Thursday 13 June 2024

7x7 (11. 626)

senza vergogna: some notes for Martha-Ann Alito on her anti-Pride flag (see previously)  

factory floor: inside Andy Warhol’s studio—via Messy Nessy Chic  

prospecting: Norwegian mining firms discovers Europe’s largest cache of rare-earth metals  

adaptive force controlled shaving demonstration: a robot barber in Shanghai  

daily bread: an overview of the staple foodstuff’s contribution to civilisation  

hydrant directory: colour palettes of New York’s suppression points—via Pasa Bon!  

gruppo dei sette: following EU elections, the G7 forum begins in Puglia

synchronoptica

one year ago: a top album by Alanis Morissette plus an early world-traveller

two years ago: a chronic case of the hiccups, a hit by Paul McCartney plus international crisps flavours

three years ago: the G7, Shangri La the musical, St Anthony plus two very prolific travelogues

four years ago: illustrator Wilbur Husley, assorted links to revisit, the Pentagon Papers (1971) plus a banger from Mungo Jerry

five years ago: the elusive American Middle-Class plus x before x-rays

Sunday 2 June 2024

modern ruins (11. 602)

Via friend of the blog, Nag on the Lake, and an exhibit curated by Hyperallergic we are treated to an extended portfolio of the photography of Phillip Buehler as he performs a post-mortem on a mid-sized mall in New Jersey and the forgotten, inaccessible islands, and triangulated with a third source in this student footage of an abandoned Ellis Island immigration processing centre from 1974, there’s a conversation between documenting histories and urban decay that’s a crucial one to have for both the changed landscape of commerce (see previously) and quarantine and crowd-control as well as the code of ethics for such spelunking, an acknowledged trespassing but with a definite prohibition on vandalism or over-publicising one’s exploits.

Thursday 16 May 2024

10x10 (11. 562)

crimes of atrocity: a long, dense episode of -ologies with Alie Ward on the hugely fraught and difficult subject of genocide with a powerful and circumspect post-script 

airoboros: artificial intelligence trained on AI made content is becoming highly problematic and only compounded—see previously  

the city on the edge of forever: public portal linking Dublin and New York City suspended after inappropriate behaviour  

palmerston’s follies: two maritime forts off Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight that have been converted into boutique accommodations go up for auction  

the deuce: the Greek grandmother who built an adult entertainment empire in Times Square before its Disneyfication 

foot on the gas: the inevitability of the climate collapse and humanity’s capacity for adjustment  

⌘ |: the lost history of pre-internet emoji and rendering software—via Waxysee previously 

flashing headlights: the giant Dana squid’s photophores in attack-mode  

eternal return: cosmic cycles and time’s resurgence  

first-day agenda: how Trump is framing his vision for a second-term

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit plus a visit to Arnstadt

two years ago: St Brendan, more links to enjoy plus the Electrotechnical Exhibition of 1891

three years ago: a classic from Kim Carnes, a language quiz, more links worth the revisit plus an ancient action figure

four years ago: more Trump’s Space Force, birdhouses, the stress of social media moderation, a medieval manuscript game plus a musical typing tutor

five years ago: GenX, consular services at McDonalds, soliciting grievances, Japanese mascots plus office equipment

Wednesday 15 May 2024

asemic writing (11. 560)

The above describing wordless or meaningless text intended to invite the reader to divine a message through the symbolisms rather than to convey a message—though these carefully recorded compositions that suggest mathematical and chemical formulae certainly encoded a meaning that was perhaps only known to the artist—and could be certainly applied to the verisimilitude (see also) of the collected works of outsider artist Melvin May, a bassist who returned to New York City to study informatics but his career path was sidelined by a schizophrenia diagnosis and subsequent drug use, landing him in a men’s shelter on Randall’s Island whilst seeking treatment. Way’s discipline was discovered through art workshops sponsored by the shelter, dense and intricate sketches with ballpoint pens committed to found scraps of paper, often carrying around works-in-progress on his person, protected with a layer of scotch tape. More on this retrospective—and sadly posthumous by only months—and Way’s life at Hyperallergic at the link above.

