Wednesday, March 31, 2010



Plate 1, Surgical instruments

Plate XIII, Aneurysms

In truth, the anxiety of a Surgeon, before an important operation,
is the greatest any man can suffer,...

Charles Bell (1774-1842), a renowned surgeon, professor and anatomist, was also a gifted artist. In 1815, Bell traveled to Brussels to treat the wounded in Napoleon's last battle at Waterloo, and documented his experiences in the remarkable book, Great Operations of Surgery (1821). The rare book includes 20 images (plates) that detail key surgical procedures.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sweating the keys

Bob Dylan

Alice Denham

Mickey Spillane

Ian Fleming

Jean Harlow

Alfred Hitchcock

Marlon Brando

Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, March 29, 2010


From their website:

hitotoki |hee toe toe key|
noun 1. a single moment; one’s moment; a point in time. is a new literary site collecting stories of personal, singular experiences in cities worldwide.

Write for Us!
We’re looking for short narratives describing pivotal moments of elation, confusion, absurdity, love or grief — or anything in between.

As people travel through an environment that is new or foreign to them, they often develop brief, intimate and intense memories that combine their emotions, experience and sense of place. This often happens spontaneously and in spaces taken for granted and overlooked. We're asking people to reflect on these uniquely individual moments in mundane surroundings. By doing so we've managed to construct a public representation of a small slice of the private emotional maps or place we all carry within ourselves.

"Châtelet. Such a nice name."

On their websites, you can read city-centric short stories by denizens of Tokyo, New York, Paris, London, and Shanghai (among other places) which are accompanied by photos. Through Google Maps, readers can zero in on key spots people have written about, bringing quirky character and attitude to the topographic spaghetti of streets and neighborhoods.

Wings of Desire

In Wim Wenders film, Wings of Desire, Damiel and Cassiel are angels who move about freely in West Berlin of the 1980's, taking notes as they randomly eavesdrop on the thoughts, fantasies, rage and worries of everyday people. It is their mission to, "...assemble, testify and preserve reality." They are invisible to everyone except children, yet their presence has a soothing, pleasant effect on each person they sit next to, or pass on the street. They spend time with other angels at the Central Library; it is the most crowded place for thinking, and the clatter of learning is loud for their keen ears.

Private thoughts.

Among friends, workers, family or strangers, there are things we can't ever know.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Conceptual alphabet

The ambitious 1926 book, Abeceda, elegantly combines photography, typography, design, dance and poetry. The avant garde Czech designer, Karel Teige, rejected the idea that each branch of the arts exists separately. His striking modernist collages contain his photographs of the dancer Milca Mayerova, his stylized typeface and the poetry of Vítězslav Nezval. By reinterpreting the essential core of language--the letters of a writing system, Teige challenges the way we see and experience one principle, and inspires new ways of looking.

A card book reprint will be released in September 2010.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dinner party

1961 Playboy photo featuring left to right - George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Charles Eames, and Jens Risom
(from Design Within Reach)

My response to the college application hypothetical question,
"Which three people would you want to have dinner with?"

Three? How about six? We'll take the family table in the back, and start with a white table cloth and superb ink pens for drawing. A fine evening out, for sure.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Northern lights

I want to see them. Maybe I need to see them from a glass igloo in Finland. The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), a spectacular, spooky, technicolor phenomenon, usually appears in the night sky most visibly above the Arctic Circles between the end of August and April.

Hotel Kakslauttanen provides a cozy igloo village complete with activities that include a smoke sauna, gold panning, ice fishing and a reindeer safari. Yes, yes, no and absolutely.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jane Bown

The best pictures are uninvited. They're suddenly there in front of you.
But they are there one minute and gone the next.
--Jane Bown


Southend-on-sea Essex

George Harrison

Samuel Beckett

Keep looking. That's all I did. Kept my eyes open.

Jane Bown has worked for the UK newspaper, The Observer, since 1949. For decades she has faithfully used the same Olympus cameras she purchased second hand. Her images embody poetic, lean minimalism.

Most of her photographs for The Observer were taken during sessions that lasted between 10 and 15 minutes. With time constraints, no props and using only available light, she mastered her own disciplined, distinctive style.

A portrait isn't limited to appearance; there is so much that defines a person; their energy, humor, intelligence and emotion. Her photographs capture those subtle, delicate intricacies.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


The Kachido 2007
Kozyndan (Kozue and Dan Kitchens)

The Japanese 'ama' (woman of the sea) dives for seaweed, shellfish and abalone. Traditionally, the divers are women, as their body composition can withstand the cold of the sea better than men. For more than a thousand years, a loincloth, bucket and a stick (to pry mollusks from rocks) was the uniform for diving, but since the 1960's, shirts and shorts or robes are typically worn. The divers spend as long as four hours a day in the chilly, silent waters.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The white shirt: timeless, confident perfection.

