May 22, 2008

Cellcam Journal - Paris

Early morning walk in the Marais...

Bike rental stations like this one are all over Paris. Pay at the kiosk, run your errands and return to any other station. The first hour and a half is free. Many major streets have dedicated bike lanes with raised barriers to keep cars out of them. It's an example of what $8.00-per-gallon gasoline can motivate in a city.

Getting ready for the breakfast crowd on Rue St-Antoine...

... and rotisserie chickens on the spits for the lunch crowd.

My hotel on Rue St-Paul had Hollywood-themed decor with movie posters from the '30s and '40s throughout.

Paris has a vibrant theater scene, comparable to NYC and London.

May 6, 2008


As a recent convert to Google's Reader for keeping up with favorite blogs, feeds and general time-wasting, I'm almost too happy to have new enabling software to keep me sitting and not exercising my heart and lungs.
Times is being offered in a full-featured free 14-day trial version (then $30) that makes a reader look like an Apple-style version of Huffington Post without all of the celebrity crap that pollutes that still vital site (C'mon Arianna, elitists like me and my elitist friends don't care a wit about elitist celebs.)

Of course you can customize it to be whatever you want, even a celeb news feeding frenzy. But please don't.

Speaking of time-wasting and elitists, Stuff White People Like, the blog, makes the leap from viral to mainstream marketing with the publication of SWPL, the book, by Random House, no less. Self-lacerating, self-mocking criticism of and by liberals that is cringingly spot on has convinced me that we latte-sippers do NOT deserve political power. Which has already begged the question, are elitists the New Outsiders?

(Alternate question: Is SWPL, The Musical inevitable?)

May 4, 2008

In LA: Freewayblogger keeps rolling

You can't tell there's a war going on in this country. But if you have one person in every city doing what I do, you wouldn't be able to drive anywhere without seeing protest against the war and the president. - Freewayblogger
A thought has been turning over and over in my mind lately about how invisible the Iraq War has become in this country, about how easy it has become to avoid and ignore it. It's still in the news and on blogs but major media has not made a sustained effort to keep it front and center, as always choosing instead to focus on non-issues like Obama's minister or Hillary's campaign style or the latest sex scandal involving politicians or, of course, celebrities.

Something struck me today in the print edition of the Post-Gazette that was quietly horrifying, a Dr. Strangelove-moment of an unsettling degree. On the weather page, I was reading through the temperature listings by city, a habit of mine, especially when I travel. What I noticed was the listing for Baghdad is in bold type, the only one that appears that way.

I thought of family members of those in the military and serving in Iraq and wondered how they felt each day as they looked at this information. I wondered what brought about the decision to do this at the paper. I didn't know whether to damn the Post-Gazette for reducing it to this or commend them for a quiet nod of empathy, as if they were saying, "We know you are worried" to the families.

The Bushies have succeeded in cowing the press and have made certain that the Iraq War remain their private affair. Media coverage of returning casualties is banned and what coverage there is of war protest is muted, if evident at all, as Jerome Sherman points out today in the Post-Gazette. But when I came across this Freewayblogger clip, it gave me hope that maybe the anti-war movement still has life in it, still has ways to carry their message to the public.

TOTH to Wooster Collective.

May 2, 2008

Cellcam Journal - Pittsburgh

I'm Dead by David Shrigley at Carnegie International, opening Sunday May 4th. Carnegie Museum, Oakland.

Kandors by Mike Kelley at Carnegie International. Carnegie Museum, Oakland.

Think pink for November. Semple St., Oakland.

Spookily empty Pittsburgh Airport upon my arrival 9:30PM Saturday night. Thanks a lot, US Airways!

May 1, 2008

Pittsburgh sootier than Los Angeles

The American Lung Association bestowed the title of nation's sootiest city upon Pittsburgh, pushing Los Angeles into the number two position. Today's Post-Gazette print edition has it as the main front page story with a suitably ominous photo of the pollution belching Clairton Coke Works, owned by US Steel.
The "State of the Air: 2008" report, which used U.S. Environmental Protection Agency air pollution data for 2004, 2005 and 2006, says aggressive emissions controls in the Los Angeles area have reduced year-round particle levels by about one-third over the last seven years, while Pittsburgh earned the top spot by making only marginal improvement.
County Health Dept. officials dispute the rating, saying it only pertains the Mon Valley due to the Clairton facility. The ALA says taking that out of the equation drops the Burgh's rating to 16th sootiest. Better, but no reason for celebrating.

The good news is that ground-level ozone levels continue to drop rapidly in Pittsburgh, from a ranking of 17 to 34 since 2005.

Clairton Coke Works, United States Steel Corporation; painting by Howard Fogg.