Thursday, February 28, 2013

#307: Requiem for an Arcade

Garment District, NYC
Today's 307 marks a sort of requiem, a headstone if you will, for a pretty wonderful time in my life -- the time I played accordion and sang in the now-defunct punk-pop cabaret band known as Peacock's Penny Arcade.

The nostalgia in this photo lies not just in the word "ARCADE" on the facade, but also in the fact that we rehearsed inside this building on West 36th Street. I tend to only play in bands so big we bring our own entourage (it lessens the sting, I've found, when only three or four people show up for your gig), and this endeavor was no exception. While I'm certainly not short on things to do these days -- revising my novel with one hand, taking notes for my thesis with the other, waiting till weekends when I can grab my hockey stick and smash stuff up on the ice rink, and by "stuff" I mean "myself," mostly -- I do miss huddling in the poorly upholstered, lager-soaked internment cells practice rooms with six or seven of my closest friends, singing songs we'd written about Alexi Sayle, rust belt vampires, and Robert Mitchum.

Perhaps the best oddball gig we ever took was a spot playing on the Queen Mary 2 for the PEN World Voices kickoff party, which, for all its infinite weirdness, got written up here. Salman Rushdie, I should mention, was not in attendance at the event (neither was he in hiding), but his name was on the invitation, dammit, and I take great pride in being the house band -- and for being at least 1/7 responsible for Dale Peck and Jonathan Ames taking the stage armed with tambourines and kazoos to entertain our most illustrious audience.

I don't knock about the garment district too often these days, but when I do, the arcade is never very far from my heart.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

#308: Cult Classic

Upper East Side, NYC
While I'm not crazy about the typography on this one, there's something so weird about this whitewashed setting and eerie orange glow that I can't quite get over. The place looks like the entrance to some minimalist Upper East Side sun cult. Wouldn't get too close to this one.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

#309: F Stops

Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
This one's been a secret favorite for years. If you're ever near the Warren Street entrance to the Bergen F stop, you can spot this 309 over the door on one of the buildings. And if you squint really hard, you can just make out two pencil-drawn circles inside the zero and nine, giving it that extra homemade appeal.

Monday, February 25, 2013

#310: Backward Hash Tag

Billings, Montana
I think this artifact comes from those pre-internet, pre-social media days, before everybody had to know what everybody else was saying about #310. Plus it's from Montana, where they do things differently than everybody else does, and why not? If it works for this number, it works for me.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

#311: Slab Serif Overdrive

Tribeca, NYC
Just saying, if Bachman-Turner can do it, so can slab serif. And with that ill-advised typographical homage to the Winnipeg classic rock group, I do believe I've just taken care of business.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

#312: Area Code

DUMBO, Brooklyn
312 was my area code when I was a kid, and I still feel a connection with it. All Chicago phone numbers -- both the city and the suburbs -- were 312 until I entered the double digits, when Chicago kept 312 and 708 became the area code for the suburbs. It remained that way till the truly inglorious and forgettable 847 arrived, and I've stopped developing fond feelings for area codes ever since.

By the way, as for "Chicagoland," I never liked that phrase, but it rolls off the tongue better than "The Greater Chicagoland Area," which I should remember every time I stumble over "Columbia Waterfront District." It seems I'm destined to live in places that push the 140-character limit.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

#315: Fading Light

Upper West Side, NYC

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

#317: Winter Garland

Upper West Side, NYC

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

#320: Sphere & Now

Upper West Side, NYC

Thursday, February 14, 2013

#321: Union Street

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

#323: Patience and Fortitude

New York Public Library, Midtown, NYC
No matter how many years it's been since I first came to New York City and saw the December snow falling faintly upon the lions, Patience and Fortitude, that guard the New York Public Library's main branch, there is still something magical about that library. And there is something so old-school about these beautifully carved numbers that mark the long tables in the reading rooms. The tables at the main branch library are at just the right height, and the hush of the space and high ceilings all conspire to make me feel like I could cook up the most extraordinary ideas there in that room, surrounded by so many books and so much Beaux-Arts awesomeness.

I've been spending a lot of time in libraries lately, mainly Butler Library up at Columbia University, and I have to say, there is a magic to a good library. And though a lot of it's the quiet, it's the remarkable details like these -- almost hidden in the architecture -- that make me appreciate the spaces even more.

Monday, February 11, 2013

#324: Ornamented

Upper West Side, NYC

Sunday, February 10, 2013

#325: Anchor Aweigh

Lunenberg, Nova Scotia

Saturday, February 9, 2013

#326: Chicago Ghost Sign

Chicago, IL
I didn't snap nearly enough of these faded ads last time I was skulking about the south side. The fun bit about working with ghost signs is that if you can't read what the numbers are, you can draw your own conclusions. Is that third number after "PHONE" a 6 or an 8? Chicago phone numbers have both the 326 and 328 exchange, so it could be either. But since I needed a new 326 for today, I'm gonna go out on a limb and stick with 6.

Friday, February 8, 2013

#327: Italic Aspirations

Hell's Kitchen, NYC
It's hard to tell if these number stickers are aspiring to the condition of italics or if the person who stuck them there didn't have a ruler handy. In any case, I like the sad piece of tape on the 2, lending an even more transitory pathos to this scene.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

#328: Dublin Allegory

Dublin
Abandoned, fractured, fragmented, carefully crafted yet weathered by time's brutal winds, found in a heap on the ground, set in Dublin, sitting there without any apparent use except for the inexplicable joy it gives me to gaze on from time to time, ignored by the public, bound for the dumpster if I don't pick it up and do something with it: oh my God, it's today's number, masquerading as an allegory for my novel!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

#331: Snow Day

Boerum Hill, Brooklyn

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

#333: Wavelength

Greenwich Village, NYC
There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture.

Friday, February 1, 2013

#334: Botanica

Upper East Side, NYC