Sunday, November 09, 2008

Valet Lit: The Parking Today Interview

TYHIVN’s recurring Valet Lit feature has covered some of the greatest valet parking moments in English language fiction. This coverage, however, has historically neglected the non-fiction parking canon.

Wait, non-fiction parking literature? What else is there besides the junk that gets stuck under windshield wipers? Fines, hastily-scribbled apologies following a fender-bender, advertisements – all traditionally the stuff of frowns. Parking Today magazine is an exquisite departure. As the premiere publication of the $15 billion parking industry, PT covers all aspects of the parking world – from mechanical arms to revenue streams, street cleaning to the price of oil.

John Van Horn is the founder, editor, and publisher of Parking Today. TYHIVN recently had the pleasure of engaging in a brief email interview with Mr. Van Horn. Under discussion: the myth of the parking crisis, the evolution of parking technology, and the best valet parking moments in recent film history.

TYHIVN: Can you tell me a little about your background?

JVH: I founded Parking Today 12 years ago. Prior to that I sold parking revenue equipment (gates, fee computers, et cetera) for almost 20 years. I was in the army during Vietnam, and took over and ran my father’s newspaper after I returned home.

TYHIVN: Please trace the history of Parking Today for me.

JVH: Founded in 1996, our primary audience is anyone who has anything to do with parking. We have a circulation of about 15,000.

TYHIVN: How has the parking industry evolved over time? Can you discuss some of the more notable technological changes that the parking industry has undergone?

JVH: The use of automated fee collection rather than cashiers at the gate, the use of credit cards, pay by cell phone, and pay and display/space equipment for on-street collection.

TYHIVN: Is the parking industry hurting as people drive less due to exorbitant gas prices? What’s the future of parking as you see it? Will people always own individual vehicles that will need to be parked?

JVH: I think the freedom afforded by automobiles will ensure that there is a steady supply. Of course, simple market forces will lower the dependence on private vehicles, but as in New York, the reduction in the number of cars hasn’t affected the parking business at all. The prices just go up.

TYHIVN: Is there a "parking crisis" in American cities?

JVH: Nope. I have never found a garage that was “full.” It’s a case of “free” parking not being available. I can go on for hours about this.

TYHIVN: If you could design a parking solution or parking mechanism from the ground up, what would it look like? What's your dream parking lot?

JVH: Probably an automated system where you drive in, get out of your car, and it’s whisked away. When you return it is brought to you. These exist, but mostly in very crowded countries, such as Japan and Germany.

TYHIVN: Crime in parking lots continues to be a major problem in the United States.

JVH: Is it? Can you give me some numbers? Certainly crime happens in parking garages, but is it more than in other places? Garages are being made safer all the time by better design, lighting, CCTV, and patrols.

TYHIVN: A few years ago Lexus introduced a vehicle that was capable of parallel parking itself. Why haven't we seen more of this technology? Was it a flop?

JVH: Probably not. But frankly, it's just another toy.

TYHIVN: As a former valet, I took exception to an article from the May 2008 issue of PT entitled "Is Your Valet Service Driving Guests Away?": my sub-par service at a luxury restaurant venue never seemed to deter customers. What are the major issues surrounding the valet parking industry today? What are the conditions under which a venue is most likely to have valet?

JVH: Virtually anywhere the level of service is needed – hospitals, airports, hotels, office buildings. I have even seen valets at universities. Often a shortage of parking makes valet necessary. On-street valet services have become popular in many shopping areas. The major challenge is the fact that when you park your own car, it’s your responsibility, but when you valet a car, it becomes the responsibility of the valet company. Many of the valet operations are “Pick-up” deals and the drivers work only for tips. These are illegal, but exist. Legitimate companies often find it difficult to compete.

TYHIVN: Do you have any personal favorite parking moments in television, film, or literature?

