Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   the High Line
Friday, November 13 2009
At the base of every office chair is a starfish made of metal whose legs end in swiveling casters. My face was pressed into one such metal leg for parts of the night. Gretchen had rolled into the center axis of David and Penny's semi-deflated air mattress, leaving me on the uplifted highlands of one of the sides. There wasn't much room up there, so my face somehow found itself planted on the base of David's swivel chair.
First item on the day's agenda was coffee, and David was on it before I'd even gotten out of "bed." I ended up drinking entirely too much, ultimately leading to some intestinal problems. But it's possible this was really just a result of drinking too much last night. Otherwise, though, I suffered no lingering effects from the night before.
At some point we all went out onto the streets of the West Village and walked up to the new High Line, a linear park made from a raised freight railroad grade along the western side of Manhattan below 30th Street. The bed had been abandoned at some point and fallen into disrepair, but now money had been spent laying down a concrete surface, planting a variety of pairie-like grasses and wildflowes, and installing benches (some of which sit on old segments of track and can be moved short distances). Now it's a handicap-accessible and yuppie-friendly strolling zone. Graffiti and garbage have been replaced with polished surfaces, regular police foot-patrols, and (according to a recent episode of the KunstlerCast) occasional acts of exhibitionary sex from an overlooking hotel. It was a remarkable little park, though mostly in the details. There was something glorious about the way the prefab concrete structures gave way to interfingerings of soil that turned into full-fledged herbal swatches. It was a celebration and stylization of urban decay, the kind that even an alcoholic trophy wife pushing a stroller loaded with Down Syndrome twins could appreciate. David said that much of the funding for the High Line park had been raised in the private sector, and that it was a boon to local businesses, some of whom had begun opening their businesses out to the new public space.
We walked all the way to the end of the High Line at 20th Street (though work is ongoing to extend it to 30th). From there we wandered into a some sort of high-concept art shop full of quasi-pornography and maddening concept pieces (including a sign-in book from someone's show that he decided to reproduce and sell as "art").
Eventually we found ourselves at the Steven Kasher Gallery where Josh Gosfield, a friend of Penny and David's, was having a well-reviewed exhibition of fabricated media about an invented celebrity named Gigi Gaston. The walls were covered with blow-ups of fake front pages from various magazines and tabloids, all of it aged to look like it had been published in the 1960s and 1970s. I don't really understand celebrity culture, so, aside from the technical proficiency of the fake aging, most of it was lost on me.
Eventually we walked to a restaurant called The Park in Chelsea near the High Line. The place was huge but nearly empty when we arrived. We took a seat in a spacious booth and everyone but David ordered bloody maries. There were also fries and some sort of batter-fried portobello mushrooms. All of it was exquisite. I'd be enthusiastic about going there again. Also, the bathrooms are hidden away in the basement but are fancy and are great places to pinch that loaf that travel constipation would otherwise prevent you from decisively pinching.
Gretchen had a lunch date with a big shot in the Farm Animal Sanctuary movement, and Penny had to work. This left David and me to wander the streets of Chelsea for a few hours. He had some sharpened knives to pick up, and then he took me over to the Indian commercial district near 27th and Lexington. We went into a large grocery store called Kalustyan's, which was India-centric but had items from all over the world (Mexico, Italy, and China). David explained that it was established in 1944 to ship Indian staples to towns in the midwest. David gets excited about food merchants in a way that I personally cannot. But for some reason I find his excitement infectious or at least vicariously exciting. So, with his encouragement, I found myself buying things. Tri-color cous-cous, a variety of hot sauces, and any pre-packaged Indian food that was vegan. As I was checking out, the young Indian woman who rang me up thanked me with a look and kissing lip pantomime that seemed wonderfully gratuitous. This was ruined somewhat when David went through behind me and decided the olive oil he'd selected was too expensive and had to abandon it. I was waiting patiently for him, and by that point the checkout girl had probably decided we were some sort of gay odd couple.
Gretchen and I headed for home shortly after 3:00pm, missing the worst of rush hour and Upstateward weekend rush traffic.

(These photos were all taken with an iPhone.)

The High Line.

The Hudson from the High Line.

Vegetation on the High Line.

The High Line crosses a bridge over 10th Avenue and provides a glassed-in view.

Ivy on a wall, near the 20th Street end of the High Line. Click to enlarge.

A vintage television set showing fake television video from Gigi Gaston's life. This television is connected to an iBook.

David and Gretchen in the Steven Kasher Gallery.

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