Sunday, August 31, 2008

cheese curds & funnel cakes

Last Fling
Naperville, IL

Posting by


Why they call it Labor Day.


Tucson over time, as seen from Kitt Peak. (NYTimes)

When the Northridge earthquake knocked out power in Los Angeles in 1994, numerous calls came into emergency centers and even the Griffith Observatory from people who had poured into the streets in the predawn hours. They had looked into the dark sky to see what some anxiously described as a “giant silvery cloud” over the shaken city.

Not to worry, they were assured. It was merely the Milky Way.

Helping the Stars Take Back the Night in this morning's New York Times.

If you've ever laid yourself down under a full night sky when the seeing was sublime, you know how that canopy inspires ideas untethered from gravity.

Most cultural mythologies spin stories from the stars. For the Greeks the Milky Way was the breast milk of Hera, required nurturing for the gods and spilled across the sky when she refused it to the mortal Heracles. For the Maya the Milky Way was transfigured by the seasonal spinning of the heavens: Now a canoe on an important passage, now the World Tree. Always a central player in the story of death and regeneration.

For Galileo and Copernicus the night sky inspired heresy, dangerous ideas born out of its vast reach that suggested maybe man wasn't the center of everything. Maybe there was more than us.

But anymore it's rare to see the night sky. Light pollution from our cities leaks into most of our lives, hiding the vastness from view.

The New York Times story focuses on developments in outdoor lighting to reduce light pollution, and alludes to the dark sky movement, which lobbies for dimming the lights as both an energy saving measure and as a way to restore that view -- and make way for all that seeing ushers in.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

most of us are immigrants

immigrant worker

My great great grandfather Soren Björnson worked here in the 1890s, as a recent immigrant from Norway. It was a box factory for Nabisco, and then Phil Container after that, until just last year when it was boarded up and the jobs were shipped overseas.

Marseilles, IL

(re most of us: in the U.S., I mean.)

final days of summer

Prairie Dock.

Friday, August 29, 2008

little known facts about Sarah Palin

By TMCamp@Twitter

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin has the power of Grayskull.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin can write upside down

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin stole your boyfriend.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin is STR 8 / DEX 9 / CON 8 / INT 14 / WIS 12 / CHA 14

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin owns the copyright to "Happy Birthday"

RETWEET from @mayjah: Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin is the new black

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin is watching you poop

Little Known Fact: @sarahpalin is not Sarah Palin

Little Known Fact: Nothing comes between Sarah Palin and her Calvins

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin coined the term "smartypants" in 1865.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin lifts and separates.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin cleans and deodorizes.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin designed the Fail Whale.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin invented CAPS LOCK.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin killed Tupac.

@peeppeep Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin knows the facts of life are all about you.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin only has one tastebud.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin owns the original bike from Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin spelled backwards is Nilap Haras -- coincidence? I don't think so.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin has the heart of a ten year old girl. She keeps it in a jar on her desk.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin has read Finnegan's Wake. Twice.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin invented the fanny pack.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin is Brangelina's love child.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin's iPhone is 4G.

Little Known Fact: There was only one catch and it was Sarah Palin.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin killed the radio star.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin shot JR.

Little Known Fact: Sarah Palin has 0 carbs.

As I post this TMCamp is still spooling them out...

Update: The meme is spawning »

complete 360

Pretty sure it was the filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard who said that the 360 pan = truth in cinema.

This may not be cinema but it is theater, and it's pretty dang good.

The New York Times 360 pan of Invesco Mile High Stadium last night when Barack Obama accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party for President of the United States of America »

speak to me

Every time Barack Obama speaks, an angel has an orgasm.

The Daily Show's take on Barack Obama's biographical video »

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Working the shelter tonight, where we have 80+ homeless guests and one three month old baby.

So I won't get to hear Obama's speech until after I get home, late, some time after it's aired.

But I'll be feeling it.

Si se puede, baby.

"here's my view"

"here's my view"
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Mile High Stadium where my brother G's getting ready for tonight's

I'm shamelessly posting his content.

where obama will stand tonight

where obama will stand tonight.

New pic + recycled content over at Flickr »

been a while

Haven't been shooting around Chicago much, so it's been awhile since I've posted anything to the Gapers Block Flickr group.

They were kind enough to run my no carts beyond this point yesterday.

Thanks, guys.

the candidate and his wife

Mile High Stadium
27 August 2008
Photo Credit: My brother G

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

sound check

mile high blue sky

G: He's got a good strong handshake.

Me: How did it compare to the Pope?

G: Right up there.

