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16 Days of Glory | 1984 Olympics

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16 Days of Glory | 1984 Olympics

The 2016 Rio Olympics, however successful and safe they will amount to be, is coming like winter. As is the case with every Olympics, excitement becomes an understatement for tons of athletes, fans, and armchair enthusiasts world-wide. The defeats, wins, and record breaking performances are certainly a spectacle which has been elevated to new heights thanks to social media and tech in general, and let's not forget shameless bravado made popular by the late Muhammad Ali. 

While now is always an impressive time to be in, the past preserves absolute time, complete with layers and layers of all the dirt and refuse, interlaced with deposits of cultural diamonds.

One such diamond is 16 Days of Glory, a documentary of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, directed by Bud Greenspan and narrated by Greenspan's brother, David Perry. Perry's almost computer-like delivery is brilliant and direct, backed with fan cheers, inserted participant dialogue and vignettes, and a musical score, in true '80s form, elicits added emotional connection. The attention and depth of the back stories of athletes are captivating, especially for a wide-eyed seven year old (me watching it for the first time back in '86).

Vignettes include a juxtaposition between Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis, a massive emotional explosion between Bela Karolyi and Mary Lou Retton which reminds me of everyone's reaction to McKayla Maroney's jaw-dropping vault at London's 2012 Games, a beautiful segment with diver Greg Louganis and coach Ron O'Brien, and the chill inducing, heat resisting, stadium entry of Joan Benoit at the end of the first-ever Olympic women's marathon. (Damn, it's good to see that USA on the front of Benoit's jersey as she enters the stadium and also amazing to see the late Grete Waitz come in second.)

16 Days of Glory is not superficially digestible televised candy celebrating forgettable human idiocy, it is a savory treat which educates, mesmerizes, and entertains all at once.

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Guastavino Tile | American Original

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Guastavino Tile | American Original

Find your eye fixed on the vaulted tile work of Grand Central's Oyster Bar, NYC's Bridgemarket, or City Hall's Subway Station? 

Photo: Michael Freeman/Alamy

Photo: Michael Freeman/Alamy

Photo: from AD and Courtesy of the Biltmore Company

It's all the work of architects, engineers, and designers Raphael Guastavino and son Raphael Guastavino, Jr., a father and son who immigrated from Valencia, Spain to the US in 1881, and are, in my mind, American originals.

They landed in the US with a recipe for fire-resistant structural tile work, capable of producing complex geometry and withstanding great loads with little thickness- think vaults four inches thick and spans as large as one hundred feet in diameter, seen at the Crossing of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Beyond the superficial, Guastavino tiles are rooted in geometry and structure, keen design and engineering, complete with a mixing of cultural and architectural expression. The technique of vault construction creates a material weave consisting of a three tile tier, sandwiched by plaster and Portland cement. The vaults strength is impressive in relation to its thickness.

The Guastavino's have many examples of work in public spaces throughout the country and worked in the company of McKim, Mead, and White, as well as Robert Morris Hunt, although have stayed shy of weighty recognition in the architectural history books, perhaps because they're viewed as the consultant or contractor, despite their design input and architect status.  

However, the Guastavino character is slowly on the rise, inching its way into contemporary dialogue, whether through slideshows on Architectural Digest or mentions in Bloomberg or through the research of MIT professor John Ochsendorf (great lecture video) and inclusion in the Avery Architectural Archives at Columbia University

In addition, this website talks about Raphael Jr's experiments and interest in lustre glazes, which reaches into the historic tiles and pottery of the Persian and Moorish traditions. 

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GUM

Having a moment with this song and video by Jay Watson of Tame Impala fame.

 

"The self-prophesising ‘Anesthetized Lesson’ transports the listener to a funk-drenched hyper reality. A diverse group of vocal manipulations and synths materialise around the landscape of the song, which plays with colours and textures that appear blissfully out of reach."

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Takenobu Igarashi | Smith Chart

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Takenobu Igarashi | Smith Chart

Kanagawa Art Festival Poster

1984

Technique: Offset printing

Size: W728 x H1,030 mm

Client: Kanagawa Prefecture

 

"...I attempted to translate the lines into dots."

 

Smith Chart

The Smith chart, invented by Phillip H. Smith (1905–1987), is a graphical aid or nomogram designed for electrical and electronics engineers specializing in radio frequency (RF) engineering to assist in solving problems with transmission lines and matching circuits. more here

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Irving Harper

Recently read about Irving via George Nelson and the iconic Marshmallow Sofa. I learned today that he passed away yesterday, 8/4/2015. He was 99. Check his book Works In Paper, you're in for a treat.

