Saturday, December 31, 2005

go ought six!

There were so many end-of-the-year lists out there that it all begins to blur. Here are a few that caught my eye...

said the gramophone's 22 Favorite Songs of 2005

1. Robyn - Be Mine!
So what is this song? Besides a rainshower, a sunshower? What is it, besides a chance to get rainsoaked on the street and then to walk into the park? In the park everything will be too green, with flowercolour diluted by the rain and by tears. But it'll be wide and open, with lawns and strips of asphalt for you to run along, with soil and sky and space for your whipping feelings. What is it besides that? It's astonishing and complicated emotions - it's the triumph of acknowledging your own sorrow, an affirmation of sure feeling. In that way it's Dylanesque, Joyce-like: it's subtle and messily real, and Robyn makes it feel so easy to realise. And what else? What else is this song? It's a pop song - yes, for dancing and cheering, with zips and pows, with cellos that stab and whirl til the park's right here in the club, in your room, and there's space for feeling everywhere.

New York Magazine
's Cultural Elite 2005 This Year's Best

Best Depressing Novel
‘Veronica,’ by Mary Gaitskill. Happy endings may be de rigueur in the movies, but for literature’s high practitioners, grief is usually the way to go. This year, among the new books from Nobel winners alone, protagonists included a very lonely old man (Márquez), an amputee photographer (Coetzee), and a cancer patient (Gordimer). But Gaitskill’s Alison, an ex-model dying of hepatitis C, has more to offer than contemplations of mortality. The mistress of human loss and longing, Gaitskill puts Alison on a hard road to redemption that’s as beautiful as it is painful to watch.

Best Feud
Ben Marcus versus Jonathan Franzen
Like all classic literary beefs, this was a tempest in a teapot, in a year with no shortage of them. (See also n+1’s dismissal of McSweeney’s.) But Marcus’s attack in Harper’s on Franzen’s critique of obscure novelists at least brings us back to a central literary question: What should writers and readers expect from each other?

Best Blurb
Jonathan Ames, for Periel Aschenbrand’s The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own. “Ribald, outrageous, gutter-mouthed, hilarious—a startling new voice in American letters. Watch out Portnoy, watch out Caulfield, watch out Bukowski, watch out Candace Bushnell. Hell, everybody, real or imagined, just watch out! Because here comes Periel Aschenbrand!”

Underrated Writers from The Syntax of Things

"Blaise Cendrars changed the course of modern literature/poetry; it's just that not that many people know this. Read him, read him, read him and see. A writer with a vast imagination, just don't believe everything he tells you."

"Michelle Huneven is a food writer for the LA Weekly who has written two novels. Jamesland, her most recent, is part mystery part character exploration. It's not a murder-mystery, but more a mystery of origins and faith that her characters have to unravel. The book is also a great look at the vast part of LA that is only peripherally affected by Hollywood, and she also, of course, finds room for some luscious descriptions of food."

100 Things We Didn't Know This Time Last Year from BBC News

32. "Restaurant" is the most mis-spelled word in search engines.

59. Oliver Twist is very popular in China, where its title is translated as Foggy City Orphan.

73. One in six children think that broccoli is a baby tree.

78. One in 18 people has a third nipple.

81. George Bernard Shaw named his shed after the UK capital so that when visitors called they could be told he was away in London.

94. Bill Gates does not have an iPod.

Jessa Crispin (Bookslut): What Your End-of-the-Year List Says About You

If you share more than ten books on the New York Times Notable Books of the Year list . . .

. . . then you, too, have been bought out by corporate interests. With almost no books from small presses, only a handful of books by women, a whole lot of books by their own writers, and almost every single book published by one division of Random House or another, the New York Times Notable Books of the Year is quite possibly the most predictable best-of list put out every year.

