I think it was during those heady days of sleep deprivation right after Gram was born that we received a package in the mail from Greg Allen (of daddytypes fame) containing a Muji "Detroit in a Bag" and the bag was made so well and the buildings so accurate (including a Renaissance Center) I thought it was REAL. I wrote him a quick thank you that said something like "I can't believe Muji made a Detroit set!" and then fell asleep for six minutes before the next crying kid woke me up.

A few weeks later, I took a closer look at it and realized Greg had hacked some of his Muji cities in a bag by charring some of the buildings and painting tiny versions of the graffiti he'd seen in my photostream or in the urban graffiti alphabet book I'd created around that time. He even crafted the Renaissance Center by hot-gluing some dowel rods together to resemble the most iconic part of our modern skyline.

Some of the cars are even burned out. So damn accurate!

Now that the kids are older and the boy doesn't want to put the cars in his mouth, they want to play with it all the time. But honestly, there's a part of me that wants to say, "Hey be careful with that, Greg is an artist, and that's an extremely limited edition." 




This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.

New Holland Brewery's Knickerbocker Gin

Posted by jdg | 2:46 PM



First off, I should warn you that I am not a big drinker. I don't drink very often and when I do I often end up acting like a big baby because I almost always get a headache. I don't get the whole whiskey/Scotch snob thing though I enjoy a shot of Irish now and then (I'll never forget how warmed I was by a shot of Tullamore Dew Aideen gave me after I came in from a soaking afternoon in her cow fields, so I always have a bottle of Irish on hand).

I've never liked vodka, and if I drink a martini I want it to be dirty and made with gin. I do love gin,  probably not all that surprising from a guy who put 'Juniper' on his daughter's birth certificate (though the story of her name has nothing to do with such spirits). A Dutchman is credited with the invention of gin, so it's appropriate that a brewery/distillery in my wife's home town of Holland, Michigan is making it's own small batches of gin (not priced too shabbily either, at $25 a 750ml bottle). I picked up a bottle the other day and hopefully without sounding like too much of a douche, I can say it is surprisingly flavorful and much more interesting than your typical imported dry gin.

I am really looking forward to trying Anchor Steam's Junipero gin next time we get out to California. Now there's a bottle my daughter is one day totally going to display with prominence on her college mantle.





This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.



Providing sturdy, American union-made work clothes to southsiders since 1885, Abe Bernstein mostly helped outfit steel workers until the mills closed in the 1970s/10980s. Now they focus on construction workers and "the urban market." Specializes in big & tall sizes and survives mostly on uniform sales.















This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.




Whenever we travel to Pittsburgh, we always bring the dog, so I've had a chance to explore the many amazing parks in the city. I still insist Pittsburgh is one of the most exceptionally-beautiful American cities (yes, I've been to most) largely because of the green spaces. I wrote about the reclaimed park land on the Southside slopes last summer, and on this visit I spent a few hours in the Frick nature preserve marveling at the inexplicable fire hydrants sticking up through the forest floor. It is my understanding that the park began as a small preserve donated by a steel tycoon at the request of his daughter, but grew down towards Squirrel Hill with the reclamation of land that was once residential neighborhoods. Are the old-fashioned hydrants vestiges of the original neighborhood infrastructure?








Even if there's some less-romantic explanation, I see hope for my own city in these forests. I see abandoned, useless fire hydrants all over Detroit's prairies, and I hope that someday trees will grow around them somebody wandering trails among them will wonder what once stood there.







This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.

The same doorway everywhere

Posted by jdg | 1:23 PM

Thumbing through Seamus Heaney's The Rattle Bag last night, reading poems to the girl to put her to sleep, I came across and read this one by Patrick Kavanagh that I hadn't read in years.

Innocence

They laughed at one I loved-
The triangular hill that hung
Under the Big Forth. They said
That I was bounded by the whitethorn hedges
Of the little farm and did not know the world.
But I knew that love's doorway to life
Is the same doorway everywhere.
Ashamed of what I loved
I flung her from me and called her a ditch
Although she was smiling at me with violets.