JVH: There's the parking garage in I, Robot. Or the look on the valet’s face near the end of Get Smart, when the airplane drives by …

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

From the Less (Differently) Successful Sibling Department: Cecil Morgan

“My brother Stephen, for example—this is not meant as a judgment on him, or to malign him—but, like a lot of young actors, they don’t have a lot of training." - Alec Baldwin, in a recent New Yorker profile

Tracy Morgan’s identical twin, Cecil Morgan, has had less success in the acting game than his brother, but in the hair cut modeling world, Cecil is the industry standard for pointy, tapered sideburns, and moist, tamed curls. His work is on display at Casablanca Barbershop on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn from now until whenever this look goes out of style or the poster becomes too sun-faded for window display (plenty of time left).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

TYHIVN Road Trip: The Alpine Slide tour

"Everybody likes a little thrill every now and then, and the Alpine Slide is ready to oblige."
- Lutsen Mountains website

As loyal TYHIVN readers know, lately this internet journal has entertained an unhealthy fixation on varietals of concrete slides, specifically in San Francisco. Careening down slippery concrete on a tattered cardboard toboggan is indeed a pleasure peculiar to the city by the bay. Recent discoveries by close associate Mr. Jon Anderson, however, reveal that our treasured urban concrete slides have some very large rural relatives. Having evolved unconstrained by zoning laws or limited land space, these gigantic, corn-fed concrete cousins snake through dense forests and sweep across grassy hillsides. Alpine Slides, as they are called, offer smooth, prolonged exhilaration as well as unprecedented control. Below is a selection of the world's finest Alpine Slides. Please note: must be 48" tall to ride.

Park City Mountain Resort, Park City, UT
Single ride: $11
The leaves are changing turning red, yellow, and orange, but your face is turning green from the extreme curves! Four tracks to choose from and over 3,000 feet of sliding.

Attitash, Bartlett, NH
Single ride: $15
Enough people say, you know they can't believe, New Hampshire, we have a bobsled team.

Pico Mountain, Killington, VT
Single ride: $10
Don't look down: these twin slides drop 650 vertical feet.

Snow King Resort, Jackson Hole, WY
Single ride: $12 ($15 peak season June 21-Aug 17)
This attraction winds through 2,500 feet of woods and wildflowers.

Alpine Slide at Magic Mountain, Big Bear Lake, CA
Single Ride: $4
Touted as "Southern California's only authentic bobsled experience," this alpine slide offers views of a lake and mountains (both not pictured).

Great Wall of China!? Learn more here.

The Faces of Alpine Sliding, a collage:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Valet Lit: Freshly Vandalized Vehicle

