Friday Finds 01.06.12
Aaron: Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past by Simon Reynolds
OK, OK, I didn't really find this by searching around the web. Instead I pilfered this excellent book from last year from my friend and Fader editor Amber Bravo's bookshelf. In it, veteran rock critic Simon Reynolds argues that pop music is in a bit of a holding pattern, happier to cannibalize earlier styles, recycle obscure genres, and make collages out of the sounds of yore than to truly innovate. He cites 90s rave and first generation post punk (sorry Bloc Party) as the last true charges of rock evolution. The subsequent contours of the pop landscape, he pretty convincingly argues, have been an endless loop of rehashed ideas and micro-trends. What I like most is how Reynolds casts himself as a musical modernist, one who craves the new, who wants to hear something that he's never heard before, and won't be satisfied for modest variation on the same old thing. At times Reynolds comes off as a crusty old critic lonesome for the post punk of his youth, but if you crave the shock of the new as he does, the strident revivalism that passed for cutting edge in the aughts (The Strokes, White Stripes, Winehouse, Franz Ferdinand, etc.) likely left you a bit cranky, too.
Kelsey: New York's Lost Subways
For anyone living in New York and using the city's 842 miles of MTA track to commute every day, the prospect of abandoned subway stations is a relishing one. Urban decay! Underground! Beneath our very feet! This handy map (and accompanying WNYC broadcast) illustrates those very ghost platforms, a never-quite-realized neural pathway of train lines that reveals "how the city’s transit ambitions have been both realized and thwarted." While most are strictly off-limits to the rail-riding public, and only glimpsed by urban spelunkers skirting the law, I know of at least one you can see as an upstanding citizen: the old City Hall station, whose tilework you can spot if you stay on the 6 train between its downtown and uptown trajectory.
Diana: Page 94 of the San Francisco Zero Net Energy Homes Project Guidebook
Thanks to Dwell reader Ted Jones for pointing out what he called "the only point of levity" in one of the San Francisco Department of Environment's official reports. They surveyed a focus group of contractors, asking them "What is the #1 thing that would improve San Francisco home performance" and the 10th bullet point was "If people would stop using Dwell Magazine as their primary guideline for retrofit goals." Ouch, SF Environment—I thought you'd be kinder to a local publication.
Julia: What Happens when You Give Kids Thousands of Stickers
Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama created this striking and playful installation for the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane. The white room served as a blank canvas. Children were invited to choose and place colorful dot stickers wherever their hearts desired. In the end, the space was completely transformed in this wonderful collaboration of artist and child.
Jaime: Thomas Eyck
While editing a story for an upcoming issue, I came across a mention of Thomas Eyck, a Dutch "publisher and distributor of characteristic and exclusive contemporary design products," according to his website. It was a new name to me, so I was excited to discover that this guy commissions a series of work from one interesting emerging designer per year, building up his collection slowly. Every piece is available for purchase on his website, including this flax light fixture by Christien Meindertsma (200 Euro) and wool throw by Scholten & Baijings (779 Euro).
Leah: Battlestar Galactica - Portlandia Video
I am so ready for Portlandia Season 2 tonight! Here is a little peak but be warned if you decided to start a Season 1 marathon this weekend.
Katie: San Francisco, 1955
This 1955 film short shared by the Huffington Post yesterday gives us a charming glimpse into our beloved San Francisco from over a half decade ago. Join amateur filmmaker Tullio Pellgrini as he takes us on a guided tour of "one of the most colorful and romantic cities in the world." While some of the sights seem unrecognizable now, many places like Van Ness Street, Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Japanese Tea Garden, and the Powell Street Cable car look remarkably the same.