For the last four years I’ve been riding around on a late 1980’s Raleigh steel frame with beautiful chrome lugs. A friend of mine had dutifully chopped off the tail end of the rear triangle and welded on horizontal dropouts to make it fixed gear friendly. Lightweight, easy to haul around and speed through town on, I really didn’t think I would ever need another frame.
But all good things must come to an end.
I recently cracked the head tube through and through – not an easy fix. So I decided to go frame shopping. After reading reviews and talking to some of my more bike crazed friends, I headed up to American Cyclery to talk to my buddy about frames. Turns out he knew a lot, and then some.
The Soma Rush is his design! And though I thought that I would never be able to replace my old friend, it has turned out to be an amazing frame. The transfer of power from pedal to pavement is amazing. The frame is strong, flexy in all the right ways, and has a nice geometry to it that really flows well from old to new. I was looking for something that wouldn’t be a big change from what I loved, and in many ways that’s what I got. Even more so, it’s like I got my old frame back with improvements! I have to say that this frame is bringing me back to why I rode a bike as a kid. The fun, fast and adventurous nature of a bike that loves to be ridden.
From Me to You is a photo blog my Jamie Beck, and it is wonderful. She often shoots with the classic Leica and Kodak Tri-X. Because that was the combo that first got me excited about street and candid photography, I had to check out her blog. Jamie’s photos are lovely and warm and evocative. I especially enjoyed her retrospective from New York Fashion Week last year, which she shot entirely with Tri-X.
I also identify with Beck’s response in this interview to the question, “What emotions do you try to create or convey?” She said:
“I love creating the feeling of nostalgia. Maybe it’s because I wish to live in the past so I project my own desires into my work but there is something to the notion of days gone by that I love creatively living in — I guess it’s safe there. I don’t set out thinking nostalgically in my head but I am drawn to classic or timeless subjects.”
Sam Potts is one of my favorite graphic designers, and his diagram of the relationships between characters in David Foster Wallace’s novel, Infinite Jest, is the best chart I’ve seen so far in 2011. You can download it here.
A couple friends of mine were on the lookout for a cheap, good rangefinder and settled upon the Yashica Electro 35. It’s available in a few different versions, the GT, GTN, GS, and GSN. For practical purposes, these four are all the same. They all come with an excellent 45mm f/1.7 lens and a nice, large 0.85x rangefinder.
Yes, the camera has some downsides. Its only shooting mode is aperture priority. In other words, you cannot manually set its shutter speed (limited to 1/500s at the high end). The battery that it was designed for is no longer made, but it’s possible to buy an adapter to use most six volt batteries. As a result, most copies of the Electro that are available for sale have not been tested and ones that have will command a premium. Untested cameras can be had on eBay for as little as $20, while ones whose meters and shutters have been confirmed to work can go for $100 or more. Given the Electro’s excellent f/1.7 lens, large viewfinder, accurate meter, and extremely quiet shutter, either price is a steal.
I first saw Tina Barney’s work in McSweeney’s, when Wren Weschler wrote a convergence that included Barney’s work. I recently encountered more of Barney’s work in So the Story Goes, which was assembled by the Art Institute of Chicago. My favorite of her photographs is Sunday New York Times, which appears above. I’ve been wanting to plug the Sunday Times for a while, and Barney’s photo seemed like a good prompt with which to do so.
Waking up early on Sunday to read the Times in print at home or at a cafe is one of my favorite things in the world. I can’t say that Barney’s image mirrors my own experience, but I love the sort of chaos and community that her scene of a family reading the Sunday Times depicts.
The Way We See the World designed this handkerchief that announces what everyone should already be doing when they’re in one another’s company: giving undivided attention to people instead of devices.
I normally refuse to download music as I much prefer the quality of CDs to that of MP3s. However, I couldn’t seem to find Lorene Scafaria’s Laughter & Forgetting on CD, so I got it from iTunes. I recently heard “We Can’t Be Friends” at the end of The Romantics and had to hear it again and again.
The New Yorker ran some excerpts from Cheryl Dunn’s documentary on street photography last month, but now you can watch the entire thing on the film’s website. My favorite sections are those with Ricky Powell, who explains how getting dumped by a girl made him a photographer, and Joel Meyerowitz, who describes how the streets suddenly became alive to him when he began street photography.
This blog adds about four posts every month, each a miniature essay about a song and the place that song mentions. I discovered this blog while searching for writing about “Oxford Street” by Everything But the Girl. It’s a wonderful song that evokes adolescence with near perfection. And although the blog doesn’t quite measure up to the song, it’s still worth a visit to see how it uses music as a starting point for often informative discussion of places.
This series of photos by Jens Olof Lasthein won Leica’s Oskar Barnack Prize in 2010. I absolutely love the first image in the series. The story it tells and the tones and colors in which it tells that story are magnificent.
This is a slim little book of essays by photographer Robert Adams. I’ve often thought that the best writing about art comes not from professional critics and academics but from true fans or people who actually practice the art form about which they’re writing. Adams’s book only supports that opinion. My favorite line: “[Photographers] may not make a living by photography, but they are alive by it.”