Technique, 2014

Art, Technology

Street Art: A Bittersweet Farewell Smile from Korn


street art of Jeffrey Gamblero When I first heard of the passing of New York City street/graffiti artist Jeffrey Gamblero, AKA Korn, I was bummed I didn't have any shots on hand to share.

After all, I've seen his wicked creations all over the city, and followed his progress on Instagram, but somehow neglected to post a few good photographs from my about-the-town ramblings.

Then today, I was walking, pretty much at random, down a side street in deep industrial Bushwick, and, lo, this delivery truck decked out by Korn just rolled up and stopped momentarily right in front of me. Read More...

Customer or Cashier: Who the Toastiest?


RVA Street art, Carytown

So, here is a game I like to play every Friday eve at the local pizza joint, whilst waiting for my pie. It's a guessing exercise: “Who is more toasty--Customer or cashier?” I like to call it.

The idea is that while I sit there, in one of the two plastic chairs provided for those foolish enough in this day-n'-age to order a carry-out pizza, and then actually wait for it to be baked.

Watching customers come and go, and interact with the folks behind the counter, I've come to realize the pies aren't the only things getting baked around these parts, sayin'? Read More...

Personal Space in the 17th Century


Proctor Plantation, Henricus Settlement In whatever abode you currently dwell, it is probably a McMansion compared to the modest quarters inhabited by the middle-class residents of an 1611-era Henricus settlement, a replica of which is maintained at the Henricus Historical Park, just south of Richmond, Virginia.

The manor for Proctor Plantation is no larger than the average sized suburban kitchen. It is/was, in essence, a one-room building, with a kitchen table in the middle, and a giant fireplace taking up a good third of the room. See the photos...


Out There a Minute


Gear of the Silver Spaceman A friend of mine who lives in the hood, Zach, is just about to release a new album, called "Sun Songs" The name of his band is The Adventures of the Silver Spaceman.

Someone asked, "What do they sound like, these Adventures of the Silver Spaceman?" There's a lot going on there. Zach himself reminds the old hippie in me of Jefferson Airplane/Moby Grape's Skip Spence, at least before Skip flipped his dome and abandoned his singular pursuit to capture the tangles of beautiful music in his head.

Or perhaps it is because the two rock similar mustachios! Read More

And Then You Kill Him...


Brad Hagen, Bushwick comic How to hunt bear: First you go to a Dunkin' Donuts. Go around to the dumpster in the back, and get the trash bag filled with day-old donuts. You take the donuts, and a shotgun, into the woods. You dump the donuts on the ground. Then you wait for the bear.

For the bear who comes along and just stumbles upon all the donuts, it will suddenly be the greatest day of his entire life. And then you kill him...-- Brad Hagen (badly paraphrased), Bushwick comic, Open Mic Night, Tutu's NYC.

The New York Groove


Fuck off, nosey fucker When you move to New York, you really notice the grime that covers the city. It's a thin blackish film that blankets all the public areas, the subway stations and trains, the creaky bodegas, and back seats of taxis. You can't help but to come in contact with it, and you learn to wash your hands frequently.

After a few months, you more or less forget about it, the film.

This shared grime is what makes this city's people so creative, my friend Hellbound Dave has ventured. Like many of Hellbound's speculations, it may very well be deeply true in a spiritual, and perhaps even in a factual, sense. Read More...

Gowanus Canal: Your Crap Goes Here


The Gowanus Canal canoe tours put the fun into superfund

Whenever it rains heavily, New York City's East Harbor sewage treatment facilities spill their excess waste water into the Gowanus Canal. So when in NYC try not to flush when it rains.

For Open House New York, urban planner (and canoeist) Owen Foote offered self-guided canoe trips along the Gowanus, as a way to bring attention to the canal.

Although designated as superfund site to clean up centuries of industrial dumping, the waterway still isn't totally rehabilitated, given the ongoing sewage run-off issue.

