Things I Saw This Week - Friday, October 15
TISTW is a collection of reads, visuals, and music, curated by Elle Perry, a Memphis-based journalist, featuring art and culture, food, cities, and more. (Issue No. 122)
This is an exciting week for me: I was just elected president of the Memphis Association of Black Journalists! I’m also enrolled in an online data visualization and analytics program at Maryland Institute College of Art, in addition to the day job and this lovely part of my week. All that to say, I hope to weave in little bits of what I am up to in this place, in addition to the articles, films/TV, podcasts, and songs shared here. Have a great weekend! - elle
The New York Times profiles Sherrese Clarke Soares, founder of a new company seeking investments in music copyrights and other sorts of media.
NBC Asian America has the story of “Fanny: The Right to Rock,” a film about a 1970s rock band founded by a pair of Filipina American sisters.
Among the stars who cite Fanny as a major artistic influence in the film are Bonnie Raitt, the Go-Go’s, The Runaways and Todd Rundgren.
Speaking of California music history, KQED highlights the music side of park ranger Betty Reid Soskin. A new musical will feature songs she wrote more than 50 years ago.
If music was mentioned in her centennial celebration, it was usually in the context of her role launching the first Black-owned record store west of the Mississippi in 1945 with her husband Mel Reid, Reid’s Records in South Berkeley. East Bay artists also fondly remember her presiding over the Nu Upper Room in East Oakland in the early 1990s when it became a crucial incubator for Bay Area hip-hop talent. Did she ever think of picking up the microphone herself?
“I don’t think I even identified myself as an artist,” she said. “I was an administrator. I don’t think I recognized myself as a singer. That was just a phase I was going through.”
A few more art stories worth your time:
Also from The New York Times: The Passion of Questlove.
The QR code signs are being installed by the city on its 17,000-plus properties with vacant building notices. It’s a practical evolution of a project that began as an artistic collaboration: Back in 2013, Baltimore housing activist Carol Ott and a troupe of street artists launched an effort called Wall Hunters, painting murals on vacant buildings that were accompanied by QR codes that led users to information about the building’s owner on Ott’s blog, Baltimore Slumlord Watch.
Now, under the auspices of the city’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, the same QR-code powered mechanism is helping neighbors learn who owns the eyesores on their block, keep tabs on work in progress (or the lack thereof), and potentially get in touch with the property owners themselves.
The startup turned to the public: Through the Motor City Mapping project, it built a software platform, app and a detailed survey tree — covering various degrees of property condition, occupancy, current use and more — and hired 200 Detroiters to visit the city’s nearly 380,000 properties, take photos and log their conditions. Redundancies helped to ensure whether a dwelling was or was not vacant, like cross-checking against datasets on active electricity, water or mail service. The Motor City Mapping database lived on a public site, where an entry could be corrected or updated.
Over the past two decades, the once mostly white city of Brockton has transformed into New England’s only majority-Black city and the home of some of the country’s largest Haitian and Cape Verdean populations.
But not a single one of its lawmakers on Beacon Hill is a person of color.
The disconnect made it a prime candidate in advocates’ minds for a significant redraw of its political boundaries in the once-a-decade redistricting process. Yet while the House is looking to add a new majority-minority district in the city, Senate leaders this week proposed keeping the 105,000-person city’s lone state Senate district virtually untouched, stunning those hoping to further empower Brockton’s growing minority communities.
The mayor’s action attempts to address what the city has known for decades: Its highly selective gifted and talented program has led to a racially segregated learning environment for thousands of elementary school students citywide. The program will no longer exist for incoming kindergarten students next fall, and within a few years, it will be eliminated completely, the mayor said.
Students who are currently enrolled in gifted classes will become the final cohort in the existing system, which will be replaced by a program that offers accelerated learning to all students in the later years of elementary school.
But Mr. de Blasio, who is term limited, will leave City Hall at the end of December. His almost-certain successor, Eric Adams, will choose what parts of the plan he wants to implement — or whether to put it in place at all.
It focuses on four historically marginalized groups: African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos and Native Americans. The guidelines also include supplemental lessons on Jews, Armenians and Sikhs.
On Philly’s salmon cheesesteak dividing line (I would like to try one of these!):
If you’re looking to write about food, Washington City Paper is hiring a “carry-out food critic.” Here’s more:
While the featured restaurants can have a couple of seats for eating meals while they’re piping hot, we’re referring to businesses that focus exclusively on takeout. Think Greek Deli, KoChix, Yum’s, Open Crumb, Johnny’s Carryout, and Fish in the Neighborhood. Ghost or virtual restaurants run out of commissaries and food incubators, like The Kitchen Jerk in Mess Hall, also count.
The carry-out critic should be curious about both cooking techniques and the stories behind the people who run the restaurants they feature. While there’s room for constructive criticism, the chief goal is to point readers to spots that are worth seeking out. They should also alert readers about signature dishes and under-the-radar items that are must tries, and write with an authoritative but fun voice.
And RIP to Anne Saxelby, a “champion of fine American cheeses.” Anne was 40 years old.
“Her passion for celebrating American farmstead cheese influenced a generation of cheese makers, chefs, cheese enthusiasts and friends and changed the way we engage with American foods,” Michael Anthony, the executive chef of Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan and a regular customer, said in an interview.
Steven Jenkins, a former cheesemonger at Fairway Market, said in a statement: “Anne Saxelby was the U.S. ambassador for American cheese makers and their handmade cheeses. Her yearslong, tireless effort to promote them and make them mainstream will forever have its effect, and will long be remembered.”