My dear readers may not all be aware that I just moved to Brooklyn, NY. I love it here. I have known since I was little that I belonged in New York. But DC will always be close to my heart. I was born in Columbia Hospital for Women, in the District. I grew up in Upper NW, and then spent the past three years in Petworth. DC is a wonderful, varied place and I love it very much.
Today, I was feeling homesick, and I posted on Facebook that I was missing my old hood. A friend mentioned that DC was a rectangle, and it just seemed like the perfect thing to write about right now.
Washington, DC was founded in 1 791 to be the new capital of the United States of America. Previously, the capital had been in Philadelphia, but Congress decided that the capital of the country should not be in a state. Instead, it should be its own federal district, so no state could have undue influence over what when on in the seat of the federal government. Because of this, DC still to this day has no voting representatives in Congress.
And so Washington, DC was born. It is a city that was planned on a grid, with avenues (named after the states) cutting diagonally through the city. It radiates out from the Capitol, which is located in the center of the city, and it is divided into four quadrants: Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast. Politically, there are eight wards of DC voters.
The city was planned to be a perfect square – 7 miles square. It was made with land donated by Maryland and Virginia. However, due to rising tensions between the north and south, Virginia took back its half in 1847. DC is now mostly a square, with a bite taken out.
DC is, historically, a heavily black city. Recently, the percentage of black citizens is down to about 50% of the population, but in the past that percentage has been much higher. Especially east and south of Rock Creek Park, much of the city is pretty densely black. Because of this, there is a vibrant history of distinct black culture in DC.
The neighborhood nearest and dearest to me in Washington is Petworth. I lived there for the past three years. It is a neighborhood “in transition” – gentrifying, but by no means gentrified. Because rent is still relatively low, Petworth is an incredibly vibrant, diverse mix of people, with the population varying drastically in terms of age, race, and class. It’s a pretty amazing community of people, with lots of small local businesses and neighborhood pride. All of my friends still live there, and it’s truly an amazing place.
My dear friend Torie made the above print of a map of Petworth. I love it, and it hangs right above my bed in my apartment.
So, DC, here is my tribute to you. I’m missing and loving you today.
Clearly I’m back in school again, because I’m in class and have the time/level of boredom to continue in my blogging efforts.
Lovely Package is a website celebrating innovative and beautiful design on products. There are some truly beautiful pieces of design here, both student design pieces and true packaging that one would find on store shelves.
Here, we have a photo from Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers. I love the old-fashioned labels on here.
Here, Hardeger Huppen biscuits.
Finally, Sweet Botanicals.
My one complaint is that there are a lot of very similar aesthetic choices celebrated on here. Clearly, the people behind Lovely Package have a clear design preference and kind of limit what they feature to a very specific look. Lots of busy, folksy designs, which I’m not a huge fan of. For example:
I learned about this video my freshman year of college – almost six years ago, now – from my dear friend James. He is a connoisseur of all things hilarious and Asian, and “I Love Egg” is no exception. As soon as James found out that I love all those things, too, he shared this treasure with me. I really super wanted to embed it here, but apparently that’s impossible. So you’ll have to deal with a link, a description, and a screenshot.
This video is a bouncing, cheery song about eggs. I assume, from the lyrics, that it’s a PSA about how good eggs are for you. Or, in their words, how “popular and perfect and so complete in every way!” I love the catchy tune. I love the childish voice singing it. I love the weird eggs with faces. I love the ninjas. I love the slightly threatening “Chip a chip away your shell and COME. TO. ME.” I just love egg.
Also, guess what??!!? Apparently, there is I Love Egg merchandise. Hungry? Here’s an I Love Egg snack:
You can also get some little charm-doodles on Amazon:
Who KNOWS what else is out there!??!! Man. Life is GOOD when you love egg. Oodle doodle.
Found a video to embed. Not the best sound quality, but it does the job.
Henri Rousseau was a French painter in the 19th and early 20th centuries. He had no formal training, and his painting style was very flat, with strange light and color. There was an argument, at the time, whether Rousseau was a brilliant, avant-garde surrealist, or just a talentless hack. Over time, the argument that he was a talented visionary has won out over its more mean-spirited cousin.
