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Friday, April 30, 2004
A couple of things. Test thinks we won't be able to resist the work of Thomas Haywood. The Alpha Male series is quite creepy - almost post-apocalyptic. Passing Through conjures up the kind of elusive memories you scrabble to reassemble before they vanish.

We also enjoyed reading Nothing is wasted, nothing is forgotten, the 'little islands of analogue amidst the bitstreams' of a self-confessed collector, the enduring power of analogue media and how a service like gmail might hold the key for the confluence of the two. An off-cut. 'Digital photography feels like bacon in the fridge; good for a couple of weeks, but then only fit for the bin. An analogue photograph is a well-cured ham - you can forget about it for years, but it will stay there, gathering dust in a cupboard, until you bring it out, brush it off, and enjoy it all over again.'

Thursday, April 29, 2004
Bits and pieces today. Tesugen, a weblog run by Peter Lindberg, also tackles the modern vs. traditional architectural debate that City of Sound posted about earlier in the week. Another architecture/design weblog, Veritas et Venustas, the musings of classicist John Massengale (if only Quinlan Terry had a weblog too). The post entitled Duany Crits Koolhaas has some interesting points (using a recent Metropolis Magazine article by Andres Duany on the new McCormick Tribune Campus Center at IIT by Koolhaas's firm OMA as its starting point). Duany writes that the new building 'is as appropriate to our nerds/tech jocks as Mies's campus once was for the white-shirted engineers of the second industrial age,' describing the structure as having a 'fundamental "whatever"' sensibility. Massengale seizes on this - could today's showy 'look at me' structures be the architectural equivalent of petulant, stroppy teenagers?

Late Modernism is sometimes analogous to Late Adolescence, which, of course, is the age of some architecture students. The connection between Modernism and Adolescence is the development of the Ego. Modernism is sometimes like the gawky teenager dressed in black (Have you seen a New York architect lately?) who wants to stand under the orange lights in the 7/11 parking lot, feel bad about his parents, and express his originality by looking like every other teenager he knows. But that's for another post.

Massengale, who likes the building himself, is in favour of architectural pluralism, despite what some might expect from an ardent classicist. This is refreshing: even more so is his analogy between architecture and music:

In the meantime, some thoughts about architecture and music. In music, we listen to Top 40, or Hip Hop, or Jazz or Classical. Or Top 40 and Jazz, and Hip Hop, and Classical. The breadth of Duany's Metropolis article is unusual for the architectural press, or the press in general -- the New York Times's architecture critic ruthlessly pushes the idea that the only contemporary architecture worth thinking about is from the Starchitects like Rem Koolhaas, and few of the major newspapers or magazines are broadminded on the subject.

In the real world, some people want to listen to Pink. Some want Outkast, some want Stevie Wonder or Miles Davis, and some want Mozart. The discussion about what to do in our buildings and cities would be a lot richer if we got over this idea that we're all supposed to be listening to All Starchitect, All The Time.

Or, for that matter, all classical and New Urbanism, all the time.

Some more architecture - and little chance of Starchitect statements here, for better or worse. Grimshaw gets the job to design the new terminal at Stanstead Airport. Here's hoping that BAA don't stuff it up as much as they stuffed up the original Foster terminal, a soaring open space which has now been cluttered up into a sorry maze of Spud-U-Likes and Swatch shops. BAA have also excelled themselves with this dynamic statement of architectural intent: 'Modular development will allow for phased construction in line with capacity requirements.' Thrilling.

Other things. Mark Everhart's Map Scans, the hesitant beginnings of a long-abandoned collection / nice old map of the Lehigh Valley Railroad (and Connections) / concept design projects at the Russian firm Open Concepts (via Coudal). Some_things and Money_money are the most interesting / also via Coudal, early landscapes by photographic pioneers / Witold Riedel takes some photographs of the Queen Mary 2 in New York. There's something especially heroic about this image. QM 2 official site. Vaguely related, Art Deco architecture in London.

Our absolute worst nightmare: 'New title targets young golfers'. Golf Punk is 'a magazine targeting 15 to 34-yearolds with a passion for what is often viewed as a sport for retired businessmen'. With a co-founder of Loaded at the helm, this venture inevitably conjures up a mix of Jackass, bad fashion and the slow descent towards conservatism in all its forms (Golf Punk is also the appropriately stupid name for a vintage clothing shop on Melrose Avenue). Remember, Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper play golf, as the magazine will no doubt remind its readers again and again and again.

Halvorsen, the weblog of Halvard Halvorsen, sifting through the cultural debris. Recommended / The Eyes have It, 'a weblog devoted (mainly) to visual communications in the pharmaceutical, biotech and healthcare sectors,' links to this interactive operation on a virtual knee. We didn't even scrub up right / the marvellous machines of Rube Goldberg. More marvellous machines: a turbine-powered motorbike (on the same site, Subterannea Scotia, underground forts and power stations in Scotland), the best scrapyards in Britain.