Email thread with my brother G who just drove away from Mile High Stadium after a sound check with Barack Obama in preparation for tomorrow night’s speech. He'll return to the stadium sometime before 8AM before it goes into lock down prior to the event.

G and his crew took a group shot with the Junior Senator from Illinois and shook his hand before Obama ran through the last speech he gave to the DNC -- four years ago -- to check the sound system.

G was also on hand when Pope John Paul passed through Denver some years back -- so of course I had to pose the question that was on everyone’s lips.

Hoping for a few pics before the event, and G’s promised a recap of how it all comes down as a detritus exclusive. So stay tuned.

It may not be live blogging, but it’s, well, blogging.

early call time

Today = ORD to BOS & back.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

haven't we had enough?

Here's my thinking: What if we could TiVo the last six-plus years and play them back -- without comment -- for the American people, and let them connect the dots?

Ad exec Rich Silverstein commenting in the Huffington Post about his GOP Poster Project, Haven't we had enough?, which will premiere in Minneapolis during the Republican convention.

Surfeit available in three flavors: Names, Slogans and Events.

go miniman go

Video: Go Miniman Go

Lego's 30 years old.
Come. See. Get a Tee.

no carts beyond this point

Chicago O'Hare International

Monday, August 25, 2008


Originally uploaded by xtrapop

Gather quickly
Out of darkness
All the songs you know
And throw them at the sun
Before they melt
Like snow

—Langston Hughes


The arts are not frosting but baking soda.

Author Michael S. Gazzaniga cited by Daniel Levitan in the Sunday New York Times' book review of Gazzaniga's Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique.

Marseilles, IL

Sweet Grama:
I hope this finds you well.

Wanted to let you know about a road trip we took over the weekend to Great Gram’s home town of Marseilles, Illinois -- it’s just a short drive from where I'm living now. Strange that I’d transplant myself halfway across the country to arrive just two hours distant from the little town where your grandparents, just arrived from Norway, first got started in America.


Marseilles is seated in a wide squat along the I&M Ship Canal -- the waterway that snakes out this way from the city and was part of the engineering effort behind reversing the Chicago River. The box factory that you told me about, where your grandfather Soren worked, sits alongside it.


We drove through Marseilles a few years back when the factory was still in operation: At that time the sign out front read Phil Container. That changed in the last year: I spoke with a Marseilles lifer at the Coyote Cafe, where we stopped for breakfast (biscuits and gravy topped with scrambled eggs) and she told me that Nabisco (she called them the National Biscuit Company) ran it for years and years before they sold it to Phil.

It was only this last year that the jobs were sent overseas and the factory was boarded up. Whole town’s hurting, she told me. A couple other large industries recently sent their work to Asia and Mexico. The little town, that felt quiet and quaint the last time we passed through, felt a bit desolate and deserted. Johnny Cash spilled into the street from PJs biker bar at 9AM.

power lines

I took a few pictures of the factory -- soon as they’re developed I’ll send copies. I imagine it was a lovely little town once upon a time, framed as it is by sandstone bluffs and run through by the cool green banks of the Ship Canal. The Illinois River skims its outer boundary.

Came to understand over the couple days that we spent out that way why Great Gram loved Lake Michigan lake water so much that she asked you to bring back a mason jar full when you and Bompa traveled to Chicago for that Shriner’s convention. The water in the region is loaded with minerals: so much that it’s somewhat salty, and gave me a stomachache. She must have fallen in love with the city’s water when she moved, finally, to Humboldt Park.

la salle canyon

Our plan was to follow the river to Starved Rock -- a sweet little State Park where we planned to do some hiking -- but first we detoured through Norway, Illinois, just north of Marseilles. It turns out this sleepy little spot is where a fellow named Cleng Peerson set up shop with a whole boatload of Norwegians back in 1825. The sign claims Norway is the first “permanent settlement of Norwegians in America” -- no doubt to ensure that no one confuses it with the Vinland, the first Norwegian settlement in North America in the early 1000s. As we all know. And must remind others. Persistently.

Unfortunately the Norsk Museum doesn’t open until 1PM on the weekends, so we didn’t have a chance to peek inside. Near the road marker to Cleng and his clan that named Highway 71 the Cleng Peerson Memorial Highway, and commemorated their settlement with a profusion of plaques, flags and a kiosk topped with an architectural flourish better suited to a stave kirke, there was a tongue-in-cheek memorial to the farmers and business folk who weathered the agricultural crash of the 1980s -- in the form of a crashed plane by the roadside.

Which left the impression that times have been tough in Norway, too.

we have moved

I love you. I’ll send pictures soon.