I think the same argument could be made about Pop Pop’s art.
When Pop Pop retired, he became a painter. After a life spent in retail and marketing, Pop Pop wanted to explore the world through color, line, and texture instead of through dollars and cents. And, really, who could blame him? Money is so monochromatic. It’s so stark. It has none of the vibrancy of, say, a bowl of fruit. So Pop Pop painted.
His first painting was from a picture he clipped out of a magazine. The picture was of a small cabin in the woods, surrounded by trees and a field of mushrooms. In Pop Pop’s interpretation, the mushrooms are as big as the cabin. Some in my family see this as a lack of skill. I see this as a brilliant artistic choice, adding a sense of surreality to an otherwise plain painting. I wish I had a picture of this painting to show you guys, but it’s my Grandma’s favorite, and on lock down above their mantle. I’ve called dibs on it when the grandparents die. It’s the only inheritance I want.
The first painting I got from Pop Pop is a still life. It was “based” on a Cezanne, which Pop Pop clipped out of a magazine and attached to the back with masking tape. I love this painting for many reasons. First, Pop Pop quickly diverts from Cezanne’s muted colors and light. Instead, Pop Pop paints a garish turquoise background, complemented by an equally garish yellow tea towel. Pop Pop’s colors truly pop. None of this subdued, impressionist bullshit. Second, I love the fruit. Sure, you can tell what it is, but it looks rotten. Perhaps this is a visionary statement on the state of the world today? On our own perceptions of quality and value? Finally, I love Pop Pop’s broad, irreverent brush strokes. Nothing says “Fuck you, artistic conventions!” like a broad, inexact brush.
This seriously might be my favorite painting in the world. I have it hanging in my living room, and get asked if I painted it every time I have anyone over. I always have to ‘fess up that, no, this visionary masterpiece was done by my grandfather, not me.
In recent years, Pop Pop’s vision has declined to the point where he’s had to stop painting. It breaks my heart. But he still loves to take people on a tour of his “gallery” in the garage. Grandma has his art displayed all over the house – to the tune of 15-20 pictures on display throughout their two bedroom house. Pop Pop, after 87 years of a supremely practical life, has become a legitimate painter. He has his art displayed in his house. He gives it away to the kids and grandkids, so that my parents, my dad’s sisters, my brother, and I all have some Pop Pop art in our homes. And I could not be more thrilled to display these surrealist masterpieces, with the added joy of saying, “Yeah, my Pop Pop did that.”
This year, I decided to send out a holiday card from me and Buckley. I bought matching green sweaters for us, but I wanted to make it one step kitschier. My friend Torie was going to take the picture for us, and she offered to photoshop us in front of a fireplace. And then I had a brilliant idea.
I’d make my own fireplace.
I went to a store and bought some colored poster board, and set to work. I love working with cut paper – it’s the one time my art projects turn out at all decent looking.
Here is the evolution of my fireplace, from start to finish.
So, my fireplace was complete. Next step was to take some photos. Torie did an excellent job, and we came out with a fantastic photo. I sent it out last week, and have gotten some great feedback already! Here’s the one we chose:
I totally love how it turned out! I think I’m hilarious.
Plus, bonus pics of Buckley in a sweater.
Amy Shackleton is an (adorable) artist based in Toronto. She paints in drips – and produces representational works rather than abstractions. They’re pretty cool, and also pretty. I’m generally not a huge fan of her color choices, but I like her technique so much that I had to feature her on here.
Here are a few of her paintings, for your enjoyment.
Totally-otally cool. Nice job, Amy. I like it!
In case it wasn’t already clear, I am a sucker for pictures of dogs. I am particularly partial to coonhounds, considering I have a handsome, neurotic coonhound myself. So I was already inclined to be a fan of Maddie the Coonhound – a fabulous website featuring mostly pictures of Maddie the dog on top of things, as she and her owner travel around the country. Apart from Maddie’s sweet face, I love the artist’s sense of humor.
