Weegee’s New York: Photographs, 1935-1960

Weegee’s New York: Photographs 1935–1960

Weegee’s legendary camera recorded an unmatched pictorial chronicle of a legendary time. Weegee’s New York is the New York of the thirties and forties, a city marked by the Great Depression, by unemployment and poverty, by mob violence and prostitution. He was the first news photographer allowed a police radio in his car. Racing through Manhattan’s streets after midnight, he often beat the cops to the scene of the crime to shoot the pictures which would scream from the pages of the Daily News and the Daily Mirror next morning. They still jump from the page with a restless immediacy and intense nervousness that has never been surpassed. The 335 photographs collected in this new softcover reprint tell the astonishing story of New York during one of its most violent and exciting periods. The introductory essay is by the former editor of Art Forum, John Coplans.

Essay by Weegee

Weegee (1899-1968),was born Arthur Fellig in what is now a part of Poland and arrived in New York at the age of ten. During his ten years at Manhattan’s police headquarters he published 5,000 photos that made him the most famous of a new breed of hardboiled news photographers. His book Naked City (later made into a film) was published in 1945, followed in 1953 by Naked Hollywood.

John Coplans, born in 1920 in England, immigrated to the US in 1960. In 1962 he founded the periodical Artforum serving as its editor until 1980. He was director of the Art Gallery of University of California at Irvine; senior curator at the Pasadena Art Museum; and director of the Akron Art Museum, Ohio. At age sixty he took up photography full-time.

335 duotone plates.

Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art

When it was first published, Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art changed the way the culinary world viewed Japanese cooking, moving it from obscure ethnic food to haute cuisine.

Twenty-five years later, much has changed. Japanese food is a favorite of diners around the world. Not only is sushi as much a part of the Western culinary scene as burgers, bagels, and burritos, but some Japanese chefs have become household names. Japanese flavors, ingredients, and textures have been fused into dishes from a wide variety of other cuisines. What hasn’t changed over the years, however, are the foundations of Japanese cooking. When he originally wrote Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art, Shizuo Tsuji, a scholar who trained under famous European chefs, was so careful and precise in his descriptions of the cuisine and its vital philosophies, and so thoughtful in his choice of dishes and recipes, that his words–and the dishes they help produce–are as fresh today as when they were first written.
The 25th Anniversary edition celebrates Tsuji’s classic work. Building on M.F.K.Fisher’s eloquent introduction, the volume now includes a thought-provoking new Foreword by Gourmet Editor-in-Chief Ruth Reichl and a new preface by the author’s son and Tsuji Culinary Institute Director Yoshiki Tsuji. Beautifully illustrated with eight pages of new color photos and over 500 drawings, and containing 230 traditional recipes as well as detailed explanations of ingredients, kitchen utensils, techniques and cultural aspects of Japanese cuisine, this edition continues the Tsuji legacy of bringing the Japanese kitchen within the reach of Western cooks.

Inside Facebook: Life, Work and Visions of Greatness

As an early engineer, I was on the inside during Facebook’s explosive growth. In Inside Facebook, I’ll give you the scoop on the company as it became the premiere online environment for U.S. college students, including how and by whom the products were made, how you can use them best, views on what makes social networks so valuable, and where the industry is headed. You, too, can achieve startup success and attain your greatest dream; I hope to inspire you toward fulfilling your potential.

“Love the book. It captures the ethos of the place and a substantial degree of the vision and drive which is a secret to success.”
-David Kopp, Sr. Director, Community at Yahoo!

“Inside Facebook is a compelling look inside at a fascinating moment. It’s a riveting read. Karel may be an Engineer, but after reading Inside Facebook you’ll see he’s a great storyteller. I couldn’t get myself to stop reading and wanting more.”
-Ariel McNichol, CEO of mEgo.

“I love the style. It’s made for college students, like Facebook. Karel takes you into the personalities and minds behind Facebook. A must read for young entrepreneurs, and anyone into online social networking.”
-Mohammad Naqvi, UCR, creator of Facebook Notifier at fbQuick.com

Japanese Brooklyn

Victorian Brooklyn is amazingly beautiful. In Victorian times skilled labour and land was cheaper than it is today and wealthy people were able to build really elaborate and architecturally significant residences rather than Mc Masions of today.

In a big lot of old postcards that I picked up on eBay I found this – a postcard featuring “The Japanese House, Flatbush, N. Y.” It looks like this wasn’t the only time this house was featured on a postcard: here’s another one.

