Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Luminous Geography

It's generally well known that what we know as the "real" world has special spots where reality is thinner, membrane-like, and other worlds shine through and it is possible to slip into them. Or things from other worlds can appear in ours.

Finding these spots is very simple but can only be done on foot. Even a bicycle is too fast for this. It's just a matter of feeling that feeling. That slightly ominous, but pleasantly tickly, humming sensation.

It's better not to mark the special spots in any way - they can become distorted or vanish altogether. The thing to do is just slow down and see what happens. Maybe keep a notebook.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Chair in the Bottom of the Ocean

Federico Fellini said that an unmade film is like an airplane in the bottom of the ocean. Ilmari Tapiovaara said a chair is like the key to an interior. Is an unproduced chair design like a key in the bottom of the ocean? A key that has been lost on an airplane? Or maybe it's like a key inside an airplane in the bottom of the ocean.

Tapiovaara (1915-1999) was a designer who believed in making the world a better place by designing really good chairs. He wanted them to be affordable and well made, he wanted good design to dignify people's lives every day, in their homes. He did chairs for the army, chairs for development projects in the third world, chairs that every single Finnish behind has sat on at one point or another.

He designed this chair for the MOMA Affordable Furniture Competition in 1948. It is intended to be cheaply manufactured, taken completely apart for shipping, easily reassembled, yet durable and elegant. The chair never went into production and the existing samples auction for upwards of $14 000. 

I wonder what Tapiovaara would think of how affordable his chair is now, if he knew.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Secret Message to Spies, 5.

Do I exist?

I am nodding.

Now I am sticking out my tongue.

Now I hear a dog.

Now I hope I can feel everything.

I feel hope.

I feel dread.

It breathes in me.

The universe seems really large and fast.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Secret Message to Spies, 2.

                                Nobody can know the innermost secret.

                 We are sealed in by our consciousness.

     Two mirrors facing each other.

What perceives.





Monday, December 22, 2008

Secret Message to Spies, 1.

Use the Etalon.

A very narrow bandwidth of light passes through.

Fringes are periodic by nature.

We gain understanding.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Derivating Zanzibar

Derivating is, in addition to a math term, a theater technique. In one application of the technique, you navigate a city using a map of a different city. 

I suggest that you print out this map of Myrtle Street Review-related spots in West Oakland, and go navigate with it somewhere completely different.

Let me know how it goes.

The Safe Room

Time gets put in a box and the box gets put in a room. The room is completely quiet. Everything disappears: pictures, colors, sounds, feelings, fear. The breath remains. In. Out.

When breath enters your nostril you hear a child’s shout on the playground. Passing through the nasal passage, it’s the screech of a crane turning slowly. In the throat it plays your tonsils like a balalaika or a harp. At the top of the lungs, it’s the whistling wind in the sails of a boat, the creak of rope, the splash of sea. In the diaphragm it’s the moans of lovers. At the tips of the branches of the respiratory tree, it’s a softly falling pine cone. Pop.



Outbreath. It plays all the sounds together, in D Major.

Every inbreath brings the world in, every outbreath plays it as music, until everything is singing, every thing a sound. This is the safe room. This is true.

Mischa Kuball: Lightshadowcomplex

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Universe as Reflected on a Taco Truck

Due to its location in a steep-sided valley, the Italian town of Viganella gets no direct sunlight for seven weeks each winter. In 2006 a €100,000 computer-controlled mirror, 8×5 m, was installed to reflect sunlight into the town's piazza.

