In ‘Captured,’ People In Prison Draw The ‘People Who Should Be’

Charles and David Koch are the CEO and VP of Koch Industries, respectively. Joseph Acker is an incarcerated artist currently serving a 10-year sentence. Acker doesn’t know the Koch brothers personally, but he drew them as part of a project called “Captured.

Started by Jeff Greenspan and Andrew Tider in 2016, “Captured” attempts to shine a spotlight on what its creators deem are “crimes masquerading as commerce.” By asking incarcerated artists to draw the CEOs, VPs and chairmans they believe should be behind bars, they hope to inspire other people to consider a world in which the highest levels of corporate leadership are held personally responsible for the illegal actions of their companies.

“If we put poison in a glass of your drinking water, and you got sick or your children had birth defects because of it, we would certainly be hauled off to prison,” Greenspan told HuffPost. “But when a corporation does it on a large scale, if anything, they’re given a fine. […] It’s kind of just the cost of doing business.”

“So we started thinking,” he added, “it’s interesting when you have the veil of a corporation around you, it’s almost like you’re exempt from […] behaving within the law.”

Greenspan and Tider recognized early on the power of juxtaposing the circumstances of incarcerated artists with the “rap sheets,” as they call them, of corporate leaders accused of various misdeeds.

In Acker’s case, he’s serving 10 years in prison for receiving stolen goods, possessing altered passports, and possessing body armor as a felon. The Koch brothers, “Captured” asserts on its website, have yet to see prison time for bribing their way into securing contracts in Africa, India and the Middle East; selling millions of dollars of petrochemical equipment to Iran; bribing judges and legislators; propagating mass deception by funding climate change denial groups; polluting American’s air, water and climate; and rigging Congress.

“What we thought would be interesting is to juxtapose the two: People who are in jail, who society has already deemed to be criminals, whether it be for murder or for theft or for burglary or manslaughter. And put them up against companies who are really committing the same kinds of crimes,” Greenspan said. “So we display each piece of artwork with a ‘rap sheet’ ― a ‘rap sheet’ for the incarcerated artist and a ‘rap sheet’ for the companies and the crimes they’ve committed over the past couple of decades.”

”Captured” wasn’t easy to get off the ground. In order to get in touch with the various incarcerated artists who took part in the project, Greenspan and Tider originally reached out to the prisons and prison wardens themselves, to no avail. Eventually, they got in touch with an art therapy program coordinator who couldn’t help them on the record, but agreed to bring a letter from the two men detailing the project to the prison she worked with.

“She couldn’t promise it wouldn’t be in her pocket the day she visited the prison and fall out of her pocket in the art room,” they explained.

Next, Greenspan and Tider turned to eBay, where they found a group of incarcerated artists selling portraiture ― images of Elvis or Madonna or other famous people. They contacted the eBay sellers, who tended to be family or friends of the incarcerated individual, who would facilitate contact with the actual artist.

“Once we got there, the project sort of went viral in the prison system,” Tider added. “An inmate would tell another inmate, even in other prisons, and we were able to get a lot of artists that way.”

To arrange for the actual portraits in “Captured,” Greenspan and Tider began by offering artists a selection of five to 10 corporate leaders they could draw. But because of the limited means of communication, and the delays that come along with using traditional snail mail, they felt it became more feasible if they just chose a subject for each of their participating artists.

So Greenspan and Tider would create a dossier on the proposed subject, with images to draw from, background on the associated company, and information and case materials on the “crimes” committed, and send it to the artist. If the artist agreed to draw the person, the project moved forward. If they didn’t, they could offer them a different person.

“All the incarcerated artists knew the aspects of the project and the context of the project,” Greenspan added.

He and Tider warned them about the attention the project could draw and the subsequent blowback that could affect an inmate’s chances at parole; some of the individuals involved were on death row and felt little regard for those potential consequences. Moreover, each artist was compensated fairly for their work. “Captured” paid the artists $100 (based on an estimation that the average rate for a prison portrait was $30), covering any fees associated with services like JPay.

Online, “Captured” includes links to contact information for the incarcerated artists, allowing fans of their work to reach out if they so choose. 

“Corporations maintain that they have the same rights and freedoms as individuals. That’s kind of a reframing of a corporate entity that has no conscience ― it’s now being considered a person,” Greenspan noted. “Yet we’ve got actual people in prison who are treated like subhumans. By putting contact information there, by showing their artistry ― we’ve seen people go, ‘Wow, there’s a person behind this.’”

“Captured” also takes physical form. Last year, Greenspan and Tider sold 1,000 “Captured” books, donating all proceeds to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. The timing couldn’t have been more ideal ― they’d included a portrait of Rex Tillerson, currently the secretary of state in President Donald Trump’s administration, in the series. This year, they have plans to release 1,000 more copies, and although they don’t know yet where the proceeds will go, they’ve been thinking about groups like the Brooklyn Bail Fund or organizations working on prison reform policies and lowering prison populations.

“When you see something like Rex Tillerson become secretary of state, a man who’s worked for a company with decades-long abuses of the law ― what it’s done to our environment. It’s troubling,” Greenspan said. “But we’re not telling you that it should be troubling, we’re asking you to at least consider it.”

“One of the big goals was to redefine things in people’s minds,” Tider concluded. “If you consider corporations anew, and you consider the things that they’ve done, you might come out with a different perspective on them. Likewise, it’s the same for the inmates. If you thought of inmates as people who were very different from you, you might see the beautiful artistry they do and think differently.”

Welcome to Battleground, where art and activism meet.

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Kate Walsh Thinks ’13 Reasons Why’ Should Be Mandatory Viewing In Schools

13 Reasons Why” is Netflix’s latest buzzed-about show, sparking dialogue about suicide, mental health and sexual assault among teens and their parents. 

The series, based on the 2007 book by Jay Asher, tells the story of Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), who takes her own life after facing numerous traumatic experiences in high school. She records 13 tapes to give to the individuals who she says played some sort of role in her death, leaving her friend Clay (Dylan Minnette) to uncover the harsh reality behind her heartbreaking decision. 

The show sheds a light on important issues rarely tackled on screen, but conversations around the subject matter have been mixed. Some believe it presents the truth to teens who might be unaware of what’s happening around them in the form of entertainment. Others, including experts, have said the show “glamorizes” suicide with its graphic scenes depicting death and rape. But creator Brian Yorkey and the show’s writers purposely chose to include those hard-to-watch moments to spark awareness about situations going on in our world every day. 

“Facing these issues head-on — talking about them, being open about them — will always be our best defense against losing another life,” writer Nic Sheff wrote in an essay for Vanity Fair. “I’m proud to be a part of a television series that is forcing us to have these conversations, because silence really does equal death.”

Star Kate Walsh, who plays Hannah’s grieving mother on the show, echoed those sentiments in an interview with HuffPost on Build Series Monday.

“People have been reacting differently to showing Hannah in the act of suicide and all the other sexual assault scenes, rape scenes. But Brian was intent on making sure there was nothing romantic or mysterious that anybody could project on to this to make it some dreamy, gothy or some romantic Ophelia moment,” she said. “I think there’s a lot of this idea in the mystery and the shame and the secrecy of suicide that no one talks about, that you can project this idea that it’s all going to be peaceful and blissed-out … [but] to really deal with depression and mental illness and these huge issues and show what it really looks like if someone tries to take their life ― it’s ugly and it’s really hard and it should be seen.”

Walsh went on to say that watching “13 Reasons Why” should be “mandatory in schools,” as it opens up discussion about the weighty issues many people face day in and day out. 

“Parents and teachers and students [should] watch this and have conversations about sexual assault, about bullying, about LGBTQ issues, race issues, gender issues, suicide, depression and mental health, because largely in our country as we see now, it’s still in the shroud of shame or silence,” she said, “So to really see it for what it is and talk about it and get people help, [we can] prevent it.”

There’s no doubt the series is tough to watch, but as Walsh says, it gives children the chance to be honest with each other and their parents about the content they’re consuming and how they’re reacting to it. As most of us know, high school is not always an easy place to be, especially in this social media age where bullying is skyrocketing

“I think [parents] should watch it with their kids and I really do think it should be mandatory in schools to watch this and talk about it and have education around it,” Walsh concluded. “Unfortunately, a lot of kids’ lives were lost before schools started having conversations and awareness, and communities started having dialogue about it. As long as anything is shrouded in shame or secrecy, nothing good can come from it.” 

Watch Kate Walsh’s full interview on “13 Reasons Why” below. The show is now streaming on Netflix.

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High School Teachers Are Using Dystopian Books To Explore The State Of America Today

The adage about the trend has become as ubiquitous as the trend itself: dystopian books are everywhere, and their popularity doesn’t seem to be waning.

Shortly after Donald Trump was elected president, sales of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale spiked. The latter story is seeing a resurgence not only because its feminist themes resonate with the set of readers who partook in January’s Women’s March, but also because the story is getting a shiny, new TV adaptation, out this month from Hulu.

