Thursday, July 31, 2008


Wake up early, following a nightmare featuring a stranger breaking into my room as I slept. Read paper, eat breakfast, go back to sleep. I'm adopting my parents' sleeping habits.

Pack & drive to Chicago. All of Rt 70 in Ohio is under construction, it seems. Lots of cops. Rt 65 closed at the top, so there's no point hitting the skyway, and somehow I manage to dodge the long line to get onto 80-94. Even so, I end up stuck in traffic for an hour at the end of the trip.

Dinner with Kirk at RJ Grunts. Fish tacos and chocolate milkshake. He's been sending me all the bullshit Obama emails he can find to get a rise out of me, and really wishes Hillary were the nominee, or at least the VP.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nirvana Baby at 17

NPR has a short profile on Spencer Elden, who appeared on the cover of Nevermind when he was a baby.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Growing up, the everydayness of Upper Arlington was punctuated by weird, anachonistic doodads like these things. Lots of the older houses had them, as did schools, shops and public buildings. All these architectural curiosities seem to be missing from the more recently made places.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Kubrick's Boxes

Enlarge this to full screen. Jon Ronson's documentary about Stanley Kubrick's collection of over 1000 boxes containing...

The degree of preparation for each film is unbelievable. No wonder it took 12 years to make Eyes Wide Shut.

Night Vision

Tony Paiva produces richly colored, long exposure photographs lit by moonlight, flashlights and incidental lighting in the course of Urban Exploration. Now, he has a book of 115 of his best photos out. Here are some of the pictures in it:
The description from the Chronicle Books website:"A booming subculture is on the rise: dubbed Urban Exploration, it involves sneaking into abandoned or off-limits factories, aviation "boneyards," decommissioned bases, and other derelict features of the military/industrial landscape. Troy Paiva is a foremost photographer of the UrbEx (as it's known to its devotees) phenomenon, and his distinctive blend of atmospheric night photos and lighting effects are the visual hallmarks of a scene that has drawn the increasing attention of the media and the public—as seen in recent programs on both the Discovery Channel ("Urban Explorers") and MTV ("Fear"). Illuminated by histories of the sites documented, Night Vision reveals the remarkable discoveries of a new generation of explorers."
Now I'd like to see Michael Cook's photos made into a companion book. Different style of photos, also UE focused.

(via boingboing)


I covet my neighbor's abs.

Impeachable Offenses as Venn Diagram

Slate presents some of the most offensive crimes of the Bush Administration as an easy-to-read, colorful chart:

Sadly, the more these people seem to have done, the less likely their prosecution. Disbarrment for some of the lawyers is marginally more plausible.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

People of Berlin

Berlin is getting big mind share this week, not only because of this:

Barack Obama in Berlin photo: Michael Gottschalk/AFP

But also because it's teetering between being the place where everything happens and a super-laid back backwater, between being the site for luxury condominium projects and a techno-minimalist haven. In this fascinating cluster of articles, music and the city are connected, perhaps interchangeable:

when - as seems largely to have happened in much of Mitte, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg - an entire chunk of a formerly working city becomes a playground for an international of 'creatives', something odd happens. One often got the sense in Berlin that whatever was happening, it didn't really matter, nothing was at stake: pure pleasure becomes boring after a while, as does the constant low-level tick-tock of a techno designed seemingly for little else than just rolling along.

As Mick Jagger observed, this week, there's really no establishment left to speak of. And without that, there's no tension driving the Bohemian circuits. What was a way to fight "the Man" has become an aesthetic choice, like choosing shag carpet. What do you do when nothing's shocking, even to you?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Cost of Empire

Jon Taplin puts together a pretty impressive case that we are in serious trouble on multiple fronts due to the global military infrastructure we've put in place since WWII. He has a track record of good insights into the economic news of the day. So, it's definitely worth taking a good, hard look at his analysis.

I've got more comments and analysis to put together in response to some of his points, which I will do in the coming days.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Robert Mapplethorpe, an Oral History

In the New York Observer, an oral history to accompany the new exhibition of Mapplethorpe's polaroids at the Whitney:

[O]ne gets the sense that the leap from Robert Mapplethorpe to “Robert Mapplethorpe” took hold in the summer of 1963, when the 16-year-old satyr was caught stealing gay pornography from a newsstand in Times Square. The aesthetics of gay male sexuality—and later, unflinching images of raw sex—would go on to color every period in his artistic career.

Mapplethorpe met Patti Smith in 1967. He was drinking the electric Kool-Aid. She was trudging through a terrible date. Their initial pairing was a symbiotic, if hasty solution that would define their relationship until Mapplethorpe’s death in 1989. They needed one another, always, but especially at the beginning of their bohemian squalor, when income was elusive, celebrity a dream.