You Ain't No Picasso's 13 Days of Mixmas

Okay guys, I'm doing something a little special for the Christmas season. I've asked twelve people I respect musically to compile small mixes of five songs max. The catch is that all the tracks have to be united by some theme of their chosing. Some of these are people who I think have great taste in music (such is the case with the first subject), but the vast majority are musicians that you most likely enjoy. It's been interesting to me to get results back both as a blogger, but also as a fan. Some of these bands have really come up with some great themes and wonderful mixes. Hopefully you guys will enjoy reading these as much as I've enjoyed putting it together.'s The Best Links 2005

If lists are your thing, rounds up more than you can probably handle.

Happy New Year all!

Friday, December 30, 2005

dukhobortsy freeroll

For those times you're struggling to find just the right word, OneLook Reverse Dictionary is here. For example, you can enter a concept like "when you're on vacation but the whole office is closed therefore you have no reason to think the work is piling up so you're uber-relaxed" and get some of these interesting results:

sleep: a natural and periodic state of rest during which consciousness of the world is suspended

Freeroll (poker): a situation that arises during poker play (usually when only two players remain) before the last card has been dealt, in which one player is guaranteed to at least split the pot with his opponent no matter what the final cards are, but where there is some chance he can win the whole pot if certain final cards are dealt.

Howard Waldrop: a science fiction author who works almost entirely in short fiction.

Dukhobortsy: a Russian religious sect founded about the middle of the 18th century at Kharkov. They believe that Christ was wholly human, but that his soul reappears from time to time in mortals. They accept the Ten Commandments and the ``useful'' portions of the Bible, but deny the need of rulers, priests, or churches, and have no confessions, icons, or marriage ceremonies. They are communistic, opposed to any violence, and unwilling to use the labor of animals. Driven out of Russia proper, many have emigrated to Cyprus and Canada.

sinecure: an office that involves minimal duties

abscission: shedding of flowers and leaves and fruit following formation of scar tissue in a plant

metamerism: the condition of having the body divided into a series of similar segments

granting a privilege or permission or power to do or not do something

I'm sure a simpler concept will yield more straightforward results.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

this week's netflix

I'm tempted to change the name of this series to This Month's Netflix, but in the interest of consistency, the name will remain.

Empire Falls: One thing I can say about this novel-to-miniseries adaptation is that it is very true to the book. Richard Russo wrote the screenplay as well as the novel and you can tell. However, some stories are better savored through the printed word. Despite some fine performances (although Helen Hunt's accent was grating), I would have rather curled up with the paperback again.

Sin City: I thought of myself as someone with a high tolerance for cinematic violence, but the brutality of this film was relentless. Even though the style was cartoonish - one memorable scene has an unrecognizable Mickey Rourke dragging a foe from a car with his head scraping along the road - it was still too much. The art direction is pretty remarkable, but it couldn't distract me enough from all the killing, beating, maiming, and torture.

Batman Begins: I admire the work of Christopher Nolan to such an extent that I wrote a long analysis of Memento for a graduate conference. I was looking forward to seeing Nolan's treatment of Batman's origins as much as I was looking forward to seeing Christian Bale with some meat on his bones after The Machinist. Sadly, I was just plain bored. I nodded off during the final fight scene and didn't even bother to rewind. The most memorable scene for me was a brief appearance of Patrick Bateman reprising his push-up skills from American Psycho.

My Summer of Love: Now this was a film I really enjoyed. This tale of two young English girls who fall in love over the course of a summer was a study in how complex the simple can be. All the actors turn in outstanding performances and the underlying darkness of the storyline is handled deftly. I can't remember the last time I was so satisfied with a film's ending.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

cold war kids

Last night, I took advantage of my vacation and stopped by Spaceland for their residency night. A semi-local band Cold War Kids turned in an impressive set. Their vocal stylings are risky but successful (Alec Ounsworth and Jeff Buckley in a melodic shouting match) and the instrumentation surprises. I'd see them again. According to their website, the newest songs are here.

the separatist rebellion of the prefixes

William Safire examines the most narcissistic prefix: meta.

