Fire & Knives

Given the popularity of books, television shows, and blog that take food as their central focus, I didn’t understand why there wasn’t a good little magazine devoted to writing about food. Then I discovered Fire & Knives, edited by Tim Hayward, a food quarterly from the UK that just published its fifth issue. I know that it just published its fifth issue because it arrived in my mailbox today, all the way from London. The printing and paper are similar to those of the Believer, whose readers will recognize its familiar smell in Fire & Knives. The design is also similarly, attractively quirky. The binding of Fire & Knives, however, began to fall apart after my first read—and, yes, I read the entire thing cover to cover.

The magazine is devoted to publishing writing about food that, otherwise, wouldn’t have a home in print because it is not timely or trendy or full of recipes. The relieving result is that there are no advertisements, and the closest it comes to trying to sell anything is single book review essay on a selection of volumes about bread (mostly published over the last decade or so.) Samples of content include: a photo essay on tripe, a reminescence of a restaurant that had a (high) minimum weight requirement for entry, a history of a 90-year-old coffee street cart, a list of food and drink requests from various musicians’ riders, and an essay on war and food.

Fire & Knives

Timberland Lost History Cap-Toe Oxford, Brown

I’ve never been a “big boot” guy. A few years back I gave away my Dr. Martens – I’d not worn them since high-school. I usually default to chuck-taylors or vans. That being said, I’ve recently begun a new obsession. The “Timberland” boot and shoe.

Yes, the same Timberland that makes the big yellow work boot. However nowdays they are making what I have to consider the most comfortable foot compatible clothing items I’ve ever laid feet on.

Last year I bought a pair of black Timberland high boots – a fancy pair that I could wear with jeans or slacks. They have proven to be the most comfortable shoes that I have ever owned. By far. They are also the most expensive shoes I have ever owned. Running at an average of $200 a pair for most of their items, they aren’t for the faint of heart. It’s an investment. That being said, they are incredible and worth every penny.

My new favorite is the Lost History Oxford – I’m looking forward to wearing them around in comfort as soon as they arrive in the mail. However I’ve also dolled out for a pair of water-proof mountaineering boots that I’m looking to as my final solution for winter outdoor activity. I think that, if I could afford it, this might be all I’d ever wear again…


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

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.”

From Me to You

Infinite Jest Diagram by Sam Potts

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.

Infinite Jest Diagram by Sam Potts

Yashica Electro 35mm Rangefinder Camera

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.

Buy the Yashica Electro on Etsy
Sample photos from the Yashica Electro on Flickr
Yashica-related resources at

Tina Barney and The Sunday New York Times

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.

Subscribe to the New York Times Sunday edition
So the Story Goes

My Phone Is Off For You

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.

Buy the Phonekerchief at Uncommon Goods

Lorene Scafaria

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.

Laughter & Forgetting on iTunes
Listen to “28” on YouTube

Everybody Street by Cheryl Dunn

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.

Everybody Street: A Film by Cheryl Dunn

There are places I remember

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.

There Are Places I Remember: Songs About Places