They could have also just parked a taco truck on the mountainside at the right angle. The town mayor would have had a walkie talkie instead of a computer to direct the movements of the reflector. Sometimes it would go dark if the mayor got a hankering for tacos and asked the taco truck driver to head to downtown Viganella instead of reflecting sunlight. But people would probably be OK with it if the tacos were really good and cheap.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rules for Loading Passengers

When loading passengers into planters, it is important to consider firstly, that there aren't too many passengers per plant, and secondly, that the soil not be too wet. Succulent plants are ideal, as they do not require much water. They often tend to have pointy leaves or spines, so it is useful to distribute protective jackets, made from oilcloth or similar, to the passengers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to Make a Rock Pile

1. Don’t think about rock piles for at least a week.

2. Approach the rocks in a way that makes them want to participate in your pile.

3. Start from the top down. Talk to the biggest rock first.

4. Think of elephants balancing on circus stools. But don’t tell the rocks. Just visualize.

5. Lead by example. Do a headstand to show the rocks what you mean.

6. Put the least cooperative rocks on the bottom, that way the weight of the others will hold them down.

7. Imagine that your head is a hot air balloon, and your body is suspended from it.

8. Then suspend the rocks from the topmost one in a similar fashion.

9. Mold the air into a supportive cushion around the pile.

10. When you bow, bow to the rocks, not the people watching.

This rock pile and others like it were made by a man in a red shirt in Berkeley Marina.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Celtic Monks Settled on Faroe Islands in the 6th Century

One time I was sitting in the seafood bar at Copenhagen Airport. It’s a very nice seafood bar. A woman with long blond hair and a tight, metallic-printed T-shirt insisted on ordering at the display case, instead of sitting down and waiting for a server. She then took the seat next to me. She had first spoken Danish, but when she heard me talking English to my server, she switched to English also. She sang to herself in English, too, and seemed to be having a conversation with no-one in particular. She got her sampler plate, and wasn’t happy that there was no crabmeat on it. She ordered crabmeat, and another glass of Chablis, all in English. Then, after a few bites of her food, she abruptly decided to leave. She attempted to pay with coins, but didn’t have nearly enough. She gave the server her debit card, and after looking at it, the server started somewhat dismissively addressing her in Danish. After she was gone, the server looked at me apologetically and said, ”She’s from the Faroe Islands”, as if that explained everything.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Advice for Great Depression 2.0

My friend Jonathan had mentioned to his grandmother about how we are headed for The Great Depression, 2.0. "Any advice?" he asked. Jonathan's grandmother said, "Never miss an opportunity to steal the little jam packets from the diner." 

I thought I'd pass that on.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Mystery of the Blimp Solved?

Little did I know when I was writing about notebooks falling from the sky, that I would soon run across just that: a notebook falling from the sky. Specifically, from a blimp. I had suspected the blimp of being part of the thickening spy mystery here in West Oakland, but I may have been wrong.

The notebook contains only one word: ”Dorpedo”.

If I only understood it, I am sure this would explain almost everything.

This map shows where the notebook fell.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Last Public Art of Garnier Fructis

After the disappearance of Garnier Fructis the 3rd, the Garnier Fructis art gang tried to put together one last giant installation. This is as far as they got: some spots on a traffic sign. The small figure at the top of the post depicts Garnier Fructis the 3rd in his airborne, spiritual form.

Location of this traffic sign is shown here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Disappearance of Garnier Fructis the 3rd

This map shows the location of the arrow.

A painted arrow marks the path Garnier Fructis the 3rd took out of this building, and the spot where he vanished. Garnier was part of a gang of arty West Oakland outlaws who took to the streets nightly. In the space of nightfall to daybreak, they would put together astonishing installations of growing plants, living insects and soundscapes created by chains and bells. Every member of the gang was called Garnier Fructis, hence the ordinals denoting who was who and the order in which they joined the gang.

Granted it was dark when Garnier disappeared, but he seemed to vanish into the thin air. One minute he stepped out of the building, and when his friend Garnier Fructis the 2nd turned to look back from half a block away where he was unlocking their van, Garnier the 3rd was just gone.

The gang tried to continue their art attacks after this incident, but in the end they just couldn’t, and broke up.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Distribution Box

In these pictures you can see the Myrtle Street Review distribution box, the warning sign about the security camera, and the camera itself. The Myrtle Street Review takes no part in security surveillance. The pictures we post here are strictly for the observation of mystical and poetic phenomena.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Things with Wings

Mythology is full of winged creatures, human and otherwise. The multitude of them across cultures would be quite baffling, if they weren't so common in reality. In fact, new classes of winged creatures are born nightly, and some only exist until the next daybreak.  At night it is possible to see them perched on rooftops and in trees, especially in uninhabited areas. Winged creatures like buildings, but they don't care for humans. That is why industrial areas such as parts of West Oakland were once teeming with the nightly flutter of wings, like the sound of thousands of notebooks falling softly from the sky. Residential development has pushed the winged creatures further afield, but persistent, quiet observation can still yield results in Oakland too.

This portrait of a Seraph is by local artist Crystal Morey.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

They Came in Blimps

"The government has hired defense subcontractor Lockheed Martin to design and develop an enormous blimp that will be used to spy on Americans, according to the Athens News. Government agencies such as the NSA are anticipating that as early as 2009 the blimp will be operational and begin supporting new ways of monitoring everything that happens in the country." (From here.)

Clearly they got done early. But why start with spying on Oakland? Stay tuned.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Increasing Spy Activity in West Oakland

The suspicious T-shirt is gone. I will be monitoring the situation closely, and giving further bulletins as events warrant. As Allison said in the comments, we can't give in now, America. These are trying times.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Things to Do in Luminous Sheets

- Count radioactive sheep.

- Keep a jar of fireflies or a tank of bioluminescent fish in the bedroom and feed them glow-in-the-dark mushrooms.
- Have sex with a Lighting Director.
- Make sure bedroom has good visibility of Aurora Boralis; participate in the online debate about whether they make a sound or not.
- Paint a wall with phosphorescent paint and make graffiti on it with LED lights; watch graffiti fade as you fall asleep.
- When the sheets aren't glowing practice darkness meditation.
- Dream of lighthouses in the distance.

Click here to learn more about luminous sheets. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Sound of Mushrooms

It's fun to put on ear plugs and listen to the internal hum of your head. You can also hear it if you "listen" to a seashell.

schroeder_pro captures the sound of mycelia growing. It's like aural bioremediation. It is useful in returning polluted environments into a purer state.

Photo: schroeder_pro

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Lawyer's Fascination With Death

My lawyer showed me his typewriter collection. Then he showed me his pen collection. The pens were all from companies that he had handled the bankruptcies of. "Many of these remind me of people's funerals where I had to give a speech," he said.

He told me about one client who didn't show up for court because he had killed himself the night before. "And his poor wife, stuck with all the guns. Our idiot new Police Chief told her to join the hunting club, and she's crying, I can't join the hunting club, I've still got the puddle of blood on the yard from when my husband shot himself. Well, luckily her nephew is Army so he got the guns licenced and we just sold them to the idiot Police Chief then."

This wall mounted gun vase is from here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Stamped Sidewalks

The sidewalks in Oakland have stamps because of the Sidewalk Inspectors. You know those people who mostly look down as they walk? I know one of them. He has a blog.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thunder and Lightning in Bohemia

Czech designer Josef Gocar created this cubist chandelier for actor Otto Boleska in 1913. It represents the energy of a thunderstorm, with crystal rain falling amid brass lightning. Thunderstorms on Bohemian territory occur almost exclusively in the summer. Researchers have found that the frequency of thunderstorms in the Czech Republic has been decreasing over the last 47 years. This leaves a 48-year gap after the creation of the chandelier, during which it is unclear whether thunderstorms were increasing, decreasing, or stable in frequency. Did cubist experimentation have an effect on weather patterns? This remains to be determined by future research.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Magic Microphone

This scented leather pouch looks like a microphone, and “magically recreates the atmosphere of an old library inside a Venetian palazzo”, “conjuring the moment when one sinks into a large armchair and inhales the rich aroma of book bindings and burning candles.”

It costs $70.00 to do this, and why not? It’s a small price to pay for a microphone that allows you to speak to someone sitting in an armchair in a library in a Venetian palazzo. Here are some questions to ask them:

- What are you reading?

