Friday, June 17, 2011
Terrorist-Proof Toilets 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Dear readers of this blog (however rarefied your ranks may be by now),

Certainly the best way to return from a lengthy hiatus is with a hearty war, crime, and bathroom-related posting, and this piece from Mother Jones does not disappoint. From Vancouver to North Carolina, privies are bearing the brunt of these near-Apocalyptic violent times, as humanity's sensibilities and bowels suffer the consequences.

Perhaps Mother Russia has a thing or two to teach us about [E]sc[h]atology...these are no mere stainless-steel jailhouse crappers, but
"...self-maintaining, solar-powered, and terrorist-proof toilet cabins, as reported by the Moscow Times. This Swiss Army knife of a potty is made of a fibrous concrete that can withstand a bomb blast. Demonstrated as part of Moscow's Clean City expo in June, 'its appearance can be modeled to fit the architectural surroundings, even in the old part of the city,' the Times reported chirpily. My takeaway: If I'm ever in Moscow and feel the ground trembling, I'll dive into the nearest loo."
Bombs away? "Мы вас похороним!" Indeed.

Something strange is definitely going on: Boulder, CO didn't warn residents about erupting toilets
Exploding toilets surprise some Palo Alto, CA residents
The Strange Case of the Exploding Toilets: Japan residents on high alert

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Saturday, March 05, 2011
"You Get What Anyone Gets - You Get A Lifetime." 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
[Note: this is a post I wrote today on the Brady McTigue Memorial Page, here on facebook. Brady was an old friend from Plattsburgh days, who I learned yesterday was killed in a hit-and-run accident while riding a bike near his home in Jacksonville Florida. I don't know many details, but he died six days after the accident, and as far I can gather the driver has not been found. There is a brief account of the accident and a Crimestoppers call for witnesses at JAcksonville.com. Brady's essay, "Fatwood," from one of his now-deleted blogs Camera and Sickle no longer exists, but 8 years ago I had posted an excerpt [here] (Easy Trip to Splitsville) The photos here are some of my favorites of Brady's work, found at his (still active) DeviantART page under geshe451. If you haven't seen his pictures before, why not have a peek, before they fade into the past? ]

Seeing the "how I met Brady" stories on this page, I have to confess, I don't remember exactly how we met. It was around 1988 or so, I was a DJ and student at SUNY Plattsburgh, and I think Brady was a member of a student group or peripherally involved with the WPLT 94.9 station there.

Back then, we'd have rambling discussions on experimental artists I'd never heard of at that point; he introduced me to bands like Throbbing Gristle, Brian Eno, The Jazz Butcher, Genesis P-Orridge, Coil, The Fall, Helios Creed, Jim Thirlwell's myriad Foetus permutations...the list was seemingly endless. Brady had a rare gift for imparting enthusiasm and passion for challenging, unusual music with the "unschooled." I have to give Brady credit for introducing me to musical genres that have since become favorites like dub, ambient, hard bop and classic jazz.

He eventually moved away from Plattsburgh, as did I and many of our cohort; for a number of years we lost contact, but with advent of the Internet we crossed paths with our blogs about 7-8 years ago, a mutual interest in photography (Flickr), and eventually, Facebook. Years ago, I saw mocked-up examples of visual art he'd created using mirror-imaged color copies of photos, matting and other traditional analog techniques; later I was amazed at how the digital imaging revolution amplified those possibilities.

One of the most inspiring things about Brady's photos was his innate skill at capturing transcendence within decay and disintegration of natural and man-made objects, and distilling the kinetics of fire, water, stone, wind and steel into still images that seemed to live and breathe. I think both the Adirondacks (see his essay, "Fatwood") and the Florida coastline provided rich artistic potential. Oh, and he had a great sense of humor, too (the photo I'm thinking of is "Doggles," a real-life "Dastardly and Muttley" shot :) ).

This is "Fatwood":

getting to the fatwood factory is not something you set out to do. all of a sudden, it is possible to split every piece of wood. "split" implies a certain sense of halving, but here it's more akin to "splitting up." making parts for distribution. or burning. more surface area; hotter fires from the same amount of wood. i filled a wheelbarrow full of a number of very hot, fast fires. my general rule of thumb is that if i can stand the piece of wood up on the block, it gets split. two things happen when i find myself in fatwood factory. the first is i become more concerned with accuracy than power. as each piece of wood gets thinner, the need to power through it decreases. it's a direct proportion: less is less. it's a well placed tap that does the job not a swift cut. that's because, in the end, splitting wood is not about cutting. it's about separating the wood from it's structure and order. you are taking it one step closer to chaos. you can "read" the wood. the ends of the sectioned wood can give you a road map to easy trip to splitsville. the cracks indicate places where drying has loosened the bond betweens cells that hold the tree together. what was once a aqueous network of structure and exchange becomes a brittle dotted line that says "cut here." a mindful examination of the wood's surface will reveal untold tales of potential cleavings. you can almost see into the heart of the wood. adventures en flambe await: pop me big boy, what are you waiting for? instead of cutting the wood in two with a heavy sharp object, you're directing force through a focused locus, transferring it and liberating kinetic energy latent in each log section. bone wielding space oddessy ape guy becomes wheelchair scientist guy with the tilt of your head. most folks would prefer the wood that they have to split be uniform and "straight." no burls and the like making for hard splitting. you hit one of those hard spots and the axe can sing out like a bell. in the crisp winter air, the bang echoes off the trees and warps around the drifts in the snow. it accents the howl of the coyotes in a flurry filled afternoon as the light wanes. most times, a big gnarled old log section is a long burner. no splitting much more than quartering. the density of the wood, at a place where two or more directions of growth merge (more or less), is insane. the wood locks in on itself, making a near indestructable fist. wood like that burns for a long time. some twisted bastard of a log that, dry, gives you a hernia slogging to the stove is just the ticket for couple of hours of uninterupted, untended fire, warmth, running water...... you can leave the house. -- Brady McTigue
I only learned of Brady's death yesterday, many months late. Sadly, I hadn't suspected his absence of web posts was because he was no longer here. I'm grateful to have met friends like Brady over the years: people whom we may not see or hear from physically for decades, but whose influence as creative kindred spirits uplifts us, even in absentia.

