I love the idea that some furniture is “important.” This chest-on-chest has descended through some Philadelphia/New Jersey families since it was originally ordered sometime before the Revolutionary War, and those family connections are important, but not right here, not right now. The finish is old and excellent; the hardware is original; the elaborately carved cartouche is intact, and it’s all similar to similarly important pieces in important collections, but that is not really important right now, right here, either.
But because of all this, this chest was attributed to the most prominent Philadelphia cabinetmaker of the time, Thomas Affleck, one of the few guys in town known to have his own copy of Thomas Chippendale’s gentleman furniture pattern book.
But then when this thing came in, and came apart, this giant, gorgeous, script monogram JF was found carved in the top of the lower chest, invisible to anyone except the movers, or the maker. And so now this important chest-on-chest is attributed to John Folwell, another Philadelphia cabinetmaker, and its similarity should prompt a re-examination of the attribution of some of the other important furniture out there. I would like more things to have been elaborately and secretly inscribed by their makers, please.
Tom Ford has introduced a wristwatch made of ocean plastic. The following are excerpts from the Departures Magazine marketing email for the watch which, at $995, somehow manages to seem simultaneously expensive and cheap:
The Impact of Ethical Luxury “In my opinion, ethical luxury is the greatest luxury of all,” says iconic designer and creative director Tom Ford…When you purchase an Ocean Plastic Timepiece, you permanently remove the equivalent of 35 bottles of plastic waste from the ocean.
The Tom Ford Ocean Plastic Timepiece is made from 100-percent ocean plastic collected in seas, along coastlines, and in uncontrolled landfills. Its material contains neither virgin plastics nor non-ocean-bound plastics, and is traceable to its collection source. The ocean plastic granules used in its production have been transported in a carbon-neutral manner, and have been compounded in a solar-powered Swiss facility. Additionally, all packaging is recyclable.
“It is incredibly appealing to know that you are not only wearing a high-quality product, but that by simply owning the product you are also taking direct action to improve the planet.”
I was going to post a photo of Ford modeling the watch, but who even cares at this point. It is a giant black watch with TOM FORD and OCEAN PLASTIC written on the face.
I love Pierre Jenneret’s furniture for Chandigarh, and I hate the Chandigarh Furniture Industrial Complex. I am relieved that these objects that once were abandoned for scrap are now preserved, but I hate that the cultural context is being stripped away, and that for their value and significance to be recognized, they must be removed and fed through the luxury design machinery of the West. I love seeing this furniture aging and bearing its history, and I hate seeing it stripped and restored and altered into just one more must-have for some instagram junkie to stuff into their Axel Vervoordt McMonastery.
I love this stuff, and hate that I want it, but I’ve managed to deal because it’s not like there’s any OG Chandigarh furniture left anyway. Well, Patrick Parrish just kicked the leg off my precariously balanced chair. He is currently showing a collection of pristine, original condition Jenneret furniture from Chandigarh which has been held for twelve years, and it is utterly exquisite. Everyone who’s ever stripped and dipped a teak armchair and tossed out a horsehair cushion should immediately feel waves of remorse for their design crimes.
Now I love this furniture, and I hate that you haven’t yet sent me $1.26 million so I can buy all 66 pieces for my McMonastery.
In the 17th century Sweden had the copper, and needed the silver, and its imperial war-making activities were constantly beholden to the exchange rate, and their monetary policy was in turn at the mercy of commodity prices for the metal their coins were made from.
In the middle of all this, someone had the idea to turn the plates of raw copper into actual coins by stamping them. This 14.5kg 8 daler plate is the second largest denomination. A 10 daler plate weighed in at 19.7kg.
Almost all these plate coins were melted down the second copper prices warranted, and it wasn’t until the 20th century that some examples were found in shipwrecks. About 50 of these bad boys exist, with 6–10 in private collections, which is why this coin is expected to trade at a 199,950 euro premium to the current value of the copper itself.
Oh wait, no, 6–10 examples from 1659, one of the 13 years 8 daler plate money was issued, are in private collections. I’ll let you connoisseurs sort out the price and rarity; I’ll stick to the oddity.
