Saturday, February 28, 2009

Transparent Fish

These photos, the first known images of a live Pacific barreleye fish, were taken in 2004 but only just published a few days ago.

Read more about the intriguing species at National Geographic.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yeah Yeah!

Allow me to introduce myself by saying that I'm not one to wax sentimental about music. I'm the first to defend the music being created at this moment in time, unwilling to throw it all in the garbage. But I can't help but fantasize about a bygone era when "their" American Idol was better than "our" American Idol. Could you imagine turning on your television set and seeing this:

Hundreds of teenagers screaming to the sounds of one of the greatest, most stylish, intelligent songwriters of the 60s? I realize the sentiment isn't new, but it boggles my mind that their Kelly Clarkson was the iconic singer Fran├žoise Hardy. Frustratingly, music critics can sometimes dismiss her, as this ludicrous biography on All Music Guide does, using "middle-of-the-road" to describe her on two occasions. There is a fairly long biography found here. It reveals a solitary, stage-frightened woman, who embraced her fame almost in spite of herself. And it's worth mentioning that she became an astrologer later in life. And that's all I'll say about that.

"Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life."

These affirming bus ads come courtesy of the British Humanist Association, comedy writer Ariane Sherine, and biologist Richard Dawkins.

Read about the campaign here and here and here.

(Click the above image to watch a video about the Atheist Bus Campaign featuring the brilliant and gorgeous comedy writer Ariane Sherine, who devised the campaign.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Some Designs by Cristiana Couceiro

I absolutely adore her work...

Check out more of Cristiana's work HERE.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Urban Mass Transit Systems of North America

(click to enlarge)

by Bill Rankin, 2005, 2006

For more tremendously cool cartographic treats, head over HERE.

The Infamous Chimp Cartoon

The almost-instantly infamous New York Post cartoon depicting two police officers standing over the dead body of a Chimpanzee has caused quite a stir, and has even prompted an apology (of sorts) from the Post. We still have a lot of questions, though. In no particular order, here are some of our thoughts:

The cartoon in question.

1) By and large, cartoonists working for major newspapers like the Post are well-paid, seasoned professionals. They're hired for their artistic skill and for, uh, their wit. It's very tough to believe that this cartoonist did not understand the implications of the cartoon.

An example of figurative representation of a government entity.

2) It's not uncommon for political cartoonists to use a figurative image (of, say, an elephant or a giant) to represent an aspect of government, but typically, the entity is explicitly identified, as is the case in the above cartoon where an enormous football player is labeled "Congress." Why, then, if the Chimpanzee is supposed to represent the Congress, rather than President Obama, didn't the cartoonist make that explicit? That ambiguity has allowed him an easy out while leaving in place the implication that, in fact, the Chimpanzee represents the President.

3) References to other news: Clearly, this cartoon is a reference to the terrible story out of Stamford, Connecticut about a pet chimp named Travis who attacked his owner's good friend earlier this week. It's hard to miss, however, that the cartoon has some similarities to the police shooting in Oakland on New Year's Day that lead to the death of Oscar Grant III.

Nasty Example of Monkey/Ape Imagery Used to Dehumanize African Americans #1: The Nazis banned jazz performances in Germany, and it's pretty obvious to see here what they thought of black jazz musicians.

Nasty Example of Monkey/Ape Imagery Used to Dehumanize African Americans #2: Ah, the elevated level of political discourse from the right wing...

4) Images of monkeys and apes have been used for a very long time to dehumanize African Americans, even as recently as this past election cycle. Given that the election of Barack Obama is an historical first, and that he's only been in office for a month, it's very difficult to disassociate the use of this image from its racist connotations. Again, this is a professional cartoonist: he's either blind to these references, or he was using the imagery intentionally.

Police dogs were used to subdue and intimidate African Americans throughout the south before and during the Civil Rights movement.

A statue in Birmingham Alabama stands as a reminder of the brutal suppression of African Americans there.

5) "Beware of Dog": Billy clubs, dogs and fire hoses may seem innocuous to some, but anyone familiar with the Civil Rights movement is necessarily (and justly) going to have some pretty negative associations with those things. That said, is there any reason to have a "Beware of Dog" sign included in this cartoon? If, in fact, this cartoon was supposed to represent a simple criticism of the stimulus package, what's the sign doing there?

