Nostalgia + Cars pt II >> Defenders and Wagoneers

Listening To >> Futurebirds' "Hampton's Lullaby"

I mentioned these guys, a couple of whom were in my high school class (¡hometown heroes!) (I feel an immature urge to do a TRL-style shout-out here), back here, and they just released their first full-length album on Tuesday!  I'd been eagerly awaiting it, and I'm already loving it. 

Though I personally think it's an annoying label, I guess it is sort of useful in giving you some sense of their sound, so I'll go ahead and tell you they are commonly called "alt-country," but luckily with the added, flattering qualifier that they are "what modern alt-country ought to sound like." I also read here a description of them being a "synthesis of the two extremes of Neil Young's yin and yang."

Here's an except from one of the reviews that I thought particularly rang true:
"What I like about the record and the band for that matter is that it feels like it actually comes from somewhere, comes from real people. We’re flooded by countless bands with clever names creating sounds in their bedrooms that are nice, passing fancy, but the keepers that we remember over the years are the ones that make personal connections." [Future Sounds]

Also check out an interview with them on Stark here.  (I particularly liked that their interview corroborates my personal opinion that the south has a disproportionate amount of pretty girls.)

The album is available here or on iTunes.
Myspace here.


Art in Stead

The MAK Center's project "How Many Billboards, Art in Stead" asked 21 contemporary artists to each produce a billboard to be placed around Los Angeles, giving residents a break from the generally un-stimulating clutter crowding their cityscapes.

 Wouldn't it be cool if, for some amount of time per year, billboard owners were required to give a portion of their billboards over to art instituations for projects like this, the same way tv networks have to allow ad space for PSAs?  And every once in a while you would glance at a billboard and see art instead of an ad?

Read more about the project (which is sadly over) in this NYT article.
Project website here.

Classic >> Slim Aarons


Loving the Look >> CXXVI

See, I said it was going to be a music-themed day, but I get bored really easily and I'm already really over the idea of posting three music themed things in a row.  I did it, and it's making me feel really anxious, so I'm taking one down, putting it back in the drafts folder, and will post it later.  So now you have something to look forward to!  Aren't you dying to know what it was now?

Moving on, I discovered CXXVI Clothing Co. via the cool hand-lettered collateral materials by Jon Contino shown below (I'm not really sure what they're for, neither are their logo).  

Upon seeing these materials, I decided I had to check out whatever company would commission these to be made, and that's when I found this framed print of a seltzer bottle that I'm dying for.  

I'm still charmed by this article about the seltzer man in Brooklyn who had been delivering seltzer to homes for almost 40 years (accompanying photo below), and I think the print would happily remind me of the article every time I looked at it.  But I digress...

I love brands that have a really defined look, so I like how all of their stuff seems to have this Moby Dick-inspired nautical/Americana thing going on, even if the nautical theme is getting a lot of air time right now.

A pocket knife etched and inked with black India ink by a company in Maine.  (I might need this too.)

More lettering by Jon Contino, I presume?

Now wondering how I'd never heard of this company??
CXXVI here.

(Might soon be) Listening To >> Best Coast (if I figure out how to make my "start-up disk" un-full)

Great song, awesome video, though like the Jay-Z "Hello Brooklyn" video I obsessed over, it's not the official video.  It's a scene from Les Demoiselles de Rochefort from 1967... check it out and watch at least until the dance number kicks in around 1:00.

Their full-length album came out yesterday, and though I haven't bought the album yet, because my mac keeps killing all my fun by telling me that my "startup disk is full," here's The Tale of the Tape's concise review, which after listening through the previews on iTunes a few times, I think puts it really well:

"Easily one of our most anticipated records of the year, after several listens Crazy For You lives up to the hype.  Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno make it sound so easy on their debut LP, blending 60′s girl-group harmonies with 90′s alt-rock riffs.  Cosentino’s simple lyrics, which occasionally border on silly, offer an earnest yet self-assured perspective on yearning and heartache."

 And if I weren''t convinced to check it out by Tale of the Tape, I definitely was by this iTunes review:
Subject line: "I got braces for a second time today"
Review: "But since this album came out today, I'm still calling it the best day ever."

Best Coast myspace here.
[Video originally seen on Nick Olsen's blog]

LustList >> Music amplification with a little more personality...