Your granddaughter.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

high as an elephant's eye

Utica, IL

a walk in the woods

a walk in the woods
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Matthiesson State Park Utica, IL

Dig it.

And not nearly the same trash to traffic ratio as Starved Rock.

Posting by cameraphone.


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Breakfast at Joy & Ed's. The back room's a bar.
The dining room's rimmed with a Thomas Kincade wallpaper border.

One long wall is hung with photographs of our waitress from grade school through graduation. Four old guys are hanging out in the far back corner, where I suspect they meet most mornings, commiserating over coffee.

And it's my birthday.

Posting by cameraphone from Utica, IL

Saturday, August 23, 2008

golden hour

golden hour
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Posting by cameraphone
from Utica, IL

starved rock lock & dam

starved rock lock & dam
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Posting by cameraphone from, well, I guess it's obvious.

this is who we are

this is who we are
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
(with apologies to smalldogs)

On the first leg of a three hour hike through
Starved Rock State Park my sweetie and I
collected on the trail:

37 abandoned plastic bottles
1 empty can of Alpo
1 Malt Liquor bottle
1 wet t-shirt
half a dozen aluminum cans of beer & soda
2 ziplock bags full of god-knows-what
1 pooper scooper bag (empty)
1 mini-cereal box
& an assortment of other wrappers and foils

Subsequently my confidence in the human
race is at a low ebb.

Posting by cameraphone from Starved Rock
State Park.

courtesy of the kankakee torrent

Posting by cameraphone
from Starved Rock State Park

coffeepots & condiments

coffeepots & condiments
coffeepots & condiments
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
All the rooms have them. Website says so.

Posting by cameraphone from Utica, IL

tough minds do

tough minds do
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Posting by cameraphone from Ottawa, IL

cleng peerson memorial hwy

Ten points if you know who Cleng is.

Posting by cameraphone from Norway, IL

illini lounge dining

illini lounge dining
illini lounge dining
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Road tripping through the heartland.

Posting by cameraphone from Marseilles, IL

p.s. that's "Marr-sales", in case you were getting all Continental.

Friday, August 22, 2008


She lingered near the eccentric flints.

same old instrument forever

Sam--I owe him a lot; he is one of those very rare people, along with Tériade, who some twenty-five years ago encouraged me to quit playing the same old instrument forever.

To those who were surprised that I abandoned photography, he'd say: "Let him draw if that's what he likes, and anyway, he never stopped taking photographs, only now it isn't with a camera but mentally."

Henri Cartier-Bresson speaking of his friend Sam Szafran, and his own decision to stop shooting and focus on his illustrations, in The Mind's Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers.

It's Henri's birthday, and I pulled the book off the shelf to exhort y'all to go out and shoot something. The book fell open to this page.

Which was not what I was expecting. But was certainly what I needed to hear.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


embiggen »

Will Durant's Story of Philosophy, 1938 printing.
Inscribed from my grandfather to my grandmother.

my grandparents

entire of itself

In 1745 a royal proclamation from Spain finally declared: "California is not an island."

From Knowledge@Wharton's review of It Starts With One.

For two centuries prior to that most Europeans were pretty sure it was »

hush, Sunlight

More painting last night. Which meant tearing down another three bookshelves. Which meant discovering more sleeping books.

This is page 281 of E.E. Cummings Complete Poems, 1913-1962. A birthday gift from a boyfriend a long time ago.

I've dated a handful of guys who wrote poetry (of course I did. english major. you can own us with poem.) but J was the only poet.

He looked after his poetry the way he tended to his bonsai: Daily. Deliberately. Giving it room to grow.

He didn't care much for cummings, but he knew that I did.

I loved this book to distraction.

Speaking of e.e.: his Thanksgiving (1956), in commemoration of the Hungarian Uprising, has been on my mind since the Georgia thing. See below.


a monstering horror swallows
this unworld me by you
as the god of our fathers' father bows
to a which that walks like a who

but the voice-with-a-smile of democracy
announces night & day
"all poor little peoples that want to be free
just trust in the u s a"

suddenly uprose hungary
and she gave a terrible cry
"no slave's unlife shall murder me
for i will freely die"

she cried so high thermopylae
heard her and marathon
and all prehuman history
and finally The UN

"be quiet little hungary
and do as you are bid
a good kind bear is angary
we fear for the quo pro quid"

uncle sam shrugs his pretty
pink shoulders you know how
and he twitches a liberal titty
and lisps "i'm busy right now"

so rah-rah-rah democracy
let's all be as thankful as hell
and bury the statue of liberty
(because it begins to smell)

—e.e.cummings, Thanksgiving (1956)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

first airplane that landed in denver, 1910

embiggen »

This shot, all 4 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches of it, is the reason I bought the catalog for Crossing the Frontier: Photographs of the Developing West, 1849 to the Present.

