Wednesday, April 30, 2008

situational context, part 2

Cover Art: the holland/dozier/holland story

After we mixed a song, we would go back and play it through a small speaker, to make sure it sounded like [it was being played through] a car radio. That was the most important thing, because at the time, people were always in cars. If [a mix] sounded good through a small speaker, it would be more like a radio sound.

Motown songwriter Brian Holland, as quoted in the liner notes for The Holland/Dozier/Holland story: Heaven Must Have Sent You. The compendium of tracks written by the h/d/h team was released by Hip-o, a label that was brought to my attention by he-of-the-daily-haiku (could it be true?).

The collection is accompanied by substantial and substantive liner notes (always a plus), which struck me, as I was reading them on the flight home from Motown last night, that Holland spoke about mixing music in the same way that we merchandise goods online -- with situational context in mind -- and the same way that Flickr images succeed in their online context. It was curious to come home and then read the Flickr piece from last Sunday's Magazine.

The liner notes continue, this time in the voice of the author, Adam White:

The goal was to grab the attention of listeners on crowded, competitive airwaves, so songs were mixed "hot" and loud. Often, specific instruments were EQ'ed to provide intensity and clarity, typified by the high-voltage snare-drum intro of Martha and the Vanedllas' "Nowhere to Run," or the explosive bass line which pumps open the Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love."

The best part about scoring the collection in Detroit? The gal who rang me out at the register went to school with the Holland brothers and their sister, and shared stories about how the brothers skipped school to hang out at the recording studio. When Mom found out they had hell to pay -- until they told her how much money they were making. Then she encouraged them to keep it up.

Glad she did. Here's just a few of their titles:

(Love is like a) Heat Wave
Can I Get a Witness
How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)
Stop! In the Name of Love
I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)
My World is Empty Without You
Jimmy Mack

situational context, part 1

Photo: Henri Cartier-Bresson

“When everything is blurred you cannot convey the motion of the bicyclist.”
“Why is the staircase so ‘soft’? Camera shake?”
“Gray, blurry, small, odd crop.”

Flickr comments/criticism (made in, I suspect, a DeleteMe thread -- one of the few places on Flickr where criticism is invited) on a Henri Cartier-Bresson photo that a Flickrite posted as one of their own. As cited in Flickr: Sepia No More in Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

The piece does a pretty good job of identifying the qualities that can catapult images into the upper regions of Flickr’s Explore -- serious saturation, aggressive postproduction processing, and images that read well as thumbnails -- and also bemoans Flickr's impact on popular photography.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

la ventana

La Morada de Don Fernando de Taos
Taos, NM

las cruces de la morada

Taos Mountain

Back flat against the Mabel Dodge Luhan house in Taos, New Mexico, runs the sacred land of the Taos Pueblo. It’s hemmed in by a barbed wire fence, and if you follow it for awhile, to where it bends square and keeps on running, you’ll eventually come up against La Morada de Don Fernando de Taos, a crumbling adobe built probably in 1860 or so where the Penitentes worked super hard for their salvation, applying techniques and devices that are more commonly seen, anymore, in S&M joints.

las cruces mas

The Penetitentes were flagellantes, possibly of a Franciscan order, who also very likely believed that:

Sin can only be expiated by suffering, and that forgiveness can most surely be obtained by self-inflicted torture. Particularly are they to follow the sufferings of the Saviour on Mount Calvary, to the foot of the cross; and sometimes even by being raised upon the cross itself. [1]

la morada

There barbed wire continues its run along the land occupied by the morada and then briefly, suddenly, narrowly jags onto the sacred pueblo.

This is where (I was told) the Penitentes made their run with cat o' nine tails in hand, sometimes carrying the charred black cross that stands at the outset of the path, maybe stopping at any of the many stone crosses that are inset in the earth.

Their goal was its twin and counterpart, a white cross of the same immense proportions, some distance away down the thin sacred red sangre de cristo earth trail.

las cruces de la morada

They weren't permitted to step off the trail. This was all they were allowed of the sacred land.

I’m told too that this is where Georgia painted her cross.

You Spaniards and Christians are crazy and desire us to be so also. You are so crazy that you go along through the streets lashing yourselves like madmen, shedding blood.

— An “Indian Wizard”, or more likely a Medicine Man, as quoted by Benavides in his 1630 report to the King of Spain

titled cross

[1] This and the other citation are both from Spanish Mission Churches of New Mexico by L. Bradford Prince, LL.D. (Books of the Southwest: The University of Arizona Library)

Monday, April 28, 2008


Espanola, NM


Welcome to Chicago O'Hare International Airport ... Curbside waiting is prohibited ... NO CURBSIDE WAITING ... All vehicles subject to search ... Welcome ...

The Welcome message on the electronic reader board on the approach to O'Hare.

Hopped off a redeye from Vegas at 5.30AM, now back again for my 7.30PM flight to Detroit. I think this may be a record for me. I've arrived in the evening and departed the next morning, but never vice versa with only a nap in between.

For what it's worth: It was a really nice nap.

ticket to ride

ticket to ride

My brother's place.
The hardest part was saying good-bye.
Albuquerque, NM

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Stayed at The Mabel Luhan Dodge House in Taos -- in Spud's room this time, who was Mabel's secretary, and lived right across the hall from where Georgia O'Keefe would stay when she came to hang with her homies in the gorgeous adobe that Mabel and her husband built.

D.H. Lawrence was also a regular guest -- and an enthusiastic one, once painting the bathroom windows with brilliant vivid abstractions (I suspect Mabel was disappointed that Georgia wasn't moved by the same impulse -- I would have been). Carl Jung stayed there, and Willa Cather, and Ansel Adams.

And rather than bore you with the rest of the luminaries otherwise known Mabel's friends I'll wrap it up with an "et al".

I went to write, as part of a workshop with Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones, and I did. And I breathed deep and sat still and walked slow and became uncomfortably aware of all that I run from when I write; of everything that I dodge.

And I resolved none of that. But I did develop the smallest of muscles and learned a handful of tricks and rules like "continue under all circumstances" and "lose control" and -- one that I liked especially well: "show up".

And so I will.

Posting from the ABQ airport (they call it a "sunport" but I refuse to encourage them). Getting ready for the first leg of the long road home.

The shot is of Spud's bathroom window.

Friday, April 25, 2008

bompa's camel hair coat

bompa's camel hair coat

I'm writing this wrapped in my Bompa's camel hair coat in the chill of a Taos evening. It was a gift from my brother. My little brother (who's all grown up, actually) has had the coat since just after Bompa died and my grandmother passed it along to him. The shoulders worked out all right, but the sleeves hit him about mid-way down his forearms so it hasn't gotten a whole lot of use.

While we were knocking around Madrid, NM yesterday after a long dusty hike up the Tent Rocks he asked if I would like to have it. I said yes, hugged him, and then hugged him a few more times after that. Trying not to cry.

I have two sharp memories of this jacket, a man's blazer. The first was when my Bompa brought it home, brand new, and made me inspect it with him, marveling over how well made it was, the quality of the materials. I started off humoring him, but before it was over I was convinced. He was an attorney after all -- he knew how to make a case.

But I was something else too: I was schooled. I learned something about quality and care and buying something solid that would last.

bompa's button

The other memory is from my Bompa's funeral. My sister and I delivered his eulogy together, a recitation of all that he taught us -- how to love Hood Canal Oysters and Walla Walla Sweet Onions and waffles and omlettes made just right (that is, made by him).

How to love long drives and silly songs about fat boys who turned the neighborhood pets into sausage (not kidding. great song. a bit morbid and not at all politically correct, but a great song.). We ended by reciting how he taught us our grandmother was the most beautiful woman in the world -- and there all the good cheer was almost destroyed by the tears.

But I choked them down and moved on to the reception where I was nearly startled again when one of his oldest friends told me story after story of all the stories my Bompa told him -- about his grandkids. How he bragged without mercy and bored his friends. Something I had no idea he was in the habit of doing. And then he said: "He sure was proud of you kids."

But I managed to keep the tears throttled back.

And it wasn't until later, when the Spring chill of a Pacific Northwest evening settled in that my brother offered me the coat to fend off the cold and I threaded my arms through its gentle drape into its ambient warmth, the shoulders a bit large but the sleeves that he had had tailored *just so* falling just where they should against my wrists; it wasn't until then that I couldn't stop the tears anymore; it wasn't until then that I slipped into the bathroom and I locked the door and I cried.


about that tooth remark

... I just have it -- I have no choice -- it seems to be right in my teeth.

-- Georgia O'Keefe talking about the "life spirit" that runs through her work.

saints & sinners

saints & sinners
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Posting by cameraphone
from Espanola, NM

right in my teeth

right in my teeth
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Posting by cameraphone from the
courtyard of the Georgia O'Keefe
Museum, Santa Fe.

Dang she can paint.

so lonesome

Tent Rocks
On the road between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, NM

Thursday, April 24, 2008

private land

private land
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Posting by cameraphone
on the road to Waldo, NM

tent rocks

tent rocks
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Slot canyon perspective enroute to the
top of the frickin' world.

Which is where I'm posting from
via cameraphone.

Near the Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Thank you for your email.

I'll be out of the office, off the grid and probably out of cell phone range in the New Mexico desert through the remainder of the week; I'll reply to your email as soon as I return.


wildlife strikes & man-cat love

Had the pleasure of meeting ze frank of how to dance properly fame at the Forum here in Vegas where he delivered the keynote containing a whole smattering of relevant irrelevancies including this remarkable link: The FAA Database of Wildlife Strikes.

That is: a searchable database which logs all of the wildlife that has been killed on America's tarmacs.

Disturbing. But fascinating. No?

If that was too much for you I offer you my apologies and this remedy: An Engineer's Guide to Cats, provided by friend and fellower Twitterer jenw.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

everything is illuminated

Where I lost beebo's $25 on black.

Posting by cameraphone from
Las Vegas, NV

Monday, April 21, 2008

land of lincoln

Lest we forget, he came to Washington from Illinois. Even though we think of him as the American Jesus, he had a little Mayor Daley in him too.

Sarah Vowell writing about, er, Abraham Lincoln and his Gettysburgh Address in The Partly Cloudy Patriot.

I picked up Vowell's book hard on the heels of reading Garry Wills' Two Speeches on Race in the 1 May 2008 issue of the New York Review of Books, in which Wills favorably compares Obama's speech on race and Lincoln's 1860 Cooper Union speech in which Lincoln addressed his association with John Brown and commented on the Dred Scott Decision. Says Wills:

What is of lasting interest is their similar strategy for meeting the charge of extremism.

Both argued against the politics of fear. Neither denied the darker aspects of our history, yet they held out hope for what Lincoln called here the better 'lights of current experience' -- what he would later call the 'better angels of our nature.'

Each looked for larger patterns under the surface bitternesses of their day. Each forged a moral position that rose above the occasions for their speaking.

Apologies for the lack of linkage & the funky formatting -- queuing this up en route to Vegas. Will update soon.

Update: Linked.

pretty good politickin'

Clickthrough to read Obama's letter

Y'all know I've griped about the apparent unresponsiveness of the Obama campaign office before (via email, anyway).

Well, I'm retracting a small share of my crankiness due to the following email, received from a colleague, which left me all warm and fuzzy (I'm sharing it here with his permission):
Some of you know that I went home last weekend to PA for my mother’s 80th birthday. I found out that Obama was speaking at a nearby college that weekend and was, in fact, going to be staying at the same hotel in Harrisburg where we were having a Sunday brunch for her. My mom, a long time Republican, is now a huge, huge Obama fan. I had no idea when he’d be at the hotel exactly but I sent a detailed letter to the Obama web site (addressed to Barack) talking about my mother, her life, her rise from poverty that mirrored his own, etc., and said it would mean so much to her if there was anyway he could stop by the party if he happened to be in the hotel at the time.

Unfortunately I only got that idea a week before the party and I knew it was a very long shot that anything would come of it. Indeed I never even got a response to my email. I wasn’t surprised or offended because I know they get a ridiculous volume of email.

But yesterday my mother got, in the actual mail, the attached letter from Barack Obama. It’s not a form letter; it actually refers to various facts I put in my note to the campaign and beautifully connects my mother’s personal story with his main campaign themes. I have no illusion that he actually wrote it, or even signed it, but I thought it was a grand gesture that someone in the campaign went to so much trouble.

You can’t imagine how excited and touched my mother is by this. :-)


Read Obama's Letter »

be our guest

Headed to Vegas.

For Earth Day.

Which somehow takes all the fun out of it.

Stardust Motel on Ogden Avenue in Naperville, Illinois (which I'm pretty sure is a section of the old Route 66, but they don't advertise it much).


Sunday, April 20, 2008


DP - cows
Originally uploaded by ReyGuy.

And if you're in Dallas? You're really gonna want to stop by Guy Reynold's show at the Bathhouse Cultural Center »

See? So many options. ;)

Un-Ordinary Horizons
April 26-May 24, 2008
Bathhouse Cultural Center
521 E Lawther Drive
Dallas, Texas 75218

you're invited

you're invited
Originally uploaded by smalldogs.
If you're in LA, or anywhere near, this is where you need to be on May 2nd »

Really. It is.

This is Who We Are: Photography by Susan Sabo
Opening Friday 2 May 2008
Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association
4313 Atlantic Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90807

cowboy up

Photograph: Robb Kendrick

One fairly reliable way to tell if you are in a part of the country where people still herd cattle for a living is the frequent and unselfconscious use of the word cowboy as a verb.

From Randy Kennedy's piece on Robb Kendrick's tintype photography in today's New York Times.

Kendrick's work also ran in National Geographic not too long ago in a wonderful piece that detailed the cowboy's garb & gear -- how it varies geographically and evolved to accommodate environmental conditions (Fierce sun? Broad rim. Lots of rain? Taco rim, to act like rain gutters. Even chaps with fringe have a purpose -- the fringe is pulled off as needed to use as ties.) accompanied by a map that delineates the geographical ranges of what a cowboy is called -- like vaquero and cowpoke -- depending upon where he plies his trade.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

while we talked of carnivorous plants

while we talked of carnivorous plants

queens english

I'm just a goy who was raised, as I think I've mentioned, by a Jewish girl from Queens.

Which means, gentile that I am, my vocabulary is sprinkled with Yiddish. I schmooze, I schlep, I have no patience for schmucks and nothing but appreciation for the rare mensch.

And I know schmutz when I see it.

Growing up with my stepmom may be the reason Manhattan feels like home to me -- especially Kari G's neighborhood where the bossy Jewish ladies live -- even though I only lived there for a brief flash when I was three. The cadence of her voice may even be the reason I fell hard for a guy from Far Rockaway almost as soon as I got to college (he sounded like home.) (&oh. yeah. he was brilliant.).

She's the reason I adore knishes and noodle kugel and halavah. The reason I make my Thanksgiving stuffing with challah, and will be making matzoh brei as soon as that box of matzoh gets stale enough (topped with Deer Mountain jam, of course. stay tuned for recipe.).

She's the reason too that I seek out museums and theatre and even State Capitols and U.S. Mints like a cat seeking a spot warmed by the sun, because, shipwrecked New Yorker that she was, stranded in the outbacks of Denver and Seattle and desperate for culture, she did everything shy of manufacturing it.

She's the reason I light the Menorah in the dead dark of winter to remember the light, and the reason too that I'll be joining my Jewnitarian peeps for Seder tonight; breaking the matzoh and tasting the bitters.

So no, I’m not Jewish. I'm all goy. But because of my stepmom, my passionately tempered unfailingly curious stepmom who no, wasn't always, shall we say, calm, but yes, was always there, because of my stepmom I learned early that we choose our worlds, we choose who we are, and we choose who truly is our family, through the simple daily discipline of choosing to love.

Friday, April 18, 2008

no words.

Just wonder »

From Ryan Heshka's "Neo Pulp" Show at Orbit Gallery in Jersey, some time back.

everybody was kung fu fighting

dear ms. anniemcq:
Did you know that I fell deeply & irrevocably in love with you when we sat next to each other in the dark, our husbands nearby, as Jackie Chan skirted across the screen in his skivvies (it was that Bronx movie that they filmed in Vancouver; later we would queue up Drunken Master) and you said, so deeply appreciative (while munching popcorn I’m pretty sure): “Jackie always throws in something for the girls.”

That’s when I knew we were kin for sure.

For you ms. mcq: The New York Times has served up some Chaniliciousness »

just another roadside attraction

Just another Holga.
Amador County, CA

re: plums

and then they were gone

Trend watchers suggest several reasons so many marketers seem to be going plum loco. One recurring thought is that the success of technology brands like Apple and BlackBerry is giving fruit a good name.

Stuart Elliot in Plum, the Color, is Having Its Star Turn in this morning's New York Times.

No one said advertising was an exact science.

Of Note: Here at detritus we've long anticipated important matters like these »

Thursday, April 17, 2008

pas de deux

Despite their shared interests, Reynaldo sensed an emptiness in their relationship.