Our latest installment of Valet Lit comes from Ed Park's terrific new novel, Personal Days. The following passage articulates and artfully amplifies the subjective valet experience, exploring central valet themes such as awkward smoke-break conversation, smelly automobile interiors, intentional vandalism, and the inevitable accompanying regret. Park's work is an immensely valuable contribution to the small but ever expanding pantheon of Valet Literature.
“…After having been hit with a huge pay cut, Jules looked on that Jobmilla website (remember that weird commercial?) for some extra cash to make ends meet – it was the most depressing thing, he said, because he realized he had no skills beyond typing thirty not-very-reliable words per minute; still, he needed money, and found a gig moonlighting as a restroom attendant at a nightclub, in which role he proved so popular that the owner transferred him, with a big bump in salary, to Vlad's, an adult-themed space on Eleventh Avenue, where Jules did triple duty as a valet, tout, and (his newfound talent, he supposed) restroom attendant…as a valet, he got to know some of them well when they came out for their frequent smoking breaks, shooting the breeze as the northbound traffic whizzed past, men of all ages, some of them fresh out of business school, others leathery vets, white-haired wiseguys – and before too long a few of these regulars, over cigarettes, encouraged him to start his own business, and would eventually invest in his first venture, that toaster-oven restaurant (Balustrade? Cellophane? Tenement?)…Well there was this guy, middle-aged, who drove a well-maintained but very close-smelling SUV, which you got a lungful of when you had to park it, and Jules's boss (a melancholy barrel-chested man called Duke, who called everyone Ace or Commander), told him, Keep and eye on this one, Aceusually he's fine but sometimes he's not – the guy had been coming into Vlad's two or three nights a week for over a year, didn't drink anything stronger than 7UP, didn't appear high, usually just watched the main stage, but every couple months he'd get a room, and something would happen, something different every time – Duke had been on the verge of barring him but hoped he'd learned his lesson; then one night when Jules was making the rounds he had to deliver his patented warning rap, not because of any overly lewd contact but because – there was this guy choking a girl; and then two nights later, it was a different girl – choking the guy; Duke came around, threatening to bar him from the premises; the next week, the man and yet another girl were choking each other simultaneously – all of these permutations necessarily arranged in cash beforehand: this time they were gasping, locked in a horrible death embrace, eyes bulging like grapes, bodies flailing, the scant room accents knocked to the ground and getting smashed by their uncontrollable stampings – and Jules barged in, trying to pull the man off the girl (Vera, someone he'd been dating, against Duke's advice); as two guys from security detached her (she was weeping and even in the bad mood lighting he could tell her color was off) and sat on the guy's legs, Jules went to find the man's SUV, which he'd had the displeasure of parking earlier, and left a long key mark across one side, then the other, then all across the hood, not letting the key leave the surface, even as it traveled across glass, and then jogged around the lot to let off steam, throwing punches in the air; ten minutes later, the guy came out of Vlad's for a smoke, looking calmer and a shade less ruddy, and offered Jules a cigar and a No hard feelings? Which Jules, surprising himself, accepted, realizing as soon as the stogie was lit that the valet on duty must have been on break, because he was all alone in the parking lot with the man whom he'd just grappled with, the man who'd been engaging in a little mutual asphyxiation society with his semi-girlfriend (Vera was a dead ringer, Jules also said, for Maxine), and though the guy wasn't a weight lifter, he had shown impressive energy, a boundless will to try to relieve his aggressors of their facial features; self-preservation kicked in, there on the desolate pavement, and Jules introduced himself and shook his hand at which the man said, The name's Percival Davis, call me Percy if you like; Percy asked how he got hooked up with the strip-club gig, and Jules explained how he wasn't making enough money at his office job, and so he'd found work at a nightclub through Jobmilla-dot-com (I sounded like I was in an ad, Jules told me), and all the rest, and Percy didn't know what he meant until he remembered Jobmilla’s motto – humming the jingle till he found the words, What goes around comes around! (laughter); but when Jules asked Percy what he did for a living, he grew silent, and time dragged uncomfortably until the cigars were done; Percy said it was just about time for him to head out, and apologized for the fisticuffs; since the other valet hadn’t shown, Jules nervously fetched the freshly vandalized vehicle and said good night, really, really wishing he hadn’t scraped it up, listening to Percy whistle the Jobmilla jingle again as he drove off, and for the next few days he waited for the other shoe to drop, his appetite vanishing, notes for his last will and testament breaking into his thoughts with alarming frequency; just when he though he was in the clear, and that he might have a future on this earth, he was greeted at the club by the news that a “Mister Davis” had stopped by earlier and left a note: The gist was that he knew what Jules had done to his car, and that the next time he saw Jules, he would choke him – Jules quit the gig that night, figured he’d find something else on the Jobmilla site…”
- Ed Park, Personal Days

Friday, May 16, 2008

New Jersey PATH Shut-out in Public Transportation Branding Romp

"If you're old enough to ride the subway, you're old enough to brag about it! Your toddlers can declare the MTA allegiance with one of these simple yet stylish t-shirts. Available in sizes 2T, 3T and 4T. New York City Subway Line designs are printed on heavyweight 100% cotton short sleeve tee shirts. Each is devoted to one of NYCs famous train lines, and has the NYC Subway Line logo printed on the back."
- New York Transit Museum online store

The New York Subway, despite its filthy stations, crowded cars, interminable repairs, and unpredictable waits, has a built a potent brand image. The rainbow of icons that represent the various alphabetical and numerical lines have slowly transformed into a fleet of high impact identity badges. This family of circles now appears as a group or individually on umbrellas, apparel, and even condoms. No matter how frustrated we may be when a train unexpectedly goes express, or when the indecipherable garble of the loud speaker fails to deliver pressing travel information, we continue to celebrate the cute subway circles and the friendly yet authoritative Helvetican characters that inhabit them. The subway lines are like small candy-coated chocolates one might toss in the air and catch in one’s mouth.

