Just discovered type designer Mike Jarboe. Good for clean, geometric, no-nonsense display faces.
A slightly edited excerpt from an email I wrote today.
Current musings on blockbuster art exhibitions:
Wandering around a gallery alone I like to be able to meditate on the pieces, taking my time and forming a bond with the work. With a friend it becomes a rewarding social and critical experience where you can discuss the pieces – meanings, strengths, weaknesses – and learn from each other. But the blockbuster art show isn’t conducive to either of these approaches. It becomes a contest to see who can engineer their way to the front centre of a piece and, once there, how long they can wilfully ignore the impatiently jostling hoards. My concentration is diverted from the pieces, and instead I find myself tactically planning my route through the crowds in the same way I do on the London Underground. Despite seeing great art, I often leave these exhibitions with as much relief as I do enlightenment.
Maybe I’m pejudiced, elitist or cynical, but to me the experience resembles some kind of commercial exercise; scoffing images as they twirl by on a postcard carousel in a crowded shop. Art seems to be seen as content to be consumed. And the more of it we can consume, the more we have outwardly defined ourselves as multi-faceted, cultured and interesting individuals. We are signalling to our friends and social media followers – and possibly and most worryingly, ourselves – just how refined we are.
My friends and I joke about having done our culture for the week, but whilst we say these things ironically I can't help feeling that there's probably more truth to it than we care to imagine. (It's a postmodern condition. Someone should make a piece about it!)
I think the overwhelming crowds show a huge demand for groundbreaking art and a very genuine desire to understand it. Truly a great thing. But I also think these exhibitions, pushed hard for a limited time – unfortunately in large part due to temporary loans, which can't be helped – can make it difficult to appreciate the work in the way it deserves to be appreciated. It seems to me that the permanent collections and more obscure galleries will remain the ataraxic spiritual homes of deep art viewers.
I have just sent an email to my MP regarding the proposed increase in lorry length. It took me most of the morning to write, in between bouts of work, and I thought I'd share it here…
The proposed legislation to allow an extra seven feet of space to be added to lorries appears to be entirely misguided.
There is currently no guarantee that this extra space would be filled. As it is, one in four lorries on our roads are empty and most others are nowhere near full capacity. Perhaps tightening up legislation around this area first would be wiser and more efficient before we rush to make them bigger?
And if we are going to modify lorries, lower cabs, larger windows, improved mirror positions and barriers designed to keep people from getting chewed up by the wheels would all be infinitely better places to start. Less polluting engines would be nicer too. These are things that will actually improve the life of every road user. And indeed anyone else who ventures outside their front door.
Sharing space on the road with a lorry can be nerve wracking when you’re in a car. It becomes even more frightening when you have nothing encasing you at all. Making HGVs bigger will only make their lumbering manoeuvres around London’s archaic horse-and-cart road system even more awkward and dangerous.
Fear of motor traffic is what keeps people off bicycles. But bicycles are actually the most practical way for most Londoners to traverse the city. How can we expect to see more people travelling short distances, which most journeys in the city are, on ecologically and economically efficient bicycles when our roads become less and less hospitable to human life? We’d be losing a healthier, happier, more mobile population and making it harder for people to get to and from their places of work, restaurants, cinemas and parks efficiently.
Longer lorries will mean even slower traffic in our city centres, greater damage to road surfaces, increased danger to all road users, especially the most vulnerable, and even if we choose to ignore all these very practical issues which affect us all, they will still make our roads a less pleasant place to live on account of noise, pollution and their general appearance. If this is law could guarantee a sizeable reduction of lorries, that might mean something, but as it stands this proposition is completely untenable for those of us who intend to enjoy living and working in less stressful, less polluted, safer and more pleasant surroundings. People will be more inclined to drive their cars, and as Noam Chomsky says, sitting in a Hummer in the middle of a traffic jam for hours of end is probably not the apex of human achievement.
Are we really willing to trade sizeable negative externalities, which affect all of us, in exchange for a policy whose economic impact is likely to be imperceptible? Isn’t that just incredibly short sighted, and worse, self destructive?
Click here to send an email to your MP.
Lawrence posted a couple of links to Velominati and Rapha's rules of road cycling.
I'm not a member of the "roadie" sub-culture, nor do I particularly wish to be (some of the rules are funny, some are sage, many are totally ridiculous), but it made me realize that I have formed my own set of rules after several years of cycling in London. Some of my own, some are adapted from the advice of others and some are stolen. Here are the ones that spring immediately to mind:
- The daily commute is not a race. If I overtake you it's not a challenge, it's because I'm faster than you, so don't feel compelled to start mashing your pedals furiously, wheezing and causing havoc in my general area. Likewise, if I'm riding slowly it's because I'm enjoying the lazy pace or I've had a heavy one the night before. Looking over your shoulder with a shit eating grin as you "leave me for dust" just confirms that to me that your partner and ambitions are unfulfilled and you make up for it by pedaling furiously to a job you hate. The other possibility is that you're an abject wanker.
- The only vehicles that have any place on a pavement are children's bikes and mobility scooters. If you're riding a bicycle on the pavement and you're older than twelve you should contemplate the series of unfortunate events that have led you to behave like a water-brained sociopath and might even consider seeking professional help.
- It is good to have a slow friendly bike with paniers and a bell to keep you from taking the business of cycling too seriously. The bell should be loud, clear and desperately cheerful so people are inclined to hop out of your path with a smile and a wave. However, when you are taking the sleek and speedy road bike, fixed gear or single speed (none of which should have a bell) this all changes. As zombie commuters step blindly into your path without warning, a short and sharp – but inoffensive – vocal command should be issued to remind them that not everyone inhabits a vacuously swirling world of Starbucks muffins and smart phones filled to bursting point with anodyne bullshit.
- Hero worship is for spods and nonce-cakes. Fantasizing about licking Bradley Wiggins' rippling calves is fine if that's your thing, but don't confuse those feelings with the joy of riding for the thrill of it.
- It's not shameful to wait in a queue of traffic if the only other option is ending up as a streak of tarmac jam. If you are unable to anticipate the likely outcome of coasting between busses or carving up criminally negligent nose-pickers in Porsche Cayennes then you should consider cycle training or trading in your bike for a Super-Deluxe Platinum Oyster card.
- Everyone in or on a motorized vehicle is a fuckhead unless proven otherwise. So are most pedestrians and cyclists. However, those who drive, cycle or walk with care, skill and grace should be met with an appreciative smile and a nod. And a reacharound if you have the time.
Spurred on by the start of the ever brilliant Adam Curtis' new documentary last night, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace I went in search of more socially minded, intelligent and probing documentaries that investigate why humans are in the various situations they find themselves in today.
One of the places I found was Thought Maybe, which has a collection of promising looking films, included some of Curtis' older documentaries.
Curtis is one of those voices and minds that I think is obsessed with truth and integrity, traits that are lacking not only on television but in most governmental, institutional and cultural bodies.