Not every critic is entranced (or, to get with it, ensorcelled) by such nattering of novelistic narcissism. "Meta is part of the unearned irony of the improperly educated postmodern crowd," opines Roger Kimball, an editor of The New Criterion. "It's verbal shorthand that expresses not a depth but an absence of thought. You'll find it in the slums of contemporary literary and art criticism."

The meta craze in criticism soon reached a point of parody about self-conscious parody. On (I found it on Metacrawler, a Diogenic searcher of search engines), Stephanie Zacharek reviewed the 2002 film "Adaptation," calling it a "massively self-indulgent metamovie," adding that "if you're so meta that you're completely unimpressed with how meta it is, then you are only reinforcing the movie's point: You've been so meta-consumed by metaculture that you're no longer able to take pleasure in art."

Rarely do any of us in the language dodge find it possible to salute a lexicographer who was prescient about a linguistic development a full generation in advance. In an article in The New Republic of Sept. 5, 1988, titled "Meta Musings," David Justice, then editor for pronunciation and etymology at Merriam-Webster, was quoted as saying, "Meta is currently the fashionable prefix." The writer, Noam Cohen, added: "He predicts that, like retro - whose use solely as a prefix is so, well, retro - meta could become independent from other words, as in, 'Wow, this sentence is so meta.' If so, you heard it from me first.

the nice thing about being identical twins

This is the most f*cked up thing I've ever seen.

there are thousands of me out here

I spent a good decade and a half of my life in the service industry - working as a waitress and then moving to the other side of the bar. I was often an easy target for men flying solo and looking for some casual conversation or unrequited crush. So I was glad to see A Regular has posted his New Year's Resolutions for the Single Straight Male Diner on Craigslist. I'm especially in favor of #4:

4) I will always tip at least 20 percent, and more if I'm taking up a whole four-top during a rush.

There's nothing worse than a 3-hour onslaught of personal questions and comments on my "diaphanous" blouse followed by a 25-cent tip and a tale of impecunious woe.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

a christ child and a menorah walk into a bar

I could start a new blog based solely on my disdain for the holidays, but something about the 80 degree weather, a stack of presents to open in the morning, the quickly multiplying evidence that people are receiving my holiday cards despite the postal crush, and John Hodgman telling a Christmas tale on the radio have got me feeling spirited. The glogi I will be making later can only help.

In honor of Jesus's b-day, I'm thankful to Neatorama for sharing the work of Larry Van Pelt of Niceville, FL who woke up one night bursting with the conviction that he should draw the Son of God in his natural habitat: watching over us all in our quotidian pursuits.

In honor of my Hanukkah-celebrating brethren, I share the amusing "A Beginner's Guide" from Jonathan Safran Foer. (Click to embiggen.)

Dreidel: The dreidel is a spinning toy, painstakingly fashioned out of a plastic polymer by Jewish craftsmen in Vietnam. Used for tabletop gambling games during Hanukkah, the dreidel often ends up on the floor and sometimes in the dog's small intestine. There is a Hebrew letter on each of the dreidel's four sides. These letters abbreviate the statement: Spin it again. You have no idea what it means. You spin it again. You try to make sense of it. Spin it again? You spin it again.

My gift to everyone this Christmas is Jonathan Coulton's unbelievably awesome cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back." (boing boing is my Santa.)

Los Feliz Navidad!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

bard beefcake

Once in awhile, a product enters the marketplace that has my name written all over it.

I bring you The Most Intriguing (and Sensual) Male Poets 2006 Calendar.

(Thanks to Tingle Alley.)

release me from his hammering

Some judge in New Mexico with a high tolerance for the koo-koo has just granted a restraining order against David Letterman to a female fan.

New Mexico resident Colleen Nestler filed court documents late last week, alleging that Letterman has been using code words, gestures and "eye expressions" for more than 10 years to convey his desire to marry her and train her as his cohost...As a result of Letterman's alleged methods of torture, Nestler claims she has suffered from "mental cruelty" and "sleep deprivation," and has been forced into bankruptcy...