Don Wiss of the Brooklyn photo store photo fame graciously allowed me to use his picture of the Japanese House, which turned out to be
Frederick S. Kolle House at 131 Buckingham Road.


Here are Don’s notes, mostly gleaned from the AIA Guide to New York City.

I did a little bit more digging and found a New York Times article, which somehow is fully available.

The house was built by a developer in order to promote Prospect Park area.

Alvord advertised the house in Country Life in America in the summer of 1903, calling it ”a faithful reflection of the dainty Japanese art from which America is learning so much.” But the house was ”thoroughly practical,” the ad continued, with a ”porcelain Roman bathtub, also needle and shower baths,” and a 22-minute commute to Park Row. It was offered at $26,500.

According to this calculator that translates to somewhere between 600K if you use Consumer Price index to 12 million if you use the relative share of GDP. Stupid Zillow is showing values in $1 million range, which is of course very wrong. I suspect that the current value of the house is much closer to the GDP share range :)

The NYT article goes on to say that Dr. Kolle, the first owner of the house was a pioneering radiologist. It seems like he purchased the house on the cheap after the unusualness of it did not attract many bidders. Also, in 97 the house used to belong (and probably still does) to the director of Flatbush Development Corporation who bought the house in the 70s.

The following quote made me drool:

“Except for the kitchen, the ground floor interior of the Fischers’ house is completely intact, with dragon figures in the stained-glass windows, Japanese decorative detail around the fireplace and a definite feeling of thinness to the partitions — there are leaded glass windows between the sitting and dining rooms. The Fischers have furnished the house with an eclectic mix of furniture and artwork, from Belter to Bauhaus, as well as memorabilia from the Kolle family.”

Apparently the Flatbush Development corporation is holding a Victorian House Tour, that at least in 97 featured the Japanese House as one of the stops. I wonder if they still do – I’d love to see it.

Looking at the butt-ugly condos and renovation in McMansion syle that I see all over, I can’t help but think – will they build houses that are postcard-worthy again in Brooklyn?

There are Always Leaks

There are those movies that keep you actively thinking about them for days and weeks after you see them. Primer, which I watched with my wife yesterday is one of those. If you are one of those who are afraid of “spoilers” – this is your warning, although I believe it’s really impossible to create a “spoiler” for this movie. You’ll watch it once, twice, three times, then with director’s commentaries, then read the entire message board and still will not be able to figure it out entirely.

Primer is a story about time travel paradoxes, but not really. It’s about innovation, competition, trust and inability to see the entire picture.

Without the science fiction element, the movie is about garage innovators. The core of innovative group is almost always two people. Sometimes it starts out with more people, but then boils down to two. Jobs and Wozniak, Hewlett and Packard, Gates and Allen. You need to have your John and your Paul, George and Ringo are not that important. So you have these two people who together are destined to create great things. Can they trust each other? Would they do screw each other over?

We know for a fact that the alpha geeks are often ruthless. Steve Jobs gets a design job from Atari, gives it to Steve Wozniak, promising 50/50 spilt, and after Woz delivers the work gives him $300 while pocketing a few grand, saying that the fee was $600? When Apple becomes a success he deserts Wozniak. Then gets forced out himself. Then he majorly screws over founders of Pixar. Then takes back Apple. Typical preppy high school drama, except with higher stakes. And realize this – he does all that instead of enjoying his money and free time.

Anyway, the movie has two protagonists, Abe and Aaron, engineers talented like Woz and a bit less ruthless than Jobs. Abe creates a time machine that can use to travel back in time to the moment when the machine is powered up for the first time and then explains its use to his friend. That opens endless possibilities for them: make money in the stock market, prevent bad stuff from happening. Which they do for a while, but then their competitive instincts kick in. Can you really trust your partner not to go into the past and put you out of commission?

Worse of all — if you go back in time and then prevent your second self from entering the time machine all of a sudden there are two of you. The biblical names of the characters are significant in this context – Abraham – the “Father of Many” and Aaron – the “Bearer of Martyrs”. They become involved and a four-dimensional battle for control with each other and their paradox-born doppelgangers. “Failsafe machines” — extra time boxes set up in hidden locations that allow for extra “entry points” or “save points” become important weapons in this game. Can you really trust yoursef becomes the real question.

Abe and Aaron are competitive and very, very smart. They create a crazily complicated situation, with time machines, time machines inside time machines, doubles that have all recorded audio track of the timeline provided to them by future selves, extra timelines and resets via failsafe machines. “Are you hungry? I haven’t eaten since later this afternoon” sounds absolutely normal in the context.