Stories like Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” and their ilk ― the “Divergent” series, the “Maze Runner” series, and “The 100” series ― are not only popular on screen, but in American classrooms, too.

Which isn’t to say the subgenre doesn’t have its decriers. In an interview with HuffPost, science-fiction author Ursula K. Le Guin shared her thoughts on the appeal of dystopias: “People are scared, so they want to read fiction where they can be scared without any real reason to be. To sort of play at being scared instead of being really scared. I don’t read that stuff.” She’s not alone; The Hunger Games was among the most-banned books of 2010, 2011 and 2013.

But educators Judith A. Hayn, co-author of Teaching Young Adult Literature Today, and Elizabeth Majerus, co-author of Can I Teach That?, both argue that dystopian stories are uniquely useful in high school settings, where the texts can serve as jumping-off points for broader political conversations, and where students are otherwise unlikely to see themselves represented in the characters they read about.

I think part of what resonates for younger readers is that it’s often a younger protagonist who’s facing the crises brought on by older generations.
Elizabeth Majerus, author of “Can I Teach That?”

“I think part of what resonates for younger readers is that it’s often a younger protagonist who’s facing the crises brought on by older generations,” Majerus told HuffPost. “They’re facing these issues that they’ve inherited, and I think a lot of kids can really relate to that. It’s always exciting for a young person to read about a hero who’s also a young person, but particularly a hero that is faced with rectifying the social, environmental and political catastrophes that came about well before they were born.”

This year, Majerus is teaching a course at University High School in Illinois designed around utopian and dystopian societies in fiction. Her students read a bevy of essays about utopias and dystopias, then they ventured to create their own utopian classroom by electing which fiction titles they would read.

“Teaching a class that pretty much started a couple of weeks before the inauguration of Donald J. Trump definitely was a much more interesting, relevant, complicated ― but also exciting ― experience. It feels much more relevant,” Majerus said. “We’re at a point in American history where the things that we as a people do right now ― it feels like it does have an effect on the future, and whether we go down a road toward continuing democracy, and whether we go down a road that feels more dystopian.”

Hayn, who teaches teacher education at University of Arkansas at Little Rock, agreed. “I think that students feel that anger and frustration that they sense from outside the classroom, and they bring that with them,” she told HuffPost. “Even the very young have been very troubled, I think, by what is going on.”

Both Majerus and Hayn said that dystopian stories provide one avenue for discussing today’s political climate, without doing so in a contentious, head-on manner, and without engaging with their own personal viewpoints, which, they agreed, should be kept out of the classroom.

“I would hope that an English language arts teacher would be able to do that, say, ‘Do you see any contemporary issues in the world around you now?’ and lead the students to make some of those observations,” Hayn said. “I think we have an obligation to include the political, so that students understand why we got to where we are now.”

Majerus adds that reading stories that engage with political content, but through stories with individual characters and individual motivations, can add extra context to headlines that students are likely reading.

“When they get to really step inside the shoes of a person ― even if it’s a fictional person, but it’s a really well fleshed-out character ― they are more challenged to consider other perspectives, and to see the human stories behind the headlines,” Majerus said. “I think when a student reads a story that articulates an experience that they’re not familiar with, it can challenge some of their assumptions.”

The site for her class links to Margaret Atwood’s recent essay about her novel in the New York Times, in which the author wrestles with whether she considers the story a feminist one. (“If you mean a novel in which women are human beings — with all the variety of character and behavior that implies — and are also interesting and important, and what happens to them is crucial to the theme, structure and plot of the book, then yes. In that sense, many books are ‘feminist,’” the author writes, herself adding nuance to the conversation around the title.)

That said, both educators see the value in sharing stories from multiple mediums with their students, including not only fiction and news, but movies and TV shows, too ― whichever outlets kids are already getting their media from, so that they can think critically about what they’re already consuming. And, with dystopian books, there’s a wealth of cross-genre content available. Majerus is sharing a 1990 adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale with her class ― a film is easier to fit into the allotted time than a series, she said ― and hopes to compare the choices made by the author and the director. 

“I think we have an obligation to include the political, so that students understand why we got to where we are now.”
Judith Hayn, author of ‘Teaching Young Adult Literature Today’

“I love watching a film after students have read a book, because you learn a lot about a book by analyzing the choices a filmmaker makes,” Majerus said. “What parts to include, how you bridge those gaps. Those choices are extremely rich for conversation about the book. Whether students agree or disagree with aspects the filmmaker focused on, how they feel about things that were left out.”

So, watching movies in English class can be much more than a fallback plan for underprepared teachers; it’s also a means of keeping the classroom relevant to the world beyond it.

