Tag Archives: New York Times

CABIN PORN: MORE THAN A COOL TUMBLR.

(Photo – Cabin Overlooking the Pacific by Mark Wickens)

Cabin Porn has spread like wildfire these last few weeks. Surely some of that is down to it’s title, (There’s no better link bait than porn is there?), beyond that, there’s actually something a little bit more interesting going on underneath this staggering collection of beautiful shots of Cabins. All collated, they start to reflect a rising sentiment that has swept over social networks (and therefore the ‘Digerati’) at the beginning of 2012.

“The Joy Of Quiet”

The article in the New York Times popped up towards the end of the 2011. It raised a very pertinent question at the end of a very exhausting year economically, socially, politically and crucially, technologically.  Have we lost the ability to enjoy peace and quiet?. An even handed argument for the profound benefits of technology, and social networks was presented, but also sounded a warning. In the whirlwinds of our technological advancements, we were in danger of losing our ability to switch off, to enjoy those moments of peace and quiet. To just be. That place where actually we can do some of our best, and clearest thinking.

At the end of a transformative ‘social’/internet enabled year for me, it really hit home.

It seemed as though I wasn’t alone in this reflection. ‘Quiet’ was something many of us had been ignoring. See, the idea of doing nothing in the 2010′s, especially in the peer pressure-24/7-content-factory that our social feeds have become are now persona-non-grata. Everyone is now multiple media node. (And as the article points out for teenagers, who have grown up with the web, this is even more true). No-one is off. People now even pay to be removed from their devices. I know that I personally have Freedom installed on the machine and on more often, ready and waiting to shackle the Internet’s Pandora’s Box of delights. But this is great for desktop, but what prevents you picking up the iPad or iPhone?. Nothing, but your own willpower.

Social connectivity is pervasive.

The article clearly hit home. Some of the people that I respect the most in my twitter stream posted it, many of the people that I know had made significant life choices in 2011 (looking at you UberBlond) wrote about the moment of pause that the article reflected. This unassuming article  stuck in the middle of the NYT, seemed to stop alot of people in their tracks. It resonated in other ways, in the way that many people had renounced their previous careers, to pursue something more, something that they loved and in that way, created their own level of quiet. Their own freedom. The article suddenly took on more multi-faceted elements.

At Christmas, the pace of media (naturally) slowed. A quirk of the British holidays (gawd bless ‘em), meant that the time off was actually rather lengthy. I for one spent lovely languid days in a deserted London, catching up with friends, loafing about in the Cow in Notting Hill, escaping the East London fug, and generally taking shit out of fourth gear. It was great.

I also took a long hard look at how much I was sharing, (which in truth, had moved towards more talking as opposed to sharing as my interactions with multiple Twitter people, who I would now call friends, had evolved). I reflected on how much time I would refresh my feed, even if only for that extra new tweet on my phone. It was getting a bit nuts.

I vowed to try and create a space in 2012 for the Joy Of Quiet myself. Naturally in January, this can look like a hollow ambition, more akin to Protestant guilt than actual change. I’m skeptical of cold turkey. However, I do believe in moderation. That moderation through January has helped slowly subside that killer FOMO moment. I haven’t opened up Twitter on my iPhone since January 1. I have a renewed focus, more time to write, (and I mean write) things, like this. Long things, thoughtful things. (I know Mr Tait & Mr Kinsella are sharing the same sentiment with their blogging habits). More time to sit, read, listen to music, drift away, and wander. Things that I’ve loved doing from the moment I first moved to London. More focus on what I want to do and achieve in 2012. (Big moves, big things).

While I adore things like Twitter, and Instagram, and have been life-changing platforms for me, they also aren’t going anywhere, it’s OK to miss out, to keep quiet sometimes.

Which brings me back to Cabin Porn. If the Joy of Quiet was the written manifesto of evolved internet interactions is 2012. Then Cabin Porn is it’s visual doppelganger. Take a close look at these photos. The most interesting images here are not the beautifully stylised homes on Lake Tahoe or in an exclusive upstate enclave. They are the ones of little shacks, seemingly period pieces from gritty Westerns or rural Apalachian nowheresvilles.

Their remoteness, and therefore disconnectedness, is the true appeal. They are places to write, to create, to contemplate, to escape. They are the 21st Century communes. They remind me of a hippy utopia, or films like Vanishing Point. They are silence. Incredible, magical silence. Even with all the technological, social, economic and cultural upheavals around us, sometimes we just like to “Get Back to the Garden” (as Joni Mitchell put it). We would do well to keep these images in our mind, lest, go and explore them ourselves. Cabin Porn is the The Joy Of Quiet.