Color Test #2

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

We ♥: Monkey Portraits

You may remember Jill Greenberg as the photographer who twice sparked controversy for her politically-charged (and self-admittedly "manipulative") approach to portraiture.

But putting politics (at least intra-species politics) aside for a moment, our personal favorite series by Greenberg can be found in her book Monkey Portraits:

Here are some highlights from the book:

You can purchase the book HERE.

New Forests For Life Campaign from WWF

World Wildlife Fund's Forests For Life Campaign
World Wildlife Fund's Forests For Life Campaign
World Wildlife Fund's Forests For Life Campaign

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Trilogy Meter by Dan Meth

The Trilogy Meter by Dan Meth


"I Can Read Movies" Series by Spacesick

I Can Read Movies: Close Encounters of the Third Kind by Spacesick

An Ohio-based graphic designer who goes by the nom de guerre Spacesick has been turning out this wonderful series of fictitious vintage paperbacks based on favorite films. The aesthetic is elegant, detailed, and clever—in line with the classic, iconic style of the 60s Penguin jackets designed under the art direction of Germano Facetti.

Here are some of our favorites (be sure to check out his blog for more):

I Can Read Movies: Edward Scissorhands by Spacesick I Can Read Movies: Ernest Goes to Camp by Spacesick I Can Read Movies: Ghost Dad by Spacesick
I Can Read Movies: Ghostbusters by Spacesick I Can Read Movies: Vacation by Spacesick I Can Read Movies: Labyrinth by Spacesick

Cats looking at cats looking at cats looking at cats looking at...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Beyond Your Geography: A Conversation with Rademacher

An Interview with Rademacher (Greer McGettrick and Malcolm Sosa)

Those two up there (↑), the lass and lad looking you straight in the eyes... that's Greer and Malcolm.

Along with a rotating cast of accompanying musicians, they constitute the Fresno-based American rock band Rademacher ("American" here being a completely apt and not-at-all pejorative descriptor) (ditto with "rock"). I caught their set at The Echo in LA a few months ago, and fell for their earnest-but-ramshackle dynamic and the slanted & enchanted tunes that teeter between tight and discordant like a Pavement sans pretension.

I got the sense that Rademacher was at least in part a product of geography. The songs have a sun-squashed feel; I can't imagine any clouds floating above any of them. Instead, they evoke (for me at least) scenes of sweltering asphalt and yucca plants on the side of the road. I can't put my finger on what it is, but there is just something so tremendously Southwestern about this band. Yet at the same time, there is an element in this music of "reaching out" (beyond the provincial)—a brazen but humble ambition to find ears farther afield. Says Malcolm: “I would like to be one of the best songwriters ever. Not just good. Not just good ‘for Fresno,’ but kick-ass in your face, blood coming out of the stereo speakers and refrains running through your veins sort of good. Is that too much?”

To put it another way, in "What Happened To Your Friends" (downloadable below), he sings, "Over and out/Beyond the sea/Beyond your tropics and your capricorns/Your geography..." And with this restlessness—this cartographic indifference—Rademacher is heading out on that scorched pavement for yet another tour. They're sharing most of the bills with fellow literate California band The Airborne Toxic Event (nice reference to Delillo's White Noise, in case you didn't catch it). You'd do well to catch them if they cross into your town's borders (the dates are below). [Unfortunately, they aren't making it to the East Coast on this jaunt!]

We recently had a chance to chat a bit with Malcolm and Greer, and ended up falling further for the down-to-earth (West Coast, figures!) pair...

"Nico & Disneyland"

Yer Sweet Chimneys: Are you dog people or cat people?

Malcolm Sosa: I am cat person. I have a cat named Nico. She is grey. She likes to sleep under the covers like a person. I like her because she is laid-back, with her mind on her money and her money on her mind.

Greer McGettrick: I am a dog person. I have partial custody of a dog named Disneyland. He might be the cutest dog ever, and he has a terrible fear of words beginning with the letter "B". Like "B-A-T-H".

MM: Disneyland is pretty cool, but he isn't the brightest puppy.

GM: Yes he is! Really? You don't think he's very smart?

MM: You know what they say about acorns and trees...

