Monday, 23 January 2023

6x6 (10. 492)

zhengyue 2: the second day of the Lunar New Year is considered the birthday of all dogs 

only took the m’f’er fifteen tries: Randy Rainbow lampoons Kevin McCartney with a parody of ‘Master of the House’ from Les Misรฉrables 

i shot the serif: US Department of State drops the typeface Times New Roman in favour of the more legible Calibri font  

yellow magic orchestra: watch performances by the Japanese group that created some of the most innovative and influential acts in electronic music  

odonymy: more open etymological street maps—see also  

tet: a short, hand-drawn game about cooking and serving a Vietnamese holiday meal—via Waxy

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

9x9 (10. 479)

under the gavel: a distressed Twitter is auctioning off office furnishings from its San Francisco headquarters 

best mates: a meta-study of attracting and retaining intimate partners  

demidecimate: Microsoft announces layoff five percent of its workforce 

from permacrisis to polycrisis: selection of global buzzwords for 2023  

style guide: an eccentric alternate spelling circulated in a newspaper for three decades—without explanation or apology 

wellipets: frog-faced galoshes make a haute couture return 

©: Getty Images is filing suite against an AI art tool for scraping its content—via the new shelton wet/dry

fechtbรผcher: early Renaissance depicts of duels between men and women 

silicon valley: a tech bust might be a net positive for the city

Sunday, 15 January 2023

shaken, not stirred (10. 417)

Here’s a selection of signature martinis to fit every mood and every palette of this spirit animal constructed on the template of gin—or vodka—and vermouth plus a bit of garnish. Namesake of the special drink of patrons of the Occidental Hotel of San Francisco would be offered before embarking on the ferry to Martinez in Contra Costa, the cocktail has undertaken, with the famous variant occurring in a dialogue the spy has with a barman in Casino Royale, changing his order from a dry martini to a special recipe of his own invention. “Just a moment: three measures of Gordon’s [gin], one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet; shake it very well until its ice cold, then add a large, thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” Bond adds, “I’m going to patent it when I think of a good name.” Later, he names it in honour of MI6 coworker and double-agent Vesper Lynd. Though perhaps with a bit less of provenance and backstory, we did nonetheless like the inverted variations of the Astoria and Lifetime Ban and elegant Martini Sauvage—gin with chinato liqueur and orange bitters, mixed and chilled overnight.

Saturday, 14 January 2023

human be-in (10. 414)

Considered an overture to the city’s Summer of Love, the 1967 counterculture event—the focus of the hippie movement’s rejection of staid, middle-class morality, occurred on this day on the Polo Fields of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, drawing a crowd of some thirty-thousand. In turn inspired by sit-in and teach-in protests to erode vestigial segregationist practises in institutes of higher learning, the gathering took its name from an off-hand remark made by psychedelic artist Michael Brown Bowen the Love Pageant Rally, held the previous October in the Haight-Ashbury district to demonstrate against the outlawing of LSD—where thousands showed up and dropped acid in unison, the above organiser bringing the Grateful Dead, Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters and Janis Joplin to the event. Among invited speakers and performers—also arranged by Bowen—were Ram Dass, Dick Gregory, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti with Timothy Leary making the declaration “Turn on, tune in and drop out” and local bands Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the Dead, staple acts of the Avalon Ballroom concert. Follow-on events included the Fly-In, Sweep-In, Yip-In, Love-In and John and Yoko Ono Lennon’s Bed-In.

Saturday, 7 January 2023

dei gratia, emperor of the united states and protector of mexico (10. 394)

Via JWZ, we are directed towards a recently uncovered cache of proclamations, carried in the newspapers no less, from Norton I (previously) on the 1868 smallpox epidemic that had arrived in San Francisco, commanding authorities of all cities on the Pacific ensure, under severe penality that 1) every person be vaccinated and that 2) teamsters driving persons to hospital shall not get drunk and leave their charges on the streets to spread contagion, and moreover 3) physicians shall change their clothing after attending patients and lastly that churches 4) expose and punish all persons who administer poisonous food and drinks during religious or political discussions. Much more at the links above.

Tuesday, 20 December 2022

and if you want to be free, be free (10. 347)

Premiering on this day in 1971, as our faithful chronicler informs, the romantic black comedy by Hal Ashby and Colin Higgins relates the narrative of Harold Chasen, an adolescent obsessed with the macabre, staging elaborate fake suicides, driving a hearse and attending the funerals of random strangers to the dismay of his wealthy, socialite mother, who goes to great lengths to try to make him more respectable, and Dame Marjorie Chardin, a seventy-nine year old he meets at a funeral mass, who counters his morbid demeanor and teaches him joie de vivre for the first time as their relationship develops into a more intimate one. The film’s soundtrack is provided by Yusuf Stevens. Producer and writer Higgins had expressed an interest later the decade after his work attained cult status after its initial mixed reviews in both a prequel, Grover and Maude wherein Maude learns how to break into cars and fence stolen property and a sequel, Harold’s Story about his life after meeting Maude though neither were pursued though was adapted into a Broadway stage play, a French made-for-tv-movie and a musical version.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

8x8 (10. 347)

da ba dee: a bardcore version of Eiffel 65’s ‘Blue’  


palace intrigue
: a cracked encoded missive sent by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to his French ambassador—via Language Log  

correctional facility: unearthed cache of photographs of San Quentin prison taken by inmates—via tmn  

circumnavigation: a recreation to explore Ferdinand Magellan’s trip around the world—via Pasa Bon!  

antidisestablishmentarianism: the UK is demographically no longer a majority Christian country 

still-life: a study of meta-trolling—see also  

eadburg: eight century individual scribbles in a medieval manuscript  

boards of canada: psychedelic ‘Aquarius’ remixed with Deforum Stable Diffusion

Tuesday, 15 November 2022

6x6 (10. 306)

honkbal hoofdklasse: Dutch for ‘Major League Baseball’  

fragrant, acid, burnt and caprylic: the Crocker-Henderson odour classification system 

dinosaur.pocket: AI generated Mastodon instances by Janelle Shane (previously

the floor is lava: a fun looking arcade experience though the best part was climbing over the furniture and leaping from place to place  

pontifex: the cathedral-like under-girding of the bridges of Seoul 

phryge-fest: Paris unveils its Olympic and Paralympics mascots—anthropomorphic hats

Thursday, 10 November 2022

my teenage fall out queen (10. 290)

Whilst a tad kitschy, we have to give George McKelvey’s 1964 scopitone video (see also) ‘Radiation Baby’ compliments on being so acutely self-aware of its lampooning those typical morbid teen tragedy genre of the decade. Particularly parodying Sonny Bono for his—justifiably—doomsaying protest songs, McKelvey was also a member of the influential comedy improv troupe, the Committee, based in San Francisco.

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

eurobruggen (10. 217)

Via Pasa Bon! we learn that one Dutch town called Spijkenisse, part of Rotterdam, has managed to claim all the anonymous, composite bridges on Euro banknotes for the Netherlands by building the spans over one waterway in the residential area Het Land from 2011 to 2013.  The community was also in the headlines more recently at the beginning of November 2020 when a metro car that jumped the track was saved by a whale tail sculpture after pummetting ten meters. 

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.”