This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.
Some people aren’t happy Paul Bunyan is being used in the new state health-insurance PSAs, but it’s not the first time he’s been used to sell something. Voila:
Really makes you want to pick up and go. But if you decide to pick up Paul and take him somewhere, don’t hire these guys:
ARCHITORTURE Wish I could see this. Atlantic Cities reports:
Chicagoans right now have a rare opportunity to gape at some of the most schizoid, cutting-edge architectural projects that were never built in their city.
At the Expo 72 Gallery in the Loop, there is a 160-foot panorama of Chicago's skyline sprawling along the walls. Visitors who download the "Phantom City" app can point it at different places on the image to reveal more than 100 visionary masterpieces, such as the Sears Tower deconstructed into a pile of flaccid tubes and a Ludwig Mies van der Rohe building submerged in Lake Michigan like a sinking ship.
Or you could call it the “Horrors Averted” app, I guess. The only reason anyone would want to live or work in a pile of flaccid tubes would be to avoid seeing it.
Some of the visionary structures are more famous than what actually got built, he argues, like alternative schemes for the Tribune Tower that would've given it gaping scars, a honeycomb facade or a top like a graduate's mortarboard. "Any of them is more well known than the tower that was built, but most known is Adolf Loos' entry, which is in the form of a Doric column," (the organizer of the exhibition) says. "Hardly any architect knows where [the current Tribune building] is and what it means. The visionary proposals are more important."
If hardly any architect knows about the current Trib building is, there’s a problem in the profession - namely, the lack of interest in its history and the styles shoved into the closet by the rise of Modernism. I’m not one of those I-hate-Mieses-to-pieces guys, and I see the appeal of the honeycomb facade building in historical context. It was as bold as the “gaping scars” one, a Gropius / Bauhaus design that would look as crisp and interesting today as the day it was built. But study of the winner shows the evolution of Raymond Hood’s work, which would produce the greatest skyscraper of the 30s, the RCA building in Rockefeller Center. How did the guy who designed the Gothic tower do something as clean as RCA? Because he wasn’t blinded by stylistic ideology, that’s why. A necessary lesson.
I’ve never seen this one:
Whoa. Frank Lloyd Wright’s design for the National Life Insurance building. What a brute. Some designs of the 20s and 30s looked like they were carved from mountains by a race of giants, and little made today has the same power and confidence. As time went on, architects designed silly things that would never be built:
Stanley Tigerman’s conceptual collage depicts Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Crown Hall for the Illinois Institute of Technology – which houses the School of Architecture – sinking into Lake Michigan. Tigerman’s work is a critique on the state of architectural pedagogy in Chicago and its environs in the late 1970s.
A critique. No developer ever wanted to lay out $100 mil on a critique.
Well, a mystery hamburger shop. Or Shoppe. Can you identify this street corner? Hint: it’s downtown Minneapolis, or was, before progress got its mitts all over it. Good luck. Answer at the bottom.
Related: MinnPost asks “Is it time to start dismantling downtown freeways?” Okay, I’ll bite. No. I understand the basics here; I’m not supposed to drive a car downtown, and if I do, it must be made difficult enough to remind me this is wrong. I wouldn’t object to putting more bridges over the 35W trench, though; it would make for some nice green space. Never happen, alas.
A reminder: it could have been worse. This was an original plan for downtown freeways. Oh joy.
That's the Post Office in the lower right-hand corner. The roads spared the Nicollet Hotel, which would be brought down later because it had the misfortune to get shabby a few decades before people figured out they could rehab them and use them again.
UH OH This probably isn’t safe.
Then again, there’s an act of charity involved, even if the driver seems unimpressed. If you want to talk about safety, you might consider not tying large sails to your body while standing on top of a cliff. I know this is a hobby for some, but I’m keen on hobbies that do not involve plumeting into the void while screaming.
SOSHUL MEDIER D’oh:
A former Amtrak clerk who fled after being convicted of disability and insurance fraud in January has been apprehended in Mexico, the San Diego County district attorney's office said Monday.
Wanda Lee Ann Podgurski, 60, had allegedly taunted law enforcement authorities after she disappeared, including a tweet thought to be directed at D.A. Bonnie Dumanis: "Catch me if you can."