Further to the comments yesterday about ads and conspiracies, Russell Davies decides to tackle the doubters about Honda's (soon-to-be, no doubt) award-winning Cog (scroll down to the post dated 27 April).

Last chance to see. ThoughtCrime, an exhibition of work by students from Central Saint Martins school of design. The exhibition is being held in the disused tram tunnel under Southampton Row and Kingsway in London. A history of the tunnel, which is rarely open to the public, and some photos. Today's the last day of the exhibition, and it shuts at 5.00 (thanks Tom).

Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Meet your new Central Library, the lucky citizens of Seattle will shortly get inside their new OMA-designed building (via Dezain). Related, an appreciation of the late modernist Pierre Koenig. Speaking of modern architecture, City of Sound's epic post, 'What's wrong with modern architecture. Apparently,' looks at the yawning gulf between modern and traditional architectural styles. Like so many complex cultural fields, architecture doesn't benefit from being reduced to a simple dualist mode - old/new, good/bad, beautiful/ugly, progressive/regressive, etc. etc. And just like politics, the two camps are becoming more rabid in their dislike of each other. So why can't we all just get along? Related, Brutal Joint, a new architecture weblog. Finally, how to evaulate modern bulidings, a guide from DOCOMOMO US (via tmn).

Elsewhere. Beautiful rusty photos by Brad Knapp / Mystery and Misery, music and more / The Pleasure Railroad, a fascinating history: 'It probably was inevitable that someone would try to tie aerial flight and a rollercoaster together.' / wordPhoto makes pleasing photographic associations. Also photographic - make things deliberately blurry with a lensbaby.

Discovered in 1918, you will soon be able to visit the Jewish Catacombs beneath Rome's Villa Torlonia - a nineteenth century house (seemingly much altered?) used by Mussolini during the 1920s. The 9km of tunnels, adapted by the dictator as an air-raid shelter, will soon become part of a Holocaust Museum.

Post Polvo snooze fest, a mix tape fanzine scanned in all its lo-fi glory. Related, every Peel Session from the last 12 years (via haddock) - a virtual version of the classic Peel Session album cover (New Order, for example), which one could pore over for hours finding bands you liked, bands you hated and bands (more likely), you'd never heard of. Two enjoyable radio shows to catch: the story of the 4AD record label and Fabulous Flops, tales of terrible musicals.

One can find conspiracy in everything, even when it's so patently a hoax - that MINI Cooper 'robot' that did the rounds a couple of months ago. I quote: 'I know this sounds crazy... but the current buzz is that the ad agency rumor was false. Some chap in the UK who lives near the whois address said there used to be a production agency there but now is just an empty warehouse with a few offices above it.' Cue Twilight Zone-style music.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Urban sprawl spreads into slang, a quick and easy guide to the new language of urban design. Boomburbs, Zoomburbs, Snoutscapes, Ball porks, ground cover, all words with a pitifully low Google hit rate (so they must be onto something new). I remember reading something not so long ago that blasted the West Coast's prediliction for generously spaced suburban tracts, modernist houses that presented themselves to the street via their garage first, with scarcely any indication of the home contained behind it.

In particular, the Eichler Home came in for some stick (see also the Eichler Network), deemed just as guilty (if not more so) than the fashionably oxymoronic Colonial-style McMansion with its jarring three-car garage (the owners of this page, the Mc-Tastic 'Parade of Homes', are smart enough to ensure that a search for 'McMansion' throws up their site).

And it's true, the public face of a typical Eichler plan is restricted to a car port and a garage, effectively turning its back on the life of the street in favour of a secluded patio at the rear. The houses at Memorial Bend, mentioned earlier, follow a similar pattern. This streetscape is what the above article refers to as a 'Snoutscape', its 'nose' to the street.

Other definitions include 'Zoomburbs' (an even faster-growing Boomburb, a 'suburb undergoing rapid population growth') and 'Ball Pork' ('... a sports stadium built with public money for the benefit of a privately owned athletic team.'). Interesting stuff, although we rather think the term 'Putting parsley around the pig', described as 'minimal landscaping to decorate mundane large developments.' is one of those joke metaphors that bored marketing types like to make up in meetings to bamboozle clients ('let's put this cat on the patio and see if it walks'). Sort of related, City-Data, reams of statistics about US cities.

Elsewhere. Don't be like us and lose twenty minutes from a horrifically busy schedule with turbo tanks / the dinky Peugeot 204 / Doodles, Drafts & Designs: Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian (via portage) / Clutter and Junk at the Giornale Nuovo, with some tasty snippets of RP.

