• Yesterday Was World Health Day. Here Are 3 Unconventional Recharge Health Tips.

    A good rule to live by is always stay skeptical of world days as substitutes or surrogates for action year-round, but not so skeptical that you underestimate a healthy reminder to effect change. World Emoji Day is July 17, but who’s arguing emojis don’t deserve year-round campaigns? World Tuna Day, May 2, crucial around the clock. And don’t get reporter Rebecca Leber started on Earth Day as little more than a “trite” blip on corporate calendars for PR stunts, she says in her scathing “I’m an Environmental Reporter and I Hate Earth Day.”

    But some days are singularly beneficial, like World Health Day, sponsored yesterday by the World Health Organization. As the repercussions of the pandemic reverberate, health deserves a day. Every day. Take time if you can. Observe your health with three tips:

    1. Consult a doctor before ingesting Recharge advice, but barring any reason not to, get yourself vitamin D if you’re sunlessly indoors. Just don’t buy the myth that it prevents or mitigates COVID-19, put to rest by Harvard Health’s senior faculty editor Dr. Robert Shmerling, who reported Monday that a “randomized controlled study of people with moderate to severe COVID-19 who received a high dose of vitamin D showed no benefit” in recovery or risk reduction. But nutritional value persists.

    2. Billie Holiday would have turned 106 yesterday. Here’s a recording that gets nowhere near the shares or airtime it deserves, from a rehearsal in 1956: “My Yiddishe Momme.” The baby in the background is her godchild Bevan Dufty, future member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and director of Bay Area Rapid Transit. Rejuvenation is health too. This brings it.

    3. A clear mind doesn’t hurt, so let me settle a small debate: Your well-being is your wellbeing, no hyphen. Never mind the Los Angeles Times opinion writer who insisted weeks ago that everyone hyphenate well-being as “the correct form”: “Teenagers used to be teen-agers. Cellphones used to be cell phones. Email used to be e-mail. So it’s understandable that writers would start compressing well-being into wellbeing. In fact, I see it a lot. But the closed form isn’t in major dictionaries yet and, until it is, ‘well-being’ remains the correct form.’”

    Sorry to break it to you, but I hereby announce, effective today, by the authority vested in me as Mother Jones’ copy wrangler, that “wellbeing” is closed up in our style guide, just for you. Begone, hyphen. Wellbeing is an intact concept and should be an intact word. But if hyphenating serves your individual, organizational, or reader health, go with it.

    Bonus tip: Stop chewing gum. It’s mostly unhealthy, unless you don’t mind your genetic code dug up 5,700 years from now like this wad of gum from the Stone Age, whose chewer, scientists say, was a young Danish woman.

    Share your healthy recharges at recharge@motherjones.com.

  • Remembering Robert Hershon, Poet of the “Mimeo Revolution”

    The New York Times has a touching obituary of the New York poet Robert Hershon, who died this week at 84. Across a 50-odd-year career, Hershon and his collaborators at the “self-editing” Hanging Loose Press—it started life as a binder of looseleaf poems you were free to keep or discard as you liked—published work by the writers Denise Levertov, Maggie Nelson, Cathy Park Hong, and Ha Jin, among countless others.

    In a 2002 profile, a Brooklyn Rail interviewer recalled meeting Hershon and leaving with a pile of literature:

    “One of the reasons the press has lasted so long is that we get a kick out of it,” Hershon says, choosing an armful of books to give me before I leave. “And one of the pleasures of a press is to be able to give books away.”…Then, glancing through the pile, he adds a book of his own. “There’s my old head,” he quips of a younger-looking jacket photograph, “I don’t know how I lost it.”

    Hanging Loose’s first office, before it was a true press, was the legendary McSorley’s bar on Manhattan’s East Seventh Street; Hershon and his collaborators soon landed in Brooklyn digs, before small Brooklyn presses were a thing, and eventually bounced back to the island—powered throughout by Hershon’s tireless enthusiasm, love of new writers, and subversive wit. The Times obit reprints his “F Stop,” a subway poem from 1985:

    Don’t push.
    There is another F
    train right behind us.

    There’s another F
    that’s faster and finer
    than this F is.
    It serves French fries
    and frog legs.
    All the seats face
    front and are covered
    with monkey fur. A flutist plays
    melodies in F. It’s an
    infinitely superior F train.
    It’s right behind us.
    Why don’t you wait?

    Ah, because we know the
    faces of those for whom
    the trains have never come.
    And we fear that what finally
    roars from that sour tunnel
    is fury itself.
    There is another F train
    right behind us.
    Let some other fool wait.

    And they start the push
    toward home.

    Poetry is more interesting than reporters talking about it, so go read the obituary and then read his work.

