Yelena Bryksenkova

Posted by jdg | 12:40 PM



When I started looking for an artist to create the image for our holiday card this year, I came across the work of Yelena Bryksenkova and immediately fell in love with her unique aesthetic, clearly influenced by her travels and studies in eastern Europe. Her work shows a love for eastern European folk traditions, and seeing it reminded me of a wonderful week my wife and I spent in the cafes and museums of Vienna and its environs long ago. It was the image above, portraying a young couple's adventures at the annual Christmas market in Tallinn, Estonia that inspired me to write and ask if she would accept a commission for our holiday card. And I'm so glad she did.

Yelena was born in Russia, raised in the American Midwest, and she currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland (where she recently completed a course of study at MICA). I really love her fashion illustrations and feel that beyond her great figurative drawing, she has a real talent for creating different textures of clothing (and flora). Check out some of the other images she's shared on her website:


Available for purchase here (I think this print would make a really great gift for a knitter)
Available for purchase here.
I'll be posting the beautiful portrait Yelena did for our holiday card in the next couple days, but today I wanted to share more of her work and provide a link to her website, blog, and etsy shop. Yelena's already had her lovely piece "Elephant Dream" picked up by Urban Outfitters and I predict a bright future ahead. It was a real treat to work with her.



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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 brought the kids in to watch the Superchunk sound check at the Magic Stick last weekend (we've known Laura for a few years and she said we could). This might have happened:


I believe the kid was solo-moshing to a cover of the Misfits' "Where Eagles Dare," which the band also played later that night:



Laura later said she should have warned me about the swears, but I was like, "That's nothing compared to what they hear when someone cuts me off on the highway." Superchunk also played a Negative Approach song for a nostalgic and enthusiastic Detroit crowd that night, and apparently that band's lead singer sometimes tends bar downstairs.

It was a great show and the songs they played from the new album sounded really great live. Did you follow that last link? While you're at the Merge website, take the chance to finally pay for a FLAC copy of that Arcade Fire album you illegally downloaded (and love) or buy someone you love the most amazing Christmas present ever: 69 Love Songs ON VINYL.


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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 Last Word

Posted by jdg | 6:06 PM

Photo via Fine Kitchen Living

Carthusian Monks silently guarding the secret recipe
I'm not one to go on and on about cocktails, but it's a good time of year for them and I've found one that I really like (probably because of both the taste and the lore around it). I read a few years ago that this cocktail had been invented at the Detroit Athletic Club during prohibition and had been rediscovered by a Seattle bartender (Murray Stenson at the Zig Zag Café) and was now becoming trendy on the coasts. Back then I wasn't spending any time on the coasts and the ingredients were difficult to get at the corner liquor store and none of the bars around here served it. When we were at Roast for my wife's birthday a few months ago, our bartender was from Seattle and knew how to make the drink, which is a combination of equal parts lime juice, gin, maraschino liqueur and a rare herbal french liqueur called Chartreuse (the color is named after the ancient liqueur, not the other way around). Chartreuse is probably the most difficult ingredient to obtain. It has been made from 130 herbal extracts since 1605 by monks of the Carthusian Order in Grenoble, France. According to the website, “Only two monks have been entrusted by the Order with the secret of producing the liqueurs. Only these two know the ingredients. Only these two know how these ingredients are prepared for incorporation into the base of wine alcohol.” (The Carthusians are a serious lot, I wrote a bit about them way back in 2006). What's not to love about a liqueur that's an ancient secret kept by only two monks who've maintained a vow of silence?

If you can track down a bottle of Chartreuse or a bar that has one, this drink is pretty great. It's sweet enough that my wife will drink it, and it has enough gin to make a man mean. I always prefer gin to vodka in my cocktails, and lately I've only been using Knickerbocker Gin or my sacred bottle of Junipero gin bottled by Anchor Steam out in San Francisco. They say these sweet aromatic liqueurs were used in the original cocktail to overwhelm the lousy bathtub gin, but I figure why use crap gin when you're shelling out big bucks for the other ingredients?

To make The Last Word, combine:

One oz. lime juice
One oz. Luxardo maraschino liquer
One oz. Chartreuse
One oz. gin

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a maraschino cherry. When you're done it should look like this:

Photo via Fine Kitchen Living
Yum.

Photo
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 was sitting with the kids at the salon while my wife got her hair cut, rifling through the October National Geographic looking for pictures of wildlife or mummies when I stumbled across this William Albert Allard color photograph that took my breath away. "Henry Gray, Arizona, 1970," it was called. Then it said: "Henry ran cattle for 50 years on the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument desert country. He was 72. The government wanted his cattle off the land. As we moved about the house, Henry paused, lost in his thoughts, behind him a 48-star flag."

I need to subscribe to National Geographic again.

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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 Machines of Greenfield Village

Posted by jdg | 1:48 PM




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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.