Perhaps this isn't the right place to address this, but I so hope for the sake of his wife Sally, and his family that someday the driver of that truck is found or does the karmically right thing and comes forward. Probably, Brady understood as well as anyone how Universe is ever-changing and impermanent. I remember he sometimes wrote he thought his life would be short, as many of the male relatives in his family passed on early. Unfortunately that prediction came to pass, in an oblique way.

A Latin quote from Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman' that's stayed with me over the years is "Omnia Mutantur, Nihil Interit" - everything changes, but nothing is truly lost. May it be so. To Brady's family, and his wife Sally, I wish peace, love, and healing. Namaste.

Friday, July 09, 2010
Our Trash Got Flash, Part 2: The Bidet in the Alley 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
A couple of four months ago, I posted a photograph of a discarded hot-pink sofa in the alley behind our apartment. Well, yesterday brought another interesting garbage photo-op: next to the dumpster was a seemingly brand new tan bidet complete with shiny chrome spigot (uncannily similar to the one shown here) that some unsophisticate removed from their domicile.

Unfortunately the local junkman - who roams the alley in a old red pickup chock-full o' old tires, barbed wire, and rusty bedframes - snatched it up before I could grab my normally ever-present camera. He picked it up and put it *on top* of the already-groaning 6-foot-high pile of junk in the truck bed that heaves precariously over every speed bump in the alley.

The junkman made quite the find that morning: that bidet was probably worth its weight in gold, or at least domestic Wagyu steaks. These babies retail for over $500.00 apiece. That's almost as much as a government-issue toilet seat*.

Edgewater neighbors: if you see the junkman's red pickup, run, don't walk! Before the tan bidet falls off and lands on your car/head/dog/baby stroller.

* Correction: according to Wikipedia, 'President Reagan held a televised news conference in 1987, where he held up one of these shrouds and stated: "We didn't buy any $600 toilet seat. We bought a $600 molded plastic cover for the entire toilet system." '

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Thursday, July 01, 2010
Manx Chicken in a Pan 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

{with apologies to my vegetarian/vegan readers}

"Three chicken leg quarters simmering in a pan like the Isle of Man flag, albeit widdershins." For those into heraldry, this configuration is a triskelion.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010
Please Do Not Smell The Flowers: What's the Scoop? 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Please Do Not Smell the Flowers.

Seen yesterday next to the Foster Hall-SSRB ramp on 59th Street at the University of Chicago. I doubt it's genuine (there really aren't any flowers here to smell, per se, barring a few overripe tiger lilies).

Click to view full size, where the lines "All Activity is Being Monitored" and "In Cooperation with the Initiative for Community Protection" are clearly visible. Googling the term turns up nada, so it's clearly a red herring rather than an attempt to razz an existing UC organization.

Scav Hunt relic? Emergency phone-camera kiosk backlash? Subtle jab at the "Chicago School" and capitalism? "All Your Smell Are Belong to Us"?


Saturday, April 03, 2010
Should There Be an X-Files 3 Movie? 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
(SPOILER ALERT - and a disclaimer. I've watched "X-Files: I Want to Believe" three times so far - the first time in a standard theater, and twice afterward on DVD. For some reason, I seem to rack up more complaints with each viewing. Maybe I should give it a rest, and revisit the film in a year or so to see how it has aged. Mind you this post comes from someone who considers The X-Files to be one the finest series to grace the Boob Tube, so my expectations may be overly high. Please take these words with a grain of saltpetre.)

Only if the screenplay makes it worthy of the investment in big screen running time and real estate. Case in point:"X-Files: Fight The Future" made excellent use of big-screen FX and integrated well with the Season 5 mytharc. "X-Files: I Want to Believe" was essentially a long-form MOTW episode, muddied by the fact there several monsters.

Which "monster" triggered more audience consternation? Was it the Russian "Frankenstein doctor," the dying gay assassin seeking a nubile female body upon which to graft his head (love the "Married in Massachusetts" throwaway quip), or the now-cliched pedophile priest who "castrated himself at 28"?

XF:IWTB might have worked better as a TV/cable movie/series reboot rather than a feature film. Granted, XF:FTF rode the series' popularity wave nicely (rather than "jumping the shark" - ouch) but oh, my, XF:IWTB could have been SO much better, even without aliens, the 2012 theme, or William.

As Garrison Keillor says in his Lake Wobegon tales: "It could have been worse." But not much.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010
Pink Trash Sofa: Edgewater, Chicago 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Pink Trash Sofa

Say what you will about the Edgewater neighborhood: our trash got flash.

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Lynch-ian Lamp 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink]