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Wednesday, July 31, 2002
The music of airshows is a kind of pounding, high energy, aural clip art. It’s everywhere, accompanying everything from thrill rides to kill videos. There's also a disturbing predilection for soft rock.

A barfly gallery, subtitled Social Studies in Southern California Bars 1989-93. Covers from pulp fiction, as lurid as you'd expect. Shooting brakes, a fine British automotive tradition (note that the Italians do it better, though). KodakGirl has a great collection of Kodak's girls, the company's liberated female pin-ups.


Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Some more photo galleries have gone up, with hopefully more to follow. Again, not all the links on this site are fully operational - please bear with us. Adding photographs to weblogs is, admittedly, a fashionable conceit, but we like it. So there.

A Mrs. Nkonuko from the Auditing and Accounting Unit of the Foreign Operations Department of the Banque Togolaise writes with details of A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY. We're tempted, but figure that the cut (30% of $7.2m - belonging to a 'deceased person who died in plane crash') probably, just probably, doesn't exist. There's a good chance that you could make more than $2.1m by writing a very pacy airport novel dealing with exactly this kind of scenario. The famous Nigerian 419 scam now has more websites devoted to its exposure than almost any other contemporary con trick, and yet they continue to flood in. things would like to declare that it owns the novelisation rights to 419, an everyday tale of a desperate mid-Western business trying to save his skin in the heart of Lagos/Kabul/Togo, etc.

The truth is always stranger than fiction. This man, for example, believes he is at the heart of a conspiracy by the British establishment to track him and talk to him through his television. A fascinating, but ultimately sad and depressing study in paranoia (although the author strongly refutes this).


Monday, July 29, 2002
Too busy to do much except sit and steam in this weather. 28.5 degrees and rising: air-conditioning is a distant dream. Another this vs that, in this case two web-based cultural 'freesheets'. Who's best? You decide, etc.

Kultureflash vs Flavorpill. Hint: one of these started before the other one...


Friday, July 26, 2002
Apologies if things (and things) seem a little disjointed - moving a few files around plays havoc with this website. Issue 16 is finally out - subscribe to get your hands on a copy. A minor re-design of this site is underway, with the emphasis on minor, so keep checking back for new stuff.

Some links, siphoned, as usual, from other lists of links (does anyone have time any more to find original links?). The Imaginary World is a repository of toys - and memories - from the past. Here are cereal packets, dog foods, gumball machine inserts (especially attractive) and even a collection of 'themed lands' - a ripe topic for academic study if ever there was one. The site's owner is also working on a more personal project, which, appropriately enough, appears to be the construction of a fantasy theme park. Nostalgia sites are burgeoning. There's Yesterdayland, Time Warp Toys, etc., etc. (a round-up from the Guardian last year saves us having to do any more googling). The BBC even has a site devoted to retro TV.

Monkeyfish is an elegantly designed site of 'objects and things' - sound familiar...? We like the bike tour best, and elsewhere on the site you'll find all manner of scanned found objects. This DIY enthusiasm brought us to Cut'n'Paste, the 'Great Travelling Zine Show'. This touring exhibition of Australian self-publishing showcased around 100 zines, ezines and comics. The list is quite entertaining, although how many of these publications are still available isn't clear. More DIY, via Caterina: I, II, III. The latter is the online presence of the famous punk guide - handy if you need to make a record or book a small tour...


Wednesday, July 24, 2002
Is there such a thing as cultural inevitability? There's certainly a sense that sometimes, everything is strangely symbiotic: the same idea crops up all over the place, all at once. Perhaps this has less to do with symbiosis and more to do with long lead times and loose tongues. Two 'alternative' motoring titles appeared within a few months of each other at the start of this year, each hoping to take the glossy magazine's combination of glamour and grit and apply it to the relatively conservative motoring market. Intersection is produced by the team that created Dazed and Confused, amongst others. Like that title, it suffers a little from being an extended homage to a loosely defined in-crowd: not always a pleasant experience. Art direction and design are top notch, however, as is most of the writing. There's just an imperceptible feeling of unease.