His relationship with Smith is ambiguous, and the intimate details of their time together seem almost irrelevant. Smith, who was traveling while the interviews on the following pages were conducted, has said, “We were like two children playing together, like the brother and sister in Cocteau’s Enfant Terribles.”

It is particularly gratifying that Jesse Helms is dead, while Mapplethorpe's art lives on, and looks ready to do so for a great while to come.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Future Is Now Vol. LXVII

Bruce is right. If a telomerase pill could be developed, then we'd all be living a good bit longer at the cellular level, although not necessarily at the level of the whole organism. Still, every bit helps.

Unfortunately, the article at the other end of the links seems to be a confirmation of what we already knew: cortisol and other stress-related hormones result in telomeric shortening, bringing closer the day when a particular cell can no longer divide.

Link Roundup

The NYT goes Sartorialist, and looks at sharp summer suits that are cool as cucumbers.

Dr. Who theme composer Delia Derbyshire's sonic experiments from the 60's rediscovered.

Shave your head, it's the only way.

Moving Pains 2

Lesson two from moving: no matter how much stuff you pack, the moving people will always find more. They did an exceptionally impressive job packing my overstuffed chair using a giant foll of clingfilm, a la Christo. Everything is now triple packed inside cardboard boxes, inside wooden crates, inside a giant warehouse alongside the Lost Ark of the Covenant.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Moving Pains

My gosh, I've got a lot of stuff. Now that I have to put it into storage for a bit, I'm more tempted to just pile it outside and burn it to save the trouble.

Meanwhile, after a week of radio silence, people are calling one on top of the other. Friends from Ohio are moving out here just as I'm moving back, and potential job opportunities are beginning to open up. How inconvenient. Meanwhile, I'm finding that you can never have enough boxes to contain even a moderately sized apartment full of crap.


The link between Design Observer and thirtysomething's Miles Drentell revealed.

Why Miles is the world's greatest villain.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rules for Living

David Archer compares the advice for the good life from Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Roger Stone. Reads like a faceoff between Balthasar Gracian and Nicco Machievelli. NNT wins.

(via Kottke)


BLDGBLOG has the details on the highly convoluted enclaves of Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau, in which part of Belgium is enclaved in the Netherlands and counter-enclaves of the Netherlands are embedded in Belgium. Some of the borders run through houses, businesses and hospitals.
Update: Boingboing picks up the story.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Dark Side

Jane Meyer lays out the history of the torture and civil liberties violations carried out by the current administration in her new book The Dark Side. NPR conducts an illuminating interview. Like Imperial Life in the Emerald City, this is a real life horror story in the fact that you wish that none of it were true, but can't turn away.

Dr. Horrible

Act I is up.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I'll Take Basketball, Too

"For those of you who don't know, I was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease a couple of weeks ago. Which sucks. Because I hate baseball. I'd really much rather have been diagnosed with a basketball disease. Maybe Wilt Chamberlain disease. That's the one where you have sex 20,000 times and then you die."

-- singer Carla Zilbersmith, updating fans at a concert,
as quoted by Gary Trudeau

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Escape from Iran

Neal Stephenson

Returned to Uptown, my 1st Chicago neighborhood. Lawrence Ave at Broadway getting the gentrification treatment with a complete row of al fresco dining, but overall upscaling is uneven. Got panhandled whilst getting gas (cause people buying gas must have lotsa money these days). Watermelon martinis and dinner at Marigold with the Pilgrims, part of the Last Supper series. Food was fantastic but the service was terribly slow. Andrew a lot bigger and a little wilder. I think the Pilgrims are a little mad I'm leaving Chicago before they do.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Hydro/Aqua light installation. Looks like those swarming radio controlled blimps, and like the Heathrow Cloud sculpture. Belongs in my next house.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Monday, July 07, 2008

Link Roundup

Zeppelins & dirigibles making a comeback due to rising oil prices or due to coolness factor? Unfortunately, they are also more vulnerable to turbulence than smaller, heavier-than-aircraft. Massaud's Manned Cloud concept looks to be the most exciting of the bunch, if also the least practical.

Another interview with Skullboy. A number of boingboing's commenters had a problem with the guy, who actually comes off as well grounded, if slightly inarticulate. It's the interviewers who are really creepy, seemingly egging him on to do more extreme body mods (removal of nose & ears, for example).

Daniel Ellsberg on the FISA fight.

Turning the Campaign Upside Down

No one I've talked to is going to change their vote because of Obama's failure on FISA, but plenty of people are plenty ticked off, because reversal of the Bush Administration's Constitutional violations are critical to creating change through this election. Obama's chosen to shed a lot of grassroots support in exchange for a classic top-down, centrist campaign.

