flickr visual

This year's best beer-themed sweater collection

Beer sweaters

Dang, that Grain Belt sweater in the upper right cor­ner is HOT. via AJ Fos­ik

california inside art san francisco visual

Modern ancient handiwork at YBCA

Michael's handiwork (and hand)

My old friend Michael Ram­age has a hand in this instal­la­tion in the Yer­ba Bue­na Cen­ter for Art's Sculp­ture Gar­den. He's design­ing and build­ing a pair of domes, made from lay­ers of bricks and mor­tar and styled on ancient tech­niques. The artist behind it is Jew­lia Eisen­berg & Charm­ing Host­ess, and the vision is that the domes will be an out­door venue for music, con­tem­pla­tion, and mind-expand­ing activ­i­ties through­out the sum­mer. I vis­it­ed on Tues­day, and I was struck by the ways that each dome's ocu­lus (fan­cy word for the open, cir­cu­lar win­dow at the top of the dome) framed the sur­round­ing sky and build­ings. That per­spec­tive actu­al­ly kind of made the gener­ic build­ings at 3rd and Howard appear to be some­what cool. Didn't think that would be possible.

the ancient past travel

A hotel? I'll show you a hotel

Business travel is not so bad sometimes

At this point, I know my way around a hotel. I have seen a lot of em, and I can tell you pret­ty quick­ly how to nav­i­gate them. I could be blind­fold­ed and tossed into the lob­by of a Court­yard, and I'd be in my room, iron­ing my shirts, and drink­ing a Coors Light from the mini-bar with­in 5 min­utes. Every once in a while the busi­ness trav­el stars align, and I get to stay in a place like the Ames Hotel in Boston. Not only are the rooms deeluxe (pic­tured above), but the build­ing itself is on the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places, and the door­man told me that it was Boston's "first sky­scraper." And Wikipedia agrees. Not pic­tured here is the nicest com­po­nent of my room: A huge arched win­dow that looked south over the Old City Hall, the Old South Meet­ing House, and what appear to be many oth­er old things. No Coors Light, but hey you can't win em all.

the ancient past tv

Hang dai!

Hang dai!

I'm one episode from the finale of Dead­wood, and I'm feel­ing pre­ma­ture­ly nos­tal­gic for the pan­tomime con­ver­sa­tions between the Can­tonese-speak­ing Wu and Eng­lish-speak­ing Al Swearen­gen. These "con­ver­sa­tions" gen­er­al­ly involve fran­tic sketch­ing with char­coal, oaths unprint­able in a fam­i­ly blog, and very lit­tle Eng­lish. They tend to con­clude with the dec­la­ra­tion "hang dai!" which means "broth­ers," and rec­i­p­ro­cal ges­tures of inter­twined index and mid­dle fin­gers, as shown above. Hang dai, Mr. Wu. I will miss you.

bikes outdoors

Vintage bike camping

A small com­pa­ny called Stephenson's Warm­lite makes some of the world's best gear for camp­ing. I've long admired their bomb-proof tents and burly sleep­ing bags, and of course the unabashed, straight-from-the-70s nud­ism in their vin­tage paper cat­a­logs [a PDF is avail­able here, for now]. Which is why I couldn't help but be deeply charmed by the men­tion of Stephenson's in this old Pop­u­lar Sci­ence arti­cle about bike camping.

Popular Science - Bike campingFrom the April 1972 edi­tion of Pop­u­lar Sci­ence — avail­able in Google Books!

I won­der how many earnest, sci­ence-mind­ed read­ers sent away for a Stephenson's catalog?

architecture california ecology

Everything useful, two phone calls away

When the Whole Earth Cat­a­log (WEC) was pub­lished in late 60s and ear­ly 70s, the idea was to cre­ate a fine­ly curat­ed list of every­thing "use­ful, rel­e­vant to inde­pen­dent edu­ca­tion, high qual­i­ty or low cost, not already com­mon knowl­edge, and eas­i­ly avail­able by mail."

Whole Earth Catalog - J BaldwinThe Dymax­ion World of Buck­min­ster Fuller, Fall 1968. From Arts & Ecol­o­gy.