In contrast, Carl's Cars has a less rigid design and a friendlier feel, almost as if it were a 'zine that made it into full-scale production. Strikingly similar in terms of overall aesthetic (especially in terms of photography), Carl's also benefits from the warm and earnest tone created by translation into English, or at least achieved by writing English as a second language. Besides - how many motoring magazines are produced in Oslo?

It started raining almost as soon as yesterday’s sunshine link went up; that slow, speckly London summer rain that felt as if it wasn’t there at all. But then we saw this gallery of Japanese ice cream flavours on metafilter, and the thought of Squid Sundae Surprise put us right off a cloudless sky.


Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Summer's here, and so is sunburn. Some luminous, hazy links: suejon, Jay Cox, Superman, dead buffalo, Eclogues.


Friday, July 19, 2002
Plainpicture is a German picture agency promising to offer unposed, naturalistic stock art of people, things and places (via the great designboom). They have a curious way with keywords, but some of the thumbnail galleries are undeniably attractive.

Victorian fairy art. Fairies are unlikely to require one of these, a surprisingly slinky site for such an ugly lump of metal. Vaguely related - from Wired: 'The Amount of Sacrifice Americans Will Be Willing to Make to Drive a Nonpolluting Car Is Exactly Zero'. Hence GM's fuel cell concept, the Autonomy, a whole new way of making personal transporation attractive and environmentally friendly.


Wednesday, July 17, 2002
'The Heart of Things' is the kind of title that naturally draws our eye, but Jonathon Delacour's weblog is well worth a read - especially if you're in need of a few tips and tricks.

Art is Hell has some photocopy art on display, which leads us nicely to the new wave photography of Philippe Carly, a man who spent a great deal of his youth at the feet of nattily-dressed pop stars. Finally, Designboom has an illustrated history of the folding chair.


Tuesday, July 16, 2002
More suburbs. Arts and Photographs has an exhibition of Bill Owens' cult 1972 series Suburbia (flash site, registration needed). Cars, sex, alcohol, and long, low houses. They're all here.

Camilo Vergara's The New American Ghetto from 1997 is a sobering series, especially this fenced-in van. The photography of Edward Burtynsky also deals with the human impact on our environment, but in a more sweeping, epic way: Craters. Oil fields. Crumbs.


Monday, July 15, 2002
'No place' photography has become establishment. Mediumtown is a new initiative from CABE, the UK’s architectural watchdog. Certainly, photography of everyday architecture has gained currency in artistic circles in the past decade. Style magazines present artfully scruffy neighbourhoods, the casual, unconsidered built debris that gets left behind by the rapid rise and fall of the economic tide. Perhaps you can trace this aesthetic back to Lewis Baltz, and his iconic images of the mono-box industrial culture that grew up in 1970s California, the template for thousands of business parks, industrial estates and retail zones around the world. Contemporary photographers like Andrew Cross also carry the can for the 'no place' aesthetics'.

Mediumtown doesn't shirk from this grey, geometric aesthetic - indeed, it revels in it. Purporting to be a celebration of the everyday, there's a slightly sneery tone to the whole exercise. It's a collaborative, public art project that ultimately reduces vast swathes of the country to identikit, indistinguishable suburb: Mediumtown. CABE's remit is to champion architectural excellence, so it's not hard to see the whole project as covert information gathering to justify their existence. One imagines the London-based Mediumtown webmasters and mistresses giggling in delight at the images of rank banality that arrive in their in-trays. Look - how perfect! A bus stop in Basildon! In part, this is the aesthetic of development, the visual language of Estates Gazette, a weekly publication that offers vast swathes of English countryside for sale to the highest bidder. According to this week's issue, there is apparently 9.5m square feet of vacant office space in the UK’s M4 corridor alone. 45% of this has never been occupied.

