Small Streams

January 2, 2011, 10:08 am
Filed under: awareness, cities, ecology, railbelt, technology, thinking, Tourism, walking | Tags:

This story in the NYTimes caught my fancy. It’s about urban adventurers, sewers, media, the wilderness, and the unconscious. Two or three men and a media entourage take a trip through the sewers and tunnels below New York.

Futurama and others have already explored NYC’s underground as metaphor, but these earnest explorers — one of them a climber of Mt. Everest — show the satisfactions of life in the urban wild.

When you’re not worried about getting caught or dying, . . . it’s really nice being underground.

Wilderness is, indeed, our refuge, though I would hope for one less smeared in feces. I also think of the brook corralled into a sewer and think that maybe it will see daylight again, someday.

I must also mention that writer Alan Feuer’s scene setting, commentary, and picaresque detail (cough drops and whisky for breakfast, anyone?) turns the travelog inside out in a delightful manner.

November 8, 2010, 6:42 am
Filed under: awareness, photography, railbelt

A vine covered streetlight still on during mid-day.

Cardboard Animation
October 18, 2009, 10:32 am
Filed under: awareness, media, railbelt, Uncategorized, video | Tags: ,

via BoingBoing: This example of cardboard animation is awesome. You have a marginal narrative. Small enough not to get in the way. What you get are city scapes. Google take note: Cartoons against background increases capacity to navigate. Put another way, if you empathize with (or in this case, feel disgust for) something you can place yourself somewhere.

That’s what the Aspen Project/Google Earth approach lacks. It’s third person versus second person. The only book I remember reading in second person was Bright Lights, Big City, which had something about a ferret in The New Yorker, and the phrases “Peruvian marching powder” and “all messed up and no place to go”. Perhaps it said something about society. I digress. The important thing is to watch the video. Then maybe go out and make one yourself.

Don’t underestimate the power of paper in film. Bob Dylan used it to great effect in Subterranean Homesick Blues, an iconic video that was made before videos were made.

Another Pittsburgh Diaspora
September 7, 2009, 9:05 am
Filed under: business, community, education, eutechnics, railbelt, walking | Tags: , ,

We are wealthy in direct proportion to the ability we have to act on our dreams, to make what we only imagine.

Recently, our city has lost the capacity to make a million barrels of beer — not that the Iron City Brewery has made that much beer in a while. Sales have been below 200,000 barrels for years. Much of that capacity was used to make crappy beer, malt liquor and light beers. I for one found myself a lone defender of Iron City beer, though it could give you both a headache and a stomach ache after two beers (which probably had to do with how much adjunct grains they used).

The big loss is not the beer. There is no lack of beer. The loss of the skills, talents, and connections that were part of the workforce of the brewery, the nearly hundred workers who knew how to run a boiler, create a valve, maintain the flow of thousands of gallons of water, or fill thousand of cans a minute will be lost. A shop full of artisans is a hard thing to create, but in deciding to close shop, the owners of the brewery have undone what had taken years to do.

The oldest parts of the brewery buildings will remain, maintained perhaps by the mechanisms of preservation law. What mechanisms do we have to preserve the artisanal and craft abilities of a hundred workers?

Eliza Trail
December 28, 2008, 12:51 pm
Filed under: railbelt, Tourism, walking | Tags:

Yesterday was a beautiful day for a walk. Saw many bicyclists and a couple of wheel chair riders and at least two groups of street hockey players. I stopped briefly to admire this decrepit bridge that links Oakland to Second Avenue. The concrete is flaking off but the iron retains its integrity. I also like the unique nature of its design.

Phipps Conservatory
September 19, 2008, 6:37 pm
Filed under: Pittsburgh, railbelt | Tags: ,

Phipps Conservatory will be landscaping their backyard down to Panther Hollow, according to this article in the P-G.

The Rail Belt
September 14, 2008, 7:52 am
Filed under: railbelt | Tags: , , ,

Before the blue or green or red belt – Allegheny County’s attempt to make a ring road system – Pittsburgh had a rail belt. Created in 1886 to relieve rail congestion, the Pittsburgh Junction Railroad (h/t to Bob Gangewere, who wrote the historic marker) stretches from Lawrenceville to Hazelwood, mostly in out of the way hollows. There’s a tunnel under a stretch from Centre Avenue to Fillmore Street below Craig Street. Part of the Eliza trail bikeway passes nearby some of it. Some of it seems to be touched by the hand of racers. Most of the line is within two or three miles of the Golden Triangle and a good deal of the railway is within a stone’s throw of Pitt and CMU.

(First photo by Liz Perry. Oh yeah, that photo of the parkway bridge with the curve, that’s probably just caused by me moving my cameraphone.)