Bob Ostertag discusses the current Obama vs. the netroots flap, and pretty much nails it right on the head.

I will vote for Obama of course. I will continue to urge everyone I know to vote for him. But my money and time, paltry though they may be, will likely get redirected to candidates who are willing to stand up for issues I care about. And because of the Internet, I know that there are a lot of other Obama supporters in the same boat; a lot of people considering cutting off their string of small donations to the campaign.

All of this is coming at a time in which Obama's schedule is filled with big-money fundraisers where people can buy face time with the man for $30k. Put all these things together, and one cannot help but wonder if there is a turning point, that from here on out the campaign is will be less of a grassroots affair. This is not the death knell of the campaign. Far from it. I think Obama can do very well against McCain with a traditional, top down, big money campaign. I think he will be sworn in as our next president in January. But it will be a different campaign than what it has`been until now. As one commenter to my blog so aptly said, "Senator Obama, you can tap my phone or my wallet, but not both."

I'm less optimistic than Bob is about his prospects going forward. Look how well that's done for his opponents so far if you want to see how well it'll work for him.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Review of Tom McCarthy's The Remainder by Geoff Manaugh, in preparation for an upcoming interview.

Maxims for Writing

Felker's adages:
1. Never hold your best stuff.
2. Put something shocking at the top of the page.
3. Women are the best reporters.
4. Point of view is everything.
5. Personal is better.
6. Never hold your best stuff.

(via Choire)

How to Write a Movie:
1. Write a play instead

Are you sure you need to write a screenplay? Almost any movie takes years. I've just done a TV film for the BBC that has taken 20 years to go from idea to execution. If you've got a great story, it might be worth writing it as a play first, or a book. To get a movie into the world, someone needs to love it enough to spend millions of pounds on it - and years of their life. A play costs a few thousand and takes a couple of months. Plus it makes you a playwright, which is way upmarket from a screenwriter. And if it's successful, people will want to make the movie.

2. Do the title first

Seems obvious, but you'd be amazed. A great title can make a big difference. The musical Oklahoma, as it was initially called, famously flopped in the provinces, but became a massive hit after they added the exclamation mark. Orson Welles said Paper Moon was such a great title they wouldn't need to make the movie, just release the title. If you want a good title, you need it before you start, when you're pumped up with hope. If you look for it afterwards, you end up thinking like a headline-writer. If Victor Hugo had waited until he'd finished Notre-Dame de Paris, he would have ended up calling it I've Got a Hunch.

3. Read it to people
4. Forget the three-act structure
6. Don't write excuse notes
7. Avoid the German funk trap
8. Do a favourite bit
9. Cast it in your head
10. Learn to love rewrites
11. Don't wait for inspiration
12. Celebrate your invisibility
13. Read, read, read, read, read

Metropolis Restored

Ninety minutes of the premiere version of the Fritz Lang film Metropolis have been rediscovered in Argentina and are being reintegrated into a new edition. Even though some of the footage may be too badly scratched for complete restoration, experts are pleased because the film's full plot is comprehensible for the first time in seventy years.

Am Dienstag vergangener Woche reiste Paula Félix-Didier in geheimer Mission nach Berlin, um sich dort mit drei Filmgutachtern und mit Redakteuren des ZEIT-Magazins zu treffen. In Gepäck der Museumschefin aus Buenos Aires: eine Kopie einer Langfassung von Fritz Langs Metropolis, darin Szenen, die seit fast 80 Jahren als verschollen galten. Nachdem die drei Experten den Film begutachtet haben, sind sie sicher: Der Fund aus Buenos Aires ist ein echter Schatz, eine Weltsensation. Metropolis, der bedeutendste Stummfilm der deutschen Geschichte, darf seit diesem Tag als wiederentdeckt gelten.
Die Urfassung von Metropolis hatte Fritz Lang im Januar 1927 in Berlin präsentiert. Der Film spielt in der Zukunftsstadt Metropolis, sie wird von Joh Fredersen beherrscht, dessen Arbeiter unter der Erde leben. Sein Sohn verliebt sich in eine junge Frau aus der Arbeiterstadt – der Konflikt nimmt seinen Lauf. Es war der teuerste deutsche Film, den es bis dahin gegeben hatte.

-Zeit Magazin auf Deutsch
English translation here.

(via Coilhouse)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

So, when the young people come up to me these days, they do so to tell me that I'm "sweet". Always have been, always will be. But what I want is to be appallingly, dangerously sexy. Like, you might see me and develop an uncontrollable urge to tear your clothes off and try to have sex with me sexy.