But now I am back in her briary arms
The dew of an Indian Summer lies
On bleached potato-stalks
What age am I?

I do not know what age I am,
I am no mortal age;
I know nothing of women,
Nothing of cities,
I cannot die
Unless I walk outside these whitethorn hedges.

* * * * *

I found this photo of fields bounded by whitethorn hedges on flickr.




credit:
Eugene McGettrick, flickr



This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.




I read some story a last week about a guy in the Pacific Northwest who maintains one of the last fleets of film photo booths around, and how the number of booths still operating nationwide was depressingly low. We were big fans of all the photo booths at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and my wife lost a mitt full of our developed shots when she left her wallet in some Lebanese Restaurant years ago. So I was disappointed when I took the kids out to Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum only to discover they sold their last film-based photo booth to some eccentric millionaire dressed all in red who took it with him when he moved to Nashville with his supermodel wife.  All they had was one of these digital booths that spits out a print in ten seconds and it's not even close to the same. At least Japanese purikura give you hello kitty-esque options. And this raggedy Mac camera application doesn't cut it either.

Then I read this morning that the Henry Ford museum is digitizing their photo collection and putting it on Flickr, starting with a promising collection of vintage photo booth portraits. I've wasted countless hours in the Library of Congress' digital photo archives and I love it when universities and smaller museums put their collections online, so I'm pretty excited about the Henry Ford doing this (I am a bit obsessive about Henry Ford lore so I hope some of his personal photos go up there). I hope they add to the photo booth collection as well.

Most of the people in these photos are anonymous; some are famous, or rich, or powerful, but you wouldn't know it from their faces. The photo booth is the great equalizer. It reminds us that to its unwavering eye we're all pretty much the same.




This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.



I found a stack of old Detroit teen magazines from the 1950s not that long ago and was blown away by the prices in the fashion section: $49 Mackinaw coats and $19 chambray shirts and $47 leather boots. It occurred to me that despite inflation, sixty years ago parents paid the same thing for kids' clothes that today's parents pay for that garbage they sell at Old Navy. Then it occurred to me that not only were those clothes made by American workers, but they were also made to last, both in quality and style. The clothes at H&M and Old Navy are practically disposable after a single wearing.

I've been shopping at thrift stores my whole life, and I learned early on to look at the tags: not for brand information, but to figure out what the garment was made of and where it was made. The latter was usually the best indication of how old something was, and the fact that something decades old had made it through all those years always felt like a sign of its quality. I don't shop at thrift stores as much as I used to. With two kids it's hard, but more than anything all the shoddily-made, tacky, two-to-seven-year-old sweatshop crap from Old Navy has infected the racks at even my favorite thrift stores. I don't have the energy to wade through it anymore.

When I found the blog Archival Clothing through Reference Library, I became enamored with the idea of "shopping from the past": looking at decades-old catalogs and wishing I could order clothes from a time when they were made with quality materials for longevity by American workers. A recent guest post there linked to this collection of images from vintage Montgomery Ward catalogs and I couldn't believe how cool the clothes were at a store I grew up thinking was just slightly better than Zayre. Check out those guys in this photo at the top of this page. Those clothes are like the uniform of a superhero whose job it is to kick the ass of every GRUP in a $37 threadless t-shirt.

I know this is totally a nostalgia fest, but take a look at some of the other catalogs Lesli has featured on her site. Then slap yourself on the head for settling for the kind of crap we buy to cover our nakedness.







This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.



I recently came across some of Jennifer Ray's photography and I really love it. She is attracted to the same sort of fringe, temporarily human-less urban/wild landscapes that inspire me, and I feel like she photographs them in a really interesting way. For her latest series, she figured out where DL gay guys meet up in the woods at night to have random sex and then she goes during the daytime to take flash-lit pictures of these places. I'm not sure how I feel about manipulating objects for photos (I never do it, and I'm sure there's a much bigger debate among documentary and fine art photographers on the subject) but I like the results in Ray's Go Deep Into the Woods series.




