Things I Just Bought

This is for my friends, because I was talking about these two items, the soup plate and the mug.

Back story on the soup plate: When I worked for Mobil they had a cafeteria and I loved the dishware, mostly because of the Pegasus logo. They let everyone take pieces of it when they moved to Virginia and I have always regretted that I only took a few items. What was I thinking??

Well, I saw a Mobil soup plate on Etsy and immediately bought it!! And immediately started feeling a little buyer’s remorse. $50 for a plate, what was I thinking?? But it came today and I just love it.

Back story on the mug: My cats broke my current favorite coffee cup the other morning, as they do. Motherfuckers. So I was on the hunt for a new favorite coffee cup. I found this one today at Fishs Eddy. I needed something small, and I wanted something simple this time. I actually drink my coffee from a thermos (because it stays warm) and only take the first few sips from a mug. This one is lovely. It has a shiny silver band along the rim which gives it a ever-so-slight hint of Christmas.

Mobil Oil Soup Plate

Ryan Hall Y’All

I’ve become addicted to watching Ryan Hall report on extreme weather. You can watch his videos here. If supercells are forming down south (the poor, beleaguered south) and other areas of the country, I can’t look away. Hall has a very impressive operation. He works with storm chasers, a meteorologist named Andy, and a person named Carly who reaches out to the local police, firefighters, etc., to report on what is happening in the areas they are following. All of whom, in addition to Andy, have become knowledgable about meteorology and they’ll explain just what is happening.

This is my view from the couch, including Bali, who is taking advantage of my time not moving for hours! What you’re seeing on that screen in addition to Ryan are radar views, the views from the storm chasers, a viewer chat on the right, and the current number of warnings—and there are different types of warning, starting from bad to worst, if I’m remembering the order correctly: Tornado Watch, Tornado Warning Radar Indicated, Tornado Warning Radar Confirmed, Tornado Warning Observed, Tornado Warning PDS (Potentially Dangerous Situation) and Tornado Emergency.

Ryan Hall Y'All

Whitney Biennial 2022

I don’t really have a lot to say about it. It was just so great to get out of the house, see some art, and I still can’t get over that the Whitney is just a few blocks from where I live (for non-New Yorkers it used to be uptown). I can see those Edward Hoppers any time I want, so easily.

The piece that engaged me the most was Alejandro “Luperca” Morales’s Juarez Archive. Because of the pandemic he couldn’t go to his hometown, Ciudad Juárez. So he downloaded images from Google maps, made them into slides, and put them into tiny, children’s viewfinders and you had to put them up to your eye to see the pictures. I can’t tell you how much I loved looking into those viewfinders and seeing the images he chose. Maybe because it had a nostalgic, story time feel to it, but I went down the entire wall and looked at every one.

I also loved the night time photographs of L.A. taken by Guadalupe Rosales, Jane Dickson’s painting of a motel … I should have taken better notes.

This is looking down on Alia Farid’s Palm Orchard, which was on the sixth-floor balcony.

Whitney Biennial 2022

Forty Skulls: From Things I Found at the Municipal Archives

Whenever I go to the Municipal Archives in New York City to research something, I always come across tons of other interesting items. I’ve put together a folder of some of my favorite finds, which I plan to post about in the months ahead. First up, an article titled simply: “Forty Skulls.” There is no date for the article, nor does the name of newspaper appear on this particular artifact. It was on a roll of microfilm labeled, “NYC Art Commission Scrapbook, City History Club, 1884-1903, Roll 1.”

Based on the article though, I’m guessing it’s from June 1897. It begins, “Forty skulls have been found in the lots at the corner of Reade Street and Broadway upon which Messrs. R. G. Dun and Co. [the predecessor to Dun & Bradstreet!] are to build their new fifteen story edifice.”

A few theories about how the skulls came to be there, that the skulls were prehistoric remains, that they were Indians or Dutch settlers, etc. were quickly proved wrong. The proprietor of the nearby inn Cobweb Hall immediately told them that in the 18th century it was a negro burial ground. The title for his property, which he bought in 1886, had the words, “seven feet back of a negro burial ground.” Whoever wrote this article (there’s no byline) added that the last burial was before 1800. Apparently everyone forgot all about the skulls soon after.

Remains on the site were re-discovered in the 1990s when it was excavated prior to new buildings going up (the Dun Building was demolished in 1969). The location is now also the site of a national monument and a visitor center for the African Burial Ground.

The thing is, when I google it, the articles I find say that in 1897 they didn’t realize that the remains they found were part of the African Burial Ground and that is not true! I wish I knew the author of the article I found. Because articles that appeared in the New York Times and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle didn’t turn up the truth, but this writer did. I want to credit him.

There were some upsetting parts about the article I found. After they found the skulls they continued their work on the new building. “Every now and then, however, in the next few days they would crash into a skull and bring it to light in a damaged condition.” So, that was bad. Worse, “The Skulls were eagerly seized upon as artifacts.” At least one person who got one was named. “Mr. Fred Cook, of the Aqueduct Board, got one. Other city officials cried for them.” After that, the city workers were more careful to not damage the skulls. But not for preservation, historical, or respectful reasons. “In this way they managed to pick out half a dozen skulls in a perfect condition.”. Which were given out as keepsakes.

But that means some of those skulls could still be out there, in someone’s attic or basement, forgotten, or forgotten as to where they came from. I’d start by researching the descendants of Frederick Scott Cook, who died in 1935 or 1939, based on a quick check. If I have the right guy, he had four daughters, one who died young.

The first picture below is of Cobweb Hall, (established 1810, the sign says!) the second is the Dun Building.

Cob Well Hall, New York City

The Dun Building, 290-294 Broadway, New York City

Silicon Alley Talent Show

In 1998 a bunch of us organized what we called The Silicon Alley Talent Show. It was mostly for fun, and I had a great time. My “talent” was playing with the band I was a member of, The Manhattan Samba Group. I’ve set this up to where I first appear. I’m the one with bangs, and my hair up.

I don’t know why I wasn’t smiling much! The only thing I can think of is playing like this does take a lot of concentration, and the leader is constantly giving us visual signals about what we should be doing. Here is the full line-up of performers if you’d like to watch more of this video. It’s a real who’s who of people working in new media at the time:

Performers & judges include:

John Perry Barlow, EFF
Marisa Bowe, Word
Red Burns, ITP
Jason McCabe Calacanis, Silicon Alley Reporter
The Feed Band
Peter Girardi & Chris Capuozzo, Funny Garbage
Stacy Horn, ECHO
Jaime Levy, Electronic Hollywood
Nicholas Negroponte, MIT Media Lab
Rebecca Odes, gURL
Alice Rodd O’Rourke, NYNMA
Kyle Shannon,
Omar Wasow, NY Online
Tom Watson, @NY

MC: The Great Fredini, formerly of the Coney Island Circus Sideshow