Hi. I'm Doug LeMoine, and this is where I write about design, art, books, and baseball, approximately in that order. I work at Cooper, and I take photos. You can reach me at doug [dot] lemoine [at] gmail [dot] com

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    The best heckle ever?

    Via The Times:

    Kirk Douglas had a son, the little-remembered Eric Douglas, who was an actor and stand-up comedian. He once came over to the UK to do some gigs and inadvertently created one of British comedy’s finest legends. Eric wasn’t having a great gig at a London club; he was going down the pan. His opening line, I seem to remember, focused on the fact that he lacked the cleft in his chin possessed by both his father and brother. The audience was not in the least interested. Their indifference eventually overwhelmed him and he finally shouted: “Do you know who I am? I’m Kirk Douglas’s son!” The room looked on in silence, then someone in the audience stood up and said: “No, I’m Kirk Douglas’s son.” He was swiftly followed by several more. Within seconds, the entire audience was on their feet, all claiming to be Kirk Douglas’s son, in a pitch-perfect parody of the scene in Spartacus. That, by anyone’s standards, is a tough gig.


    Read on: A nice discussion of the dark side of heckling going on at The Guardian.

    I read too much into this kind of stuff.


    P080810PS-0483


    There’s an intimacy in this that so resonates with me. I mean, it’s impossible to imagine that I wouldn’t be charmed by the subject matter alone — a President I greatly admire, plus two NBA players. But this moment is especially great, because I love Derrick Rose’s game and I will always appreciate that he OD’d on candy before the 2008 NCAA Final with Kansas. And I admire Joakim Noah’s gritty post play and his serious media game. And I love that there’s genuine emotion in this shot. It has got a little bit of stagey-ness, but it also feels, like I said, intimate, like the photographer took this photo and emailed it to me, and said: “You’d appreciate this.”

    They don’t think it be like it is, but it do.

    Oscar Gamble - Glorious afro

    All this time, I thought the best thing about Oscar Gamble was his epic afro. But now I’ve learned that the title of this post is said to have originated from Gamble during a discussion of the 1975 Yankees; those were the early days of George Steinbrenner’s tenure, and the first of Billy Martin’s five managerial stints. And yeah, Gamble’s assessment sounds about right to me. (I first saw it in the comments section of an excellent post by Joe Posnanski, which is worth reading for the wealth of sports quotes).

    This year’s best beer-themed sweater collection

    Beer sweaters


    Dang, that Grain Belt sweater in the upper right corner is HOT. via AJ Fosik

    Modern ancient handiwork at YBCA


    Michael's handiwork (and hand)


    My old friend Michael Ramage has a hand in this installation in the Yerba Buena Center for Art’s Sculpture Garden. He’s designing and building a pair of domes, made from layers of bricks and mortar and styled on ancient techniques. The artist behind it is Jewlia Eisenberg & Charming Hostess, and the vision is that the domes will be an outdoor venue for music, contemplation, and mind-expanding activities throughout the summer. I visited on Tuesday, and I was struck by the ways that each dome’s oculus (fancy word for the open, circular window at the top of the dome) framed the surrounding sky and buildings. That perspective actually kind of made the generic buildings at 3rd and Howard appear to be somewhat cool. Didn’t think that would be possible.

    Business travel is not so bad sometimes


    Business travel is not so bad sometimes


    At this point, I have an intimacy with the Marriott Courtyard that is likely registered in my DNA. I could be blindfolded and tossed into the lobby of a Courtyard, and I’d be in my room, ironing my shirts, and drinking a Coors Light from the mini-bar within 5 minutes. Every once in a while the business travel stars align, and we get to stay in a place like the Ames Hotel in Boston. Not only are the rooms deeluxe (pictured above), but the building itself is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the doorman told me that it was Boston’s “first skyscraper.” And Wikipedia agrees. Not pictured here is the nicest component of my room: A huge arched window that looked south over the Old City Hall, the Old South Meeting House, and no doubt lots of other old things. No Coors Light, of course, but pretty killer otherwise.

    Hang dai!

    Hang dai!

    I’m one episode from the finale of Deadwood, and I’m feeling prematurely nostalgic for the pantomime conversations between the Cantonese-speaking Wu and English-speaking Al Swearengen. These “conversations” generally involve frantic sketching with charcoal, oaths unprintable in a family blog, and very little English. They tend to conclude with the declaration “hang dai!” (literally: 兄弟) which means “brothers,” and reciprocal gestures of intertwined index and middle fingers, as shown above. Hang dai, Mr. Wu. I will miss you.

    Vintage bike camping

    A tiny company called Stephenson’s Warmlite makes some of the world’s best gear for camping. I’ve long admired their bomb-proof tents and burly sleeping bags, not to mention the unabashed, straight-from-the-70s nudism in their vintage paper catalogs [a PDF is available here, for now]. Which is why I couldn’t help but be deeply charmed by the mention of Stephenson’s in this old Popular Science article about bike camping.