In truth, this post is mostly an excuse to tell the following story:

When I was in college, I started this hiking and camping student group and as part of it I created a guidebook to all the local nature preserves and hiking areas. For a few weeks after class and work I went out to visit the ones I'd never been to so I could map them and do a writeup for the guide. One day I went to this nature area really close to where my father grew up, and where my grandmother took my sister and I for walks when we would stay with her as kids. I changed from my work clothes into something more suitable for hiking and I after I got out of the car I started to get a weird vibe from a couple of middle-aged guys hanging out in the parking lot. I was a pretty naive kid, and undeterred I set out on one of the hiking paths and noticed that both of them were following me pretty closely, a grizzled-looking white guy and a fat black guy. I turned a corner and took off at a sprint and soon stumbled across a man sucking a dick in this little grotto. It was very Something About Mary. The guy on the receiving end was clutching a straight porn magazine in his left hand and staring at it intensely. I took off, blazing a new trail in a direction far enough to loop around the two guys who were following me but that would generally get me back to the car as quickly as possible. I even picked up a stick out of some primal urge to defend myself.

I had always felt so comfortable in the woods but suddenly they were terrifying and foreign. If there were rules for conduct in this forest I didn't know any of them, and it was clear that my behavior in the parking lot had given these guys the wrong impression. I had gay friends and coworkers and it wasn't the gayness that terrified me, but the fact that this was clearly a place where ordinary social conventions broke down, where my rules didn't apply, and where sex and lust were tangled with the secrets of trees. Though the woods were littered with used condoms, pages ripped from porn mags, and moldy clothes, this was the wildest place I had ever been.


Later that week I asked a gay guy I worked with about it, and he explained the whole culture of cruising men with wives and lives that didn't allow them to be gay going to certain places to have their sexual needs met (and I finally understood that those stalls at highway rest tops had those holes drilled in them---as Ricky Gervais said---for the guys who "love cocks, but hate faces"). A lot of this stuff became part of the public discourse during the Sen. Larry Craig bathroom scandal, and it seemed like this was behavior particular to older generations and it was growing out of favor through the use of the internet and greater tolerance for homosexuality in general. And while Jennifer Ray may be documenting a scene on the decline, I doubt it will go away altogether.




Looking at Ray's photographs, outside the context of terror and confusion I felt that day, I am startled by the realization that these repressed gay men, through their primal desire for sex, have returned a sense of wildness to the woods; through these procreative urges, they remind us that every forest is full of frustrated reproduction: spores and seeds that find no fertile earth, gametes that find no carpels, rhizoids with no anchor. And that's just the way a forest works.


This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.

Clu Gulager's A Day With the Boys

Posted by jdg | 1:21 PM



I've been wanting to write about this video since I started this blog, but I've never been able to find it on youtube or anywhere else online, so I finally figured out how to upload it myself. David Gordon Green found it while working at some sort of film vault and included it with his DVD for George Washington. Sadly, while I have uploaded both part one and part two, only the first part has Michel Mention's eerie soundtrack. I blame iMovie, Apple's video editing software that makes the bundled Windows movie editor look like Final Cut Pro. 


This avante-garde short film was written, directed, and produced by character actor Clu Gulager back in 1969, and follows a group of boys as they just sort of do the things that a pack of boys might do. In the second part, the dark side of this pack is revealed, with the boys burying the "businessman"/adult character alive, and the camera panning to reveal that they have killed others. It is beautifully shot by legendary cinematographer László Kovács, and without dialogue it stands as a poignant meditation on childhood and the wildness and potential savagery that exists within us all. 

If you have the patience, there's totally a Walt Whitman moment at the end of the film.




This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image or video, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.

Yesterday a reporter from CNN emailed me asking if I'd comment on the new Where the Wild Things Are movie; she'd seen the video I created of my son reacting to the trailer (and cut with the actual trailer for Spike Jonze's blog We Love You So). She wanted to know if we'd seen the movie and whether we thought it was too scary for the kids. She hadn't seen the film and I could tell she already had the template for her story ("Wild Thing movie too scary for little kids/more for adults") and I think she was taken aback when I told her it wasn't nearly scary enough, or, rather, that it was scary in completely unexpected ways.  Here's her article, complete with things I sort of said in ways I don't remember saying them and a million comments calling me an idiot for bringing a 20-month-old to a movie theater (for the record, internet assholes, we knew he'd only be into parts of it, that's why my wife came with us to the empty 10:30 a.m. matinee: she knew when he got sick of it she could take him over to H&M where he could learn about women's dressing rooms while she tried on clothes made by kids in other countries who have more to worry about than whether CGI muppets are too scary). I should never have talked to the media. Everything is a controversy with these people.