It's unclear from Nestler's complaint when her "relationship" with Letterman began to sour...In her letter to the court, she claims she began sending Letterman "thoughts of love" after he began hosting The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS in 1993..."Dave responded to my thoughts of love, and, on his show, in code words & obvious indications through jestures [sic] and eye expressions, he asked me to come east," she wrote.

Letterman upped the ante, she claimed, when he asked her to be his wife shortly before Thanksgiving in 1993...In a teaser for his show, Letterman jokingly said, "Marry Me, Oprah," which Nestler rapidly deduced was a message intended for her.

"Oprah had become my first of many code names," she wrote. "...[A]s time passed, the code-vocabulary increased & changed, but in the beginning things like 'C' on baseball caps referred to me, and specific messages through songs sung by his guests, were the beginnings of what became an elaborate means of communication between he and myself."

Nestler did not reveal why she waited for so many years to take action against her tormenter. (We're guessing she was motivated by the recent revelation that she's not the only woman Letterman calls Oprah.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

( = ^ - ^ =) \ ( ^ o \ ) ( / o ^ ) /

I started tutoring a Korean graduate student a few months ago, and when we first began exchanging e-mail, I was puzzled by the emoticons that would dot his correspondence. While I taught him proper article usage, he taught me that (T . T) meant he was crying because he had so much work and that (* ^ ^ *) meant he was blushing because he hadn't prepared for our meeting. I hadn't realized that the world of Asian emoticons was so much richer than our :) and ;). This chart of Japanese emoticons is brilliant (they obviously have more comprehensive keyboards) - I think this is the only way I will communicate from now on.

Link via Maud Newton

so sorry, new yorkers

I work with two other ex-New Yorkers and just last week, we traded horror stories of winter commutes: taking ten minutes just to get dressed or undressed to brave the outdoors (sweater, jacket, coat, scarf, hat, gloves), trying to fit a ten-pound backpack over the bulky shoulders of our layers, climbing over mountains of snow with twenty-pound shopping bags, cold and wet feet, coming home to an apartment where the heat hasn't been turned on by the stingy landlord. But by God, at least we had the subway...

Monday, December 19, 2005

indian winter

I've been friends with Dave Fabris since we were pups, and he's the
brave soul who took it upon himself to teach me to play guitar. I
still can't understand why he's not a household name, but it may
have something to do with his eclectic projects and unconventional
sound. Fortunately, he's getting some attention for his most recent
collaboration with jazz great Ran Blake. You can buy Indian Winter
through this site and here's a taste...

David Fabris & Ran Blake - Spiral Staircase

All About Jazz, New York
December 2005

Indian Winter

Pianist Ran Blake may not have as big a name as (Jim) Hall
but he is a great
pianist who has been making striking music for
maybe as long. Indian Winter
is a collaboration between Mr.
Blake and guitarist David Fabris (a former student
and longtime
collaborator of Blake’s). The first thing that hits you is the CD’s

listed 23 tracks! The composers represented here are diverse:
from Bacharach to
Zappa, through Neal Hefti, Alex North,
Ornette Coleman and Duke Ellington. “Spiral
Staircase” establishes
the sound and rapport between the two musicians: as impressive

as the rapport amongst Hall and his collaborators yet not every
track is an actual
duo as there are some solo piano and solo guitar
pieces. Then on “Streetcar Named
Desire” Fabris uses a heavily
distorted guitar on a theme statement, later in the
same piece
employing a more typical sound. Fabris’ unaccompanied solo
guitar, heard
on Frank Zappa’s “Marqueson’s Chicken”, moves
smoothly from sound to sound and mood
to mood with ease
that belies great skill. On the levels of texture, originality,
arrangements, surprise, skill and most of all, freshness, Indian
Winter is a real

Thursday, December 15, 2005

some stories

I've been keeping track of some recent (and not so recent) on-line offerings in the fiction department, so I thought I'd share...


if you can give up google... might want to try Good Search.

