Red Pipe

May 3, 2008

“Red Pipe” (2008), powerpoint and photoshop transfer to TIFF, 16″ x 20″

Cult Books

May 3, 2008

The book critics at the Telegraph have produced a list of The 50 Best Cult Books.

What is a cult book? We tried and failed to arrive at a definition: books often found in the pockets of murderers; books that you take very seriously when you are 17; books whose readers can be identified to all with the formula “<Author Name> whacko”; books our children just won’t get…

Some things crop up often: drugs, travel, philosophy, an implied two fingers to conventional wisdom, titanic self-absorption, a tendency to date fast and a paperback jacket everyone recognises with a faint wince. But these don’t begin to cover it.

Cult books include some of the most cringemaking collections of bilge ever collected between hard covers. But they also include many of the key texts of modern feminism; some of the best journalism and memoirs; some of the most entrancing and original novels in the canon.

I find I have read 32 of the 50. Does that make me a cultist? And have I really missed out on the other 18 books? Most of all, I am astonishingly pleased to see “A Confederacy of Dunces” on the list. Years after we both read it, my wife and I still throw Ignatius-isms at each other on a regular basis.

Echoes of Childhood

May 3, 2008

The Extreme Home

May 3, 2008

Some while ago I wrote about how my wife and I like to look at other people’s houses. This week, Forbes takes us to the extreme — the two billion dollar home in Mumbai, India, that is now almost complete for Mukesh Ambani, the fifth richest man in the world. Yes two BILLION dollars. But you get quite a bit for the money. The 27-story skyscraper contains 400,000 square feet of living space.

From the article: “The home will cost more than a hotel or high-rise of similar size because of its custom measurements and fittings: A hotel or condominium has a common layout, replicated on every floor, and uses the same materials throughout the building (such as door handles, floors, lamps and window treatments). The Ambani home, called Antilla, differs in that no two floors are alike in either plans or materials used. At the request of Nita Ambani, say the designers, if a metal, wood or crystal is part of the ninth-floor design, it shouldn’t be used on the eleventh floor, for example. The idea is to blend styles and architectural elements so spaces give the feel of consistency, but without repetition. Antilla’s shape is based on Vaastu, an Indian tradition much like Feng Shui that is said to move energy beneficially through the building by strategically placing materials, rooms and objects.”

The first six floors are parking garages for family, staff, and visitors. “Hanging vertical gardens dot the exterior. While they make for good decoration, their key function has to do with energy efficiency: The hydroponic plants, grown in liquid nutrient solutions instead of soil, lower the energy footprint of the home by absorbing heat and sunlight and providing shade that helps keep it cool.”

I believe one might question how one man has amassed $43 billion in assets. But, once the guy’s got it, I can’t think of any reason why he shouldn’t spend it any way he wants. Looking through the pictures, I don’t much care for this place but if he and his family enjoy it then good for him.

Swords Into Ploughshares, Shells Into Vases

May 3, 2008

Via the always fascinating Strange Maps, I was led today to “Trench Art of the Great War” , which is well worth visiting.

It is incredible what some people will create from detritus, including, in this case, the detritus of bloody war. Complex engravings on everyday items, sugar scoops and delicate vases from artillery shells, embroidered postcards, and painted helmets are included in this marvelous selection of human ingenuity and creativity.

The vase shown here was made from a French 75mm shell and stands 12″ tall. It is described as “Floral motif with grapes and grape leaves. Top scalloped incorporating leaf patterns. Engraved leaves with embossed background. Shell dated 1916 on headstamp.”