I caught the show at SFMOMA shortly after they opened the new building. The book's copyright reads 1996 which sounds about right.

Came across the catalog over the weekend when I tore apart two of the five bookshelves in the living room (we're painting. the other three, Bompa's bookshelves, come down this week to finish the job). Dipped into it to visit my old friend, photographer unknown.

It has everything that appeals to me in a well-made photograph: Story. Simple lines and forms that verge on the abstract. The kind of composition that pulls you into the frame; makes the moment your own.

Also rediscovered, through the catalog, the work of Robert Adams and learned of his 1977 collection Denver, which I went scrambling to find online, only to uncover half a dozen copies ranging in price from $500 to just under a thousand.

So I settled on a copy of The New West for a tidy $24.95 (on eBay, baby. haven't you heard? they're trying to give Amazon a run for their money.).

p.s. To be fair, the true dimensions of the photograph are 4 7/16 x 3 7/16 inches. But "sixteenths" just doesn't flow like half. So I fudged.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

la cañada

to be circumspect would preempt retrospection.
(she declined)

the besieging night


to slip out
at five minutes after twelve
in hushed expectancy

the suppressed cry
in the blue-gray courtyard

faces strained
the body claimed

Found in an August 1, 1908 newspaper clipping, Crowd Sees Man Die, and submitted as part of Austin Kleon's August Newspaper Blackout Poems Contest.

('cause y'all know how I like my found poetry.)

Your turn »

Update: Contest closed. Wordle to prove it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

two boys on bikes, reprised

two boys on bikes, mexico city

J and R rode bikes. BMX big fat nubby tire bikes, the eventual progenitors of the mountain bike. But this was long before mountain bikes were on the market and I knew only that the bikes they rode were boy bikes -- and that I wanted one.

So much more solid than my old yellow ten-speed. So much more right for the scree scattered streets of South Angelina Ave in Suquamish, a res-town in sight of Banbridge Island’s Agate Pass, a rock’s toss down the beach from Old Man House where Chief Seattle and his tribe staged potlatches that blazed into the night sky.

Sealth’s longhouse -- once the largest in the Pacific Northwest -- was gone by the time we got there; the beach bulwarked with rotting old growth timber that broke loose from its kin on the watery ride to the mill, opting to be flotsam instead of floorboards, settling finally into the lonely sands that once teamed with trade.

J and R were inseparable then, riding their bikes or trawling the beach that served as a highway between our homes when the tide was out. From far away I’d see J’s black lab Dizzy lumbering my way with a stick in his jaws, or, having just dived into the Puget Sound after it, shaking his sandy salty self dry, and I knew they were near. Was always glad to watch them come closer.

Years later, having moved away long since, I swung back by for a visit and found they weren’t so inseparable anymore. R ballooned into a football player and was headed off to play on scholarship at a university I can’t recall. J was still slight of build with a shy slouch and a tumble of blonde curls whose smile carried the heartbreak of a poet.

I was in love with J, of course, but I never told him as much.

I knew it for sure when he let me ride on the seat of his nubby tired bike while he stood and pumped it, carrying us both at high speeds down Angelina Ave and then off the road through rough trails, under mossy limbs, and over creek beds; knew there was something unsettling about being that close to his body working that hard to propel us down the trail; knew something was firing but didn’t understand what it was.

This was junior high, and I was still unclear about how these things worked. In the time we lived on that beach, our houses side by side, J and I passed through that strange place called adolescence where easy games of tackle football with my brothers and the neighbor kids morphed into chase-and-tackle games of “smear the queer” (I didn’t know it was homophobic. I just like the way it rhymed.) that were all heat and speed and contact. The chance to tackle and be tackled.

We lived in J’s old house -- his family built a larger one next door and rented the old one to us. Dizzy never got used to the fact that he didn’t live there anymore, and he spent most of his summer days hanging out on our porch, sweeping clean the patch on his tail where the fur was all worn through from wagging against the floorboards.

I slept in J’s old room, and he told me the secret of the gap at the top of the unfinished closet that looked into the room next door. It was his parent’s room when he had it, and he’d sneak up there and watch TV when they thought he was asleep. It was my brothers' room now, and I wasn’t interested in watching them play with their baseball cards, but I was intrigued to find the ragged pages of Cosmo that J had wedged into the closet wall. Large bare breasted women in bikini bottoms, the color worn from the page where it had been folded and unfolded countless times.