"In A Good Way"

Rademacher Live at The Echo in LAYSC: One of the things that really struck me when I saw you guys play was the dynamic between the three of you. There was something really forthright and honest about your interactions with the audience, but especially captivating for me was the interplay on stage—the little intimate gestures and glances and grins that passed between you. So, not to get inappropriately personal right off the bat, but what are your relationships outside the band? How did you all come together?

MM: Well, the band has changed a little since you saw us at the Echo last year. We have a new drummer named Eden, who is super cool and super sweet and talented like a mofo.

GM: Malcolm's my best friend and we're really comfortable with each other. After touring together for several years, in this band and in others, we can have conversations onstage without saying much. Does that sound gay?

MM: Totally gay. In a good way. To clarify, we don't "do it" together.

"Lord of the Rings & Shit"

YSC: Have you read anything really good lately?

GM: I read some Dave Eggers and I am revisiting Nabokov.

MM: I just discovered Kurt Vonnegut. I had read maybe one book of his a couple of years ago. The one where the people on the Galapagos Islands turn into seal people. I think it is called Galapagos. I just finished Jailbird. Before that I read Atlas Shrugged for the first time, that's by Ayn Rand, and then before that another Vonnegut book. The one where him and his sister are Neanderthals and he becomes President. Saying these plot lines out loud sounds absurd. I also spoiled myself with the some really cheesy fantasy fiction. Shards of a Broken Crown by Raymond E. Feist. Not his best work, but fun.

YSC: If your songs were books, would they be fiction or nonfiction?

MM: Fiction. Totally. Like Lord of the Rings and shit.

YSC: Did you see Wall•E?

GM: No.

Malcolm: Ditto.

"East vs. West," or, "Trade-Offs," or, "Skip This Section If You're From Boston"

Rademacher - RIP GardensideYSC: I've spent my whole life on the East Coast, and the Left Coast has therefore always held this allure for me. I've always drawn a pretty sharp contrast between the two coastal mentalities. Do you guys feel those geographical distinctions when you tour?

MM : I went to school back East in Poughkeepsie, NY, and then I moved to Brooklyn, then Queens (Astoria). Including school time, I was out there for like 6 or 7 years, so I feel pretty at ease back east. I would say there is a larger distinction between rural areas of the U.S. and urban areas then there is between the West Coast and East Coast. But maybe I'm saying that because I am a laid-back West-Coaster now. Maybe you East Coast folks should just chill. Let it go, man.

GM: I haven't spent much time back East, but I haven't noticed a distinction. The weather in the West is better for traveling. I've never really thought about it. Good question. Dude.

MM: I would just like to add that I think Boston sucks. It is always cold and it isn't like that Cheers show at all, though I did buy some good sneakers there and my friend from Newton gave me my first Prince Paul CD. So it can't be at all bad.

YSC: Do you think you'd be making the same music if you lived in, say, New York City or Philly or some other East Coast city? Would you sound different if you lived where it snows?

GM: I think we're influenced by where we live. The Central Valley has a certain ring to it. It isn't like the East Coast or even other places in California. For the uninformed, I would recommend you listen to Grandaddy's "Fuck the Valley Fudge" off their Toddzilla EP. Applebees. Chuck E. Cheese. Pretty much somes up our neck of the woods.

MM: I like snow. Greer hates it. I think if I still lived in New York, I would probably be playing bad free jazz in a loft somewhere and lamenting the fact that I wasn't famous or successful. In short, I would be a much better musician, but I would never get to tour. Does that make sense? Trade-offs.

"Stealing Grapes"

YSC: One of my best friends grew up in Visalia, CA, and he often reminisces about the citrus groves... What is it like in Fresno? How would you compare/contrast it with LA or other parts of CA?

MM: I have never been out in the citrus groves, but I have been out in the vineyards. There was a giant vineyard across the street from my old apartment, which was kinda cool, because you could always run across the street and pick some table grapes when you got hungry. But mostly Fresno is riddled with crime, drugs, dollar stores, tacos, mariscos, and great thrift stores. I think that's the best brief answer I can come up with.

GM: I can be briefer. The Central Valley is the Midwest of California.

MM: But way more Mexican. Because tacos in Omaha suck. In NYC as well.

"Come On Tokyo Garden, Comp The Band A Drink!"

RademacherYSC: What sorts of places did you play starting out? What sorts of venues do you feel most comfortable playing?