Unlike my last post about da puppehs, this one features some really beautiful photography. I keep meaning to buy a print from the artist. I recommend my readers do this in a more timely fashion than I have.
Anyway, here are some fabulous pictures of a sweet girl. Enjoy.
This blog, Food On My Dog, is precisely what it sounds like – pictures of food on some dude’s dog. It combines two of my favorite things, though, those things being food and dogs. This pooch, Tiger, has a sweet, sweet face and incredible self-discipline. Buckley would never, for example, tolerate slices of turkey on his face without eating them. Literally never, ever.
There are 2 FAQ’s on this site. They are incredibly appropriate to the target audience of Food On My Dog. The first is, “Does she get to eat the food on her head?” Duh, anyone interested in seeing food on a dog’s head is concerned that the pup gets to eat it after being so well-behaved! The other question is, “What type of dog is she?” (Staffordshire Terrier and American Bulldog, or, more generically, a Pit Bull). Finally, the FAQ section culminates in this reassurance: “Yes, I will give Tiger love, attention, kisses, and belly rubs from all her fans.” Lucky pup. That’s a lot of love, attention, kisses, and belly rubs.
Now for my personal favorites:
You can also get a “Food On My Dog” t-shirt. This is my personal favorite design.
Anyway, here are some kisses from me, Tiger. You could teach Buckley some lessons in patience. Good girl, boo.
I know you all have been awaiting this post with bated breath.
I can see it now. You sit at home, obsessively refreshing TTAR in your browser. “What is her second guilty pleasure website?” you ask yourself, as you systematically pluck out your eyebrows.
Well, friends, your wait has not been in vain. Now, it is revealed:
On the surface, it doesn’t sound that interesting.
“So what,” you think. “How interesting can Etsy be?”
Eat your words, dear reader. Etsy can be fucking ridic.
I should also mention that April, the curator, is fucking funny. Like, her writing actually makes me laugh out loud sometimes. Below is her response to the above photo (also, I should add, the green highlighted emphasis is her own).
Well, now you’re talking – a couple of rocks with string on them! You can add them to your collection, provided you collect rocks with string on them. And how cool is it that the colors change depending on the light? Not too many things you can say that about!
The question is, do you want her to trim the twine or not? That’s a toughie. I mean, what if it’s too short? Then what? You can’t uncut the twine. But then again, if it’s too long it might get caught in your nose ring. Oh well! I guess that’s why she’s on the front page, and you’re just slowly drinking yourself to death.
Whatever you choose, remember that twine-covered rocks are a calming element. Just thinking about the fact that someone got on the front page with this horse shit should put you in the fetal position.
DO NOT TAKE THE ROCK OUTSIDE
If you don’t get it, I can’t explain it to you. But I think it is subtle and brilliant and just plain funny.
Ok, indulge me here. One more.
She made up a term called “noncycling,” which makes fun of the trend to “upcycle” old clothes or items into a new, beautiful thing.
In her words:
1. To take a piece of garbage and turn it into a different piece of garbage
2. To take an object that still has some useful purpose and turn it into a piece of garbage
“Mary stopped Jim from discarding the expired air-fresheners so she could noncycle them into an instant collection.”
Here are too many noncycles, gleaned from a few posts:
Seriously. SERIOUSLY. This shit is for real. April is brilliant. Etsy is INSANE. I actually cannot believe what she finds on there. But I love it. So much.
You’re welcome. Enjoy.
Artist Ben Heine created these modern trompe l’oeuil pieces. What a fabulous idea.
I love the whimsy of the pencil drawings. They are appropriately realistic, but not so precise as to pretend to be an extension of the photographic medium. Many of them are silly sketches superimposed upon the photo. Others are just reinterpretations of what the photograph could have been.
Below are some of my favorites. I tend to prefer the pieces that aren’t necessarily trying to be funny, but instead putting something into the photo that wasn’t already there.
Nicely done, Ben. Very creative, and I’m a fan.