Folsom, CA

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

you are what you eat

Illus: Yes Pecan! from Slate's Trailhead

He has more of the arugula vote.

Microtargeting expert (and former Clinton chief strategist) Mark Penn, author of Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes, commenting on Obama’s slice of the voter base in this morning’s New York Times' piece: What’s For Dinner? The Pollster Wants to Know.

Fun piece -- or unnerving, depending on your perspective -- on how microtargeting, a technique used to great effectiveness by direct marketers, is being used to shape our candidates’ political campaigning. The piece also observes:

Dr Pepper is a Republican soda. Pepsi-Cola and Sprite are Democratic. So are most clear liquors, like gin and vodka, along with white wine and Evian water. Republicans skew toward brown liquors like bourbon or scotch, red wine and Fiji water.

When it comes to fried chicken [Matthew Dowd] said, Democrats prefer Popeyes and Republicans Chick-fil-A.

“Anything organic or more Whole Foods-y skews more Democratic,” Mr. Dowd said.

No word on Mountain Dew. Based on my own informal research I’m guessing the Dew base skews Libertarian.

Other correlates from the piece include:
Bear Naked granola
The Cheesecake Factory
Panera Bread
grass-fed beef
Izze sparkling juice
Kettle Chips
Lara Bar
Olive Oil
“intensely dislike vanilla wafers”

Odwalla Super Protein drink
Boca Burger
Go Lean breakfast cereal
Newman’s Own pretzels
Luna Bar
Red Lobster
Krispy Kreme
“an affinity for fruit-filled cookies” like Fig Newtons
white wine

SoBe energy drink
corn-fed beef
Fiber One breakfast cereal
Sun Chips
Power One bars
Chips Ahoy
Stuffed Crust Pizza

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

the rather difficult font game

I love this too much. »


A backronym (or bacronym or also retronym) is a phrase that is constructed "after the fact" from a previously existing word or abbreviation, the abbreviation being an initialism or an acronym.


Stumbled across the word while reading about MXML. Other bacronyms of interest (from the same Wikipedia entry):

Golf: Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden
ISO: International Standards Organization (coulda fooled me)
Wiki: What I Know Is (when in fact Wiki was originally derived from the Hawai'ian word for "Quick")

And, interestingly, Perl, which: "does NOT stand for Practical Extraction and Report Language (although it appears in Perl documentation.), because according to Perl documentation., Perl is NOT an acronym."


Video: Plaster Caster Trailer

Forgive me. This is one of those posts that should just stay inside my head.

But I’ve been inundated in the last few hours by two things that have converged in my mind: talk of statistics and, well, cajones.

Having said that, you can decide for yourself whether you want to proceed.

I’ll speak to the statistics half of that equation, kicked off by an email exchange with a friend re Obama’s bizarre correlation implies causation between bitterness & guns & religion this last weekend (uh, no, Barack: probably not. but I did like your defense in Indiana.); hammered home by a quick glance at the Wilson Quarterly’s summation of Lorraine Daston’s The War Against Luck in the Winter issue of Daedalus which speaks to how the science of statistics in the 19th century undercut traditional notions of chance; and then kept alive by Neatorama’s brief citation of Evan Esar defining statistics as: "The science of producing unreliable facts from reliable figures."

This converged in my mind with the other half of the equation (and how that wound up in my brain I’ll leave y’all to wonder -- ‘cause there are some things a girl should keep to herself) and of course, Cynthia Plaster Caster came immediately to mind.

Maybe you’ve heard of Cynthia? She’s an artist and a “recovering groupie” who took plaster casts of rock and roll genitalia.

Once upon a time she had her collection of plaster casts on display online -- although it looks like they’ve been mothballed (regrettably) (but maybe I just didn’t poke around aggressively enough). I caught wind of her collection on (yes: it’s true) an NPR radio show some years back. It occurred to me that here was the data set we needed -- to determine whether there really is a correlation between the scale of one’s cajones and, well, one’s cajones.

Or at least one's ability to rock.

No evidence that the statistical analysis has been conducted. But like I said: Maybe I just need to look harder.

Or perhaps this strays into that unhappy Sizing China territory that we crossed into yesterday.

I regret that I have no photographic evidence to offer you. But I did stumble across a trailer for a rockumentary made of Cynthia and her work and released back in 2001. I missed it at the time. Maybe you caught it?