I’ll be honest, when I first heard that the ICE immigrant family detention centers full of Central American refugee kids and moms had animal-themed cell blocks like red bird and blue butterfly, I imagined they were using Eric Carle drawings, and I got a dark, blogging thrill.
But no. The South Texas Residential Center in Dilley, the largest family detention center in the world, run by the for-profit prison contractor, Corrections Corporation of America, was too cheap to license Carle’s work, and just used random clip art instead.
Also, the government’s punitive detention of these people is shameful, and it can’t end soon enough. Most of these families are fleeing war, violence, and abuse in their home countries and have already qualified for refugee hearings the US, but remain in these remote prisons, guarded by actual prison guards, temping in khakis and polo shirts, as a feeble deterrent to other refugees.
I resisted comparing ICE’s outsourced prisons to the desert detention centers Japanese-American families were forced into during WWII, even when I saw Bob Owen’s photo in the San Antonio Express News, which is a damningly straight-up evocation of Dorothea Lange’s photos of the War Relocation Authority’s internment camp at Manzanar, California.
Ansel Adams also took photos at Manzanar, which he published in a book, Born Free And Equal, alongside a text that reads today as disturbingly upbeat in its praise of the gumption and loyalty of American citizens forced into desert prisons. I’ve always viewed Adams’ project as a protest, a condemnation of the injustice visited upon Americans because of the racist fears of their neighbors and political leaders. But that is over-optimistic hindsight. Re-reading Adams’ text now is pretty depressing. To think that it’s all the Constitution and fundamental principle that wartime white America could handle at the time.
At least it helps make sense for how this country could get so cross-wise with its own professed ideals today; we really have not changed that much at all. And when I tried to put some evolved distance between the ironies of Adams’ treacly government-reviewed-and-approved fluffing and this account from inside Dilley, I couldn’t. So here it is:
While children wait for their mothers to talk to lawyers and legal aids, they are usually watching kids’ movies dubbed in Spanish, namely Rio or Frozen. The children of Dilley, like children everywhere, have taken to singing Frozen’s iconic song “Let It Go.”The Spanish-language refrain to the song “Libre soy! Libre soy!” translates to “I am free! I am free!” It’s an irony that makes the adults of Dilley uneasy. Mehta recalls one mother responding to her singing child under her breath: “Pero no lo somos” (But we aren’t).
Do you know the chorus of “Let it Go” in Spanish? I did not, but it is one helluva song for kids to be singing in a corporate prison in 2015:
Libre soy, libre soy
No puedo ocultarlo más
Libre soy, libre soy
Libertad sin vuelta atrás
Y firme así me quedo aquí
Libre soy, libre soy
El frío es parte también de mí
I am free, I am free
I can’t hide it anymore
I am free, I am free
Freedom without turning back
And I’m staying here, firm like this
I am free, I am free
The cold is also a part of me
Dave Masaharu Tatsuno ran the dry goods store at Topaz Mountain, where Japanese Americans from the Bay Area were imprisoned during WWII. And he took a bunch of 8mm home movies, using color film which he’d pick up on buying trips back east. And then he edited the movies together into Topaz Memories [or Topaz, which is how it was listed when it was accepted onto the National Film Registry], a film/presentation which he gave at organizations around the country after the war.
Or maybe beginnin the 1990s, I haven’t watched the end of the local PBS documentary on Tatsuno, produced after his death in 2006, to figure it all out yet. I was so amped up by these detainee-made sleds at 20:05, I had to post them right away. That’s Bill Fujita, Tatsuno’s brother-in-law, pulling David Fujita and Tatsuno’s oldest son Sheldon in 1943.
The Tatsunos were expelled from their home when Dave’s wife Alice was nine months pregnant, and their second son Rod was born at the Bay Area assembly/processing center at Tanforan race track. Their daughter Arlene was born at Topaz.
You’d think that as a parent, I’d be less surprised by now at the constant discoveries of the extent of my own ignorance.