Monday, April 26, 2004
Lots of bits and pieces today. Some scans of old game manuals (via muxway), confusingly presented as massive bit torrent download (the mechanics of which we don't really understand). Probably aimed at the emulation/MAME community / download some vintage Jaguar brochures / a Private Eye cover gallery / all about the architect Charles Holden, hero of London Underground and creator of a design legacy that is gradually degraded with each passing year.

Extraordinary - a perfect facsimile of Le Corbusier's Ronchamp Chapel (via Archinect). In Japan - where else? / Joe Cunningham's photography is beautiful, and his links are excellent / fantastic mirror picture / the Brixton Society, with walks and views of old Brixton. See also the excellent Godfrey Edition of old Ordnance Survey maps, which are essential if you want to delve into local history.

Francis Baker's 'other attachments: an investigation into my consumption' / Annie Liebowitz's American Music exhibition, which is on show at The Hospital, the former Endell Street Hospital recently re-opened as a media something-or-other by Paul Allen (of a certain software company) and Dave Stewart (former Eurythmic - fan sites are always the best) / the Mr Men go to the seaside.

The architectecture of Memorial Bend and Houston Mod, both via me-fi / Regen Projects includes work by artist Richard Prince / the Matthew Marks Gallery represents Andreas Gursky and Lucian Freud among others.

Saturday, April 24, 2004
Tomorrow is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. That is all.

Friday, April 23, 2004
More conservation. Tearing Down Moscow (thanks Yance) is filled with stories of Russia's vanishing heritage, with the tale of the neglected 1932 Narkomfin building especially poignant. Designed by a collective (of course) led by one Moisei Ginzburg, the Narkomfin was a prototype city within a city, an idea later developed by Le Corbusier with the Unite d'Habitation (1952) and, more immediately, in self-contained blocks like the Lawn Road Flats in Hampstead, opened just two years after its Russian precursor. These later ideas were 'socialist lite' in comparison with the all-consuming environment of the Narkomfin, with its creche, roof garden, solarium, library and dry cleaners (in short, everything the aspiring urban yuppy would expect to find in their new riverside lofts).

[An aside, I can't find an online image, but the pod-like structures in the Ginzburg link are remarkably similar to the future London set designed for the 1954 television play of George Orwell's 1984. So here's a poorly acquired image of Future London, taken from Colin Sorenson's excellent book, London on Film (more London locations). I would dearly love this book, Style and Epoch: Moisei Ginzburg, but it's fearfully pricey.]

As we now know, utopian architecture didn't go according to plan, and the building now languishes on the World Monuments Fund list of 100 Most Endangered (they're missing a serious trick with that site - where are the beautiful illustrations of all 100 buildings?). There's also a recent piece in the Guardian on the back of the most recent destructive fire in the city, when the Manezh hall was gutted in March. As a local conservationist observes, 'In Moscow fires often occur at just the right moment.'

Narkomfin also crops up in Yale's extensive Annals of Communism site, under the section Stalinism as a Wy of Life. This huge collection of images and documents of the Soviet experiment turning on itself with savage fury. Narkomfin was shorthand for the People's Commissariat of Finance (who perhaps had a hand in financing the building?), but this chilling letter from 1929 denounces some of the company's employees - as 'wreckers'. A purge would inevitably follow.

Areal, ten years in the life of a Munich suburb photographed by Joachim Brohl (via conscientious, who also provides a link to the amazing high speed photography of Naoya Hatakeyama, last seen in London at the exhibition Speed: Visions of an Accelerated Age at both the Whitechapel and the Photographers' Gallerys in 1998 / an immensely in-depth look at Vermeer’s Portrait of a Girl with a Peal Earring (via portage).

Elsewhere. Gene Sequencer, a flash game that drove me insane. Floats is similar but a bit more fun / Pixies setlist comparison device (via consumptive) / tubetrack, a neat little desktop applet that informs you how soon the next tube train is due at your nearest station. It would make you a bit rushed, though. What I'd like is a kitchen clock that picks up train times from our local station and streams them across its LED display. Now that would be useful.

Thursday, April 22, 2004
For some reason, we've never seen the Minneapolis Sign Project before. American commerce is so much more fascinating than its English equivalent. We only have the Lucozade Sign, which sits next to the raised section of the M4, just before the road ploughs into central London. However, the building that the sign sits on is now doomed, and GlaxoSmithKline aren't interested in saving this little piece of their history, so it will soon be lost.

Room and Room, photographer Hiroshige Matsuda's collection of pictures of, well, rooms is never less than fascinating. Other people's houses always inspire, even when they're quite chaotic / Heath Robinson’s Uncle Lubin (via Beautiful Stuff). As a child, I found this image particularly haunting - and frustrating (although I don't remember the next one in the sequence) / very trendy bits of plastic over at artoyz.