So they did. This was her tweet:
But she’s still tweeting! Recent updates:
Actually, the authorities have taken over, and are tweeting on her behalf. That’s legal? Can the government tweet on your behalf, even if you’re a convict?
WAAAAH At Salon, a ghostwriter’s lament:
It was easy, fun and nothing like the “literary” fiction I’d been toiling to write in college workshops. And then, I got the official acceptance: I was hired as the brand-new ghostwriter of a series so popular it was already a bestseller.
I was excited — and dubious. It would change the direction of my fledgling writing career. Was that a good or bad thing?
I called my mom to talk it through. “If I take the job ghostwriting the series, then I wouldn’t be able to write cultural criticism about the series,” I said. “That’s the type of thing I want to write in the long run.”
“Right. And how much would this potential piece of cultural criticism pay?” my mother asked.
The point was clear: Go for the paycheck.
Mom was on the ball, there. Alas, all that success was eventually soul-killing. The comments are worth it; I’ve never heard the world’s smallest violins playing in such harmony.
HISTORY Scroll up and take a gander at that picture again. That was easy, right? Everyone knows the Green Shoppe was on Hennepin.
Actually, no one knows that anymore. The building looks like a cheap version of a White Tower or White Castle, and probably wasn’t a chain. Looks cramped and dingy. It’s long gone, and so is the building in the background: the old Library. If I’d pulled out, you would have seen this:
The church is still around, but the corner has lost all heft and presence:
I’m sure there were good reasons for tearing down the old library - say, “it’s old! Destroy it now!” - but it was such a loss. It would have anchored that corner like nothing else really could: with gravity, size, and dignity.
At least it's cleaner. Everything back then was smothered in soot. Including the hamburgers, probably.
The tail-wagging at :50 seems to be the point where it might all fall apart.
The difference in internet culture can be summed up by Mashable’s reaction: “pretty spectacular.” What did some guy call it at BuzzFeed? All together now: “OH MY GOD IS IT ADORABLE.” At least he didn’t say “adorables you guys,” but he’s probably saving that for “sixteen kittens who forgot how to cat,” or something else that gets more reactions than the post about Egypt. Seven Ways to Totally Chill During a Military Coup,” or something.
TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES Ah, using Skype for testimony on a nationally televised trial. Went as well as you’d expect..
“The pop up that they’re calling on is the land line.” That makes no sense.
Who’s doing the pranking? Well, 4chan, of course.
OUCH If you drink, don’t yank. From the LaCrosse paper:
Baltz told police he had permission to pull the tooth. He also said his father and grandfather were dentists, so he “knew what he was doing,” reports stated.
Baltz had a 0.20 percent alcohol level. His girlfriend told police he does“stupid” things when he’s drunk.
Like pull teeth from a strange child at a cafe. Details at the link.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY From MinnPost: The oldest skyway in downtown Minneapolis turns 50. One of the comments notes, as is fashionable, that they ruin the vibrancy of street life, and we should be able to take the weather in January like they do in Chicago. Well, the street life is bustling when it’s nice out, because people like to be outside. I don’t know what I’m supposed to enjoy about street-life vibrancy when it’s three above and everyone’s bundled. The vibrancy of shared misery, perhaps.
That’s it - busy day. Busy with vibrancy!
You may have read that the Russian space agency had a setback: well.
As for the cause: RIA Novosti says:
A source in the Russian space industry earlier told RIA Novosti that preliminary conclusions about the possible causes of the failed launch could be ready in two-three days, but speculated that it was most likely a technical problem with the ill-fated DM-3 booster.
The source also said the launches from the Baikonur space center will be most likely suspended for the next 2-3 months as the area was contaminated by about 200 metric tons of toxic rocket fuel.
Yum! Here’s another angle:
In the second video, people are shown running away because they believe the rocket is coming towards them. Not an entirely irrational belief.
Would you like to see other things blowing up, but on purpose? Very well. Gage Towers in Mankato goes down, but not before there’s a series of extremely satisfying explosions.
You’ll want to see that again, right? Here’s another view.
But what did it look like in Slo-Mo?