Wednesday 8 May 2024

hardhat riot (11. 546)

As our faithful chronicler reminds, on this day in 1970, around noon a group of more than four-hundred construction workers—many working on the World Trade Center—converged on a group of anti-war protesters, mostly college students picketing the New York Stock Exchange and rallying on the steps of Federal Hall, originally a Customs House on Wall Street, setting up a memorial for those killed at Kent State four days prior and calling for an end to the fighting in Vietnam and Cambodia, release of political prisoners and an end to military-related research on university campuses. By lunch time the clashes turned violent with some eight hundred office workers joining the ranks of the agitating construction workers, breaking through a thin line of police separating the two sides and pursuing students and onlookers and beating them safety equipment and tools. Law enforcement, sympathetic to the counter protesters, did little to intervene or stop the melee. Two weeks of protests followed before the demonstrations, pitting labour union leaders against pacifists, subsided and towards the end of the month, the organiser of the initial riot and a delegation of representing some three-hundred thousand unionised trade workers, were invited to the White House to meet with president Richard Nixon, who said he sought to honour those labour leaders “and people from Middle America who still have character and guts and a bit of patriotism,” accepting hard hats as a gift. For his loyalty and role in starting a culture war, a values war that divided traditionally shared sentiments among Democratic voters, that leader Peter J Brennan was appointed secretary of labour and the cabinet official outlasted the Nixon administration and served under Ford as well.

 
synchronoptica

one year ago: an early fifth century bog man

two years ago: the Nebra Skydisc

three years ago: a classic Eurodance number, assorted links worth revisiting plus more photographs from Pete Souza

four years ago: the death of Tito (1980), more links to enjoy plus Russian borderlands

five years ago: more links worth the revisit plus Heath Robinson contraptions

Sunday 28 April 2024

cafรฉ rouge (11. 520)

Often performing in the title nightclub of the Hotel Pennsylvania in midtown Manhattan along with other Big Band ensembles that the spacious venue could host, Glenn Miller and his orchestra recorded his instrumental version of the tune (originally by Jerry Gray with lyrics by Carl Sigman—Numbers I’ve got by the dozen, everyone’s uncle and cousin but I can’t live without buzzing…) on this day in in 1940 at the RCA Victor Studios in New York. One of the oldest telephone exchanges still in use, the accommodations closed permanently in 2020 during the COVID pandemic and lost efforts to declare the building as a candidate for historical preservation (the club itself converted into a basket ball court in its final decade), currently being demolished to make way for new skyscrapers on Penn Plaza. Only Sigman’s refrain was retained after the telephone sound effect, shouted by band members. The foxtrot hit would go on to be recorded by many other artists, with homages and parodies, including Transylvania 6-5000 and Weird Al’s Plumbing Song with the number “Roto-Rooter 6-5000.”

synchronoptica

one year ago: a pocket phonograph plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: Rome’s Cinecittร  plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: the impasses of Paris, antique furniture trade cards plus the animated Dutch version of Lord of the Rings

four years ago: wargaming the next US civil war

five years ago: Ukrainian Easter, the stained glass hall of fame of The Champion pub plus mutiny on the Bounty

Tuesday 9 April 2024

8x8 (11. 480)

chambre de bonne: disappearing top-floor tiny apartments of Paris  

semifreddo: the origin of Neapolitan ice cream  

the united states of division: a prescient 2004 release by Prince & The New Power Generation  

court dress: the pink sleeves of the supreme courts of Labrador and Newfoundland are in deference to the former summer robes for sittings in England and Wales—via Super Punch  

geoengineering: Tennessee legislature outlaws (see also) so called chemtrails 

bpm: Chechnya announces ban of music considered too fast or too slow  

backsplash: mosaic of the day  

warehouse-to-loft-conversion: a tribute to the last of New York’s artists’ dwellings—via Messy Nessy Chic

Monday 26 February 2024

7x7 (11. 383)

bacile calmette-guรฉrin: a century-old variolation against bovine tuberculosis technique might present a treatment route for dementia  

endangered language alliance: a survey of the rare forms of communication in communities in New York City  

marketable skill: Nvidia executive says kids shouldn’t learn to code 

icc: renewed calls to make ecocide the fifth international crime and within the scope of the UN’s court—via tmn  

kรผrschรกk’s tile: a visual proof a complex geometric tessellation  

project ceti: how, powered by AI, a first contact could play out between humans and whales—see previously, see also 

goldplate: research suggest that a treatment with nanoparticles of the element might be a cure for neurodegenerative diseases

Saturday 10 February 2024

willie loman (11. 340)

Premiering on Broadway on this day in 1949, the two-act drama by Arthur Miller (previously) set in Brooklyn was largely informed and inspired by the playwright’s chance encounter two years prior with his uncle Manny Newman in a theatre lobby in Boston showing one of his own pieces. Rather than congratulating his nephew on his success, the struggling travelling salesman immediately launched into an update on how well his cousins were faring, appearing in the play as Happy, Biff and Ben, and how despite his poor prospects and barely surviving life constantly on the road with a hustling subsistence that’s echoed contemporarily with the allure and disappointment of the gig-economy his uncle was building a legacy for his fail-sons, aspiring to the successful but departed, haunting presence of the eldest Ben. Father and Biff, a would be professional football player, in the course of the day try to secure more stability in their careers and realise the American Dream, with Happy sacrificing and long-suffering but a womaniser like Loman, but it plays out as a Greek tragedy. Winning a Tony and a Pulitzer prize, many critics consider it among the best plays of the twentieth century. The first cinematic adaptation came two years later in 1951 with direction from Lรกszlรณ Benedek.

7x7 (11. 338)

caught between the moon and new york city: taking a harrowing subway ride in 1981  

homing: Nikola Tesla’s love for pigeons and telepathy—via Strange Company 

 : more on the interrobang—see previously  

stringe-watching: the opposite of binging a series to indulge in the experience  

hash mark: the works of artist Ding Yi coinage: TikTok has seen an (irritating) explosion in linguistic novelties to promote niche microtrends—via Miss Cellania  

in the aeroplane over the seas: Neutral Milk Hotel covers for the album’s anniversary 

castro street: Bruce Baillie films Riverside, California in 1966

synchronoptica 

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, Tapestry (1971) plus a pioneering hypertext novel

two years ago: the Dread Pirate Roberts plus a geographical challenge

three years ago: the Simpsons’ intro, the feast of St Scholastica, vernacular ceramics, no fly free zones plus profiting from conspiracy

four years ago: more Orange Menace

five years ago: more links to enjoy

Monday 22 January 2024

goody goodwife (11. 286)

Written as an allegory for McCarthyism, the Red Scare during which left-leaning views were repressed and politicians and private individuals were systematically repressed over fear of Soviet infiltration and Communist influence with most accusations ultimately found to be exaggerated if not outright false, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible had its premier performance on this day in 1953 at the Broadway Martin Beck Theatre. Speculating with the opening narrative (following on with each act) that the theocratic society of the Puritans, isolation and unstable conditions contributed to the paranoia and hostility, the play is set in colonial Massachusetts during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Though some liberties were taken to fully limn out the litigants and the sentenced, most of the names and events are dramatised from court records.

synchronoptica

one year ago: US Supreme Court rules on Roe v Wade (1973) plus artist Sophie Hollington, AI on fantasy glam rock plus the door gods of the Lunar New Year

two years ago: the new normal (2003), Our Town (1938), AI suggests breakfast cereal plus a 1972 interview with David Bowie

three years ago: the death of Queen Victoria, another MST3K classic plus unnamed implements

four years ago: assorted links to revisit,  the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb corrected, Trump and the tabloids plus an upcoming auspicious date

five years ago: artist Max Guther, a celebration of blank video cassettes plus Apple’s 1984 commercial

Sunday 21 January 2024

2001 odyssey (11. 283)

Released in November of the previous year with the premier of the film, and was until the debut of Thriller by Michael Jackson in 1982 the best-selling album in history, the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever began a twenty-four week run on the top of the US charts—with comparable success in international markets on this day in 1978. A nineteen-year-old Tony Manero (portrayed by John Travolta, see previously) escapes disillusionment by in his working-class Brooklyn neighbourhood by escaping to the a local disco (above) on the weekends, where he rules the dance-floor and longs for a better life in Manhattan, just across the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge. Showcasing the musical talents of the Bee Gees, Yvonne Elliman, Kool & the Gang, The Trammps amd KC and the Sunshine Band, the Brothers Gibb’s group and many of the other artists were not involved with the project until post-production, after the deal fell through with the recording label for Boz Scaggs (denied because the song “Lowdown” had recently appeared in another disco film Looking for Mister Goodbar, which is hard to describe as a dance drama but Saturday Night Fever has a complicated plot with a lot happening as well) and much of the choreography had to be redone after the movie’s producer commissioned the Bee Gees as understudies, with the lead tracks written and recorded over the course of a single weekend at a French chรขteau.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, Mika’s Grace Kelly plus Space Songs, an educational LP

two years ago: more links to enjoy, planning a rendezvous with Oumuamua, the DeLorean (1981), a new album from Neil Young,  more Wikihow illustrations plus a podcast miniseries on the comic Cathy

three years ago: Bernie Sanders at the inauguration plus Biden undoes Trump’s executive orders

four years ago: a field guide to wildflowers at speed

five years ago: more links worth the revisit

Wednesday 20 December 2023

7x7 (11. 199)

dongmei zone: seven months interred in a online scam labour camp—via Waxy  

santa claus go straight to the ghetto: David Byrne shares his Christmas playlist  

napolรฉon vu par abel gance: a 1927 ingenious, panoramic adaptation of the historical figure 

local inference: when AI assistants leave the cloud and haunt one’s laptop, all bets are going out the window—via Good Internet  

autogamy: evolutionary changes in wild pansies suggest that the flowers have given up on increasingly rare insects and are turning to self-pollination, a vicious cycle for the whole ecosystem 

tom & jerry: the typology of North American eggnog cartons—via Kottke  

jewel streets: a twelve-block neighbourhood known as the Hole of New York City neglected and forgotten for decades

Sunday 3 December 2023

i just don’t see why blance should shove a broken bottle in stanley’s face—couldn’t she just take his abuse with gentle good humour? (11. 161)

Premiering at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway on this day in 1947, Tennessee Williams’ Southern Gothic play (previously) narrates the experiences and trajectory of a former southern belle who loses her teaching job and the family home to creditors and with no other prospects, moves in with her younger married sister and husband in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Deceptive and critical of her new hosts, Blanche Dubois is acting out of self-defence and deflection to not own her series of bad choices, including an early marriage to a gay man and an affair with a student that led to her dismissal from the school. The original cast showcased the talents of Kim Hunter with Jessica Tandy and Marlon Brando and the name comes from a streetcar line (discontinued by the time of the cinematic adaptation in 1951 and replaced by a bus service) that ran not far from the playwright’s own apartment when living on Toulouse Street.

Friday 1 December 2023

9x9 (11. 156)

the saw lady: the virtuosity of Natalia Paruz  

tribalism: the worsening internet is an uncomfortable fun-house reflection of our inchoate proclivities  

holiday train show: a miniature NYC constructed from twigs and leaves at the city’s Botanical Garden  

bouzingos: the overlooked precursor to the Bohemian subculture  

microsleep: penguins take ten thousand seconds’ long naps per day to be rested but alert in noisy, hunted colonies

state-sanctioned socialist realism: the artistic duo of Komar and Melamid who turned subversive 

fairytale of new york: celebrating the life and talent of legendary Pogues’ singer Shane MacGowan—see previously, see also  

all about winning: Japan’s buzzword of the year continues a baseball-related streak 

busking: mapping live music public venues

Thursday 16 November 2023

edelweiss, edelweiss—every morning you greet me (11. 122)

Opening on Broadway on this day in 1959 after an eight-performance audition cycle in New Haven and Boston, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical with book by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay was based on the 1949 memoir of the matriarch and lead character, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, and the slightly fictionalised adaptation for the stage in set in Austria just before the Anschluss and annexation in 1938, we follow Maria, who vacillating on her decision to join a convent, has meanwhile become a governess to a large family. Maria is endeared to her charges as well as to their widowed father, Captain von Trapp. Opposed to the Nazi occupation, they all (now baroness) eventually flee Salzburg, with the help of the nuns, and escape to America. Musical numbers which have become show-tune standards include “My Favourite Things,” “Climb Every Mountain,” “So Long, Farewell” as well as the titular songs.

 synchronoptica

one year ago: the Arecibo Message (1974), an edible rescue drone plus the Artemis mission to return to the Moon

two years ago: the Feast of Saint Matthew

three years ago: Word of the Year: Lockdown, an architectural fancy-dress party, the Day of the Icelandic Language, the day before yesterday plus an early draft of Take on Me

four years ago: Word of the Year: Climate Strike, headlines from 2029 plus ugly Christmas sweaters

five years ago: assorted links to revisit plus Word of the Year: Toxic

Friday 27 October 2023

9x9 (11. 078)

page rank: the SEO trend of naming establishments X Near Me seems to actually drive customers—via Waxy  

cyanea pohaku: a species of tree discovered right before it was driven to extinction

saint eom: the psychedelic compound of folk artist and fortune-teller Eddie Owens Martin outside of Buena Vista in the US state of Georgia and listed on the National Register of Historic Places  