To this end, Hayn thinks dystopian books are generally a better choice than the established canon, which, she points out, comprises mostly white male writers.

“We can go on and on about the value of that, and whether or not it’s a good thing, but students do not tend to see themselves in those pieces,” Hayn said. “They’re not there at all. And particularly if they belong to groups that have no power, that are underrepresented in society and certainly underrepresented in literature.”

A chapter of her book Teaching Young Adult Literature Today focuses on reaching disenfranchised groups of young readers, and she thinks contemporary YA stories ― dystopias included ― take a small step in the right direction as far as representation is concerned. True equality is yet to be achieved, but these stories instill the idea that change is possible.

“It’s also the comfort of seeing people succeed, overthrow and create a new world,” Hayn said. And that might be their greatest strength, and most alluring quality: dystopian books are, ultimately, about individual strength amid governmental havoc, and hope amid trying times.

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All The New Shows To Screen Or Skip In Spring And Summer 2017

There’s a reason networks often save their weakest fare for the time of year when more people are less likely to spend their evenings indoors.

Of course, that’s not always the case, since “Game of Thrones” is scheduled to make it’s much-awaited return this July

But when it comes to new shows, you can bet networks generally save the worst for last. In the coming months, viewers can look forward to some stellar series this spring (including ”The Handmaid’s Tale,” “American Gods,” “GLOW”), while they’re more or less better off embracing the warm weather and misplacing their remotes by the time summer hits. 

APRIL  

“Girlboss,” April 21, Netflix 

With allegations that former Nasty Gal CEO Sophia Amoruso was accused of creating a “toxic” workplace, it’s easy to see why the lead character of Netflix’s “Girlboss” is so incredibly unlikeable. The question, however, is why would anyone want to spend a significant amount of time watching her?

“Girlboss” is loosely based on Amoruso’s memoir of the same name and tells the story of how she began her vintage clothing eBay shop, before it became what we now know as Nasty Gal.

The show stars Britt Robertson as 23-year-old Sophia, a college dropout who works menial jobs and yet can somehow afford a studio apartment in San Francisco circa 2006 ― and damn is it ever hard to watch. Sophia is petulant, whiny, and often just flat-out mean. What’s worse is that the series rarely gives you a reason to root for her. Characters don’t always have to be likable, but there has to be at least some reason to follow a person through their journey. With “Girlboss,” there’s nothing here.  

“Great News,” April 25, 9 p.m. ET, NBC

”Great News,” the new workplace comedy from executive producer Tina Fey, can’t be described as great or even good.

The show follows Katie (Briga Heelan), a wallflower of a producer at a cable news program called “The Breakdown,” and her overbearing mother (Andrea Martin), who manages to land a job as as the show’s intern. Hilarity ensues, right? Not so much.

The show’s jokes just repeatedly fall flat, though surprisingly it’s Nicole Richie as a super-hip if slightly vapid co-anchor who actually shines brightest.  

“Genius,” April 25, 9 p.m. ET, National Geographic 

What do you really know about Albert Einstein aside from the fact that he developed the theory of relativity? National Geographic is willing to wager that you know very little.

“Genius” is an anthology series from executive producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer about the lives of those deserving enough to be deemed as such, and Season 1 kicks off with none other than Mr. E = mc2 himself.  

Based on Walter Isaacson’s book Einstein: His Life and Universe, the show stars Johnny Flynn when Einstein was a student in Zurich the 1890s, and Geoffrey Rush, as his older counterpart against a backdrop of the rising anti-semitism in 1922 Berlin, Germany.

“The Handmaid’s Tale,” April 26, Hulu

Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” is by far the best new show debuting in the spring and summer season. Based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel, if you don’t already have a Hulu account, you’re going to want to sign up for one today.

Set in the not-too distant future where a fundamentalist Christian regime rules over the former United States, now known as the Republic of Gilead, women have been stripped of their rights and any sense of life as they once knew it. Elisabeth Moss stars as Offred, a woman who is forced to bear children for high-ranking men and their wives, after environmental problems cause widespread infertility issues. 

The series is a chilling reminder of how quickly the Republic of Gilead could become a reality. 

“Dear White People,” April 28, Netflix 

If you liked “Dear White People” the movie then you should probably watch it again, because the 2014 film from writer/director Justin Simien is far better than Netflix’s 10-episode series.  

That’s not to say the series adaptation is a failure by any means. The show is still a smart and sharp take on the complex issue of race relations, and is definitely worth checking out. 

The series picks up where the film left off in the aftermath of a racist blackface party, which has left a campus divided. Episodes are told and then retold through different student’s perspectives, which requires some commitment by the viewers since that format can feel awfully repetitive. 

