Hither and Thither #12

florentijn-hofman-partyaardvark-designboom-08Oh, let me count the ways.

  1. “the Dutch artist has envisioned ‘feestaardvarken’ (partyaardvark)”
  2. “a 30-meter-long concrete sculpture that can be climbed upon and interacted with”
  3. It has nipples
  4. And a literal party hat too

The world is better for this being out there.

Now: do I need to borrow a child when I go to see this, or can I just gallop up there myself?

Also, new goal (to add to my considerable list): have my own name in a headline even a tenth as devastatingly delightful as that one.

division squiggleA few years old, but always always always worth repeating: 15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will at the AV Club.

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fancy bankFancy banks at Messy Nessy Chic. I love when evidence of existence builds up like this, the sedimentary rock of urban living. Mlle. Nessy also has an article on ghost signs this week, though I must point out that the Moore Hotel and Theater sign is just a sign, not a ghost sign, as both theater and hotel are alive and kicking.

I’ve meant to go on a hunt for these for some time, but most of the ones I see aren’t as striking as the ones in that roundup.

division squiggleOne of my favorite subjects lately is the social habits of people who live in different places. Last night, I spent some time talking to a D.C.-area resident about the relative friendliness of the two U.S. coasts, the practice of saying hello to strangers, and when being “friendly” is an affront. I told her that I was surprised to go to Paris and find that it was normal to say a quick bonjour to people upon getting into an elevator with them. It’s not that I don’t acknowledge the people around me – far from it – but it tends to be more nonverbal. I’m a big believer in deliberate eye contact. She said she often opts for the quick nod – acknowledgement sans encouragement.

I told her the bonjour thing surprised me, because I usually assume that the older or larger a city is, the thicker the social armor – after all, we all have to get through our days somehow, and saying hi to everyone would get exhausting fast. It’s why you could possibly go through a whole day out and about in New York without talking to anyone unless you’re giving them money for goods and/or services.

I said that my impression was that Paris (and maybe France at large) has a certain evenness to the playing field, or certain parts of it, that differs from the way the American service economy works. I explained how waiters are on an even keel with their customers, and how that made me feel so much more at ease. It felt right. I still feel a little extra weird when I’m in an American restaurant, and the waiter is really turning on the over-the-top friendliness – but I think I’ve always been like that. I live in Seattle for a reason, after all.

Anyway, this preamble is brought to you by The Homeless Bird at Pret a Voyager. Just the story of her talking to the bird’s creator is worth it, but the reaction when she carried her prize onto the Metro is a lovely denouement.

division squiggleLava vs. Chef Boyardee ravioli.

division squiggleChihuahuas, being airlifted from the shelters of LA to future adoring homes on the east coast.

division squiggleWe’re in the CHS photo roundup again this week, woohoo! Because yes, DO has a Flickr, oh yes we do.

division squiggleHighlights in podcasts this week:

  • Unbuilt on 99% Invisible. The history and effects of landscapes and architecture that are never to be.
  • Deshaun Stevens’ Ship Log on Escape Pod. A cute little confection that matches Bridget Jones’s Diary and first contact.
  • Answer Me This Episode 278, if only because I missed them when they were out sick last week, and so I was extra glad to have them back for my Thursday morning commute. Apparently they too caught the blight that’s affected all of us recently, including me.
  • This American Life has done some solid, deep, heartrending reporting this year, and I hope they keep going in that direction, because most problems of substance need far more than 90 seconds of talking heads to address. However, this past Sunday, they went full on classic TAL quirk (which I like, but I know some people can’t deal with). One of the producers interviewed her mom about her list of forbidden conversation topics – not because they’re offensive, but because they’re boring. The episode includes seven stories on those topics, collected to sway the producer’s mom into conceding that there are interesting possibilities within the verboten topics.