The canoe trips provided a fascinating glimpse into the industrial underbelly of the city, even as they were a bit unnerving, as we endeavoured to come into contact with the filmy green water as little as possible. See the Gowanus Canal slideshow here...

Photo: Meet the Mayor of Williamsburg


The Maror of Williamsburg

Whenever a situation needs to be goosed a bit, Tania calls in the Mayor of Williamsburg (Not an actual elected official). He's on the right in this photo, the handsome gent with the dreadlocks and top hat.

We took this group selfie, above, after leaving the Three of Cups, an East Village dive lounge occasionally haunted by Lady Gaga, so someone said. It's downstairs from the fancy Italian restaurant of the same name.

A lady passing by on the station ramp advised us to open our mouths wide when we get our photos taken, because it always makes one look happy. We look like we're starring in a sitcom from the 1980s. Read More

Gallery Slideshow: Ron English's Circus Babies


Everlast, Ron English Like the prize fighter, the consumer today is pummeled for the all-mighty dollar. Advertisements and product placements continually assault the senses from buses and billboards when you're out in public, or from watching television or reading a magazine at home.

It is the job of the artist, or everyone really, to fight back.

Culture-jamming we used to call it, back in the day. Ron English is one of the artists currently working to subvert the images and messages we get from corporations paying to get them in front of us. Click here to see a slide show of the opening...

Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos, Bushwick, NYC


Ergonomically challenged,

Instructions for ordering food

but with meaty tortas ...

Behold the Torta!

And you get to watch the tortillas roll out, as the Mexican polka plays.

Tortilleria press and packing

Folk Art Slideshow: Bird's Farm, Route 43, Alabama


hay bale art

We found Bird's Farm more or less by accident, driving Alabama Route 43 south from Eutaw, as a scenic diversion off the highway, to New Orleans.

Not a lot happening in those back-country parts, so it can be a bit unsettling to suddenly see a row of surreal creatures lined up in a field, all fashioned from hay bails and assorted junk. Or the towering Tin Man, assembled from 55-gallon drums painted silver.

Jim Bird, the namesake of the farm, had been forging this rough art at least since 1993, when he made for his wife, who was off on a trip, a caterpillar from misshapen bales of hay. The wife was "was pleased when she saw the caterpillar, but not all that surprised," dryly notes a Web site for rural southwest Alabama visitors.

Yes, yes, Bird does indeed seem like a creative sort...See the slideshow here of Bird's art...

Darwin by the Fire


Darwin by the fire

Sometimes a piece of writing so closely describes the truth, that it itself becomes the truth. Charles Darwin's " On the Origin of Species," first published in 1859, made its argument so thoroughly, so absolutely, it literally willed evolution into being in the human consciousness.

Once in plain site, evolution made its own case, of course. But today the writing that first fully described evolution is anything but an emptied vessel.

Driving the rolling back roads of Virginia, I've often daydreamed of a hard-bitten tobacco farmer two centuries back sitting down at a heavy oak kitchen table during some winter nights to read this English Nat'rlist's recently published account of how his own livestock changed over time.

Darwin writes to make his case for this farmer. And for everyone. OtOoS is technical writing at its finest, writing about a concept so subtle and so complicated that it literally took the human race about 200,000 years to understand, and yet the writing is so clear that assumes no technical knowledge on the part from the reader, apart from basic fluency in the English language and some patience. Read More...

Space Age Web App Design


International Space Station. Photo from STD3

At first glance, the International Space Station is not what you'd call very aerodynamic. It would have been impossible to shoot something this boxy, and with so many delicate extremities akimbo, up into orbit.

In orbit since 1998, the ungainly but resilent ISS was build by five different space agencies—no mean feat in collaboration among agencies of the bureaucratic governmental sort.

The secret was to build the ISS in space itself, by assembling a set of smaller modules, noted Nicholas Zakas, author of Professional JavaScript for Web Developers. Each participant built different parts of the space station. Each module delivers a separate function, and they are interlocked, the design of the connecting links were all agreed upon beforehand by each party.

