I like to eat. Definitely. I love sitting around a table with my friends. But I don't know how to cook anything.
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I like to eat. Definitely. I love sitting around a table with my friends. But I don’t know how to cook anything.

-Donatella Versace

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I . . . hurried to the city library to find out the true age of Chicago. City library! After all, it cannot be anything but Chicagoesque. His is the richest library, no doubt, as everything in Chicago is great in size and wealth. Its million books are filling all the shelves, as the dry goods fill the big stores. Oh, librarian, you furnished me a very good dinner, even ice cream, but—where is the table? The Chicago city library has no solemnly quiet, softly peaceful reading-room; you are like a god who made a perfect man and forgot to put in the soul; the books are worth nothing without having a sweet corner and plenty of time, as the man is nothing without soul. Throw those books away, if you don't have a perfect reading-room! Dinner is useless without a table. I want to read a book as a scholar, as I want to eat dinner as a gentleman. What difference is there, my dearest Chicago, between your honourable library and the great department store, an emporium where people buy things without a moment of selection, like a busy honey bee?The library is situated in the most annoyingly noisy business quarter, under the overhanging smoke, in the nearest reach of the engine bells of the lakeside. One can hardly spend an hour in it if he be not a Chicagoan who was born without taste of the fresh air and blue sky. The heavy, oppressive, ill-smelling air of Chicago almost kills me sometimes. What a foolishness and absurdity of the city administrators to build the office of learning in such place of restaurants and barber shops!Look at that edifice of the city library! Look at that white marble! That's great, admirable; that means tremendous power of money. But what a vulgarity, stupid taste, outward display, what an entire lacking of fine sentiment and artistic love! Ah, those decorations with gold and green on the marble stone spoil the beauty! What a shame! That is exactly Chicagoesque. O Chicago, you have fine taste, haven't you?

-Yone Noguchi

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So here is what I see when we reclaim the church ladies: a woman loved and free is beautiful. She is laughing with her sisters, and together they are telling their stories, revealing their scars and their wounds, the places where they don't have it figured out. They are nurturers, creating a haven where the young, the broken, the tenderhearted, and the at-risk can flourish. These women are dancing and worshiping, hands high, faces tipped toward heaven, tears streaming. They are celebrating all shapes and sizes, talking frankly and respectfully about sexuality and body image, promising to stop calling themselves fat. They are saving babies tossed in rubbish heaps, rescuing child soldiers, supporting mamas trying to make ends meet halfway around the world, thinking of justice when they buy their daily coffee. They are fighting sex trafficking. They are pastoring and counseling. They are choosing life consistently, building hope, doing the hard work of transformation in themselves. They are shaking off the silence of shame and throwing open the prison doors of physical and sexual abuse, addictions, eating disorders, and suicidal depression. Poverty and despair are being unlocked - these women know there are many hands helping turn that key. There isn't much complaining about husbands and chores, cattiness, or jealousy when a woman knows she is loved for her true self. She is lit up with something bigger than what the world offers, refusing to be intimidated into silence or despair.