Apropos of nothing, the Tay Bridge disaster / a gallery of natural disasters / Spike Magazine has an interview with J.G.Ballard (via elastico, which is occasionally NSFW) / a map showing France in terms of the time it takes to travel via TGV. The new TGV Méditerranée line (seen here) has some some fine new stations, especially that at Avignon (larger image) / views from the BT tower. If you squint, you can just about see things in this picture.

An exhibition of fantasy architecture goes on show soon at London's Hayward Gallery. We also received a press release to the upcoming lecture series New City Architecture, which got us thinking about buildings as logotypes. Their logo is a genius piece of graphic simplicity, two colours, four buildings, three of which are instantly recognisable. From left to right: a generic square box, Tower 42 (formerly the NatWest Tower) by Richard Seifert, 30 St Mary Axe (the 'Gherkin') by Norman Foster and the Lloyds Building by Richard Rogers. The plan form of the NatWest building famously reproduces the bank's interlocking logo, but are there other buildings designed with such graphic simplicification in mind, so they can be easily distilled into a logotype? The Gherkin lends itself well to this approach, but there must be many more. Suggestions?

Finally, Concorde’s gradual descent from the stratosphere to the stately world of aviation museums reminds me of the ill-fated Black Knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Always an attention grabber, bits of this aeroplane are gradually being lopped off and yet it still demands an audience. 'I once supersonic you know! Look at me!'

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Collected urbanism. Photos in Berlin by Yance Marti. Photos of Singapore by Jay Dokken (via me-fi) - a city of sharp contrasts and striking Tropical Po-Mo architecture. A continent and a century apart, visit the grand nineteenth century mansions of New York, the Fifth Avenue homes of America's industrial elite. Now cross to the West Coast with the photography of John Divola. Lots to look at here, focusing on rapid urban change and the always ephemeral nature of suburban Americana. Check out the eerie 'House Removals' series from the 1970s (building plots before and after - in reverse) and the Zuma Series. There are also Los Angeles Panoramas to view. We also like 'Dogs Chasing My Car in the Deserts'.

Elsewhere. FanPants - you know you need them / Cinemorgue – dead people in the movies / beautiful posters at aesthetic apparatus / a Swedish 'car freak' and his page about French Cars. Reminds us of one of our favourite magazines, Carl's Cars ('a magazine about people') / Octopus Magazine, an online poetry publication / toy photography by David Levinthal / the Slop Art catalog simulator. Not really sure what's going on here / Foe Romeo, a weblog / an exhibit of indie flyers, via large-hearted boy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Bits and pieces today. The mysterious Enigma Machine at Amherst College (via Ask Me-fi). Obviously not this kind of Enigma Machine (emulated here, with more information at Tony Sale's Codes and Ciphers page). The mystery solved, later that same day.

Paintings at Aaronland / kim's photos / Wallpaper magazine has finally done something with its website, which has been a dull placeholder for too long. The new design is, gasp, almost weblog-like / a review of Content (see yesterday) at Icon Magazine (there's something satisfying about a collection of magazine covers) / business cards at gaping void.

Ferocious Cheese, a photolog / Release the Reality (via The Cartoonist), a sort of psychotropic website / Printer's Flowers, an artist's book / an original REO 'Speed Wagon' to hasten your departure.

The Sea Cloud, the extravagant ocean-going residence (i.e. yacht) of Marjorie Merriweather Post Hutton. Now available for leisured Caribbean cruises, the 1931 yacht was pressed into naval service during WWII, where she became 'an experiment in racial integration aboard U. S. naval vessels.' Read the personal account of the ship's commanding officer, Carlton Skinner.

The Lighted Umbrella (via rzeczy), one of many Holy Grail-style items for the dedicated Blade Runner fan. See also the Propstore where you can buy literally hundreds of daft things made for movies, many of them lavishly framed/ the freaky McGurk Effect.

The Blue Plaque Project / neat portfolio at Jeremy Gets Cash / monochrom, a weblog (via consumptive) / the Osteomechanical Devices of Ron Bell.

Derelict London, an amazing site which I can't believe we've never seen before. See also London Destruction and these abandoned London railway lines at nyclondon.

Monday, April 19, 2004
Underground Kent, all about one of Britain's most tunnel-ridden counties. See the Wishing Towers beach tunnel, for example, and the 1880s attempt at a channel tunnel. Some more about this tunnel at this comprehensive site. This original attempt, which reached some 2km under the channel from each side, was abandoned in 1883 after the British army got twitchy about the possibility of the dastardly French using it for a lightning-quick invasion. Ironically, some suggest a tunnel might have considerably shortened WW1 by improving British supply lines.

The current dream of subterranean engineers is the link between Siberia and Alaska (two quite barren places, no?), the so-called Bering Tunnel, which would run the 55 mile distance across the intermittently open Bering Land Bridge. The sea is shallow here, and the last window for a dry crossing was between 13,000 and 23,000 years ago, giving credence to the Bering Strait Theory of migration. Even more tunnels.