Today is going to be a music-themed day, I can just feel it...

 I've been dying for a record player recently.  While one major factor is the quality of sound that vinyls produce, I have to admit that probably the biggest reason I want a record player is for the kind of ambience and atmosphere it creates to have music coming out of one.  It's just so much warmer feeling than those sleek, sterile iPod docks. 

If you're a minimalist, you're like, "no way, it's so awesome that I can play music out of this tiny inconspicuous white thing that no one even notices," but for me, I'd rather have something that's like, "Hey, check me out!  I'm playing some tunes!  This is going to be a rockin fun party with great music!"
But, considering I own no vinyl records and building a collection that could rival my iTunes collection would be an extremely costly feat, (and an implausible one considering building my iTunes colletion has been a financial investment rivaled only by my education), maybe the iVictrola is my answer...

It doesn't plug in!  It has no power source!  And it's so cool looking!
For those of you who need a little more sleekness in your lives, maybe the Phonofone?

The Phonofone II is all ceramic and actually just amplifies sound from your headphones.  Here's how the creators, Science & Sons, explain it:

Through passive amplification alone, These unique pieces instantly transform any personal music player + earbuds into a sculptural audio console.

Without the use of external power or batteries, the Phonofone inventively exploits the virtues of horn acoustics to boost the audio output of standard earphones to up to 55 decibles* (or roughly the maximum volume of laptop speakers)

Upon connecting active earphones to the Phonofone their trebly buzzing is instantly and profoundly transformed into a warm, rich and resonant sound.

The Phonofone is constructed entirely from ceramic. Not only environmentally low impact, ceramics are inherently rigid and resonant, lending themselves well to this application.

 Given that the max volume is roughly that of a laptop, this particular device isn't all that tempting, but still a really clever design!

 The Hendekagram gramaphone operates the same way as the Phonofone, simply amplifying sound from your headphones. From qed* design.

The iVictrola at top doesn't have an explanation for how it works, but since it is cordless, I assume it is through similar principles, unless it uses batteries and you just can't tell from the pics.  Regardless, it's def my fave!


When Favorite Things Collide >> Stop-Motion Animation + Street Art >> Blu

A stop-motion animation film of sometimes small-, sometimes very large-scale murals by the Argentine artist Blu on the sidewalks of Buenos Aires.

I don't know how quickly he changes these drawings, but it would be pretty cool if you came across something like this on your daily commute, and you could see it evolve every day, not having any idea where it's headed.

Also pretty amazing that after each drawing was photographed, that became a frame in the film, and there was no way to go back and change previous frames, since he had already changed the drawing and moved on.  I'm curious how much he planned out the whole trajectory ahead of time!

Provenance You Can Believe In >> Latest and Greatest >> Apolis Activism's Market Bag

Along with your cycling pullover and Kanvas by Katin trunks, you might want to look into picking up Apolis Activism's latest product-- the Market Bag-- which is made in conjunction with Saidpur Enterprises in Bangladesh.  

Here's what they say about it on their website:
Saidpur, Bangladesh. Bangladesh was established after the war for independence in 1971. With independence came famines, natural disasters and widespread poverty. The non–profit Saidpur Enterprises started manufacturing Market Bags to help rebuild the economy and create opportunity for the whole supply chain — farmer to manufacturer. 

Saidpur, Bangladesh
Mohammad Ghayasuddin, General Manager, Saidpur Enterprises. “The Apolis Market Bag is providing Bangladesh women jobs by connecting social advocacy to industry.”

Mohammad Ghayasuddin

 I'm hoping for a cool video accompanying this product as well! (See past cool videos here and here.)

Also, just found out from Robin Long that the Parton brothers behind Apolis Activism are from Santa Barbara!  How did I not know that before??  And does someone want to kindly introduce me??

Market Bag available here.


In Memorandum >> The Incandescent Light Bulb

Tim Fishlock created this chandelier out of 1243 suspended incandescent light bulbs as a memorial to the light source that has served us, nearly unchanged, since its creation 130 years ago.  
 By 2011, all forms of incandescent light in the UK (where Fishlock lives) will have been phased out in the name of greenness. 

(As you probably guessed by the lack of wires, not all 1243 bulbs are functional-- there is only one actual light source at the very center.)