I left it where I found it.

I’ve tried to separate out that day in the woods from the other days we walked home together from where the bus dropped us off and we cut across the familiar trail, into the soft arms of the forest that smelled of mushrooms and mulch.

But that day blends into the others with their patter and laughter and performances of Blondie tunes (his. he memorized the proto-rap in Rapture and played it back for me, stopping and restarting until he got it right).

I remember only that J was agitated, and then I remember nothing else until he barked at me for a blow job.

They were new words to us both, courtesy of Penthouse Forum, copies of which we each found in unique caches and talked about glancingly before.

I laughed, because it didn’t make sense, and he insisted. I said no. He grabbed my shoulders and pushed me to my knees.

His face was strange and full of fear. His hands on my shoulders, holding me firm. I said no again, fiercer, louder, rose to my feet, breathing hard, and headed home.

I think we walked the distance together, J a few feet behind me. I don’t remember that we said much. It was awkward after that, while we negotiated that uneasy aphasia where complicated things like desire and power aren’t spoken of.

Over time we eased our way back, and eventually had conversations where we talked about other things. Uneasily we worked our way back to our easy friendship.

Even writing about it here I feel I’ve broken the pact. I thought maybe I’d just write about the heat and speed of that bike ride; just mention the times we played sardines and found a tight place to hide together, our bodies squeezed into the dark and stillness and silence.

But that moment in the woods, the negotiation and slow passage that came from it, were as much a part of it as the rest.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

two boys on bikes, mexico city


Saturday, August 16, 2008

what it is.

dogfaceboy: Can you explain Twitter? I just can't get into it. All the cool kids are doing it, but I just don't know where to fit it—or why.

suttonhoo: I can't explain it but I can tell you why I like it.

it's a bridge and an adhesive and a lubricant (in an oil in the machine kind of way). & it's also a way to communicate random thoughts that don't really belong anywhere else -- but are the kinds of thoughts that you'd share with a friend over coffee or in email or via txt. you're listening to others thinking outloud in the same way, and you come to know them in new ways.

as a bridge: I can link all over the place -- to articles that catch my interest and I want to share, to my blog, to my flickr stream. some days twitter referrals to detritus outnumber google hits -- which still astonishes me.

as an adhesive: I don't always have time to catch up with my peeps on their blogs or photostreams, but if they're talking on twitter I feel like I've at least been able to touch base with them.

and as you know, the friendships that emerge from these social spaces really matter. they remind me a lot of the friendships that you make while traveling. briefly you come together over a common interest and then find a way to keep in touch even though miles intervene.

as a lubricant: it connects all these different spaces and makes them work together more fluidly. there are a lot of reasons to disparage twitter -- there's inanity out there, and good lord their engineers need to learn to scale because they're always "over capacity", but amazing things happen out there too.

this kid got himself out of an egyptian jail by twittering. I've seen folks warn others of a tornado that's on its way. and more than once I've discovered something extraordinary because someone took the trouble to share it.

the prime minister twitters. so does the mars phoenix rover.

john hodgman, writer, daily show regular, and the PC in the Mac ads, twitters too.

it's a fascinating way to plug-in to your world.

Update: A comments thread on this topic has taken shape on Flickr that's worth a read if you're interested in this thing »

hear the falls roar

hear the falls roar

Classic Grama story, which I’ve heard countless times: She and my Bompa were dating. They daytripped up to the magnificent Snoqualmie Falls in the Cascade Range (my Bompa loved to daytrip; loved to drive). Parked the car.

As they made their approach to the Falls, which were still out of sight, my Grama exclaimed: “Oh! Hear the Falls roar!”

At last they arrived at the Falls. Which were not roaring.

It may have been that there was no rainfall; it may have been that the diversionary dam was doing its job too well. Grama reports a small trickle. No roar. And utter embarrassment.

My grandfather must have found it charming somehow, because they wound up married anyway.

(God I miss hearing her tell her stories.)

Took this holga somewhere in Mexico. It was a wonderful undulating unending cascade of falls from one to the next spanned by slippery foot bridges. Swallows darted in and out of the falls into the cool caves that they lived in behind the cascades.

It was lovely.

the most dangerous animal in the wild

embiggen »

Human's feet bear the full weight of the body when standing or walking, so the track shows a print of the entire sole. They are the most dangerous animal in the wild.

Found in The Mammal Tracks of Thailand by Oy Kanjanavanit

Which I found, not surprisingly, in Thailand, and can't find anywhere online.

i'm such a sheep.

i'm such a sheep.
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Face Your Manga.

And the Face Your Manga Flickr Group »
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