Jazz Age Lawn Party

 

This year marked the 9th anniversary of the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island, and my first time attending. The event, a prohibition era inspired celebration, was first conceived by composer Michael Arnella of (Michael Arnella and his Dreamland Orchestra) as a small gathering, and originally produced by Governor’s Island. However, after three years, Michael Arnella took the reigns and grew it into one of New York City’s most memorable and enjoyable annual summer events.

For $37.50, you gain general admission where you’re welcome to picnic on the lawn in style. But the celebration is more than just a throwback party which takes place two weekends a year. Michael Arnella, as well as all of the performers and vendors, pay homage to the era by being as accurate as possible in their delivery and execution of everything from the music they play to the food they serve. And while dressing in the period attire isn’t mandatory, floating through a sea of people who look like they’re headed to a speak easy, makes the pretend prohibition era feel that much more real and magical.

Jazz Age Lawn Party 2014 Waiting on Line to enter the main event area    Jazz Age Lawn Party 2014 Entrance to event

Jazz Age Lawn Party 2014: HBO's Boardwalk Empire sponsored stage with performers    Jazz Age Lawn Party 2014 pink entry bracelet

 

Cup & Spoon – WOW District: Chicago

Cup & Spoon interior. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago
Cup & Spoon interior.
Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago

I recently visited my close friend from Portfolio School (Creative Circus), Rose Quasarano, in Chicago, where she now lives. Like many people I graduated the Circus with, Rosie made a huge leap from being an advertising creative in as an Associate Creative Director at a well-respected agency, to being an entrepreneur diving headfirst into the unknown of owning and running her own coffee shop. Ironically, though, the industry she left to pioneer her entrepreneurial dream, armed her with an arsenal of resources and connections to help her get started.

What began as a life long dream turned into a pop-up shop (at NOSH in Wicker Park/Logan Square Farmer’s Market), then a Kickstarter campaign and finally a brick and mortar business called Cup & Spoon, which now stands at 2415 W North Ave in the WOW district (West Of Western) of Chicago. I was honored when Rosie asked me to design her logo, and in doing so  joined a few other Circus alumni whose talent and admiration for Rosie helped nurture her ambition to open this shop (Designer Kiki Karpus and writer RC Jones both generously donated their talent to offer perks for C&S’s Kickstarter campaign). Like many small businesses, Cup & Spoon strongly believes in supporting the community in which it’s based, and sources their brew and sweet treats locally. But what really makes them special is Rosie’s continued connection to artists. Cup & Spoon shares a building with Dreambox Gallery, a contemporary art venue based in Chicago since 2003. Together they formed WOW Frequency, which showcases emerging and established artists in Chicago right inside the coffee shop.

If you’re ever in the area (next to Humboldt Park) and are in the mood for coffee or tea, or if you just want to taste one of Chicago’s best pop tarts (Interurban Cafe & Pastry Shop’s pop tarts, which are sold at C&S, were dubbed by Chicago Magazine as one of the best pop tarts in the city), I guarantee you’ll be happy you stopped here.

Cup & Spoon WOW Frequency Launch Party.
Cup & Spoon WOW Frequency Launch Party. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago
Today Ennis set up his easel at Cup & Spoon to work on his latest painting. It's awesome to watch him create. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago.
Today Ennis set up his easel at Cup & Spoon to work on his latest painting. It’s awesome to watch him create. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago.
Pop Tarts sold at Cup & Spoon. Flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Plum Caramel, Strawberry Vanilla & Blueberry Orange. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago
Pop Tarts sold at Cup & Spoon. Flavors: Apple Cinnamon, Plum Caramel, Strawberry Vanilla & Blueberry Orange. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/CupandSpoonChicago
Me at Logan Square Farmer's Market, holding a cardboard cutout of the logo.
Me at Logan Square Farmer’s Market, holding a cardboard cutout of the logo.

Photo by Weegee

Google ‘street photography’ and many of the images will be of some place and time in NYC, most of them black & white with some edge of grittiness. Not all of them will be of actual streets, since the term is more correctly used to describe any photography made in public places, such as parks, subways or even shopping malls. But more times than not, they feature people, often candidly, going about their day.

Now Google ‘street photography weegee’ and you’ll not only get photos relating to NYC, but there will inevitably be dead bodies included in the mix.

