Saturday, 17 September 2022

norton i (10. 143)

Resident of San Francisco and at one point being one of the richest citizens of the city after some successful real estate speculation and commodities trades—though through over-estimating his acumen and downplaying the role of luck, overplayed his hand on a shipment of rice (due to a famine in China), precipitating a collapse in the market, Joseph Abraham Norton, originally from Deptford, England and growing up in South Africa, declared himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico on this day in 1859, coincidentally the anniversary of the signing of the US constitution in Philadelphia in 1787. After bankruptcy in 1852, unsuccessful in rebuffing his debtors, Norton faded from public notice as a business magnate and grew increasingly cynical about local and federal governance—launching a failed bid for congress. In his adopted hometown, however, Norton returned with a flourish first issuing a manifesto in the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin that broadly outlined the “national crisis,” in his summation, and how to address it, and second—in the same publication, decreeing: 

At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of San Francisco, California, declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these United States; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of February next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is labouring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity. 

— NORTON I., Emperor of the United States. 

Orders and summons were ignored by the US congress and the armed forces, but Norton’s reign was received with tolerance and bemusement to genuine affection by some fellow residents who continue to embrace his legacy and even token recognition by the local establishments that Norton frequented that accepted his currency and even by the federal government that allowed him to enter his occupation as “Emperor.” A trust established in 1939 and continuing through the present day have petitioned naming the Bay Bridge in honour of Norton I, his imminence having suggested that a span be built linking Oakland and San Francisco as early as 1872.

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

aberdeenshire or deeside, donside (10. 006)

Decamping from outside of Edinburgh, we first headed to the quaint village of Queensferry to marvel at the antique and modern trio of bridges that span the Firth of Forth and link the south with points northwards.





Driving on, we came to the Grampian mountains and the landscape became increasingly remarkable as we went on.  






We stopped at Balmoral to visit the royal residence (we can definitely see why the Queen would live there part-time) before returning to the Highlands and winding and unforgettable trip through the Cairngorms with lots of stops to take in the incredible vistas. Leaving the Dee and the Don, we were now on the River Spey with its whisky distilleries and salmon spawning.

Saturday, 9 July 2022

praลพskรฝ most

On this day in 1357 on the banks of the Vltava in Prague, Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV (Charles of Luxembourg born Wenceslaus / Vรกclav / Wenzel) helped lay the cornerstone of his namesake bridge—Karlลฏv most (see previously)—construction completed nearly a half-century later. According to local lore—strongly informed by the emperor’s belief in numerology and the significance of auspicious dates—the foundation stone was laid at precisely at thirty-one past five o’clock in the morning to form a palindrome and numerical span—1357 9/VII V 31. For over four-hundred years the only river crossing and linking the castle to the Old Town market, this connection made the city an important trade hub between eastern and western Europe.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

7x7

exascale: the world’s super computer might be surpassing benchmarks in secret  

hub and spoke: a suite of interactive maps that lets one scour the globe with creeping data spiders  


viral nightmares: more trials of an AI text to image generator  

witkar: a ride-sharing demonstration projection that ran from 1974 to 1986 in Amsterdam  

the firth of forth: some of the world’s best bridges for driving  

whiskey war: the fifty yearlong territorial dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island has been settled  

zeroth law: an AI ethicist believes Google’s LaMDA has attained sentience

Friday, 25 February 2022

you wouldn’t right click a car, would you?

As JWZ reports, a group of crypto-enthusiasts are advertising their NFTs with street art murals throughout San Francisco’s Mission district, attracting graffiti of their own, ahead of the collective’s ploy for a five-billion-dollar valuation. Late stage capitalism and artificial scarcity is weird and atrocious. Right click them all.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

brearley architects + urbanists

Elevated above the marshes of the Yuandang estuary of Shanghai, a Chinese-Australian design group called BAU has created a graceful, sliver of a bridge to connect two areas of wetlands. With a pavilion and observation platform in the middle of the span, the structure integrates infrastructure with ecology and aesthetics. Much more from Dezeen at the link above.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

do you think there will ever be a time when you’ll be hung as a thief?