Likewise, as your JavaScript project blooms into thickets of complexity, it becomes a good idea -- and then a necessity -- to organize the code into modules, Zakas advises in this talk on scalable JavaScript application architecture. Read More...



San Francisco street art It's more difficult than you'd imagine, plucking random digits from a computer. 'Puters are rational beasts that only follow very specific instructions.

A random number is, by its very definition, something that can't be anticipated by an algorithmic formula. Yet, computers are called upon all the time to produce random output. Picking songs from a playlist at random, for example.

How can you tell if a series of digits are truly random? The answer can be quite philosophically – and mathematically -- complex. Read More...

How Eric Clapton Brought J.J. Cale Back Home: "Call Me the Breeze"


When I heard Eric Clapton had covered JJ Cale's "Call Me the Breeze" as a tribute to Cale's passing, my initial reaction was despair. Must this man continue beat the life from all Cale's songs? A Clapton fan I am not, you can tell.

But, upon reflection, I've come to view the cover as an inspired, even essential, choice. And not just because Clapton, much like some funeral director for talented but under-appreciated genius guitarists, knows how to pay tribute, even if he does carve a bit of the dearly-departed's legacy out for himself (cc: Robert Johnson).

No, the genius of Clapton's cover is that it brings perhaps what is the quinessental JJ Cale song home from a lifelong journey. Read More...

What the Node Docs Don't Tell You About Callbacks


Viking Street Art What the Node docs don't tell you about callbacks is, of course, a trick question. Because the official documentation says NOTHING about callbacks, and many other introductory Node pages are vague about how callbacks actually work.

Which is strange, given that Node was built, in large part, around callbacks.

All code in Node is executed asynchronously -- meaning as soon as Node executes one call, it will execute the next, even if the first function hasn't returned its results yet. A callback provides a way to ensure that any function depending on the results of another function (say a slow one that reads files from a disk), will not continue to execute until the function that it relies on, designated as a callback function, has been completed.

Hence the name "callback" -- Once the callback function has finished, then, and only then, does it return control to the function that called it.

As central of a role that callbacks play in Node, I was surprised to find very little documentation on them. And the documentation that did cover them offered specific examples but not much in the way of explanation. Read More Here...

Street Art: What the Fortune Teller Knows


Lexi Bella

The fortune teller may not know the future, but she can reveal things about yourself that you might not know otherwise...Street art from Lexi Bella, Bushwick, NYC. Click To See Photo


About Last Night: Down the Moondog Hole


What's this place When is a bar not a bar? When it is someone's bedroom made up to look exactly like a bar.

If you live on the first floor in some prime East Williamsburg retail acreage, and your bedroom just happens to possess a storefront window on one of most trafficked corners of the neighborhood, Lorimer and Jackson streets, and if you are growing tired of spending your dead presidents on $5 Tecates at the nearby 20something pickup joint, wouldn't it kind of make sense to, using found objects around the arty neighborhood, to refashion said bedroom into a resemblance of a bar, so you can throw open your front door and just see who wanders in? Read More...


SoLit: Multiplying Life Through Duplicity


Spoiler Alert! Eudora Welty's short story "Old Mr. Marblehall" is about a man who lives two completely separate lives. In each life, he has a wife and a young son. One family lives on the one side of Natchez, Mississippi; the other family lives in the opposite side of Natchez. Neither one is aware of the other.

Mr. Marblehall, or Mr. Bird as he is also known, stays in one home for a spell. Then he begs off on one of his periodic "health trips," and disappears for a few weeks. He then repeats the process at the other home. And so he shuttles between the two homes, on and on, the two wives, the two sons.

Mr. Marblehall wonders how long he can keep up this deception. Read More...

Think Where You Work is Inefficient?


Banner lady shaking her banner Blessed is each day I don't have to shake a banner heralding $5 pizza on the corner of Dumbarton and Lakeside Avenue, I thought driving back from Roy's Big Burger tonight.

But like the lass who was bouncing the sign this evening, I'd execute my banner shaking duties with rhythmic gusto, with the help of some Dead in the earbuds and a six of Miller Lite hidden in some nearby bushes. At least I'd like to think so.