This is probably my favorite video ever. Some guy found it on a tape at the local Detroit PBS station, and it looks like a parody some PBS guys made back in the 80s to let off some steam. "Bob Vishiswa" is Tom Lamb a producer and on-air personality who retired in 2006. The brilliant Purvis Royal is Ted Talbert, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame known for his serious documentaries about "the struggles and successes of African Americans." I think this video shows that both men had a tremendous sense of humor.

Two things to note about this video:

1. "You can pistol whip a deer if you get close enough."

"Mmm. . hmmm." [the tame Belle Isle deer used to roam freely across the island]

2. I dress exactly like Bob Vishiswa. But I wish I had Purvis Royal's hat.


Happy hunting.

Photo
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.

Tony Hoagland's Totally

Posted by jdg | 10:13 AM | , ,

When I was on the staff of my high school literary journal, the faculty adviser brought in a copy of a journal from a local college (cryptically titled "The Cauldron") for inspiration. Inside I found this piece by the poet Tony Hoagland, and I made a photocopy that I kept all through college. My parents recently made me clean out a storage locker where they'd stuffed all my old things, and I came across that old photocopy of this lovely poem. I read it every November. And there's no better time to share it with you.

Totally

I'm raking leaves and singing in my off-key voice
a mangled version of Madonna's "Like a Virgin,"
a song I thought I hated;

that's how it goes when your head and heart
are in different time zones--
you often don't find out till tomorrow
what you felt today.

I know I do not understand the principles
of leaf removal; I pile them up
in glowing heaps of cadmium and orange,

but I identify so much more
with the entropic gusts of wind
that knock them all apart again.
Is it natural to be scattered?

When I look to the sky I am often dreaming
of a television program that I saw some months ago;
when I walk into a dinner party

I am thinking of the book I mean to read when I get home--you might say
my here is disconnected to my now,
so never am I entirely anywhere,

or anyone. But I won't speak cruelly
of myself: this dividedness is just what
makes our species great: possible for Darwin

to figure out his theory of selection
while playing five-card stud,
for surgeon Keats to find a perfect rhyme

wrist-deep in the disorder
of an open abdomen

For example, it is autumn here.
The defoliated trees look frightened
at the edge of town,

as if the train they missed
had taken all their clothes.
The whole world in unison is turning
toward a zone of nakedness and cold.

But me, I have this strange conviction
that I am going to be born.


[also published in Donkey Gospel (1998)]


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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.

So it turns out we were totally unprepared for the response to my Halloween pictorial of my son in his Robocop costume, or the hundreds of thousands of people who'd visit our site (or the millions of people who'd see it on other sites). Over the course of a few days, I found a number of major websites that took nearly all of the images from my original post and reposted them on their site, but almost all of them removed a number of the images when I contacted them about it. Also, while online discussions that have anything to do with Detroit usually devolve pretty quickly into nastiness, I was impressed by the reaction to these photos online. It made us hesitant to post the photos of our daughter in her costume during the hubbub (in case you haven't heard, some people on the internet are mean). But generally I think the Robocop Kid pictures made a lot of people happy.

So in honor of my son becoming a mini internet meme, I am going to contribute an entry to that great meme of 2008, Robocop on a Unicorn. Note: many of the original Robocop on a Unicorn pictures can be found in Olav Rokne's flickr set:



And without further ado, here he is, Robocop Kid on a unicorn:


Photo
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.


Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past couple of years you probably know that sweet|salty Kate wrote a book. If you read Kate's blog (and I figure I've sent you there enough times to assume you have) and didn't buy it when it came out in Canada or the U.S. there's probably little I can say (that others haven't already said) that will convince you to finally drop a few shekels on this book. But I'm still going to try.

First I have to digress. Kate Inglis wrote a book. A novel. I want to talk about how incredible it was to open this book and find so little of her there. I mean, her signature ethereal, gutpunching prose is all over this thing, but it's not about her at all. Every time I found myself lost in the narrative I had to put the book down just to marvel that Kate created this world, and remind myself that stories like this don't tell themselves and how carefully she crafted it and how much work it must have been. We've seen bloggers write books before, mostly memoirs that expand upon the voice already established on their blogs. I don't mean to denigrate those efforts (I've enjoyed quite a few of them), but I've always wanted to see more bloggers pursue fiction. I think the editors and agents approaching high-profile bloggers don't really see much potential beyond banking on their blog voice. One thing that makes Kate's third-person novel so remarkable is that it establishes a "mommy blogger" as a writer of narrative fiction. I know she's almost done with the second novel in this series, and I find that so incredibly inspiring and impressive.

So what is it I loved about this world Kate created? It bears some resemblance, I imagine, to the craggy, windswept place she actually inhabits on the Atlantic coast and captures so eloquently in her pictures. But what makes this world new is seeing it from the perspective of a boy still young enough to see possibilities his parents might long have written off. There are still pirates in Nova Scotia. They roam the barely-lit edges of his world but he has proof. It's a world filled with secret documents, maps, and mysterious totems. In other words, Kate has made a world where there is still adventure in the woods.