I'm not complaining that the film isn't faithful to the plot. I knew many changes would have to be made to get to ninety minutes, and like many people I was confident that Spike Jonze was the best person to make those necessary changes. My chief complaint is that the script corrupts and distorts the fundamental spirit of the book.

The wild things aren't nearly wild enough. They are scary, sure, but only because they act like bitter, angry, divorcing parents. I was particularly disturbed when my daughter turned to me and said, "Why are all the girls in this movie so mean?" (I've read a lot of reactions to the film, but I haven't seen any talk about how the female characters are all cruel, nasty harpies). My guess is that the wild things aren't that wild because some studio exec (upon hearing early reports that the film was scaring test audiences) told Jonze to tone down the wildness, which resulted in the bewildering experience of watching two minutes of rumpus and an hour plus of "Muppet therapy." Halfway through the film I dozed off and woke up thinking they were all in Dr. Melfi's office. But even worse than not being very wild, the wild things are a total buzzkill. They are joyless. As a friend of ours said, "Forget the kids, I wouldn't take a depressed adult to it."

The CNN reporter didn't include any of the positive things I had to say about the movie, like how it was beautifully filmed and well-acted. If she'd asked me what I thought of it as a piece of art or a film for aging hipsters who remember Sendak's book fondly, I would have offered a different opinion. But she asked me as a father who still reads it every day and has kids who currently love it. And I told her the truth: whoever the filmmakers made this film for, it wasn't for kids who still read the book. And in all fairness, they don't have to make an adaptation for the almost-2-year olds and almost-5-year olds who love the book. I mean, little kids have no sense of a linear narrative or popcorn money, right? So instead of a film for kids, they made a VERY SERIOUS equivalent of all the other nostalgia exercises Hollywood cranks out (like Dukes of Hazard and Starsky and Hutch). The book is a classic because it speaks to people and children of all ages. Ultimately, this film interpretation of that classic book has limited appeal. A film supposedly about the power of a child's imagination failed to capture my children's imagination. And I think that's a shame.

On the way home from the theater, my wife pointed out that Jonze and Eggers' adaptation was no My Neighbor Totoro, though the two films deal with similar themes. Hayao Miyazaki's masterpiece takes place in late 1930s Japan with a father taking care of his two girls while his wife suffers from an undefined illness in a hospital near where they have moved into a "haunted house" to be closer to her. The Totoro girls deal with this through brief interactions with magical creatures who only reveal themselves to the kids; strangely Jonze and Eggers' Wild Things relies on a hyper-realist portrayal of the imagination as a psychological battleground, forgoing any "magic tricks," even the "walls becoming the world all around." Instead Max runs away into an actual forest and finds an actual boat (it is unclear where movie Max physically spends most of this reverie, although clearly it's not his bedroom). I expected more surreal moments---more Spike Jonze moments. The sets, effects and cinematography are beautiful, this world seems to lack any sense of wonder, even for Max. It's like he's figured it all out before he even gets there. In Totoro, the imaginative world is a place full of wonder and excitement and an escape from a reality filled with the anxieties of sisters who fear their mother is dying. In the Wild Things film, the imaginative world is fraught with tension and the same fears and anxieties that Max faces in reality. It's like Eggers is channeling Judith Vigna rather than Maurice Sendak.

In the book, six-year-old Max subdues the terrible wild things, becomes all powerful, and enjoys the sort of control he lacks in his reality, until, that is, he falls into the same role as those responsible for him: enforcer of rules; authority figure; wild thing tamer. He realizes he must give up being king. He must go home where someone "loves him best of all." In the book, Max learns that his mother's authority is love: her punishment and taming of his wild ways is a form of love. He is able to say goodbye to his inner wild things and return to a room where a bowl of hot soup is waiting for him.

