Technique

Art, Technology

The Murmur Trestle

Mon, 09 Dec 2019

Photos The city of Athens, Georgia, USA is at a loss as to what to do with this decrepit wooden railroad trestle, as it is sort of famous for being on the back cover of the 1983 R.E.M debut album Murmur, a murkily haunting album that has elegantly and stubbornly outlived its era -- much like the bridge itself. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Forlon Folks in Hotel Rooms

Sun, 01 Dec 2019

Edward American painter Edward Hopper was a painter of light, the real painter of light. He was also a painter of loneliness. In many of his paintings, there are few people milling about. Or if they are present, they appear solitaire, not communicating with one another. They look sad, wistful, or they look away. Both themes play heavily in the current exhibit his his work at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which focuses on his career-spanning focus of people in hotels and travel lodges. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Infinity Makes Everything Easier

Sat, 30 Nov 2019

An The big idea behind calculus is that everything becomes simpler at the scale of infinity, writes Steven Strogatz in his new book on the subject. Calculus is a set of reasoning that harnesses the power -- and all the headaches -- of infinity, a concept that has been a struggle for humankind to master over the past 2,500 years. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

You Will Be Fine by Friday

Fri, 15 Nov 2019

Wisdom Herein lies a collection of random quotes and bits of wisdom I gathered from my fellow patrons of the local bar in Hedgesville, W.V. I offer them without context, nor attribution, nor judgement. Also there are photos, from those evenings I found the wherewithal to visually document the ambiance. This compendium will be periodically updated with fresh material, so check back every so often. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

In Peru Without a Passport

Thu, 14 Nov 2019

Notes Appropriately enough, I picked up a worn paperback copy of Robert A. Heinlein's 1951 science fiction novel "Between Planets" in a book flea market while traveling around, undocumented, in Lima, Peru. Published in 1951, this slim volume, presumably aimed at the young adult market, grappled with serious questions that one can have about loyalty and freedom. It is still timely, or, rather to say, timeless. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Find Your Angle

Sun, 20 Oct 2019

Some The Storm King Art Center is all about finding your angle. Not THE angle, because so much of the sculpture there has no ONE angle that gets the whole picture, just a perspective that makes sense to you. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Being a Genius Was Only the Start of Hank's Problems

Sat, 19 Oct 2019

A Hank Williams was a naturally gifted entertainer. Even with only modest singing skills, he had songwriting chops, confidence and stage presence to spare. Winning over an audience was not a problem for ole Hank. Everything else was the problem. Through the late 1940s, and early 1950s, Williams charted dozens of top 10 songs on the country chart. He did this without sacrificing his country persona, crafting simple three-chord songs that celebrated "God, beer, a good woman and a blessed break from loneliness." The ideas culled from comic books or his own troublesome marriages. "He was hard to deify him during his lifetime, so proudly unrefined was he," Mark Ribowsky wrote. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Face on a Pie Box

Sun, 08 Sep 2019

Live My summer kicked off with prog-rockers Yes playing a lonely Atlantic City casino and ended with current country music queen Miranda Lambert holding court before a rowdy throng at the Allentown Pennsylvania Fairgrounds. In between, Bruce Springsteen popped in on the Southside Johnny iconic 4th of July Asbury Park NJ show, Willie Nelson serenaded a soupy Merriweather Post Pavilion crowd, and I went back into the hometown woods some deep, deep country Lynyrd jams. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Information Theory and the War on Noise

Fri, 23 Aug 2019

A With a 1948 research paper, Claude Shannon pretty much single handedly invented the idea of information. Before then, engineers would design logical circuits, or work to reduce noise in telephone transmission lines, on a case-by-case basis, not realizing their separate efforts would be unified under a single theory, around which an entire body of scientific body would be built. Shannon was the first to realize all information had the same fundamental characteristics, no matter the sender, receiver, or content, according to a recent biography. Fortuitously, his work was instrumental to the then-emerging science of building computational machines. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Walking into Yorklyn for a Beer

Tue, 23 Jul 2019

A Here is a photo journal of my recent walk to a brewpub in the tiny town of Yorklyn, Delaware, from the family farm just a few hills over and across the state line in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, I had not hiked this route in decades. So I caught it all as an Instagram story. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Dawn of the Iron Age

