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The rider completes the bike

Shinya KimuraShinya Kimu­ra is a cus­tom motor­cy­cle builder, and the sub­ject of a beau­ti­ful short pro­file on YouTube.

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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

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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.

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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.

music visual

Uhhhhh-hot pants! That's where it's at.

James Brown - Hot Pants - Wordle

Wor­dle seems sort of per­fect for rep­re­sent­ing James Brown lyrics. I used Inter­net lyrics, which don't appear to be a true tran­scrip­tion of the ver­sion on In the Jun­gle Groove, which is 8+ min­utes of "huh!" and "hey!" and "Good God!" and "smokin!" Still, good enough. While you're con­sid­er­ing James Brown as a lyri­cist, you should check out Eddie Murphy's theme song for "James Brown's Celebri­ty Hot Tub Par­ty" — the video; and in Wor­dle, which is an inter­est­ing way of visu­al­iz­ing one ele­ment of the satire.

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Aw, woo-ooh, yeah, yeah, yeah

Wor­dle + The First 100% Accu­rate Tran­scrip­tion of Led Zep­pelin II Lyrics =

Led Zeppelin 2 lyrics - wordle
ideas music visual

Actually, *I* am the walrus

I've love info­graph­ics, and I've gone on and on about col­lab­o­ra­tion and the Bea­t­les before, so when I heard that some­one had cre­at­ed an info­graph­ic dis­play­ing the degree to which Bea­t­les col­lab­o­rat­ed on songs — well, "inter­est­ed" would be huge­ly under­stat­ing my emo­tions at the time. (Thanks, Dan, for the tip).

"The Bea­t­les: Author­ship & Col­lab­o­ra­tion" is a nice­ly com­posed graph­ic, clear­ly break­ing down the con­trib­u­tors to each song, Bea­t­le and non-Bea­t­le. The songs are laid out chrono­log­i­cal­ly, and the over­all effect clear­ly reveals that the Bea­t­les col­lab­o­rat­ed less as they pro­gressed in their careers. (If any­thing is true of the Bea­t­les, it's that they grew apart over time). The chart's data is drawn from Beat­lesongs, which quan­ti­fies the degree to which each Bea­t­le con­tributed to the writ­ing of a song, using a scale of 0–100%.

Beatles - Collaboration - Octopus's Garden

I can't quib­ble with the desire to under­stand and visu­al­ize the degree to which each Bea­t­le shaped each song, but I find the quan­tifi­ca­tion bit a lit­tle — well — false­ly pre­cise. It makes for a nice info­graph­ic, but a mere skim through The Offi­cial Abbey Road Stu­dio Ses­sion Notes, 1962–1970 makes it clear that there was quite a lot of col­lab­o­ra­tion among the four Bea­t­les — not to men­tion the var­i­ous "fifth Bea­t­les," the "Black Bea­t­le," and their pro­duc­er, George Mar­tin. Per­haps there's a dif­fer­ence between "col­lab­o­ra­tion" and "author­ship?" In the exam­ple to the right, "Octopus's Gar­den," is said to be 100% Ringo? Yes, Ringo does receive sole cred­it for "author­ship," but it is wide­ly known that George had a sig­nif­i­cant role in shap­ing it. In fact, George works out the song on a piano in the Let It Be movie. How to rep­re­sent this soft­er sort of col­lab­o­ra­tion? Good ques­tion. Shapes? Sizes? Col­ors? Dimen­sions? What­ev­er it is, it should fair­ly com­mu­ni­cate the organ­ic nature of cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tion. And dis­pense with the too-neat round numbers.

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Extremely bloody, extremely funny

Ever since I heard about Bat­tle Royale, I've want­ed to see the film … Quentin Taran­ti­no has called it "the best movie since 1992," so it's prob­a­bly not sur­pris­ing that it's both extreme­ly bloody and very dark­ly fun­ny. The premise: Adults fear the rise of youth, and each year they put the most bad­ly behaved kids on an island and force them to bat­tle each oth­er to the death. 

Battle Royale - Batoru RowaiaruLike Tarantino's movies, the set­up is quick and effective.
Battle Royale - Batoru RowaiaruThe humor dark­ens: A baby-voiced Japan­ese teen explains the rules of the game, includ­ing the fact that the col­lar worn by con­tes­tants goes "boom" under cer­tain circumstances.
Battle Royale - Batoru RowaiaruEach "play­er" gets their own weapon. As the plot unfolds, the "play­ers" learn who has what, and fig­ure out how to work with what they have.
Battle Royale - Batoru RowaiaruFinal­ly, there are lib­er­al amounts of blood, and much killing. Mixed with the sar­don­ic dia­logue, it's easy to see why Taran­ti­no loves it so much.

Despite the nihilis­tic milieu, the sto­ry focused on tra­di­tion­al stuff — loy­al­ty, trust and friend­ship; and in the end, it was actu­al­ly sort of sweet, much sweet­er than bleak 60's and 70's films like McCabe & Mrs. Miller or The Wild Bunch. Worth see­ing, just for that weird juxtaposition.

music visual

Memphis dirty go-go

Stop what­ev­er you're doing and watch this. It's called "Win­dowdip­per," and it's by Jib Kid­der, aka Sean Schus­ter-Craig. I remem­ber Sean describ­ing his music as some­thing like min­i­mal­ist crunk, or Dirty South boo­gie, or Mem­phis dirty go-go, or some­thing, but you real­ly have to see this to get it. Sean, if you read this, remind me of the offi­cial sub-sub-genre. In the mean­time, holy crap. Enjoy.