There’s a long, intriguing email exchange posted as an article in one of the NY Times magazines (T, their “Style” mag), between actress and director, Nathalie Portman, and her friend of fifteen years, the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer. I got a little excited about the mix of art talk, politics, and silly friend-chatter, but I quickly became distracted by the photos.

I don’t know how else to say this: the only graphic elements of this fairly long exchange are a series of eight portraits of Portman. None–not one–of Safran. In seven of the eight photos, Portman is wearing the following: a sweater, usually open in the front, displaying a bikini beneath; and a pair of warm socks. That’s it. Just the sweater, the bikini, the socks. These photos punctuate Portman’s fairly intimate exchange, published for our reading pleasure, with her [invisible male] friend.

Now, let it be said that prices (and designer sources) for her meager attire appear beneath the pics or at the end of the article–I guess the justification for printing this conversation in “Style” was this embedded advertising. So that makes it fine to depict Portman, just now making her directorial debut (and with some pretty weighty subject matter, based on a memoir by Amos Oz), half undressed. Over, and over. Maybe you don’t find this as disquieting as I do.

We got an urgent notification to be aware of a Days of Rage demonstration by Anonymous and BLM at the statehouse this evening. Since our plans take us near there, I did some digging. Turns out it’s almost certainly a reprise of a Snopes-verified 2014 hoax of the same name. (Our local Black Lives Matter has disavowed anything to do with such an event). Ah, internet–and oh, paranoia, please check your favorite real-or-hoax source before mass-mailing.

One hears, or watches, or reads the details of the Nice massacre as they are woven into the frame of last night’s horror. One emails or phones loved ones overseas, especially in France; maybe stateside as well, not really knowing what to say except, we are here, and you are there, and we care about you, and we are bearing witness at distance to this newest calamity. The perpetrator would seem, at this writing, to be more similar to the disaffected lone shooter in Orlando than to directly terror-cell-affiliated individuals. But “disaffected” and “lone” don’t console anyone, or decrease the damage done.

These events unfurl during a maniacally nutso election season here in the US, and one can’t help but ponder how our presidential choice may be inflected. Meantime, last evening we watched some of President Obama’s town hall on race, a network broadcast which like a lot of other stuff, received little attention because we were all, understandably, riveted to the news from France.

We need to keep our wits about us at least some of the time. We need to keep leaning into the basics before us. Somehow we need to muster compassion for all of our aggrieved fellow travelers, and stay compassionate, despite the barrage of disasters.

Ours is not to complete the task, but neither are we free to desist from it.

with love,


thanks to Cayambe for the photo, ferris wheel in Masséna Square, Nice, France.