Sunday, December 6, 2015

Why I Miss Having a Car: The Music

It's been more than seven years since we moved to Philadelphia and sold our car. For the most part, it's been a good thing: Every step we take — and every gallon of gasoline we don't burn — has been healthier both for us and the environment.

I only occasionally miss having a car. Our experience of the city is certainly different than it otherwise would be: It's much more located in the environs of where we live than it would be if we just go in the car and went whenever and wherever we get the notion. Relying on transit requires planning, which can be the death of "let's go over to Kensington to grab a bite." So I miss that.

Mostly, though, what I miss, is something silly: The ability to sing at the top of my lungs.

I was taking a long walk this afternoon on Market Street, listening to Pandora, when I was suddenly gripped by the urge to start singing along -- loudly -- to Arcade Fire. I looked around to see if I'd get caught. Sure enough: There were too many people around. I'd look like a crazy man if I just started belting.

That's less a problem when you're on the highway. Yes, cars passing you can and do see that you're performing a full-blown concert. But there's still enough privacy that it doesn't matter.

I realize now, years later, that my car was the primary place I experienced music -- and also, the primary place I experienced a certain kind of joy in unashamedly throwing myself into the music. Owning a car in Center City would be a pain in the ass -- it's not a need, and would be an expensive luxury -- but I miss it.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Three Thoughts about Ta-Nehisi Coates and "Between the World and Me"

Three thoughts about Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me”:

• This is a relentlessly political book — how could it not be? — and yet attempts to respond to the book from within the typical left-right Democratic-Republican construct of punditry seem to be insufficient to me — they come to the book, as with other political debates, without curiosity, for the sake of trying to win an argument. Let’s try again. This is an American black man telling us how he perceives living as a black man in America today: It contains no policy prescriptions, no endorsement of party or candidate, no 10-point campaign for better living. We haven’t found the right way to talk about this book yet.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Sam Brownback's Kansas shows the GOP id unleashed. It's not very pretty.

I think it's been increasingly clear for a couple of years now that the GOP isn't so much "anti-tax" as "anti-tax on...

Posted by Joel Mathis on Friday, June 12, 2015

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

Twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom!

Posted by Joel Mathis on Tuesday, June 9, 2015

On Marco Rubio's finances

My first pass was to give Marco Rubio a pass on this. Lots of Gen-Xers got hit by the recession in ways they're still...

Posted by Joel Mathis on Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sunday, April 26, 2015

How Should Christians Respond to Gay Behavior They Consider Sinful? A Lapsed Mennonite Replies Awkwardly to Bishop Silva


The Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to deny her cake and flowers at her wedding."

Now: Anybody with passing familiarity with the Christian Bible probably can spot right away that this is not a faithful retelling of the incident in John 8. Instead, it’s a telling of scripture as I re-imagined it in light of the law, passed recently in Indiana, allowing shopkeepers to discriminate against gays. My conservative writing/debating partner, Ben Boychuk, has told me on several occasions that my effort was “glib,” but I disagree. Satirical, yes, but considered satire, with a purpose that was quite serious: To suggest that Christians might want to reconsider this issue in light of an age-old question: What Would Jesus Do?

Of all the responses I received — and I continue to receive them, weeks later — none was quite as surprising as my discovery that the Bishop of Honolulu, Larry Silva, took my column and made it the centerpiece of his Sunday homily a few weeks ago. Suffice it to say, he did not agree with my outlook. He deserves to be quoted at length. (And, in fact, I’ll be writing at some length here, so you might as well settle in.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I no longer get to call myself a coffee snob.

The Washington Post says we're drinking bad coffee:
People in this country, on the whole, are actually drinking worse coffee today than they have in the past. And the reason appears to be that they value cheapness over quality — and convenience over everything. "A lot of people in America would take a sip of single origin high-end coffee and not appreciate the taste," said Howard Telford, an industry analyst at market research firm Euromonitor. 
The rise of coffee pods, which come pre-ground, provides what is without question the most compelling evidence of the country's desire for convenience. Sales of coffee pods have grown by a blistering 138,324 percent — yes, 138,324 percent — over the past 10 years, according to data from Euromonitor. They have have jumped more than tenfold since 2009 alone. And they're still rising at an annual clip of more than 30 percent.
To which I say: You can have my K-cup coffee maker when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

It's not that I like "bad" coffee. It's just that I pretty much only drink home coffee at 5 a.m., when I wake up and jump immediately into my work day. I don't have time to grind whole beans, or to linger over the pour-over method. I just need caffeine.

When I'm out and about, though, I'm pretty choosy about my coffee, dropping into places that do take time to linger of the production of a cup and make it tasty. Americans tend to mix high and low culture, anyway. I just happen to do it with coffee.