Two Cyclists

June 26, 2008

As I get my mind in gear for the start of the Tour de France in a week or so’s time, I was reminded of these two colourful Jelly Belly team members from the Gastown Criterion a few years ago.

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Damn The Markets, The Rich Get Richer

June 24, 2008

According to a new report by Merrill Lynch and the Capgemini Group, another 600,000 people became millionaires last year.  That brings the total number of millionaires to more than ten million. (Note that the definition of millionaire does not include value of primary residence).  The number of those with assets above $30million (the “super-rich”) has also grown, to 103,000.

Because of the economic slowdown, the wealthy tended to shift their money to safer investments such as bonds and money-market savings accounts, and away from less stable investments such as real estate, the report found.Cash deposits and fixed-income securities accounted for 44 percent of the assets of the world’s millionaires, up from 35 percent in 2006.

I have several thousand pennies in a jar someplace, along with some nickels and dimes.  That’s a start, I guess.


Damn The Markets, Art Still Sells!

June 24, 2008

This week sees a rash of auctions in Europe; and early indications are for a continuing strong interest from the big money.

Earlier today, “Le Basin aux Nympheas“, a Monet water lilies that hasn’t been seen in public since 1971, was sold for $80,451,178 (including premium).  This is the highest price ever obtained for a painting at auction by Christies in Europe.

Other items of interest:  a Degas went for $26.5million; a reclining woman by Henry Moore fetched $8.4m; and even Russian cubist Vera Rockline’s “The Card Players” (see right) was sold for $4m.  A couple of Miros failed to meet their minimums, though.

There is a second day at Christies tomorrow and on Monday, the auction house holds the sequel to its successful Post-War show, with yet another huge Lucian Freud piece (“Naked Portrait With Reflection”) at its heart.

The estimate is $30 million.  We’ll see


TV Dinners Redux

June 23, 2008

If we can survive the $175 hamburger, I guess we can swallow the $30 TV Dinner

courtesy of Loews Regency Hotel and the childhood nostalgia of its executive chef, Andrew Rubin.  “We are looking for comfort food items that we can turn upscale,” said Mr. Rubin. “These days comfort food is this hip, cool thing.”

So what does one get in a $30 TV dinner? The partitioned trays, instead of aluminum or plastic, are made of porcelain. The fried chicken is “free range.” The cheese in the mac ’n cheese is cheddar asiago with a Parmesan crust. And the pot roast is braised in Burgundian Pinot Noir.

Wash it down with a couple of $95 beers and just hope that the TV shows are worth the effort.


Seven Words We Can Now Say On Radio

June 23, 2008

George Carlin is dead.  Rest in Peace.


Single Minded

June 22, 2008

GOOD Magazine has a brief piece about a Chicago-based artist called Sighn who is devoted to the phrase “It’s OK“.

[T]he artist has set out to create a million hand-carved, business-card-sized blocks of wood in the shape of his words. The ambitious project started as a way for him to use up the scrap wood lying around his studio. Now, after selling out the first edition of 500 pieces—each costs $20—he’s turned to bamboo plywood and locally grown basswood for his materials. He has even collaborated with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant a tree for every piece sold—and he appears to have no desire to quit anytime soon. “I absolutely plan to continue this through to completion,” he says. “I hope to plant one million trees.” At his current pace, Sighn estimates that the project will take 60 years.

It all seems more industrial than artistic to me.  To spend an entire lifetime on a single creative idea is depressingly limiting.  But wotthehell, wotthehell, as Mehitabel would say.


In Support of Goonj

June 22, 2008

In India, there is a wonderful organization called GOONJ that helps recycle old clothing and materials to make clothing, school bags and items such as sanitary napkins for poor villagers. The GOONJ organization has just been awarded the Indian NGO of the Year award, a year after winning a UN award for its female hygeine project.

Founded in 1998 and organized entirely by volunteers, GOONJ now supplies more than 20,000 kilos of materials to poor families each and every month.  Taking the idea of recycling would-be waste to a whole new level, the GOONJ project has become well established as a distribution network able to reach the poorest areas of India.  They deal with a number of recycling issues, but their primary target is clothing.

The Global Oneness project has an interesting video interview with the founder of GOONJ.  He makes the very valid point that huge natural disasters bring international clothing assistance, but that for those with no clothes, just a regular winter is a continuing disaster.