- Does it say anything about financial crises in your book?

- Do you sometimes feel a tinge of despair as you go about your daily affairs, and do you bury this feeling by focusing on an attractive face, say, or some silly trinket you buy?

- What is the meaning of all the suffering in the world?

- What lines of poetry do you find most consoling?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Spy Response

In what I can only interpret as a direct response to my post about spy markings, this orange shirt has been left on the aloe plant next to the Myrtle Street Review print edition distribution box.

A provocation? A warning? Some complicated code to do with colors, stripes and positioning of the shirt?

I will not say another word about spies.

Metabolic Media

Rachel Wingfield designs, researches and fabricates environmentally responsive textiles like luminous bedding, light reactive window blinds and electronic wallpaper.

Nobel Textiles is a two year-long collaboration between Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design and the Medical Research Council. Five Nobel Prize winning scientists were paired with five textile designers. Paired with researcher John E. Walker, Wingfield created Metabolic Media, a system of modular textile architecture for urban food production.

Wingfield says the “woven and modular architectural structures provide a lightweight solution for growing food plants in small spaces without soil. We’ve married this with current research on organic and dye-sensitized solar cells, which can be made at home with berries picked from your garden. The urban ecosystem, Metabolic Media, comprises of geotextile structures and solar cells designed to charge the batteries of a fueling pump system that feeds and monitors the network of plants by misting the roots with nutrient rich solution.”

Arctic Disappearances

I had a friend, Seija, who grew up in Rovaniemi, in Lapland. She in turn had a school friend whose mother would always disappear for the darkest part of the dark season. Some time in December she would take off without a word. They thought maybe she went out in the wilderness somewhere. In February, when the days got longer, she would return. Without a word.

 That was just how it was.

Pekka Jylhä: Trembling and honoring, photo: Jussi Tiainen

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Spy Markings

Spies used to make their secret markings with chalk, but rain has always been an issue. Here in the Bay Area it can rain for weeks on end in the winter, so chalk is really out of the question. Now that the Cold War is starting up again, there is increasing spy activity. Innovations in the spy industry never cease. Here, you can see modern spy markings in fluorescent spray paint. What they mean is a mystery. I suspect they have something to do with sexual geography. The shapes are quite voluptuous.

Connections are Missed

On Craigslist, people can post their missed connections, which it seems there are a lot of people missing a connection to something or someone. This person has made maps of the locations of the missed connections. I think there should be boxes in all those locations for people to leave notes about what and who they miss, and why. Then someone should collect all the notes, and put them in the basket of a hot air balloon and send them to the sky. And the blog of the person who made the maps should have a map tracking the hot air balloon. When the hot air balloon lands, a grave should be dug exactly on that spot, and all the missed connections should be buried there, and a granite marker should be put on the grave saying these are all the dead wishes of people.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pigeon Attractor

This here is a pigeon attractor in West Oakland. One time when I biked past it, there were pigeons on top of it, under it, beside it, and on a fence nearby. In these pictures unfortunately the pigeon attractor is not on, so you can't see how well it works.

What they do is they attract all the pigeons into one place, where the pigeon handlers feed them, and give them all the messages and jewels to carry. It's more humane to use free range pigeons than to keep them in those smelly

I like that they made the pigeon attractor so fun looking, too.


The man in this picture suffers from an extremely rare medical condition called treeheadedness. Onset is typically preceded by strong winds, which blow a tree seed into the patient's throat. It can lodge behind the tonsils, and with the right bacterial conditions and generous oxygen - if the patient is very talkative or, say, an opera singer - a very rapid treeification can occur.

Having the tree then catch on fire is just one of the many challenges faced by sufferers.

This beautiful art print depicting the rare condition is by Dee Dee Cheriel, and is available for purchase here.

Faulty Pigeon Attractor

As you can see, the construction on the East Bay Rats Motorcycle Club's pigeon attractor was never completed. I haven't seen a single pigeon on it.

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