The Plague

There is something to be said about horror movies. No matter how terrible the times or how horrendous reality seems to be at the moment, slasher flicks always seem to draw a crowd. In fact, many of my friends lean into a Netflix binge of Criminal Minds or Hannibal during a hard break up or difficult time in their life. These days, a horror film reads pretty close to reality — if not a bit peachier.

Following that train of thought, why not then, in the midst of a global pandemic, read about a plague? Cue to Albert Camus’ The Plague.

The Plague

The Plague by Albert Camus takes place in the French colonized town of Oran, Algeria. Racial, social, and medical injustices abound in the 308-page book which uses a devastating pandemic to delve into even deeper issues: capitalism and corruption, gross injustices, and a false sense of superiority. Split into five sections, the novel details the insidious spread of plague (in a town that steadfastly ignores its progression) and the subsequent disintegration of a sane society. Sounds eerily familiar, does it not? Well, at least COVID-19 isn’t harbored in the bodies of, and I kid you not, blood-spewing rats…at least not yet. Though…there was that one squirrel in Colorado with the Bubonic Plague (he really couldn’t read the room).

‘If things go on as they are going,’ Rieux remarked, ‘the whole town will be a madhouse.’Albert Camus, The Plague

Continue reading “The Plague”

Jeremiah1x! our Spotlight Artist

Welcome one and all to The Summer Street Library blog! And a very special welcome to Jeremiah1x, our first spotlight artist!

 

One of the missions of The Summer Street Library blog is to showcase young, upcoming, and underrepresented writers and artists across the globe. With this goal in mind comes our spotlight artist articles and interviews which focus on celebrating one artist (of any kind) and their work. This week, we are proud to introduce Jeremiah1x (also known as Jeremiah McGowan)!

From Albany, New York, solo artist Jeremiah1x (he/him) entered into the world of music at a young age. He first “began making music” at age four when he wondered aloud to his great grandmother about what exactly “she was doing while sitting at the piano.”* Since his great grandmother’s teachings, Jeremiah1x went on to become classically trained in piano and has been producing his own music for seven years. 

Jeremiah1x creates his “own beats, synths, and melodies” and describes his style as a dynamic pop-based fusion “incorporating different rhythms like house or hip-hop.” He identifies his target audience as “everybody who likes pop, trap, and likes to dance” — for my own sake, let’s just hope that enjoying dancing is enough…even without any skill.

Inspiration

As for who inspires his music, Jeremiah1x has never forgotten how he was first introduced to music: his great grandmother. The women in his life have proven to be inspirational throughout his whole life. He also looks to fashion for new ideas, walking the streets, and people-watching. Another key inspiration: the famed rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix (alongside some other psychedelic rockers of Hendrix’s era).

I usually find inspiration in my day to day life, inspiration from people’s fashion that I see. Even talking to people, I can be inspired by their day-to-day or their mindset.

Jeremiah1x’s isn’t only inspired by his family, fashion, and favorite musicians, but A significant number of books and writers inspire him. From Jack Kerouac’s On the Road to Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Jeremiah1x’s bookshelf has always animated his music. He also cites Dickinson as a perpetual muse: “Emily Dickinson’s poems always harbor new inspiration for me.” A keen fan of Shakespeare (especially Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice) and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, Jeremiah1x’s music embodies drama without sacrificing nuance. 

Poetry and Music

When I asked Jeremiah1x more about his artform, I wondered how alike poets and lyrists were — and how various beats, instrumentals, and vocals changed how a piece was received. So many poets (and poetry lovers) say that a poem is meant to be enjoyed aloud — that poetry is meant not only to be read but to be savored in the air. The way a poem is read, especially by its author, permeates its meaning: those subtle pauses, slight tonal shifts, and the way in which breath enters a poem become just as important as any other literary device. Perhaps music belongs in a similar realm. Lyrics and notes on a page exist in a certain way, but only truly live once in the air.

