thinking about making some changes :

So, we here at oneninesevenfour are thinking about making some changes.

I’ve become enamored with the Open-Source WordPress project.

Plus I've been reading over my posts from my original blog and thinking that I want this latest endeavor to be continue that train of thought. Or thoughts.

I suspect that part of my holiday vacation will be spent trying out WordPress and then merging the two blogs.

Look for more news as it happens.

mac apps for the little things :

Any of us who spend anytime at VersionTracker know there are about 5 gazillion apps for by small developers for OSX. About three-fifths of these are pure shite.

Separating the wheat from the chaff is daunting. I keep an eye on the blogosphere to do it for me.

Rob Griffiths writes today at MacCentral about a little app to improve the not-as-great-as-it-should-be Services menu: Service Scrubber.

Turns out that app’s writer, Peter Maurer, has some other useful tools.

Check his site out here.


de Tocqueville reminds us :

The Religious Right Watch (whose logo leaves something to be desired) reminds us that de Tocqueville never stops giving (200 years after his seminal look at America).


save us from the malls :

Through the DCist links section, I discovered Richard Layman's blog about planning.

Richard is a DC-based community activist and planner, who I know from name only.

He is a frequent contributor to the Columbia Heights Yahoo! Group. (A group who's underlying banter is so full of bile, that I actually had to unsubscribe, it was angering me so much. But that's a topic for later, or a Washington City Paper Article [$].)

Richard weighs in on the loss of locally-owned businesses in Ferndale (a Detroit suburb) and Dupont Circle.

As someone who grew up in a far Western suburb of Chicago that had and continues to have a thriving downtown of almost exclusively locally-owned businesses, my interest in planning issues has often surrounded this very topic: how do you beat the Wal-Marts of the world at their own game? Geneva’: marketing.

I also lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years. San Francisco politics, such as they are, offers another option: ban everything.

San Francisco has banned coffee shops in certain neighborhoods, attempted to keep out Home Depot and continued to ban chain stores from specific neighborhoods.

This works well, in some twisted way, in San Francisco, which has a distinct distaste for all things chained (while at the same time being the home of The Gap, Levi Strauss, Williams Sonoma and their spawn).

This course approach doesn't mean that people don't shop at chain stores. Heck you can head down 680 or take BART to Colma and find all the chain stores you're missing in SF. And people do, Colma would be just the city of the dead, if it weren't for the exodus of San Francisco shoppers and their tax dollars.

The marketing option, as mentioned by Richard. Geneva, IL, which now sports such chain stores at Home Depot, Old Navy and Applebee’s, is also considered the granddaddy of all Illinois summer festivals, Swedish Days.

The annual “Midsommer” festival (now more upscale with the addition of foreign words!) which draws hundreds of thousands to the city of only about 20,000 has led to the creation of seasonal festivals for fall (Festival of the Vine) and the Winter (Christmas Walk and House Tour).

Festivals are common draw in the Illinois to get people out of their homes and cars, but Geneva is unique for being one of the first (Swedish Days is over 50 years old) and for the size of the city (Geneva until the mid-90s had less than 10,000 residents).

Many of the same stores that I worked in as high schooler are still downtown. In fact, sometimes I feel like I grew up in the 1950s (and not the equally banal 1980s) as my childhood was spent riding my bike downtown to shop in the toy section of the five and dime. Or get ice cream at the local ice cream parlor.

Other ideas that have only killed the small downtowns of the America — pedestrian malls, covered sidewalks, out-of-scale malls — forget the basic tenant of marketing: play to your strengths.

In Geneva’s case that was unique stores, a unique experience and the open air environment that is ideal for festivals. The Chamber and Third Street Merchants associations were smart enough early on to realize that people weren’t going to the mall for the air-conditing. The were going because of marketing, common store hours and free parking.

Saving the independent businesses doesn’t require crazy redevelopment schemes. Just old fashioned chutzpah.

from the WDITOT files :

WDITOT (Why didn't I think of that?)

A previous version of my blogging prowess (uh-hum), I looked at information mapping.

Mapping was a theme that ran through my senior BFA work. (The blog as a map of my thinking was one project. Get it?)

Three years later in the midst of the blogger revolution, information aesthetics put a name on it and blogs on it regularly.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Edward Tufte’s website. He doesn’t update it enough to feed my hunger. And oddly, I find it kind of hard to navigate. Especially in terms of finding new content.


in an alternative lifetime :

In one of my many alternate universes, I studied fashion design.

Project Runway began last night on Bravo! There is an interesting profile of all the contestants over at Fashion Wire Daily. (Is this post gay enough yet?)