Fri, 12 Jul 2019

The Back before we learned how to extract iron from ore, we relied on meteorites for iron deposits. One meteor that fell in Greenland was used Eskimos for more than a century. The mining of ores underground signified a new boldness in human exploration. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

A Body Does Get Around

Sat, 22 Jun 2019

A Lena was walking to Mississippi, pregnant, all the way from Alabama, with 35 cents to her name. Her mother died when she was young, then her father, so she went to live with her brother, senior by 20 years, and his wife, who was always pregnant, or recovering from pregnancy, it seemed. They lived in a logging town. Lena stayed in a lean-to out back. Within a few years, she got pregnant by some local Sawdust Casanova in the words of her brother. So she went to go find the father, Lucas, who, she thought, would immediately take her in when he saw her. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Pete Ham's Prophetic Guitar Pick

Sat, 15 Jun 2019

The Here is solid silver guitar pick, designed in 1971 by May Pang for the Pete Ham, lead singer of Badfinger. After the Beatles broke up, the hippie underground swirled with rumors that Badfinger were the Beatles in disguise. Four years after Pang forged this pick, Ham hung himself. Funny she oriented it like a gravestone. Or maybe she saw into his troubled soul. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Mad Props to John Brown

Thu, 30 May 2019

How Maps props to John Brown, who, in 1859, had the batshit crazy idea to end slavery in the U.S. by taking over a U.S. government armory in Harpers Ferry stocked with 100,000 weapons, a move he thought would kick off the revolution. Radical action as needed, he felt, to end slavery, especially in the south, where cotton was profitable only with slave labor. The crazy part was that Brown only recruited 21 men for the job. Even his pal, abolitionist Frederick Douglass considered the plan was cray and took a hard pass. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Not What You Get But What You Give

Sun, 26 May 2019

Lessons Ray Wylie Hubbard has got to be one of the great second acts in country music -- maybe for all popular music, an art form overwhelmingly favoring the energy of the young. He briefly made a name for himself with the outlaw country classic "Up Against The Wall, Redneck Mother" in 1978, though only in the last few decades or so has he started truly refining his distinctive -- and highly-addicting -- country blues swamp shuffle, with each successive album stronger, more defiantly individual than the previous. His slim yet bountiful 2015 autobiography shares two secrets for this late blooming success: Sobriety and the E chord without the third. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Maceo Blows His Horn

Sun, 12 May 2019

A With his relentless touring schedule and full discography, saxophonist Maceo Parker picked up more than a little of the obsessive work-ethic from his one-time mentor James Brown, not to his taste for the hottest musicians. After a time as right-hand man for the Godfather of Soul, Parker joined Parliament Funkadelic just in time to land the Mothership. Decades later, he helped Prince through a 21-night stand in L.A. Today, he is the keeper of the OG funk, the South Carolina variety, similar but leaner than New Orleans. He also does a pretty mean Ray Charles cosplay. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Full Tilt Boogie

Fri, 10 May 2019

An The recent release of a new album of outtakes from J.J. Cale (who passed in 2013) reminds me of the cruel promise of these posthumous releases. I buy these collections because I like the music of the artist -- here,a wizened drawl over a chill shuffle. I always subconsciously calculate an album of outtakes would possess even more of these addicting qualities. But it never works out that way. Almost always, the previously-deemed inferior tunes are mostly the sound of the artist trying to get to that essence. It is less pure, not more, weirdly enough. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Rock Star Glass Makers of Northern Italy

Sat, 20 Apr 2019

The Glass did not start out as its own thing. For thousands of years before people used glass to make windows, containers or figurines, they used the substance only as a strong, translucent coating for pottery. It took a few more centuries until Egyptians learned to forge glass -- with its own unique properties -- into novel shapes. The products were slowly spread through Europe by Phoenician traders. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

World Lines and the Block Universe

Mon, 08 Apr 2019

A If you consider spacetime a single unified thing comprised of both space and time (and they do go well very well, mathematically speaking), then you could see your entire life -- everywhere you go, everyone you meet -- in the form of a wiggly line stretching against a backdrop of the other three dimensions. In fact, every molecule in the universe, including those that make up your body for a part of their billion year journey would be captured in this block. From this particular dimension, called the Block Universe, time does not exist, other than as these trails encased across stretches of space, often known as world lines. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Flatbush Caribbean Vibes

