Saturday, 12 June 2021

deep throat

Written and directed by Gerard Damiano and starring Linda Lovelace—though later reframed by the actress as coercion and sexual assault, considered one of the first pornographic films to include a plot and character development and heralded, along with Behind the Green Door, as “porno chic,” seen as a normalising, legitimising force for the subject matter for conservative US audiences, with many prominent celebrities, public figures and journalists admitting to having watched it, including Truman Capote, Spiro Agnew, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson and Barbara Walters, the title piece premiered on this day in New York City’s New World Adult Theatre, the use of the film as a culture reference and touchstone was cemented almost immediately when the managing-editor of the Washington Post chose “Deep Throat” as the code name for the secret Watergate insider (see also) who informed on Nixon—revealed thirty years later as assistant FBI director W. Mark Felt (*1913 - †2008).

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

american venus

Here pictured in 1915 with Buzzer the Cat, born this day in 1891 (†1996, aged 104), Audrey Marie Munson was considered to be the USA’s first super model, inspiring sculptural works and engravings across the country whose likeness graces many public institutions and endowments.
Discovered whilst window shopping on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan by hobby photographer Felix Benedict Herzog who invited Munson to his studio and introduced her to artist friends, she was immortalised in statuary in courthouse, museums and libraries in New York and was even the model for a commission of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands for an armed Venus de Milo.  Modelling led to four starring roles in silent movies, one appearance was fully nude. 
Lecherously, the landlord of the boarding house where Munson lived with her mother was madly in love with her and murdered his wife so they could be together. Requited or otherwise, this episode compelled Munson to quit her career in 1922 and having attempted suicide herself (the landlord hanged himself in prison awaiting his execution), Munson’s mother had her committed to an insane asylum in upstate New York where she remained for the next six and a half decades, forgotten and with no visitors until a distant relative found her in 1984.

Thursday, 3 June 2021


such good: a dating app based on shared meme-affinity  

boulevard du crime: a lost Parisien theatre district that specialised in putting on felonious melodramas 

lion city rising: photographer Keith Loutit captures eight years of change in Sinagpore  

lunachicks: a flamboyant punk rock group who are a product of unvarnished New York  

broodclipjes: more fun with twist-ties and related species (see previously)—from Pasa Bon!  

horological constraints: the typography of watches—see also  

 profiles in pride: World of Wonder showcases some of the gay rights movement’s pioneers (see also), starting with Frank Kamey of the DC Mattachine Society  

masterpieces of streaming: a collection of the subtle genius of dumb viral videos—via Waxy

Friday, 28 May 2021


pier 54: Thomas Heatherwick’s Little Island on the Hudson off NYC’s Meatpacking District opens to the public 

al fresco: limited edition Rolls-Royce Boat Tail to take picnicking 

cosmism: the cosmic religion of Nikolai Fyodorov that inspired and informed Soviet space-faring aspirations  

astronomicum cรฆsareum: a beautifully illustrated scientific text from 1540  

circle of friends: a visualisation of the intimates that one can socially maintain—see previously  

rollercoaster tycoon: an engineer explains the different types of amusement park rides  

pole of inaccessibility: plotting when the ISS crew are one’s closest neighbours when one lives near Point Nemo  

project plywood: non-profit Worthless Studios transforms discarded materials used to board up storefronts from inclement weather and civil unrest into art

Sunday, 9 May 2021


We quite enjoyed this historical survey of the ever-upwardly mobile skyscrapers of New York City commencing with the Latting Observatory, a wooden tower erected the 1853 World’s Fair and decreased in stature afterwards in deference to the steeple of Trinity Church, which held the title of tallest building in the United States until 1869. The pictured 15 Park Row (Wolkenkratzer) was completed 1908 and was a pioneering edifice for its use of structural steel and was accorded protected status as a historic monument in 1999. More to explore from design boom at the link up top.

Saturday, 1 May 2021


Whilst in the age of digital media, a geographical, orientating relic of print newspapers may not be an important marker for a readership increasing removed from the news page and pagination, it was nonetheless more than a little jarring to read that the New York Times is retiring its Op-Ed section, five decades on it originally referred to the page opposite the editorials, in favour editorial pieces supplemented with guest essays. Learn more about this decision and indulge in some truly outstanding vintage, newsprint layouts at the links above.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

guerrilla greening

Via Colossal, a Honolulu-based design consortium imagines the transformation of some of the iconic urban corridors of world cities transformed through an aggressive and transfixing shift away from the concrete jungle to something living and sympathetically breathing with us. Learn more about their work and the study that’s gone into these visualisations at the link above.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