On this anniversary of the first day of recording sessions in 1965 at Columbia studios in New York City with the artist producing “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and Subterranean Homesick Blues,” we’re directed towards Bob Dylan’s interview and press-conference held at the end of that same year after going electric. Much more at the link above.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

think different

Developed in great secrecy under code name Project Purple, the first generation of the iPhone—given the retronym 2G to establish its place in the lineage among some thirty-three different models made, Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs introduces the public to the concept of the revolutionary, universal smart mobile phone on this day in 2007 during a keynote address during the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Models would go on sale at the end of June, on the anniversary of the first trials of the Apple I by Steve Wozniak back in 1975.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

truss arch and causeway

On this day in 1933, construction of the Golden Gate Bridge (see previously here and here) began under the initial direction and design of Irving Morrow, Leon Moisseiff, Charles Alton Ellis and Joseph Strauss in order to connect San Francisco to Marin County, named for the strait it crosses, the largest city in America at the time serviced primarily by ferry boats. Delayed by the Great Depression, once under way, however, the span was completed ahead of time and under budget.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

space music

Begun a decade earlier as a three-hour-long radio programme featuring contemplative, ambient music with a selection of classical, Celtic, electronic and experimental genres airing late nights in the Berkley-area hosted by “Timotheo” (Stephen Hill) and “Annamystic” (Anna Turner), Hearts of Space entered syndication of National Public Radio on this day in 1983 and is still going strong, with over thirteen hundred transmissions (episodes) in their archives. The longest-running show of its type, each instalment signs-off with “Safe journeys, space fans—wherever you are.”

Sunday, 12 December 2021

8x8

an den mond “genuss, lieber mond”: a completist sorts and ranks every composition of Franz Schubert—via the morning news 

chaotic good: mapping the mythological creatures of the Baltic—via ibฤซdem 

the two-thousand year-old man: more appreciation and acclaim for Mel Brooks 

birds aren’t real: a satirical Gen-Z misinformation campaign (see Poe’s Law) turned merchandising opportunity  

location scout: an assortment of movie maps 

parallel path: rubbish corporatespeak that does not avail itself to the level of jargon and technical terms  

combinatorics: base rate fallacies and why false narratives are easy to frame for the ill-numerate  

sexting: “u ๐Ÿ†™” in the style of several male authors

Saturday, 28 August 2021

outside the lines

We very appreciated the introduction to surrealist photographer Arthur Tress whose portfolio was informed by the pivotal year of 1964 in politics, segregation and civil rights via his series of antique colouring-book collages paired with complementary or juxtaposing found photography, likely sourced from the same flea markets. Tress’ sense for mismatch went on to aid him in delivering his commission for the US Environmental Protection Agency to document and publicise the social pressures and injustice underpinning lax ecological stewardship. More at Collectors’ Weekly at the link up top and at the artist’s website.

Friday, 27 August 2021

help wanted

Again via Waxy and vis-ร -vis yesterday’s post about ARGs, side-quests and scavenger hunts, we are directed towards this delightful interactive job listing (in the tradition of The Last Starfighter) from multimedia artist and entrepreneur Danielle Baskin to help find an ideal collaborator, also hiding floppy discs around San Francisco like an ad in the classifieds.

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

7x7

lowering the bar: a trial lawyer’s endorsement in a whiskey ad illustrates by-gone regulatory period in the US 

blotter art: an LSD museum in San Francisco 

spraycation: Banksy works appear at UK seaside towns Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft  

middle-age spread: comprehensive study finds metabolism stable throughout life and crashes after sixty—via the New Shelton Wet / Dry  

bureau of land management: a celebration of the striking landscape photography of Bob Wick  

o’zbekiston line: a tour of Tashkent’s underground galleries—see also 

 kriegswaffenkontrollgesetz: gentleman outside of Kiel fined for unregistered Panzer

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

cooling the mark out

The always engrossing house blog of San Francisco’s DNA Lounge explores the in-grouping of confidence artistry and the seemingly irrational behaviour of working against one’s own self-interest through the authoritative study of the subject in the titular 1952 essay by social psychologist Erving Goffman, lucidly illustrating the predictable stages of those defrauded and the eventual recognition of the scam that instead of leading towards reconciliation engenders such shame and fear of ostracism rather rewards those who become more trenchant in proclaiming their beliefs. Different than other forms of humiliation, those conned can defer shattering their self-image by upholding their dishonest narrative for as long as possible at the expense of society as a whole, in turn convincing others. ‘Coolers’ are affiliates of the person orchestrating the con who tamp down self-reflection by promoting self-blame and doubt over their reference group, re-constituting their self-image with that dogma even more integral to their identity.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

turner d. century

A minor super-villain (see also here and here) that first appeared as Spider Woman’s nemesis in a December 1980 issue of the comic, the alter-ego of Clifford F. Michaels’ formative backstory has the character adopted by a wealthy business tycoon for whom his biological father was chauffeur and valet, the benefactor responsible for rebuilding much of San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake but was displeased with the moral turpitude and vice that emerged from the rubble.