Sun, 31 Mar 2019

Caribbean I had spied this take-out two blocks down, Caribbean Vibes, that just exuded warmth and promised real yard-style cooking. Why should check this place out, I suggested after she clocked out from her dancing gig. You may have to wait a minute if you want to get that real Caribbean Yard-Style cooking in Flatbush, unless you can learn how to hustle your order through. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Global Time Synchronization

Sat, 30 Mar 2019

The Throughout the 19th century, moving village folk worldwide into one agreed-upon definition of time took some doing. And in adopting this universal standard, people bargained away their own timeframes for prestige and status, sometimes without even realizing it. Clocks and timepieces became status symbols in less-developed countries. And it was not only the backwoods folk who were persuaded, wrote Vanessa Ogle wrote in her book, The Global Transformation of Time, 1870 - 1950. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Door Into Summer

Sun, 17 Mar 2019

The The problem with the idea of admitting The Monkees to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame is who, exactly, who would they induct? Show creator Robert Rafelson? Really, he is a Hollywood guy (He used the windfall from The Monkees to finance his next project, the 1969 movie Easy Rider). The four actors? Though they brought considerable personality to the project, they were not at the center of it... Read on for a review of The Monkees at Beacon Theater, NYC, 2019-03-09. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Tags on the WillieB

Sun, 10 Mar 2019

A One of the hottest pieces of NYC graffiti property in New York City is the nameplate of the Williamsburg Bridge in New York. The bridge spans the Lower East Side in Manhattan and the Williamsburg in Brooklyn. The sign, along the pedestrian walkway towards the Manhattan side, gets a lot of eyeballs from passing walkers, skaters, and bikers. So, not surprisingly, the WillieB also gets a lot of attention from street artists, and is adorned with a fresh tag every few weeks or so. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

The Guttural Punch of Harry Nilsson

Sun, 03 Mar 2019

The Hottake: John Lennon legit fucked up the voice of Harry Nilsson. But being a good friend of Nilsson, Lennon tricked RCA into paying for it, by way of talking the record company into a sizable advance for what was then already a fading career. Fame did Harry no favors -- nor did his refusal to tour, leaving him with a lot of free time to party. It would be easy to see his life as a tragedy, or at least as a series of missed opportunities, but he left a remarkable body of work that, at its best, rivaled the Beatles. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Songs From the Wood

Mon, 25 Feb 2019

Weekly If, for some reason, you should find yourself in the country late at night -- maybe a weekend vacation rental perhaps -- and also in possession of a good powerful set of speakers, then aim them outside, into the forest, and fill these speakers with Led Zeppelin(first three albums recommended) and/or Black Sabbath (same). Let the guitar of Jimmy Page thunder through the land or the wicked bellow of Ozzy shiver the trees. Let their maul pour into the valley below, echoing a sound fuller, deeper and darker than any you will experience on headphones. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Ladies of the Pinball Machine

Sun, 24 Feb 2019

A Like any artifact of pop culture, pinball machines reflected the mores of the era. So is it a victory of feminist thought that the sexy ladies depicted on the backdrops of these machines -- to titillate coins from their owners pockets -- have evolved over the decades, from dude eye candy to rock stars championing their own journeys? Notes from our visit to the Silverball Museum Arcade in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Don't Break the Heart That Needs You

Sun, 10 Feb 2019

Weekly The Mercury Lounge in New York City celebrated its 25th birthday with a series of shows by a number of bands who got their starts there, back in the day. One of those acts (Tuesday, February 4) was singer/songwriter Amy Rigby and her crew. But I did not know any of this. I just saw Amy Rigby was playing at Mercury, an early show between 8 - 9, so I walked over and paid my $12, just like it was 1994 all over again. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

Speed is Like Magic, Lonely Magic

Fri, 01 Feb 2019

A The inherent nature of addiction memoirs is that the part where the addiction is acquired is always more fun to recount (and read) than the part where the memoirist makes the slow, painful slog to recovery. Shenanigans are always more exhilarating than the reckonings that follow. But sometimes, lives do not go down this rutted pathway so easily, as two otherwise widely-divergent life accountings I just read have attested to: A memoir from Cat Marnell and a biography of George Jones. Click to Read More...

		
		
		

2014 2015 2017 2018 2019