I know today is some kind of ritualistic non-holiday but I can’t quite will myself to remember what it is. In this issue of Five Cool Things we tool along Interstate 5 for a few miles and find an old Indian trail and a new poem. We discover a flooring magnate who professes a great, big love of the earth and we introduce you to a fantastic website for discovering and collecting work by a wide range of artists. Wrapping up, we tour the Society of Publication Designers website, and we dine at a tasty and fun noodle house in San Francisco’s Japantown. Of San Francisco, Julia Child said: “Who couldn’t be ravenous in such a place?”
1. Interstate 5 | Road Sign on Interstate 5
I just spent way too much time on Interstate 5 and I thought I’d impose some of its endless fascination on you. From Wikipedia: An extensive section of Interstate 5 (over 600 miles) from roughly Stockton, California, to Portland, Oregon, follows very closely the track of the Siskiyou Trail. This trail was based on an ancient network of Native American footpaths connecting the Pacific Northwest with California’s Central Valley. Also, if you Google “Interstate 5 + poetry” you find this poem below by Robert Peake.
ROAD SIGN ON INTERSTATE 5
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
They are holding hands, or rather, their silhouettes
are joined at the arms like a chain link fence.
Their bodies lean forward, like italic letters.
They are running: the man is pulling the woman,
the woman is pulling what must be her child,
and the child is lifted, by the speed, off her feet.
It is the same type of sign that might contain
the antlered shape of a generic black buck,
or tell drivers that the road could be slippery when wet.
It is a warning sign, it says: watch out for this.
Every time I pass, I scan both sides of the freeway,
expecting to see a family of three, gathering
up loose belongings, timing the cars, preparing
to run across eight lanes of high-speed traffic.
I have never seen them, this desperate family.
I only know their shadows, how they tilt toward
the bright yellow space in front of them, scrambling
to reach the outlined edge of the thin metal sign.
I have never wanted anything this much, for myself,
let alone to pull those closest to me into flight.
There is so much I could say about growing up
on the border of Mexico. It is not the corrugated
fence, or even the river of sewage, that defines
the scar that joins one world to the next,
but a one-hundred-foot width of sun-soft asphalt,
streaming with commuter traffic, day and night.
The man is pulling the woman, the woman is pulling
her airborne child, whose pigtails flail back.
On the other side is the ocean, salt marsh and a beach
that stretches north, into the source of the wind.
They are holding hands, and smelling the salt in the air.
At night, their pupils contract as the headlights expand.
What begins like a distant starlight grows to a spotlight,
a floodlight, a wash of whiteness, and engines made of wind.
Then reddened, like coals, like dying suns, the lights
recede, a river of cherry redness, a syrup of taillights.
The man is pulling the woman is pulling the child,
who rises as though winged in a blaze of light.
– Robert Peake
2. Ray Anderson | We Have Some Decisions to Make
In 1994 the writer Paul Hawken convicted him for being a “plunderer of the earth.” Titan of industry and recovering “plunderer” Ray Anderson speaks at TED about the earth, business, and the business logic of sustainability. Ray Anderson is the founder and chairman of InterfaceFlor – a company that makes industrial/commercial flooring products. Anderson has written two books — Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise and Confessions of a Radical Industrialist – Doing Business by Respecting the Earth. He is featured in two documentaries: The Corporation and The 11th Hour. Riveting, strange and important, here’s the TED talk.
3. Art + Photographer | Laurie Simmons
You say you’ve always wanted to collect art but there was that whole money thing? Good news. The website Art + Culture Editions is a kind of online showcase, portfolio, gallery and exhibition space for a very wide range of artists from just emerging to long established. I hadn’t heard of the photographer Laurie Simmons before, but there she was, showing her work and offering it for sale. Please meet Laurie Simmons who is part of that whole “Pictures Generation” cabal that includes Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince and others.
“I came across these very strange and sci-fi looking dolls. They’re called the “Teenettes” and they were a Japanese toy maker’s idea about the American woman. They’re kind of distorted, as you might expect, but the fact that they were colored monochromatically was a terrific metaphor for me…I simply worked in a very formulaic way to find rooms that were decorated in the style that was prevalent in the sixties and seventies where a room would have a theme color. So the green doll would be placed in a green room, the red doll in a red room, the yellow doll in a yellow room, and the blue doll in a blue room, and that for me said something about women actually becoming or fading into their environment.”
4. Uber Cool Stuff | The Society of Publication Designers
SPD where the heck have you been? You are so very cool! The Society of Publication Designers delivers design, covers, photography, typography, layouts, process stories, blogs, galleries, job boards, profiles and events. I am bookmarking you. Random excerpt: “We love The New Yorker’s annual Halloween covers. From Hitler as a flying witch in the 1940s to post-9/11 city kids trick or treating as firefighters and police, the covers have been funny, pointed, scary, and always beautiful. We collected 19 of our favorites to get you ready for your neighborhood ghouls and goblins.”
5. San Francisco Ramen | Tampopo
On a recent trip to San Francisco my wife and I landed in Japantown in search of Ramen and we found this perfect little gem, Tampopo. It happened to be her birthday and she loves Japanese food in all its forms so a perfect night it was. Delicious broth and noodles, friendly service, a buzzing dining room. San Francisco at its best. Of course it had to be great owing its name to one of the best food movies of all time. If you haven’t seen Tampopo it’s known as a Japanese Noodle Western. Dig that poster art!