4 years ago at the small pond.
Spring Musings 2022
iPhoneXR Hipstamatic Photography
Photographers On Tumblr
Lowy Lens, Rijks Film, No Flash
We were softly enormous. Hooked on
lengthening light, healthy calves pedaling
to the trailhead. We knew everyone
in every grocery store. We knew the code
to the high school tennis shed. We learned
language for the world around us, dogwood,
larkspur, pointed to ants and said head,
thorax, abdomen, back when we imagined
the world narrow enough to name.
Squatting above our reflections, we filled
Ziploc bags with minnows, never
considered the ways a body might change
in its container. Last week in Brooklyn,
coming down or hungover, I floated
through the park with a friend. Magnolia
he said. I put my left foot in front of my right.
Gingko. Think of all the directions a life
can take. It’s true I love spooning pâté
and telling white lies, spinning while the first birds
blow their trumpets and the budding
world feels like mine again. I want wildness
anywhere I can find it, in flowerless hours, the city
a thicket of unnamable parts. I return to my corner
of girlhood shrunken, shocked by the crabapple’s
pink and the unapologetic dandelions, the way
they remind me of yesterday’s concentric world.
Throw a rock and the water will ripple further
from where it started, each ring bewildered
by the shape that came before.
Natasha Rao, Latitude (Copper Canyon Press, 2021)
The message from the streets of Bristol on Sunday couldn’t have been clearer. The fight against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has started. And people are ready to struggle against it tooth and nail.
On Sunday 21 March thousands of people joined a #KillTheBill demonstration in Bristol, part of a weekend of action that saw protests held in many UK cities. By the end of the day in Bristol, at least three police vehicles were on fire, while a hundreds-strong crowd laid siege to a police station.
The protesters have been called a “mob of animals” by Avon & Somerset Police, and ‘thugs’ by Priti Patel. Politicians from Labour and the Green Party were quick to line up to express their condemnation too.
If you’re looking for more condemnation, you won’t find it here. The people who besieged Bridewell Police station were fighting against state violence and authoritarianism, standing up for freedom and for the oppressed. We need to carry on resisting the bill, and standing with those arrested.
Several Canary reporters joined the protests on the streets of Bristol throughout the day. Here’s the real story of what happened on 21 March.
Kill the Bill
Under the cover of a national health emergency, the Tory government has launched the biggest attack on our freedoms since the Public Order Acts of the ‘80s and ‘90s. The controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill passed its second reading in parliament last week. The bill will give the police unprecedented draconian powers to arrest protesters, and will criminalise trespass, effectively outlawing the livelihoods of the UK’s Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
The timing of the bill’s passage through parliament is no coincidence, coming during the UK’s strictest ever lockdown where protest is completely banned. The government must have hoped that people’s attention would be on the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, and that even if people did notice, they wouldn’t be able to take to the streets. It was wrong.
Natalie Evans - Movements
(Chamber Pop, Singer/Songwriter, Dream Pop)
The London-based singer/songwriter's sophomore album shows her softer, sweeter and more heartwarming than ever, putting greater emphasis on colorful chamber arrangements and tender, dreamy songwriting. Though Movements eschews the big, heart-tugging compositions of its predecessor, its more minimalist sound is a total win for Natalie Evans here.
Movements is courageously tender. It's the kind of mellow, unspoken beauty that when it comes around you can't do anything but watch it unfold from a distance: how the sunlight can reflect off someone's face so beautifully that the moment seems to last a lifetime before the sunrays move past them, or the soft waves rolling across a lake can make every movement in the water seem absolutely remarkable. It's the kind of thing perfectly fit for Natalie Evans, the London-based singer/songwriter whose 2018 debut Better at Night stunned with its impeccable musicianship and Evans' ability to make songs that were warm and deeply sentimental without turning saccharine. With her sophomore album Movements, that's now even more the case, Evans trading the dreamy acoustic rock and huge orchestral swirls of her debut for a lighter instrumental palette largely consisting of her own signature harp, piano and guitar alongside dashes of strings and percussion that gives her music less weight to carry while pulling just as much - oftentimes more - emotion from it all as she could before. It's undoubtedly one of the best sounding albums this year, and supported by her thoughtful writing, there are few things Movements struggles with.
Across these twelve tracks, Evans follows the format closer to the deeper cuts of Better at Night like the sparkly Almost Flying and acoustic-lead Hard to Forget more than the soaring crescendos of Lyre Song or In Trees, though that doesn't mean her music has lost any of its potency. She's always been skilled at taking minimal instrumentation as far as she can, and by approaching the songs for Movements with a more pastoral, almost fantastical level of brightness and color, it doesn't feel like anything has been sacrificed in the process. It's how each soft piano chord swirls around Evans' soft fingerpicked guitar on Pencil Drawn before soft vocal harmonies and ambiance paint the song's background in lovely shades of sunset pink and orange, or the breezy backbeat played by Martin Ruffin on highlight To Go On adds a new pulse and sense of motion to the music that picks up the energy one final time before the album comes to a close - Evans knows her sound and has near perfected it here. In its especially empty moments, the album risks losing your attention, but her uniquely lush instruments of choice prevent that from becoming a reality: Under the Moon's moved forward by only Evans and her harp, but the sprightly bounce she gets on the higher end of it is nothing short of mesmerizing. But where this earnest sound can oftentimes lead to songs that are just a little too sappy, Evans keeps her music grounded in her emotions and mindstate, often singing of the gloom and melancholy that seemed a permanent fixture of life the past few years and letting it inform both her writing and the sounds of Movements: a song as vast and freeing as Sun Song or simplistic as Five Positives not only sound wonderful, they feel earned, the kind of respite and calm that leaves an impression on you long after it's finished.