But it's also the world inhabited by an old man who long ago should have written off such possibilities, but hasn't. It's a world where an old man might tinker with a rusty, well-oiled old engine inside his ancient barn rather than sit in front of the meaningless glow of a television set. It is a world of ticks, and dung, and lazy afternoons punctuated by the cries of peacocks. It's a world where neighbors still offer each other tea and home-baked scones and make jam from berries they pick along old stone walls. There is no internet in this book (born of a voice plucked from the internet). No big boxes scarring the Maritime landscape. This might be 1972 or 1985 or the 2010 you and I wish we lived in. And yet it is not a perfect world.

There are pirates. And they have formed a union.

I think I know some of these pirates' union brothers here in my own world. They rip scrap aluminum from vacant houses and steal copper pipes from their basements. Around here we call them scrappers, but in Kate's world they are the dread crew. We know this isn't 1673, because these pirates don't roam the seven seas plucking precious metals from merchant ships. Their world, like ours, no longer boasts such easy targets. Instead we have stuff. Junk. Lots of it. And we don't know what to do with it all, so the pirates roam the woods and the edges of town looking for our junk to steal and scrap. And they have a really cool pirate ship. But until they meet an old man with the biggest collection of junk they've ever laid eyes on, they have no idea that they've been going about it all the wrong way.

See, these pirates are profane. They are the grossest pirates you will ever meet, and your kids will love them. Trust me. They fart and smell like outdated French cheeses and their behavior is more uncouth than any character's you will encounter between Robert Louis Stevenson and Roald Dahl. And their overall disgustingness is lovingly etched by Halifax native Sydney Smith who has a particular talent with stink lines, buzzing flies, warts, wrinkles, and glowering faces. Kids love stories about any creatures more poorly behaved than themselves, and the pirates of the backwoods will not disappoint even the most unruly jackanape under your roof.

Early parts of the book were a bit beyond my daughter's comprehension, and I think you have to be seven or so to really begin to appreciate the story and Kate's prose. But when the pirates showed up, they made up for whatever went over her head. I think being able to see the pictures of each pirate really helped with her appreciation of those parts in the text. The book also imparts some important moral lessons as the pirates learn to tone down their behavior without cleaning up their act. I think my daughter also liked that one of the toughest pirates turns out to be a girl not much older than her.

Should this have had a spoiler alert? I'm sorry. I'll stop. I don't ordinarily do reviews. But in the end, this book is important not just because it's good (it is) but also because of what it represents. It is a beautifully-written novel by a beloved blogger. And it should inspire other bloggers to believe in the power of their own voice beyond the blog post. One day Kate started a blog, and a bunch of people read her words because they were worth reading. And one day some editor e-mailed her and asked if she'd ever thought about writing a book, and she said something like, I've always wanted to write a novel about pirates. And she did. And that's pretty freaking cool, isn't it?

Here are the suggestions from Kate's site about how to buy it (I don't do that Amazon partner crap, by the way):

First edition hardcovers can still be found on shelves at retailers such as Chapters.ca and Amazon.ca in Canada, and at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble in the USA. To order the book from your favourite independent bookstore, ask them to order from Nimbus in Canada, and Orca Books in the USA. A fantastic source for (often author-signed) books is Halifax's beloved Woozles, who ship internationally.

Second edition softcovers with a new Glossary of Terms have been distributed in both Canada and the United States, and are available from all retailers.



Photo
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 wrote about Imogene + Willie back when they first released that video showing off their new retail space. I was in Nashville over the weekend and took a trip down to 12 South to see the space for myself, and (though I was in a bit of a rush) I was impressed. I've made no secret of being pretty passionate about American-made goods, and I was glad to see a store thriving with this inspiring concept of clothing produced for the consumer on site. They let me take a few pictures of the operation while hemming my new jeans:

Patterns line the ceiling, and there are rolls of denim up in the loft.
In addition to their own shirts and denim, the store stocks jeans from Levi's Vintage Clothing, RRL, and A.P.C., along with a curated selection of work boots, western-style belts, and LVC shirts and coats.
The rivets and buttons are all in these old preserve jars.
Where blue jeans are made.
Here, an Imogene + Willie employee hems my jeans [notice the vinyl of a certain Detroit export who shall remain nameless]
The workshop/store are in an old auto repair shop, and there are little acknowledgments of that here and there. . .
. . .like repair invoices from the old shop lining the walls of the bathroom.
I bought a pair of 13-oz raw cone denim willies. Expensive---no doubt---but if I end up wearing them like you're supposed to, I'll get more than my money's worth out of them.The following pictures are of the jeans I bought. Check out the details:



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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.

Looking through NASA's amazing new Flickr Account. . .I haven't felt like that since I was eight.


Photo
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.