The Center of American Studies at the University of Sussex is a baby. It started this year, yet already they've managed to organise some amazing people to come and speak on campus. Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending an intimate seminar with Isabel Wilkerson, a Pulitzer-prize winning author who spent 15 years researching, and interviewed 1,200 people, in order to write her narrative non-fiction epic 'The Warmth of Other Suns.'
She was perfectly coiffed, insanely eloquent, and had the same grace and charisma as Michelle Obama. Her book focuses on the Great Migration, or the three strands of internal migration, harnessed by African Americans in their plight to leave the Jim Crow South in search for freedom. Some crossed treacherous terrain and put their lives on the line to escape to the North East, to cities like Philly or New York. Some escaped to the Midwest, to places like Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland, Ohio. And others escaped to the West, towards California. The Great Migration, spanning decades until the 1970s, is an enormous part of history so important and prevalent still in today's culture. Among many amazing examples, had it not been for the Great Migration, Isabel argued, the Rolling Stones would never have formed. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger bonded over their shared possession of a Muddy Waters - McKinley Morganfield, a product of the Great Migration - album on vinyl, which had on it a song entitled Rolling Stone.
It was Wilkerson's first time speaking in the U.K., after spending three years on the road across the U.S.A. 'The Warmth of Other Suns' has been catapulted to the top of my Must-Read List.
I've been reading a lot about America recently - about gentrification in New York City, and certain 'New Journalists' chasing the American Dream in Las Vegas and in Kansas, respectively - and have a deep yearning to return. I really miss it! Here are a few snaps I dug up that have been aiding in my nostalgia:
Last week I traded in the sunny shores of Brighton for a trip Up North. My little brother was supposed to be playing Danny in his school's performance of Grease that weekend, but, things went a little topsy-turvy with the director off sick for a few weeks, and so it was cancelled. Needing a vacay from student living, and because I'd already bought the train tickets, I decided to go anyways. Although, I'd kinda forgotten how cold it can get in Yorkshire.
27 March 2014 • food
picture from A House in the Hills
I'm quite renowned for my below-par cooking. In second year, my housemate and I attempted to make a sweet potato risotto for the rest of our housemates (two of which were seasoned chefs, one employed as such and the other just for leisure) which took us about three hours to cook and in which the sweet potato remained hard. It was an awkward dinnertime for all.
I stole this recipe in order to make use of a large bag of quinoa I procured many moons ago when I had a hint of a health-kick. Now, alas, in part due to dissertation stress, I've returned to chomping large quantities of my sweet, sweet friends, namely Chocolate & Crisps...
But with this great recipe, I managed to use up lots of things in the fridge/ cupboard and it tasted real good. And it's healthy right?
Throughout this academic year I've been keen to start volunteering. Less commitment than a job, but more stimulating than bed-living with Netflix permanently streaming, it seemed to me like a fab way to complement my minimal hours of university contact time.
Despite the highly achievable nature of my aspirations, I spent a lot of time faffing. "Where should I volunteer? Should I bother?" I would ask myself while eyeing up my Netflix list wondering how I could possibly find the time to watch EVERYTHING I'd decided was a must-see - in itself as taxing as a degree, I reasoned. Yet, after talking to a friend, who told me, in the most benevolent way, to stop talking about doing things and start just DOing, I decided it was time to quit the ol' faffing and heed her advice. That day I handed in my volunteer application at Books for Amnesty.
I'd walked past its glorious pink walls countless times on my ventures into town, and often stopped to have a nosey at the array of paperbacks lining the front window, but had only ever been inside once. After a quick browse I'd discerned nothing of interest, left, and almost completely forgotten it. What a silly sausage.
Thankfully, they took me on. I'll write more another time about the shop, as the people and cause are all insanely interesting. But for now, let's talk about the stock.
I live on Viaduct Road. It's one of the busiest roads in the city, with hoards of cars zooming relentlessly into the depths of town. It's a one-way rat race. Our road connects onto London Road, which, you guessed it, leads to London (well, to the A23) one way and stretches to the seafront the other.
6 March 2014 • life
The sun's made a much-needed appearance in Brighton recently and it almost seems as if spring has sprung.
If you've never experienced it, Brighton in the summertime is something quite spectacular. People of all ages, legs splayed out of striped deck chairs, lathered in sun cream with their belongings nestling nicely on the pebbles. Students parading through the parks in an assortment of wacky sunglasses, ciders and rollies in hand. Laughter fills the Laines and besides from the groups of rowdy topless lads and bolshy Stag Dos/ Hen Parties that descend upon the seafront, inflatable penises in tow, it just feels... really nice. This city belongs in the sunshine.
And so, I guess, despite it still being 8 or so degrees outside, we couldn't help but get a little excited. After a long, grey, rainy winter (dare I say it) we figured it was about time to come out of hibernation.
4 March 2014 • other
Vinyl's had a massive resurgence lately. Kids in their droves are navigating old music shops to purchase hidden gems for ancient record players, or kinda shitty ones bought from hipster-havens like Urban Outfitters.
Last night Emily, Lucy and I headed to our friends' flat near the seafront for homemade pizza and beer. Throughout the evening we listened to a wicked soundtrack of Blood Orange, Real Estate and other great music - all from their 50p record player bought at a carboot sale at Brighton Marina.
50p! 50 penny sweets or one vessel for booming the late, great Otis Redding's seminal album. I know which one I'd pick.
As I don't have a record player myself, I thought I'd try out some DIY to jazz up my room. I headed to the British Heart Foundation on London Road and landed this beauty:
What a name for a record.
Emily, Fran and I headed to our kitchen to turn this 'pig bonk'ing record into a record-breaking bowl. (I love puns alright, there I said it).
Em was super excited!
First we found our utensil. We were looking for a really tall mug but this being a student house all were missing/ dirty so this measuring cup had to make do.
Excuse the dirty hob *cough* student house *cough* (I swear it's not all slovenly).
I put the record on top of the measuring cup, placing the side downwards that I wanted to be on the inside of my bowl.
And into the preheated oven (100-120 degrees celcius) they both went. We kept the oven door open so we could ogle the warping disc.
We pinched away at the sides and pushed it into shape. But, it wasn't quite to our satisfaction so we popped the vinyl back in for a few mins extra.
It looks rad in my room. Notice the pink waving cat (that obviously approves) who was borne from a birthday card Emily got me which, once popped out and sorted, became a 3D wonder.
My new bowl with some make-up/ things in:
A perfect present for friends or just something cool to put your crap in. And cheap, cheap, cheap.
At the British Heart Foundation charity shop I also bought this cheeky record: