Saturday, March 31, 2007


A few years back I bought a wonderful free-form steel trellis from my girlfriend enyasi's garden shop in West Seattle. I had it shipped home to Chicago, and hesitated for only a moment about whether or not I should rust-proof it, before deciding to install it as is and let the weather have its way with it.

It's now a wonderful rust-covered free-form trellis, and this is the last of last year's clematis which clung to it through the harsh winds and cold and snow of the Chicago winter and is just starting to bud.

Yay, Spring.


From page A3 of today's New York Times (read: beaucoup bucks to run this puppy): A Saks Fifth Avenue ad for a "Printed Led-Zeppelin zip-front hoodie, $145"

so. wrong.


Originally uploaded by equusignis.
chi -- when pronounced "chee", Ch'i is an idea prevalent in China; it is: "the natural force of the universe [that] encompasses all things" (quoting equusigns, who is also the originator of these lovely letterforms and this image); I see an acupuncturist frequently and am always amazed at how I feel physically after those sessions, when she's stirred up the Chi and it dances through my bones and veins.

chi -- when pronounced "shy", Chi is a nickname for Chicago, "Chi-town", my adopted hometown

chi -- when pronounced "Ki" (long "i") Chi is the Greek letter "X"; Greece is the first foreign land I fell head over heels in love with for its archaeology and its mythology and its climate and its history and its people; it is the 22nd letter of the alphabet that I set myself to memorize in high school just because I thought it would be cool (such. a. freak.)

chi -- when sounded out as an anagram, CHI stands for "Computer Human Interaction" design, the thing I do for a living

chi -- when rolled into something entirely new, chi pom pom pom is the enigmatic name of lolabola's blog, the beautiful bailaora whom I have never met, but who seems like an old friend because her blog has become a regular fix (maybe, if she spots this, she'll tell us where the name came from :)

No moral to this story. Just spotted equusigns' lovely letterforms this morning and got to thinking about the ways that these three letters touch my life.

Friday, March 30, 2007

i've got a crush on you

pork shoulder, h in sunrays
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Mr. John Hodgman was kind enough to post this image, which I originally posted to the h in sunrays Flickr group, to his blog, good evening.

Remember that feeling you'd get when you passed that cute boy you had a crush on, and just maybe he'd say hi in a way that made it clear it was no big deal to him -- but it definitely was to you?

Yeah. Feels something like that.

That is all.

an open letter to David Plouffe, Campaign Manager, Obama for America

Finally got fed up and sent the good folks at Obama for America an email:

Hi David:
I'm an online marketing specialist[1] and a Barack Obama supporter, and I'm concerned that you're making a misstep in the way you've chosen to use email in the early days of this campaign.

Too much fund raising; too little substance.

You're going to lose your audience in a hurry as they tune out to your appeals for more money.

Your base needs to hear about the issues that matter -- updates on what Obama's doing, where he's been, who he's talking to -- and include tips on how they can help spread Obama's message -- and the money will follow. Please trust me on this. (A "donate now" button is fine at the tail end of the message -- but the messages need more substance and emotional appeal than the ones you've been mailing.)

Jakob Nielsen did a great job of summing up how Bush outperformed Kerry in the email space in the 2004 election -- here's a snippet:
As this analysis shows, Kerry supporters were bombarded by repeated fundraising requests, to the extent that many of them probably tuned out the newsletter in the final critical days. Although the Internet is great for collecting money from the masses, there is a limit. Kerry exceeded it. ... In summary, Kerry used his newsletter to collect money during the final week. Bush used his to increase voter turnout, and he won because he was better at turning out his base. Understanding the strength of email newsletters thus directly contributed to Bush's victory, so his Internet team can claim some credit for the outcome.

here's a link to his analysis:

and here's another piece that Nielson did that you might find useful:

Please don't make the same mistakes that Kerry did -- use email to mobilize your base, not turn them off -- we've gotta bring this one home.

thanks for your time. let's put Mr. Obama in the White House.

[1] I didn't footnote this in the actual letter, but in the interest of full disclosure, online marketing is only one of the things I do. but it was the most relevant to the conversation, doncha think?


Dairy Queen just unveiled a new logo. Following the pattern of UPS, Burger King, and other high-profile "rebranding initiatives," it's basically the old logo with a swoosh attached. DQ took it a step further, though, stating that the "gold and blue curved swishes [signify] food and treats."

No, it signifies an expensive hour of graphic design.

From Mark Hurst's Good Experience Newsletter. (Also posted online here »)

bring the nickel

a found poem

I can't say

I ever put my arms around you
I felt that I was home

Found in Racy Letters from Hemingway to Dietrich to Be Unsealed in this morning's New York Times.

Ernest Hemingway's letters to Marlene Deitrich have just been released -- they reveal a passionate, unconsummated affection between the two. Hemingway is on record as saying, in A.E. Hotchner's biography of the writer: "The thing about the Kraut and me is that we've been in love since 1934, since we first met on the Île de France, but we've never been to bed. Amazing but true. Victims of unsychronized passion."

Another sweet excerpt from Hemingway's letters:

What do you really want to do for a life work? Break everybody's heart for a dime? You could always break mine for a nickel, and I'd bring the nickel.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

née (a quiz)

Which prominent consumer sites were originally born into the world as:
Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web


(Clickthrough for the answers.)

Source: How Consumers Find Web Sites in 2006 by Charlene Li for Forrester

lady vervaine's reflections

Reflections 2
Originally uploaded by Lady Vervaine.
Lady Vervaine is a particularly cinematic photographer -- she captures that fleeting feeling of time passing that is pervasive in motion pictures, but is difficult to capture in still frames. She pulls it off brilliantly, time and time again.

She writes for Vertigo, an independent film magazine, and introduced me (and many others) to the concept of shooting location stills of classic movies -- I still have it in my mind to hit all the scenes where Vertigo was shot the next time I'm in San Francisco (my sister was actually married, the first time, in that creepy church in the closing scenes -- although there is no bell tower, if I remember correctly). And I'm afraid to get started on Chicago locations, for fear that I'll wind up quitting my job to have time to shoot them all.

This morning I pulled up her stream and found a wonderful, reflective series (and you know how much I dig reflections) -- of people's portraits -- shot as their reflections in the bus windows of London.

Lovely stuff. Here's the tagged slide show »

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

belly button

Originally uploaded by pipepopi.
Today's belly button is brought to you by pipepopi, from Barcelona.

shadow on the wall

brick for barrett
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.

a found poem

He would photograph a flower
Make a large painting of the photograph
Photograph the painting

Destroy the painting

Once something was over, it was over
He felt no need to revisit it

It never really belonged to anybody

[He] long ago grew tired
Of leaving his shadow in the world
And had to let it go

Found in The Madness and Majesty of Pink Floyd in the 5 April 2007 issue of Rolling Stone, referring to Syd Barrett.

Also found, and no new news for folks who know these guys inside and out: the band’s name came from a mashup of “the first names of two obscure blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council (and from the names of [Syd’s] cats)”.

(Tip for Hugh Laurie fans: He’s looking like a doll on page 66, same issue.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

monumental man

monumental man
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Indeterminate delay.

Posting by cameraphone from Detroit Int'l


solar flare
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
This image -- taken months ago with my cameraphone and forgotten in the cameraphone graveyard -- perfectly captures my mood right now, traveling back from Vermont after a friendly round of meetings with folks who were strangers only 48 hours ago.

They have things that need fixing. We told them a little bit how we can make things better. They want to hear more.

I feel useful. Needed. Adequate to the task. Content to be in the company of colleagues who make things like this easy.

And now I'm heading home -- airbound actually, but this pic -- the motion of the tracks, the flare of the sun -- captures the mood of this transit perfectly.

There's something about journeying that lives apart from the things that happen when you get there. Something liminal and in-between; thoughts are sometimes rareified, sometimes dulled, but the hours logged in the air or on the rails or the road are more like the hours logged when you dream than those that populate your waking life.

As long as these rails keep laying down beneath me, and the sun keeps flaring in my eyes, I'm on autopilot for a little while, and can live in these other thoughts that are far from the fears that have been nagging at me since I got the news of my grandmother's hospitalization, the whispered concerns that this might be Alzheimer's, the deep yawning hole of terror that we won't recap our memories anymore, that we won't laugh together, remembering, all that we've done, seen, and shared.

Contrary to all laws of nature my grandmother might forget us more and more as time goes by instead of learning and loving more, as family and dear friends do, as an artifact of that wonderful trick of the mind called memory.

But not yet. I don't have to think about that yet. Because I'm in transit. The rules are different here, and they save me from the knowledge that I cannot be useful in my grandmother's new world. The realization that it's likely that I'm not adequate to this task.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Posting by cameraphone from Weston, VT

snowy + birch v. red

snowy + birch v. red
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Posting by cameraphone from Manchester, VT

vermont skyline

vermont skyline
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Posting by cameraphone from Manchester, Vermont

Sunday, March 25, 2007

the motor city's hub(cap)

the motor city's hub(cap)
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
For what it's worth, you can pick up take out at the little sushi joint called Sora, somewhere around the 20-something gates at Detroit International's Northwest Terminal, in less time than it will take you to grab something at the McDonald's, Chili's or Starbucks just a few feet away.

Sora is always good and fresh (although their rolls demonstrate a lack of discipline and are a little looser than I like them) and while counter service is also quick, grabbing it to go to eat later while you wait (because there's always await -- this is an airport) gives you a few spare minutes to pick up a little vintage Stevie Wonder at the Motown shop (because there's always Motown -- this is Detroit) -- or to just stop and marvel at Michael's original nose. (Where have you gone, Jackson 5? We miss you.)

And if you're needing a quick shot of coffee after the first leg of your flight out of O'Hare, and your gate number's greater than 50, bypass the Starbucks in the center of the terminal and hold out for Carribou Coffee around gate 63. The service is just as glacial (is this a Detroit thing?) but the line is bound to be shorter, so you'll still make your flight in time.

All of this only applies, of course, if you're passing through the Northwest Terminal.

God help you if you're flying United -- because I certainly can't (see: "dumpy terminal", earlier in this stream).

on the road again

I can sleep when I'm dead.

Grady Leno, CEO of Phone Sherpa, quoting his hardworking grandfather.

I'm sure other folks have said it, but I heard it first from Grady when we worked together, and I think of it every time I go on one of these work benders.

Off to Vermont. Updates from the road.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

shadows & fog

Backyard, around 7.30AM

found her

Wall Women: Here's to you
Originally uploaded by ReyGuy.
At last, she materializes.

See where have you gone, big woman? »

to infinity and beyond

Space Shuttle Discovery
Originally uploaded by

People stay here on full nights and say: "That's the weirdest room I've ever stayed in."

Cindy Schellenberg, desk agent at the Best Western Space Shuttle Inn near the Kennedy Space Center, commenting on the Inn's "Space Shuttle Fantasy Room" in this morning's New York Times.

The Space Shuttle Fantasy Room includes:
  • Room for two in a "Space Shuttle bed" surrounded by the stars and planets

  • The ability to "soak in the jetted tub as a Space Shuttle lands overhead"

  • Complimentary champagne and scented soaps

  • A mini-fridge

But it'll cost ya an extra $60/night.

I worked a gig for Reuters News Pictures during APEC in '93, coordinating photo-ops with Asia Pacific Rim leaders and their lackeys -- and learning the hard way that in Asia the surname takes the lead (humiliation was my teacher).

After a week's worth of excitement (which included making eye contact with Wolf Blitzer while he scarfed a quick lunch over a trash can) I went out for a meal with the photographers, and asked one old timer -- a real sweetheart who sported an uber-security clearance badge -- out of everything that he'd done and seen in his work, traveling the world as a photographer, what was the most amazing thing of all?

His answer surprised me.

"Any Space Shuttle launch."

He said to be up close, and feel the force and power of liftoff shake your whole body and drench you (with what? rocket fuel, I would imagine. or something very like it.) was unbeatably the most amazing thing he had ever experienced.

And this guy had seen a lot.

The Space Shuttle will be launching no more after 2010. Today's piece in the NYT -- The Shuttle May Go, But the Stories Will Linger -- talks about how that decision will impact the town surrounding the Space Center.

So if you're eager to book that Space Shuttle Fantasy room while there's still a space shuttle to fantasize about, here's the contact info (but don't try to book it online: the website throws a disconcerting error that reads: "This website is no longer able to accept online reservations. If you are the owner of this website please contact accounts receievable [sic] immediately." You might want to bring cash.):

Space Shuttle Inn Kennedy Space Center
3455 Cheney Highway (Route 50)
Titusville, Florida 32780
(321) 269-9100


Originally uploaded by miss_kcc.
Heaven is ... that moment in life when you actually feel alive.

Posted by the lovely miss_kcc of Lisbon.

Friday, March 23, 2007

under the banyon tree

Originally uploaded by lolacatz.
My Bompa took a long time to die, which meant a lot of time bedside or chairside, listening to stories, hearing him spin out the memories of his days like a skein of wool that needed knitting so we’d have something to keep us warm and remember him by after he left us.

One afternoon we sat in his room at the rehab center where he had been transferred after a brief hospitalization. We were listening to Glen Miller and waiting for my grandmother. He was hopeful that we’d all go out for lunch when she arrived, and suggested that we could go to that lovely place by the water under the Banyon tree. He named the place but I didn’t recognize it – I was even more curious about the Banyon. It was a tree I was unfamiliar with.

In our family, trees are our familiars. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with someone in my family about the loveliness of one tree or another (“I think that I shall never see…”); how many times we’ve debated the name of this species or that, and my grandmother always came up with the right answer. Always. So it was unusual to hear of one in my neighborhood that I had never met.

Bompa saw the puzzlement on my face and said: “Do you know about the Banyon tree?” No. I didn’t. “Oh!” he said – and took off, describing to me all of its wonderful qualities, and the joy of sitting beneath it. His eyes danced with light. I was getting hungry for the lunch we would have at this little restaurant that he loved, beneath the huge sheltering Banyon tree. We smiled together, I asked him more about the beautiful overarching tree, and he was happy to tell me all that he could. He. was. happy.

When Grama arrived I told her about our plans. Her smile fell suddenly and she said: “Arthur, you’re thinking of Hawai’i.”

My Bompa’s face fell as flat as hers. He looked disoriented, confused, chastised, uncertain.

She explained to him: You are in Seattle. You are not in Hawai’i. You are here. With us. In Seattle. There are no Banyon trees. You’re thinking of that place we loved in Hawai’i.

He looked miserable, and clearly he didn’t entirely believe her, but my grandfather, the brilliant litigator, couldn’t find the language or the logic or the evidence to argue his way out of this one.

I was thinking: Let up already, Grama. Let him be in Hawai’i if he wants to be in Hawai’i, goddammit. It makes him happy. Can’t you see how happy he is?

But, obedient granddaughter, I said nothing and looked at my hands in my lap. Embarrassed. Angry.

I don’t remember if we made it out the door for lunch that day. I don’t remember where we went. My memory stops at the look of pain that crossed my Bompa’s face, and at wondering why it was so important, so necessary, for my grandmother to bring him back, for her to be sure that he was HERE. With HER. Not lost somewhere in the depths of his memory.

I think I understand that desperation a little bit more now. For the last few weeks I’ve been receiving updates about my grandmother’s mental state from my aunt, and as the days pass they grow worse. Last night she wrote of my grandmother’s paranoid delusions – of bulging walls and intruders with murderous intent – and of her panicked wanderings through the halls of her assisted living community.

She’ll be hospitalized while we try to figure out if there’s any way to tame these anxieties.

And I find myself wishing that her aging brain would take her to that Banyon tree instead. Take her somewhere where her friends and family surround her, comfort her with memories. Not this strange and hostile territory where she knows no one and doesn’t belong.

Not this place where she’s all alone.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Earplugs and traffic cones: Two essentials for making it through the night and into the morning at the homeless shelter.

Earplugs are to shut out the snoring of strangers in close proximity; the traffic cone sits on the floor at the end of your sleeping pad -- the number correlates to the sign-in sheet upstairs where I or somebody like me (the volunteers who say, when you walk in the door and present your ID card: "hi -- how you doing -- overnight and a hot meal? bag lunch for tomorrow? and would you like an early wake up too?") the folks who write down your call time when you asked for 4.30 -- because "early" around here is any time before 6.30, when the lights come on and everybody else has to get up and out the door within the hour.

It's usually the folks with jobs who ask for the early wake up. They're the ones whose cones we find in the dark and then gently shake awake so they can head out into the pre-dawn and start the long peregrination by bus or train or foot to the minimum wage job that's not even barely keeping them fed or else we wouldn't see them back here tomorrow night.

Another essential, and harder to come by, as I learned when I scoured the office looking for one for a dear woman my mother's age, neatly dressed, whose poverty shows most acutely in the teeth that went missing long ago -- is a phone book.

Handy for tracking down businesses, handy for planning your next step, if you're not one of the ones lucky enough to need that early wake up call, and you're just trying to find yourself a job, so you can get out of this place and get yourself a home of your own -- where the only thing to shatter the snore free blissful silence is an alarm clock that you set your own damn self.

Phone books have the advantage of not requiring electricity, not requiring hardware and software, not requiring an Internet connection. And phonebooks, increasingly, are getting tossed in the trash bin because folks with all of the above can get the listings they need online.

While my friend on the other side of the desk, with none of the above, cannot.

Full disclosure: In my day job I'm one of the people who build those sites, so and I'm not advocating against them. It's just that I'm reminded every month when I work here that the digital divide is no myth. And it keeps getting wider.

Posting from the shelter.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

stolen moments

stolen moments
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
If I'd know every plane that I might hope to hop out of LaGuardia was stacked one on top of another in the wake of severe electrical storms in Chicago, I probably would have taken more time this afternoon than the brief interlude I was able to steal (between a meeting that wrapped early and a cab that was destined to take me --jolting and revolting in one of those gotta accelerate full speed and then slam on my brakes even if I'm only inching forward a couple of feet rides) -- I probably would have lingered a little bit longer at the International Center for Photography.

Louise Brooks was there -- that's her up above in a shot swiped from the brochure for the "'New Woman' in Weimar Cinema" exhibit. Lovely stuff -- luminous, powerful, polyamorous -- but she was just the gravy.

I was there to see Henri Cartier-Bresson, in an exhibition of the "Scrapbook" photographs that he compiled for MoMA after he emerged from the grave -- literally -- escaping a German concentration camp after everyone thought he was dead.

And I was pleased and startled to see Martin Munkacsi, an Austrian photographer whose photography (one shot in particular -- that of three boys running into the sea) Bresson would later remark made him say "Damn!" and grab his camera and run into the street -- because he didn't know photography could look like that.

It was, to use Mr. Cartier-Bresson's phrase, a brief moment de graĉe -- a moment of extreme pleasure -- in a day that was otherwise nasty and brutish and, apparently, interminable.

Update from the desk -- another storm just hit Chicago. I may be here all night.

the empire state wakes up

the empire state wakes up
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Staying in a postage stamp sized room where the A/C unit is positioned right next to my head -- correction: the A/C VENT is right next to my head.

But this was a nice perk -- woke up to discover the sun rising on the Empire State Building.

Posting by cameraphone from NYC.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lincoln slept here.

Lincoln slept here.
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
The bed from the boarding house where President Lincoln was taken and laid after Booth did his drama queen thing at the Ford Theatre.

He would be moved to the White House before he passed away.

Why do they always get the good ones?

Shot at the Chicago History Museum.

soul ever lift

soul ever lift
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
I have no idea where I took this.

Maybe on a window.

Maybe on the L.

no human being is illegal

no human being is illegal
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
From last year's protests. Shot a little while back at the Chicago History Museum.

(Still circling.)

girls make media

girls make media
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Yeah, baby!

Leftover from Austin: Shot at Intellectual Property. Flickr'ng by cameraphone and trying not to go out of my &^%$# mind somewhere over Ohio. (Yes: wireless is turned off.)

Charlie the UML Ubercat

Charlie the UML Ubercat
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Charlie's a Unified Modeling Language Zen Master. He's just taking a little break.

Killing time on my flight with "Airplane Mode" on -- queuing crap to upload that probably doesn't deserve to be uploaded.

We just entered a holding pattern -- and we're over an hour out from NYC. Could be a long night.

I really can't be held responsible for what you might see next.

(Can I just say that the gossiping gal with the shrill voice behind me is DRIVING ME NUTS?!?!)


I was incredibly startled. The prize might be a stage for mockery — I might make a fool of myself on a grand scale. I imagined a scene out of a Brian De Palm movie. I felt like Carrie, covered in pig's blood.

It took me a week to accept the nomination. I had to think hard about the joys and threats of exposure.

Video artist Phil Collins commenting on his reaction to hearing the news that he had been nominated for the Turner Prize, as quoted in the 19 March issue of the New Yorker.

My kind of guy. Not so much the dripping in blood kind; more the fear of exposure kind.


Today's shard of memory is brought to you by Martin, who posted the liar's paradox ("A man says that he always lies. Is what he says true or false?"), which prompted the following comment from me, which I suspect was far too self-confessional, so I thought I would do the reasonable thing and convert it into a blog post because, really, isn't that where we oughta be getting all self-confessional anyway?

A long time ago I had dinner with my soon-to-be-ex- at a cheap sushi joint just as things were winding down between us -- we had filed the paperwork, all that remained was to appear before the judge.

He was making one last tearful appeal to me and I explained to him that I didn't believe him -- that he had lied for so long and so persistently and so well that he had lost all credibility.

It wasn't a bitter conversation. There wasn't a whole lot of rancor at the table. We had spent that long before. But a dull cloud of sadness hung over everything.

When it became clear that nothing more could be said he opened his fortune cookie and it read:
A liar is never believed, even when he is telling the truth.
It was one of the last laughs we shared together.

(Admittedly, it wasn't one of those belly laugh kind of laughs...)

Monday, March 19, 2007

three new things that I learned about eadweard muybridge today

Good evening, Major, my name is Muybridge and here is the answer to the letter you sent my wife.

What Eadweard Muybridge said to Major Harry Larkyns, who was sleeping with his wife, just before he shot and killed him. (Muybridge was acquitted on the grounds of "justifiable homicide". No word on how the wife took the news.)

Also learned that Muybridge did the same tricky thing with a buffalo as he did with that racehorse.

I've always liked the racehorse clip -- but for some reason the buffalo clip makes me go all melty inside.

Thanks, Wikipedia.

p.s. Wait -- one more: Phillip Glass wrote an opera based on the incident (the shooting, not the buffalo). And no, it's not available at Amazon. So that makes four. Four things.

road trip

Urban views 2
Originally uploaded by lasse22.
Lasse[1] shot this in Copenhagen (click through on the pic for a map), but it reminded me in an instant of Seattle's concrete highways, particularly the spot where 520 swoops past the Arboretum and becomes the Evergreen Floating Bridge (something about the coming Spring and the rising sap that's stirring old moments into memories that float tender and close to the surface. Not always optimal -- some of these trigger tremendous longing -- but what they hey, I'm letting them have their way).

Since I was a kid I've loved the concrete forms of Seattle's highways. Only once did I mention this out loud, and that was to my Bompa as we drove under and along them.

At the time I mentioned it, my Bompa and I knew each other the way any of us know family -- through mostly those things we've experienced together. I knew him always smiling, easy to hug, and smelling sweet of gin. I knew him setting the metronome and teaching me and my sister to play Heart and Soul (which he would so soon regret, because we took to it too readily and played it too much) on the lovely Steinway grand that lived just a small flight up from the spacious living room where we would push my toddler brothers on the wheeled ottoman at breakneck speed down the twisting hallways that serpentined through the house.

That was, until he spotted us and told us to stop (being the ogre, spoiling our fun) because he anticipated (correctly I believe) that we would soon crash through one of the tall glass panes that lined the hallway.

I didn't know then that he designed that house. I didn't know that he traded one of his clients legal work for that Steinway, at a loss, and that this was common for him -- that too often he took care of clients who couldn't take care of him. And I didn't know that he loved sweeping architectural forms and the way highways plot the progress of man so much that when the Alaskan Way Viaduct went up he took his young family, along with my small father, out for a day of driving -- back and forth and back and forth along the elevated roadway.

He said nothing about my observation, but I remember the moment clearly because I knew I had said something right when I gushed over that beautiful highway, by the smile and look of recognition that flashed across his face.

The way he looked at me then, like you look at an old friend.

viaduct with moon

[1] In his spare time, Lasse stacks wood.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Elm Street: Salt & Pepper
Originally uploaded by ReyGuy.
ReyGuy's[1] Salt & Pepper shot reminded me in a rush of memory of an early morning long ago when I ran into my favorite high school teacher at the McDonald's down the block from the school where he was eating pancakes.

I was up at dawn because my family had moved across town, and in order to get to school in time (it was my Senior year and I didn't want to change school districts again -- I attended twelve different schools while I was growing up, across eight different school districts -- loooooooooooooong story) I had to get up while it was still dark to catch the only city bus that would get me to class in time. Sometimes I killed time at McDonald's where I worked an after school job.

So Mr. B was there (he was my British Lit teacher, and the cut of his beard and sweep of his hair made him look a little like Shakespeare) and, as he he had the habit of doing, he asked me what I had been thinking about lately.

How many adults ask that question of kids? Not "what have you been up to?" but "what have you been thinking about?" And then stick around to listen to the answer and engage you in a conversation about it. God bless him, he did it all. the. time.

So he asked me, and I told him that I was trying to get my mind around the idea that maybe, perceptually, folks saw things differently -- something as simple as the color red might look different in my brain than yours -- it might look like what I call blue, for instance -- and we could never really know, because we shared a language for these things that we learned relative to how we perceived them... So: Is my red your red? If your blue was projected inside my brain would I understand it to be blue? Or would I call it something else?

He took the plastic salt and pepper shakers in his hands and said something like: "That is fascinating. Is my salt your salt, or is it your pepper? What does it taste like to you? But it's even more interesting, isn't it, if you take it to the next level. When you ask yourself do any two people share the same idea about love? Or friendship? Do we perceive these things collectively, or are they unique to each of us -- and we just use the same word to describe very different things?"

I don't know. And I don't know that I'll ever know.

That conversation returns to mind often -- usually in the midst of a misunderstanding when I thought things were going a certain way only to discover that I had it all wrong. That the other person saw things very, very differently.

I suspect this is the thing that will always absorb the bulk of my energy: trying to understand how others -- the Others who matter, the Others I love -- see, feel, and experience this world. As well as I ever can.

Which I suspect will never be very well at all.

[1] ReyGuy is an old school newspaper guy who works in Dallas and shoots with straightforward wide open eyes. I can't get enough with his stuff. Start with his Klucker and the cop shot, and then work your way out from there.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

trout fishing in america

With apologies to Richard Brautigan.

blue skies

It's been brought to my attention that I shoot a lot of sky »

Friday, March 16, 2007

an american index of the hidden and unfamiliar

I look for something that is going to be seductive.

First and foremost it has to be seductive.

Photographer Taryn Simon speaking with Charlie Rose about her work.

Smith shoots strongly intentional shots in 4x5 format. And her idea of seductive may not be your idea of seductive.

Simon has a show at the Whitney called An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar in which she "documents spaces that are integral to America's foundation, mythology and daily functioning, but remain inaccessible or unknown to a public audience."

Simon also had a show at MoCP in 2005 called The Innocents in which she photographed individuals who served time after being wrongfully convicted. Some of the work from that show is available on Artnet. This one intrigues me particularly, because wrongful imprisonment is my strongest ambient anxiety -- one which I suspect says more about the country I live in than the fears that live in my heart.

Here's a link to the Hidden and Unfamiliar book »

I've managed to misplace the link to the book spread -- will update as soon as I can google it down (I hate it when that happens -- when a search query morphs over night and you can't find the thing you were sure you left in plain sight...).


Austin, TX

Thursday, March 15, 2007

stuck in a groove

Confession: I have the bad habit of looping CDs over and over and over again. Especially when I’m on a deadline. You’d think I could just commit to iTunes shuffle and let it have its way with me, spinning me all over the musical spectrum that is my iPod. But for some reason I can’t do that. Sometimes I’ll shuffle through a genre. But mostly I stick with an Artist. Just the artist. Everything I might have by that one individual, but just that one.

I don’t know why that is, but there’s something about the groove and the pacing that reassures me and helps me stay on track.

Tonight there’s a deadline, and Otis Taylor is seeing me through. He’s been with me since Noon, and he’ll stay up with me past Midnight. I’m shuffling off just a couple of his CDs -- Respect the Dead and Double V – but if things get hairy I’ll make a trip to my friends at Apple and ask them for just a little bit more.

Because Otis is the friend I need tonight.

(Have you heard this guy? You won’t be sorry. Promise.)

at the window

prairie poppy

Broad daylight, and a man is peeing
against the building across the alley.
The storm is rolling in over the misshapen
skyline. I throw open all the windows.
Rain beads the screens, clogs
the tiny metal mesh. When the storm
has passed, water drains from the lawns,
sun streaks through the soaked trees
in marbled patches, bright draperies
of light decorate the brick apartments.
Outside, in the wet grasses, daffodils
bow in the damp breeze the way a woman
bent over a basin rinses her long, blond hair.

At the Window by Ann Hudson
Published in the March | April issue of Orion

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

girls got the goods

bonsai blossom

True to form, the popular girls remain the crafty ones.

There's the lovely Anne Bryant, who won my heart forever when I described, with a four-letter word for excrement, a big emotional entanglement I had managed to get myself into, and she said: "but shit makes things grow." And so it has. Anne crafts solutions (including jewelry, scarves, and notecards) as lovely as her own self over at Etsy:
anne bryant creative | crafting thoughtful solutions

There's the perspicacious April (aka rottnapples) who, I think it's only fair to make public, I turned on to Flickr once upon a time (and let me tell you it took some doing because I was her boss at the time and everyone knows bosses are to be humored but never listened to). She's always been turning out gorgeous imagery: now she's putting it on note cards for all the world to share. So send someone you love a cupcake. Or a robot. Or a superhero.
Creative Apples

The enigmatic Aija (aka zero), who was kind enough to send some crafty girl traffic my way not too long ago, and who makes wonderful little dangly things ("Jewelry for your Knitting") that I'm sure I don't understand how to use -- but if you knit, you do.

The outrageously maternal Anniemcq whose wisdom never fails me, has several shops up at CaféPress -- here are a few:
Motherhood Changes You | Nostalgic for Outrage
I miss the United States

And patiently awaiting the return of heatherlorin, once she's wrapped up the small task of transforming her whole life into something entirely new.

the best things come

to those who wait.

(so tasty good.)


The good folks at Flickr continue to win my admiration.

Today (maybe before today? but I only noticed it today.) they released variable home page templates -- easy enough to do with CSS support, but certain, I'm sure, to please the masses that are the collective creative force that makes Flickr, Flickr.

Also new: Collections in which you can organize sets. Yum.

In a case of odd timing, I was just reading Adaptive Path's interview with Flickr Founder Catarina Fake in which she notes that rapid development cycles in which little bite sized morsels are released -- and sometimes rolled back -- are one of the secrets of Flickr's success »

Disclaimer: No, I do not work for Flickr or receive compensation for mercilessly shilling their product. I'm just a Flickr whore with a prurient interest in user interfaces.


pie's all gone
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Happy PI day.

(And happy birthday to Al, too.)

Speaking of numbers: I gave my cell phone number recently to a friend, and as she wrote it down she said "ooo -- nice color". Turns out she's synaesthesiac -- for her numbers and letters are each associated with a unique color, and in combination they create a unique hue.

For the next 15 or 20 minutes I quizzed her on the color of people we knew in common -- turns out I'm mostly an earthy, reddish brown with flares of red and some specks of green.

Who knew?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

like an apple

like an apple
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.

a found poem

Cézanne is and remains
a painter of apples

apples that are smooth
round, fresh, ponderous, dazzling
of shifting color

not the ones you'd like to eat
but rather forms that ravish

he made apples his own

Art critic Thadée Natanson reviewing Ambroise Vollard's Cézanne show in 1895. Found at a reception for the Art Institute of Chicago's show Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde

Also spotted:

I paint still lives because women models frighten me.

— Cézanne to Renoir

You are to remain quiet and complete still -- like an apple.

— Cézanne to his dealer Vollard, prepping him for a sitting

And yeah: These oranges are by Renoir, who was also featured in the show, which spans many artists -- including Picasso, Martisse, Gauguin, Bonnard, Derain -- whom Vollard represented through his gallery in Paris. This shot was taken many months ago, in the permanent AIC collection, because I got busted with my cameraphone tonight and wasn't able to snag any apples by Cezanne.

that much closer to naked

There's something about the hint of Spring that makes you realize you've been wearing way too many clothes for way too long. Something about the way your muscles yield, your shoulders give; something about the way you receive the day when you step out into it, your lungs relaxing, breathing deep.

The outside air is no longer your adversary.

Together you move optimistically towards a truce.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Shot in Austin's South Congress Neighborhood

miss ann's masterpiece

a found poem

Miss Ann is a woman of commanding style

She works alone at her grill
Patting each ample patty lightly
As she sets it down

Her masterpiece
Is a two-patty cheeseburger
Tricked out with bacon
That she tends closely
In the fryolator

The extreme economy of motion
The running dialogue
Of lightly sassy repartee

Miss Anne dusts
Your almost-ready patties with
“Seasoned salt”
Tinged red from cayenne

It looks like a mistake
Too much
Over the top

You get your burger
You regret [your doubts]

This is the next level of burgerhood
It just barely fits in your mouth

After trying a whole lot of burgers, Raymond Sokolov declared Miss Ann’s masterpiece, the Ghetto Burger, the best hamburger in America in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal.

Ann’s Snack Bar
1615 Memorial Dr
Atlanta, GA 30317

Sunday, March 11, 2007

golden light

Shot on the UT Austin campus

sexto go

sexto go
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Every once in a while I'm seized by the realization that everyone on this planet is here because someone had sex.

Whether it was rough and tumble, sweet and slow, down and dirty, or quick and uptight like a sneeze they couldn't hold back -- it had to happen for the zygote to take.

I realize I'm not the first to have this thought, but while it lasts it transforms everyone around me, in much the way imagining them naked might. I wonder at the mashup of their parents and grandparents features, and think of them as some kind of crazy cubist coupling creature, all compact.

I wonder if their disposition is determined by the mood of the moment they were conceived -- are sweet optimists born of tender, hopelessly romantic unions? Are cynics born of dry and loveless mergers?

Probably not, but I like to wonder about it anyway.

One pleasant side effect of thinking this way is the benevolence for humanity that accompanies it, unbidden.

Admittedly, these thoughts usually come to me after one too many glasses of wine.

This one was called Sexto, a Spanish table red meritage sort of thing, with a healthy splash of tempranillo. Tasty.

Still posting by cameraphone from Austin, TX

Saturday, March 10, 2007

dahlia with room key

dahlia with room key
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Hotel San Jose

Austin, TX

Needs just a little more light...

Friday, March 09, 2007

so close yet so far out

so close yet so far out
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
The old timers at the Maya Meetings stay at the Rodeway Inn, within walking distance from the UT Austin campus. My darlin' companion and I came to the party late, so we've never managed to snag a room at the Rodeway -- they're usually all booked up.

I found the Austin Motel online when I was looking for an alternate place to crash during the meetings, and I immediately fell in love with the way the website design appropriated this crazy phallic neon sign as an ever present icon that was repeated many times over in the global navigation (although I think they may have redesigned the site not too long ago -- but I'm posting by Sidekick and I'm too lazy to check). It's a perfect example of design so bad that it's good.

The motel continues the bad design theme -- a 1930s motor inn, it's been redone in true Austin-style with full size photographic wall friezes and funky random themes in which pictorial representations of tropical plants figure prominently.

It's also cheap. Half the price of the Rodeway.

Which pretty much seals the deal.

So it became our hovel of choice when we were in Austin -- or mine, at least. My sweetie found my taste for this kind of funkiness questionable at best, but the rate sold him too, so he pretty much let me do what I wanted to do. (Smart man.)

Only it seems we weren't the only ones to fall for the Austin Motel: the last couple of times I've tried for a room around this time of year it's been booked up solid with SXSWesterners, and this last time they referred us to the Hotel San Jose right across the alleyway.

The Hotel San Jose is another mid-century modern do-over -- each room is its own little bungalow, appointed in a way that would make Dwell Magazine terribly proud. The website advertises that each room has its own Eames chair (no foolin') and the door handles look a whole lot like the ones Wittgenstein designed for his sister's place.

My sweetie's complaining that the hemp soap smells like dirt, and the lime green flip-flops placed for my convenience in the bathroom could be mine if I didn't mind shilling out 20 bucks for them.

I suspect this place is a whole lot hipper than I know how to be. And it costs just about as much as the Rodeway. So we're back to square one.

But the robes are awfully comfy, anyway.

que es queso

que es queso
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Listen: Cheese isn't Queso, and Queso isn't Cheese.

Cheese comes in many shapes, sizes, colors and consistencies. Queso is consistently and persistently viscous. And always vibrantly, whorishly, orange.

Cheese can go wherever Queso might go, but the same isn't true in reverse. You wouldn't want to invite Queso to a wine tasting. Or to top a mesclun salad where Montrachet would feel more at home.

Also, and most importantly when you travel down to Austin: Cheese comes *with* the Freebird burrito -- but Queso'll cost you 75 cents extra.

Posting by Sidekick from Austin, TX


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Strange markings at the top of the stairs

Shot outside the Art Building on the UT Austin Campus
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