 “American Gods,” April 30, 9 p.m. ET, Starz

“American Gods” is absolutely the weirdest and most mind-bending new offering this season. Starz’s visually-stunning new drama is based on British author Neil Gaiman’s 2001 fantasy novel of the same name and requires total suspension of disbelief. 

In this America, gods live among us mere mortals. There are two types of gods ― old and new. The old are the ones you’ve read about in myths and were brought to America by faithful immigrants centuries ago, while the new gods have gradually replaced the old ones and were born out of our modern obsession with media and technology.

As war brews between the gods, an ex-con named Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) finds himself caught between the two sides.  

MAY

“Anne with an E,” May 12, Netflix 

Netflix’s “Anne with an E” is easily one of the most charming new shows. Yes, this is yet another adaptation of Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beloved children’s novel Anne of Green Gables, but it’s far the best. 

Amybeth McNulty stars as Anne Shirley, the young orphan who never stops talking and comes to live on Prince Edward Island with elderly siblings Marilla (Geraldine James) and Matthew Cuthbert (R.H. Thomson).

While you may have read the book a 100 times as a child, Netflix has managed to reenergize the story for modern audiences without betraying its source material. If anything, “Anne” digs deeper at some of the darker elements that Montgomery glossed over in the novel, and is a thoroughly binge-able experience for all ages. 

“I Love Dick,” May 12, Amazon 

You may have already watched the pilot episode of Amazon’s new series “I Love Dick,” based on Chris Kraus’ 1997 novel.

The show stars Kathryn Hahn as a filmmaker in an unhappy marriage, who follows her husband (Griffin Dunne) to his writing residency in Marfa, Texas, and becomes completely infatuated with a professor named Dick (Kevin Bacon).

“I Love Dick” is the latest show from “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway and is an intentionally uncomfortable yet humorous examination of human sexuality and the female gaze. 

“Downward Dog,” May 17, 9:30 p.m. ET, ABC

From ABC comes “Downward Dog,” a sitcom about a dog named Martin and his owner Nan (Allison Tolman), a woman struggling to get ahead at work and make sense of her personal life. 

The show is told from Martin’s perspective’s via his internal monologue, voiced by Samm Hodges. The series is inoffensive enough if you can stand to listen to Martin, who is the male incarnation of a droning Valley-girl in canine form. 

 “Twin Peaks,” May 21, 9 p.m. ET, Showtime 

Showtime didn’t provide any screeners for “Twin Peaks,” which is returning as a limited series 24 years after David Lynch’s original version ended.

Because of this, we can only tell you what you probably already know: Lynch will direct the entire series and you can expect to see many familiar faces, including Kyle MacLachlan, who returns as FBI Agent Dale Cooper. 

JUNE

“I’m Dying Up Here,” June 4, 10 p.m. ET, Showtime

Showtime’s new drama “I’m Dying Up Here” is a look at the lives of stand-up comics trying to make it in Los Angeles in the 1970s ―  and you’ll be tempted to heckle if you can muster the strength to make it through a full episode. 

Yet another show based on a book, the series is inspired by William Knoedelseder‘s 2009 nonfiction work I’m Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-up Comedy’s Golden Era and features an ensemble cast including Ari Graynor, Melissa Leo, Clark Duke, Michael Angarano and RJ Cyler.

“GLOW,” June 29, Netflix 

Even if you’d rather do just about anything else than watch professional wrestling, you really shouldn’t discount Netflix’s new original series “GLOW.”

Inspired by the real story of the 1980s women’s wrestling league “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling,” “GLOW” is one of the most enjoyable shows to debut this season. 

Alison Brie stars as a struggling actress desperate to make it in Hollywood, giving one last shot at her dreams when she auditions for a series about female wrestlers. Featuring an outstanding and diverse cast, the series hilariously tackles issues of racism, stereotyping, sexism and sisterhood in the world of women’s wrestling. 

JULY

“The Bold Type,” July 11, 9 p.m. ET, Freeform 

Freeform’s “The Bold Type” is inspired by Cosmopolitan and its editor-in-chief Joanna Coles, and it’s the perfect show for summertime viewing. 

Starring Katie Stevens, Aisha Dee and Meghann Fahy as three friends working at Scarlet Magazine, the show follows the young women as they navigate their careers and personal lives in New York City.

This show is exactly what you would expect from reading Cosmo ― not a bad way to curl up on the couch with a glass of wine. 