Google image results for 'street photography'
Google image results for ‘street photography’
Google image results for 'street photography'
Google image results for ‘street photography weegee’

Weegee, whose real name is Arthur Fellig, was a photographer and photojournalist who popularized flash photography in his method for achieving gritty, high contrast, black and white images. If you were smart enough to purchase the Living Social voucher for the International Center of Photography (ICP), and actually used it, you likely saw the exhibition Weegee: Murder is my Business, which just ended yesterday, September 2nd.

Weegee was dubbed the photographer of Murder Inc. because of his ‘coverage’ of many mafia-related killings during the 1930s and 1940s.  In a time when organized crime was at its peak and dead bodies strewn on the sidewalk and rooftop were commonplace, Weegee’s photos portrayed death in a fashion not unlike the way he did  life – a candid photo of someone going about their day. Except for these people, their life ended while the day continued on.

While seeing a dead body is something intriguing to many people, what most surprised me about Weegee’s work was how unfazed many bystanders were at the site of a violent death. Kids hanging out the window overlooking a body riddled with bullets, couples posing for their 15 minutes of fame while they stand over a blood stained corpse. Weegee, himself, even said that he took more interest in the living rather than the dead when it came to a documenting a crime scene because of the reaction (or lack thereof) that it evoked in people. What also interested me was his relationship with the police. The level of priority and clearance he was given is something that would never exist today. Because of his close proximity to the police station and his own alarm system, there were times when he would even get to the crime scenes before the cops, and very commonly case the scene and provide to his own conclusion of what happened.

You can find a lot of Weegee’s photos in his book Naked City, though I should warn that some reviews on Amazon claim many of the images from this reproduced work appear to be scanned from the original 1945 version instead of the original images, and that another one Weegee’s New York: Photograpphy 1930-1960 is a better buy because it provides large beautifully printed reproductions on glossy paper. I’m certain, however, that whichever you chose, you’ll get a true depiction of what NYC was really like during the 30s and 40s.

On the Star Wars Front

If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume that a new Star Wars movie was on the horizon. It seems that every day or so, I come across something on the web or receive an email about SW news or related creativity. I subscribe to DesignTAXI, a news and editorial site that is updated daily with inspired creativity and innovation. Just looking back to my emails from February, I count about 15 messages related in some way to Star Wars. Most of the articles are pretty enjoyable as it’s interesting to see how someone has yet again reinvented the cult classic. I’ve watched the first 3 movies and can’t remember much of either except the famous scenes that people can recite by heart. Yet, growing up in the 80s, I will always have affection for the trilogy. And so to keep that nostalgia alive, I’ve compiled some of the more enjoyable Star Wars-related pieces that I’ve found from DesignTAXI and elsewhere in the universe. Click on the titles/photos to read the full article.

Darth Vader As Don Draper?

Reimagination of ‘Star Wars’ Characters As Samurai

‘Star Wars’ Characters In Various Yoga Poses

LEGO Releases Official Ultimate Collector’s ‘Star Wars’ R2-D2 Set

What Happens When ‘Star Wars’ Characters Meet Zombies?

‘Star Wars’ Condoms Offer Full Protection Of ‘The Force’

Teach The Alphabet To Your Child With ‘Star Wars’ Characters

When ‘Star Wars’ Meets Steampunk

‘Star Wars’ Propaganda Posters

LucasArts Reveals ‘Star Wars 1313’

‘Star Wars’ Shower Mosaic

If Dr Seuss Did ‘Star Wars’

‘Before Star Wars’, Vintage Photos of Darth Vader And Co.

Official ‘Star Wars’ iPhone Case To Be Released

‘Star Wars’ Flash Drives

Darth Vader Hot Air Balloon

What Happened To The ‘Star Wars’ That We Used To Know?

Iconic Images Redone with ‘Star Wars’ Action Figures

‘Star Wars’ Brand Wars

‘Star Wars’ Swimsuits for the Ultimate Geek Girls

‘Star Wars’ Fans Save Luke Skywalker’s Home

Tattoos For Badass ‘Star Wars’ Fans

The Info on Infographics

A few weeks ago I received a job posting entitled “Infographic Designer (Freelance).” I thought I had read it wrong because, as naive as it sounds, I had never heard of the term infographics. The job description didn’t give me too much insight, which makes sense since if you don’t know what infographics is then you’re probably not right for this job. Before I Googled it, I took a second to think of what it could be. Obviously, the name does say it all. But I started to wonder if perhaps I knew what this term meant and just didn’t realize it had a label.