There’s also talk of a tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar. Last year we attended a brief talk on the history of Gibraltar while taking a very pleasant cream tea on a sunny verandah overlooking the Mediterranean (where this photo was taken, in fact). One fact (fact? more like an anecdote) we learned, as the choice of jams started to overwhelm, was that the Mediterranean was originally formed when the Atlantic poured over a breach in Europe’s mountain ranges (of which the Rock of Gibraltar is a surviving remnant). Apparently this waterfall was many miles high and cascaded billions of tonnes of water for century upon century. Well, probably not, but the image was magnificent, and shook us out of our jam-induced reverie. And, as everyone knows, the Rock is riddled with mile up mile of tunnels (although various sources say 30 miles, 80 miles and 80 kilometres). Which takes us neatly back to where we came in.

Two interesting posts on metro-centric design subjects: Anti-Mega on Habitat, Terence Conran and Tom Dixon, and City of Sound on the Design Museum's current Archigram show, which reproduces the group's cut'n'paste, pop-culture aesthetic. Is their rough and ready approach ready for a come-back?Interestingly, architecture's current iconoclast, Rem Koolhaas, has eschewed the slick Bruce Mau-designed monograph (although there will be more in the Harvard Design School Series) for his latest book, Content. This publishing project uses collage, cartoons, photo-montage, diagrams, and a generally anarchic approach to its subject (not to mention a low price - thanks to magazine-style adverts) – the recent work of OMA. Engaging with disengagement, might be one way of looking at Koolhaas’s methodology. See also here and Kool in the Haas at at Greek Tragedy.

Other things. Three weblogs of note: red elephant, a.j.duric, drink me (who links to this collection of Nancy Drew merchandise) / public housing in Chicago / claims to set out 'the history of stuff explained in simple terms' (via muxway). There's a pleasingly eclectic selection of stuff, from Bras ('an uplifting story', ho ho) to web hosting / world sex records.

Old woodies / desktop wallpaper of classic games / the CD covers archive (both via muxway) / the art of the obsessive compulsive / modern classics reinterpreted by the University of Massachusetts' Minuteman Marching Band, including their seminal version of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android / real paranoid androids in this special-fx showcase video - 'a futuristic robot polices the chaotic streets of a developing nation in this spec commercial/corporate video' (via Sachs Report).

Friday, April 16, 2004
Four day weeks are utterly confusing, especially two of them in a row (not to mention one of them being pole-axed by a faulty Pocketdrive). We can, however, highly recommend And if the garage wants a recommendation as well, it'll have to do a beautiful job on the welding... it's been a week when physical objects have revealed alarming and unhelpful frailties.

Things elsewhere. Memory troubles affect The Deep North (one year old!): "I was looking for The Old Curiosity Shop, and despite some vague awareness that I have never, in fact, bought a copy of this work, I had basically assumed that copies of novels by Dickens don't have to be bought, they just sort of happen."

9 Beet Stretch, a very long performance indeed (via me-fi). The music takes on a very ominous, eerie tone, the perfect soundtrack for urban exploration? Reminiscent, as one poster points out, of Douglas Gordon's 24 Hour Psycho / icons at icon town / the elegant fashion art of Rene Gruau, who died last month / railroad menus (via sharpeworld), which will inspire hollow laughter from regular users of the British railway system.

Daft: things I've pushed through toast (via bifurcated rivets) / first-person shooter compressed into 76k / a gallery of industrial art at Binginit (via Beautiful Stuff) / all about Futurism (via I Like, who has just had a fun-filled trip to Morecambe. She also links the great Windows Symphony, a glitch/click-rock homage to the world's favourite OS system sounds. A much better idea than we've managed to conveye with that description).

Tiny model figures for model railways (thanks to Jim, who describes them as a cross between "Heartbeat and Jake and Dinos Chapman". Presumably not these Chapman Brothers) / Embleton's atmospheric photos of London / how the Zippo lighter was made, via daily jive.

Thursday, April 15, 2004
A page devoted to the Great Exhibition of 1851 (or, to give it its full title, The Great Exhibition of the Industry of all Nations), via The Cartoonist. The exhibition venue, Joseph Paxton's monumental Crystal Palace, was moved from Hyde Park to Sydenham in 1854. The reconstructed Palace occupied the grounds of the former Penge Place, owned by the director of the London-Brighton Railway, Leo Schuster - who was co-incidentally a good friend of Paxton's. See the Crystal Palace Foundation for more.

The palace wasn't just re-built, but also hugely expanded - almost twice as long as the original. Fresh attractions were added, such as the famous concrete dinosaurs of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (see Dan Smith's Hopeful Monsters in things 13 for more information - sadly this piece isn't online). On 30 November 1936, the Palace burnt down, a vast conflagration visible from across South London. The excellent has many more pictures of the Palace in its heyday. Very little remains, save for the original terracing. Plans by Ian Ritchie to build a new palace were heavily criticised. A more adventurous scheme by Wilkinson Eyre is currently being touted by the Crystal Palace Campaign.