A similar, buth much less complicated situation transpired in Stanislaw Lem’s 7th voyage of the Star Diaries of Ijon Tichy..

That sci-fi story went like this: Ijon’s rocketship ends up in a “space storm” with a broken rudder. Fixing a rudder is a two person job, but luckily the space storm brings together Ijons from different times. All he really needs to do is put on a space suit, wait for a later him wearing a space suit to appear, cooperate and fix the rudder. Instead he ends up arguing with his future and past selves, hitting and being hit by them and eating his own supplies of chocolate. Here’s a quote from what seems to be a full text of the story that somebody probably illegally posted on the web:

“I came to, sitting on the floor of the bathroom; someone was banging on the door. I began to attend to my bruises and bumps, but he kept pounding away; it turned out to be the Wednesday me. After a while I showed him my battered head, he went with the Thursday me for the tools, then there was a lot of running around and yanking off of spacesuits, this too in one way or another I managed to live through, and on Saturday morning crawled under the bed to see if there wasn’t some chocolate left in the suitcase. Someone started pulling at my foot as I ate the last bar, which I’d found underneath the shirts; I no longer knew just who this was, but hit him over the head any how, pulled the spacesuit off him and was going to put it on–when the rocket fell into the next vortex.

When I regained consciousness, the cabin was packed with people. There was barely elbowroom. As it turned out, they were all of them me, from different days, weeks, months, and one–so he said–was even from the following year. There were plenty with bruises and black eyes, and five among those present had on spacesuits. But instead of immediately going out through the hatch and repairing the damage, they began to quarrel, argue, bicker and debate. The problem was, who had hit whom, and when. The situation was complicated by the fact that there now had appeared morning me’s and afternoon me’s–I feared that if things went on like this, I would soon be broken into minutes and seconds–and then too, the majority of the me’s present were lying like mad, so that to this day I’m not altogether sure whom I hit and who hit me when that whole business took place, triangularly, between the Thursday, the Friday and the Wednesday me’s, all of whom I was in turn. My impression is that because I had lied to the Friday me, pretending to be the Sunday me, I ended up with one blow more than I should have, going by the calendar. But I would prefer not to dwell any longer on these unpleasant memories; a man who for an entire week does nothing but hit himself over the head has little reason to be proud.”

One other main themes of the movie is the inability to know certain things no matter how smart you are. Too many things are open to too many interpretations. The geeks on the web are obsessively putting together timelines, diagrams and theories of what really went on. I don’t even think that the author of the screenplay completely understands the whole sequence of events. And he directed and played in the film! How many timelines are there? How many Abes and Aarons? What do they mean by “recycling” the machines? What the hell happened with Tom Granger?

There is also an interesting recursive theme in the movie: cheapness. The actor/director/screenwriter, shooting on what is described as $7000 budget and making it look very good, has done some ingenious things. So do the inventor in the movie – he keeps his day job instead of throwing it away to follow the dream, too cheap to have a steak for lunch, and even at some point he cuts copper tubing needed for the project out of a refrigerator. I don’t know if building a time machine is that much more difficult than making such an awesome movie on a 7K budget.

By the way, if you are looking for hints about the movie, the commentary track on the DVD is a pretty horrible place to start. It’s full of jems like “That sound effect – yeah [background laugh] – that was George Forman Grill”.

All I know, is that I want an Emiba Devices t-shirt. And a garage.

Wha-what’s happening? I’m losing the crowd. Down to 201 “friends”.

It could be the obscure Mat Groening references, or the photos, or maybe the cubicle monkey. I don’t know, but continuing posting junk as planned. Here, at Deadprogrammer Light Industries we stopped caring about the consumer a long time ago.

Anyway, here are two absolutely excellent commercials that completely stuck in my mind. They totally make me want to drink Starbucks® Double ShotTM drinks in Puma® running shoes despite my knowledge that these are indeed inferior products.

Ok, maybe I am not going to start purchasing Starbucks® and Puma® products, but I do drive my wife nuts singing “Mike, Mike, Miiike! … And he knows one day he just might become … a Director ” and saying “Stick! Stick! Stick! Go! Go! Go!”.