So. Something of modicum value for this morning’s post. Because we’re all about providing value here at detritus.

Monday, April 14, 2008

getting to know you

sideways glance

Phones and computers have shown how people can develop relationships with inanimate electronic objects. The next generation of digital servants will deepen these relationships.

From Alok Jha's piece Robots, our new friends electric? in today's Guardian.

(And this is a good thing?)

separate but equal?

Illus: Letterpress from Blue Barnhouse

Rushmore Drive ... offers search results that, at first glance, border on stereotypes. A search query for “Thanksgiving recipes,” for instance, yields sites featuring recipes for sweet potato pie and collard greens.

But according to Johnny Taylor, the chief executive of Rushmore Drive, the results are based on years of search data from IAC’s Ask division.

Bob Tedeschi reporting on the release of Rushmore Drive, a search engine “meant to give the black audience a quick way to find information that other search engines -- including IAC’s own -- might bury beneath pages of less relevant results,” in this morning’s New York Times.

A few weeks back in my official capacity in life outside this blog, I had a chat with a reporter from the Wall Street Journal who was interested in knowing whether or not the e-commerce consultancy that I work for designs sites with gender in mind.

I responded that we design site experiences around user personas in which we identify 1) who will be using the site and 2) what they hope to do; that personas are largely task and role based -- and in that way were influenced in a broader way by gender -- but that no, we don’t sit down and say: “This site is for women -- let’s give them features A, B, and C,” and “this site is for men: let’s give them features C, D and E.”

And while I cited recent research from the Wharton School (warning: PDF) that indicated there might be a gender bias to the way men and women shop online -- I was quick to point out that if everything the Wharton research said was true, then I was actually a man.

I also referred to Barry Schwartz's conclusions regarding Maximizers and Satificers.

My comments didn’t make the cut, and I suspect it was because they didn’t support the underlying hypothesis, which was enthusiastically in favor of gender-biased shopping.

Why does this make me a little uncomfortable? Because even though yes, I think engines (search or otherwise) that can read the implicit and explicit behaviors of shoppers online means that we can give them a message that is much more relevant to what they’re looking for -- which in its turn makes the online experience richer and more relevant for all of us -- it makes me a little queasy to chunk folks into broad racial and gender categories and feed them info accordingly.

As frightening as it may be to some, behavioral marketing does hold the promise of meeting the consumer where they are -- and lets the site's host speak to them on a highly individualized basis.

Reducing that down to gender or race -- the thing we’re so good at doing as a discriminatory society -- undercuts the real opportunities that the technology affords.

Which is true plurality and regard for diversity.

To do so implicitly -- in which it isn't revealed to the user that we know X, Y & Z about you and are behaving accordingly -- also crosses lines of privacy for some.

A recent piece in Metropolis, Sizing China, touches on this delicate topic from another direction -- the compilation of a massive anthropometric database of Asian head shapes that took shape as an outgrowth of a helmet design project for Burton.

The metrics reveal why helmets designed for European and American heads don’t sell well to Asians -- they simply don’t fit -- but it was met with great un-ease when the designer, Roger Ball of Paradox, presented it to a “stony-faced audience in Austria” whose collective memory of the Nazi’s eugenics movement is still all too fresh.

I have no answers to offer -- just wanted to post because this has been niggling at me. I don’t believe the question is: are we different? Because I agree that we are -- it’s part of what makes human culture so interesting and alive.

I don't think the answer is to deny the fact that the computer user interface can be responsive to its audience -- and that responsiveness is in part what makes emerging online experiences so effective at doing what they set out to do.

The larger question is whether, given our diversity, our compulsion to cluster and chunk these divisions into easily understood categories will do us any good -- or instead invite us into the discrimination that we’re historically so well practiced at.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

just in time

The prostitute ads in the Brazilian phone booth? Those are just names, probably fake names, coupled with real cellphone numbers -- lending to Chipchase’s theory that in an increasingly transitory world, the cellphone is becoming the one fixed piece of our identity.

Sara Corbett writing on human-centered designer Jan Chipchase’s work for Nokia, in Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty? in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine.

Great piece, but then I’m partial to human-centered design.