A few other things. The flag of Mozambique is unique, in that it bears a picture of a Kalashnikov. Which isn't terribly welcoming. (found at Flags of the World, one of over 41,000 flags...) / tiny trees for model railways / urban adventures in Rotterdam, with extreme buildering (sic) and sky objects / cruise missiles to suit all budgets / bizarre limited edition cars.

A bit about the last few daily pictures. The Hindu festival of Thaipusam usually falls at the end of January or the start of February, and this year we just happened to be in Kuala Lumpur at the right time. Our contact kindly drove us out to the Batu Caves in the late evening (shortly before midnight). The festival wasn't quite in full swing - apparently half a million people are there during the day - but it was still heaving, with worshippers mingling with tourists, police and traders. Devotees were stumbling in, bearing the kavadi, many of whom had walked for miles from the various temples around KL. Their final test was to climb the 272 steep steps into the vast cave complex, at the end of which lies the temple where they place their offering. Although we'd missed all the chicken sacrificing, it was hugely atmospheric. The caves were full of dead flowers, empty vessels, bonfires, garlands, milk vessels, feathers, and empty water bottles, and we were bombarded by the sound of strange music and cheering as chains were pulled tight on multiple flesh hooks, all the while surrounded by thousands and thousands of people.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Sorry if posts are sporadic and bitty for a few days (see end of post for an explanation). RAW, 'a set of tools and processes for capturing, in an unconventional way, everyday subjective experience of a place, a culture, a people'. Essentially a device combining camera and audio recorder, the RAW project is about capturing the moments before and after a picture is taken.

Other things. The cityscapes of Frank Schwere / Marklin make the ultimate trainsets / images of Highgate Cemetry. Related: This Godless Communism, the 1961 story of Karl Marx and world domination, at the Authentic History Center / the first twenty years of 4AD records (via various).

One of the great ironies of car design - how the supremely elegant Ferrari Pinin concept of 1980 eventually turned into the Vauxhall Senator, minicab par excellence. A collection of Pininfarina press photos.

Advice. Back up your data. Go on, do it now. Don't spend all bank holiday weekend working and then lose everything because your Pocketdrive goes on the fritz and decides to keep 20GB of random stuff locked within itself. This also means that if you have sent us a piece for possible inclusion in things 19, I've lost it. So please, please send it again. Thank you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Lord be praised, Sharpeworld is back. One of the links pinked by America's Favorite Website (TM) is this absolutely swell picture of Skidmore Owings and Merrell's high modernist, ultra camp Air Force Academy Chapel (never more camp than when being paraded in front of). SOM designed the whole Air Force Academy in ultra-militaristic International Style modern, with the occasional jet age flourish thrown in - such as the chapel, which resembles a bunch of upended fighter planes. The entire campus is based on a seven foot grid and it really is the perfect architectural statement (the website has a little Quicktime panorama, although sadly the Terrazo Cam is down), set in 18,000 acres at the base of the Rocky Mountains ('where studies reach peak efficiency due to fine climate and surroundings…').

SOM was one of 300 firms tendering for the Air Force commission, which was the 'largest single education program ever undertaken in the United States'. Some more photos (hi-res). It had the required effect: '4. Look up the words "booster" and "boosterism." Do you think this brochure cover is an example of boosterism? Explain your answer.'


Other things. An old school sweet shop / A spam header, yesterday: 'Your dog clothes website is not optimized for Search Engines'. At the risk of making things worse, dog clothes / an excellent explanation of musical keys / New York's lighthouses / fly a virtual Colditz glider, wheatpaste not included (thanks Mike).

Jake Cress makes furniture with a mind of its own (via travelers diagram) / the daily photo project, still going (since 1999!) / Mercedes Benz m100s, everything you need to know about the car-maker's biggest saloons / Archigram at the Design Museum, visited over the weekend. They had a lot of fun / slot car diagrams / 34, a new magazine.

A project, found at Caterina:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

The first book to hand was James Sander's excellent The Celluloid Skyline, which has a quite excellent website, but unfortunately page 23 is a chapter opener, and just says 'SIDEWALK MOMENTS: Filming the City: 1896-1928'. Which doesn't quite work. The next book to hand opened at a German page, and goodness knows what that said. However, on the third attempt: 'Notable exceptions, however, are the French-Canadian department store and mail-order business of Dupuis-Frères, founded in Montreal in 1868, and the City of Paris in San Francisco begun by Félix Verdier in 1850.' (from John William Ferry, A History of the Department Store).