The New Jersey PATH train has not been so lucky in the branding department. Carrying 242,000 passengers across state lines every weekday, and completing 71.6 million passenger trips in 2007, New Jersey’s PATH train is a major league public transportation player in New York’s metropolitan area. And yet, its logo is a branding effort derailed. While the PATH sports a handsome “P” made of arrows (signifying movement of a commuter to and from), the truncated italics don’t connote movement and progress so much as they suggest…Arena League Football. This effect is magnified given that “New Jersey PATH” recalls the collective singular noun team names that predominate in the most unfortunate professional sports leagues, such as the AFL, Major League Lacrosse, and Major League Soccer. Their singular nouns employ the aggression and transitive verbage more commonly found in energy drink brands: the Colorado Crush, the Detroit Fury, and the Georgia Force. Below I have put together a selection of these team logos to illustrate the eerie similarity to our beloved PATH train. Gooooooo PATH!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Political Cartoon

James Carville: "The Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching you. Show 'em you're tough."
Robert Novak: "Well, I think that's bullshit, and I hate that."

~Exchange between the two men on CNN's Inside Politics.

In these most turbulent of political times, I sound a clarion note on the Shofar of Reason. Gracias to the sage Martin Mulkeen for sagely scanning the front and (perhaps even more sagely) the back of a mixed letter/political cartoon I mailed him some time ago:

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Slides of San Francisco: The Ruins of Douglass Playground

“The destructive character sees no image hovering before him. He has few needs, and the least of them is to know what will replace what has been destroyed. First of all, for a moment at least, empty space – the place where the thing stood or the victim lived. Someone is sure to be found who needs this space without occupying it…The destructive character has the consciousness of historical man, whose deepest emotion is an insuperable mistrust of the course of things and a readiness at all times to recognize that everything can go wrong. Therefore, the destructive character is reliability itself.”
- Walter Benjamin, The Destructive Character, 1931
Douglass Playground – Douglass Street at 26th Street

In this installment we celebrate the memory of the Douglass Playground slide collective through the vestiges of its architecture.

Naked mounting harnesses, these impoverished cockpits whisper stories of potential energy and the exhilarations of yore.

The absence of a slide. An impotent precipice serves to glorify the slide’s essential role: spatial concatenation. To negotiate the perils of space and gravity, safely delivering passengers from heights previously unknown. To mitigate the fall.

All but one of the slides have been removed. The children are gone, but they have left behind their belongings.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


"Wheat beer and women one hits on the bottom."
~What I heard a man in Germany say as a toast

Here I have considered a number of wheat beers that I drank during a year in Germany and Austria. Before reading, you ought to know these things: a.) Wheat beer is my favorite kind of beer, b.) I do not know more about beer than you, reader, know about beer, c.) I face-dove into a log in the forest when I was little and so can only respire out of one nostril, and I suspect that this inhibits my sense of smell and taste.

Erdinger (5.3% alcohol, Erding, Germany): The taste of alcohol in this one kicks like a surly donkey. Gather your taste buds off the floor of the barn and forge ahead—the flavor chills out a little bit and becomes bitter and spritzy, though never forsaking the pervasive and devilish smack of old-fashioned fire-water. Not the greatest.

Drink if you like: being kicked in the crotch by the Devil.

Franziskaner (5.0% alcohol, Munich, Germany): Relatively sweet. Banana-y and chocolaty at its center, like a delicious beer star whose nuclear core churns with bananogen and chocolelium. Mellow and complex, this is a beer which whispers its flavors to you while keeping its true personality hidden behind a veil of irresistible coquettery. Different tastes emerge variously during consumption, and always as sexy suggestions. Very good, great, shake its hand, slap its ass.

Drink if you like: unconsummated, ardent relationships with many delicious secrets.

Paulaner (5.3% alcohol, Munich, Germany): It is twilight. Doorbell rings. A man named Ted, standing nervously on a veranda framed by riotous ivy, mumbles a greeting and offers you a bouquet of cloves. With its scent come deeply felt memories of spices from the far East and that time you ate rust as a child. There's no complexity here, friend: eating rust was a straight-up shitty idea. Drinking this beer, however, could be a great idea. Go to the cinema with this simple stranger.