Note the person on the bottom right who’s shooting it in vertical mode. Hopeless.
”DYING ON THE” PUNS TO START SOON Instagram’s addition of video will kill Vine, they said. CNBC notes that it’s happening rather quickly:
After reaching a peak of nearly 2.9 million shares on June 15, Vine shares on Twitter dropped sharply to 1.35 million—more than a 50 percent decrease—on June 21, just a day after Instagram video was launched.
Strikingly, on that very same day Vine saw the spike, Instagram shares on Twitter surpassed Vine shares on Twitter, perhaps signaling that Vine users fled the platform to embrace the now-multi-purpose Instagram.
Adding video to Instagram was both unnecessary and inevitable. They can stop adding features now. We’re fine. Meanwhile, in Vineland: Daily Dot has the story behind the most famous selfie from last week. In related news, I hate the word selfie.
The Hills rushed the field while Kayleigh filmed the entire thing on Vine, Twitter's video application, right up until the point where security personnel detained them. The video has since been removed from Twitter but the following GIF has been preserved.
In related news, no one’s Asking Jeeves much these days, either. From the New York Times:
There’s an alternate universe where someone would ask you a question you don’t know the answer to and you would respond, “I don’t know, why don’t you AltaVista it?” Instead, in the real world, you reply, “Why don’t you Google it?” AltaVista, once the most advanced and comprehensive search engine on the Web, is just days away from its last breath.
Okay, one more internet thing: why you should never trust Facebook. From the “Well-Prepared Mind” blog:
I stopped using Facebook a long time ago, but I didn’t want to remove my account and have no visibility on how or what Facebook might be showing about me or someone using my name. So I decided to simply remove all my Facebook content.
Just over a year and a half ago, on January 30, 2012, I deleted every single Wall post I had ever made. By hand. One. By. One.
Last October, I logged in for a look-see and was stunned to find out that all of my deleted posts had been restored by Facebook and were present on my Timeline for all my friends to see. I fumed. I cursed them loudly on Twitter. And I deleted, not hid, deleted, every single one of my Wall posts again. By hand. One. By. One.
Well, it’s probably a glitch. Never trust Facebook? Isn’t that a bit hyperbolic? Sure. Then again, look what Symantec found in the Facebook Android app:
The first time you launch the Facebook application, even before logging in, your phone number will be sent over the Internet to Facebook servers. You do not need to provide your phone number, log in, initiate a specific action, or even need a Facebook account for this to happen.
According to Google Play, hundreds of millions of devices have installed the Facebook application and a significant portion of those devices are likely affected.
We reached out to Facebook who investigated the issue and will provide a fix in their next Facebook for Android release. They stated they did not use or process the phone numbers and have deleted them from their servers.
I’m sure useful, data-rich information like that was deleted as soon as possible. The drives were demagnetized and buried in a landfill next to the ET Atari cartridges.
Anyway, Instagram video is 15 seconds. Vine gives you 6. Here’s 17 seconds from Matt Oss on Vimeo. Yikes.
Say what you will about our weather last month, there’s an upside to being damp.
Hunt and Gather, the antique store and gift boutique, is having its tenth anniversary this year. As good a reason as any to mention it, I suppose. It’s not a typical antique store - everything is arranged with great care and odd whimsy.
I had lots of pictures to upload, but the server is balking. Argh.
This one seems to work: an old guest-check pad from Wong’s Cafe in Rochester.
As you can tell from the Google street view, it has a “Great Wall” motif:
Of course, no. It’s on the other side. I'm sure the original location was downtown.
The old logo for Schmitt Music:
Yesterday I put up this, and wondered how quickly anyone could identify it:
Got quite a few tweets naming it right away. Of course, it’s this.
She sold those things for 40 years. Still does, for all I know. Lots of great stuff at the store - if you're tired of going to gift stores and thinking "you know, all they really have are books and candles, when you think about it" you'll want to head here the next time you need something unique.
AMAZING Here’s a grand gift to the world: National Geographic has put up a tumblr devoted to unpublished photos. It has quite a few. I wish it wasn’t one of those eternally scrolling tumblrs, though - you just can’t stop looking.
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