June 18, 2010

We close the week with our best picks o' the Web, from online galleries of vintage Japanese illustrations and letterhead collections to videos of slooow roving mobile shrubbery.

friday letterheady bradbury

Miyoko: Letterheady 

I am one of the few people who probably still writes letters. A good friend from college and I are pen pals and I inherited much of my great-grandmother's floral stationary kits when she passed a few years back. This week, I stumbled upon Letterheady and fell in love. It's a treasure trove of interesting letterhead and those of famous companies and individuals. Some look impossible to actually write a note on, whereas others bask in the glory of their simplicity. Among my favorites are the letterheads of the Fox de Luxe Brewing Company, Ray Bradbury Enterprises, and Bart Starr.

Aaron: If San Francisco Crime Were Elevation by Doug McCune

friday prostitution 500

My favorite web gem of the week--sorry nine millionth rewatch of Maradona's "Hand of God" goal--is this canny conflation of something we San Franciscans have plenty of: hills and crime. Web designer Doug McCune took 2009 crime data as reported by the city and mapped that information across a map of San Francisco. High peaks mean that lots of crime takes place at that particular point; flat planes suggest little activity. What's more, McCune divided his crime into categories allowing a clear view of where hotspots for robbery, prostitution, vehicle theft, etc. occur. As a resident of the Mission neighborhood, I was not terribly pleased to see my digs as a fairly good spot for most kinds of SF crime, but it is a fascinating and useful way to understand what happens where. 

Sam: Manhunter 

friday michael mann book

Ever since watching Heat on Netflix a few months back, I've been on a pretty big Michael Mann kick. I'd never really considered his body of work as a whole before recently, and the more I dig into it, the more impressed I've become. My interest was spurred on by finding a copy of this book in our literary losers giveaway pile here at the Dwell office. It does a nice job of exploring both Mann's technique and his directorial intent. One of the biggest criticisms levied on Mann has been his reliance on music to set the mood, but I would argue that it is one of the biggest strengths of his films. Its telling that his two earliest movies, Thief and The Keep, were both scored by New Age maestros Tangerine Dream. For his third film, the overlooked Manhunter (based on the novel Red Dragon by Silence of the Lambs author Thomas Harris), Mann turned to a diverse array of artists—Shriekback, Kitaro, Klaus Schulze, Michael Rubini—but keeps the mood very much in the realm of glossy new age. The music works perfectly to heighten the emotional impact of the film's visuals, which feature a great deal of equally glossy mid-80s modern architecture. Richard Meier's High Museum of Art in Atlanta acts as a stand in for a psychiatric holding facility, and almost every space in the film has some kind of architectural pedigree. Design enthusiasts will also spot a Burdick system desk by Herman Miller and a lovely set of white Cherner chairs. At any rate, Manhunter features some of the most arresting visuals I've seen on film in some time, and has an amazing score that blows away the orchestral drivel that Hollywood relies on these days.

Jordan: Terrestrial Shrub Rover

Who knew that watching a slow-moving mass of leaves and branches emerging from a suburban driveway and making its way around the neighborhood would bring me so much joy so many times this week? Repeat viewings only make this clip better and better. What can I say, I absolutely love the Terrestrial Shrub Rover. A big thanks to Miyoko for sending it along and enduring me laugh and laugh and laugh whenever I watched it in the office.

Amanda: Vintage Japanese Illustration

friday japanese childrens illustration

Gorgeous gallery of old advertisements and illustrations from children's books, compiled by the editor of A Journey Round My Skull with help from Sandra Eterovic and Sandy Vincent. Featuring works from artists Haruyo Kawashima, Rokuro Taniuchi, and Yasuo Shigehara, among many others, this collection was assembled for our digital viewing pleasure by scanning old books garnered from years of flea markets and ephemera siftings. I often refer to this site when I need to get a visual break, and I am never disappointed.

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