The new search engine, powered by Yahoo, donates money to your charity of choice every time you search — at no cost to you. When founder Kenny Ramberg realized last year that search engines generated nearly $4 billion in advertising revenue, he started his own, aiming to donate 50 percent of the profits to charity.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

and they all sang

The Seattle Weekly provides a roundup of music books for the holidays.

I would have a special fondness for Continuum Books' 33 1/3 series ($9.95 each) of monographs on classic rock albums, even if I hadn't contributed a volume published in April of last year. With 28 books in the series so far, and an avalanche more on the way, it's the longest-lived and most remarkable series compendium in all of rock writing, and it shows no signs of slowing down.

now you go straight to hell

The Roman Catholic Church is preparing to abolish limbo, the place between heaven and hell reserved for the souls of children who die before they have been baptised.

Limbo has been part of Catholic teaching since the 13th century and is depicted in paintings by artists such as Giotto and in literary works such as Dante's Divine Comedy.

The commission was first asked to study the after-life fate of the non-baptised by the late Pope John Paul II.

Pope Benedict is expected to approve the findings. In 1984, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and the head of the Vatican's doctrinal department, he called limbo "a theological hypothesis."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

multiple partners and multiple personalities

Creative people have more sexual partners than the rest of us, say a pair of psychologists. They surveyed a hundred or so artists and poets, and claim that traits similar to those of schizophrenics explain these people's success with members of the opposite sex.

Artists and schizophrenics are known to share characteristics, and they pose a certain kind of puzzle to evolutionary psychologists. Neither artistic talent nor schizophrenia offers an obvious reproductive benefit, nor are they expected to, but does their existence suggest they might have one?

British researchers Daniel Nettle, of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, and Helen Keenoo, at the Open University in Milton Keynes, decided to investigate by surveying 425 professional visual artists and poets, amateurs and regular people. They found that active artists had had an average of five or six sexual partners; those without artistic ambitions had had nearer four.

"I think it's to do with attention," says Nettle of artists' sexual success. "Art forms are things that hold people's attention, and that can be a powerful aphrodisiac."

kick them in the belly again?

I posted not so long ago about the Ludwig Bemelman pig fame chronicle Dirty Eddie. Now Overlook has released a new collection of his autobiographical writing, When You Lunch with the Emperor. According to Daily Candy:

Lunch takes Bemelmans further afield, from the Austrian Tyrol to the Amazon, from rustic inns in the German countryside to the glittering ballrooms of Manhattan’s grandest hotels, where the irrepressible voyager impersonates the warden of New York’s infamous Sing Sing, gets caught by the Gestapo with his toenails painted red, smuggles a contraband toy poodle aboard a ship to France, muffs his Off-Broadway debut, lets Parisian criminals nanny his young daughter, and investigates the rivalries of Ecuadorian restaurateurs.

Monday, December 12, 2005

arranging her legs in an M of receptivity

If you haven't seen it already, don't miss the long list for the Bad Sex in Fiction award.

She touched it and her fingers were light and became excited at once, and he started mumbling, "Good, good, good." She listened with wonder. This wasn't like the moans she had heard from thousands of others, but like someone suddenly recognizing something they had previously only heard about, like a boy who sees an airplane in the sky for the first time, not in a story-book, and he stands and cries out: Airplane, airplane! When she looked at him, a sigh escaped her. He was so beautiful at that moment, as if a boy and a girl were twisting inside him like two ropes or braids, intertwined, like something you see only in dreams, she thought, or in the Indian shrines, and even there it's not like this, not this pure and whole and glowing. She whispered to him eagerly, "You can do everything, you'll see, nothing will stand in the way of your courage."

all the cool kids get invited

An animated world is the only space that could contain four writers' egos.

