(1) Make Time For It: Meantime X Brompton collaboration (YouTube)
Home-Thoughts, from Abroad
Oh, to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on orchard bough
In England – now!
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Bossoms and dewdrops – at the bent spray’s edge –
That’s the wise thrush; he signs each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
– Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!
– Robert Browning
(4) A related flea market find (Elephant’s Trunk Country Flea Market): Transport Through the Ages (A SERIES OF 25, ISSUED BY CLOVER DAIRIES LTD. in 1967)
The world’s greatest liner, the Cunard White Star “Queen Elizabeth.” Gross tonnage is 83,673 tons, and overall length 1,031 ft.
“Instead of eyes that flashed with sudden fury, there was a sensation of churning fires within the eye sockets — eyes that had no pupils. There was no way anyone could communicate with such a being. He was like some alien force that had its own way of seeing, some unknown sensory perception that commanded everything before it…Chernobog was definitely from some other world and projected an unsettling spell over all in his presence.”
(3) Strolling in an Hermès Wanderland (Wallpaper*)
“Walking through the streets of most major cities, it seems that the art of aimlessly wandering is long lost. ‘It’s nice to just sit at a café or on a bench,’ muses Dumas. ‘To watch people and not do anything and watch time go by. I think it has become a luxury today, when everybody’s so busy.’ Dumas refers to a human habit that emerged in post-Industrial Revolution Paris in the nineteenth century, the activity of near non-activity: ‘flâner’. An almost untranslatable French word, it means to wander, to stroll.”
(3a) A related quote from The Heart of our Cities by Victor Gruen:
“The city is the crowded sidewalks, the covered galleries of Italy, the arcades and colonnades, and the people on them and in them, some bustling, some walking for pleasure (spazieren gehen, they call it in Vienna), some engaged in the age-old tradition of the corso or the promenade.”
“An illustration of how this desire for publicity can influence the architect’s work can be found in comparing two air terminal buildings designed by the same architect, the late, extremely gifted Eero Saarinen. One of these buildings, the TWA terminal at Idlewild, New York (now John F. Kennedy International Airport), obviously was based on the client’s desire to outdo all its competitors’ displays of originality and glamour as they are lined up in that “World’s Fair” of air terminal buildings at the International Airport. The result is a tour de force that offers some excitement but little comfort or convenience to the air traveler. The second air terminal building designed by Eero Saarinen is at the Dulles Airport in Washington D.C., and inasmuch as it is one central structure serving all competitive airlines, the desire for advertising was not present. The result is an excellent, handsome structure offering innovations in the transport of the passengers to the plane which will probably pioneer similar arrangements all over the world and which, as far as human users are concerned, will provide quietude, convenience, comfort and “delight.” Yet I will not be surprised if that superior terminal in Washington will create less furor and excitement in our mass communications media and in the architectural press than did the first one.”
I was at NYCC yesterday with my brother and snapped this photo of the orange ninja. It’s his 15th anniversary.
(1a) Orange Ninja Factoid from Naruto: The Official Fanbook
“According to the neighborhood records, Naruto’s hobby is gardening. A little surprising, but possibly he sees himself as a seed that would be a flower…”
(1) A quote from David Pryce-Jones:
“For centuries, the character of Christian nations was formed and maintained by church architecture, stained glass, missals and poems like The Song of Roland, icons and frescoes, and statues and depictions of biblical motifs that even the greatest sculptors and painters concentrated on. Without such common belief and purpose, art in this secular age is reduced to “doing your thing.” Very few people have a thing worth doing, which is why the bogus, the ugly, and especially the transgressional have become modern standards.”
(1b) A quote from the Song of Roland:
“Throughout all France terrific tempests rise,
Thunder is heard, the stormy winds blow high,
Unmeasured rain and hail fall from the sky,
While thick and fast flashes the levin bright,
And true it is the earth quakes far and wide.
Far as from Saintes to Michael-of-the-Tide,
From Besançon to Wissant Port, you’d find
There’s not a house but the walls crack and rive.
Right at high noon a darkness falls like night,
Save for the lightning there’s not a gleam of light;
None that beholds it but is dismayed for fright,
And many say: “This is the latter time,
The world is ending, and the Great Doom is nigh.”
They speak not true, they cannot read the signs:
‘Tis Roland’s death calls forth this mighty cry.”