To Jeremiah1x, music is poetry — or at very least, a particular type of poetry set apart by cadence, volume, and sung story. I posed to Jeremiah1x the following question, does the music surrounding or behind the words change their meaning and if so, how? To him, “music itself needs the lyrics to [truly] unfold” — however, that meaning can change from day to day, person to person, ear to ear. Music becomes a conduit for ever-changing, ever-evolving emotion.

Lyric writing is exactly like poetry in a storytelling cadence. I think that even a piano alone can be poetic. Even the image of a lone piano is poetic, to me. Music is auditory art because you can experience the same emotions the artist was feeling writing it.

Writer’s Block

When asked if he ever struggles with writer’s block or creative fatigue, Jeremiah1x had quite the definitive response: “Writer’s block is fake news. It comes from lazy people unwilling to practice their instruments. Creative fatigue however is always a danger. Setting aside daily time to practice your instruments solves both of these problems.” I certainly hope the next time I am feeling stuck, I can proceed with as much gumption! Writing each day keeps the writer’s block away…perhaps…one can certainly hope so!

If you are interested in learning more about Jeremiah1x, be sure to check out his SoundCloud and YouTube channel (and keep your eyes, and ears, peeled for his upcoming single “Fallin'”)! He is also known to live DJ on his Facebook page, a treat you don’t want to miss, so a friending wouldn’t be amiss.

Until next time, I’m signing off. Keep on reading and listening.

~ Sadie

Be on the lookout for more from The Summer Street Library — here all Summer!

 

*all quotations come from The Summer Street Library’s exclusive online interview with Jeremiah1x

 

The Summer Street Library focuses on highlighting young, divergent, and or underrepresented writers and artists with an especial focus on BIPOC, self-published, and unpublished writers. If you are interested in contributing to The Summer Street Library as a spotlight artist, please contact the blog’s founder, Sadie Hofmeester, at thesummerstreetlibrary@gmail.com.

So Said the Cook

Welcome to our first installment of Get A Clue!

So Said the Cook

by Sadie Amelia Hofmeester

Set far back from the main road was an extravagant home owned by one Mr. Greene. Lined by tall trees, the winding drive up to the property transported the driver from a rather banal country highway to a faraway land. Once one turned onto that near hidden drive, the evergreens seemed to swallow all sounds from the road and make them feel so very far away.

Resplendent with turrets and stonework, Greene’s massive home domineered the grounds — though those spilled near endlessly beyond the mansion’s backdoors. Even though the highway couldn’t be more than a 10 minute drive away, the only noise that drifted on the fir-scented air was jazz music. 

Though no one seemed able to decipher how (or when exactly) Mr. Greene had accumulated his incalculable wealth, he did have rich taste in music. Anytime someone entered his foyer, a soulful jazz danced about the room. And tonight, one of his renowned soirées, was no exception. 

Though Greene himself was nowhere to be seen, his guests enjoyed the jazz band situated in the music room. As Miss Scarlett swirled past the grand foyer in her crimson gown, the music seemed to follow her, folding into near every corner of the house. In the grand hall, Professor Plum pontificated about the moral quandaries of “proper” English between bites of smoked salmon canapés. Mrs. Peacock, appearing utterly enchanted by the music and some new pharmaceutical of her choosing, swayed to and fro, touching every suit pocket and dress front she could. Enamored with the textures, she lurched past the stoney faced policeman no one knew who had invited, and limpet-ed herself onto the unfortunate Mr. Wadsworth, Greene’s head butler. Especially delighted with Wadsworth’s jacket lapels, much to his chagrin, she began languorously rubbing herself on him as he precariously balanced a tray of lobster parmesan croquettes. 

As the jazz quartet played tirelessly, other servers floated around the first floor with plates of the night’s delights: smoked salmon mousse canapés, Beluga Sturgeon caviar on crispy cornmeal blinis, bacon-wrapped scallops with a light lemon aioli, and the like. As with all of Mr. Greene’s many parties, this evening followed a culinary theme — tonight’s was Jewels of the Deep. As he kept a ridiculously small staff for such a large home, Greene always brought in the same catering company and gave them free rein over his kitchen, pantries, and wine cellar. He didn’t believe in food prepped in any place other than his own home, wine brought up from anywhere but his own cellar. Odd…but given his immense wealth and gregarious nature, Greene was permitted this particular flavor of eccentricity.  Continue reading “So Said the Cook”

Get A Clue! An Online Penny Dreadful!