Miles Davis

Audrey Hepburn

Patti Smith

Sidney Poitier

Katherine Hepburn

Monday, March 22, 2010


Der Struwwelpeter (1845) is a German children's book by Heinrich Hoffmann, a psychiatrist who wrote and illustrated the stories for his son. Each of the ten stories is a cautionary tale that warns the consequence of misbehavior. The title refers to the first story of 'Shaggy Peter', who is careless about grooming himself. His hair and nails grow so long and dirty, he is put on display in a sideshow. Shaggy Peter is seen in the center of the pictured antique handkerchiefs, with other stories and their characters around him. Mark Twain provided an English translation in 1935, titled Slovenly Peter.

In "Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher" (The Story of Little Suck-a-Thumb), a mother warns her son not to suck his thumbs. When she leaves the house, the thumb sucking resumes, until a mysterious tailor appears with enormous shears and cuts the boys thumbs off, snip, snip!

"Die Geschichte vom Suppen-Kaspar" (The Story of Kaspar who did not have any Soup) depicts Kaspar, a healthy, strong boy before he refuses to eat his soup. Over the next few days he wastes away and dies; a soup tureen placed by his grave marker is more poignant than any wreath of flowers.

In "Die Geschichte vom bösen Friederich" (The Story of Cruel Frederick), a wicked boy torments animals and people. He attacks a dog, that bites him in response. The dog is pictured eating sausages while Frederick recuperates.

"Die Geschichte von den schwarzen Buben" (The Story of the Black Boys), Saint Nikolas catches three boys teasing a dark-skinned boy. To teach them a lesson, he dips the three boys in black ink, to make them even darker-skinned.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Simple things cannot be manipulated

Yuzu (Japanese citrus) tart

When I hear this from people with their mouths full of my pastries and a smile on their face, I would always say: "Good, but I can do even better!" This is the motto of my every day life.

I like to create simple things, but it is the most difficult thing to do,
since simple things cannot be manipulated.

Sadaharu Aoki

bonbons maquillage (makeup chocolates)

Chef patissier Sadaharu Aoki's artful pastries and chocolates. He has three boutiques in Paris and two in Tokyo. A perfect reason to travel to those magical cities, in case you need a reason at all.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Sophia Loren was photographed for the 2007 Pirelli calendar. At the time, she was 72 years beautiful.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Before he began his impressive career as a film director, Francois Truffaut was a scholarly film critic. In 1954, he wrote Une Certaine Tendance du Cinéma Français (A Certain Tendency in French Cinema), an influential essay that introduced the 'auteur theory.' In his essay, Truffaut declares that a director is the creative force in filmmaking and should be regarded as an 'auteur' (author), and those directors who imbue their films with their personal expression and vision have created an artistic signature as distinctive as an autograph.

Few directors are recognized by name alone; consider the trend in recent film ads that list a director's previous work instead:

You won't get that sort of drum roll in the promotion for films by Martin Scorsese or Roman Polanski. They are 'auteurs' as Truffaut described; both men have worked for decades at their craft and have received the highest honors accordingly. Who hasn't seen, or at least heard of Scorsese's Taxi Driver, Raging Bull or Goodfellas? Or Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown or The Pianist? Few, I'm sure.

As luck would have it, Shutter Island, Scorsese's latest film, and The Ghost Writer, Polanski's first film since 2005, have been released on the same day. Two very different stories adapted from recent bestsellers, are surprisingly similar films:

In Shutter Island, Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Teddy Daniels, a US Marshall sent to investigate a mental institution where an inmate has reportedly vanished. The institution is more of a fortress, located on a craggy, remote island made even creepier by the eccentric staff and motley group of mental patients. An unexpected storm keeps him on the island, allowing him to dig deep into very dark territory.

In The Ghost Writer, Ewan McGregor plays a writer (he is never named) who agrees to complete the memoirs of former British Prime Minister, Adam Lang. He is replacing the original ghost writer who has died suddenly under mysterious circumstances. The new 'ghost' travels to a remote island to spend time with Lang, and his small tight-lipped posse of assistants. What was supposed to be a quick and lucrative project unravels into something more sinister as the story unfolds.

In the genre of mystery, information and clues are carefully apportioned, with a third act revelation that just might inspire a forehead slap. Both films have isolated protagonists, eccentric characters, shadowy atmosphere, treacherous weather and frustrating bureaucrats. Still, with everything going wrong for each of these main characters, there is little intrigue and virtually no suspense. Nobody intends to make a bad movie, and with a healthy budget, a fine director, a bestselling story and a solid cast, what could possibly go wrong? Plenty.

In his provocative essay, Truffaut also asserted, that the worst of Jean Renoir's movies would always be more interesting than the best of Jean Delannoy's. Which is to say, even a lesser film by an auteur will deliver something worth seeing, something better than most can deliver. A star chef with the best cut of meat can overcook it. Babe Ruth struck out much more than he hit home runs. The auteur Alfred Hitchcock has a stable of classics, as well as some duds. But with greatness, a master earns a lot of good will; fans remember the hits.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hand shadows

Images from the 1937 French book, Ombres Chinoises (Chinese shadows) by Ernest Flammarion. Playful, graceful, charming simplicity.