Saturday, September 24, 2011

it was raining cats that day, too.

Hey Opi!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

we used to make things

manufacturing decline
administrative sector

information age

digital revolution

financial services

non-rivalrous goods

intellectual property



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

some things just make me lol

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

arrested development

Anyone interested as I am in neighborhood development has surely noticed the changes at 138th and Morris, diagonal from the subway.

The KFC is gone.

The permit says “Full demolition of one story three car garage.”

It actually had four bays but who’s counting?

It’s gone, too.

I shot these photos through gaps in the gate or the plywood, then assembled the vertical slivers.

It’s quiet now, the progress has halted for the moment.

Stay tuned.

in the line of duty

I’ve learned to call graffiti “aerosol art” or “spray art” when I’m talking with aficionados.
I’ve learned that “bombing” means plastering stuff almost indiscriminately, “tagging” is applying just your name or initials and “piecing” means creating a masterpiece with lots of time and multiple colors.

Websites like cater to graffiti artists with mail order paint and other supplies like custom spray tips to create specific patterns.

Calligraphy is also a subset in the graffiti world and those who specialize in the calligraphic arts are widely admired for their “handstyles”. One of those guys was SURE.

SURE’s technique was to tag peel-and-stick labels and stick them on things around the city. His choice of label was important to him; he favored one brand over another because the smoother surface didn’t abrade his chisel point markers as quickly, allowing a cleaner line.

He ordered 1500 labels at a time and could tag them all "in about 35 minutes”. He used “red ones in Manhattan, green ones in Brooklyn, blue anywhere.”

SURE knew his pens, too, he said “Pilots are a little thinner than Sharpie and more permanent. No marker has sharper lines than a Pilot.”
In an interview last year, read what he had to say about another calligraphic artist he admired:
  • “I don’t think anybody uses a chisel tip better than he does. We feel that he has great technique in his letters and the way he combines them. His letters are all individually very strong and he uses the letters that precede and follow to fill each one’s negative space. His middle letters are regimented, real solid and go up and down so well. He kicks out the “R” which complements the loop of the “T” and has a lot of form. He has ridiculously good flow– the spacing of the letters and how they interact. His letters are definitely East Coast letters but he added his touch and made it cleaner. We like the whole clean-cut look.”

SURE stickers are collectors items now. He was a United States Marine with two tours in Iraq under his belt but was recently killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan. He was described as “slender and quiet” by those who knew him. I found a memorial wall here in the south Bronx by another graffiti artist known as KOSBY.

KOSBY gave him a halo, too.

These guys aren’t turning out to be who I thought they would be.

Monday, September 19, 2011

you say why and I say I don't know


I'll have a double
It’s been nearly 15 years since Frank Gehry unleashed his cartoony vision on the world; the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao opened to the public in 1997. Widely regarded as our most stunning example of deconstructivist architecture, iconic architect Philip Johnson called it "the greatest building of our time". I’ve never seen it, but Gehry’s concert hall up at BARD College is easier to get to and it’s in the same woozy, drunken style.  

I visited there a couple years ago and then again, last month.

Now there’s a new one downtown!

Gehry’s 76 story tower at Eight Spruce Street in lower Manhattan is substantially completed as of February 2011 and features a refined version of his signature curvy titanium and glass exterior.

Vanity Fair named Frank Gehry "the most important architect of our age" but I may be a bit less persuaded. 

He’s good, no doubt, but I can’t decide if these past 15 years have been a forward looking harbinger of buildings to come?...or...

...a self-indulgent stylistic exercise of incredible expense, eventually a white elephant mired in time alongside better buildings in the future where form follows function once again.
They’re cool, I’ll give him that.

But does “cool” justify an incredible $875 million dollars in only 76 stories?

$12 million a STORY? Come on. Seriously?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

fear of frying

Yesterday was Farmers Market Saturday but this is our last official Summer weekend, so our yearly surfeit of riches---endless good tomatoes and basil---is about to draw to a close. Alas. We can grow basil year round but if we are to fry tomatoes, they better be sensational and so this is the time.

Have no fear, they are easy to make and insanely delicious and the ingredients are so simple: a bit of cornmeal or flour for dredging, fresh, washed basil leaves, a little salt and fresh ground pepper. That’s it.

Slice the tomatoes vertically so they hold together in the heat. You are gonna have to flip them in the pan.

Ready? Here we go, turn on the heat, add a couple tablespoons of good olive oil to a large flat pan, 

...then melt about 2 tablespoons of butter in the warming oil. Use both. The oil will raise the burning temperature but the butter adds good flavor and it’s all gotta be very hot.

Dredge the tomato slices in your choice of coating, the flour fries to a lighter crust, the corn meal makes a crunchy coating. I’m doing a bit of both.

Tap off the extra flour then drop it into the hot oil/butter. It should be so hot the coating immediately begins to sizzle.

Fill the pan, don’t crowd them or they will steam, but you can fit them in fairly tightly.

Sprinkle with salt and grind in lots and lots of pepper.

The cooking will soften the peppery heat, so you’ll have to use a lot.

When they brown and get crispy, flip them over. Mmmmm. The flour turns crispy but see the cornmeal on the left? Crustier.

Browned and crispy on both sides? Great, get ‘em out and on a plate. It’s basil’s turn.

Add more butter to the hot pan. 
I never said this was health food.

Now dump in your basil for another immediate sizzle.

Move the basil around to pick up the bits of tomatoey goodness left behind. At first the basil will just whither, but then it will turn a darker green as it gets crispy.

Salty, crispy basil is heaven.

And that’s it. Dress the tomatoes with the basil and dig in but be careful, the tomatoes are hotter inside than you think. A Summer wine pairing might be anything white from France’s Loire Valley because the high acidity would be an excellent foil to the oily, salty tomato. But for me?

This is beer food.