“Midnight, Texas,” July 25, 10 p.m. ET, NBC

The remote town of “Midnight, Texas” seems to be the supernatural center of the United States with witches, ghosts, assassins, angels, psychics and other creatures calling it home. But there is entirely too much going on. 

Based on the trilogy series of the same name by author Charlaine Harris, “Midnight Texas” follows Manfred (François Arnaud), a psychic who can communicate with the dead, as he arrives in Midnight and befriends fellow outsiders like himself. 

AUGUST

“The Sinner,” Aug. 2, 10 p.m. ET, USA

USA’s “The Sinner” is a different kind of thrilling mystery that finds Jessica Biel starring in a TV series for the first time since her days playing Mary Camden on “7th Heaven.”

Biel plays Cora, a young mother who commits an unspeakable act of violence against a stranger at the beach. There’s no question that she did it. The only question is why. Bill Pullman also stars as a detective obsessed with uncovering Cora’s motives.

As the series delves into Cora’s past and pieces together what happened that day at the beach, chances are you’ll be just as obsessed. 

“Weekend Update,” Aug. 10, 9 p.m. ET, NBC

Saturday Night Live” is on hiatus this summer, but Colin Jost and Michael Che will fill the void with “Weekend Update” ― a 30-minute, primetime version of the long-running segment. With “SNL” seeing some of its highest rating in years, Jost and Che will keep things going in August and make sure you’re on top of all the news that can be satirized. So basically everything.

“Marlon,” Aug. 16, 9 p.m. ET, NBC 

Marlon Wayans stars in what’s supposed to be an update on the classic family sitcom, but this isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. 

“Marlon” is loosely based on Wayans’ real life as he plays a wise-cracking, over- protective yet immature father to two precocious kids (Amir O’Neil and Notlim Taylor). He also appears to share a too-close relationship with his ex-wife (Essence Atkins). 

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Robert Pirsig, Author Of ‘Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance,’ Dead At 88

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Robert M. Pirsig, author of the influential 1970s philosophical novel “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” died on Monday at the age of 88, his publisher said.

William Morrow & Co. executive editor Peter Hubbard said in a statement that Pirsig’s wife Wendy had confirmed his death at his home in Maine “after a period of failing health.”

Published in 1974 after being rejected by more than 100 other publishers, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” was the father-son story of a motorcycle trip across the western United States. Loosely autobiographical, it also contained flashbacks to a period in which the author was diagnosed as schizophrenic.

The book quickly became a best-seller. Pirsig said its protagonist “set out to resolve the conflict between classic values that create machinery, such as a motorcycle, and romantic values, such as experiencing the beauty of a country road.”

Born in Minneapolis, Pirsig had a high IQ and graduated high school at the age of 15. He earned a degree in philosophy and also worked as a technical writer and instructor of English before being hospitalized for mental illness in the early 1960s.

His philosophical thinking and personal experiences during these years, including a 1968 motorcycle trip across the U.S. West with his eldest son, Christopher, formed the core of the narrative of the novel.

Pirsig worked on the sequel, “Lila: An Inquiry into Morals” for 17 years before its publication in 1991. The story traced a sailboat journey taken by two fictitious characters along America’s eastern coast.

Pirsig lived the last 30 years in South Berwick, Maine and is survived by his wife Wendy, two children and three grandchildren. His son Chris died in 1979.

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Do You Know Where Your Clothes Come From?

Have you ever considered where your clothing comes from? No, not the brand name, but the workers who stitched together your outfit at a tremendously small wage. Fast fashion brands like H&M, Nordstrom, GAP, and Forever 21 depend on vastly underpaid workers (as little as $4/hour) to make clothing at alarming rates to meet consumer demand.

Most fast fashion brands can’t afford to be ethical, but you can. As today is Fashion Revolution Day, we urge you to consider the implications of your clothing choices. Today is designed to draw attention to the fact that much of the global fashion industry is opaque, exploitative and environmentally damaging.

The fashion industry desperately needs revolutionary change. While we all love fashion, our clothes shouldn’t come at the cost of people or our planet. So, check out the video above from Remake. Perhaps it will help you reconsider how you consume clothing. There are ethical fashion brands out there, but you have to make the choice to seek them out. That’s what real change looks like.

For more on how you can make a change with your clothing head over to Fashion Revolution Day’s website. It’s a valuable resource for information, activism, and how you can get involved.

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Everyone Missed Something In Those New ‘Game Of Thrones’ Photos

Few things are as great as knowing something before you’re supposed to. It’s the same feeling you get from yelling at Steve on “Blue’s Clues” about what the clues actually mean. He’s giving you that blank stare, not because he’s actually staring into a camera lens and can’t hear you, but because you’re a total boss.