The first thought that popped into my head was the website We Feel Fine.

It’s an exploration of human emotion. It “continually harvests sentences containing the phrase “I feel” or “I am feeling” from the Internet’s newly posted blog entries, saves them in a database, and displays them in an interactive Java applet, which runs in a web browser. Each dot represents a single person’s feeling. The color of each dot corresponds to the type of feeling it represents (bright dots are happy, dark dots are sad), and the diameter of each dot indicates the length of the sentence inside.”  I’m not sure what made me think of this site – probably because it had received a lot of press and was an interesting creation. But after I did eventually Google the term, I realized that We Feel Fine was quite possibly the simplest form of an infographic. The only visual indications were size, color and frequency. No numbers, no words, no percentages – all of that was embedded in this interesting and colorful graphic.

My search for infographics pulled up a plethora of results. There were websites that listed them by creativity, uniqueness,usefulness and other classifications. What I learned was that they’re nothing more than creative graphs, PowerPoint presentations on steroids. Albeit, they’re done very creatively, and actually contain much more complex information than you would ever want to squeeze into a PPT deck. But all in all, they’re simply cool looking graphs. Yet, creating an infographic does require creativity and planning. This site gives an anatomical look at one and also outlines how to go about building it.

And if you’re in the mood for some eye candy, here are some examples as well as list of sites that feature more beautiful infographics.

Marian Bantjes: influence map

Heartfelt Thanks from Wiki

If you’ve been on Wikipedia anytime in the last year (and possibly before), you’ve seen the message in the header asking for support of the site. I’ve seen it probably a hundred times since I’m always on it. But it wasn’t until a few days ago that I decided to click the banner. It sent me to a page asking for a monetary donation to help keep Wikipedia free.

When I do donate I’m very selective of where my money goes, and being unemployed this is even more true. But when I am freely utilizing content, obtaining information, or downloading a program that will increase my productivity, I feel it’s my obligation to show appreciation and thanks for the effort of someone else that has made my life a little easier.

I decided to donate a small nominal amount of $5. It wasn’t much, but you know what they say about every penny/dollar counting. I figured $5 was more than they would’ve gotten had I decided not to donate.

Less than an hour later, I got an automated thank you email from Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director. I normally don’t even bother reading these types of emails because they’re so formal and monotonous, and I already know what they’re going to say. But with the 5 line email preview option on iPhone, I was able to glance at the message, and what I saw made me open it.

Although I knew it was an auto-generated message, it was written as though Sue was personally talking to me.  And it felt that way, too.  I really believed her own heartfelt gratitude. It’s very possible that Sue is the one who drafted this email; and I have no doubt that she might have.

Dear vanessa,

You are amazing, thank you so much for donating to the Wikimedia Foundation!

This is how we pay our bills — it’s people like you, giving five dollars, twenty dollars, a hundred dollars. My favourite donation last year was five pounds from a little girl in England, who had persuaded her parents to let her donate her allowance. It’s people like you, joining with that girl, who make it possible for Wikipedia to continue providing free, easy access to unbiased information, for everyone around the world. For everyone who helps pay for it, and for those who can’t afford to help. Thank you so much.

I know it’s easy to ignore our appeals, and I’m glad that you didn’t. From me, and from the tens of thousands of volunteers who write Wikipedia: thank you for helping us make the world a better place. We will use your money carefully, and I thank you for your trust in us.

Thanks,

Sue Gardner
Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director

I’m with Phil

Normally, when I go on AOL to check my email (I am still one of that dying species which uses it), I get sidetracked by their news/entertainment snippets, like urlesque and You’ve Got.  Today was one of these days. I clicked a link for an unrelated video, which proceeded with a You’ve Go snippet that caught my attention. As a result of the devastation caused by a tornado that hit down in Phil Campbell, Alabama this past April [2011], an AOL employee named Phil Campbell from Brooklyn, NY decided that he, and Phil Campbells around the world, needed to come together and help the people of this town. The initiative was aptly named I’m with Phil.

I think I was initially interested because the guy was from Brooklyn, which would naturally get my attention. But the story stretches much further than that. Nineteen men (and 1 woman named Phyllis) from Australia and the UK joined together for this effort, all because of the commonality of their name.

AOL video - You've Got Phil Campbell

You can watch the video by clicking on the above image or right here.