Thursday, April 08, 2004
Re-visiting an old links file. What happens to carefully created websites like Crash Bonsai once the micro-spike of interest has passed? / Briar Press, letterpress resources / the grocery list collection, still going. More shopping lists. And more. Related, vintage supermarket photos at The Imaginary World / What do I know and Quiet Confusion, weblogs, both via Toxicana.

The World’s Worst Food at Joe McNally’s Flaneur / zombie infection simulator (via Suppose) - pertinent with the current rash (bad choice of words?) of zombie flicks / waving at myself, a weblog / museum of vintage computer graphics / not sure about the legality of this: 'Change stoplights from Red to Green in Seconds!'

An early (1937) Paris metro map, from Paris, Beyond the Image (via Kottke, via Lightningfield). And thanks!. Quentin Tarantino had better look out if our very first movie can achieve such accolades. Although credit must be given to Mr Gallagher’s sterling post-production work. And I’d like to thank my wife. And my agent).

Posts will be infrequent (or non-existent) over Easter. Have a good break.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Pierre Koenig, one of the great American modernist architects, has died. Case Study House No.21 (the Bailey House) and No. 22 remain twin icons of modernist aspiration, tireless backdrops for pop videos, car adverts, and movie location work. This is the seminal view of Koenig's work, replicated a 100 times, although the original Julius Shulman image was never bettered. More here. There's also a fine feature at Jetset Modern, Pierre Koenig: A Futurist for Today, by Sandy McLendon.

The origin of the wire coat hanger, thanks to the good people at Designboom / The Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia: August 1968, Materials from the Labadie Collection of Social Protest Material / a map of Colditz Castle (and a drawing of the famous Colditz glider, which some unkind person once told me was held together with porridge, and I believed them). More on the castle, a prisoner of war camp which was distilled into a famous board game for 1970s/80s-era British children.

Space and Culture links to this paper on Lowrider Cruising Spaces (pdf). The author argues that 'lowriding is a space-making practice,' with the car 'the focus for cultural activity and social relations'. It's hard to argue with that. Lowriding is a culture of exaggeration (see Low Rider Magazine for imagery), where the essential characteristics of physical objects are accentuated as a means of extending the importance and influence of ownership. All cars do this to a certain extent, though. Related: diecast El Camino collection.

Vitamin Q has been listing bygones, which are not the same as, Torquay's unique Victorian Experience. This is definitely not the same as Bygone Media, whose 'specialties are 60's, 70's and 80's softcore and hardcore big bust films' - in other words the very unfashionable Russ Meyer aesthetic.

Viaux is a very slick site for a fashionable photography gallery (contains some nudity) / Moosifer Jones' Grouch, a weblog / How Grammatically Sound Are You? / make up a (plausible) lie.

New Kids on the Blog, last Sunday's Observer story on weblogs / the early days of Google (via Ritilan) / a collection of pictures of Zaha Hadid's new CAC, Cincinatti, taken by Mary Ann Sullivan (via ThatRabbitGirl).

We might have found it, but Evenings on the Lake sure knows how to present it. (The site also sends us scurrying off to Pan Am Memorabilia, the Windscreen Gallery and the paintings of Dimitri Kozyrev, (which remind me of Flight Club, the online javascript gliding simulator, for some reason)).

London pics at Funky Pancake / a map of a MUD (via kottke). Tom Groves also has a Gingham Pattern generator / unique Frua-bodied Rolls-Royce / the Science Museum/V&A Store, Blythe House, was once a location for Minder and the New Avengers.

Subscribers will be excited to hear that things 17-18 was dispatched to the printers yesterday, after about four months of delays. Watch this space (or pre-order your copy if you're feeling bold).

Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Daniel Boorstin, author of The Image (subtitle, 'A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America'), has died. Another obituary. Boorstin invented the term 'Pseudo-Event' to describe the 'synthetic novelties' of modern life, one of the most prescient pieces of social commentary ever.

A few pseudo-events and synthetic novelties for you. FroogleStream, a snapshot of who's shopping for what via Google's new consumer-friendly search engine / news designer, a weblog about news presentation / Reading Without Tears, or A Pleasant Mode of Learning to Read / Gargoyles / upgrade your home security with a new version of the Banryu 'dragon' robot / Visions of Jesus Christ, self-explanatory (via memepool).

How to ink comics. Related, the changing shape of the Batmobile and other modes of Bat transport. Via - where else? - the Cartoonist. The 1950s incarnation is especially cool / the beautiful Maserati 5000GT, a showcase for the coachbuilder's art. Allemano, Bertone, Frua, Ghia, Monterosa, Pininfarina and Touring all produced versions of this car, including three special 'Shah of Persia' models / Peter Ashton's weblog / a map of Manhattan in 1879 (via Muxway).

