Art, Technology

Memorial Day: How John Brown Sparked the Civil War in Harpers Ferry

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...


Ray Wylie Hubbard: Don't Peak Too Soon

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...


Tech History: The Slow Adoption of Glass

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...


Time: 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...


About Last Night: Caribbean Vibes, Flatbush

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...


The Globalization of Time-Keeping

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...


Soundtrack of My Life: 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...


Soundtrack of My Life: 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, 1965 - 1998

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...


Soundtrack of My Life: Amy Rigby, Obscure Hippie Electronic Music

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...


Denial, the River in Egypt: Cat Marnell, George Jones

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...


Music Finds: Ace of Cups, Neko Case, Pink Floyd Tribute Bands

Tue, 29 Jan 2019

Music I guess by now, most Pink Floyd tribute bands are probably better than Pink Floyd itself. Except for the light show, which can be recreated on a phone. Sort of. Also: Ace of Cups, the greatest late-1960s psychedelic all-female proto-punk band you have never heard of... Click to Read More...


PhoebeNewYork: Vision Boards for the Street

Wed, 16 Jan 2019

Opening City street art offers free entertainment for those who wander about a lot by foot. Having spent a fair amount of time walking around New York City, I could not help but start to notice all the work of the street and graffiti artists -- who they are, what their styles are, and even how they evolve over time. Street art enlivens dull spaces, uniting communities in the process.Perambulation is how I have gotten to know PhoebeNewYork, who is the mixed-media alter-ego of street artist Libby Schoettle. Click to Read More...


What Art is Trying to Tell You: George Santayana

Wed, 09 Jan 2019

Notes What is art good for? And what art is good art? These are the questions philosopher George Santayana sought out to address more than a century ago. Art is born from the need to humanize and rationalize objects, an attempt to better the conditions of existence. But at the same time, art is hopelessly fickle, inward-focused, and has no concern whatsoever in improving the outside world. And yet what those scornful miss about art is that it can possess a spiritual dignity, not found elsewhere, something that becomes representative and expresses an ideal. Click to Read More...


Democratic Technology and the Human Machine

Sun, 16 Dec 2018

Democratic Long before humans created machines they learned how to make machines from themselves.

The neolithic era was one of small democratic communities, where technology was born of practical innovation. Certain projects had to be done that could not be done by the villages themselves, however, and they required a larger organizing entity. This was born the need for a King. The King used a combination of secret scientific know-how, an enforcing bureaucracy, and perhaps an endorsement from the local deity, to get these large projects completed. The pyramids were built this way, with a precision rivaling that of today, so argued Lewis Mumford in his 1966 book Technics and Human Development.

The organization of the throne, however, came not without a fair amount of human suffering and alienation, as you might guess. And over time, resentment grew within the people. Click to Read More...


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