And at just a short 32 minutes, Evans charms with her songwriting without having to say a whole lot to get you on her side. Oftentimes, her writing in Movements relies on descriptions and memory: in Guest Room she's lying on the floor reminiscing on the past; in Movie she's opening the curtains in her room to regain some sense of connection with the outside world before shutting them again on To Go On when the desire to get back into the world that she's been missing these past few years. It's no surprise that she wrote most of these songs in the same night with how present and in-the-moment she feels performing each of them: the heavenly vocal layers and soothing guitar leads of Between the Ground and Sky push her story of the unbreakable connection we all have with the natural world to a brilliant emotional climax that makes the comedown of Pencil Drawn and Colours Fade feel just right as she digs into more sentimental stories of desire and acceptance, but what never falters is her spirit and optimism throughout. Album centerpiece Sun Song is a fleeting, magical moment of euphoria and release, Evans' trip to the beach rendered a glorious break from the monotony and glum that came from lockdown with speedy runs up and down the harp among a noble string orchestra and plush vocal harmonies that make her simple revelations of "It feels so right" and "I’m just spending time out / In the sun" feel incredibly genuine and empowering. She never pushes herself to try and be too poetic or wordy to make a "serious" statement, and through that Movements brings a humanity to itself few other albums are able to achieve.
Natalie Evans keeps her heart open and her music inviting, Movements an album that is next to impossible not to fall in love with once the songs have a hold on you. She sings of the most basic human desires - to connect with the world, to express, to feel - with such conviction and passion that the true value of those simple acts are fully revealed. Her music brings out the inner child with its comforting atmosphere and shows what it means to take care of yourself on the most basic level, something that's unreasonably easy to do, without making it feel like she's trying to treat it all as anything but. She knows Movements both inside and out, and allows its mellow nature to bring to light everything that Evans has been dealing with these past few years without getting her mind in a knot. She's never sounded more at ease and observant in her music than she does here, and Movements reaps all the benefits that come with letting your music be a repose for your mind. Movements is a simple kind of beauty, and that's all it needs to bring you into Evans' world.
Listen, we know Bruce was traumatized by his parents’ death but I hold that even before they were killed Bruce Wayne was a little weirdo. Like his paranoia and difficulty with emotion and attachment are from that terrible night. But I imagine 8 year old Brucie was OCD as hell and painstakingly arranging and rearranging his things to his satisfaction. He was meticulous, even as a child, very detail oriented. Highly intelligent, showing a boundless curiosity and determination to understand everything from a young age. I bet he was hell to enforce bedtimes on, always to do much to do and too little hours in the day.
Bruce was that kid who dragged bugs in the house for study, pulled down all the books on one shelf so could arrange them in height order, skittered around the house’s many passages like a little rat. He was the kid who was happy and cheerful but a bit awkward from growing up a Wayne, he would much rather squirrel away somewhere with a book considered too old for him than talk with people he didn’t know. He loved the macabre in the way weird little kids too, he wanted to see Zorro for the action and the violent fight scenes. Thomas and Martha Wayne had to listen to their precocious son ask them time and again how they thought they would die and listen to his speculations.
I want the Justice League to have to go back in time for whatever reason and they expect Bruce to be a delightful, happy, normal child. Instead, they find a kid with a lovingly worn Sherlock Holmes omnibus under one arm, an entire bag of raisins in the other, dark circles under his eyes from late nights reading and he’s covered in dust and debris from getting stuck behind the drywall again.
“You’re not mom and dad’s friends,” he’d say in a petulant voice with a familiar set of his mouth. “I’m gonna call my butler and he’s going to kick your butt.” And the whole League loses their mind because Bruce really has always been Bruce.
The small pond I like to stop at. This time I scared a wood duck off it. Sorry, beautiful!
I've received some criticism for accepting commissioned posts, so I want to clarify
this blog & the content I produce is currently my only means of income
I'm saving to escape a toxic household
tumblr is notoriously difficult for content-creators to monetize
I accept ko-fi / paypal / commissions instead of reblogging 'sponsored' content (ads from fashion retailers or Adam & Eve) the way most blogs my size do. I don't want this space to feel impersonal; reader support allows me to avoid commercial advertising.
I'm doing my best. I've spent years putting in full-time hours on a blog that has only just started paying part-time wages. eventually I would like to make a living writing traditionally published content, but that's a long ways off. for now I'm just trying to get by, and trying to write fun and weird and (hopefully) surprisingly helpful content on the platform I have. please bear with me. I'm simply trying to turn an obsessive passionate hobby into something I can live (frugally) on.
Spring Flowers at Senzoku-ike
Small Town Tokyo: Senzoku Pond
Hiroshige’s woodblock print version of Senzoku-ike: https://honolulumuseum.org/collections/5145/
Leopard cub at the river by Tambako The Jaguar
Last Amur leopard cub photo: at the pond, with a paw (almost) in the water! :)
I know that Shanks and Buggy having the same background and growing up in the same circumstances and environment yet growing into completely different people with contradictory views on a lot of things is, like, the joke and all but I still desperately want to know how and why it happened.
Oda give me the angsty Buggy backstory that retroactively makes him really cool. I know you have it in you.