-Sarah Bessey

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I used to read in books how our fathers persecuted mankind. But I never appreciated it. I did not really appreciate the infamies that have been committed in the name of religion, until I saw the iron arguments that Christians used. I saw the Thumbscrew—two little pieces of iron, armed on the inner surfaces with protuberances, to prevent their slipping; through each end a screw uniting the two pieces. And when some man denied the efficacy of baptism, or may be said, 'I do not believe that a fish ever swallowed a man to keep him from drowning,' then they put his thumb between these pieces of iron and in the name of love and universal forgiveness, began to screw these pieces together. When this was done most men said, 'I will recant.' Probably I should have done the same. Probably I would have said: 'Stop; I will admit anything that you wish; I will admit that there is one god or a million, one hell or a billion; suit yourselves; but stop.'But there was now and then a man who would not swerve the breadth of a hair. There was now and then some sublime heart, willing to die for an intellectual conviction. Had it not been for such men, we would be savages to-night. Had it not been for a few brave, heroic souls in every age, we would have been cannibals, with pictures of wild beasts tattooed upon our flesh, dancing around some dried snake fetich.Let us thank every good and noble man who stood so grandly, so proudly, in spite of opposition, of hatred and death, for what he believed to be the truth.Heroism did not excite the respect of our fathers. The man who would not recant was not forgiven. They screwed the thumbscrews down to the last pang, and then threw their victim into some dungeon, where, in the throbbing silence and darkness, he might suffer the agonies of the fabled damned. This was done in the name of love—in the name of mercy, in the name of Christ.I saw, too, what they called the Collar of Torture. Imagine a circle of iron, and on the inside a hundred points almost as sharp as needles. This argument was fastened about the throat of the sufferer. Then he could not walk, nor sit down, nor stir without the neck being punctured, by these points. In a little while the throat would begin to swell, and suffocation would end the agonies of that man. This man, it may be, had committed the crime of saying, with tears upon his cheeks, 'I do not believe that God, the father of us all, will damn to eternal perdition any of the children of men.'I saw another instrument, called the Scavenger's Daughter. Think of a pair of shears with handles, not only where they now are, but at the points as well, and just above the pivot that unites the blades, a circle of iron. In the upper handles the hands would be placed; in the lower, the feet; and through the iron ring, at the centre, the head of the victim would be forced. In this condition, he would be thrown prone upon the earth, and the strain upon the muscles produced such agony that insanity would in pity end his pain.I saw the Rack. This was a box like the bed of a wagon, with a windlass at each end, with levers, and ratchets to prevent slipping; over each windlass went chains; some were fastened to the ankles of the sufferer; others to his wrists. And then priests, clergymen, divines, saints, began turning these windlasses, and kept turning, until the ankles, the knees, the hips, the shoulders, the elbows, the wrists of the victim were all dislocated, and the sufferer was wet with the sweat of agony. And they had standing by a physician to feel his pulse. What for? To save his life? Yes. In mercy? No; simply that they might rack him once again.This was done, remember, in the name of civilization; in the name of law and order; in the name of mercy; in the name of religion; in the name of Christ.

-Robert G.

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Did I ever tell you about the manwho taught his asshole to talk?His whole abdomen would move up and down,you dig, farting out the words.It was unlike anything I ever heard. Bubbly, thick, stagnant sound. A sound you could smell. This man worked for the carnival,you dig? And to start with it waslike a novelty ventriloquist act.After a while,the ass started talking on its own.He would go inwithout anything prepared...and his ass would ad-liband toss the gags back at him every time. Then it developed sort of teethlike...little raspy incurving hooksand started eating.He thought this was cute at firstand built an act around it...but the asshole would eat its way throughhis pants and start talking on the street... shouting out it wanted equal rights.It would get drunk, too, and have crying jags.Nobody loved it. And it wanted to be kissed,same as any other mouth. Finally, it talked all the time,day and night. You could hear him for blocks,screaming at it to shut up... beating at it with his fists... and sticking candles up it, but... nothing did any good,and the asshole said to him... "It is you who will shut upin the end, not me..."because we don't need youaround here anymore. I can talk and eat and shit." After that, he began waking upin the morning with transparentjelly... like a tadpole's tailall over his mouth. He would tear it off his mouthand the pieces would stick to his hands... like burning gasoline jellyand grow there. So, finally, his mouth sealed over... and the whole head... would have amputated spontaneouslyexcept for the eyes, you dig? That's the one thingthat the asshole couldn't do was see. It needed the eyes.Nerve connections were blocked... and infiltrated and atrophied. So, the brain couldn'tgive orders anymore. It was trapped inside the skull... sealed off.For a while, you could see... the silent, helpless sufferingof the brain behind the eyes. And then finallythe brain must have died... because the eyes went out... and there was no more feeling in themthan a crab's eye at the end of a stalk.

-William S.

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