  • A New Online Film Festival Seeks Solutions to Injustice Globally

    An ambitious new series, Solutions Cinema, is off to a strong start. The monthlong festival searches for action and accountability around entrenched injustices through a slate of interactive films. Instead of one-directional storytelling, the 12 films are coupled with audience dialogue, including panels with filmmakers, featured characters, and students. Free screenings range widely, from a portrait of an Oakland high school’s reckoning with COVID-19 by director Peter Nicks, interviewed before by Mother Jones’ Brandon Patterson, to a documentary about grassroots journalism by Dalit women in India defying threats of violence and intimidation, by directors Rintus Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh.

    The two, Homeroom and Writing With Fire, top my list. There’s another, about migrant laborers in Italy and Côte d’Ivoire (The Invisibles), and a timely documentary about South Africa’s escalating water scarcity (The Water Queen), along with a look at indigenous people in Mexico defending their community (Cherán: The Burning Hope). What’s uniquely promising here—the festival runs throughout April, launched by Doha Debates and Maine’s Point North Institute—is more than the scope and scale. It’s the basic premise, a kind of wager that is vanishingly incentivized in much of today’s media: a bid for dialogue instead of monologue. An effort to learn and unlearn. And an affirmation that audiences are drivers, not passengers, of cinema. The goal of engaging across divides without false equivalencies or neutrality, and finding that sweet spot, needs amplifying.

    Variety has more. Register for screenings here. And share your own recharges at recharge@motherjones.com.

  • A Growing Website Visualizes and Archives Every Music Genre in the World (or Tries To)

    As my colleague Maddie Oatman wrote in her interview with the musician Jake Blount back in December, “genres” are neatly parceled networks of marketability, a bit of code to construct artistic expression as a workable commodity. The banjo player and fiddler feels “compelled,” he says, to unpack “boundaries between genres that were created specifically to divide music by who was playing it and who was listening­—because that’s where genre comes from.” He wants instead to “highlight the interconnectedness of very different traditions” of Gullah music, blues, jazz, bluegrass, and spirituals.

    His interview has stayed with me. It jumped to mind as I scrolled and stumbled through Every Noise at Once, a living archive of all genres in the world. The website maps “an algorithmically generated…scatter-plot of the musical genre space based on data tracked and analyzed for 5,304 genre-shaped distinctions…as of 2021-03-30…Click anything to hear an example of what it sounds like. Be calmly aware that this may periodically expand, contract, or combust.”

    Scroll through. After, take a deep dive into the multiplying meanings of “genre” in Ross Simonini’s excellent new Q&A with the pianist Vijay Iyer in the Believer.

  • From Our Archives, an Interview With Novelist Larry McMurtry

    Brent Humphreys/Redux

    Each Friday, we bring you an article from our archives to propel you into the weekend.

    Today it was announced that Larry McMurtry, one of the great novelists of his time, died. He was 84. A writer of the American West, McMurtry is often remembered for his classic Lonesome Dove. It is, according to our reporter Tim Murphy, worth the read (however long). As Tim joked in recommending it today: “[melville dies] ‘read Moby Dick if you haven’t.'” But McMurtry wasn’t just a writer of cowboys and horses. His incisive novels became classic films, like The Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment. I haven’t dug in, but I’ve also heard a few mentions of McMurtry’s work for the New York Review of Books. (My own experience with McMurtry is mainly through his son, James McMurtry, who has made some of my favorite albums of the last 20 years.)

    Michael Mechanic, a senior editor here—with a book out soon on the inner lives of the rich (order!)—interviewed McMurtry in 2014. Give it a read. I particularly liked this quick back and forth in which McMurtry swats down the annoying interpretations of Lonesome Dove he has seen:

    You felt that Lonesome Dove was misinterpreted, that you’d intended it as an anti-Western. In what sense?

    Would you like your menfolk to be that way? The Western myth is a heroic myth, and yet settling the West was not heroic. It ended with Custer; it was the end of the settlement narrative, which had been going on since 1620.

  • “The Hug I Got Was Unimaginable”: More Nursing Homes Are Easing Restrictions After Vaccinations

    No hugging sprees just yet, but yes, senior centers and assisted-living homes are easing restrictions following loosened federal guidelines for vaccinated adults. Ninety-four-year-old Gloria Winston of Rhode Island rejoiced in an interview with the Associated Press: “This is the beginning of the very best to come, hopefully, for all of us” who are fortunate enough to emerge safely from isolation. “We need the nourishment of each other.”

    “The hug I got was just unimaginable, how much it made me feel,” a vaccinated Ohio resident said. Policies vary by state and facility, but reviews are underway. Almost 1.5 million long-term-care residents are fully vaccinated, along with 1 million staffers, according to the CDC, underscoring the mounting toll of isolation and the healing effect of vaccine-enabled hugs.