Of particular interest is contestant Diana Eng’s web-based DIY fashion program I Heart Switch.

The other alternate universe of mine is in love with strange technology and interactive environments.

Check it out. It’s like ReadyMade + web TV.


really? :

I like still pretending I’m an artist. Although, I haven’t figured out what that means in this city/arts community that I don’t really understand nor have any artist friends. To keep up the ruse, I read DC Art News, though.

He's got the list for ‘06 Whitney Biennial up. How can it be that he doesn’t know who Jim O’Rourke is? And he’s the pulse of DC art?


Jane Jacob’s is right, unfortunately :

I’m a fan of Jacob’s. I devoured Life and Death of Great American Cities.

(Okay, not devoured, it took me like two years, but I was taking lots of notes, dog-earing pages and writing in the margins!)

Writing about the U.S., she predicted that the suburbs immediately outside of the center cities would fall into disfavor with a buying public that was continually looking for more land and bigger houses. These suburbs were ill-equipped to handle the influx of poor people that would eventually occupy them. They (the suburbs not the people) lacked pocket parks, low-rise apartments that oversaw the street, walkable streets and other marks of well-designed urban places that become, in effect, self-policing by design. She was worried that the isolated design of these suburbs would work poorly in conjunction with social ills of less-well-off communities. Thus, they require a heavy police state to protect the towns from the sorts of ills from which the town should naturally protect itself.

The riots outside of Paris this week have, unfortunately, underscored her thinking.

Paris has a ring of suburbs built after the war using the prevailing “wisdom” of modernism of the time: large apartment buildings isolated from each other in park-like settings and dependent on the car for transportation.

The talking-heads are going on about the lack of assimilation of France’s poor minorities as to blame for the violence?

But how are you to assimilate if you are stuck in a housing block isolated from the country around you? New York’s immigrants didn’t assimilate by moving to suburban housing estates. They lived in crowded conditions, near stores and transit and the cultural life of the major cities.

The immigrant gang problems in suburban Los Angeles and Washington, DC, only seem like Jacob’s thinking is coming to U.S. as our increasingly gentrifying cities can no longer find room for the poor.

The call of urban gentrification of the ’90s was “look at Paris.”

Yes look.


sigh :

I can’t tell whether I’m attracted to these hot young real estate moguls.

Or perhaps I’m just annoyed/jealous at another MSM-alleged “trend” that I’m not apart of.

Like I even know how I’m going to pay to replace my blown car tire.

Damn them and their commercial real estate money.

fall reading list :

I like to think that I can get through the stack of nonfiction books near my bed — the 9/11 Commission Report, On Holiday, a swedish anthropologist’s look at the history of vacationing in the U.S. and Europe.

But since I’m convinced that no one else actually read the Report, despite all those weeks on the best seller list, I needed to read something fiction for creativity’s and sanity’ sakes.

Browsing through N.O.’s bookshelf I found No Longer Human by Osamu Dazai. Confused as I am sometimes about his mind and the Japanese condition, I started reading.

As a side note, N.O. reads older Japanese books in English as the language is more contemporary than the original Japanese text. Japanese of only a half-century ago is as foreign to him as English from four centuries ago is to English speakers.

As often happens, though, I’m finding the Kafka-esque book is telling me more about myself than about him.

It’'s be a quick if depressing read. A needed break from consumerist holidays and terroism. More tk as I discover it.


I don't write the stuff :

What have I been working on? Laying out things that include lines like this:

Increasingly, large organizations are requiring real-time or zero-latency integration solutions that utilize mainframe-based events, data, and transaction resources to solve business challenges.

Oh... increasingly.


three-way on a pumpkin :

I've been A.W.O.L. -- nasty awful cold followed by a swamped week at work.
So to tide you, my fair readers, over and in honor of this month's holiday. I give you a ghost gang-bang.

[UPDATE: Jesus, you link to a Halloween store and they change all their inflatables to Christmas the minute the clock the clock says November. So, I’ve uploaded a more different ghost gang-bang. Apparently, group sex is quite popular in the ghost community.]


instamatic :

Yeah, it’s totally a geeky art school fascination of mine, but I have no less than four Polaroid camera's at home. (And yes, I realize that the Instamatic is a Kodak product.)

I'm particularly fond of my iZone, whose less than complete automation allows for fun with double exposures.

The kids over at Polanoid are out to create the:

We are building the biggest Polaroid-picture-collection of the planet to celebrate the magic of instant photography.