Drink if you like: Christian meekness.

König Ludwig Hell (5.5% alcohol, Fürstenfeldbruck, Germany): King Ludwig the Pale stands in the middle of a circle. "My name is Ludwig, and I am a beer," he stutters like a bitch-faced pansy. "Is that all you have to say to us, Ludwig?" asks the counselor. There is no give in her voice, no compassion in her gaze. A circle of eyes is fixed on the King. "No," he gasps after a pause. And this time with tremulous conviction: "My name is Ludwig, and I am a spicy beer." Now, why does this beer hide its attractive taste from us? Too coy to be great.

Drink if you like: Bitch-faced Pansies (the flower, Viola tricolor putensis -- similar aroma).

Franziskaner Dunkel (5.0% alcohol, Munich, Germany): The banana-y banana-iness of this beer bananas its way into your banana, bananalessly, until you can banana no banana in which bananas are not bananas. Banana told, there are better bananas out there.

Drink if you like: pineapples.

Weihenstephaner (5.4% alcohol, Freising, Germany): Its flavors must be sought after with the utmost care and delicacy, like truffles in the forest. A pleasant, mildly sweet bouquet dissipates moments after asserting itself, leaving in the mouth neither a good nor bad impression, but rather the absence of impression: a memory. Please drink this beer.

Drink if you like: being jilted at the altar by the love of your life, but having a sweet run of it up till then.

Maisel’s Weiße (5.4% alcohol, Bayreuth, Germany): Possessed of a lively, rooty, apricot-y, wonderfully bitter character that cockslaps your taste buds, hard, on its way down your gullet. Your taste buds touch the mushroom-shaped welt on their cheeks lightly with their fingers, their mouths slightly agape. “Holy shit,” they think, “I kinda liked that.” Indeed.

Drink if you like: the company of men.

Schöfferhofer (5.0% alcohol, Frankfurt am Main, Germany): Not unlike Franziskaner, except that this brew is up front about its aims and intentions. Sugary (but not overly so) and unabashedly wheaty, this beer drags you into a relationship marked by utter transparency, with all the dangers and sweet, sweet delights such transparency brings. So good.

Drink if you like: women/men who, forgoing pickup lines, just squeeze your junk and wink

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Slides of San Francisco: Children's Playground

Golden Gate park is home to many unique treasures, such as Bocce ball courts, a frolf course, and some beautiful but dilapidated Dutch Windmills.

Another treasure is the concrete slides of Children’s Playground. These slides are always teeming with diminutive thrill-seekers, so be prepared to wait in line, especially during the summer months. This can be a drag, but it also brings unexpected benefits.

The first is that there are always plenty of abandoned cardboard sleds strewn about!

The second is the opportunity to stand upon the shoulders of (tiny) giants to see farther and know more. Unlike the Seward Slides, these gray pythons don’t exactly ride themselves, and going to school off the failures and successes of small children in line before you will be essential to a smooth ride. Shallow chutes and low rails coupled with an unusual curvature force the uninitiated rider onto the shoulder or over the median. What’s more, the slide’s coarse terrain produces a lot of friction that can slow you down.

(treacherous terrain: rough and rugged, rugged and raw)

TYHIVN's advice: Cast a handful of sand onto the track before embarking to improve your velocity. Keep your sneakers tucked onto the corrugated board, shift your weight when you hit the turn, and resist the temptation to brake!

(on the shoulders of tiny giants, surveying the wreckage below)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Slides of San Francisco: A Photographic Essay in Four Parts

I never learned to propel a playground swing on my own. I couldn’t master the weight transfer of the leg kick. Even today I still need someone to push me. As a result I got the majority of my jollies on the slide. I was lucky to grow up where I did. The concrete slides I became accustomed to as a child are a lovely and unique feature of the city by the bay. Bring a cardboard toboggan and ride the slippery slopes of the first installment of TYHIVN's very first service feature!

