Saturday, May 27, 2006

More Cardboard Furniture

I was poking around online looking for sustainable design and found Crazy Cardboard, which offers corrugated cardboard furniture, including the "Royal Assets," at right. They also have tables, a bookcase, a fireless (fire)place, and a line of kids' furniture.

I'm not sure how durable their furniture is, but like the cardboard bed that I blogged about in an earlier entry, you can throw this into your recycling bin once it's past its prime.

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Monday, May 22, 2006

More Spring Observations

Walked by a fenced-in grassy lot tonight that smelled of freshly mown grass, whatever those chemical compounds are that cut grass emits. Which reminds me that I recently read about "freedom lawns" in the book Suburban Safari, by journalist Hannah Holmes. Freedom lawns are free of pesticides and fertilizer and are basically the antithesis of the mini golf courses that some people cultivate as their yards. I no longer have the book handy, but the Christian Science Monitor reported on this environmentally friendly trend way back in 2004.

I saw Saturn on Saturday (well, I did!). Two men had telescopes set up by an entrance to the subway station. One telescope was focused on Saturn, the other was trained on Jupiter. Jupiter was a bright spot in the sky. But Saturn looked like a marvelous paper cut-out set against a nightlight. Although the image was small, it was possible to distinguish Saturn's rings from its body.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Went to check out the Whitney Biennial yesterday, the title of the 2006 exhibit being Day for Night. I usually tend to "get" the mixed media projects, appreciate the works displaying obvious technical proficiency, and ignore the films altogether. I am not one of those people who rushed out to theaters to see Drawing Restraint 9. (Did anyone?)

I was surprised to discover then that my favorite work from the Biennial was Cameron Jamie's Kranky Klaus. The Whitney Web site describes the work as a document of "the pagan myth of Krampus—a shaggy beast said to roam the valleys of Austria on the night of December 6."

In his film, Jamie follows a group of four or five Krampus as they make their way through a village on a snowy evening. The way the Krampus worked was this: a man dressed as Klaus would enter a building where a group of people were gathered in expectation. From a wicker basket that he carried, Klaus would distribute these satchels with "Gold Pass" stamped on them.

Shortly after Klaus left, the Krampus would enter. (Refer to picture.) Not only do the Krampus look grotesque, but they wore these bells the size of coconuts around their waists. They would come in, hopping from foot to foot, not only physically intimidating the villagers but overwhelming them with this awful clanging. They would start assaulting the people, pulling them from their chairs, wrestling them to the ground, and overturning tables. Most people, half-smiling, tried to resist. There was no fighting back. But one girl in the film did start crying.

Then they would leave for their next destination, the men playing the Krampus occasionally walking with their costume heads off (and at least once stopping for beers).

The soundtrack for the film was provided by the Melvins (warning: unnecessarily intense Flash site). The music was throbbing heavy metal-like, which underscored the oddly violent--yet organized--nature of the whole thing. LA Weekly has more pictures from Krazy Klaus. Artangel, which commissioned and produced Krazy Klaus, has more information about the other films in Jamie's trilogy focusing on "vernacular rituals": Spook House, about a working-class Detroit suburb's celebration of Halloween, and BB, about "LA teenage wrestlers."

The Biennial closes Sunday, May 28.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Spring Observations

Flash of blue: I don't know why I should have been surprised, but I hastened to catch another glimpse. There it was, a bluejay, perched on the gutter of a house. Its feathers were a rich blue, not glossy bright like on the bluejays I've seen (when was the last time I saw one?), but blue with purple tones, regal.

Yesterday I passed a young squirrel on the same route. I guessed it was young not just because of its small size but because it didn't scurry away at the sight of me. It was investigating a set of concrete steps leading up to the front of a house. The squirrel was nearly level with my head. But instead of balking, the squirrel merely turned its back to me, then swung back around to face me, eyeing me, as if it had changed its mind and had decided to stick around to see what I'd do.

The pigeon's still there on the nest I first noticed about a month ago. One of these days I expect to hear the shrill begging of squabs. I worry about who else might notice because surely they'd tear the nest down if they knew it was there.

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Sunday, May 14, 2006


"We lose our youth as we grow, we're all losing our parents, losing people we know; we're losing all the time. There's a deep sense of loss. It's what I'm dealing with in my work. ... It hurts me to see these things die, fall down, collapse, decay. ... But then I see the beauty in that, the sense in that." -British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy in the documentary Rivers and Tides

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Long Time, No Post

We're all agreed at the office that Tuesdays are the worst.

Tuesday lacks the notoriety of Monday. Yet the 24 hours separating Tuesday from the weekend do not soften much the impact of a new week (assuming one is on a Monday-Friday schedule). Wednesday--hump day--has always been neutral. The end is in sight, but it's not quite the release provided by Thursday, considered by some to be the best day of the work week. Thursday has a leg up over Friday because one can revel in anticipation. Friday night, although it's the beginning of the weekend, can be a bust just because one's energy might be sapped after five days of work.

John Porcellino's Perfect Example is perfectly lovely. Next, I will be tackling the 592-page graphic novel Blankets, by Craig Thompson, which a friend recommended highly.

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