Sunday, February 26, 2006

The algebra of need

In William Burrough's Grove Press intro to ' Naked Lunch', he describes the twisted commerce of junk:
"Junk is the ideal product... the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy..... The junk merchant does not sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to the product. He does not improve and simplify his merchandise. He degrades and simplifies the client."
Moving words and a weird reversal of commerce. It makes any (previous) suggestion that collecting stuff is addictive kind of nonsense.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The cafe racer

In the sixties' British counterculture of 'ton-up boys', a specific type of motorbike evolved, one with which they could speed between transport cafes along the newly built arterial motorways. The goal was to be able to reach 100 miles/hour ("ton") along a route where the rider would leave from a Cafe and race to a predetermined point and back before a single song could play on the jukebox.
Getting more serious about a bike purchase, here's a truly great one. It's far more of 'real' bike than the BMW. This one's a '57 Norton Featherbed frame and a Triumph Bonneville 650cc engine. Not many were exactly the same. In watches we call it frankening.. mixing and matching parts. This was about the first time this happened in the bike world. Choppers were the US version of customizing.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A classic

The Omega Seamaster 300, once issued to British Navy Divers:

Photo: Clayman

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Something very special about watching this movie, Hopi for "life out of balance", last night and having Phil Glass with an eleven piece ensemble play his 90 minute 'soundtrack' live beneath the big screen. The techno sounding, complicated and endless rhythms were powerfully rendered 'by hand' on the several keyboards and human voice, and the place rocked!
The piece and the images were timeless, save for the 1974 cars and clothes. Nature versus human madness.
This was written before "Einstein on the Beach", so he obviously came out of the gate with that signature sound, and I'm sad he's more recently drifted into romanticism. Putting emotional emphasis on certain notes is at odds with the very basis of his music. When he was here last year, it almost felt like he was playing to the crowd.

Monday, February 20, 2006

BMW R-50

It WILL be mine.

But I must say it misses something that this has:

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Found Photography 2

This is from Derek Jewell's book of found photo booth pictures, twenty five years before "Amelie".

Monday, February 13, 2006


Having trouble deciding whether to continue. Maybe this is all too trite. Hard to get to any deep and thoughtful matters when it feels like I'm talking to the wind. Roll call: anyone reading this reglarly? (Email if you wish).
Meanwhile, here, above, is another 'photographic' oil painting from Richter. Not sure why these have so much aura. I have never favoured technical skill over conceptual strength, but the fact that they are a snapshot that has been painstakingly redone in oils gets me every time.
And today I'm simply loving my new Jack Purcell black leather sneakers from Livestock. Designed in the thirties, they look fantastic.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


I have disabled the automatic 'members only' only setting for comments. Duh. Wondered why only a few of the eight who know about the site were commenting. Please feel free now to comment on any previous post. (Time to open the place up a bit! Maybe even add it to Google search.)

Friday, February 10, 2006


I used to be fascinated to find the very beginning of a large river. Funny how I still look to find the root of something, especially in a creative act: (Who did this first?/where did this come from?/ is this original?/ how did this evolve as unique?). Here's the Thames as it starts with a few bubbles over small rocks north of Kemble, south of Coates, near Cirencester. The flagstone marks the spot:

In this vein, chanced upon a Seattle Sci-Fi magazine from 1977, with what is, I believe, Bill's very first publication:

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Living room suite

I'm still haunted by the sad family stories Daniel Libeskind relates in his autobiography. His parents decided to flee Poland from Nazi threat, but his aunt had just bought a new living room suite and so decided to stay. Not long after, she saw her child torn from her arms and thrown out of the train window.
Just after the war, our home was a corner store. An adult neighbour, then a boy living nearby, recalls how he used to run in here as a haven from being beaten up daily because he was German.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

My work day

The following are pictures I took during the day, on my site visit up the coast to Halfmoon Bay. I went up to the site for a new house at Daniel Point after that.
The ferry ride:

Views from a bedroom:

The above pic is the view from the new site.
On the drive home.