Reading about Soylent in this week's New Yorker left me so hungry for actual food that only a burger from Roy's would do. Git yourself one "all the way." Read More...

Gallery Opening: Cern's Succulent Balloon Monsters


Succulent flyer

What better way of demonstrating the depthly volume of your new gallery space than by having large, sometimes menacing, balloon creatures loom over everything? The rain outside was torrential, and mighty cold, but worth sloshing through last Friday eve for the debut of Succulent, a Greenpoint gallery, run by street artists Cern and Sek3, that had plenty to gaze enjoyably upon.

Many of Brooklyn's finest street artists were Da House, both literally and figuratively. "It's all about architecture," one told us. "The great street artists are either architects, or should have gone to architecture school."

The ever-swelling crowd drank through all the alcohol, but still managed to loosen up agreeably by eve's end. Anyone, it was rumored, could don the balloon monster exoskeleton and go about terrorizing the patrons.

Because its the year 2014 and we can take pictures with our telephones, here is some of our fave art from the show. Click to see the slideshow!..

Street Photography: Art on the Willie B


Roycer, Monster, Williamsburg Bridge NYC

Of the five major bridges crossing into Manhattan over the East River, the Williamsburg Bridge is the one most adorned by graffiti/street artists. It connects two artistic-minded NYC communities, the Lower East Side in Manhattan and Williamsburg on the Brooklyn side.

Unlike the over-crowded Brooklyn Bridge, the Willie B offers wide passageways, recently installed, for both the peds and the wheeled. The spongy black pavement provides an ample palette for the quick-handed. For whatever reason, the city's public works department rarely cleans the graffiti from the bridge.

So walking the Willie B can be a visual hunt for quick art and/or dispatches from some other dimension. Some of the messages that tattoo the century-old infrastructure are funny. Some are crude. Some are thoughtful. Some are randomly odd. Some involve words, and others are just images, sometimes barely so. All get overwritten, in time, by other street art, of equal or unequal value. Click to see the slideshow!

Happy Together Indeed: Howard Kaylan's Autobiography


The guy who sang "Happy Together" led a fascinating life. Kaylan careened through rock n' roll (& pop culture) history for four decades, making friends with Zappa, Hendrix, Lennon, Nilsson, Brian Jones, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry, Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley, Tom Jones, Ramones, Springsteen, Psych Furs and on and on.

Flo & Eddie -- as Kaylan and his lifelong on-stage partner Mark Volman became known -- knew *everyone* in the biz. A little bit of disciplined high school music training went *a long way* in the rock n roll era, evidently. Read More...

Instagram: Life in Lakeside


Life in Lakeside

A few Instagrams from around Lakeside, Virginia, just north of Richmond.Click Here!


Pick Your Fonts Like You Pick Your Wardrobe


Life in Lakeside Some things I've learned from Dan Mayer's excellent article "'What Font Should I Use?': Five Principles for Choosing and Using Typefaces," from Smashing Magazine.

Picking a font is a bit like choosing what clothing to wear. Its not about self expression--remember that plush velor purple jacket in your closet you love, but rarely wear? It's more about utility--something ruggedly solid for easy use and easy on the eyes.

In other words, when it comes to style, a little goes a long way. Read More....


Rise Above It All, Or...


Get on the same wavelength


Sesame Street on the importance of finding the correct communications protocol...

Nailing Down the Uncertainty Principle

January 01, 2014

How The Uncertainty Principle is not difficult to understand. It is not weirdly spooky and beyond explanation. It does not involve electrons copying themselves, appearing in two locations at once, or somehow sensing our presence. Rather, the Uncertainty Principle simply states that, at quantum levels, you can not measure something without disturbing what you are measuring. I'm listening to tapes of physicist Richard Feynman lecturing to his CalTech students in 1962 on the law of quantum interference, in which an event that is observed has different properties than an event that goes unobserved. Click to Read More...

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