SKY COWBOYS.


(Photo: Damon Winter)

There really isn’t alot for me with my lowly blog to add to some of the already mountainous prose written about that day 10 years ago. The New York Times has naturally, been at the forefront of documenting the significance of 9/11. ‘The Reckoning’ is well worth a read. Yet, through all the moments of reflection, this audio and photographic piece documenting the ‘Sky Cowboys’ was something that really stood out.

The ‘Sky Cowboys’ are the Ironworkers furiously building 1 World Trade Center. The photos are both stomach churning and remarkable in their depiction of an extraordinary job, while the stories of these men are deeply personal and touching.

Well worth 3 minutes of your time on this day.

BILL CUNNINGHAM.

I Just recently came back from second trip to New York in the last three months. Each trip has been memorable for many things, but this one really was truly magical. Apart from being privelidged to go and see LCD Soundsystem at Madison Square Garden, I also got to see some fabulous films, art and culture, that, certianly in regards to the latter, was as qunitessential to the New York experience as you could imagine.

Of the films I saw, one stood out above all others. A documentary recommended to me on the life, career, and unique New York character that is Bill Cunningham.

In Bill Cunningham; New York We discover the world of the man who, for more than 30 odd years, has worked for the New York Times as the photographer of ‘On The Street’. His weekly round-up of what the ordinary and extraordinary New Yorkers are wearing. The page these days is considered the template for the huge growth of street photography embodied by The Sartorialist, Jak & Jil, Facehunter and many more. His style, quick snatched imagery (while roaming the streets on his 28th bike – the other 27 stolen over the course of that career) has captured a city in constant style evolution. His eye for detail, honed through a career in fashion dating back to the 1950′s, is egalitarian, but treasured by the ultimate power brokers of fashion. So much so that in fact, that he is awarded the highest cultural honor in France (the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) in the final third of the film.

He was responsible for almost all the photography in the upstart DETAILS Magazine, which chronicled the off kilter styles of the 1980′s Downtown scene in glorious detail. Yet, he is also the photographer of choice for the uptown party scene, (His ‘Evening Hours’ page in the New York Times) and the mail deluge of invites to fundraisers from the moneyed doyens of Park Avenue and Republican high fliers never ceases.

This chameleon like nature, only deepened once the film exposed Bill’s lifestyle beyond the camera. If you could call it that, as such was the dedication to capturing fashion in all it’s myriad forms that it had consumed him, and as the viewer, you are left with this confusing sense of whether this is how he wanted it to be, or how it was forced upon him by outside influences that he felt beyond his control (the religious aspect of his character seems to point to this way for me)

The climatic scenes of the documentary are amazingly raw and touching. I won’t spoil it, because if there is one documentary that you should try and see this year, then this would be it.

As far as I know, it doesn’t have a UK release date (it does feel like a film made by New Yorkers for New Yorkers to be fair) but keep checking, as it’s worth the effort.

Trailer below.

SIDNEY LUMET.

Here is the New York Times obituary of Sidney Lumet. This is a superb summary of his films, the genius of Lumet as a director was the power of story over style (Network, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, 12 Angry Men, The Pawnbroker etc.) The breadth of stories is truly stunning, and in death, you recognise the amazing stories covered in his career, as well as a deep seated love of New York itself. There are some lovely anecdotes here, Lumet is an engaging speaker on the subject, and his summary of his craft at the end is priceless. A director, and body of work to be treasured.

Enjoy.

I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me.

Last year, while in Colette, one of my fave stores in the world my mate picked up this book. I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World. I’d sort of forgotten about it until I stumbled upon this article in the NYT. I’ve gone an ordered my own copy, and you should do the same.
Essentially, all of these patches were worn by top secret divisions within the Pentagon, all part of the ‘Black Budget’ (kept quiet from Federal budget oversight, and dealing most typically with Military research). It feels ironic that if you were part of a top secret division that you would want or need a patch, but I suppose there is an immense amount of bragging that goes with something like this, and the contradiction means that the patches are fascinating.  Here are just a few of the fantastic designs that are contained within the book, and some explanations of the iconography behind them… (Photos: Trevor Paglen, captions from the NYT)

Esprit de Corps

The 413th Test Squadron, nicknamed the “Bombcats” and also known as Sundowner and Zipper, organized flight tests of Electronic Warfare systems around the world.

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The origins of this patch remain unknown. The red star is in Southwest, which is many secret units’ home, while military intelligence typically uses green vaults.

22579485-1

Minotaur is a still-classified program undertaken by Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs division, the Skunk Works.

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