Jon Snow will never have that feeling. Jon Snow knows nothing. However, we might know something new about him and where “Game of Thrones” is going. It’s all because of this photo:

After HBO released Season 7 photos, including this one of Sam and Gilly, fans have been frantically trying to decode what Gilly is reading.

Now, apparently, they have.

As reported by “Game of Thrones” fan site Winter is Coming, Redditor itsjayrr pointed out that the page seems to be out of George R.R. Martin’s book The World of Ice & Fire, which tells the history of Westeros. The passage talks about Azor Ahai, the person who’s supposed to save everyone.

See it here:

Upon our own inspection, it does seem like key words in the image do match up with the text from the book.

On the page from The World of Ice & Fire, we hear about “The Long Night,” a time when winter supposedly lasted for a generation. Then, a hero known as Azor Ahai came along to help rid the land of the White Walkers. A prophecy tells of the return of Azor Ahai, sometimes used interchangeably with the term The Prince That Was Promised. Either way, this legendary character is seen as the person who will ultimately save Westeros.

The paragraph further emphasizes the importance of the prophecy within the “Game of Thrones” universe and makes us wonder: who will be Azor Ahai?

Is it Dany? Is it Jon Snow? Someone else? The debate can go on and on.

Kit Harington told HuffPost that he didn’t care if his character, Jon Snow, is the Prince or not, which is probably for the best. If the page Gilly’s perusing is from The World of Ice & Fire, Snow has bigger problems.

Something is coming to “Game of Thrones,” and it ain’t winter … 

It’s Ice Spiders.

Oh what a tangled ice web we weave …

Following the revelation about the book, we checked out our own copy of The World of Ice & Fire.

When you look at the specific section of text, it’s easy to notice that the rest of the page has a reference to the White Walkers using giant ice spiders. There’s even a picture of White Walkers with the spiders. If the book Gilly is using is some version of The World of Ice & Fire, continued reading will reveal the same. 

Giant ice spiders have already been mentioned on the show. Old Nan told Bran about them back in Season 1, saying the White Walkers’ spiders were as big as hounds. 

Are the spiders coming? Time will tell.

But, yeah, duh, why not? 

If this book on the show is being looked to as fact, Sam and Gilly better hope they have Hagrid from “Harry Potter” coming to help. That dude loves spiders. Ron will probably want to stay home.

Ice spiders are coming.

“Game of Thrones” Season 7 premieres July 16.

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An Artist Tells The Story Of Her Rape Through Thousands Of Tally Marks

At first, Shannon Mackenzie’s “Rotatio” appears like a vast mandala of tally marks, arranged on a white wall in a six-foot wide circle. Look closer, however, and you will notice words embedded within the tallies, softly vying for your attention.

“His kiss was a bomb,” reads one. “I blacked out,” another. Together, these gasps of written texts tell a story ― the story of when Mackenzie was raped. 

“When I first imagined the piece, actually making it felt like one of the scariest things I could do,” Mackenzie wrote in an email to HuffPost. “I was afraid to tell people what happened. I was afraid to share it with people I loved. I was afraid to use his name. I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to finish it. At the same time, I knew that not making it would hurt me even more.”

Mackenzie began sketching and participating in drawing exercises following her assault as a way to alleviate stress and anxiety. The simple action of applying thousands of tick marks, one after another, became, for the artist, a means of survival, a reason to keep going and keep marking. One night, the artwork she’d subconsciously embarked upon revealed its final shape: a conglomeration of simple tally marks stretched into a dark orb of uniform markings. A shadowy circle, whose edges were already bleeding beyond their allotted edges. 

“The circle has always been a powerful symbol,” Mackenzie said, “representing a whole, feminine energy, cycles, the universe.” She was particularly influenced by a Thomas Moore quote, which she shared: “All the work on the soul takes the form of a circle, a rotatio.” 

For 33 hours over the course of two weeks, Mackenzie participated in the meditative ritual of applying mark after mark, sprinkling in the painful details of the night she was attacked. She includes the name of her rapist in the piece, a decision not rooted in revenge, as the artist explained, but in her desire to tell her story without shame or censorship, relieving herself of some of the weight of the abuse she’s continued to carry. 

“Its creation was about storytelling, but only to those who wanted to hear the story, to read it,” the artist said. “It was a way for me to finally share what happened to me so that I could stand on it and justify its reality in my life.” 

Many of the people who saw the piece in person, Mackenzie recalled, didn’t even realize that language was buried amid the lines. They took in the image as a whole but did not absorb the entirety of the narrative and the strength it required.