(2) A quote from Ave Maria: an interpretation from Walt Disney’s “Fantasia”:
“One of the greatest pieces of devotional music ever composed, Schubert’s Ave Maria has been inspiring singers, orchestras, and music-lovers for more than a hundred years. When it was selected as a concluding number in the first Walt Disney Concert Feature, Fantasia, it offered an exciting challenge to the finest creative minds of the Disney organization. Hundreds of paintings and sketches were prepared in an endeavor to explore various ways of visualizing that glorious music—of translating its spirit and meaning from sound to sight.
(3) A quote from Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton:
“Bells are meant to remind us that God alone is good, that we belong to Him, that we are not living for this world. They break in upon our cares in order to remind us that all things pass away and that our preoccupations are not important. They speak to us of our freedom, which responsibilities and transient cares make us forget.”
*Scan is from Ave Maria: an interpretation from Walt Disney’s “Fantasia”
(1) A quote from In Unfamiliar England by Thos D. Murphy:
“There is not much left of the abbey. Henry VIII., with characteristic thrift, floated the stone down the river to build Hurst Castle. The refectory, now restored and used as a parish church, is the most perfect remnant of the once magnificent establishment, whose church almost equaled the huge dimensions of Winchester Cathedral. The late lord did much to restore the ruins, which are now surrounded by lawns and shrubbery. The monks of Beaulieu had wide fame for good cheer–they kept great vineyards and their vines were counted the best in England. The vineyards throve long after the Dissolution, but the last vine, several hundred years old, disappeared about two centuries ago.”
(1) Checkmate: The Economic Chess Masters Play a Losing Game (National Review)
“The nature of our technologically enabled present global connectedness means that for the first time in human history all economic activity happens in immediate relation to everything else. You cannot isolate the variables, which is a real problem if you believe in political management of the economy and see the policy question as nothing more than a really tough math problem.”
(2) U.S. Export-Import Bank: From Apple Pie to Endangered Species (Bloomberg)
“Though Democrats widely support Ex-Im, Barack Obama criticized it while campaigning for president in 2008, calling it “little more than a fund for corporate welfare” at a time when opposition to government spending, triggered by the bailouts that year, was growing.”
(3) Ex-Im inaction prompts GE moves (CT Post)
(4) Pelosi ‘Very Excited’ about the Republicans’ Attempt to Revive Ex-Im (National Review)
(5) A quote from Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg:
“Gerald Swope, the president of GE, provides a perfect illustration of the business elite’s economic worldview. A year before FDR took office, he published his modestly titled The Swope Plan. His idea was that the government would agree to suspend antitrust laws so that industries could collude in order to adjust “production to consumption.” Industry would “no longer operate in independent units, but as a whole, according to rules laid out by a trade association…the whole supervised by some federal agency like the Federal Trade Commission.” Under Swopism, as many in and out of government called it, the state would remove the uncertainty for the big-business man so that he could “go forward decisively instead of fearsomely.”
“He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
(2) My sister found a gorgeous Dunelt this weekend
“Whether it was ever Arcadian, or even faux-rural, is debatable. But it has obstinately survived, and is a candidate for that fashionable new category of landscape, ‘edge-land’. Victor Hugo in Les Misérables called this kind of undefined, hybrid habitat terrain vague, a landscape ‘somewhat ugly but bizarre, made up of two different natures, which surrounds certain great cities’. ‘To observe the city edge,’ Hugo wrote, ‘is to observe an amphibian. End of trees, beginning of roofs, end of grass, beginning of paving stones, end of ploughed fields, beginning of shops, the end of the beaten track, the beginning of the passions, the end of the murmur of things divine, the beginning of the noise of humankind.’ Except that the original vision of Metroland was not one of such sharp ends and beginnings, but one where trees, pavements, fields, moments of rhapsody and trips to the shops would be seamlessly interleaved. Such a harmonious marriage did materialize in a few places, until the noise of humankind became too overpowering. But something else also began to take shape around Metroland, a fraying of its neat edges, a wayward outgrowth that seemed to me, scavenging for ideas in it for much of my life, more interestingly mutable, and more inspiringly upstart than any part of its sedate interior.” – Richard Mabey
“If this fantastic metropolis never quite materialized, it nonetheless became our supreme goal, a beacon blazing throughout the development of a uniquely American culture defined by more than hope. It was the promise of something greater, something transcendent-not in some ghostly afterlife, but here, in fact upon this solid Earth.” – Gordon Theisen
“Today, in the century of man’s greatest technological achievement, the wilderness at last comes into its own. Man no longer needs God, and he can live in the desert on his own resources. He can build there his fantastic, protected cities of withdrawal and experimentation and vice. The glittering towns that spring up overnight in the desert are no longer images of the City of God, coming down from heaven to enlighten the world with the vision of peace.” – Thomas Merton
In memory of Ralph J. Stephenson
Gore Vidal, Wrong Again
(2) ÖBB Headquarters / INNOCAD Architecture (ArchDaily)
(3) More quotes from The Heart of our Cities by Victor Gruen:
“There is a saying that the best things in life are free. Those best things are hard to come by in the sprawling environment of the modern American metropolis. One of the best things in life that comes free is a chance meeting with another human being, which in more concentrated and urbane cities occurs in everyday life on the streets, in the parks, in stores and on buses, streetcars or other public conveyances. These chance meetings, not pre-designed by efficient hostesses, more often than not are the most rewarding ones. In Anti-city they cannot come about because the places that create the occasions do not exist. There are no sidewalks, there are no public squares, and there are very few, if any, public conveyances.”