Lyrics to “Glenn! Glenn! Glenn!” are a bit hard to understand, but actually pretty funny:

Glenn
Glenn Glenn Glenn
Glenn Glenn Glenn
Glen Glen Gleeeeeeenn

Glen’s the man going to work
Got his tie
Got ambition

Middle management is right in his grasp
It’s a dream he will never let die
Glen’s the man of the hour
He’s the king of his cube
Status com reports’ve finally met their rival
Burning candle at both ends on his way to the top
He knows one day he just could become …
Supervisor

Interestingly enough “status com reports” is only once referenced by google – and even at that on the site discussing “Glenn!” lyrics.

I also wonder why they chose such a sterile and clean bathroom and kitchen to use in the commercial. I mean, have you ever met a “Glenn” who would clean his apartment that clean?

No Lunch For Deadprogrammer

I haven’t lost much weight in the last few months on the Atkins diet and I am still nowhere near my target weight. And I am not cheating, really. So the three pronged approach must be tried.

A) Forcing myself to eat breakfast, late lunch and having no dinner
B) Cutting down on coffee and artificial sweeteners
C) Going to gym more often than once every two weeks.

So, instead of lunch today I’ll do a little post. I need to come up with a good name for this kind of a post. Slashdot calls it “Slashback”. I can’t come up with something witty. Little help?

In any case, here goes:

Very talented brings us The Matrix and Terminator in the Russian lubok style. He’s also the one who placed Cheburashka, the Soviet Pokemon in the world of Star Wars and The Matrix. I’ve seen the images floating around in journals for a while, but they never revealed the author. Don’t you hate that?

Nobody expects the Mozilla developers! Mozilla is rather nice right now. Two features really make the difference – tabs and popup blocking. And favicon.ico rendering that isn’t broken. Three features. And NT challenge/response support. Four. And proper keyboard shortcuts. Five.

Tabbed browsing is absolutely perfect for journal reading. Unfortunately from time to time the browser window doesn’t refresh and becomes a jumble of screen layers forcing me to restart the browser. The same thing happens to Trillian sometimes. Does anybody know how to fix that?

I am listening a lot to Kora music. Djelika by Toumani Diabate is oh so amazing. You really, really got to get it. This is the best coding music ever. What’s a bit funny is that Mr. Diabate quotes the theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” in the title piece. It’s just so awesome! Just listen to the sample at Amazon. Don’t even listen, just buy the damn CD. Did I ever recommend anything bad?

got me interested in the Chapman Stick. At first I though it was a kind of a Theremin. I tried listening to a classical recording of Theremin, but didn’t like it.

But it turned out that the Stick is something very different. And also hella cool:

“… One piece, Backyard, that appears on the album was used in the film Dune. The director’s cut of the film shows a decorated Stick painted gold playing the role of the mythical “baliset” instrument described in Frank Herbert’s novel. Emmett’s recording is what we hear when we see Patrick Stewart play the baliset.”

I really want to get a cd of “Parallel Galaxy”, but can’t seem to find one for sale.

Lunch is over.

Fix it! Fix it! Fix it! Fix it! or My Lame Attempt at Turbo

Ok, so I have been without cable for three weeks. Something happened in the Cablevision hub down below. They should be able to fix the damn thing without me being there, right? Nope. I must be there. My sysadmin neighbor had the same problem. He made an appointment, which was promptly missed by the cable guy. On the second try his service was restored, but the technician did not do anything about my connection, even though he was told about it.

So I decided to find out the following: is it possible to have Cablevision fix my cable without me being there? Come on, cable is not important enough to take a day off from work, right? What if I can’t take a day off? What? What?

So I decided to “Turbo” (definitely click the link). That’s what a real pro of getting things out of customer service calls his art.

Well, I suck at it. I summoned level 2 support. Bampf + cloud of blue stinky smoke. No dice. I summoned a director of customer service (a director is located below VP in the corporate food chain. My boss is a director). Ca-bampfff + a cloud of stinky red smoke. No dice. I decided to give up and make an appointment. I guess I could work from home one day.

You see, with this amount of energy expended, I could get a satellite dish which would provide me with a better selection of channels, better picture quality and cheaper price. But I can’t. Dishes are banned from my apartment building.

Interestingly, the Cablevision director said that in the future Cablevision will have more channels than any dish network. I wanted to inquire about how they were gonna cram all of that bandwidth into coax, but I decided that it was enough smart assing for the day.

What worries me, is that I am starting to become more and more vocal about getting good customer service. I sympathize more with corporations that are loosing business because of idiocy of all levels of management in designing the customer experience, than with CRs. clerks and managers who have to endure my smart arse requests, arguments and refusal to take crap from them without even a half-hearted fight.

What is it? Am I becoming “just like the Americans” as that sleazeball realtor said?