MM: In Fresno we always play at this place called Tokyo Garden, which is the oldest Japanese restaurant in California. There used to be number of Japanese farmers in Fresno before they interned them during WWII and took all their property. Tokyo Garden is small, kitschy, very punk rock. It is my favorite place to play. I just wish they'd kick down with some free drinks or something. I have played there like 100 times. Literally. And I have gotten no free booze. Stingy people. But fair. Greer's first show was in Visalia, right?

MM: Merced. Second show was Visalia. We played the Mainzer Theater. I feel most comfortable playing places where the people that work there are nice. Where they keep it real.

MM: Greer likes big rooms. Bowery Ballroom sorts of places.

GM: Jerk.

MM: Well, you're a spoiled, spoiled brat.

"Tricks & Sleeves"

YSC: It looks like you've gone through a few different lineups. How has that evolution changed the sound?

MM: Well, I think we've gotten increasingly better as musicians and as a band. When Greer joined, we for sure got shored up in the rhythm section. Now we have a new drummer, Eden Davis, who is pretty cool. She brings a different sound to the table. It'll be interesting to record with her...

GM: Different. It is more dynamic, and we can't cover up our mistakes with noise anymore. It is a challenge.

YSC: When I saw you, it was a three-piece, and I was surprised by how full the sound was, and how dynamic it was with just the traditional guitar, bass, and drums. Are you touring with the same lineup now?

MM: Still a three piece, but now, like I mentioned, we have a new drummer and a few more tricks up our sleeves. We're dragging out a bunch of Casio keyboards and some fun effects, trying to get a little freaky with it.

Here's "What Happened to Your Friends" from Rademacher's new CD, RIP Gardenside, a collection of their first 4 EPs...



February 7 — Merced, CA — The Partisan
February 11 — San Diego, CA — Delta Room @ House of Blues w/ the Airborne Toxic Event
February 12 — Los Angeles, CA — The Henry Fonda Music Box w/ the Airborne Toxic Event
February 13 — San Francisco, CA — Bottom of the Hill w/ the Airborne Toxic Event
February 14 — Arcata, CA — The Green House w/ Geographer
February 15 — Seattle, Washington — Neumos w/ the Airborne Toxic Event
February 17 — Portland, Oregon — Doug Fir w/ the Airborne Toxic Event
February 18 — Vancouver, BC — Richard’s on Richards w/ the Airborne Toxic Event
February 20 — Boise, Idaho — Neurolux w/ the Airborne Toxic Event
February 21 — Salt Lake City, Utah — SHO w/ the Airborne Toxic Event
February 27 — San Francisco, CA — Noisepop @ Slim's
March 5 — Fresno, CA — Tokyo Garden
March 15 — Hollywood, CA — Space 15 Twenty
March 18 — Austin, Texas — SXSW : DIW Showcase
March 19 — Austin, Texas — SXSW : Schubas Party @ Yard Dog Folk Art
March 20 — Austin, Texas — SXSW : Gueros Oak Garden
March 20 — Austin, Texas — SXSW : Metropolis Art Apartments
March 23 — Tucson, Arizona — The Rock w/ the Airborne Toxic Event
March 24 — Scottsdale, Arizona — Martini Ranch w/ the Airborne Toxic Event
March 25 — Las Vegas, Nevada — Beauty Bar w/ the Airbone Toxic Event
March 26 — Pomona, CA — Glasshouse w/ the Airborne Toxic Event
March 27 — Sacramento, CA — Blue Lamp w/ the Airborne Toxic Event

Beirut on Letterman

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sound & Vision: Cold At Night

Todd Hido, Court & Seventh

Sound: "Don't" by Court & Seventh
Vision: Homes at Night: Apartment #2844 by Todd Hido

Madison, WI-based Court & Seventh make delicate, ethereal songs where the percussion and organ are out in front and the guitar and vocals (the typical stars of rock stardom) are subtle, sonorous things. As with some of my favorite bands, the whole here is greater than the sum of the parts.

Todd Hido's photographs are nearly always haunting, none more so than his series of homes photographed at night. Soft, lonely, and quietly composed, Hido's images are stunning in their simplicity. We paired Court & Seventh with this particular image because, well, Madison, WI is one cold city.


Dog Saves Cat

(from here)