In the film, ten-year-old Max interrupts an existing society of wild things who do not gnash any teeth or show any terrible claws, but instead bicker like the adults in an episode of Everyone Loves Raymond. He subdues them with the sort of lies that a ten-year-old would tell, claiming to be a Viking king ("king" we later learn is a sacrificial role that already exists within their society), and though he is declared king it is clear that his throne is tenuous and his power meaningless. This is not a fun place to be king. He is resented instead of feared. Muppet Machiavellis pit each other against him. After an all-too brief (and wonderful) rumpus, the bickering continues for another hour, and Max's powerlessness only becomes more apparent to the wild things, who eventually realize there is no such thing as a king: no authority, no love, no hope. Only a setting sun that will eventually run out of fuel.

When K.W. finally whispers, "We'll eat you up we love you so," it's clear that's as much of a lie as all Max's Viking talk. They don't love him nor will they eat him. There is no supper in the land of the wild things, just as there is no love, not between Max and the wild things, Carol and K.W., or even Judith and Ira. He sails away, leaving them in this existential nightmare on the beach, returning to a mother whose split from his father has harmed him in a way he can't escape or even work through in his imagination. Children suffer, too, we see, even if it's totally a cliched, bourgeois species of suffering. And imagination is no place to escape it.

And this is how the film created by Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers with Maurice Sendak's stamp of approval ends. It is an interesting film, but as I said to CNN, it isn't for kids. I think it succeeds on some levels, but fails at an important one: it fails as myth. The book appeals to children because it has the qualities of any good myth. The moral lessons carry the weight they do because of the story and its imagery; it's an adventure they can relate to before they even realize why. It becomes embedded in them, which is partly why the film has generated so much buzz among adults. But the film wears its psychological heart on its sleeve, and as adults we "get it," but the movie is so boring and confusing to the age group that the original story was intended for, its mythic power is lost.

* * * * *

To those who would argue that no film can appeal to toddlers and preschoolers and graders (and their parents) whil emaintaining artistic integrity, I return to My Neighbor Totoro, a quiet, beloved little film where the "monsters" don't even talk---they sit silent, grunt, and sometimes roar, and yet more beauty and wonder is conveyed in the few tender moments they appear on screen than in an hour of Dave Eggers' CGI-enhanced dialogue. There are no fart jokes or pop culture references that wink at the parents. There is no violence. It is slow and contemplative, and beautiful. My daughter will watch it in Japanese, for chrissakes.



This is an example of a film that does manage to capture the complexity of childhood while remaining captivating to adults, kids, and even toddlers. It's the sort of film Wild Things should have aspired to. The children in this film are arguably going through an experience far more terrifying than Max, and yet they are still portrayed as actual children dealing with the world as children do. Even with dark clouds overhead, they manage to find joy and wonder in it. Imagination in Miyazaki's film helps his characters cope; Max's fantasy only teaches him there is nowhere he can go to escape suffering and pain. Watching Totoro is inspiring; Wild Things is heartbreaking.

The psychological conflict manufactured to give the Wild Things film more depth prevents this Max from ever realizing the most important lesson of the book: that punishment is sometimes necessary, and that the taming of wild ways can be an act of love. Any joy or wonder it might have absorbed from Sendak's book is immediately overshadowed by the terrifying, crippling worldview that we are haunted by our reality even in the worlds we build to escape it, and we return to reality only because we can find no solace in our imagination (not because we have someplace where someone loves us best of all). In Jonze and Eggers' film, there is no wilderness left even for a child's imagination: just a bunch of whiny muppets sitting around with blankets and tissues on their laps, drinking tea and talking about their feelings.





This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.

Grandpa Nelson

Posted by jdg | 4:12 PM |



I was visiting my grandfather a couple weeks ago and I saw he had this photo framed on the mantle. The first time I'd seen it was at my grandmother's funeral back in 2005, and I remember staring at it then for the longest time. He thinks it was taken in 1936 or 1937, when they were still in high school.  That was his jalopy he used to constantly fix up to drive her down the dirt roads of Lenawee County. They were together almost 70 years.

