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).
Dang, that Grain Belt sweater in the upper right corner is HOT. via AJ Fosik
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.
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.
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.
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.
I wonder how many earnest, science-minded readers sent away for a Stephenson’s catalog? Total Internet awesomeness, anyway.
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.”
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?
Can’t imagine that it could get much better than this. Via amassblog.
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.