Seward Street slides - Seward and Douglass Street

The Seward Street slides are the big island of the SF Slide archipelago. These twin chutes are seriously steep in and of themselves, but the view of the downtown skyline and the East Bay reminds you that you are riding a slide on top of a mountain.

As if the vertiginous height wasn’t enough to make your knees knock, ole Johnny Law ups the fear factor! What I do is just make friends with whatever children and accompanying parents you meet there and strike a deal that they will say you’re with them if the cops show up.

While both runs are painted a patchwork of grey from snuffed out graffiti, TYHIVN has learned from a source close to us who frequented these slides during elementary school circa 1994 that they were originally painted yellow and red, and affectionately referred to as ‘mustard’ and ‘ketchup.’ Longtime neighborhood resident Matthew Pantell clarifies: "More like blood and bile." And indeed he is right. These slides are serious business.

Surprisingly, the Seward Slides were designed by a kid (ForUsByUS) in 1973. From the Noe Valley Voice:
The curved double slide, which is a favorite destination of many a Noe and Eureka Valley child, was designed by a 14-year-old girl, Kim Clark, who won a "Design the Park" competition. Clark grew up on Seward Street and attended nearby Alvarado School, where she participated in a special arts program pioneered by Noe Valley sculptor Ruth Asawa.

"Ruth Asawa and her kids were very involved in the Slide Park project," recalls Kim's mother, Annette Clark. "To have children participate in the design was part of the philosophy of the time, which emphasized learning through the arts. We were very conscious of giving children opportunities to do design work."

Clark adds that her daughter's winning slide design was inspired by a slide that many of the city's children loved at the old Playland amusement park at Ocean Beach, torn down in 1972.

Kim Clark, your vision has provided thrills aplenty and also a place for teenagers to drink forties at night. Thank you.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Recovered Crafts of Childhood: Let’s Call it a Draw

“We have suggested that within the apparent unity of the theological code, the fundamental difference of antagonistic class positions can be made to emerge. In that case, the inverse move is also possible, and such concrete semantic differences can on the contrary be focused in such a way that what emerges is rather that all-embracing unity of a single code which they must share and which thus characterizes the larger unity of the social system. This new object – code, sign system, or system of the production of signs and codes – thus becomes an index of an entity of study which greatly transcends those earlier ones of the narrowly political (the symbolic act), and the social (class discourse and the ideologeme), and which we have proposed to term the historical in the larger sense of this word. Here the organizing unity will be what the Marxian tradition designates as a mode of production.”
- Frederick Jameson, The Political Unconscious

“By the beginning of the ‘50s, the very nature of the sport was changing – and not for the better. Boxing had planted the seeds of its own destruction by televising boxing matches…fans were content to stay at home and watch the bouts for free – which is something like eating a ham sandwich with the waxed paper on as far as I’m concerned.”
- Angelo Dundee with Bert Randolph Sugar, My View from the Corner: A Life in Boxing

This circular drawing could have become a serviceable vehicle for the preparation and consumption of such a ham sandwich. Originally destined to be immortalized in plastic as a functional dinner plate, this round of paper was either forgotten or deemed unworthy by my parents. It was never forwarded on to the fabrication stage. Like Angelo Dundee’s ham sandwich, its use value is solely hypothetical.

To this day my family only eats off of a collection of about thirty plates that I made. The early works are largely studies of color – erratic rainbow scribbles that occasionally make it difficult to see what food, if any, is left on your plate. The later works are mostly paeans to my favorite shows, action figures, and athletes such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Inspector Gadget, and Will Clark. This boxing promotion was the last plate drawing I ever did.

My love for boxing was reared in the tradition of the Rocky movies: Crisp, clean blows traded swiftly, landed directly, articulated in a soundtrack of automobile accidents. This piece is therefore a tribute to the rigid organizational scaffolding that houses what is actually a messy and indeterminate sport. This drawing is basically a series of shout-outs to the delightful assortment of empirical outcomes (KO, TKO, Unanimous Decision, Split Decision, Draw) and rigid weight classifications (Heavy weight, Cruiser weight) of a brutal sport dependent on fallible human judgment and entirely inaccessible to statistical assignment or analysis.