The magnate attempted to launch a campaign to restore manners and mores to what they had been at the fin de siรจcle but failed and so sheltered himself and surrogate son from the degeneracy and idealise the past with the dress and affectations of a gentleman in 1900. Raging against progress and change with toxic nostalgia, Century tried depopulating the city in various ways in order to start fresh with society (possibly with wax figures as substitutes for actual residents) including a hypersonic weapon, flame-throwing umbrella and magic time horn that kills people under sixty-five (like high-pitched nuisance feedback that only young people can hear). Century’s plans were thwarted and the character killed off finally in 1986, along with a slew of other second tier criminals that needed to be culled from the Marvel paracosm, by vigilante assassin Scourge of the Underworld.

Friday, 9 July 2021

just passing through or something forgotten in the state of denmark

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1Bm1ecbk0fjg85HLzoMbxX49338ZIbfWyHaving the chance to finally realise in some form a trip we'd planned two years ago but had had to defer until now—gingerly, cautiously—due to work and other prior engagements to southern Sweden and we both have given some rather serious consideration for those transit zones that are of course destinations in their own rights and ought to be spared a thought in these trying times.  https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1csbiXO1GFtpC8h0lSw-AwyzwArle1sZCPassing the Elba Canal outside of Hamburg and through Schleswig-Holstein and crossed onto the island of Fehmarn via the modernist brige over the sound from the mainland, finished in 1963 and affectionately known as the Clothes Hanger (Kleiderbรผgel) because of its distinctive girders and trusses.  https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1i5V5BPZ5BMtoKAqxjsryfjJT4kbviilWFor an easy morning get away to the ferry to Denmark from Puttgarden, we chose a campsite at the village of Strukkamp, populated by fearless bunnies abd gulls but unable yet to achieve escape velocity just yet from the dreary and driven rain, we were mostly confined to our tent. https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1hF8A_GicsqIi7HToyI9gWPnuvDbuGGU0We crossed the island, storied itself and one beach music festival in September 1970 that was the venue for Jimi Hendrix‘ last concert performance and stopped in the eponymous insular capital, called locally Burg. Arriving at the seaport, we realised it was our second time only seeing Denmark from the expressway and pledge to make a proper visit to all of these places one day soon.  Crossing on the monumental ร˜resundsbroen /  ร–resundbrรผcke (previously) bypassing Copenhagen and likewise skirting Malmรถ upon arrival in Sweden.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

panorama

Among many other anniversaries of the great and good, on this day, as our faithful chronicler informs, in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge linking the San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean, was opened to pedestrian traffic—the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world at the time.

First conceived in 1916, ambitious engineer and pontifex Joseph Baermann Strauss (1870 – 1938) answered the call having proposed a similar railroad bridge to cross the Bering Strait and connect Alaska with Russia and oversaw the construction of some four hundred draw bridges in a major infrastructure overhaul, and in collaboration (which ended unfortunately acrimoniously) with Charles Alton Ellis, completed it in four years (see also). During the week-long opening ceremony, more than two hundred thousand visitors crossed the mile-long span or foot or on roller skates. The particular shade of vermilion is called international orange, chosen to compliment the bridge’s natural surroundings and improve its visibility in fog, and is a unique hue differing from aerospace or safety orange.

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

golden gate bridge bolt

With a touch of The Music Man / Marge vs the Monorail energy behind his pitch that rightly nonetheless recognised that the newly built suspension bridge was perfectly designed to host a thrill ride—which also piqued the interest of a few city planners, ahead of the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition engineer Joseph Bazzeghin proposed impressing visiting crowds with a roller coaster traveling up and down the bundled cables as a centrepiece of the fair. Despite some enthusiasm, the ride was never built—mainly due to safety concerns and distracting drivers and the likely impossibility to construct such a roller coaster but I am sure it could be done on a dare. The artificial Treasure Island was instead built in the bay as a showcase venue and originally planned to be a municipal airport afterwards but was turned into a naval station and marina. More to explore from Weird Universe at the link above.

Friday, 30 April 2021

sffd

Via Super Punch, we are directed to a joyful and pure interview a San Francisco Chronicler reporter conducted with a gentleman who bought a tiny, retired Japanese fire truck (see also) during the pandemic at auction and had it shipped to the city—where it has become a welcome sight on the streets, like an exchange student. Bringing the fully-functional vehicle called Kiri overseas seems like it would have presented several expensive logistical hurdles, but the adoptive owner assures that the intimidating factors dissolve once one actually embarks on such an acquisition and would encourage others to do the same.