Director Ross Ching was so inspired by photographer Matt Logue’s “Empty LA” project, he decided to expand the idea. What’s resulted is the ongoing Empty America series, whose first two installments depict Seattle and San Francisco without any humans present. Coming up: Washington D.C. and New York City.
W.H. Auden lived a secret life, not as a man with a second family or an illicit habit but as, weirdly enough, a genuinely kind human being. He paid for a friend’s costly operation and camped outside the apartment of a woman who suffered from night terrors until she felt safe enough to sleep on her own again. So why did the poet want to hide his good deeds? He claimed he didn’t want to be admired for basic decency.
When John Steinbeck wasn't busy writing 600-page novels, he might have been a Cold War CIA spy. In 1952, Steinbeck approached the CIA and suggested he could do some spying on an upcoming European trip. "The pace and method of my junket together with my intention of talking with great numbers of people of all classes may offer peculiar advantages," he wrote to an agent.
J.K Rowling is a vandal! The billionaire and author of the Harry Potter series left her mark in an Edinburgh hotel room when she scribbled some graffiti on the back of a decorative bust back in 2007. "J.K. Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room on 11 Jan 2007," it reads. Oh, I suppose that's okay.
Congratulations are in order for Vanessa Veselka: PEN American has awarded her debut novel Zazen the Robert W. Bingham Prize. I first heard about the novel last year, from what was then the brand-spanking-new LARB, though this Minnesota Public Radio profile of Veselka is also a great way to get acquainted with her exciting talents.
Have some free time today? Might I suggest reading Michael Idov's GQ article "The Movie That Ate Itself." Not convinced? I'll let the story's description speak for itself: "Five years ago, a relatively unknown (and unhinged) director began one of the wildest experiments in film history. Armed with total creative control, he invaded a Ukrainian city, marshaled a cast of thousands and thousands, and constructed a totalitarian society in which the cameras are always rolling and the actors never go home."