Tofino, British Columbia by Ryan Struck
“If your contribution has been vital there will always be someone to pick up where you left off, and that will be your claim to immortality.” - Walter Gropius, modernist architect and founder of the Bauhaus School
Immortality. That’s some heavy sh*t. The passing of legends (R.I.P. Sam Shepard) has me thinking about the concept of legacy. What will you leave behind? But legacy is a complicated beast. It can inspire us to incredible feats, but it also removes us from the present and can be used to justify less than stellar behavior.
The recent loss of brilliant and bad-ass mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani particularly stuck with me. A life spent in pursuit of creativity, breaking stereotypes and dispelling conventions as she went. Not because of a self-aware commitment to immortality, but because she was just being herself, and that existence didn’t fit into neat little boxes of convention. An inadvertent legacy.
We hope you’ll find something in this month’s AllSwell Reads to inspire your own vital contributions. Regardless of how or even if they’re remembered, that seems like a worthy goal in the present. And, besides, immortality sounds exhausting.
Radiohead's Rhapsody in Gloom: 'OK Computer' 20 Years Later, Rolling Stone
Yup, you read that right. It’s been twenty years since ‘OK Computer’ took to the airwaves, turning Radiohead into the alt-rock era’s defining voice. To honor its release, Radiohead’s frontman Thom Yorke is opening up about his career in a big way - old notebooks, sketchbook, and all - via Rolling Stone. Hint: he puts (and has put) most of his creative genius to paper. Flip through the pages at the link up top and grab yourself a creative companion here.
'My Buddy' by Patti Smith, New Yorker
“...He sang in those mountains by a bonfire, old songs written by broken men in love with their own vanishing nature. Wrapped in blankets, he slept under the stars, adrift on Magellanic Clouds. Sam liked being on the move. He’d throw a fishing rod or an old acoustic guitar in the back seat of his truck, maybe take a dog, but for sure a notebook, and a pen, and a pile of books. He liked packing up and leaving just like that, going west.” - Literary babe and matron of punk Patti Smith on her once lover, poet, playwright, and actor Sam Shepard.
You could’ve guessed, but we’re always down for travel imagery, and these pics? They’re great. We’re talking “2017’s National Geographic Photographer of the Year” great. From inventive cityscapes to surf snaps, there’s lots to see here, so tune in at the link up top. P.S. our favorite is #15.
Little know fact: literary great and poetry powerhouse Sylvia Plath didn’t initially pursue writing. She went all in on art, painting to be exact, and it’s all on display at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Through letters, drawings, and self portraits the exhibit explores Plath’s life in a way never shown before. As big (and we mean big) fans, we’ll definitely be there. Get the deets up top.
Skiffle Craze: An Interview with Billy Bragg, Paris Review
Heard of skiffle? Neither had we, but the mega-musicians of the ‘60s and ‘70s (we’re talking Van Morrison and George Harrison) were inspired by this form of music. Billy Bragg, in his new book, answers just that and gives the tunes that gave us an entire generation of rock ‘n roll acts it’s due. Read on above.
Remembering Maryam Mirzakhani, Economist
Literary math? That’s exactly what Maryam Mirzakhani will be remembered for - equations and theorems that developed parallel to the characters in her favorite stories. She was the leading lady of mathematics, a doodler and pen to paper enthusiast, and the first girl to represent Iran in the mathematical olympiad, taking home two successive gold medals. Talk about bad-ass. Check out her Economist obit above.