Corbett also writes of meeting up with the designer somewhere in Accra:

From an unseen distance, Chipchase used his phone to pilot me through the unfamiliar chaos, allowing us to have what he calls a “just in time” moment. ... My “just in time” meeting with Chipchase required little in the way of advance planning and was more efficient than the oft-imperfect practice of designating a specific time and place to rendezvous. He didn’t have to leave his work until he knew I was in the vicinity. ... And now, on foot, if I moved in the wrong direction, it could be quickly corrected.

I was tempted back in December to blog a “just in time” meeting I had with a buddy of mine while in Denver. I refrained, because I thought that it probably wouldn’t crack anyone else up the way it cracked me up, but now that Chipchase has granted it respectability -- and a name -- I figured, what the hell.

The thread was exchanged via handheld devices with email support. Names have been omitted to protect me from a libel suite.

Libeskind's facade

hoo: ping me when you're free -- we'll triangulate based on our current locations. :)

him: I'm meeting some old friends for breakfast at Davies at 11:00. After that I'm free. What do you want to do? I had considered going to the art museum. I'm not a huge art museum guy, but - haven't been there since they built the new building.

hoo: new dam is definitely worth taking a look at.

time passes

him: I'll be free in about 30 min.

hoo: DAM then -- headed there now. I'll be at the coffee bar, partaking. :)

time passes

hoo: frickin' HUGE line up to get in. standing there instead. hopefully done with it by the time you get here.

time passes

him: Very slow start. Leaving Lakewood now.

hoo: no worries -- still standing in line.

MUCH time passes. Line was VERY long. This next bit of the thread has been lost: It involved some back and forth re whether I should pick up tickets for the special exhibit or just grab us some general admission tix.

him: Have free passes for museum but not special exhibit. I'll go for whatever you want to see.

hoo: you mean I could have been drinking coffee all this time?!?!

I've been in line so long I feel like I need to see this through, just on principle... I'm near the front so go ahead and cut the line and come into the building when you get here.

I'm tall. you'll find me. ;)

time passes

him: I see it.

hoo: sitting right inside the door. resting from my ordeal.

time passes

him: New or old building? I'm parked.


him: OH

hoo: :-{[}

time passes

him: North or south of colfax?

hoo: south.

more time passes

him: So do I have to wait through that line too, or do you have me set up?

For what it’s worth, once all parties were found, the visit, to Daniel Libeskind's new wing of the Denver Art Museum, ranked as one of the best museum visits of the year, mostly because of the good company, even though the special exhibit wasn't worth the price of admission.

And I never did get my coffee.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

speaking of magnum

Photo: Burt Glinn | Magnum

You can’t just get in the cab and say: “Take me to the revolution.”

The photographer Burt Glinn, who passed away on Wednesday at the age of 82, speaking of his decision on the fly to go down to Cuba when he caught word at a dinner party of Castro’s Revolution.

Watching the slideshow that Magnum has compiled of Glinn’s time in Cuba with Castro I was struck, again, by the truth that getting the shot is in large part about showing up.

His larger portfolio is also online at Magnum. Brilliant stuff »

Glinn’s obituary is in today’s New York Times.

Friday, April 11, 2008

the decisive moment

Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare
Originally uploaded by Balakov.
Flickrite Balakov exploits Lego People for his art.

I'm not asking him to stop »

via Neatorama. god bless 'em.

the great flickr video freakout

Originally uploaded by striatic
Flickr has enabled the uploading of videos. Some folks are freaking out about it.

But I'm wondering if maybe we aren't in for something wonderful -- given the fact that Flickr isn't YouTube. Given the fact that it's somewhere entirely different.

Different like this »

flat rat

nothing on worth watching

& I’m left to wonder the asphalt slicked with rain as my tires tear into the wet fur & flesh that some car before me flattened & I spotted too late

do the ghosts of roadkill haunt our highways like unseen tracer fire (their souls unsatisfied)

an ecotoplasmic haze do they dart beneath our tires hoping still to reach the other side


Thursday, April 10, 2008

a tale of two airports

This was Tuesday: Detroit International.

This was Wednesday: Los Angeles International.

And now, Thursday: home.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

thus ends our saga

thus ends our saga
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Rolled into the Saga Motor Hotel 22 hrs, three states and two rental cars after I started my day, having compounded an impressive carbon footprint.