Now I know have something to do with those boxes of Polaroids in my office. (Now if I could only think of something to do with all the medicine bottles I’ve saved.)


the ikea matrix :

IKEA goes Matrix style with it’s native Swedish site to hawk kitchen cabinets. Click here. Link via Speak-Up.


10,000 sitcom plots in the back of my head :

My (original) hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, has an interesting piece on developing video content for mobile devices.

In short, the “plots” have to be short and funny. How do the writers and content creators do this?

By tapping into the ADD-generations’ shared repository of situational comedy subtext, i.e. “10,000 sitcom plots in the back of [our] heads.”

My interest in visual anthropology starts with the belief that a culture’s visual story-telling language can offer the same sort of anthropological information (meaning, truth, etc.) in the similar way that studying language or kinship will.

As to what the truth and meaning in mobile media content might be, oh shit... I'm going to miss According to Jim.


housewares fetish :

I worked at a store in high school that has given me an incurable case of housewares fetishism.

I particularly have a thing for garbage cans. You know? Those $200+ brushed steel beauties from Europe? I'm faint just thinking of them. (Perhaps this is why, all I can afford is a $700-a-month basement apartment.)

Anyway, my Saturday walk around DC led me (shockingly!) to my favorite DC housewares store. It's all gay with cutie indie chicks who work the floor and the best assortment of wares in town.

Including the oh-so cool, and seemingly useless, Groovetube.

Although, as the folks over at Core77 pointed out about panels for your oversized HDTV, perhaps it's best used to prevent houseparty guests from plopping down for reruns on the WB.

Unless of course, the party includes psychedelics and/or some choice reefer.


separated at birth :

So according to my numbers (and my accounting department in Omaha) people are dropping by, but not staying to read very long.

So I'm thinking you dolts need purty pictures to take your minds of all these hard words. (Who knew that my readership would skew so heavily toward the average Red-stater?)

So with the introduction of pictures. I thought I'd revive that most widely known Spy magazine feature: Separated at Birth.

With a twist (and Grey Goose), of course.

Designers have never been the most original bunch. (And that's okay, I'm jus' sayin'.) But with all the recent attention to creating branding cues across product lines in automotive designs, why do you see so many similar design flourishes on different cars from different companies?

I suppose, with the relative differences in target audience of these models, it's not like they are both going to end up in the parking lot at the same country club. (Or hell, even in the same gated community. Unless the Ford and the Honda come in through the service entrance.)


media whore ISO NYC media mogul/sugar daddy :

My recently hatched rehatched plan for a sugar daddy has set its goal at Nick Denton. British (check), New York media mogul (check, check), with a fabulous Hell's Kitchen SoHo loft (check, check, check).

I already knew that I was three degrees (or is that two, where do you start counting the degrees?) from Denton through my friend at Jalopnik.

But pictures of a Denton soiree indicate that I'm also connected to him through Carl Swanson. Who might not mean a thing to you (as he writes for New York), but we are fraternity brothers (!) from U.Va. where he edited the late great Yellow Journal.

I also slept on his couch in Brooklyn (before Brooklyn was cool for white people) while he worked at the late great Spy magazine (see a pattern here?) and I was interning at Paper.

That's all got to count for something.


will draw for food :

KChau--one of my best former coconspirators and inspiration to at least one PMBF's (pervy male breeder friends) Asian fantasies--has a piece in the Philly CityPaper. Check it out online.

I'm on a friggin' bender here :

First the DCist crew and then Wonkette. Damn, I'm on fire.

First DCist finally answered my burning question: why can't you buy wine at Trader Joe's in Maryland?

Then Wonkette, always on the lookout for alcohol-related news for metro-DC, picked it up.

Ana Marie, you've never written about any of my tips, but I'll take the (very) indirect praise anyway I can.


would you like some cake?

Apparently, that year and half whining to a now-Jalopniker about getting his ads done during production week at has come to bite me in the ass.

Figures. He always was a biter.

Anyway, to tied you plebes over while I work on a post about revitalizing urban shopping districts and another one about post-disaster housing: just a reminder that it's not too late to call the California Governor's office and remind him why he's being an ass.

Oh and some damn, cake.


engadget's wayback machine :

A fan of all things Gawker media, I prefer Gizmodo over Engadget.

But Engadget.com's "translation" into 1985 is damn amusing.

And a little startling.

In 1985, I used to read Popular Science and Car and Driver and would read about things like GPS navigation systems and coaxial delivery of information to homes and think that the future seemed so far away.

And really unlikely.

Not so much now, does it?


star tipsters unite :

. . . or star tipsters unit as I initially typed.