 

Irving was the guy behind the guy who actually was the guy.

 

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Petite Noir | Damn Good

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Petite Noir | Damn Good

Found Petite Noir on Pitchfork's "Overlooked Records of 2015". If you're in the mood for something more of a chill inducing build and ride through a song, as opposed to the cookie cutter compartmentalized stitchery of radio candy canes, then check out Yannick Iluga's stuff. The video for Chess has gotstobe the best thing ever.

"It's real shit right here."

-from Chess, 0:57.

 

 

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Melt Yo Self

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Melt Yo Self

After downloading several "3D People" from 3D Warehouse, I noticed some peculiar images that came along with the files. I thought they were interesting, to say the least, as they portray the human body as an unrolled, ironed out, flat piece of imagery.

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Steve Keene  |  Color Factory

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Steve Keene | Color Factory

Ran into Steve's work while working at a record store in VA back in the day, he had done the cash wrap and other pieces in the store. Eight years later I was playing darts at a local bar in Brooklyn and noticed a few of his paintings on one of the walls because, well, they're unmistakable. 

Steve's done some 250,000 paintings, including album artwork for Pavement. The paintings are done in an immersive factory line - meticulously quick, methodical, explosive - and are fairly cheap, much like buying a CD.

What's best is that he does them himself.

Check his site for more work and maybe check out the studio on a Sunday: Steve Keene

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Dean Potter  |  Untethered Spirit

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Dean Potter | Untethered Spirit

A few years back I was into watching rock climbing videos, drawn more to extreme free-solo climbers. I'm talking about Dan Osman and Dean Potter, two untethered spirits. Now, I'm bringing it out of the treasure chest of ideosyncratic interests because I just read an article on the WSJ about Patagonia clothing popping up on the fashion runways. The tie in here resolves with Dean Potter infamously being canned by Patagonia after he climbed Utah's Delicate Arch back in 2006, which is apparently a huge "no no," mainly because he may, or may not have, left rope scars on the arch.

Dean is known for his BASE jumping, free climbing, and highlining. Pictured above is his highline Moonwalk at Cathedral Peak and below is Dean highlining Yosemite's Taft Point. Do check out the Moonwalk vid, it's nice. Sometimes you have to touch the void.

From left: Patrik Ervell, Altuzarra, Louis Vuitton 

From left: Patrik Ervell, Altuzarra, Louis Vuitton 

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Cuba Lives!

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Cuba Lives!

Fall 2011: We flew into Cuba via Miami

I captured this cool little man reppin' about thirty seconds before he was taken away by a policeman who was driving the car you can see in the upper middle  right of the photograph.

The two little guys in the circle above were playing outside not too far from where the bottom photo was taken.  You can see a few more pics from Cuba if you click either photos.

...Cuba: The Architecture, The Culture, The People...

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The Crystal Palace | Joseph Paxton

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The Crystal Palace | Joseph Paxton

Joseph Paxton’s 1851 modular, modern, masterpiece, The Crystal Palace, was created for The Great Exhibition, hosted in Hyde Park, London, in the same year.  From the nascent vision of Prince Albert, the Great Exhibition celebrated peace, industry, and modernity, and opened on May 1st by Queen Victoria to much delight and amazement.  It was the first World’s Fair to celebrate industry and worldwide culture.  

Donned in glass, it was a cultural Matryoshka, a cross section of culture and industry, housing its hundred thousand objects along with all the flags of the world.  From Sevres porcelain to the 27-foot crystal fountain, the palace was a tour de force, an architectural wunderkammer erected on a self supporting iron structure with an edifice comprised of the largest glass panels available on the market.  The Crystal Palace embodied the spirit of the Great Exhibition two-fold, it being an industrial vessel holding cultural objects, while itself being a cultural object signifying ‘nowness.’

Now experienced through Paxton’s inky field sketch, still held in the V&A Museum, some architectural plans, and a few illustrations along with black and white photographs, the Palace can be relegated to a position of antiquated ‘has been,’ as it was some one hundred fifty years in the past.  However, the Palace can be delegated as an architectural and industrial breakthrough, taking the blue ribbon for modernity.  It is, and was, the founding member of the avant garde for a culture of glass.

Paxton’s Crystal Palace emits a rational beauty of geometry, set to the tune of a fixed modular, balanced in form and rhythm, glistening through and through with the one thing that lets one see...light.

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