If you still want a crack at turning your town into Mediumville - and we could even be tempted ourselves - instructions are here (.pdf). Vaguely related. Haddock linked to this rather epic online archive of the work of Charles Booth, the Victorian anti-Poverty campaigner. The site gives some idea of the sheer scale of Booth's undertaking - to create a detailed map of London's wealth. Booth walked the city's streets, taking copious notes to create his Life and Labour of the People of London, some 17 volumes in size. The publications included his remarkable colour-coded maps, with the streets coloured from yellow ('Upper-middle and Upper classes. Wealthy'), down to black ('Lowest class. Vicious, semi-criminal').


Friday, July 12, 2002
To Newcastle, and the Baltic Gallery, which opens tomorrow. Billed as the 'Tate of the North', this converted flour warehouse is unusual in that there is no permanent collection. Instead, opening shows included work by Jane and Louise Wilson, Julian Opie and Chris Burden. Click here to see some pictures.

Elsewhere, Douglas Coupland's Souvenirs of Canada looks elegant, but arch. Ephemeral architecture: Diller and Scofidio's Blur Building on Lake Neuchatel, Switzerland.


Thursday, July 11, 2002
A slight, muddled and simplistic piece on Slate: In defence of Barbie. The author concludes that here in Europe, we love Barbie, and will have no truck with the pink princesses’ gender stereotyping ways.

European families have no problem with their daughters emulating a happy, confident, good-looking, American girl. Patriotic homegrown parents could learn to love her too.

What the article overlooks is the enormous power wielded by Mattel, daubing the statutory pink over practically everything, playing on pester power and even sneaking the doll into ballets to ensure that all bases are covered. Sugarplum fun indeed. A couple of subversive Barbie links: I, II.

From the ridiculous to the sublime: a quote about the early days of supercomputing from Steve Chen, CEO of Tonbu (in Wired).

We could actually predict the weather very accurately (in the late '80s). The problem was it took a week to predict tomorrow's weather

A supercomputer, recently. More supercomputers from NASA's GRIN, resplendent in their international style/Herman Miller aesthetic (I, II). Those were the days when computer room was the cool, classy and modern place to work.


Wednesday, July 10, 2002
Interesting piece by Peter Norman in Flak Magazine on the American Ad Council’s vaguely creepy “campaign for freedom”, a supposedly inspirational, but ultimately wrong-headed attempt to link the four freedoms with long, long supermarket aisles.

“If the Ad Council wants to take its gloves off and try to persuade its audience that an activity where one's participation is directly determined by one's wealth and where one's range of choices is entirely preselected by other people represents a central American value, it's hard not to welcome their contribution to public debate. In an indirect and extremely wrongheaded way, they are, after all, contributing to democracy.”

Another spot, Library, is also taken to task for depicting a hypothetical situation that, unfortunately, is all too plausible given current legislation. More ads here.

Compare and contrast the Campaign for Freedom with another 'American Dream', one which will probably face an uphill struggle (we're thinking back to the time Senator Trent Lott called DaimlerChrysler's Smart car a 'purple people eater', lighter, more efficient, more dangerous and ultimately un-American).


Tuesday, July 09, 2002
Contemporary ruins. This month's Architectural Review has an outrage piece on the recent demolition of Richard Neutra’s Maslon House in Palm Springs. One would have thought that soaring real estate prices and the iconic status of these buildings would be protection enough. But no. As well as Neutra, pioneering architects like John Lautner and Paul Rudolph have all seen their built legacy threatened (although here's one you can buy). Even FLW buildings - long acknowledged as part of America's cultural heritage - have to fight. Maybe it's too much to expect that every iconic building is saved - after all, under whose criteria is a building judged iconic in the first place?

Here in the UK, we have the excellent Twentieth Century Society, raising awareness of our (slender) modernist legacy (in particular, the site has an excellent case study section). Such vigilance and enthusiasm frequently goes unrewarded.

One small bonus – do a search for the man that demolished the Maslon House, Richard Rotenberg, and the first six links all make it clear that he is a cultural vandal. Although these voices of outrage were ultimately impotent, it’s strangely fitting that Rotenberg will now be forever associated with the house's demolition, thanks to the lingering electronic traces of the protest. From the AR:

It is a testament to architecture's power of genius loci that the lot, flawlessly situated at the intersection of two implausibly green fairways in the middle of scrub desert, is now striking only in its banality.