A tip to my friends over at Jalopnik.com has me dubbed a "[s]tar tipster and all ‘round badass. . ."

Frankly, we're touched. They like us. They really like us!


conceptual art piece waiting to happen :

As an aspiring architect slash developer slash dictator, I had a huge collection of LEGO blocks. (It was so huge, partly, because I had a severe issue with destroying things. I could never take apart what I had created. I'll leave that and my anal sorting of all the blocks by specific color and keeping them in separate shoe boxes to my psychologist.)

Thanks to Core77.com for introducing me to the LEGO Factory where you can design anything you dream up with the LEGO Digital Designer app and then order the blocks to actually build the thing.

There is a conceptual installation piece in this. A master-planned town rendered in LEGO blocks?! A pile of coke?!

The mind boggles.


Dan Savage is my hero :

I've never been able to get enough of Dan Savage. His sex column is brilliant. He edits one of the best alternative weeklies in the country, with some of the best art direction, The Stranger.

This week he's subbing for Andrew Sullivan. Read it. He's analyzing his support for the war in Iraq. It's something that many of us lefties have had to do over and over again. Opinions change. This doesn't mean we should stop having them.


really? my fridge?

Although the title is a bit big brotherish, Photos of Your Fridge, is just the the sort of random documentation project that I love. (Link via core77.com)

the message :

Chad Upham, like others in the gay male community, has struggled with meth addiction.

He's also a Washington, DC-based graphic designer.

Graphic design is first and foremost about solving problems. Meth is his (and our) problem. So he's found a way to discuss this and get others to discuss this. Chad's site is here.

Be sure to also look at his design and photography work, as well. All of it is stunning. For different reasons, of course.

It's hard to make personal and political art. Very often all is lost. It becomes didatic and/or just bad art. It's something that I've been working on and struggling with in my own work since seroconverting in 1999 while an undergraduate art student.

More will come from me. When I reach a critical mass of information. And have to have a meaningful way to say it again. I still have all my old notebooks from profiles left at gay phone sites. Plus, every single bottle of pills that I've ever taken.

Chad's project is simple and clean. A dialogue starter. Like the best conceptual art. And like the best conceptuatl art, this is a conversation that needs to be started. Or continued.

The project only hints some of the underlying problems like sex addiction or the trouble gay men have with caring for each other. As the discussion unfolds, I suspect and hope these topics come up.


Enrique Norten :

An interesting piece over at Slate about Mexico-based architect Enrique Norten. I'm not sure I buy Rybczynski's dichotomy of modernism — rationalists versus anti-rationalists. Anytime you start with absolutes as theorist/pundit, you have to spend a lot of time shoe-horningg people into your framework. It's a ugly slope that begins all sorts, "yeah, but what about..." moments. Discussion is good. But shouldn't the discussion be built into the framework? Instead of always posing the next grand theory of the universe? Perhaps my anthropology education makes me a little too squeamishh about universals.

Anyway, Norten's work is really beautiful. Although, I'd really like more architecture critics to discuss how buildings relate to the streetscape. Not necessarily that a building shouldn't stand out, but "is it a good neighbor?" Or, "how is it scaled?" The gradual embiggening of America, I suppose. Good modernism from the post-WWII era was also so well scaled at the street level, doors and overhangs, don't loom. Unless on purpose.

For an interesting review that does talk about how the experience of a new buildign, read this Mercury News article about the new Richard Meier-designed San Jose Civic Center. A building that seems to have gone largely unnoticed outside of the Santa Clara Valley.

Richard Meier is an architect that stands at one end of Rybczynski's dichotomyy, but this building seems to be his most visually expressive yet. Perhaps it was an attempt to embody the city hall with symbolism. The dome is the most obviously symbolic and also looks the most contrived, at least from the photos. The beautifully curving sunshade is expressive but practical. The more perfect, and "rational", modernist expression of materials.


welcome back :

Aaand... we're back...

So before our extended break, we were blogging our last semester in art school, some sort of mixed sketch pad and idea generator with a dollup of performance built in.

Blogging was a novel concept. Blogger was an independent company and no one had ever heard of a Wonkette.

So now that "having a blog" is a cliche even for middle schoolers, we thought we'd get back into this. Start collecting our thoughts and writings about art, design, politics, whatever.

People-who-know would love to have these things themed. No luck here. I'm in a committed relationship and am just looking.

Call me a blog lurker, holding on to this blogspot address like it was my last connection to sanity. Or something.

I propose nothing. I'll just have to see where things go.

As we say in the midwest, where I developed all my major insecurities, and home of the dangling participle, "wanna come with?"