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


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.

Thursday, 27 May 2021


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


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.

Monday, 19 April 2021

shake shack

In the aftermath of the April 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires that ravaged San Francisco over five thousand refugee shelters were constructed to replace the tent cities that emerged in Golden Gate Park and other areas to prevent a follow-on public health crisis. Most of the sturdier habitations—cottages (it reminds us of this image) for which tenants paid a $2 per month rent—have been demolished over the ensuing century but at least a few dozen remain, conserved by a following of dedicated residents. More from JWZ and the San Francisco Chronicle at the link above.

Monday, 22 February 2021


vanishing london: the Topographical Society laments and documents changes to the city—1900 to 1939 

a murder of crows: a captivating thread about accidentally creating a fiercely loyal avian regimen 

kaitenzushi: a 1948 proposal to move diners from course to course  

genius loci: an investigation into the character Tom Bombadil from the Middle Earth legendarium 

forwarding address: moving a Victorian mansion in San Francisco

Saturday, 21 November 2020


physiological colours both mixt and simple: a taxonomical table of hues and saturation that to facilitate unambiguous descriptions of the colours of natural bodies—see also

the next tuesday after the first monday in the month of november: though at least a term ahead, we could relate and appreciate this thoughtful election day essay and reflection by Kottke guest host Tim Carmody  

telethot: a 1918 proposal for a hand-mirror like accessory that would allow telephone interlocutors to see one another—via Messy Nessy Chic  

relithiation: targeted healing can potential rejuvenate batteries that would otherwise be scrapped

dna sequencing: the storied, celebrated San Francisco lounge and concert venue turns thirty-five  

the max headroom signal interruption: a deep dive into the unsolved pirated television incident—see previously  

sorkin, strunk and white: how good screenplays reflect the best elements of style—see previously  

cyanometer: a colour wheel from 1789 to gauge the blueness of the sky

Monday, 26 October 2020


Considered lost for decades only for a copy to re-emerge in 1996 in a film archive in Paris, the horror movie by Leslie Stevens with cinematography by Conrad Hall (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke, American Beauty), starring William Shatner and Milos Milos (*1941 – †1966, the titular incubus and in life the lover of the estranged wife of Mickey Rooney and died in a murder-suicide pact), had its debut on this day in 1966.

Months before Shatner would begin his work on a television series filled with other constructed languages including Klingon which has also become a fully-formed and informed language in its own right, this cinematic experiment was only the second wherein all dialogue was in Esperanto. Though dubbed versions were prohibited, the creator’s use of the auxiliary language was not to make a single cut for all international markets but rather to convey an atmosphere of other-worldliness—Esperanto speakers disappointed with representation of the language by the actors’ poor pronunciation and the script’s grammatical failings. The setting is a pilgrimage destination, a village called Nomen Tuum (“your name”) with an enchanted well that can heal and enhance one’s looks—attracting a rather vain and corrupt patronage that crowds out those legitimately ill. In turn demons are drawn to pander to those who would treat this miraculous place as a beauty parlour and recruit them for the side of darkness. First shown at the San Francisco Film Festival and screened to a group including those above Esperanto enthusiasts and the scandal of Milos prior to release, the only willing distributor was in France, which premiered the film in November. Watch the whole film here or see a clip below.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

america is hard to see, kids

Via one of our favourite newsletters, Kottke, we come to discover the extensive and ethnographic photorealistic art of Robert Bechtle (*1932 – †2020) in memoriam with the reports of his recent passing.

Indistinguishable from a candid, house-proud family photograph from a distance, this representative triptych ’61 Pontiac (1968-1969) captures his style and message, life at the pace of point-and-click documentation but fastidiously rendered by brushstrokes. The painterly quality to this deadpan portrayal is unsettling, rattling the viewer until one can appreciate the beauty underlying the freeze-frame of the moment. Almost the entire portfolio of this San Francisco Bay Area painter features cars though human subjects are the exception. Much more to explore at the link above.

Friday, 11 September 2020

september 2020

Via Laughing Squid, here is more drone footage of the fiery orange skies—which many automated lenses and filters try to correct for to the frustration of those trying to urgently document and communicate the apocalypse—over San Francsico in a short clip set to the musical accompaniment of Hans Zimmer’s soundscape of Blade Runner: 2049. I wonder for how many more iterations that that dystopian sequel will be advanced—2099… Many more frightening images at the link up top, juxtaposed with this Los Angeles montage from earlier this summer.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

model 5150

Sharing the anniversary of its release along with many other events of great pith and substance including the sage 1869 proclamation of Emperor Norton I of the United States and Protector of Mรฉxico that dissolved and abolished political parties under penalty of imprisonment, as our faithful chronicler records, the first IBM Personal Computer (PC) was presented to the public on this day in 1981—its open source architecture (see also) and off-the-shelf elements attracted third-parties to create software and peripherals that were otherwise PC-compatible, thus creating a market and speeding adoption of office and home computing.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