At the end of the performance, Mackenzie painted over the outcome of her work with white paint, marking the piece’s conclusion with a blank canvas, a new beginning. The only record of the piece lives in a short documentary Ian McClerin made of the piece in 2015, also titled “Rotatio.” 

Initially Mackenzie never intended the piece to be viewed by a large public audience; it was her project, her story, her healing process. But McClerin, who documented the piece from start to finish on film, encouraged Mackenzie to share her story, “take the leap,” submit to film festivals and reach out to a wider viewership.

“To be completely honest, I made this piece with no expectations of feedback beyond the small group of people that saw it in person,” Mackenzie said. “I was terrified of what the feedback might be. And now, I am blown away by the responses ― so much positivity, from individuals who I’ve never met to people in my own community, that have been able to reach out to me in collective support. The feedback and the entire process has truly changed me life in a way that I never could have imagined.”

Under four minutes long, McClerin’s short film has now been viewed over 80k times on Vimeo. The simple image of a floating circle infested with tally marks speaks to the universality of the pain of being a survivor of rape. The language interspersed throughout reveals the individuality of every unique instance.

Mackenzie’s ritual was a monumental purge ― a rejection and ejection of fear, of shame, of painful memories, of fragments of old self, of silence. “There is a saying that you get out as much as you put in,” the artist says in the video, while painting over her labor-intensive creation, ruminating on its lasting impact. “This is post-traumatic growth. This is something you carry forever, regardless of how it affects you.”

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You Can Now Download And Use The Fonts Of Your Favorite ’90s TV Shows

If you’ve longed to write “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” fan fiction in the exact font the iconic ‘90s horror anthology used for its logo ― well, dedicated SNICK follower, your time has come.

Thanks to this website, you can write all the teenage campfire drama you want, in the Benguiat Bold typeface you’ve come to love. In fact, you can even read a bit about the font’s origins, and other typefaces destined for ‘90s TV show stardom, thanks to typography expert Alexander Tochilovsky, the design curator of the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography in New York City.

“The ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ logo is an interesting one,” he explains on the site. “While it’s seemingly very simple with the oval and a clip art like hand, the decision to use this particular typeface is slightly more sophisticated. Conceptually, though, it fits the show perfectly and has the right feel for the intended audience ― especially with the ‘glow in the dark’ vibe it carries.”

Not interested in Tochilovsky’s breakdown of “AYAOTD?” font? (For shame.) How about his take on the “Frasier” typeface? Or “Rugrats”? Or “Fresh Prince”? Or “Twin Peaks”? 

The list goes on. Tochilovsky’s got a whole host of downloadable fonts on the site, courtesy of interactive content creation platform Ceros, along with blurbs that let you know that Gabriel Weiss’ “Friends” font is hand-drawn, and that the “Law and Order” typeface is called Friz Quadrata Std Roman, while the “90210” font is Newhouse DT SuperCondensed Bold. 

Typography devotees, go ahead and enjoy a little bit of nostalgia with your dose of design.

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Target Turned Its Shopping Carts Into ‘Mario Karts’

Mario Kart fans, get pumped!

In honor of the April 28 launch of Mario Kart 8 for Nintendo Switch, Target has unveiled themed shopping carts, entrance music and more. 

On April 20, over 650 Target stores across the country went into “full game-on mode” with Mario Kart carts featuring Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach. This is the first time Target has decorated its iconic red carts.

The stores also feature big round Mario and Luigi bollards, and the entrances have been transformed into starting lines. “As you walk through, motion sensors fire up flashing lights and play Mario’s catchy theme song,” states a press release for the video game festivities.

“Experience counts—it’s what keeps guests coming in and coming back to our stores,” senior vice president of merchandising, Scott Nygaard, notes in the press release. “So we’re delivering the fun like only Target can, giving generations of Mario fans a shopping trip they won’t soon forget.”

Indeed, both parents and kids who love Mario Kart have been enjoying the new additions.

But not everyone is a fan. Writing for Scary Mommy, Valerie Williams noted that while mothers love Target for its breastfeeding policies, empowering clothing options and more, this latest innovation may not be ideal for all parents. 

“Ugh. So that means if we have our kids with us, they’re going to beg for one of the few Mario Kart carts and then possibly mow people down while we mull over our face wash options?” she wrote. “And that’s assuming we can get one and they aren’t throwing a fit because there are no Princess Peach carts left.”

If you share Williams’ concerns, fear not! The Mario Kart elements are part of a limited-time experience expected to last only a few weeks.

So for everyone else, get your fix while you can.

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