I told him that I found this photo to be cinematic and cool. It hit me later that they reminded me of Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek in Badlands (an all-time favorite around here), but better, you know, because this was real and they weren't about to depart on some pointless crime spree. I love their clothes. I love how they have that whole century ahead of them, together. I asked my grandfather if I could borrow it and scan it. A few days ago we drove back down to return it. The kids chased his jack russell around the house, and he told me stories about how the young man in that photo would get up every morning at 4:30 to deliver newspapers and then went right back to work after school was done (and still managed to get elected class president). I thumbed through his high school yearbooks, the scrapbook they made for him of letters written by community members upon his retirement as city water commissioner.

All that life behind him, I thought, watching him hold his great-grandson, with all that life ahead of him.





This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.

Our New Barbour Coats

Posted by jdg | 2:28 PM | ,



So the cooler weather's finally here and I spent yesterday digging out the coats and putting away all the summer clothes. To be honest, I don't care much at all about clothes, and summer is the worst. I don't have the confidence to pull off anything other than some Levi 514s and a t-shirt when it's hot out. So one of my favorite parts of this time of year is getting out the sweaters and sweatshirts and the coats. I've worn a black Barbour waxed cotton Bedale (bottom right) for a couple years now and I love it. It's like a $400 coat but I found it new for $115 and it will last a lifetime. My wife has always admired it, so for her birthday next week I bought her a Barbour International motorcycle jacket (top three) and I gave it to her early (she looks great in it!). I also found myself another ridiculous deal on a green Cowen commando jacket (bottom left) and it's also an incredible coat. The waxed cotton makes them as rainproof as any polyester jacket but it's all natural (and made in Europe without sweatshop labor) and again, if taken care of properly it will last a lifetime. I bought a few SNS Herning sweaters super cheap over the summer and I'm looking forward to some crisp fall days.



This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.



I do not get paid to write about anything here, nor do I accept things for free from these random weirdos emailing me. If I write about something here, it's because I genuinely like it.

So I'm doing some research on some old car stuff and I come across The Old Car Manual Project and I am instantly transported back to my childhood of wandering around various swap meets across the Midwest with my dad while he looks for parts for his old cars (this is the car I spent half my childhood watching him restore) and thumbing through old car advertising and brochures. I had forgot how wonderful the old auto ephemera art truly was. I spent way too long looking through the collection, and I was particularly transfixed by this brochure for the 1968 Firebird.  Just look at the description of the interior: "The standard---but hardly ordinary---Firebird interior sports slimline buckets in expanded Morrokide, deep-pile carpeting, simulated burl wood grain dash. . ." God, when did they stop making cars with interiors that could be used for a Playboy photo shoot? I had to look up what Morrokide was and apparently it was a special vinyl used only in 1960s Pontiacs. Something tells me making out with girls in my red 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix with the gray fender would have been better on Morrokide seats. But anyways, beautiful:










This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.



I saw this video on BoingBoing last week (why yes, I do have a google alert set up for the term "feral children"). It answers the age-old question: what would happen if I turned off the television while my kids are zoned out in front of it? My favorite part comes right after the one kid yells, "KILL YOU!!!" It feels like sort of a contemporary homage to the Hubleys' Cockaboody, Moonbird, and Windy Day (but with 100 percent more Spongebob-inspired violence!).



This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.







[click here to see the above photo in all its glory]

Dylan Vitone's massive 360 degree panoramas were the talk of the David Weinberg Gallery's opening in Chicago the other night, for good reason. The photos were so filled with life. I find some portrait photography to be forced and sometimes even exploitative, but Vitone's panoramas are so populated by beautiful people and the vibrant city itself that everyone was just walking around smiling. Most of the photos in the show were taken in Pittsburgh (one of my favorite American cities) and this one, in particular, made me want to try out the panorama effect in my dad's auto body shop (just for fun). Vitone's panoramas take hours to compose and sometimes contain the same subject more than once, even though they look like a 360 degree moment in time.