speak of the devil

Founded on the principle of religious scepticism and gravitating towards the devil in the sense of adversary and ideological foil to theism, the Church of Satan was constituted in the Black House of California Street, San Francisco on this day, Walpurgisnacht, by musician, actor and occultist Anton Szandor LaVey (*1930 – †1997) in 1966.
Explicitly not espousing a belief in the Christian characterisation of the Great Dissembler or in fact any other deity for that matter, the orientation’s high priest saw the value in and reduplicated the organisation and the hierarchy, though as a counterpoint to the control and validation that the Abrahamic faiths demanded and by extension the share of evangelical prosperity that they tout. The Church also recognised the intrinsic value and co-opted some symbolism and ritualistic elements as cathartic and therapeutic—so called lesser magic with the possibility of greater, supernatural magic that was outside the limits of human comprehension yet only ahead of scientific understanding. Learn more about the Church’s history and tenants at the link to their website above.

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

mantra-rock dance

Organised by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness as a fund-raising event for a local temple and as a promotional event for the movement’s founder and chief evangelist, Bhaktivedฤnta Swฤmi, the titular concert and service was hosted on this day in 1967 in San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom (a familiar venue). The evening included performances by Moby Grape, Big Brother and theHolding Company with Janis Joplin, and the Grateful Dead with speakers Owsley "Bear" Stanley, Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsburg, leading the audience in the Maha Mantra chant.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

indians of all tribes

Under the terms of surrender in the 1868 Treat of Fort Laramie negotiated between the United States and the Arapaho Nation and the Lakota peoples all federal holdings declared surplus were to revert to Native Americans (see also) and the prison island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay closed since 1963 should have qualified for repatriation.
And while there was significant advocacy and agitation in the interim, issues of social justice and representation came to a crescendo when on this day in 1969, a group of eighty-nine protestors embarked for what would become a nineteen-month, peaceful occupation of the island—spurred to action in part due to the loss of a community centre to a fire a month earlier. Activists hoped to establish a residential institute of Native American studies, a museum, an ecology centre and a spiritual retreat. Despite the tenacity of leaders like Mark Martinez, Garfield Spotted Elk, Adam Fortunate Eagle and Kay Many Horse and celebrity support from Jane Fonda, Marlon Brando and Credence Clearwater Revival, the occupiers were ultimately removed, power-cuts and the blockade by the coast guard ultimately making their situation untenable. Bureau of Indian Affairs employee and amateur film-maker Doris Purdy captured some of the scenes early during the event. The island and its historical buildings subsequently were designated as part of the Golden Gate Recreational Area and managed by the National Park Service, though groups of protesters return annually to commemorate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Unthanksgiving.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

fall into the gap

Originally operating as an outlet Levi-Strauss blue jeans, pioneering the wall of denim concept since no retailer had heretofore been able to successful stock popular pants sizes and styles (carrying them all), selling those exclusively along with a selection of record albums and cassette tapes, the first store of the clothing chain The Gap was opened by Donald George and Doris Feigenbaum Fisher on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco on this day in 1969. Due to the limited selection it was originally going to be called Pants and Discs, but the savvy business woman, philanthropist and art collector Fisher suggested that they would reach across the generation gap, appealing to the younger and older demographic.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

rainbow connection

On this day in 1978, the Rainbow Flag, created by artist and seamster Gilbert Baker (*1951 – †2017) was unfurled for the first time at San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day Parade, an event that originated around 1972 as an informal “gay-in” and is now a celebration of pride echoed around the world.
Gilbert met Harvey Milk in 1974, who asked him to create a new symbol for the community—wanting to jettison the shorthand of the day, the Pink Triangle, reclaiming a badge of shame that the Nazis used for imprisoned men identified as homosexuals as a means of self-identification but dark and derivative nonetheless—prompting Gilbert to design his flag (previously). The colourful motif was possibly inspired by the PACE flags that first appeared during an Italian peace march in 1961 or the Judy Garland ballad, Over the Rainbow. While the banner certainly represents the diversity of the community and the struggle for recognition and civil rights, the original eight stripes had specific meanings: hot pink stood for sex, red for life, orange was healing, yellow was sunshine, green was Nature, turquoise stood for magic and art, indigo for serenity and violet represented spirit. Hot pink was subsequently dropped due to the lack of fabric and dye, and the six banded version was adopted in 1979, blending indigo and turquoise as royal blue—though often throughout the 1990s, a black stripe was added to represent those whom had died due to complications from AIDS.