26 May 2012

The poetry of pavement

Some days it might be worth walking around looking at our feet.  To spot the variations and poetry in the pavement that is our walking surface, Johan Rijpma gives us his short animation "Tegels" (or "Tiles).

via Polis

15 May 2012

Not by map, but by sight

I came across this intriguing essay in The Atlantic / Cities :

How Do You Navigate a City with No Street Names?

The place in question is Amman, Jordan, a labyrinth of nameless streets and alleyways.  I love the anecdote the author uses to illustrate the problem of navigation:

"It's totally normal to be lost and confused," says photographer Regina Mamou, who spent a year studying how the people of Amman get around. Once, she remembers getting directions to a party via a map the hostess had Photoshopped herself. "I had recreated it on this Post-it, and i still couldn't get to her house," she says.Finally, her friend climbed to the roof of her building and called for her. "There's a sense that this was totally normal," Mamou says. "The fact that we have to get on top of a roof and shout down." 

Here, it's all about the landmarks.  These are the primary nodes of navigation based on visual and experiential memory, not the rational memory of street names and gridlines.

Reading this reminded me of being in Port-au-Prince.  From the very moment M and I hopped in the taxi from the airport to the Haiti Communitere compound, we were told again and again that the best way to orient people to the place was not to tell them we lived on Rue Pelican in Clercine, but that we were staying across from the Jedco.  (As far as I could tell, Jedco deals with industrial-scaled cleaning and management of sorts.)

And you know what?  It worked every time.  Moto drivers (basically taxis for 1-2+ people) never ceased to know where we wanted to go if we were going back -- it was more the going out that was tricky.  Gotta learn the landmarks.  There's something really meaningful and simple about that.

08 May 2012

[the big day] Blooms

Although I like flowers, I've considered cut flowers - especially in vases - to be pretty money sinks that die too quickly (unless they come from Trader Joe's - somehow, those bouquets last for ages!  almost 2 weeks with only one water change!).

But perhaps wedding planning has changed my mind.  Or the wedding industry is leading me to change my mind.

In any rate, I have reinforced my liking for dahlias and developed a penchant for poppies.  We'll see what develops.

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Photo by floral stylist Amy Merrick

06 May 2012

A little taste of Victorian culture, McCormick-style

For the ladies and (select) gentlemen of McCormick:

McCormick Hall Garden Party
Sunday May 13, 2012
two o'clock to four o'clock in the afternoon
The (McC) Courtyard

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Typefaces used: Savoye LET, Rosewood, Type Embellishments
Image: A well-heeled Victorian dame with a fascinator to be proud of (here, attached to her hat) 

02 May 2012

Staring London in the eye

A bus advert that had amused me all those years ago.
A no-nonsense anti-guide to London (one of our honeymoon stops):
"... You want stiff-lipped men in bowler hats and cheeky cockneys with their thumbs in their waistcoats and fish on their heads. 
I’m sorry, but they’re not here anymore. No city’s exported image lags so far behind its homegrown veracity than London’s, so let’s start with what you’re not going to find. We’re all out of cheeky cockneys, pearly kings and their queens, and costermongers. You’re not going to find ’60s psychedelia and the Beatles in Carnaby Street. There aren’t any punks under 50 on the King’s Road; there are no more tweedy, mustachioed, closeted gay writers in Bloomsbury, no Harry Potter at King’s Cross. There aren’t men in white tie, smoking cigars outside Pall Mall clubs and there isn’t any fog, but you can find Sherlock Holmes’s house on Baker Street." 
// A.A. Gill, in his NYTimes' article "A Profile of London"
 What ... no fog?!  No fish on cockneys' heads?!

Just kidding.  The fog part (amongst other things) I can attest to firsthand.  I was studying abroad in Paris in the spring of 2005.  For our semester break, I ventured to London to visit my friend Jackie.  Paris had been dulled by constant rain and clouds, but just as my plane crossed the Channel, the skies broke open and I was greeted by all sun and cheer in the UK.  Talk about breaking stereotypes.

At least we'll be able to find Sherlock.  Phew.

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As a little epilogue, another photo from the past, evidence that London - although perhaps not so foggy - is still indeed windy:

From the top of St. Paul's - a long but worthy hike for the view.