Steve Jobs once referred to the WEC as "the bible" of his gen­er­a­tion, and it's no won­der that he admired it: Each issue of the cat­a­log was sprawl­ing, ambi­tious, smart, lov­ing­ly craft­ed, and very much in keep­ing with the best of North­ern California's inno­v­a­tive spir­it — pro­gres­sive, irrev­er­ent, and (in its own way) ruthless.The title of this post refers to a (per­haps apoc­ryphal) account of the user expe­ri­ence con­sid­er­a­tions of the WEC. Report­ed­ly, the catalog's design edi­tor, J. Bald­win, said that the cat­a­log was an attempt to bring every­thing (of val­ue) in the world to with­in two1 phone calls for any read­er. Which was undoubt­ed­ly great at the time, but not quite good enough to escape the devel­op­ment of the one-call solu­tion — the dial-up modem. Doh! And the no-call solu­tion — broadband!And yet, when you com­pare the infi­nite vari­ety of the web to the refined encap­su­la­tion of the WEC, it's easy to see the val­ue of expert cura­tion. Doesn't it seem like the great oppor­tu­ni­ties for progress in web con­tent is to become more like the WEC — reli­able, read­able, smart? And even read­er-sup­port­ed? (After all, the WEC cost $5 in the 60s; $31.85 today. As one of the Whole Earth edi­tors wrote, peo­ple will pay for authen­tic­i­ty and find­abil­i­ty).1 For the record, I'm not exact­ly sure what the sig­nif­i­cance of "two" is, rather than "six" or "three." Would the first call would be the Whole Earth Cat­a­log, and the sec­ond would be to … the prod­uct cre­ator? Or the first would be to the prod­uct cre­ator, and the sec­ond would be to … some­one else?

ecology web

For the record, this is my favorite

BPGlobalPR - Shark v octopus

From the out­stand­ing satir­i­cal Twit­ter feed, @BPGlobalPR. T‑shirts here; book deal to fol­low, I assume.

inside art the ancient past visual

Paul Rand's business card

Paul Rand business card
Can't imag­ine that it could get much bet­ter than this. Via amass­blog.

music the ancient past visual

Glorious, degenerate exile

In yet anoth­er shal­low record-indus­try ploy to sell the same album twice, the Rolling Stones recent­ly asked pro­duc­er Don Was to dig through their Exile On Main Street archives and pro­duce a remas­tered ver­sion with a few addi­tion­al tracks. Think­ing about Exile reminds me, of course, of Robert Frank's doc­u­men­tary with an unprint­able name, a chron­i­cle the Stones' dai­ly lives around the time of Exile. This film pre­sent­ed in very raw form (in the words of one review­er) "mas­sive, almost unthink­able amounts of ego-grat­i­fi­ca­tion, and rou­tine, tor­pid, every­day bore­dom," and it was essen­tial­ly unre­leasable, shown only in art hous­es and pirat­ed VHS. It's safe to say that no mas­sive­ly suc­cess­ful band has ever, or will ever, give the kind of access that the Stones gave to Frank. (The sex and the drugs, they are every­where amidst the rock 'n roll). The above video is some of the clean­er stuff culled from Frank's footage. Need­less to say, the whole thing is worth see­ing, even if you have to cov­er your eyes every once in a while. Addi­tion­al read­ing: A nice lit­tle NPR inter­view with Mick and Keef.

ideas the ancient past

Ranging to justice

Think­ing about the var­i­ous clus­ter­cuss­es in the world, and read­ing William James, I came across this opti­mistic notion: 

Secret ret­ri­bu­tions are always restor­ing the lev­el, when dis­turbed, of divine jus­tice. It is impos­si­ble to tilt the beam. All the tyrants and pro­pri­etors and monop­o­lists of the world in vain set their shoul­ders to heave the bar. Set­tles forever­more the pon­der­ous equa­tor to its lines, and man and mote, and star and sun, must range to it, or be pul­ver­ized by the recoil.

It's a quote from Emer­son, deliv­ered in a lec­ture on the divine in the mid-19th cen­tu­ry. You got­ta won­der if he'd recon­sid­er his posi­tion if he saw the world today.