Last night, while surfing through the archive of the War Relocation Authority’s nearly 7,000 photos of WWII Japanese American internment camps for “furniture,” [right, I know.] I was confused by the number of search results that included George Nakashima and his daughter Mira.
The internment camps only imprisoned Japanese Americans on the west coast; Nakashima, modernist woodworking master, lived in New Hope, Pennsylvania, so he should’ve been totally unaffected.
And it’s only then that I looked at Nakashima’s bio, and sure enough, the architect, his wife Marion, and his newborn daughter were expelled from Seattle and detained at Minidoka, Idaho in the Spring of 1942. It was only through the protracted petitions of Antonin Raymond, an architect and former employer, that the Nakashimas were able to leave the camp for Raymond’s farm in New Hope.
The picture above, by WRA photographer Francis Stewart, shows George Nakashima at Minidoka in the Fall of 1942, “Constructing and decorating model apartment to show possibilities using scrap materials.” Which, just. Wallpaper made from bookpages and blueprints and a proto-Conoid table made from prison scraps. This room should be in the Smithsonian.
The irony, if that’s the right word, is that it was at Minidoka that Nakashima met Gentaro Hikogawa, an issei hotel manager three years older than he, who’d immigrated from Shikoku to Tacoma. Hikogawa was also a master carpenter, who taught Nakashima Japanese joinery and rural handtool techniques that formed the foundation for Nakashima’s philosophy and later innovations.
Speaking of which, here are two photos of 3-yo Mira Nakashima posing next to two beds her father made, one for her, and one for her doll, in her bedroom in New Hope.
In WWII, Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from the west coast, stripped of basically everything they couldn’t carry, and imprisoned in inland internment camps, rows of tar paper barracks in the desert surrounded by barbed wire fences and guard towers.
Everything else, they had to build themselves. Here are a couple of photos from the War Relocation Authority collection at the National Archives of the preschool playground at the Tule Lake Relocation Center in Newell, CA.
Looks like they had better scrapwood at Tule Lake than at Topaz Mountain in Utah. Or maybe better carpenters. Still, I’d add that unfinished wood slide to the list of injustices perpetrated against loyal American citizen children by their government.
The photo blog on The Atlantic has been running extended looks back at images from World War II. Today’s theme: Japanese-Americans forcibly removed from their homes and businesses and shipped to internment camps in the middle of the freakin’ deserts.
The caption on #39 just bummed me out: “Nursery school children play with a scale model of their barracks at the Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, California, on September 11, 1942.” Their barracks.
On the bright side, check out the sweet little pine plank nursery chairs they’re standing on. How many civil right’s a brother gotta give up to score a few of those, I wonder?
Wolfgang Tillmans is worried about the impending vote for the UK to remain in the EU. So he and his studio assistants created a set of posters to encourage people to stay in, and especially to vote, and to register to vote. UK voting registration must be completed by June 7.
After they were released yesterday, I tried to find a printer in the US who could easily handle an A1 (33×24 in, roughly) size. So far, nothing. I need to print them out before the vote, though; if it goes awry, I don’t think I’ll have the heart to make a memorial set.
I also tried to find anyplace that can confirm that Wolfgang’s parents are Polish and Spanish. He grew up in Germany, and I always understood he was German-in-London.
There are a couple of atmospheric landscapes, and some of the posters are now-classic Tillmans abstraction, but most of them are straight-up text, a new direction for Tillmans’ practice. Text are images, though, so it’s really not that far afield. The most intriguing poster for me is #24. It’s completely blank.
It’s probably the one that most closely mirrors my feelings about the EU’s right-wing turn lately; I just haven’t known what to say. And it boggles my mind that the Britain and Europe of my generation are creating such an existential crisis for themselves. Read Wolfgang Tillmans’ letter and download and circulate the posters [tillmans.co.uk] UPDATE: So I emailed Wolfgang’s studio to find out the story behind the blank poster, and the next day they replaced the pdf file. The new poster bundle includes two new posters, and the monochrome is gone. So now we know. And that original 4.21 pdf is vintage/collectible.
