Archives For Thoughts
Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of networking; and one of the frequent topics of conversation has been the City itself, Baltimore. People inevitably want to understand why I left sunny California and adventurous Colorado for what is often perceived as a humdrum, quirky little town on the Chesapeake. And my answer is always the same– “I love Baltimore;” I do.
There is something inexplicably wonderful about this funny little town. It is, admittedly, an acquired taste, one that is subtle and, in some ways, complex very much like blue crab– not everyone gets it or likes it, but those who do are are devoted to the flavor. As a crab lover and a proud Baltimoron (or Baltimorean for the more genteel) I gladly preach the gospel of the City, but am not terribly surprised by those upon whom the cause is lost.
This evening, while catching up on the long thread of blogs I read, I came across a post that included a thoughtful video of David Simon, discussing Baltimore. It is so right on the money, that I had to repost it here. For those who share the love of the City, hopefully you’ll nod your head in agreement with some of his tongue-in-cheek observations. And for those new or still unfamiliar with the City, perhaps it will inspire you to learn more and take a visit to Charm City.
One of my favorite quotes from the video: “If you come from D.C., you sort of have to admit you’re not from a real place.”
Go check it out, the video is eight minutes of thoughtful insight.
So, can I just pop over to Edinburgh today? Y’know take the afternoon off, go to a museum, stroll along and take some snapshots while window-shopping… and then meet my loved ones for coffee… more strolling and then a late dinner with a view?
Internet, does that work for you? Can I? Can I, huh, can I?? Yes, I’m 12 today… it IS Friday, afterall…
Lately, I’ve been on a French film kick. Ever the Francophile, it has been a nice change of pace to come home and listen to the soothing sounds of a language I know and love, acted beautifully as is so rarely seen these days. Recent favorites have been Port of Shadows (Le Quai des Brumes) and La Grande Illusion, both starring Jean Gabin and both made within a few years of one another (~1936-38, give or take).
Whenever I bump into friends and neighbors these days, conversation inevitably turns to what one another has been up to lately. And for me, it is generally what work I have on my desk at home and what movies I have watched recently. Often times, my most recent movie viewings comprise of an odd assortment of detective stories and oldies but goodies from a bygone era. And very often the lion’s share of the movies I mention are a complete MYSTERY to my friends and neighbors. As such, perhaps it is time that I start sharing the movies I come across with you, dear readers, so that you may enjoy the benefit of a richer movie night.
And so tonight, I recommend you consider adding Port of Shadows and Grand Illusion to your list of must-see movies. Both are available on Netflix, so there’s no excuse. Not a Netflix subscriber? I could write a whole blog post on the merits of Netflix, but I’ll spare you– their service is fast, convenient and economical and they even have free trials, so give it a whirl.
What’s so great about old, obscure, black and white French movies from the 1930s, you ask? They tell simple, beautiful stories which are acted by people who capture the tender humanity that is so often MISSING from contemporary cinema. This is not to say that there are not good movies coming out today, but the stories directors and actors told in decades past, like the 1930s, were different for myriad reasons than the ones we tell today.
Still need a reason to check out these films? Grand Illusion is one of the first prison-break movies and considered a genre classic, if you were moved at the end of The Great Escape, you should see this movie. Port of Shadows, like Grand Illusion is an excellent example of poetic realism and follows a single man’s journey through the lonely fog of destiny; rent it!
Images: The Criterion Collection
While catching up on postings from the various blogs I read regularly, I came across an entry by Seth Godin about the cycles through which business and industry move. He used Singer Sewing Machines as an example reminding his readers of the success Singer Co. formerly enjoyed and the relative decline of the company’s significance in the national economy. The rise and fall of economic and corporate significance for the company effectively mapped its cycle. He ended his post with the following statement: “The best marketing strategy is to destroy your industry before your competition does.”
A fascinating point worth further reflection. One that reminded me of something one of my colleagues in grad school said when in a group critique session. There was often an air of discomfort during these crit sessions as forward assertions about another’s work appeared to be culturally controversial; students seemed to feel that we were all emotionally attached to our work so to critique a colleague’s work was to critique the colleague. The notion of constructive criticism to catalyze design development seemed beyond my peers so these sessions often seemed futile. But one spring afternoon, one of the more outspoken students said he felt it was important to learn to “kill your darlings.” He continued by explaining that one must become emotionally disengaged from their work, enough to carry it through an ever moving evolutionary process. He continued by reminding us that it was important not to become too attached to a single idea or iteration and to allow the design process to flow.
Both important points about a theme – do not get too attached to an idea, product, iteration or state of being. Leave room for growth, learning, change and evolution.
This morning came in swinging and I, unfortunately, am not much of a boxer. Feeling pretty awful, I paused a moment to take stock of the present and perked up a bit upon the personal remembrance that life is ultimately pretty darn good. Then I built a playlist of Cheer Up music to set a more upbeat and playful tone to the day (about half of the playlist is available for purchase as an iMix here); by the first few songs, I was already feeling better.
Playful exploration and inventive vision prove far too difficult without the proper mental fuel… Perhaps I’m experiencing a fuel crisis of my own? Maybe time to seek alternative sources of inspirational fuel…
The article gave a brief exploration of the current trend in naming colors after foods. It was only a few paragraphs before I found myself thinking of Patrick Jordan’s Supertrends concept and lecture(s). This article on food-colored cars struck me as yet another sign pointing towards hedonism in particular.
I found it interesting though that the author discussed the varied range of available color palettes on the auto market, and yet the current crop of vehicles on the US roads these days seems far less varied than the supposedly available range (though perhaps the diverse range is more focused on the high end market – even the aspirational cars seem to be limited to fairly patriotic colors). In keeping with Pat’s uncanny eye and sense for trends, I find myself drawing a parallel to the abundantly patriotic color palette of cars on the US roads today (predominantly red, white/neutral (white, grey/silver, champagne/gold, black), blue and occasionally yellow or orange) and the present social, economic and political climate of the nation.
I remember talking to Pat several years ago in Pittsburgh about this phenomenon – the more successful or “healthy” the social/economic/political climate, the more varied the available and consumed color palette of cars, the less healthy, the more constricted the palette. Pretty abstract in concept, and yet oddly true.
The last month has felt like six…
This song always reminds me of standing in the pouring rain under a streetlamp waiting for the 54C.
As with any new sketchbook, I find myself suffering from “blank page syndrome” – too much white space, an ironic problem for a designer, really.
The concept behind this site was to create a sort of “dynamic sketchbook” (dynamic as in evolving, and updated-able) to use for both writing and artistic experiments; sharing thoughts on publications, experimental independent projects, and perhaps sometimes the work I undertake during business hours. The bottom line is, this is an evolutionary site.