Week 37, like a slice of cake
Oh it was THE most Oaklandish Saturday. Kathryn and I set up a table for Fat Gold at the O2 Artisans Aggregate compound, happy to be part of their day-long anniversary festival. On the O2AA website, you’ll find an illustrated map of the place that almost does it justice: a twisty warren of activity, sawmill operating beside blacksmith behind distillery butted up against restaurant, and on and on. There is a chicken coop, of course, but there’s also a aquaponic fish farm and a cricket snackeria. It… might be Marrow Fair??
Earlier this week, in the New York Times Cooking email newsletter, Sam Sifton said
the novel Sourdough, by Robin Sloan … should never be a film because it wouldn’t ever be as beautiful as Sloan’s words
which of course I disagree with—this novel might in fact become a very fine movie indeed—but I appreciate the sentiment, which is almost shockingly kind.
Another novel made a surprise appearance in an unlikely venue this week: look!?
Many of you have, I’m sure, listened to the podcast Song Exploder. It’s really wonderful, not least for the lightness of its touch: the hosts and producers do so much work, and then get so totally out of the way.
I loved the latest episode, in which Robyn discusses her song “Honey.” Midway through, she said something that, bzzzap, suddenly helped me understand my own taste in music better. She said:
I was really inspired by all this dance music that I’ve grown up listening to; basically, music made for clubs. That kind of music, it doesn’t really have a beginning and an end, and a chorus and a normal song structure the way a lot of pop music does.
I am not a big, ahem, ~clubgoer~, but I have tended to enjoy music with those same dance influences, and conversely, I’ve long been impatient with the standard pop song structure: verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, blah blah blah. Or, to be more precise, I very often love a short section of a song, usually near the beginning, and then the rest of it—the rote pop buildup to catharsis—I am just totally unmoved by.
What I like is: a song that almost doesn’t have a beginning or end; a song that plays like a lucky bounce from a far-off radio station, lost as quickly as it’s found; a song like a slice of cake, with the implication: there’s more on either side.
All of this, by the way, could describe William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops, which I mentioned last week.
A young designer just moved into our small seaside town and already we can’t imagine what life was like here before he arrived.
One of the really wonderful things about the internet—and this continues to be true, even in 2019—is that a person can hang out a shingle, announce “I am now going to be a key chronicler of X,” and then, by ongoing application of effort and steady refinement of voice… make it true!
Crucially, this person doesn’t have to be accredited in any way; they don’t have to be located in any particular place; they don’t even have to know anyone in the X business when they start. They just have to announce what they’re doing, and then actually do it.
Jarrett Fuller hung his shingle with a podcast, Scratching the Surface, which in just a few years has become the hub through which all design and design-adjacent brains must pass. Hang out there and you won’t miss anybody: Jarrett has talked, or will talk, to all of them. If you want a sign of just how successful he’s been: Jarrett’s is the third name alongside Michael Beirut’s and Jessica Helfand’s on this recent Design Observer book—Design Observer being, of course, the design world’s previous great self-appointed chronicler!
Anyway: alongside all this, Jarrett has started a somewhat more personal newsletter, and already it’s sending me in welcome new directions.
For example, this book, which Jarrett designed and is forthcoming, sounds amazing:
Written by Elizabeth Otto, Haunted Bauhaus looks at the queer, feminist, and haunted stories of the Bauhaus — my conception of the famed art and design school has been completely turned upside down.
Other very successful self-appointed Chroniclers of X:
- Nick Quah, podcasting
- Spencer Wright, advanced manufacturing
- Anjali Ramachandran, tech outside the US/EU
Short one today! Away I go!
September 2019, Oakland