I'm all for greenness, but I've got to say, I'm feeling a little nostalgic already for the incandescent bulb. Or at least, I wish they'd go ahead and figure out a way to make CFL light (and their bulbs) prettier.  Will they ever be able to make a CFL bulb that looks like an old Edison filament bulb, like the below?

Summer Lovin >> Surf

I don't know if it's that I live in California now or what, but surfing and surf culture seems to be a much bigger part of my concept of summer than ever before, and I can't get enough of surf videos and photos like these.  

But I swear it's not just me, or even California, and I point to Saturdays Surf NYC as evidence... when before has surfing ever been a big deal to Manhattanites?  

But even still, it makes me excited to be a Californian, where surfing seems to be everywhere you look in the summer-- surf boards strapped on cars, being hauled on bikes, stacked on people's balconies, etc.  The other day I drove up the Pacific Coast Highway from LA to Santa Barbara, watching hoards of surfers all along the coast, and relished it thinking, "Where else? Where else can you watch surfers from the highway as you drive home?"

R. Magritte Strikes Again


Classic >> Milla Jovovich shot by Carter Smith


Dear St. Nick, I'm putting in my wishlist early this year.  In addition to the pre-war apartment with working fireplace, casement windows, and herringbone patterned wood floors, I'd also just like to BE Milla Jovovich in this shoot, with these clothes and locations included.  I hope that's not asking too much.  Thaaaannxxx!  

Listening To >> Broken Bells

Broken Bells = artist/producer Danger Mouse + The Shins' vocalist James Mercer.  That information was about all it took to pique my interest, and I'm happy to report that the assumption was a good one.  

Danger Mouse, who has produced everything from rap beats to the Black Keys, reappropriates Mercer's once-revolutionary, now-predictable (and dare I say worn out?) sound and takes him into a new, more exploratory territory (but don't worry it's not tooo out there by any means).  So if you were hoping Mercer might one day change your life again, this could be your answer.  Give these two songs a listen and see what you think.

But, let me warn you!  The videos are bizarre, and I actually didn't really like them.  Except that the second one features Christina Hendricks (aka Joan from Mad Men).  I merely posted them so that you could hear the songs... but don't be scared off if you don't like the visuals, just keep scrolling and listening and don't watch the vids.


I Wish J.K. Rowling Had Spoken at My Graduation

J.K. Rowling's address to the Harvard class of '08, on the "fringe benefits of failure."
This video is on the long side, but as is no surprise, it is very well-written and engaging, so if you have some time and want to feel inspired, refreshed, and entertained, give it a listen.  It's like the graduation speech you never had, and you also want her to become your adopted aunt.  

I'd actually never really heard an interview or anything with her, I realized, so I was very interested to hear her speak, and the speech is personal and wonderful.  After listening to this, I felt like a new grad all over again, inspired to head out into the world and make a difference. 

"Creativity is just connecting things."

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

—Steve Jobs


Le Mans Classic 2010

LOVE these photos by Laurent Nivalle of the Le Mans Classic 2010.

I like the black and whites and the colors equally, and they each take on certain aspects of the event.  The black and whites are crisp and have an immediateness, engaging you with the high-speed action and precision of the event.  The colors, meanwhile, have such wonderful romantic tones that make them cinematic and retro-- perfect for capturing the elegance and nostalgia of the classic cars.

Click through for more...

Typography + Music + Animation >> Jay-Z's "Hello Brooklyn"

 Sometimes when I really like something straight away upon encountering it, all eloquence and diligently learned SAT vocab words suddenly seem far out of reach, and all I can think of are childish descriptors like "awesomeness."  I feel (hope) that if I thought about it longer, the analytical side of my brain would kick in and help me describe why I find something worthy of being called awesomeness, but for this Jay-Z video, I think awesomeness is just about right.  So take my word for it and check out the awesomeness.

This video is not the official music video, but rather an independent "tribute" to Jay-Z, Brooklyn, and New York by Greg Solenstrom, which actually in a way makes it even cooler, knowing that this guy produced this video pretty much for fun (ok, and maybe self-promotion) without any direction from the Jay-Z team.  Although I will say that before I knew it was independently done, and I thought it was Jay-Z's idea, I was like, "Wow, Jay-Z is even cooler than I thought!" Alas.