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw can’t resist coming over all Doctor Seuss in his coruscating review of The Cat in the Hat. He’s not the first critic to dip into verse. "I do hate to say it— it's really a drag, but why did they let this Cat out of the bag?", wrote Susannah Gore in Premiere, while over at the Philadelphia Enquirer, Carrie Rickey wrote: "It pains me to tell you, But really, it's true: The Cat in the Hat Is a piece of dog doo." More negative reviews, always entertaining.

Two new found objects: an address book and a fax from China. See also the extraordinary photo album.

Monday, April 05, 2004
Follow the Sun, super-sunny travel posters (via I Like) / panoramic metro views (via kottke) / Stoink, a photolog / a collection of Children's literature (as posted to me-fi by Blue Room). Gems include these alphabets of Beasts and Virtues (P is for Politeness and Porcupine) / All you ever wanted to know about pique assiette mosaic, or mosaic created from pieces of broken crockery. A short essay over at the The Joy of Shards.

Ben Aqua's online portfolio can be seen at Aquabotic. There are also photos (with dynamic music photography that reminded me of the grunge-era photos of Charles Peterson. Related, all about grunge) / Got some card? Make things. Peter J Visser's page has houses, cars and animals to fold.

Automotive at promotional literature at, devoted to a particularly pretty little 1960s roadster. The owner's manuals are especially delightful, as is the original Japanese advertising. On the other side of the Pacific, size is everything. The Imperial Club is one of the finest car sites out there. These brochures are works of art and you can download huge scans. Perfect. Related, old car postcards.

Spam headers shift again, this time offering mundane thoughts (kind of like a weblog, really) as a means of getting your attention and beating the filters. 'Vegetables are interesting but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat.'

Two Places, a fine new weblog / Re: design news, visual design news / Ice House Books, a bookshop / the photofit-inspired imagery of Marcelino Stuhmer.

We're honoured to have taken part in David's 2004 Fiona project. I hope the recipient enjoys it too. Last year's effort is here.

Friday, April 02, 2004
The Chernobyl-by-motorbike site is back, and certainly puts the whole found photos fetish into perspective. I've kept the slightly wonky English in this quote because it adds to the atmosphere:

'From the first look ghosttown seems like a normal town, someone put their washing hungs on a balcony, some windows open, other clothed, here is taxi stop, there is grocery store... then, you read this slogan on building- "party of Lenin lead us to the triumph of a communism"- that helps to realise that clothes hung on balcony for 18 years and that town is empty.. '

Some other things. Design maestros (and former things contributors) Industrial Facility have a new website / B-Stock, a personal stock gallery via Mystery and Misery / / startling photojournalism from Iraq (via Sachs) / Jockohomo is a slick (and buffed) weblog.

Plan B, a promising looking new magazine / STOIK make a neat little freeware .avi convertor / stadium destruction / 128MB Swiss army knife / X-Ray picture gallery - what do the insides of vintage electronica look like? Related: a history of radiology

The classic Texas Instruments Speak and Spell emulator. Related, Making Music by Playing with Toys, a Wired article on the Bent 2004 festival and the art of circuit bending. Sadly you can't bend an emulator.

Thursday, April 01, 2004
The Wikipedia entry on April Fool's Day seems like the most authorative place to start. They have an archive of 2002's spoofs, but no other years. The Museum of Hoaxes has a more in-depth list. My favourite series of spoofs has to be BMW's April 1 advertising, which traditionally announces a new, extremely daft technical innovation: WAIL, from 1997, a "Wildlife, Acoustic, Information, Link," that encouraged animals to flee the path of your car (not unlike these very real products, in fact), or the badgewash system from 1998. Unsurprisingly, owners and potential owners clamoured for more information... Happily the company doesn't seem ready to give up this admirable PR exercise; this year, we are told of the new in-car SHEF technology, which links the ultimate driving machine to your oven, via satellite. Check the website, A New Way to Cook.

Some other things. The disk sleeve archive, just when you thought there some things that couldn't be catalogued (show all sleeves). Via Travis Hallenbeck's wonderful Lo-fi blog, all 8-bit colour schemes and links to obscure machinery (via me-fi) / a useful architectural dictionary / a dynamic mortgage calculator / the life of York Wilson, famous Canadian artist and creator of The Story of Oil, a corporate mural par excellence. hosts four comprehensive but disparate sites. The first is a history of New York Skyscrapers, the second a study of Functionalist Modernism in the Finnish city of Viipuri, the third a history of the development of the square-rigged ship and finally a web tribute to the actress Trini Alvarado. All human life is here.

Not an April fool: a north London-based things reader is clearing out and finds he has copies of issues 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16, free to a good home. Bear in mind that issue 4 is very much sold out (and other early issues are fast heading that way), it seems like a good idea. I guess you'd have to collect (or pay some hefty postage if you're out of range). Email Peter for more details.

We have some new found photos, courtesy of Old-timey: check them out.