Monday, July 08, 2002
Mapping the many worlds that surround us. Robot Wisdom has a handy map of Iris Murdoch's London (thanks to tmn), while City Walks has links to lots of urban escapades, including surveillance camera maps of NY (.pdf) and a huge photo essay on Berlin, old and new.

Map aficionados can visit David Rumsey, perhaps the best known on-line cartographic purveyor. You'll need to use a special interface, but the results are worth it. More maps: an animation of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion projection, NASA's 'Blue Marble', "the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date," and a large selection of maps and links held in UC Berkeley's Earth Sciences and Map Library. The University of Texas also collects cartography links. Smart Money's interactive stock market map is currently showing a healthy green, but that could change any day. Finally, very large and very exotic maps of Azerbaijan.


Friday, July 05, 2002
Three things. Excellent galleries at Quarlo (where, oh where is our digital camera?).

The London weblog map seems to be modelled on NYC bloggers, the difference being that London has a far more attractive underground map.

Tell time, chunkily, with this collection of Japanese digital watches.


Thursday, July 04, 2002
It looks like a bit of a work in progress, but Housing Prototypes is well worth keeping an eye on. A directory of 'international multi-family housing', there are not only photographs but also plans and sections, making this a very useful architectural resource. Pictures (and plans) could be bigger, but we'll certainly be spending more time here.


Wednesday, July 03, 2002
Some space-obsessed links. Ever wondered how we’ll make it to the moon? Nuclear Space describe themselves as the ‘Pro-Nuclear Space Movement’ – ‘our mission, to promote the use of nuclear power in space’. Imagine you're a satellite. Pretend you're an astronaut: every single minute of the Apollo 11 tapes, in streaming format. Check Space and Mystery to decode the strange flashing lights that swarm around your trailer park, or go to GRIN - Great Images in NASA - for the most down to earth explanations.

At some point in the last few years, UFO-obsession became deeply unfashionable. It just vanished. Granted, there are plenty of UFO enthusiasts still out there (I, II, III, IV), but these sites all have a certain tiredness about them. One imagines that one of the principle benefits of a global medium like the internet would be the ability to circulate conclusive evidence of the existence of anything contentious. The things that have haunted the global psyche for centuries. Throw in the proliferation of digital cameras and you'd imagine that someone, somewhere, would have sorted out the following conundrums: UFOs, lake monsters, Bigfoot, Yetis, spirit photography, etc., etc. So what is the web full of? Grainy scans of long discredited hoaxes.

Mysteries have been replaced with conspiracies, complex, all-embracing structures that nicely dovetail with the internet's global reach. It also gives the paranoid the thrilling sense that the 'enemy' is right there, beside them, watching their every move.

Bigfoot update. The jury has returned.


Monday, July 01, 2002
It’s hard to find the name of the owner of this Belgian ‘virtual garage’, but that's OK. The forty odd cars that have passed through his fickle hands make it easy to create a mental picture: that of a suave, sophisticated playboy with a penchant for the stylish yet unusual. Throw a soupcon of jealousy from things into that mix.

There’s a photography and design focus this morning. Contrast Do you Believe?, the American Museum of Photography’s spooky spirit images exhibition, with the Ghost Research Society's own photo page. From Spirits to Soviets: MoMA's The Russian Avant Garde Book 1910-1934 has a great website to accompany the exhibition.

Sears Modern Homes brings together a collection of designs for the proto McHouses of old, paving the way for Seaside and other suburban fantasies. More urban regeneration at I Love Peckham: 'Warning: this site contains pictures showing destruction and neglect being reversed...'

Gig Posters allows you to revisit post-punk design triumphs, and marvel at the products of an era when a photocopier was all that stood between your band and glory (and muse over those events you missed through unavoidable geographical circumstances).

Animated Kinder Eggs