, my friend Ian emailed me about Oliver Sacks and his love for the periodic table, and this fantastic book that his partner Bill Hayes wrote about falling in love with New York, and Oliver Sacks, which I just finished this week and have to put it in my top five books I’ve read this year (or maybe top 3?)

I am late (actually, a year late) to this, but I just finished listening to Dolly Parton’s America and have to report that it is, in fact, great, especially the Neon Moss episode (podcast)

Filmmaker Billy Yang doesn’t do a lot of podcast interviews, but we managed to get him on the Off the Couch podcast this week, and talked to him about running, making some of the best running films of the past decade, being a first-generation Korean immigrant, and what brand of cigarettes he used to smoke

RIP, Alex Trebek (also, this wonderful moment from the credits of a recent Jeopardy! episode that might put a lump in your throat)

This story about a 10-year-old drum prodigy named Nandi Bushell challenging Dave Grohl to a duel, which they did and filmed, is great, but the best part for me is the video of Nandi raging on the drum kit while covering Nirvana’s In Bloom and looking like she’s having the time of her life

—Brendan

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