The show was really nice. I was the youngest and least-experienced of the three guys whose work was displayed. Jay Wolke's 1980s shots of life along the Dan Ryan expressway in Chicago , of course, were huge and beautiful and inspiring as well.




This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.


The Real Magical Forest

Posted by jdg | 12:40 PM | ,





A day after we went to the magic forest, we went hiking in a real magical forest of the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area. What a contrast to the previous day's shenanigans. It is so easy to forget how restorative and inspiring a good hike can be.










This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.


"Ice Cream-Flavored Bliss"

Posted by jdg | 10:37 AM





Thomas Hoepker's 1974 photo of German children enjoying ice cream (source: Magnum).

So summer's almost gone but Magnum has shared a really fun slideshow of images of people all over the world enjoying ice cream taken from its deep archives. My favorites are Martin Parr's shots of Brighton. For some reason, that's exactly what I remember 1985 looking like.

My 18-month-old son has decided he likes ice cream now more than anything, and his word for it sounds like "ah-be-dee." When we were in the Adirondacks, everywhere we went there were ice cream stands with huge fiberglass soft-serve cones along the roads, and each would would initiate a lot of screaming and shoutiung about "ah-be-dee" from the backseat. So I have about 3 gigs worth of photos of him with ice cream dribbling down his chin.



This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.


We went to Pittsburgh for a few days a few weeks ago. Every time I go there I leave inspired and impressed. What a lovely, underrated city. The hills remind one of San Francisco, but without any of that pesky smug. My wife's father lives on the south side slopes in a steelworker's shack to which he's added various decks and a third floor. It overlooks an overgrown forest where similar houses once stood along steep dead-end streets before the city bought them all and let the land go back to nature.

Eleven years ago, the first time I visited Pittsburgh, we went mountain biking in here and I watched my new girlfriend fly over her handlebars as we flew down a steep hill. She told me then she always did her best to impress her dad, and he always pushed her just a bit past where she was comfortable.

The growth that's occurred in those eleven years is amazing. This is truly a wild place now, surrounded by city. I surprised two different sets of whitetail deer while hiking around in here. One was a doe with two healthy-looking fawns. I was too awestruck to snap a good photo before they darted away. I also saw an owl.

If you look carefully you can find signs of the long-gone neighborhood. Bricks exposed in a hillside. Strange-shaped dirt piles. Stone foundations. Telephone poles like dead trees.

The city sprays the staircases up the slopes to keep the vines from overwhelming them.

Sometimes cities shrink. Sometimes neighborhoods get turned into something else. It's nothing to get depressed about.





She was waiting for her husband to close up his car wash/detail shop as the sun set. I stopped to admire the candy apple red 1974 Cadillac convertible, and asked if I could take a picture. "What a beauty!" I said like a character from an Archie comic.

"Thanks," she shouted. "But what about the car? Let me open the door so you can get a picture of my matching outfit."







This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.






Francis "Bug" Mauer of Nashville, Michigan died last year after spending two decades building a miniature version of the large working farm on which he grew up near Roscommon, Michigan. Now his son and grandson transport the farm to county fairs on the back of a flatbed truck.





"My wife said I had to get a hobby. So I had a dream to build an old-fashioned farm. I started working on this in 1987.

In building this, I build and take apart until it looks right to me. All the shingles are made from a cedar board and tapered by hand and nailed on. I've been to Iowa, Indiana, and Minnesota to pick up livestock and machinery.

When I came back and told my wife how much it cost, she said 'Don't have a dream like that again.'

I know things are cramped, but I only had so much space! It was designed for a 200-acre farm. There's a lot of work to be done yet."
----Francis (Bug) Maurer









"I still think he should take up whittling!"
----Mrs. Francis Maurer



This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.







I love it when readers send in art that they've created based on some post I've written (like here). We've been in Pittsburgh for my brother-in-law's wedding all week, and yesterday I found this sketch (she called it a "doodle") in my inbox from Samantha Wedelich at dwelldeep, meant to illustrate this post (although it seems fit to illustrate our entire past week, where this scene was repeated at rehearsal dinners, receptions, and family gatherings night after night). We're back in the routine of home now, and I am so grateful to have this.