port authority trans-hudson

Though entertained throughout the 1940s and 1950s as a vehicle for urban renewal and to stimulate development, New York governor Nelson Rockefeller felt he had not gathered the sufficient and sustaining political and public will to sign the bill directing the construction of a World Trade Centre for Manhattan until this day in 1961 and fraught with zoning and controversy, not completed until twelve years later—almost to the day. The project, intended to rehabilitate the Port Authority where ridership was declining, displaced New York City’s Radio Row, a warehouse district that had existed since the 1920s which hosted many electronics goods stores and was a driver of innovation by proximity and saturation as well as affecting many tenants and small businesses in the dense waterfront neighbourhood. Many of the affected protested that the city should have gotten involved in a prestige project masquerading as social stimulus.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

married to the sea

Via Strange Company, we were introduced to the missionary felines of the Seamen’s Church Institute of New York and the cats were delights in themselves of course, brave Bosun, Seaweed and her family and other seafaring companions, but the history of this organisation with its fleet of floating churches would be engrossing enough in itself.
Established in 1834 by the American Episcopal Church and still in operation, it is the biggest advocate for sailors, longshoremen and merchant mariners providing educational, legal, union representation, hospitality and pastoral services for the ports of New York and New Jersey, sending chaplains and sponsoring events such as Christmas at Sea (more recently shopping and arranging supplies through gangway exchanges for those stranded by COVID-19) and training and safety programmes and supporting studies on more effective ways to approach piracy, stowaways, refugees and shore leave. More at the links above.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

start spreading the news

Approved last month by the country’s parliamentary committee on the Organisation of State Power, Local Self-Government, Regional Development and Urban Planning approved the motion to restore the name of the settlement in the far eastern Donetsk Oblast back to ะัŒัŽ-ะ™ะพั€ะบ (New York, officially romanised as Niu-York), which it was called until 1951 and the heating up of the Cold War prompted the change to the more sedate Novhorodske—New Town. Though unclear what the origins of the name were with competing theories ranging from German Mennonites invited to develop the area in the nineteenth century and calling it after their hometown Jork by Hamburg to a practical joke, residents are hopeful that the change will have a revitalising effect. More from the Calvert Journal at the link above.

Friday, 12 February 2021

an experiment in modern music

On this day in 1924 at New York City’s Aeolian Hall, bandleader Paul Whiteman’s jazz orchestral jazz ensemble accompanied composer George Gershwin (*1898 – †1937) for his premiere performance of Rhapsody in Blue (see previously). Considered by some to be the inaugural concert of the Jazz Age—though that’s subject to debate and conjecture—the overarching tune of this free-form piece, recognisable still regardless of variation, abridging or extension, is considered one of the most readily identifiable works to the public, on par with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Reportedly afterwards there was only a smattering or applause and a mostly stunned, silent audience, prompting Gershwin to turn to them, saying, “Well, your kids will love it!”

Saturday, 19 December 2020


mercury rising: surveying the lasting damage that the hottest year on record has brought  

guardians of the galaxy: Space Force (previously) service members receive a new title  

deluxe apartment in the sky: artist granted viewing of exclusive properties on Billionaires’ Row in Manhattan 

lp: a playlist of James Baldwin’s record collection  

๐ŸŒŠ: the Great Wave off Kanagawa in Lego form 

 lassen sie mich also sagen, dass dies ernst ist—bitte nehmen sie das auch ernst: Angela Merkel’s March address and appeal on coronavirus lauded as Speech of the Year 

 heat gap: climatic gentrification across city districts leads to worse outcomes for the poorest residents

Friday, 4 December 2020

fraunces tavern

As our faithful chronicler reminds, on this day in 1783, a week after his triumphant re-entry into New York City, General George Washington disbanded and dismissed the officers of the Continental Army during a formal fรชte held at the storied public house (see also) at the corner of Pearl and Broad. Yet still a dining establishment and museum with artefacts and exhibits relating to the American Revolution, the mansion converted to tavern originally named the Queen’s Head was witness to several preceding and pivotal events. Meeting place of the local chapter of the secret society of the Sons of Liberty members organised protests against the 1773 Tea Act and subsequent import tax with a parallel Tea Party, tossing the cargo into the harbour disguised as Native Americans—as was done in Boston and as the war of secession approached its end, a sort of truce was negotiated to placate American leadership that none of their property—meaning formerly enslaved individuals who were emancipated by the British after impressment or other service to the Crown—be allowed to depart with the British, though the representatives of latter were relatively successful in ensuring that their freedom was their own and could be evacuated. Later during January 1785, under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union (the purpose of the Continental Army was only to oust the British and then each would go its own separate way) the federal offices of Foreign Affairs, War and Finance were held there with the city as the first capital until 1790 when relocated to Philadelphia whilst Washington, District of Columbia was constructed over the next decade.

