Archive for May, 2008

Sat 31 May 2008 8:32 pm   //   Posted in: Music, Videos

Another cool animated music video

“Handlebars” by Flobots. Good song, great video. Check it out here.

Fri 30 May 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Transit, Typography

Subway signage goes negative

Earlier this week, I was changing trains at the Chambers Street station (which is being renovated) and was shocked to see this brand new sign:

What th’—?!

You occasionally spot a really old MTA sign that has black lettering on white type (I think there are some tucked away in the vast Times Square station), but it’s rare. Practically all New York subway signs have a uniform design, and the type is always white on black. The signs look like this:

White on black subway sign

If you’re unfamiliar with our subway system, you’re probably thinking, “So what?” But these familiar details matter, and when something’s a little off, we want to know why.

Also, these signs are legendary in the design world. The signage scheme was created in 1966 by graphic designer Massimo Vignelli, using the font Akzidenz-Grotesk (a variation of Helvetica introduced to the subway system in 1958). According to Vignelli’s web site, he had originally intended the signs to be white with black lettering, but “To discourage graffiti, the surface was later changed from white to black.”

So… Why the sudden change back? [Update: New theory: White signs indicate temporary changes.]

Thu 29 May 2008 2:47 pm   //   Posted in: Bicycles, Transit

Bike v. car v. subway: Bike wins!

Today was the 7th Annual NYC Commuter Race. The race this year pitted a driver, a bicyclist and a subway/bus rider commuting from Fort Greene, Brooklyn to Union Square. As usual, the cyclist won. Video.

Thu 29 May 2008 9:57 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Music

Who’s Brooklyn is it anyway?

Two big Brooklyn cover stories this week.

    1. Marc Ferris does a fine job explaining the Brooklyn country music scene in the Village Voice.
    2. In New York magazine, writer Adam Sternbergh examines Brooklyn through the prism of the Brownstoner real estate blog.*

      If you read these stories, you’ll think they’re about two different cities.

      The borough I know is the one in the first story, a place where all sorts of people manage to live in close quarters and get along, everybody listening to their own style of music. It’s not a nervous hive of interlopers bickering about real estate.

      *Get your hands on a print magazine to fully appreciate the Seussian illustrations by Zohan Lazar that accompany the article.

      Wed 28 May 2008 6:49 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, Food & drink, Hard times

      Sign of the times

      Spotted yesterday at a deli in my neighborhood…

      Some prices have been changed - Sorry!!

      Tue 27 May 2008 11:02 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn

      Links: Brooklyn Bridge photos

      More links related to the 125th anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge

      Mon 26 May 2008 10:23 pm   //   Posted in: Failure, Movies, Review

      Worse than Temple of Doom

      Indiana Jones quicksand

      The most tragic thing about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is that for millions of kids, this will be their introduction to Indiana Jones. Not the swashbuckling hero movies from the 80s, but an incoherent, over-CGI’d space alien picture. (Spoilers follow.)


      Fri 23 May 2008 5:35 pm   //   Posted in: Music, Videos

      Weezer still vaguely in step with the times

      The new Weezer video for “Pork and Beans” is on YouTube and about YouTube.

      Fri 23 May 2008 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Brooklyn, New York is different

      A gift to us from the people of 1883

      The Brooklyn Bridge turns 125 tomorrow. Like most Brooklynites, I have fond feelings about this bridge – an irrational sort of love that people don’t usually feel for a piece of civil engineering.

      Below are some Brooklyn Bridge photos I’ve taken over the years, beginning with my first visit in 2002.


      Thu 22 May 2008 9:21 pm   //   Posted in: In the news, Media

      Four reactions to Emily Gould’s blog story

      Every blogger in the city is linking to Emily Gould’s New York Times Magazine cover story about what it’s like to be a blogger in the city. So I will too. Money quote:

      “The will to blog is a complicated thing, somewhere between inspiration and compulsion. It can feel almost like a biological impulse. You see something, or an idea occurs to you, and you have to share it with the Internet as soon as possible.”

      Four thoughts about the story:

      1. I have occasionally run into some of the people mentioned in this story, but not Emily. Any insight I have into her situation is minimal. I do know writing for an audience forces you to develop a sublime, professional self-confidence, and it sounds like Emily hasn’t found that gear yet. (I like to think I have, but on the other hand, I’m sheltered in B2B media.)

      2. What is this thing doing on the cover of the Times Magazine? Why does Emily deserve 8,000 words of prime real estate to settle scores, sort herself out, and justify her output of ephemeral gossip reporting? (I realize after skimming some other blogs and comments that this is perhaps the least original though I have ever had.)

      3. A story like this is not typical of the New York media world. A lot of us use blogs as little sidebars to practice writing and to communicate with friends, and suffer no side effects.

      4. Emily devotes a few sentences to defending “attention-whoring” writer Julia Allison. But she makes a sharp scratch across the face of the New York media community’s ultimate attention whore: Gawker Media owner Nick Denton. She has written an entire story about Gawker without mentioning Nick Denton’s name – referring to him twice as simply the “site owner.” That’s no oversight, it’s a dagger in the back.