This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.







Probably because I go on and on about it, I have been getting quite a few emails lately about what children's books we have on our shelf relating to classical mythology (as well as a few e-mails about the toys the kid was playing with during her retelling of the Birth of Pegasus).

First the library. I'm leaving out the obvious books for older kids (Bullfinch, Hamilton, Graves, and the proliferating young adult novels with mythological themes). A couple of these newer books were gifts, but the rest were thrift store finds or ones I came across at John King or some other used book store. I am opening comments on this post in case someone out there has a few mythology books (especially vintage) that are great (and they wouldn't mind sharing).

Beatrice Alexander (Florian, ill) Famous Myths of The Golden Age (California State Dep. of Education, 1969)†
Aliki, The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus (HarperCollins, 1994) (in print)
Heather Amery, Greek Myths for Young Children (Usborne, 1999) (in print)
Lucy Coats (A. Lewis, Ill.), Atticus the Storyteller's 100 Greek Myths (Orion, 2003) (in print)
Sally Pomme Clayton (Virginia Lee, ill) Persephone (Eerdmans, 2009) (in print)
Olivia Coolidge, Greek Myths (Houghton Mifflin, 1949) (in print)*
Ingri d'Aulaire, D'Auliere's Book of Greek Myths (Delacorte, 1992) (in print)
Sara Fanelli, Mythological Monsters of Ancient Greece (Candlewick, 2002)*
Penelope Farmer (ill. Graham McCallum) The Story of Persephone (William Morrow, 1973) (oop)*
Leonard Fisher, Theseus and the Minotaur (Holiday, 1992)
Charles Lamb, The Adventures of Ulysses (1808) (oop)
Penelope Lively, In Search of a Homeland: The Story of the Aeneid (Frances Lincoln, 2007) (in print)
Alice Low (Arvis Stewart, ill) Greek Gods and Heroes, Macmillan, 1985) (oop)
Jean Marzollo, Let's Go Pegasus (Little, Brown, 2006)*
Charles Mikolaycak, Orpheus (Harcourt Brace, 1992) (oop)º
Doris Orgel, Ariadne Awake (Viking, 1994)
Mary Pope Osborne, Favorite Greek Myths (Scholastic, 1989) (in print)*
Neil Phillip, The Adventures Of Odysseus (Scholastic, 1997)
Penelope Proddow (Barbara Cooney, ill) Hermes, Lord of Robbers (Doubleday, 1971) (oop)*
James Reeves (Krystyna Turska, ill) The Trojan Horse (Watts, 1968) (oop)
James Riordan & Christina Balit, The Twelve Labors of Hercules (Millbrook, 1997) (oop)
James Rumford, There's a Monster in the Alphabet (Houghton Mifflin, 2002)
I.M. Richardson, Odysseus and the Great Challenge (Troll Assoc., 1984) (oop)
Lynd Ward, The Silver Pony (Houghton Mifflin, 1973)˚
Helen L. Wilbur (Victor Juhasz, ill) Z is for Zeus, A Greek Mythology Alphabet (Sleeping Bear Press, 2008)
Jane Yolen, Wings (Harcourt, 1997)

*(recommended)
†My mother bought this book from the discard pile at the library branch where I used to ride my bike as a kid; this may be the exact same copy of this book that I loved as a boy.
ºThis book is strange. There are a lot of boobs. Sexy boobs. You may not find it appropriate for kids. May be more useful to read to your husband to get him in the mood.
˚Not really Greek mythology, but it features a Pegasus-like horse.

Also, this company (Bellerophon Books) produces a whole series of wonderful coloring books on classical subjects. I haven't even ordered them all yet, there are so many.

The next post will be about the toys.



This blog is intended solely to share the things I come across that inspire me. If I have posted a copyrighted image, I have only done so to the extent necessary to comment upon or discuss it; I will always include a link to the original source of the image if that source is online or acknowledge the source if it is in print. If I have reproduced anything of yours here that is copyrighted and you want me to remove it, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will do so right away.


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