To circumvent the tax on paper designed to drive revolutionary activists like himself out of the British print media, Henry Berthold published his calls for reform and worker solidarity on cotton. Berthold’s Political Handkerchief was itself a political statement, apart from its content. It seems to have run for around ten issues beginning in September 1831.
I guess if there were a modern equivalent, it would be short stories on Chipotle bags. Or T-shirts, probably.
Anyway, there’s a bit about the Political Handkerchief from 2013 on a Princeton blog. Notabilia | Berthold’s Political Handkerchief • 1831 [blogs.princeton.edu via @john_overholt]
Previously, related, and the reason I am posting this, because of trends: Queen Victoria Silk Newspaper
Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach are decluttering and downsizing, from Monaco/Surrey/Snowmass/Beverly Hills to LA and a London apartment. Nearly 1400 lots of furniture, art, clothing, memorabilia, and borderline boot sale junk will be auctioned this week in LA. Here are some of the things:
First up, Lot 79, Originally John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Refectory Table [est. $5-7,000, sold for $19,200]
“‘This refectory table was left at Tittenhurst by John and Yoko when I took over the house. Enjoy!’ – Ringo.” That would be in 1971. Tittenhurst Park was outside London. Starr sold it to the Emir of Abu Dhabi in 1988, but took the table with him. Hey, here it is in the living room of Rydinghurst, Starr & Bach’s Jacobean estate in Surrey, which they put up for sale last year. Look at how they lay down a Google-like blur on the artwork in estate agent photos.
And speaking of tables, what is up with that coffee table? It’s big and moon-shaped and filled with gazing balls. Or giant Christmas ornaments? I cannot tell, and the designer Ringo Starr doesn’t weigh in this time. Lot 351, Moon Coffee Table Designed by Ringo Starr [est. $1,000-2,000 sold for just $1,920]
And speaking of gazing balls, holy smokes. Lot 608, Two Monumental Gazing Spheres [est. $3,000-5,000] They’re from Rydinghurst, and each one is 36 inches across. Let’s see Jeff Koons try to handle those. [WHAT, sold for just $1,920? Why didn’t you ever get back to me with the condition report??]
And finally, speaking of satelloon-looking things, Lot 411, Galaxy Theme Platform Bed [est. $800-1,200] “‘When we bought the house in 1992 in LA, we had this bed made so we could sleep under the stars and moons, and surrounded by the stars and moons.’ – Ringo.” Will the presumably LA-based Master Of The Ringo Starr’s Bed Starscape with the initials SWG please come forward and take a bow? [Yes, well, sleeping in Ringo and Barbara’s bed? Priceless, but apparently they’ll take $875.] Lot 1005, **RINGO STARR’S UK 1st MONO PRESSING WHITE ALBUM NO.0000001 [est. $40-60,000]
Oh wait, no, one more: It turns out Ringo got the first numbered copy of the White Album, and he put it in a vault. Now it is selling for at least $55,000. What a world. #monochrome [WHAT A WORLD INDEED: $790,000.] Property from the Collection of Ringo Starr & Barbara Bach, 12/03/2015 [julienslive via jjdaddy-o]
I have not touched on my Hamilton amazement here yet. I figured I’d save it for the review, which would follow soon after getting tickets. [insert gif of endless horizon retreating from me.]
But I have to write about one place in the score that tears me up, when Chris Jackson sings George Washington’s final address over Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, who reads it aloud:
…Like the scripture says: “Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid.”
They’ll be safe in the nation we’ve made
I want to sit under my own vine and fig tree
A moment alone in the shade
At home in this nation we’ve made
One last time
I anticipate with pleasing expectation
that retreat in which I promise myself
to realize the sweet enjoyment of partaking,
in the midst of my fellow-citizens,
the benign influence of good laws
Under a free government,
the ever-favorite object of my heart,
and the happy reward, as I trust,
Of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.
Emphasis added for the lines that just do me in every time, even as I type about them now, as I think about the millions of people who don’t feel safe in this nation we’ve made, or who find suffering, injustice, or even death, under the far-from-benign influence of our laws and government.