In keeping with most of my childhood art objects, and what has become my favored interpretive stance on these relics, an orderly presentation belies a swirling set of contradictions lurking beneath. I am particularly curious about my decision to include that most unsexy of boxing outcomes, “Draw.” Unworthy of an exclamation point; bearing promise of nothing but a distant rematch. A humble declaration: “Draw.” Give me my money back.

As an imperative, this “draw” casts a new and revealing light on the social dynamics behind the production of this potential plate. I was literally being instructed to draw, to create, and it’s no surprise I buckled under this constant pressure to transfer my youthful creativity to the round page. Further evidence: the sloppy corrective lengthening pen strokes on the right side of the ring of emphasis lines emanating from “BOXING!”

The mode of production at work behind this drawing manifests itself in other striking ways that are less obvious. At first glance, the red mitten appears to be a poor rendering of a boxing glove. The oddly opposable thumb, however, leads me to believe it may be an unconscious rendering of an oven mitt. This oven mitt stands as an open acknowledgment of the purely functional value of the piece as dishware. Knowing that my work was destined to be a plate, this knowledge came to dominate what was now a self-aware artistic process. I was getting too old for this, and my mounting frustration with the limitations of the medium seeped into and corrupted my work. It’s no surprise that this round of paper was never shipped off to the processing plant.

I am proud, however, that this boxing promotion bares an uncanny and entirely coincidental resemblance to Kevin C’s glorious “Timeless Raps” graphic, which was created in MS Paint.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Reconfiguring the SLAB canon: Behold, the Butter-Yellow SLAB (Saussure, Lacan, Althusser, and Barthes)

“SLAB theorists commonly counterpose ‘theory’ to ‘history,’ as if historical research could not also be theoretical. I propose a more informative opposition. SLAB theory and its offshoots, in their deepest assumptions and their concrete practices, have consolidated a new scholasticism, a ceaseless commentary on authoritative sources. Poetics, on the other hand, frankly offers scholarship--an open-ended, corrigible inquiry that respects the reciprocal claims of conceptual coherence and empirical adequacy. Lacking a substantive doctrine, it does not have the answers ready before anyone has asked the questions.”
- David Bordwell, Historical Poetics of Cinema

Nearly one year ago, TYHIVN featured a photographic essay of the breathtaking SLABs of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Today we introduce you to a new slab on the block, the Butter-Yellow SLAB.
Often outlandish in appearance and decoration, SLABs are expected to display their elaborate custom plumage not with speed, but with a slow, signature gait. The object, of course, is to cruise as slowly and demonstrably as possible so as to showcase as much as possible the amount that the driver is generally said to be "flossin’". Thus, the exploration of new vertical dimensions by way of hydraulics, so as to perform the extended aesthetic of movement without whizzing out of sight.

Hip-hop has developed special names for this automotive crawling. A SLAB is said to “creep” or “tip-toe” along. While I have never seen the Butter-Yellow SLAB in motion, it is safe to assume that this vehicle might “ooze” or “smear” down the block. In a way that would make you believe the hand of God were spreading it across the pavement with a hot knife.

A SLAB discovery of this magnitude forces the SLAB connoisseur to re-imagine the long-standing neighborhood SLAB canon. Not only does the butter-yellow SLAB stand as a serious Clinton Hill contender, its creamy pastel color threatens to overthrow everything we thought we knew about the SLAB-as-transcendent-acronym. As mentioned in the original SLAB post, this acronym dwarfs its own word components (Slow, Low, And, Bangin’) to achieve a descriptive whole greater than the sum of its parts. The Butter-Yellow SLAB embraces and enhances this effect by dressing itself as another well-known slab – a slab of shortening.

Ill-fitting panels cleave from each other and sag slowly to the asphalt, the rear wheel already swallowed by the smooth inexorable melting of the creamy body. If SLABs were designed to drive slow and low, and indeed they were, then the moist, oozing body of the Butter-Yellow slab is in a constant state of becoming.

* * *

In other SLAB news: The Golden Supreme Slab has been been spotted around the neighborhood sporting what appears to be a new paint job.

Did the Golden Supreme Slab get a new paint job? Closer inspection reveals: no, no it did not.