Monday, February 06, 2006


Alan's pictures are consistently amazing. Here's part of a Russian watch, Craba, close up.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Electric light

This is NASA's satellite view of the world at night (obviously adjusted to make it all night). Remember this isn't a reflection of population density in third world countries. The green spots (click on this or any of these images to enlarge) are where fellow watch collectors live, connected by our site.


I've wanted to write a story for a while that has a palindromic structure, whereby the story turns at the middle, with an event that gives a new meaning to the story as it plays out again in reverse (not in time but in events). Palindromes are seductive (my office, home and fax numbers are palindromes), but there are some obsessive accomplishments out there. The trouble is that most long ones (58,000 words is the longest) have less and less grammar and meaning. Numerically, they provide interesting rhythms. I once listed all the palindromic numbers between 1 and a million and drew the linear pattern derived from the gaps between the numbers (as in 88, 99, 101, 111, 121.....) Then I used that to create the proportions for colliding volumes in a building. It was never built, but masqueraded as a restaurant in Japan for a while. I still have the model.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


Most of my ventures into fiction and screenwriting have wrapped around the exploration of the affect of context on meaning, how the meaning one derives from information can change given a new understanding of its context. As an example: Olga Corbet's gymnastic dance at the '72 (?) Olympics was a brilliant display of youthful innocence. She danced, looked and smiled like a talented sweet child of twelve, perhaps pushing thirteen. She became the darling of the world. If one adds to this the knowledge that she was seventeen, that her coach kept her on a starvation diet and heavy smoking to keep her weight trim, and that he raped her on the night before the performance, one can never see the footage again without a wholly new meaning. It changes forever. This was a desperate woman, likely completely disturbed by the events of the night before, prisoner to her country and predicament.
Another: I was intrigued by Francis Ford Coppola's movie "The Conversation". The movie opens with a couple on the street, talking. The same footage is played at the end, with the context of the story in between, and the meaning of their conversation entirely changes.
There are 39 different meanings for the word 'set' in the Oxford dictionary. Meaning cannot exist without context.
The issue comes when we all come to the understanding of communication with our own value loaded contexts. Just as sight requires previous experience of distance to comprehend depth, we each interpret data to fit within our own framework of knowledge. The variability is vast, and there an be no real definitive consensual single meaning.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Port Moody Restaurant

This is my latest building, designed some months ago for a waterfront park setting in a suburb of Vancouver. It is a grassed ramp, with a view deck on top and a restaurant underneath. It's held up right now (and for a year perhaps) whilst the lease is being sorted out with lawyers.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


One of my favourite paintings, by Gerhard Richter of his daughter. I saw it in the SFMOMA last year. Makes me want to paint again.

Favourite movies 1

Dated now, but at the time it was a mix of a great soundtrack (Tom Waits, Keith Jarrett's Koln Concert etc), set in Vienna with images of Klimt, Hans Wagner etc., with actors Harvey Keitel /Theresa Russell, and Nicholas Roeg's direction. This blog is making me try to recapture what I have liked over the last thirty years, as if in an attempt to 'catch up'. Odd.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Architecture (at last)

These are the three buildings that have most influenced me. (cliched, yes, but they truly are the most significant). La Roche Jeanneret House by Le Corbusier, Maison de Verre by Pierre Chareau, and the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies van De Rohe. What do they happen to have in common? All were designed and built in the twenties and look pretty much stylisticly timeless, if not spanking new, but for the details such as single glazed steel windows in the La Roche Jeanneret House. I came across the first two when I was a first year student, and didn't know who the architects were. The Mies' Pavilion was a surprise: I saw it for the first time only a couple of years ago, but though it had influenced much of what I liked, this was the real thing. I was very moved. What's missing from the usual list? Frank Lloyd Wright, anything pre 1900, and anything from the last fifty years! Close seconds in terms of influence at the time I first came across them would then be Stirling's Cambridge library, Mackintosh's Hill House, Angeli by Morphosis, the Pantheon, Meier's Smith House, Richard Padovan's house in Richmond, and, (cringing now), Graves' Sunar Showroom in New York circa 1981(?).