    Popular Science - Bike campingFrom the April 1972 edition of Popular Science — available in Google Books!


    I wonder how many earnest, science-minded readers sent away for a Stephenson’s catalog? Total Internet awesomeness, anyway.

    Everything useful, two phone calls away

    When the Whole Earth Catalog (WEC) was published in late 60s and early 70s, the idea was to create a finely curated list of everything “useful, relevant to independent education, high quality or low cost, not already common knowledge, and easily available by mail.”

    Whole Earth Catalog - J BaldwinThe Dymaxion World of Buckminster Fuller, Fall 1968. From Arts & Ecology.


    Steve Jobs once referred to the WEC as “the bible" of his generation, and it’s no wonder that he admired it: Each issue of the catalog was sprawling, ambitious, smart, lovingly crafted, and very much in keeping with the best of Northern California’s innovative spirit — progressive, irreverent, and (in its own way) ruthless.

    The title of this post refers to a (perhaps apocryphal) account of the user experience considerations of the WEC. Reportedly, the catalog’s design editor, J. Baldwin, said that the catalog was an attempt to bring everything (of value) in the world to within two1 phone calls for any reader. Which was undoubtedly great at the time, but not quite good enough to escape the development of the one-call solution — the dial-up modem. Doh! And the no-call solution — broadband!

    And yet, when you compare the infinite variety of the web to the refined encapsulation of the WEC, it’s easy to see the value of expert curation. Doesn’t it seem like the great opportunities for progress in web content is to become more like the WEC — reliable, readable, smart? And even reader-supported? (After all, the WEC cost $5 in the 60s; $31.85 today. As one of the Whole Earth editors wrote, people will pay for authenticity and findability).

    1 For the record, I’m not exactly sure what the significance of “two” is, rather than “six” or “three.” Would the first call would be the Whole Earth Catalog, and the second would be to … the product creator? Or the first would be to the product creator, and the second would be to … someone else?

    For the record, this is my favorite

    BPGlobalPR - Shark v octopus

    From the outstanding satirical Twitter feed, @BPGlobalPR. T-shirts here; book deal to follow, I assume.

    Paul Rand’s business card

    Paul Rand business card
    Can’t imagine that it could get much better than this. Via amassblog.

    Decadent, degenerate exile


    In yet another shallow record-industry ploy to sell the same album twice, the Rolling Stones recently asked producer Don Was to dig through their Exile On Main Street archives and produce a remastered version with a few additional tracks. Thinking about Exile reminds me, of course, of Robert Frank’s documentary with an unprintable name, a chronicle the Stones’ daily lives around the time of Exile. This film presented in very raw form (in the words of one reviewer) “massive, almost unthinkable amounts of ego-gratification, and routine, torpid, everyday boredom,” and it was essentially unreleasable, shown only in art houses and pirated VHS. It’s safe to say that no massively successful band has ever, or will ever, give the kind of access that the Stones gave to Frank. (The sex and the drugs, they are everywhere amidst the rock ‘n roll). The above video is some of the cleaner stuff culled from Frank’s footage. Needless to say, the whole thing is worth seeing, even if you have to cover your eyes every once in a while. Additional reading: A nice little NPR interview with Mick and Keef.

    We want our favorites to be great out there, and when that stops we feel betrayed a little. They have not only failed, but failed us. Maybe this is the real dividing line between pros and bystanders, between the players and the fans. All players know that at any moment things can go horribly wrong for them in their line of work — they’ll stop hitting, or, if they’re pitchers, suddenly find that for some reason they can no longer fling the ball through the invisible sliver of air where it will do its best work for them — and they will have to live with that diminishment, that failure, for a time and even for good. It’s part of the game. They are prepared to lose out there in plain sight, while the rest of us do it in private and then pretend it hasn’t happened.

    Roger Angell, in an afterword to an essay called “Quis,” about Royals closer Dan Quisenberry. It was published in the New Yorker in September of 1985, as the Royals were closing in on their first and only World Series championship. He added the afterword for a collection called Season Ticket, published in 1988, after Quisenberry had been released from the Royals.

    Ranging to justice

    Thinking about the various clustercusses in the world, and reading William James, I came across this optimistic notion:

    Secret retributions are always restoring the level, when disturbed, of divine justice. It is impossible to tilt the beam. All the tyrants and proprietors and monopolists of the world in vain set their shoulders to heave the bar. Settles forevermore the ponderous equator to its lines, and man and mote, and star and sun, must range to it, or be pulverized by the recoil.

    It’s a quote from Emerson, delivered in a lecture on the divine in the mid-19th century. You gotta wonder if he’d reconsider his position if he saw the world today.

    Aha! The fabled Taser segment from Inside the NBA. 

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