At a moment when the once beautifully entangled fabric of New York life seems to be unravelling thread by thread—bookstore by bookstore, restaurant by restaurant, and now even toy store by toy store—it might be time to spare a thought or two for the Chelsea Hotel. At the hotel on Twenty-third Street, famously rundown and louche—the Last Bohemia for the Final Beatniks, our own Chateau Marmont, where Dylan Thomas drank and Bob Dylan wrote “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” and Leonard Cohen wore (or didn’t; people argue) his famous blue raincoat, and Sid Vicious killed (or didn’t; they argue that, too) Nancy Spungen—the renovators and gentrifiers have arrived. The plastic sheeting is everywhere, the saws buzz and the dust rises. In a short time, the last outpost of New York bohemia will become one more boutique hotel.
WORKING THE PROJECTION booth at Avon Cinema was like a second film school for Taylor Umphenour. The single-screen theater on the east side of Providence, Rhode Island—a favorite among Brown and Rhode Island School of Design students—provided a sublime mix of unlimited free movies and a century’s worth of cinematic innovation.
The nine-year education would prove invaluable to the aspiring filmmaker. But as much as Umphenour cherished the analog world of carbon rods, lenses, and aperture plates, by 2011 it was clear film was dying—or at least fading into a specialty medium.
[…] for two years the owner allowed Umphenour to photograph and film what has become a relic in most US movie theaters: the 35mm projection booth. “I saw that there was an opportunity to take people into this vanishing world,” he says, “a world that was also deliberately kept in the shadows, unseen for almost a century that it existed.”
Before the dawn of electric light in the early 20th century, humans mostly took cues from the Sun to determine when to sleep and when to stay awake. Now, however, our exposure to artificial light sources is nearly constant. City-dwellers are barraged with all sorts of lights at all hours of the night, and anyone with a laptop, an e-reader or even just a working lightbulb can choose to stay in light long after the Sun goes down. While these extra hours spent in light are widely viewed as more time to pursue work or leisure, studies show they might also be playing tricks on our body and cutting against our default biological rhythms.
How Electric Light Changed the Night combines a brief history of artificial light and sleeping patterns with a scientific exploration of the surprising ways artificial light affects us. The film was produced through a collaboration between the California Academy of Sciences and PBS Digital Studios as part of KQED San Francisco’s short science documentary series, Deep Look.
See also: Towers that mimicked the moon
I need to watch this documentary asap. From Wired:
BEING A STREET photographer is a bit like conducting a drunk symphony: You must make order of chaos. Only a few photographers do it well, and many of them appear in Cheryl Dunn’s film, Everybody Street, which chronicles the street photography of New York City.
Dunn chose New York because it always has been at the center of the genre. Many a shooter has made a career documenting the city’s colorful characters, and many of street photography’s most iconic photographs were shot in one of its boroughs.
“If you want to get a really broad slice of humanity, you can find it in New York,” Dunn says. “Every kind of person is out there and I think that’s what’s attracted all these photographers.”
I visited Iceland earlier this year. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to return somewhere so much. I really enjoyed this three-part piece in McSweeney’s by Kurt Caswell:
Everybody knows that train travel is superior to all other modes of getting from here to there, except for travel by foot (“It is rich in details,” a Hungarian friend told me, who was walking around the world), and perhaps travel by camel (the romance of the Silk Road, of course), and maybe by canoe (because canoes are a kind of poetry). So except for those three, trains are superior. But then, I also love my diesel pickup with its eight-foot Alaskan camper. So, except for those four, trains are the best. And the list of great wanderer/writers who love trains is long indeed. “Trains are for meditation,” writes the late Scottish poet Alastair Reid. “I like trains,” writes Australian writer Anna Funder. “I like their rhythm, and I like the freedom of being suspended between two places, all anxieties of purpose taken care of: for this moment I know where I am going.” The 1982 Nobel Laureate, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, called the train, through one of his characters, “a kitchen dragging a village behind it.” And novelist and travel writer, Paul Theroux, a man well-known for making long journeys by train, writes, “Ever since childhood . . . I have seldom heard a train go by and not wished I was on it.” Because “I can’t make my days longer,” Theroux muses, “… I strive to make my days better.” That’s beautiful, if you hadn’t noticed, words to live by it seems, and one way to make a day better is to travel by train.
But Scott and I were traveling in Iceland, and Iceland doesn’t have any trains. I don’t know why not, when the famed Ring Road circumnavigates the entire country, and seems a likely, even obvious route for a train. Imagine how many happy tourists (some of them wanderer/writers) might more happily part with their money while riding the train around the island. Local communities on the Ring Road Railway (surely someone has thought of this already; but if not, I get credit for that name) could decide if they wanted to build track outward from the ring to various fabulous local destinations. A circular rail line then, with rays emanating into the peninsulas, not unlike a flower with its petals. That too is beautiful, if you hadn’t noticed. Of course, one complication is that in Iceland now and again, a volcano pops it top, and the result can be a torrent of glacial melt, especially in the south from Vatnajokull, which rushes out to sea and destroys miles of highway, along with many bridges. Perhaps Iceland decided against a rail line long ago because rebuilding all that track would be just one more expensive thing to do.
For Paris-based record collector Thomas Henry, the history of vinyl is particularly fascinating. For years, he’s been amassing 78 rpm records, shellac-based phonographic discs made between 1898 and 1950. He even runs a blog about this era of recorded music. Now, he’s putting together a comprehensive map of the record stores that operated in Paris starting at the very end of 19th century and on into the first half of the 20th (the website is in French).
Disquaires de Paris (Record Stores of Paris) is an interactive guide to the city’s record shop scene from 1890 through 1960, with archival materials that connect to each pinpointed store.