James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

that may or may not exist

23: Get Weird

May 10th was a holiday to me--a special time that I anticipated for at least a month in advance. What day is that you say? Why that day happens to be National Train Day. Amtrak and surrounding train lines participate in this day with many activities set at train stations across the country for casual riders and enthusiasts alike. Yes it's very niche and nerdy to others, but for me it was a special day and I was glad to check it out.

Growing up, I've always had a fascination with the rails. Some apartment complexes where I lived as a child were by giant rail yards and I used to hear the trains go by our house day in and day out. While my dad was frustrated by the many times we would get caught by the passing trains while driving to the store, I used to find joy in wondering where these large freight trains were going--exploring the mystery of what was inside of their large cars. No matter how much the kids made fun of me, and how much it secretly hurt inside, I kept on enjoying my love of Thomas the Train Engine and those mysterious, endless rails. Years later, Train Day 2014 had plenty of attendees, but I was definitely in the minority of older fans (one of the volunteers said that very rarely do you see train fans in the young adult category--they usually hover around very older or much younger"). My fiancée C'ne and friends Becky and Kole came along for the ride to check out booths, mechanical model trains, and even taking a tour on a historic Pullman engine. I was definitely in my element and interest group. It truly felt great.

When it was all over, it got me thinking about the differences that separate others that reside in similar social and interests circles. In person, and especially online, it's easy to radiate similar thoughts and exist within a vacuum. Whether it's a group of train enthusiasts or artists/designers, the thing that really gets me interested in others is what makes them tick outside of that general identity that we all (in a group) self identify with.While nice, I know that we (artists and designers) are not just into cats, craft beer, and obscure indie electronic music--what are the things you enjoy that doesn't fit into that box? Whether at a conference, party, or even a train ride (!) those are the interests that get my mind going. I've met fellow artists and designers that embrace their other ambitions, hobbies and jobs in beekeeping, heavy metal music, manga collecting, marathon training and a slew of other things. I already know you like sketchbooks, computers, and coffee--what else do you like?

While it may not be new news to some, yes I'm a train enthusiast. Before trains, I had a knack for collecting sports cards, and before that, I had a thing for 60s era model cars and painting them. When you embrace yourself, that true self and not that Internet Brand™ self, it makes you a lot more interesting--it shows what makes you tick and makes you, well, you. So I'm curious, what is that thing about yourself that others may find strange but you are enthusiastic about? Hit reply and let me know.

Have a great Monday and see you next week,


What did I find interesting this week?

1) The Busy Trap: An Op-Ed piece against the illusion of busy and why that default is usually destructive.

2) Report: 90% Of Waking Hours Spent Staring At Glowing Rectangles: The Onion, you did it very well with this piece. Had me in stitches.

3) What Does Kara Walker's Sugary Sphinx Tell Us?: Artist Kara Walker has a very interesting body of work located inside the Domino Sugar Factory in New York. Definitely get yourself up to speed on this from this piece on Hyperallergic.

4) Hold The Music, Just The Lyrics Please (Planet Money Podcast): Planet Money does a great job of unpeeling economics into an easily digestible format. This episode touched on the hidden money behind song writing, and the hidden battle between songwriters and lyric websites, such as Rap Genius.

5) Why a Students Using Laptops Learn Less In Class Even When They Are Really Taking Notes: As a serial digital note taker, I found this investigation to be fascinating. 

James T. Green