The Summer Street Library of the Salem House Press would like to welcome you to our latest online serial, Get A Clue!

Salem House Press has been publishing series of different periodical titles on our website. In that tradition, comes Get A Clue! Harkening back to the days of penny dreadfuls (also known as penny bloods), Sadie Hofmeester’s Get A Clue is a periodic short fiction series loosely based on the beloved board game, Clue. This serialized work of fiction revolves around one night, one murder, and many perspectives. Who is telling the truth? That is up to you to decipher!

Welcome to The Summer Street Library

 Welcome to our blog for readers, writers, and artists alike…

 

The Summer Street Library could be anywhere and welcomes everyone. We read a vast variety of different books with varied genres, topics, and writers. These books span the gambit from classics to contemporary, romance to historical fiction. The Summer Street Library is pro-pleasure and exploration — especially in the written world! Push yourself to pick up a book you normally wouldn’t consider or read an author you’ve never heard of before — you may find a new favorite. If not, no worries…simply pick up another and start again! 

The Summer Street Library blog isn’t just another list of books received and read though. This blog functions as a platform to spotlight artists of all kinds, working to centralize marginalized voices and push back against the broader racist, colorist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, and transphobic publishing industry. The Summer Street Library focuses on highlighting young, divergent, and or underrepresented writers and artists with an especial focus on unpublished or self-published writers. If you are interested in contributing to The Summer Street Library as a spotlight artist, please contact the blog’s founder, Sadie Hofmeester, at thesummerstreetlibrary@gmail.com. 

Be on the lookout for more from The Summer Street Library — here all Summer!

A Massachusetts Road Trip for All Ages: Ice Cream All Day…

It is your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler the Boy on the Move, once again bringing you the best in last-minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months…

And this week I’m shining a delicious spotlight on one of my favorite road trips throughout the state of Massachusetts. With all my moving around, I’ve built up quite an appetite…the best way to quench that hunger? A big bowl of ice cream! Or make that twenty!

During one of the times my parents had a contract at MIT, we took this amazing road trip around the state trying to stop at the best and most famous ice cream stands within the great Commonwealth. Commonwealth? I didn’t end up with common-health! The trip was great but would have been even more amazing if I didn’t get such a stomach ache afterward.

Since we were so close to Toscanini’s Ice Cream, we started day one off there before heading up to White Farms Ice Cream. We sped down Route 2 heading West to make sure we could sneak in as many stands as possible. After spending so long on the road the first day, we spent the night in Northampton — what a cool town! We stayed up late checking it out. I got to get some great stuff at the Vintage Cellar like this neat French military shoulder bread bag to keep my tablet in! My parents just love antique stores. Usually, I end up looking at the old tin toys while they freak over some old computer or desk thing.

We started the next day off with Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream and ended all the way at Peaceful Meadow’s Farm. I don’t remember too much of the drive home. I got to stay up real late the first night and passed out on the drive back to Boston the second. I crashed hard after eating all of that sugar…

As the Summer begins to really heat up, why not drive around The Bay State and eat your fill of ice cream, soft serve, sorbet, and sherbet too! If I had to pick one go-to place, it would have to be Toscanini’s Ice Cream in Cambridge. A no-brainer with funky flavors like Kulfi and Burnt Caramel! They were my favorite. Good thing they were close to MIT; I got to eat a lot of them while we were in the area.

 

 

As you head out, try not to get too much of a brain freeze!

~ Tyler

To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler’s latest book “Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida”. It is now available in paperback at most bookstores. Ask for it by name. Keep checking back for great cheap vacation ideas that might end up being the best vacation you ever had!