Staying here at the Saga Motor Hotel -- a sweet little mom & pop motor court in that funky 40's SoCal style -- because a colleague of mine wanted to have a little more fun with business trips. And it definitely beats the corporate Marriott up the road -- feels a little like pulling into grama's place (not my grama's, but somebody's grama I'm sure).

Paperback books and potted plants on the shelves, shuttered windows, bad wallpaper and a mini-fridge made for college dorm rooms in the corner.

Smells a little like an old folks home. But in a good way.

If that makes any sense at all.


Posting by cameraphone from Pasadena, CA.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

a word like soul

a found poem


is a word
like soul

such a thing
not exist

but we want it

and we know
what we mean

when we talk
about it

Found in the 6 March issue of the London Review of Books in Kathleen Jamie's review of Robert Macfarlane's "The Wild Places".


Learned last night from an archaeologist that you can tell how many years a person was breastfed by counting the rings in their teeth.

I'm guessing via cross-section?
I should have asked.

mold-o-rama dino plays for you

Got a wild hair and decided I needed a point-and-shoot Leica DLux 3 to make the most of my time on the road. Like Holga and cameraphone shots aren’t enough.

Took it with me to an event at the Field Museum last night and pulled it out for just a few shots -- none of them amazing, none of them sending out that quiet “shoot me shoot me” beacon that calls the camera -- but I shot them anyway, because I wanted to see what the little Leica could do.

And you know what? It looks like the little Leica can do. (That burn out's my fault. Wanted it.)

It doesn’t have a viewfinder, which I thought might make it a little odd, but it turns out it’s a whole lot like framing and shooting stuff on my Hiptop/Sidekick.

Three meetings across three states in the next three days so I’ll have plenty of time in transit for some pointing and shooting -- so we’ll see.

(& that’s right kids: it’s around 4.30 in the morning as I load this post before heading to the airport. Which, I’m sure, is the sign of a problem.)

Monday, April 07, 2008

don't fence me in

winter cactus

The Fence: That ever encroaching cross between the Berlin Wall and Christo's Gates (Artist: Michael Chertoff, secretary of homeland security, with funding provided by the United States of America).

Dan Barry reporting on the Fence that the U.S. is erecting in an effort to deter illegal immigration from Mexico in this morning's New York Times.

The piece, A Natural Treasure That May End Up Without a Country, reports on how the Fence may well cut off the 550 acre Sabal Palm Aububon Center on U.S. soil in Brownsville, Texas from U.S. visitors.

Nevermind the fact that Michael Chertoff has never, apparently, heard of the Maginot Line.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

the reality of things that pass by

Music has more of a social function [in Africa.] Therefore it is seldom that somebody says "This is beautiful" or "This is not" and tells you why. They most likely will say they like your music because they like you and they want to be on good terms with you.

But that's not really the point.

For the people I interviewed, music is not an "object", a "thing" or a phenomenon that you can evaluate, buy, judge, or analyze. It's rather a process, a collective groove, a living circumstance, a piece of identity, a vessel.

Sound artist Alessandro Bosetti, interviewed by Re:Sound re his African Feedback work, in which he played experimental music through headphones to West African villagers between Mali and Burkina Faso and recorded their reactions. The piece can be heard on the Re:Sound landing page -- regrettably they offer no permalink, so it will become more difficult to find over time.

A little bit farther along in the interview Bosetti tells this story:

Going back to memorable answers, probably the most memorable of all was from the old Ibe when I asked if a Bernard Parmegiani piece reminded him of a painting or a landscape. He said "This is neither like a painting nor a landscape, this is the reality of things that pass by." It was simply real for him, no matter how strange or unknown. It was not music, representation, art or whatever, it was simply the world.

There's no "strange" for somebody living in a Dogon village, they come from the sky, believe their ancestors had been on the moon much before Americans and that if you shoot the president with a gun the bullet will simply bounce back. Why should a musique concrete piece sound strange? They assume it's simply real because they are listening to it.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

the last of the norton trees

later there would be cupcakes.

Friday, April 04, 2008

rule of the road #38

rule of the road #38
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
If you're passing through a State Capitol, you have to stop and take a look at the State Capitol.

Otherwise you suck a little.

Posting by cameraphone from Sac Int'l. Shot this at, that's right: the California State Capitol.

winner winner chicken dinner

winner winner chicken dinner
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Somewhere along HWY 16 (aka Jackson) enroute to Sacramento.

Posting by cameraphone.
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