"We started with the idea of Moe as Charles Bukowski," explains Matt Warburton, who wrote the [Simpsons] episode. "We brought Lisa in as the person who discovers in scuzzy, barfly Moe something that we've never seen before: a poet." Antics ensue, with Wolfe and fellow guest stars Gore Vidal, Michael Chabon and Jonathan Franzen voicing themselves. All were thrilled to participate.

graf attack

Watch this video of a gang of graffiti artists who completely cover a train while it's stopped in a station. I love the way the subway security looks on dumbfounded.

Via Wooster Collective (stop in to see some coverage of the response to Sony's graffiti-based ad campaign)

have your social constructs straight

The LA Times is diving head-long into the literary landscape. David Ulin's influence perhaps?

Writers offer the most surprising book they encountered in 2005...

Carolyn See: Hugh Nissenson's novel "The Days of Awe" (Sourcebooks Landmark) changed my life this year. It's set in New York, during a period of about two months before and after Sept. 11. But that is only one of many grimly ominous events. The point the author makes is that everyone is going to die, and THIS MEANS YOU! Thanks to Nissenson, for about a month I was afraid to go into a parking lot or walk through my own house at night or get in a car and drive. He did a wonderful, terrifying job of restating the real terms of the human condition. The book is what art should be.

More writers blog about writing in LA...

Marcos Villatoro: I’ve lived in a lot of places: Bolivia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and a little country called Alabama. My wife and I were involved in political work with poor people. This meant we lived within an environment of consistent fear (especially in Guatemala and Nicaragua, where we were based in specific war zones). In Alabama, our last home, we worked with migrant farm workers, during a time when the Ku Klux Klan liked to march through our town, demanding the Mexicans be burned out of the county.

After those difficult though wonderful, educational years, we landed in Los Angeles. It was here I could get sick. Here, I felt safe. L.A. offers the familiar: I live in a Salvadoran barrio in Van Nuys, where I can walk two blocks and get pupusas. I can’t tell you how important that is. This is a great city to have a nervous breakdown in.

And a great city to get well in too. Sometimes we relegate psychological issues to the circle of concerns of the upper middle class. Yet I know poor men and women who have come to L.A. from far away, have come here running, because of the horrors of their homelands. Here, they rest; and here, they weep. They’re allowed to mourn. They can lose control, without getting lost. Here.

The powers that be offer the best fiction and non-fiction of the year...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

marriage is for old folks

As much as I enjoyed Walk the Line, I think I may have hit my limit on musician bio pics. I'm also hesitant to learn more about one of my favorite artists of all time, Nina Simone. Her music is such pure, magical joy for me that I'm afraid to let something as common as humanity taint it. With Mary J. Blige set to star as Ms. Simone, I'm not exactly persuaded otherwise.

I'm currently enjoying the NS song "Marriage is For Old Folks":

I love dancing
Crazy romancing
Fellas advancing constantly

Marriage is for old folks
Old folks, not for me
One husband
One wife
Whaddya got?
Two people sentenced for life

I love singing
Good healthy clinging
Quietly bringing on a spree

Marriage is for old folks
Cold folks
One married he
One married she
Whaddya got?
Two people watchin' tv

I'm not ready
to quit bein' free
And I'm not willing
to stop being me
I've gotta sing my song
Why should I belong
to some guy who says
that I'm wrong?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

he was young & handsome -- his mother's hope

And you thought hairy palms were your only worry...

chainsaw chick

Awhile back, someone introduced me to the 1980 trash classic Foxes, in which Cherie Currie plays a troubled young woman who meets a tragic end. Before that, I had only known her as Joan Jett and Lita Ford's bandmate in teenage rockchick collective The Runaways. In an astounding identity evolution, Cherie Currie has gone from Runaway to Chainsaw Chick. If I didn't have a reason to travel to Chatsworth before, I sure do now.

wenlock edge

There's a new Alice Munro story in this week's New Yorker.

