In response to someone on Twitter, commenting on improvements to the much maligned Northern Liberties development The Piazza, I posted a link to Stewart Brand’s book How Buildings Learn. Obviously, I knew the title but honestly had never read the book. As a 21st century man living in a 19th century house, it’s an idea that feels personally relevant. I’m unsuccessfully trawling our local used book stores for it, but I did discover he made it into a six-part BBC documentary, which we watched during the waning weeks of this pandemic winter.
As it turns out, it’s fascinating. Released in 1997, it has a surprisingly “vintage” quality. It’s optimistic in a way that feels almost prehistoric while at the same time basically consigning true dense cities to the dustbin of history. It’s refreshingly anti-architect without being anti-beauty, pro-people without being pro-stasis. It idolizes conserving buildings without opposing change.
Brand lived in Sausalito, CA before the Bay Area truly lost its mind, so he meets people lovingly restoring San Francisco’s Painted Ladies who seem almost (but not entirely) like non-billionaires and houseboat owners across the Golden Gate Bridge who talk like hippies in a trailer park.
The lack of “gentrification” talk is the most noticeable of all: housing isn’t a zero sum game to Brand. Houses should be homes not investments. Good “bones” aren’t something to protect for THEIR sake but build upon for OUR sake. Everyone looks a little poorer but lives richly.
When summer gets stifling and you need something to inspire you to touch up the paint on your porch, search for “Stewart Brand How Buildings Learn” on YouTube for a thoughtful reflection on why houses like ours have brought us such happiness.
Thanks to Peter Suderman’s Cocktails with Suderman newsletter I’ve broken out of my unhealthy habit of gin-and-ice-with-a-lemon-wedge excuse for an after dinner drink. But, as good as his recipes are, I’m trying to work through some of the stuff I have in my liquor cabinet. My favorite right now is a variation on the “Algonquin”. Normally made with rye, I’ve been making it with mezcal. Tequila also works nicely with the pineapple.
- 1 1/2 oz mezcal
- 3/4 oz dry vermouth
- 3/4 oz pineapple juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled glass.
The 2021 version of The 100 Day Project started today. I’m sending out a postcard every day from 1/31 through 5/10 – sometimes a snapshot I one-off print, other times a commercial one I pick up somewhere. I’ll post some here or to Instagram, but check your mailbox! Ping me if you want on the list.
For a while, after Flickr, I would post photos to Tumblr. That’s faded with the Instagrammification of the world, so I exported all of THAT data too.
- Japan is an Island: Pictures from our 2016 trip to Japan.
- It Feels New: Kindof a post-a-day thing for a while. All film.
There are two blogs still sitting there. They’re still good, even if updated less and less:
- Positive: Traditional Tumblr kinda blog.
- Webkist Institute: Fictional research institute. Or at least that’s what we’re telling people.
Flickr had a great run and taught me a ton about photography. I have 15 years worth of great pictures – most of my daughter’s pre-teen childhood in fact! – that I don’t want to lose but also don’t necessarily want to print out.
You can now request an archive of all of your Flickr data, which includes JSON files with all of your metadata as well as the original image files. None of it is “browsable”, but it wasn’t TOO much of a challenge to convert each Flickr “Album” to a Jekyll-friendly page.
Find them all on the Flickr Albums page.
Kaela studied Jan Steen in college and has been learning Dutch with Duolingo. I have been baking bread, like all red-blooded American men. Antje’s done great at school so we made her pretend to play a kazoo.
Even though 2020 was a bad year, the three of us had a lot of time together, which was great! The most obvious way to spend it was baking odd Dutch breads, assembling 17th century-resembling costumes and posing for our holiday card. We still barely got it out in time.