South 12th

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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30th July 14
How much do I love riding the 21A? So much that I even ride the 21A when I visit other cities. My column in MinnPost this morning is about going to Budapest and riding the bus.

How much do I love riding the 21A? So much that I even ride the 21A when I visit other cities. My column in MinnPost this morning is about going to Budapest and riding the bus.

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28th July 14
I’m playing the long game, but this recent post on a Houston blog tells me my plan is working.

I’m playing the long game, but this recent post on a Houston blog tells me my plan is working.

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22nd July 14
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Pierce mentioned the other day something I had written about “the impressionistic quality of [my] 2005 camera phone photographs.” In fact, his summary of what I’d hastily dashed out several years ago was much better than the original, so I continue: he describes photos which “landed in some indefinite sweet spot between detail and glitch, the light muddy and prone to flares and leaks, the colours a little rich but not digitally precise, the textures granular and generously obfuscatory.”

All true. I moved recently, and in the sort of excavation and displacement that goes with that process, I’d come across my old LG2000 (which I’d once described as “the Leica M4 of mid-fi cell phone cameras”). I was trying to work out if there was some way to use it as a camera and pull the images off of it without it being active on a cellular network. The images the phone takes are so relentlessly subpar — so washed-out and glitchy and crude — that they transcend their own limitations. As I’ve written elsewhere, the moment an item of any kind outlives its previous usefulness in the world, it starts that long twilight journey into the expansive and mercifully forgiving realm of art. Early cameraphone photos are maybe beginning that journey.

In fact, only a few years later, early cameraphone photos barely qualify as what we’d think of as “photos” today, in the sense of being relatively unmediated documentation of a moment in time. They’re too crude to really be effective mementos. Not only are they too lo-res and primitive to properly make prints of, but they’re even too lo-res and primitive to display attractively on a phone or tablet screen. All photographs are, of course, mediated in some way, but pre-2005 cameraphone photos are so unable to offer any of the advantages of contemporary post-iPhone photography — clarity, detail, and image correction, not to mention geo-tagging or associated metadata — that they don’t even seem like the same type of object. They may have more in common with early daguerreotypes than iPhone 5 photos. They are more historical curiosities than living documents. Look at some of them, then imagine showing them to your grandchild and saying, “Here’s a photo of your grandmother’s 25th birthday party.” It’s impossible. You might instead imagine yourself saying, “Look how bad these cameraphones were. They’d just been invented. You can barely tell what’s going on.”

To that end, I’ve rounded up some of the best pre-2005 cameraphone photos I’ve found on Flickr and elsewhere, in all of their glitchy, washed-out digital glory. I’ve got them queued up in a new Tumblr to spit one out every day until it’s inevitably abandoned. Get on board before there’s an LG2000 Instagram filter and the nostalgia-industrial complex (in which I am probably a subcontractor) swallows this up, too.

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3rd July 14
Doing some major cleaning, excavating and organizing this week, and turning up all kinds of exciting junk I’d forgotten about. One of my favorite finds so far: a sketched attempt from 2008 or so, made while binging on Kids in the Hall episodes, to differentiate the three non-Dave Foley, non-Scott Thompson cast members with “Mc” surnames. I still often forget which is which, but this is not a bad guide.

Doing some major cleaning, excavating and organizing this week, and turning up all kinds of exciting junk I’d forgotten about. One of my favorite finds so far: a sketched attempt from 2008 or so, made while binging on Kids in the Hall episodes, to differentiate the three non-Dave Foley, non-Scott Thompson cast members with “Mc” surnames. I still often forget which is which, but this is not a bad guide.

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Debunked sex rumors, 1989-1994.

26th June 14

Summer 1989: A classmate claims that “Tummy Trouble,” the Roger Rabbit short playing before Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, contains a scene where Jessica Rabbit is fully naked, and she and Roger Rabbit engage in unspecified sexual activities. An extremely tense viewing of the film at the local cinema (with parents and siblings present) dispels the rumor. In a terse post-viewing follow-up, classmate refuses to comment on matter.

Summer 1990: A hollowed-out tree located in the undeveloped wooded area south of Brownsboro Road near Goose Creek is rumored to contain a large volume of plastic-wrapped adult magazines, including Oui, High Society, Gallery and Penthouse, among others. This collection is said to have been curated and maintained by students at nearby Ballard High School. Investigations in the area prove fruitless.

Spring 1994: Claims circulate that the new independent UHF station, “Big 58,” plays full-length pornographic films after 1 a.m. Household VHS recorder is time-set for 1:02 a.m., but viewings of recorded material the next day reveal only static noise patterns. Claimants later clarify that the films are only lightly adult in nature, but with sex scenes crudely excised. One claim in particular is in reference to a film featuring a scene in a fishing boat. In the film, two men set out on a lake, and come across a wild party on a houseboat. A crude edit follows, cutting to the two men in the boat, their hats askew, a pair of women’s underwear draped over one of them. “Well, that sure was crazy,” says the man. Subsequent time-set VHS recordings reveal no films of this type after Big 58’s FCC-mandated sign-off time.

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17th June 14

A, R, O or K, as needed.

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11th June 14
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"Andy assured us it would work fine and he proved to be correct."

11th June 14

These words have never been spoken in the English language before now, and may never be again. But all the same, here’s a good interview with one of my favorite designers, Jasio Stefanski. The design studio he runs with Lauren Thorsen, Studio Set, worked with me to create the wall-sized maps for Alley Atlas last year. I’d encourage anyone looking for smart designers to contact them.

In fact, I should commission them to design t-shirts with my face on it, and the words “I assure you it will work fine” written underneath. We’d probably make like fifty dollars. 

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9th June 14
Sneak preview of the poster I’m designing for the Trylon Microcinema’s Jim Jarmusch series next month. Love that graphite transfer.

Sneak preview of the poster I’m designing for the Trylon Microcinema’s Jim Jarmusch series next month. Love that graphite transfer.

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8th June 14
Email from mom, written almost entirely in secret Sturdevant code language. My mom’s gift for giving every mundane object or occurrence a mythical name of some kind has been continued enthusiastically by all of us kids. My phone is full of text messages like this. 

Email from mom, written almost entirely in secret Sturdevant code language. My mom’s gift for giving every mundane object or occurrence a mythical name of some kind has been continued enthusiastically by all of us kids. My phone is full of text messages like this. 

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