usonian homes: a pair of Frank Lloyd Wright (see previously) houses on the market in Kalamazoo in the US state of Michigan  

saob: the official Swedish dictionary published after one hundred forty years of work

the united states of guns: another sadly evergreen post about how an armed society is not a free society   

happiness hotel: a luxury kennel once occupied the grounds of New York City’s Lincoln Center 

report of my death having been most industriously circulated by several of the london daily newspapers, would the times permit me to contradict the same through your valuable columns and refute the account: sculptor John Ternouth, designer of the plinth for Nelson’s Column, was surprised to learn of his premature demise—via Strange Company  

i am altering the deal—pray i don’t alter it any further: Amazon’s Alexa is ending inoperability support with severe punishment for those who try to hack their way around it

Thursday 31 August 2023

8x8 (10. 973)

energy makes time: a resonant essay about how doing those essential things enables everything else—via Kottke 

kopienkritik: Ancient Roman souvenirs and mementos limn their culture and makes their lived experience more accessible—see previously    

: a clock correlated to YouTube videos that mention the current time—see previously—from Russell Samora—via Waxy

motes: what the tiniest specks of dust reveal about the world—via Damn Interestingsee also

honky chรขteau: more on the Abbey Road of the Val d’Oise—see previously  

coenties slip: the East River waterfront street that was witness to New York City’s cultural evolution—via tmn  

e-meter: the Church of Scientology urge the US government to walk-back right-to-repair legislation—via Slashdot 

a spell against indifference: Maria Popova laments her discounting of the power of poems—via Swiss Miss

synchronoptica

one year ago: RIP Mikhail Gorbachev, Rolling Stones’ Street Fighting Man (1968) plus more Gorbymania

two years ago: assorted links to revisit, numeracy and conspicuous calculation plus the animation studio of John Hubley

three years ago: Dungeon Master for Halloween, the Gdaล„sk Social Accords (1980), more links to revisit, Lincoln Logs (1920) plus Tom Hiddleston as macaroons

five years ago: a LEGO Bugatti, a corporate logo font, an intimate rave at Stonehenge plus the art and maps of Jo Mora

six years ago: unexploded munitions from WWII prompts an evacuation in Frankfurt plus more links to enjoy

Thursday 24 August 2023

7x7 (10. 962)

miracle house: a singular property that survived the devastating wildfires opened up to the community as a beacon of hope for a destroyed Lahaina neighbourhood 

service manual showcase: a growing curated archive of quirky and niche instruction guides—via Waxy  

book ‘em danno: Trump arrested and released on bail in Fulton County in the US state of Georgia—with a historic mug-shot 

take the d-train: artist Stipan Tadiฤ‡ documented a year long route from the Bronx to Brooklyn and back—via Nag on the Lake 

spaghetti mayhem: Jan Hakon Erichsen has fun with uncooked pasta 

word of the day: Susie Dent’s logophilia  

ฯ…ฮณฯฯŒ ฯ€ฯฯ: emergency responders struggle to contain fires ravishing Greece—the largest in the EU

Friday 4 August 2023

10x10 (10. 924)

manufactured crises: distractions and moral panics fabricated by the US GOP and associates  

sachal jazz: Pakistani musicians perform a rendition of David Brubeck’s “Take Five” on tabla and sitar with orchestral accompaniment 

illuminated text: an unfinished medieval manuscript reveals a step-by-step manual for its making  

finishing the hat: Stephen Sondheim’s (previously) Turtle Bay townhouse is on the market 

smiley head: custom screws requiring a special driver—via Pasa Bon!  

f-91w: fully-function ring watches from Casio  

blogoversary: JWZ turns twenty-five 

the partridge family 2200 a.d.: a round up of animated spin-offs  

super fun pak: the novelty cards of Pee-wee’s Playhouse  

now you’re cooking with gas: the culture wars come to the stove 

synchronoptica

one year ago: the invention of champagne (1693), the Zone of Galactic Obscuration plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: an infamous bugging device discovered (1945), the Lady of Elx, pipe architecture, working against one’s own self-interest plus assorted links worth revisiting

three years ago: more miniatures from Tatsuya Tanaka, St Sithney, the patron saint of dogs plus the birthday of Helen Thomas, Barack Obama

four years ago: sounds lost to lossy compression plus bouba or kiki

five years ago: interviews with author Philip K Dick