I admit, I don’t know much about Lady Gaga. I know she is a modern incarnation of David Bowie with a 21st century female twist. I also know she is wildly popular, considering all the Lady Gaga’s I saw on Halloween. Despite my ignorance of her, I also know of the song “Pokerface”

This video is a designers answer to that song.

Bask in the glory.

(via Kottke)


Atlantic Yards Debacle

The Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn cleared a major legal hurdle today. This is bad news all-around for anyone concerned with city planning or community development. Forest City Ratner, a major development company, will build a billion-dollar arena for the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets to move into and residential towers with 6430 units. Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn had aimed to halt construction on the grounds that the states use of eminent domain is in violation of the Constitution.

I’ve written about it before to a degree but eminent domain is only to be used when the public good will be served by the seizure of the property in question. How can anyone justify that this arena will be good for the community? It will provide temporary construction jobs, sure, but in the long run the project is ill-suited to bring anything but low-wage service industry jobs to the area while knocking out independent business in the area. Also, the infrastructural and logistical nightmare that is sure to ensue is going to make worse an already bad situation for pedestrians. Anyone who has ever walked at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues would agree that crossing from the street in that area is terrifying, there’s so much traffic coming from every direction: add in traffic from suburbanites driving in to see the Nets play a game and the situation becomes hellish.

I fail to see any real benefit to the community. Local business will be either swallowed up or choked out by construction. The jobs that the arena provides, aside from the temporary (approximately 28 months) construction jobs, will be serving peanuts or being a doorman at the luxury residences. On top of all that, the increased auto traffic will make it even more difficult to navigate these streets. While the Atlantic Ave. subway stop is right below the proposed-arena, the NYC subway is already overcrowded so assuming that the MTA will provide adequate service to arena-goers is laughable.

The Atlantic Yards project has been a mess from the beginning and the people that will pay the most for its folly is local residents.

If you’re interested in joining opposition to this project visit the Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn website

I love stuff like this. “UK-based design studio Young” lets “anyone…submit a lesser known fact and since August an illustrated fact has appeared everyday.” It’s called Learn Something New Everyday. (via PSFK)

Trivia is my favorite way to remember things and learn history. I always wish that more companies would put their history on their products. Maybe it would only appeal to history nerds but since I am one, I’d be happy with it.

I wonder if trivia is actually an effective way to ignite an interest in history. It seems like the whole idea of rote fact recitation doesn’t appeal to many school kids. Personally, I always liked history as colorful narrative. It’d be interesting to see history learned through trivia using Manuel De Landa’s organizational principle, history as non-linear.


Basin Street Blues

Most of you who read this know already but I am moving to New Orleans. The Big Easy. The Crescent City. Birthplace of Jazz. When I think about it I can’t believe it but what does come to my mind is Basin Street Blues. It was one of the first jazz songs I heard when I was younger and it’s informed my mythical image of New Orleans since.

Now the band’s there to greet us
Old friends will meet us
Where all them folks goin to the St. Louis Cemetary meet
Heaven on earth…. they call it Basin Street

I’m tellin’ ya, Basin Street…… is the street
Where all the white and dark folk meet
New Orleans….. land of dreams
you’ll never miss them rice and beans
Way down south in New Orleans

The song was made famous by Louis Armstrong in a 1928 recording. Basin Street itself was a main thoroughfare in Storyville, the world-famous prostitution district of old New Orleans (*since demolished and replaced with a public housing project).

Since 1928 the song has been recorded and re-recorded as a jazz standard. Jazz itself didn’t formally come into being until the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At it’s inception into the American music landscape, jazz was mostly played in bars and clubs around Storyville, from where it spread to the rest of New Orleans and then across the world. Nowadays, musicians of all kinds record and remix the song. Here’s a music video put to a Kid Koala version of Basin Street Blues.

Expect more of these kinds of posts in the new year. I’ll be living in, exploring, and learning the history of a new city. There will be pictures, there will be stories.

News of out of NYC today: 7 acres of land in Coney Island has been purchased by the City of New York. Back in 2005 Sitt Development bought the land and threatened to develop it into a Las Vegas-style amusement park. This idea terrified me, mainly because it was so antithetical to the character of Coney Island. Coney Island is the “people’s playground” and if a developer were to turn it into a Las Vegas-style mall/housing complex/amusement park it would have driven everyone but the rich out. Now, thankfully, the City has bought the land and, while they have no concrete plans yet as to redevelopment, we can at least be assured that Coney Island will not turn into a playground only for the rich. Hopefully, the Bloomberg administration takes it’s slim electoral victory to heart and starts listening to what ALL citizens of New York City want.

I was forwarded this story from the Wall Street Journal the other day. It’s specifically about a few guys who find a dump truck on the fourth floor of a warehouse in Detroit and decide to push it out. On a larger scale though, it touches on the myriad of urban decay issues facing Detroit.

I won’t declaim on those issues because 2009 has apparently been the year of Detroit. Vice Magazine has a great piece about the over-saturation of coverage on the “urban ruins” of Detroit and the ubiquity of journalists who are there for nothing other than the iconic photo-ops. However, this Wall Street Journal piece was interesting because, while it shines it’s light on the very obvious issues that Detroit faces, it also goes into micro-mode and finds something illustrative of those issues. Way to go WSJ!

After reading this piece though I couldn’t help but think of Escape from New York, the futuristic, dystopian 1980’s movie starring Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, ex-military man-turned-convict who is commissioned to rescue the President from Manhattan, which has been converted into a maximum security prison island (much like the Australia of old!)

This particular quote from the WSJ article is what made me draw the parallel: “Mayhem. That’s what they should call the place…If you decide you want to push a dump truck out of a window, this is the place to do it.”

Decide for yourself.


Abysmal Humor

funny how the
funny men
die too.

the void is a
well of
echoing laughter.

resigning to
our cosmic futility
would undo us
if it were not so funny
to worry about the loud minutes
and quiet seconds.