    See you soon. Let’s meet for that Recharge picnic, all quarter-million subscribers to this newsletter. I’ll make spanakopita. You bring that cucumber-mint thing you keep emailing about. Or cantaloupe. We’re not picky. Hmm, 217,466 subscribers. Maybe we should call it off. We’d need a ton of phyllo dough. Some of you can’t even have feta. Spanakopita without feta is like a newsletter without music, so here, in the name of reportorial vigor, is your daily lift: The Rascals’ “It’s a Beautiful Morning.” Let us know how your day’s going at recharge@motherjones.com.

  • More Sounds From Mars

    A few weeks ago, Recharge boosted you with the good news that you can hear the first sounds ever recorded on the surface of Mars. Well, now there’s more. NASA released the sounds of the Mars rover’s wheels as they clank across the planet’s surface. “The sounds were picked up by one of the two onboard microphones. This audio is taken from a 16-minute sequence recorded during a 27m-drive on 7 March,” says the BBC.

    My take on space noises? They’re cool. And, dare I say it, weird. The second sounds from Mars are like you’re inside a metal can being thrown down a stairwell (at least to me).

    As last time, this is an opportunity to pontificate, long and hard, on the connection between our planetary existence and sound. My colleague Daniel King scratched together a Mars playlist (Mars Volta, Bruno Mars, Mars Breslow, John Coltrane’s “Mars”). But I’m going to give myself more leeway here. A few “space” albums or songs I’d listen to post-rover noises: “Spaced Out on Your Love,” by Errol Stubbs; the album Guitar in the Space Age! by Bill Frisell; and (sorry, a weird one) the art “recording project” writ album Captured Space, released just last year. Finish off with “Spaced Cowboy” by Sly & the Family Stone, one of the greatest songs of all time, and you’re good to go.

    Do you have a “space” playlist? Are you going to get mad at me about the “Spaced Cowboy” hot take or just realize I’m right? Email us at recharge@motherjones.com.

  • Duets on Justice, Poetry, and Music: A Livestream With Nikki Giovanni, Evie Shockley, and Christian McBride

    “I say to my students all the time, ‘If you want to learn how to write, if you want to learn history, listen to jazz,'” Nikki Giovanni said Tuesday in a livestream with bassist Christian McBride and poet Evie Shockley, presented by the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. They converged on a trio of themes—the sculpting of sound, the pairing of words, and the making of movements for change.

    Giovanni’s poetry lands in a lineage of writers and educators including Thulani Davis, featured here before, whose new book, Nothing But the Music, is a must-read of musical impressions, improvisation, and insight. The New York Times on Friday ran a spectacular feature on Davis—the first woman to win a Grammy for best album liner notes—by Daphne A. Brooks. Which leads me to a question and, I think, one of its answers: When do notes line the music, and when does music accompany the vivid language of the notes? When they illuminate each other, bringing you closer to each, you’ve got the creative core of Davis’ work.

    An extra Recharge: Thanks to readers who wrote in with tributes to drummer Roy Haynes on his 96th birthday, adding to the 22 musicians we interviewed:

    You’ve given me lifetimes of joy and I come home to you every day. Bless you and thank you. I will always come back to your playing. It is the best of life.
    —Michael T.

    Happy birthday to the still-reigning king of percussion, Roy Haynes. Your session at Newport with John Coltrane is the most potent hymn to freedom and the future that I’ve ever experienced. I wish you and all your brothers and sisters everything that you and Trane played and implied. Thank you for the blessings you continue to lay on my ears and my life. Back at ya, infinitely multiplied. Live long and enjoy.
    —Scarlet T.

    Happy birthday, many more. Chicago fan. Enjoy snap crackle for 60 years. Stay healthy and safe.
    —Albin C.

    Snap, crackle, and oh my God he’s still got pop too! Have a great birthday.
    —Joe V.

    Thanks for the memories and stories of Roy, one of my inspirations as a drummer. Saw him play trio at Jazz Alley in Seattle when suddenly this [very drunk listener] gets on the stage between encores screaming, “We love you, Roy!” He’s standing in front of his drums sipping his brandy while [this person] is pounding his drums. The pianist and bass player pack up while Roy in his cowboy hat and snakeskin boots just stands there with a big smile watching. Security escorts her offstage and the band comes back for one more.
    —Jud S.

    God bless you, Roy. Your longevity gives and sustains life for the great art form you helped to create. Meeting you and jamming with you at places like the Steer Inn, Sonny’s Place, and Gerald’s and listening to your recordings gave my musical life a great lift and inspiration to live performing, composing, and recording. You are the greatest. I hope I get to see you once more.
    —Greg B.

    One of the musicians we interviewed, Jon Jang, celebrated his own birthday this weekend, for which he ran a fundraiser to benefit the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center and a community of musicians. It’s exceeded its goal and keeps running.