Hand crank not included

July 29th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

A Victrola turned into an iPod amplifier. I don’t know that I would kill for this, but I would certainly consider maiming.

A benevolent conspiracy

July 9th, 2004 § 15 comments § permalink

Yesterday, I found an apartment for myself in Oakland, an exquisite studio in a carefully restored Mission-style building. The sinks and paint will be new; the stove, a Wedgwood, will be old. The window in my living area looks out on a landscaped courtyard. I’ll live closer to most of my friends from school than I do now. To ask for anything better would be inexcusably greedy.

Tonight, I saw The Third Man at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. I knew I loved that film, but I had forgotten why. It was a joy to be reminded: Orson Welles, still elegant and young, cocky enough to own the world. The beautiful ruins of postwar Vienna, which must have summoned painful memories for the movie’s first audiences. Quick, tense cuts. That zither music.

On the way home, as my BART train emerged from the Transbay Tube, the conductor made an announcement, his voice like a showman’s. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have once again made it safely across the bay under the weight of millions of gallons of water.” We stopped at the West Oakland station, then departed. “Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ll direct your attention to the window on the left side of the train–that’s my left–you’ll see…fire.” The Fire Arts Festival was in full swing. Flames shot out of elaborate metal contraptions and radiated from spinning wheels. “They must be having a barbecue down there or something.” Pause. “We take our barbecue seriously in West Oakland.” And after we pulled into the next station: “Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, ladies…and…gentlemen. This is the station I’ve been bragging about all night long. Twelfth Street/Oakland City Center, where you can transfer to the Richmond-bound train. It’s waiting on the opposite side of the platform. Its doors are wide open, and its seats are already warmed.”

I’ve been using the word “swimmingly” a lot lately. Everything is going just swimmingly.

Pokia

July 9th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

The New York Times just published an article about the Pokia, a full-sized telephone receiver that attaches to a mobile phone. They’re handmade by some British guy who sells them on eBay. His website has more Pokia photos. The Holborn Exchange is particularly nice.

I love things like this: technological eras colliding; the retro fused with the cutting edge. (See also the ElectriClerk.) It also pleases me immensely to see consumer objects transformed into expressions of ideas, especially when they force me to reevaluate the commonplace. It pleased the Surrealists, too; witness Salvador DalĂ­’s Lobster telephone.

T-shirts

July 7th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

I don’t really buy clothes with funny logos and stuff printed on them, but if I did, I’d be very excited about Threadless. I particularly like the map for the Metropolitan Cardiac Authority.

Textless

May 22nd, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

Find out how the public realm would look if it were devoid of text.

See through walls

March 23rd, 2004 § Four comments § permalink

Light-transmitting concrete. “A wall made of ‘LitraCon’ allegedly has the strength of traditional concrete but thanks to an embedded array of glass fibers can display a view of the outside world, such as the silhouette of a tree, for example.”

Specks of delight

March 20th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

Tiny chairs made out of the corks, cages, and foil from champagne bottles.

Train music

March 19th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

In Tokyo, each subway station and train line plays its own charming little tune to signal that a train is boarding. (The link is to a RealAudio file.)

The way things are

March 7th, 2004 § Comments off § permalink

I went to the Oakland Museum of California this afternoon and saw an exhibition of work by David Ireland. His art is very, very Zen. Many of his pieces include what he calls dumbballs, which are round concrete spheres about the size of bocce balls. He makes each dumbball by taking a lump of concrete and tossing it back and forth between his hands for twelve hours or so. I probably saw at least six months’ worth of his life in the form of dumbballs. This concept fascinates me immensely.

Oily rags

February 1st, 2004 § One comment § permalink

Sock puppet oil paintings!

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