September Digest

What about the teacher in nowheresville who enlightened dozens with lessons outside the curriculum? What about the retiree who built an ad hoc auxiliary radio to communicate with and encourage soldiers fighting in the war? Or what about the elderly couple walking home arm-in-arm after celebrating their 60th anniversary? There must be genius there and likely everywhere.

In this issue, we consider individuals who wielded genius in unlikely places. Slow down, tune in, and enjoy.

"But earlier this week on a wooded path,
I thought the swans afloat on the reservoir
were the true geniuses,
the ones who had figured out how to fly,
how to be both beautiful and brutal,
and how to mate for life."

-Bill Collins

'Genius' by Billy Collins

The poem that inspired this month's topic, 'Genius, ' touches on the brilliance and beauty in our surroundings and even in ourselves. Head over to the Poetry Foundation to read this little gem.

'Hockney' (2016)

David Hockney's style is unmistakable, always fresh, and simply enjoyable. His genius is in his ability to look at things anew, which allows him to produce deeply original work. 'Hockney' is an excellent snapshot of his journey and the struggles of his time.

'Sketches of Spain' - Miles Davis (1960)

Miles' genius undoubtedly was his ability to advance the form and scope of Jazz. 'Sketches of Spain' is a prime example. Legend has it that Miles' wife dragged him to a flamenco performance, during which he became inspired. Obsessed, he bought every flamenco album he could find the next day at Colony Records in Midtown. Reunited with longtime collaborator Gil Evans, they set out to record a single track but found themselves composing an entire album rooted in Spanish folk. Give it a spin; you'll thank us later.

'Barton Fink' - The Coen Brothers (1991)

Part satire and cautionary tale, the Coen Brothers tell a hilariously dark story of the shortcomings of genius. The Coen Brothers show us a different kind of genius - an ego-centric and ultimately fragile genius that fails to realize his moment. Barton Fink is a masterclass in storytelling with brilliant performances that stay with you well after the end.

'The Oyler House: Richar Neutra's Desert Retreat' (2012)

In 1959, Richard Oyler, a local government employee and modest everyman, asked world-famous architect Richard Neutra to design his family home in the California desert. The unlikely union of these two became the birth of a brilliant creation and a beautiful friendship. 'The Oyler House' doc tells the story, warms the heart, and illuminates the mind.

'Percy Cerutty: Odd Partners' Odd Ways to Record a Mile' (1958) - Life Magazine

He was an institutional outcast of the time, but Olympic running coach Percy Cerutty would continue to buck the norms and push his athletes to win gold medals. Many of his original beliefs have gained widespread acceptance among prominent athletes today. Journey back in time to read about the trainer, his unorthodox views, and the deep relationships he cultivated with his athletes. We love an iconoclast, and Perry Cerutty is a fascinating example of why.