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

72: Sorry you missed it

This week’s essay: Sorry you missed it

This weekend seemed to be Midwestern Music Festival weekend, because there were a lot of them this weekend, and a good chunk of people I know happen to be going to them. I happen to not be going to any of them this year simply because I could not afford it. That is fair, it happens, things cost money, capitalism. I know I shouldn’t care that I’m not going to any festivals, and I should be happy for my friends, and I should be comfortable in my decisions, but this time around it really made me feel weird ~ like I was not being the best person I should be. This weird voice was telling me that at the age of 25 I should be doing everything I’m not doing and instead be out until 3am, being adventurous, and not having so much career anxiety because you can worry about that later ~ be young, and wild, and free as the adage goes. This Sunday, as I write this, I didn’t leave the house until 2pm and the most #adventurous thing I’ve done is made two cups of coffee, listened to podcasts, and cleared my Instapaper queue. I felt like a bump on a log, not making the most of my summer and not experiencing the blissful state of self-YOLOization at the top of Yung Maslow’s pyramid.

The reason why this is particularly sticky is two years ago I was at one of these festivals. I happily jumped among crowds of like-minded people, cheerfully photographed the good time I was having, and did so in a manner that I’m sure that I was obnoxious to anyone that was not there. I didn’t care, I felt like I was at the cool kids table, both IRL and online, sharing this experience with thousands of others through the screams in my ear and hashtags on my screens. This year I’m looking in from the outside, listening to these screams on looping Instagram videos and Snapchat stories, getting a glimpse of my face in the black mirror of my iPhone once the screen turns off. And it happens.

There will always be wonderful design-focused festivals that you cannot afford or have not been invited to, friends in town that the timing just does not work out, or coming across photos of group hangouts that you knew nothing about. It is even easier to say, “I have a boring life,” and curl up in a corner. It’s all about finding that core reason of the crumminess and being honest with it. I realized that I needed to be outside and needed some human interaction, and it didn’t help that my partner was out of town. I packed my bag with a sandwich and some water, rode my bike to a park, and sat on a bench and wrote this while people watching.

If I had the opportunity to view the entire history of me, I know there would be memorable moments that Instagram well, like going to a music festival, and there would be terrible moments where I felt like complete garbage juice (that I probably did not Instagram). Accepting the balance of two and realizing that you can’t do everything leads to a more balanced and chill self. In Chicago, we have virtually three months to fit every social obligation before the entire city freezes over into oblivion, I have to be okay that I’m not going to be able to see everything and everybody.


What did I find interesting this week?

★ There’s been a lot talk around the internet about why web pages are sucking a lot as of lately, but I haven’t read this particular take that explains the complexities of web advertising.

★ Skateboarding and hip-hop has had a long history before Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Kick Push’.

★ The Dissolve shut down, while ViralNova just received $100 Million in funding. Why the dream of the high-brow internet is dead.

★ If you’ve ever rode MTA transit in New York, this is the guy behind the “stand clear the closing doors please” voice. (Ugh, I loved riding the subway there because the sound of the “ding dong” door tone on the new model trains.)

★ All technology involved in agriculture isn’t bad. Also watch this for the best take on the fetishization of farming culture.

★ BONUS: This was a fantastic analysis of how Pixar movies follow the narrative that the only well-valued life is one where everyone works hard, and why that’s slightly problematic.


What’s coming up?

★ Big news. Cher and I will be changing our podcast, Open Ended, into a weekly format! This coming Wednesday will be an episode featuring just the two of us. You can check out last week’s episode with guest Rachel Adams of Dinner was Delicious on our freshly redesigned websiteiTunes, or in any other podcast player. Be sure to rate us on iTunes and send us a donation to keep our lights on.

★ CHGO DSGN: WHEREVER show at LVL3 in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood is up until August 16th. I’m showing a piece with a bunch of other talented folks.

★ The group exhibition, Three the Hard Way, is up until August 23rd at The Logan Center in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood with Ayana Contreras and David Leggett.

★ I will be giving an artist talk on Wednesday, August 5th at The Logan Center about the Three The Hard Way exhibition. 


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Special shout out to Jayson, Subi, the Revision Path podcast, Allyson, Will and Chad for supporting this week’s newsletter. You keep this boat a float. Only $227 to go before this becomes sustainable!

Thanks for reading, and see you next week.


James T. Green