Friday, 11 September 2020

deceptive cadence

Back during the early 1980s composer William Basinski heard a snatch of music on the airwaves and quickly recorded the melody that it inspired and filed it away for use in a later project. Sitting forgotten until the summer of 2001, Basinski rediscovers the recording and plays it back.
The tape, however, was old and brittle and playing it back, it began to disintegrate both visually and audibly—Basinski, fascinated, captured its vanishing. Nearly finished remixing his Disintegration Loops at his New York studio on 11 September, his epic became an elegy. Fast-forward to the summer of 2019, Robin Sloan just acquainted with the moving orchestral piece—we discover courtesy of Things Magazine—had a neural network interpret the work with some surprising results and invites others to listen and contribute to his Integration Loop project.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

unbuilt architecture

We enjoyed leafing through this 1969 issue of New York magazine chocked full of immodest proposals (see also) for redesigning the city including a ‘landliner’ to connect the Eastern Seaboard and eliminate traffic congestion, a glass dome over Manhattan and converting all the superfluous cross-streets into a commons and green-space.
The February edition of the periodical also has classified on how to exercise in the office for optimum fitness and an advertisement for the latest album from Judy Collins, Who Knows Where the Time Goes, with the tagline JC Saves.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

9th street art exhibition

Running from this day in 1951 until 10 June, the historical art show that showcased the avant-garde portfolio of the movement collectively known as the New York School, organised by curator and gallerist Leo Castelli, was a landmark moment in of the post-war era and signalled an important resurgence for the visual arts and their ability to engage and enlighten in general. A veritable who’s who snapshot of the community, participants without deference or sonority in placement or listing (neither here or at the exhibit, most of the exhibitors though not all being professional artists and war veterans or those displaced by the fighting and were kindred) included Elaine and Wilem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Aaron Siskind, Milton Resnick, Helen Frankenthaler, Ad Reinhardt, Franz Kline, Robert Rauschenberg, Lee Krasner, Herbert Ferber, Joop Sanders, Philip Guston and Robert De Niro, Sr.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

rushmore or turtle bay

Though the selection of cosmopolitan New York as the location for the ensemble of buildings that comprise the headquarters of the United Nations—completed in 1952 with adjunct offices in the Hague, Vienna, Nairobi and Geneva—might seem like the natural choice now (though one could imagine other candidates in Toronto, Washington, DC, St Petersburg, Los Angeles) we learn from 99% Invisible (also available in audio format) that more than two hundred and fifty candidate sites competed with one another (see also) to host the intergovernmental organisation with one of those contenders being the Badlands of South Dakota not far from Mount Rushmore garnering the support of several champions.
Aside from virtually limitless space for a planned city of consulates, assembly halls and housing for diplomats, the geographical location of the proposed location in the centre of the US was seen as a compromise between European delegates that favoured the eastern seaboard and Asian members who preferred the west coast for the same reason of ease of travel. The planning committee was finally lured to settle on Manhattan after the offer of six square blocks of prime real estate by philanthropist and conservationist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Though making the case for a rural HQ presently might seem a bit far-fetched (though perhaps not—what with many of us teleworking), it’s nonetheless interesting to try to imagine how the character and decisions of the UN might be informed by their whereabouts.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

i want to wake up in the city that never sleeps

Reminiscent of this application that let one dial up ambient sounds of the workplace, the staff of the New York Public Library (previously) have collaborated with a local creative agency to curate and make available the typical metropolitan soundscape in hopes of restoring some of that familiar cacophony whilst the city is on stand-by. More recordings to fill the unnerving silence at Hyperallergic at the link above.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

kandinsky park

The always inspired Keir Clarke, as part of an on-going challenge that follows in the tradition, spirit of Inktober, showcases her next cartographical creation that rather beautifully overlays Manhattan’s Central Park and environs with a symphonic palette of colours informed by the style of painter Wassily Kandinsky (*1866 – †1944), who executed some of the first European purely abstract compositions and taught at the Bauhaus until the institute was closed. Learn more about the methodology of generated charts and graphs and the Thirty Day Map Challenge (with previous entries) at the link up top.

Monday, 14 October 2019


Via the always engaging Everlasting Blรถrt, we are treated to the AI-aided renderings of a digital artist called Matchue and his repertoire of experimental generative compositions with this lovely vignette of New York City expressed, stylised after the Cubist movement, evoking especially the Simultaneous Windows series of painter Robert Delaunay (*1885 – †1941).