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California

  • James Doolin was an American painter and acclaimed muralist. Known for his urban and natural Californian landscapes. His works elevated everyday urban life under his lens, his style and his palette. His works were brimming with vibrant locomotion and depicted a certain reverence. Los Angeles artist and writer Doug Harvey described Doolin’s work in LA Weekly in 2002 when Doolin passed:

    “His paintings were successful in a way that is rare and precious — they enabled us to see the places we overlook every day and to recognize that, in spite of its ominous industrial overtones, the city is shot through with a luminous, electric vitality and a psychological potency verging on the mythic.”

    The Last Painter on Earth, 1983
    4WD, 1983
  • It’s not everyday you discover century old jeans in a mine shaft!

    Allen Armstrong, CEO and founder of the Castle Dome museum, mine and ghost town where Schlichting made his find, had previously explored the same shaft but missed the trove of jeans, coming within 20 feet of it. He did, however, find a pair of Levi’s 201s—a lower-priced version of the classic 501s, created around 1890 with cheaper buttons and a linen label rather than leather—on his first rappel to the shaft two decades ago.

    To authenticate the Levi’s, Armstrong turned to Levi Strauss & Co. historian Tracey Panek, who drove out from California. “She carried [the jeans] around for two hours like they were a little kid in her arms,” says Armstrong.

  • According to this official tweet from LA Metro:

    It’s happening! It’s long been known that LA Metro has been working on upgrading its TAP system, and it’s about time. Contactless payments are clearly the future. New York City has had it for nearly a year (although, not all 472 stations support it yet). I wonder if TAP contactless will be live by the time iOS 14 hits the ground running?

  • The people of China are vacationing more than ever before. A while back I came across a story where Chinese tourists swarmed a tiny village in Austria. Who could blame them, UNESCO World Heritage Sites are breathtaking places to visit.

    In 2018, there were 2.9 million Chinese travelers to the United States. Each year, that number has been in decline. But China’s boom isn’t slowing down. In 2010, we knew it was just warming up. As travelers from the People’s Republic of China ebbs and flows, there’s been some espionage lurking underneath.

    This story centers around a Chinese tourist, Qingshan Li. He was visiting the US under a tourist visa in San Diego, California. Li was allegedly caught attempting to purchase military munitions under suspicious circumstances. Justin Rohrlich at Quartz reports:

    One of the items Li was allegedly after, a Harris Falcon III AN/PRC 152A radio, is designated as a defense article on the United States Munitions List, and subject to international arms trafficking regulations. This means the Falcon III, which provides US troops in the field with National Security Agency-certified encrypted communications, cannot leave the country without a special license issued by the State Department.

    Li had agreed to pay AB a total of 50,000 renminbi, or roughly $7,200, for the radio. He knew AB was already under investigation for export-related crimes and believed AB “was attempting to get rid of the radio in light of AB’s entanglement with law enforcement,” according to court filings.

    What’s old is now new again. This isn’t the first, nor the last time we’ll be seeing foreign actors participating in freelance espionage while vacationing abroad. Popular tourism spots such as Tallinn, Estonia’s capital used to be hotbeds for KGB activity during the Cold War.

    While the he largest immediate threat to the US is cyber-security and Russia’s election interferences — we can expect to see more of this tried-and-true method of “freelancing spying” from other countries, not just China.

  • Jori Finkel at the New York Times writes:

    John Baldessari, the influential conceptual artist who helped transform Los Angeles into a global art capital through his witty image-making and decades of teaching there, died on Thursday at his home in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles. He was 88. […]

    Mr. Baldessari majored in art education at San Diego State College and earned a master’s degree in art there. In short order he took jobs teaching art in junior high school, community college and in an extension program before joining the faculty of University of California, San Diego. He spent one summer teaching teenagers at a camp for juvenile delinquents run by the California Youth Authority; he would joke that he had been hired only because of his size — an imposing 6 foot 7 inches.

    His artwork at the time, which he was just beginning to show in Los Angeles galleries, was moving in a more philosophical direction. In 1968, already distancing himself from painting, he reproduced a cover for Artforum magazine featuring a Frank Stella canvas, hiring a sign painter to add a caption below it: “This is not to be looked at.”

