The Sternal Journal
Read it for the pictures this time
Helloooo, Sternal Journalists!
I hope that, regardless of your feelings towards the certainly problematic holiday we did this week, you were able to be interface with people and things for which you're thankful.
Before we get to some photos I took in an alley for you, I present the MAILBAG and HELP sections.
Among many other things, I am very thankful that a variety of people reached out to share their thoughts about last week's treatise on bad writing, good writing, and/or Netflix's Emily in Paris (if you missed it in your inbox, check it out ).
One notable response from regular corresponder SB:
"I would suggest, additionally, that the also increasingly pervasive claim that 'now we gotta watch bad tv' is false. Even with the explosion of show-creator-cash-grab-tv, I suspect that the sheer amount of well-written/good shows still is more than anyone could hope to watch in a human lifetime."
This is very true, SB!
Listen, everyone! Especially critics! You do not have to watch trashy television or movies! There's so much good stuff! There's too much good stuff!
So stop pretending there are monumental shifts in the entertainment landscape! You're just craving some shit. It's okay!
I would love to see a headline like "There's Just as Much Great Television as Ever, So Why Am I Watching These 5 Pieces of Shit?"
But anyway! I won't go down that road again quite yet, but as always, please do let me know if a Sternal Journal got you thinking in any exciting ways!
HELP (JK I'LL BE FINE, BUT IF YOU WERE LOOKING FOR WAYS)
Every now and then, people say, "Julian! I love the Sternal Journal! How can I support it?" (I swear. People actually do say this.)
You're obviously welcome to support me on Patreon or, if you're non-committal Venmo, but the most valuable way is to tell me what you think! And not just because it's free. It's also more important to me!
I love hearing when people agree or disagree with something I've said, but also if you ever think, "Julian should really be doing this..." let me know! I'm a one-man operation. I need all the outside savvy I can finagle!
Two things I'd love to be better at:
Design. If you see any simple mistakes I'm making or opportunities for growth I'm missing, let me know! It's something I'd love to focus on at some point when I have the time.
Accessibility. I want to begin to transfer some of the more popular SterJour pieces to Medium so they're easier for more people to see. Should I be publishing all of them? Should I switch to Substack? How do you read indie things on the internet if you do at all?
P.S. You may also pull up your favorite Sternal Journal and forward it to someone you think would like it, and encourage them to subscribe at sternaljournal.com.
P.P.S. You may also buy an Esqueechamug for you or a loved one. I have none in my possession because they sold out, but I can coordinate it to come straight from the distributor before Christmas!
And now for the main event! Friends, Sternalists, Journalists. At the bottom of my street is a large road called Beverly. I've known Beverly for quite a while and have walked along it a bunch while living here.
But it wasn't until quarantine that I discovered the alley that runs parallel to Beverly. Especially in the early days, when I wanted to be able to stretch my legs away from people, this alley became a saving grace, and then a fun little secret with myself, and then an old friend that I've introduced to other old friends when I go for the occasional distanced co-stroll.
One of the things I think I like about it is that nobody has their guard up in an alley. I mean, I guess like self-defense wise, people should and do very much have their guards up in alleys. But socially, all bets are off.
I see a server from the Italian restaurant making a personal call, a congregant from the synagogue leaving through the back, a patron from the hotel sneaking a cigarette.
And then me, a guy walking the full length of an alley while listening to more often than not the dulcet tones of Michael Barbaro.
Sure, we're all technically in public. But none of us are acting like it and none of us feel beholden to it. Especially during a time when, in public, everyones hackles are (rightfully) way the fuck up here, I've found this to be refreshing.
I'm going to be leaving LA for a tiny bit to attempt a (fully planned contactless) drive to quarantine and then see loved ones/family/loved ones' family, so I'll miss my alley. I took one last walk down it this morning, and while it didn't feel right to take pictures of the people I mentioned, there are a lot of (to me) cool-ass and nice-ass things that I will miss.
This is the floodlight that used to scare the bejeezus out of me when I was finishing a run at night. Now, I anticipate it and barely flinch. It proves that I've grown.
I just think this squat lil dumpster is cute. I bet the big one acts like a bully, but really loves the little one more than anything and will always protect him.
This is one face you can see from the alley.
This is another. Is one more important or more deserving of special treatment? Maybe out on Beverly Boulevard. But not here in the alley!
This is just a great, quality hand-painted sign. Nice color. Organic font. I like it.
But this is a terrible hand-painted sign. I hope Morrissey never sees it.
And now we're back to pretty great hand-painted signs.
I see people smoking here a lot, and while smoking isn't cool, I am telling you every single one of these people is. Put them in movies, PLEASE.
This is a cactus, but you didn't see him anywhere around here, understand?
Obligatory formerly hot dog on a train billboard photo with beautiful razor accessories.
This is the parking lot of an obedience school (for dogs). Occasionally, in the evening, they set up a full doggy dressage obstacle course in this very space. It's a sight to see. I wish, for your sake, it was there today.
I love this building.
I mean, come on. If you can resist a goddamn weathervane, you've got inhibitions I could only dream of.
And these cute-ass doors?! What's happening?! Are we in a James Bond reboot directed by Wes Anderson?!
I go ga-ga for fire escapes.
And spooky-cozy tattoo parlors.
A nice white wall.
And a spicy red one.
I used to categorize this as a dumpster in my head, but it's clearly a shipping container. Either way, it has NO business being this cool!
And last but not least, my wonderful alley ends in a skybridge. I love a skybridge. I'm actually not even positive this counts as a "sky" bridge versus a regular bridge, but I think it does! I look at the sky and see a bridge, right? Sky bridge!
Anyway, I encourage you all to take walks as long as you live in places where it's possible to do in a distanced way. And (also with all safety precautions in mind) maybe go off the beaten path! You never know what you might find. Like a weathervane! Or a cactus! (Wait, what? We didn't see any cactuses, did we... DID WE?)
I absorbed three pieces of media this week that had me thinking a lot of overlapping thoughts:
--The Crown S4E5 "Fagan"
--The Daily: "A Conversation with a Border Patrol Agent"
--"The Undergrond Movement Trying to Topple the North Korean Regime." New Yorker
All three involve very unexpected and seemingly impossible set-ups of people for conversations about a respective country's vast, but specific inequities.
And while The Crown's account of a man breaking into Buckingham Palace to talk to the Queen seems to be a stylization of the truth, the article about Free Joseon, the underground movement trying to topple the North Korean regime, had multiple scenes play out beat for beat like espionage thrillers.
And the conversation between an activist-journalist and the head of the Border Patrol union was tender and even funny at times? (but without being apologetic or softening the serious issues at all)
I liked them all, and if you read/listened to/watched them, I'd love to hear if you saw any parallels yourself!
And then, over at I Need You To See This Ep. 4, Joe Cabello and I discuss a poorly designed flyer for a laptop and the ethics of appropriation in cosplay:
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And that's all! Thankful for all of you, Sternal Journalists!