“The result of neglect of the public environment drives us even further into efforts to improve our own immediate personal surroundings. In escapist fashion we are running away from the upsetting dangers and ugliness of the public environment…We tend to reduce all intimate and personal relations with the outside world, relaying more and more on the telephone, the radio and television for communication. In doing so, however, we soon run afoul of some basic, deeply human needs: the need for sociability, deeply imbedded in man who is a gregarious beast, and the need to earn one’s living, a necessity at least for most of us. We are forced to make sorties and forays from our fortified castles, and whenever we do so we encounter the hostility and dangers, the ugliness and chaos of the over-all public environment.”
This summer (pronoun alert) I Participated in the 2015 Brompton Urban Challenge in NYC on Sunday, August 15 to complete my own personal treble (Brompton US Championship 2013, Brompton World Championship 2014, and Brompton Urban Challenge NYC 2015).
The day started with all Bromptoneers assembling at the Brompton Cafe at Rough Trade in Williamsburg. I was a solo registrant and was paired with a rider from Washington D.C. and Brazil. Our hastily minted team was creatively dubbed Team 3.
Where is everyone? Brompton Urban Challenge NYC pic.twitter.com/OaBs0HpZMr
— Limestone Roof (@limestoneroof) August 16, 2015
The format for the event was a scavenger hunt travailing the 5 boroughs of NYC (for the really, really ambitious). Each team was provided an initial clue set and there were three to collect in total.
The clue sets included one or two tasks and four or five clues. In addition, there were three checkpoint challenges at Redbeard Bikes, NYCeWheels via Columbus Circle, and Bicycle Habitat. The challenges weren’t revealed on the clue sets and tested your mettle in areas like balancing, folding (blindfolded), and parts recognition.
One of the clues (Lights, camera, action!) challenged us to recreate a scene from a well-known New York film. We staged a scene* from the French Connection.
The event ended back at Rough Trade for a slideshow of all the photos (cleverly curated using social media), awards, and beer. We were the overall Challenge Champions (awarded to the team with the best overall score for the day’s checkpoint challenges) and were presented with a beautiful set of tea cups. My teammate also participated in and WON the folding competition.
Official Video (YouTube)
Clue Sets (Coming Soon)
*This fulfilled a life-long ambition of paying tribute to Gene Hackman and Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon.
(1) Tokyo’s abandoned homes (Domain)
(2) A quote from The Heart of our Cities by Victor Gruen:
“A healthy city heart attracts and holds creative people–painters, sculptors, musicians, poets, actors and actresses, dancers, philosophers, architects, writers and planners. It is a haven for those who find in its environment not only a source of income, but inspiration, too. It is a preferred place of residence for those who value intimate contact with urban features and for whom, whether they are wealthy, middle-class or poor, the city is a way of life. The healthy city heart is a place of infinite variety whose buildings and structures form, between them, spaces of differing size and character, narrow or broad, serene or dynamic, modest or monumental, contrasting with each other by virtue of varied treatment of pavement, landscaping and lighting. Sprinkled throughout the core are green areas ranging from tiny landscaped spots to good-sized parks. A healthy urban heart pulsates with life day and night, weekday and Sunday, spring, summer, fall and winter.”