My mother had a bachelor cousin a good deal younger than her, who used to visit us on the farm every summer. He brought along his mother, Aunt Nell Botts. His own name was Ernie Botts. He was a tall, florid man with a good-natured expression, a big square face, and fair curly hair springing straight up from his forehead. His hands, his fingernails were as clean as soap itself; his hips were a little plump. My name for him—when he was not around—was Earnest Bottom. I had a mean tongue.

But I meant no harm. Or hardly any harm.


Monday, December 05, 2005

that far-flung, cosmetically flawless utopia

The New York Observer chronicles the celebrity magnet that is Brooklyn.

It would have seemed that, by now, few New Yorkers still cling to the old anti-Brooklyn bigotries. Who persists in seeing the borough as little more than Manhattan’s waiting room, its discard piles, its backwater wilderness? Who still considers a move there on a par with the exile eastward from Eden? Even prejudiced Manhattanites are migrating en masse to Brooklyn.

This hegira off the island into Brooklyn has been going on for years, but can no longer be understood simply as the search for cheap, mythically large apartments; rents in Brooklyn are nearly as high as those in Manhattan. It’s different now. People aspire to Brooklyn. The vector of the city has reversed itself.

Judging by today's posts, I'm apparently feeling a little nostalgic.

housing and stuff

Due to the location of my new job, I spend a lot of time looking at Frank Gehry's architecture. It's distinctive if not moving. Now, according to New York magazine, because of Gehry's latest projects in Manhattan and Brooklyn - including the proposed Atlantic Yards - New York's architectural snooze is over.

But how can we be a city of glamorous cutting-edge architecture without finally getting our own Frank Gehry building or two or—hell, sure, why not—nineteen? The first, under construction on the West Side Highway in Chelsea, is a nine-story headquarters for Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp. It’s a new Gehry iteration; instead of an exploded giant tin can, it will be boxier, more traditionally building-esque, with townhouse-size modules and wedding-cake setbacks wrapped in translucent textured glass. “We’re gonna do more things behind there, too,” Gehry says, suggesting a future Gehryfication of Tenth Avenue. “Housing and stuff.”

And next spring, construction should begin on the first Gehry skyscraper on the planet, a 74-story apartment tower (plus hospital and school) just south of the Brooklyn Bridge. Given the string of abortive New York projects he’s been through (like the doomed ground-zero theater center), he doesn’t want to publish his design for Beekman Tower “until they’re sure they’re going to build.” But he showed me the renderings. For a Gehry building, it’s conservative, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing—a classic Manhattan skyscraper with several setbacks. But for a Manhattan high-rise it’s radical, since it will likely be clad in titanium—creased and wrinkled as if it’s a few yards of draped fabric rather than a dozen acres of metal.

from pigeons and rats to pynchon and rousseau

About five years ago, as part of a project I was directing, I spent a lot of time inside various branches of the New York public library system. One of the most impressive locations by far is the Jefferson Market branch at 6th Avenue & 9th Street. Maud Newton tells the tale of its transition from prison to library.

Friday, December 02, 2005

who needs other people?

Create your own internet radio station based on what you already like with Pandora from the Music Genome Project. It's like having a music geek friend to make recommendations without having to report back whether you think their taste is any good. So far, it seems like Pandora & I have similar collections, but there's still the element of surprise as to what song will pop up next.

Via That's Just the Booze Talking

Update: I don't this is quite as cool - possibly because I don't understand how it works - but another stale radio alternative has emerged: roadcasting. (Thanks to E.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

bah humbug

Each year at this time, I am nauseated by the annual assault of Christmas music. I truly detest holiday songs, and I think that if there is a hell and I end up there, I will spend eternity carolling. That said, I could almost stomach gorilla vs. bear's holiday mixtape and I was dismayed to discover my favorite Reverend has his own Christmas album. Forces are conspiring against me...

injured bad

This (fake?) commercial for health insurance is adorably hilarious. While you're there at Revver, take a look around at their other offerings.