Listening To: Joe Cocker and Leon Russell

I’ve developed a total fascination with Joe Cocker and Leon Russell’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour from 1970.

Both classics in their own right, Cocker and Russell teamed up for this legendary tour, for which Russell, the musical genius with his iconic long grey hair and top hat, fronted Cocker’s band and was musical director, coming up with all the live arrangements for their 21-person band/chorus (I think this may have inspired Edward Sharpe, don’t you think?).

The tour was also filmed and made into a documentary, tracking the band and it’s hippie-commune 40-member entourage around the country to sold-out shows, complete with backstage footage and interviews.  Sort of a real-life version of the movie Almost Famous, no??

Plus, the set list (which also became the album by the same name, from the show played at the Fillmore East) is incredible, including not only Cocker and Russell’s hits, but also covers of the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and others.

This last video, Darlin’ Be Home Soon, is some of the footage from the film– a backstage rehearsal.  I particularly love the last minute or so with the split-screen of them boarding their plane and the rehearsal, and the little bit of the mom talking to the kids at the very end.  Very Almost Famous.

Masters and Their Crafts >> Tartine

Tartine is one of my absolute favorite bakeries and a must every time I’m in San Francisco.  I actually am a little bit worried about what might happen once I move up there… I fear it could be habit-forming.  

Their bread is incredible, as are their sandwiches, desserts… pretty much everything.  It’s a bakery, cafe, and even wine bar, and I love the vibe that comes from people opening up a bottle of white at lunch on a Saturday.  With the line almost always out the door, there’s always a ton of energy, great people watching, and a cool European cafe-meets-San-Francisco,-specifically-the-Mission,-vibe.
Check out this video to see the owner and head baker, Chad Robertson, in his element.  Although I’ll warn you, this is dangerous to watch if you’re hungry.
[Tartine cookbook]
[Kitsune Noir]

"A Love Story"

“A Love Story,” a video for Spring/Summer ’11 by GANT by Michael Bastian.
Love Michael Bastian, LOVE the styling of this video.  All the class and elegance of an old movie plus the hazy warmth of a wonderful dream.

I’ve watched this about five times now, maybe hoping my dreams tonight will look like this.

Directed by Carl Axel-Wahlstrom.

Obsession: Theo Jansen.

You MUST watch this video.  It’s very short, and it will add a lot of wonderment to your day.  I’m enthralled.
Theo Jansen explores the boundaries between art and engineering, creating these “kinetic sculptures.”

These “animals” move.  Or I should say, they walk.  They’re wind-powered.  It’s amazing.  They look like a cross between an exoskeleton and an erector set, which is basically what they are, and then they start moving and they become so anthropomorphic, you wonder if they’re alive in some way.

Many of his creatures are so “evolved” that they are now capable of “living” on the beaches on their won– the wind powers their “walking,” and they have sensors that tell them to stop and turn around when they hit either water or dry sand, keeping them permanently on the wet sand.

They even have sensors that tell them when a storm is coming, and their “brain” tells them to start pounding a stake into the ground so they don’t fall over in the storm.
Can you imagine having a brain that dreamed up stuff like this?

In the video above, you see the “rhinoceros”-like sculpture walking.

If you want to learn even more about Jansen and his work, click here for a ten minute video presentation by Jansen that shows more animals walking and an explanation of how they work.

It’s also extremely interesting to hear how he talks about the animals– he doesn’t discuss them as art, or really as machines or product prototypes either– he talks about them as though they are animals that he is looking after, and he doesn’t seem to feel any need to explain the “purpose” of them, which I think is an amazing insight into the brain of someone this creative.

I think that science and art are going to continue to merge in this way, in the minds of people like Jansen who are capable of seeing their relation to each other, and have a desire to explore their intersection without the desire to make a practical product or advancement in technology.  While in art, it seems sometimes that “we’ve seen it all,” and there’s nothing new under the sun, science is continually evolving and pushing boundaries in material ways, and through the integration of science and art, art could do the same.

Grafica Fidalga

The sheer existence of a company like this, still doing things the same way they’ve been doing it for years, and doing it because they love it, makes me feel a little bit better about the world.  Oh, and the video is really well done.

“Grafica Fidalga, a printing press in São Paulo, Brazil, makes posters on a 1929 German letterpress using hand-carved wooden letters.”

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