I Found This Cool Thing!

A central idea of Avidly is that interesting things are all around us—and that these things become more interesting through the act of describing and debating them with other smart folks. Write here if: you found a random something in an archive or on the street; if you learned something about the past or the present; if you went someplace beautiful or grand or terrifying.

17 Endangered Species That Are Also Bands

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3
March 5, 2014
17 Endangered Species That Are Also Bands

1: Alabama Heelsplitter This richly colored Gulf mussel, with a shell like polished leather in a college library, plays bluegrass with a strain of Lynyrd Skynyrd.   2:Leadbeater’s Possum The official “faunal emblem” of the Australian state of Victoria, this native of Australia’s central highlands opens for Alabama Heelsplitter and adopts a wry, collegiate...
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“Terry was a dude”: A dialogue on “Backstreets” and “Governor Chris Christie’s Fort Lee New Jersey Traffic Jam”

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3
January 23, 2014
“Terry was a dude”: A dialogue on “Backstreets” and “Governor Chris Christie’s Fort Lee New Jersey Traffic Jam”

Recently Rolling Stone published a list of the 100 greatest Bruce Springsteen songs of all time as decided by a panel of Rolling Stone judges. Predictably “Born to Run” nabbed the first spot, and predictably, some folks in my earshot complained that Rolling Stone’s panel seemed a little bit white and a little bit...
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The Growth of A Year

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4
June 11, 2013
The Growth of A Year

I troop forth replenish’d with supreme power, one of an average unending procession, Inland and sea-coast we go, and pass all boundary lines, Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole earth, The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thousands of years.   Eleves, I salute you! come forward! Continue...
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Swamps, Squash, Slavery

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2
May 30, 2013
Swamps, Squash, Slavery

It is difficult to imagine a sufficient motive to have induced any man to penetrate a mile into the swamp before paths were cut and made solid enough, for the purpose of getting the timber.  And these obstacles long prevented any person from going far from the borders.  – Edmund Ruffin, “Observations Made During...
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A Weaver’s Lover

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2
April 9, 2013
A Weaver’s Lover

When Laura Nyro retired from the music business in 1971, she had produced five studio albums.  She was also 24 years old.  A piano-tuner’s daughter with little classical training, in 1967 Nyro found a manager in an upstart promoter named David Geffen.  She recorded albums in the iconic Brill Building in Manhattan, collaborated with...
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Lighting Up

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1
March 5, 2013
Lighting Up

I hate smoking.  I also find it really difficult to hate smoking.  The reasons to abjure from it are well known; whereas, there is hardly a single benefit to the activity.  Therefore, the fact that so many people smoke requires some explanation. My grandmother was a smoker.  At her peak she probably smoked about...
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Losing the Super Bowl; or, What to Make of a Diminished Thing

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4
January 31, 2013
Losing the Super Bowl; or, What to Make of a Diminished Thing

This weekend one team, their coaches, and their fans will lose the Super Bowl. They will take the field riding the wave of a season in which everything has gone right. At some point, however, they will become failures. While one team is donning championship hats, the camera will turn to the expressions on...
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Best Nap in American Literature

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6
January 22, 2013
Best Nap in American Literature

How do you like to nap? For me, it’s like this: on top of the covers (never under the covers) with an extra blanket over me. Light outside (never nap when dark), with some sort of filtering of the light that is coming into the room. Some noise in the background. No socks and...
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Octopuses, not Obsession

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22
August 28, 2012
Octopuses, not Obsession

I’m a real easy guy to buy gifts for. If you see a toy octopus or something with an octopus on it, look no further. I love octopuses. I have a modest tattoo of an octopus on my left arm (I got it in 1992, arguably minutes before tattoos became de rigueur). I wear...
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Jumping Axis, Producing Trauma

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10
August 21, 2012
Jumping Axis, Producing Trauma

  So, The Hunger Games book is about a battle of personal survival, fought by a girl. The Hunter Games movie is different. It’s about a nascent war of rebellion, waged mostly between men. As The Hunger Games book climbed the bestseller charts and contracts were inked to produce The Hunger Games movie, fans and bloggers...
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