    Love that. Baldessari was a die-hard Duchamp fan. He leaned into that hilarious realm, art on the edge.

    He famously gave himself sharp inward critiques of his work and the artworld itself with his Cremation Project. Specifically, he cremated his traditional works, and later folded them into cookie dough at an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. Destruction as a catharsis it seems, can be very important. While controversial, it was highly symbolic.

    Photo: Artiris

    Here’s a fantastic photo from the New Museum archive:

    John Baldessari chatting with Marcia Tucker (founder of the New Museum). Behind them is a work from one of my favorite photographers, Nic Nicosia. Source: Instagram (@newmuseum)

  • Neil Genzlinger reporting for The New York Times:

    Syd Mead, a designer whose wide-ranging work included envisioning vehicles of the future as well as helping to shape the look of environments in movies like “Blade Runner,” “Tron” and “Aliens,” died on Monday at his home in Pasadena, Calif. He was 86.

    His spouse, Roger Servick, said the cause was lymphoma.

    Mr. Mead started out in the car business, designing for Ford. By 1970 he had founded his own firm, Syd Mead Inc., and had a wide range of clients, working on architectural interiors and exteriors, restaurants, catalogs and more.

    I never knew he began his career at Ford. That’s pretty rad, and it shows. His depictions (or visions?) of vehicles and transport are honest and divine.

    Aliens and Blade Runner’s sterile living environments, dank off-world Weyland-Yutani industrial complexes, and the jagged colonial spacescapes gripped my young imagination like a face-hugger. I doubt any of Ridley Scott’s motion pictures would be the same without Mead’s futuristic conceptual input. I mean look at this stuff:

    Syd Mead is a very well respected conceptual designer and artist, whose work has influenced multiple generations of sci-fi creators and artists for decades. Tendrils of his work can be found alive and well in the far-away worlds in Hollywood. Obviously his most notable breakout was Blade Runner. Just look anywhere beyond off-world. Moon, Guardians of the Galaxy, the Star Wars franchise, Interstellar and even Pixar films such as WALL·E are a few notable areas where Hollywood really latched onto Mead’s futuristic visions: floating colonies, shiny white airlocks, moody AI, light-cycles, damp neon-lit cities, levitating transports and of course Cyber Trucks.

    Godspeed Syd. You’ll be missed.

  • Michelle Slatalla for the Wall Street Journal writes:

    But these days, clotheslines lovers are fighting back, Mr. Lake said. At least 19 states (including California, where I live) protect a “right to dry” with laws that prevent municipalities and homeowners’ associations from outlawing laundry lines.

    It’s sad that clotheslines have become a cause of community disputes, because laundry used to connect neighbors, said museum curator Lissa Rivera. Digging through the archives of the Museum of the City of New York, Ms. Rivera recently discovered a trove of early 20th-century photos of clotheslines crisscrossed above courtyards. “Those clotheslines were a way of knowing your neighbors, because you would have to make arrangements to share a line,” she said.

    Wow. Unbelievable. People in California are having to fight for a right to dry. That makes me so sad.

    My grandmother continues to air-dry laundry on her clothesline. To this day. She rarely uses her actual machine dryer. I never really thought much about the clothesline culture until after reading this story. I figured many still do it, but I suppose it’s dwindling. I mean, hanging clothes up to dry outside is a seriously zen exercise. It’s good for the planet. But, the best part about it? Your clothes will last longer. They won’t fall apart as fast.

    But, what a tragedy to see homeowners associations are wasting breadth, fighting over this. Of all the things they should be debating amongst themselves — HOA’s are getting upset over clotheslines? What the fuck. Let people air-dry their clothes.

  • From G Zero Media:

    If the state of California were an independent country, it would have the fifth largest economy in the world, according to a fascinating report by The Economist that looks at both that state and Texas as the harbingers of two alternative futures for the United States. That got us thinking – how do the economies of the individual US states stack up against other countries? California’s economy is about the size of the United Kingdom’s, while Texas’s matches up with Canada’s. Who’s on par with Sri Lanka or the Czech Republic? Our map’s got ’em all.