Solenstrom uses the font Akzidenz Grotesk (the precursor to Helvetica), which, as the font on MTA subway map designed in the late 60's (and still used today) by Massimo Vignelli, seems a perfect choice, along with tons of still images of Brooklyn treated with the Vanishing Point effect in Photoshop and After Effects to animate the video.

The above video is a non-traditional but fascinating "making of"-- meaning it will not teach you how to create a video like this, but rather will boggle your mind and convince you that you could never learn how to do this.  Still, despite the mind-boggling, it's worth checking out for the appreciation of the video and this guy's talent that it will give you.  I really had no idea how much work it would take to create a video like this.

Let's Bring Back >> Styling of the Mad Men Era

In advance of Mad Men's return on Sunday, Huffington Post writer Lesley Blume has an excellent column today on what she wishes would be brought back from the Mad Men Era, including: supper clubs with tiny lamps and animal print walls (agree! so chic! so glam!), coifs (such a better word than "up-dos"-- I think I could get into something called a "coif"), hats for women, and hats for men.

Here, an excerpt from the article.  I was just going to summarize and share a link to it, but it's so well-written I just had to post part of it here.
"Time-wise, the Mad Men era is so close to our own, and yet so far away culturally. Elaborate social ritual is of paramount importance in the Mad Men realm; details are to be fussed over, not shunted aside in favor of soulless efficiency. The Mad Men world makes a fetish of ornamentation and deifies mysterious artifice; our culture, on the other hand, prizes an almost apathetic informality and rewards the tackiest forms of extroversion. 

I once saw Mad Men brilliantly described as an exercise in "loathing nostalgia;" indeed, the epoch's glamor co-mingles uneasily with many of its deplorable practices and attitudes. The sexism, the homophobia, the racism: those things can stay done and dusted. 

Yet there are other things from that decade that are acutely missed, perhaps especially by style-minded people who didn't get to experience them the first time around. For those of us who grew up in the subsequent era of Gap-sponsored khaki casualness and fast food, the Mad Men world represents a glamor lacking in our lives today."

You can find the rest of the effects she wishes would be brought back here, including horn-rimmed glasses for men, foxy flight attendant uniforms, and three martini lunches.  So worth checking out-- the captions for the images are as articulate as the above excerpt and very entertaining.


Summer Lovin >> Party Barn

Doesn't this spot have an awesome casual summer vibe?  I imagine that old fridge would be always stocked with cold beer and friends would just stop by for a drink and a round of ping pong.  In fact, The Selby tells us this barn is just dedicated to parties, dining, and room for guests to sleep. Perfection.

The NY state home of photographer Dan Martensen and artist Shannon Click, from The Selby.

Summer Lovin >> Listening To >> Serge Gainsbourg's Aux Armes et Caetera

Perfect summer listening-- the bizarre but wonderful Serge Gainsbourg album Aux Armes et Caetera, for which he let a group of Jamaican musicians (including Rita Marley) totally transform his tunes into quirky French-Reggae songs.  Here, the song "Lola Rastaquouere."

Download the whole album on iTunes and prepare for your summer to have not only a new soundtrack, but a new sultry, retro Rasta vibe as well.  Bonus points if you get it on vinyl.

(By the way, I'm not sure what exactly this video is, but it's def not an "official" music video.")


Survey Says

How can guys look better at the office?

I couldn't resist posting these survey results-- I so agree with them!  Valet partnered with Don Q Lady Data to ask women how they felt about men's clothing.  

Above, my #1 pet peeve when it comes to men's clothing!  Why oh why do so many men buy those boxy suits that are about three sizes too big and not tailored at all to fit them?  Maybe they wish they were bigger and think the clothes will have the effect of making them look larger than they are?  But actually, pro athletes are some of the worst offenders in this category, so I don't know.  But I'm relieved to know that other women have noticed this as well.  So men, please, find a tailor or take a well-dressed woman with you to pick out your clothes. 

The trend of going sockless ... pro or con?

In general, do you think the average man dresses well?

This means if you thought that #1 above was talking about you and your too-large clothes, it probably was. 

But lest you think this is a huge downer, I feel strongly that menswear in America is really having a moment (in fact, such a moment that I think menswear is more interesting than womenswear right now) and that this could all turn around.  Also, this only means that the guys out there who do dress well have a serious leg up!

You can check out the results to the other 7 questions, including more insight into why 61% of women think the average man dresses poorly, here.
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