Month / June, 2003

Walking L.A.

There is this misconception that you can’t walk Los Angeles and I’m here to say that is total crap… It’s just something that Los Angelinos say to convince themselves that their asses belong in cars. LA has some of the coolest sidewalks this side of the Mississippi and a brisk walk down Beverly yields little shops much like soho.

And the hills (more like mountains) in the middle of the city!? How great is a hike on the way home from work? That is something I’m really going to miss back in NYC.

The more time I spend in LA, the more I realize that New York isn’t the only great city in the world. My New York centric view is starting to give way to a much more sensible view of the world.

My favorites so far:

* New York City
* Los Angeles
* Rome
* Boston
* Naples
* London

Anybody know any others I should know about? I’ve heard great things about Dallas.

Cottage Enterprise

Maybe it can be chalked up to my youth, or maybe it can be chalked up to my immaturity, or perhaps my love of sweets, but I have decided…

*I hate cottage cheese.*

I never tried the stuff before. It’s lumpy texture put me strait off. I had always assumed it was something akin to yogurt, a dairy product of some culture sold to health freaks that hit it’s heyday in the 80’s.

Jesus! It’s like eating wet feta! Wet feta with fruit!? It has a definite flavor of cheese and I’m not too good with runny cheeses. I get all queazy just thinking about ricotta. It seriously took me years to approach lasagna in good faith and I just ate a whopping mouthful of wet cheese and apple.

Diane got me a smallish tub of cottage cheese and said “Do you like cottage cheese? I love the stuff.” I should have known better than trust a woman who’s love of cheese could be defined as _the stinkier the better._ She enjoys cheeses that taste like country barns and smell like death, cheeses that ooze bluish mold, cheeses that could quite frankly end a marriage.

*I’m a pussy cheddar boy myself.*

bq. How can one conceive of a one party system in a country that has over 200 varieties of cheese. _-Charles de Gaulle_

I guess you could say my taste in cheese is tame, but then again the wonderful thing about cheese is there’s enough cheeses for everybody’s tastes. Now where are my “Baked Doritos?”:http://www.doritos.com/

Photograph with my fingers coated in orange Dorito powdered cheese

Housing Works

On Friday night, Diane and I went over to “Housing Works”: to see an acoustic performance by “The Fountains of Wayne”:http://www.fountainsofwayne.com/ and quite frankly they rocked. Sure it’s super-fine high calorie pop-rock, but it’s really good super-fine high calorie pop-rock. Plus if you are a New Yorker, it’s kind of your duty to see Fountains of Wayne, because they are such a New York centric band.

Other highlights were Diane’s favorite new male rocker, other than me, “Jesse Malin.”:http://www.jessemalin.com/ Jesse Malin used to be the lead singer of “D Generation”:http://www.nytrash.com/dgeneration.html the famous glam-rock outfit from New York. He’s adorably dorkey and a very honest songwriter and Ryan Adams’ most favorite thing since sliced toast. I liked him purely because he had *KISS* written on the inside heel of his converse sneakers in ball-point pen.

And of course the biggest highlight was seeing one of The Fountains of Wayne’s biggest fans, Paul Simon. I didn’t peg him for a FOW fan either, but he was smiling away from the balcony. I am a huge Paul Simon fan, he’s just someone you can like, without worrying he might have a horrible secret lurking in the background. He’s a sweetheart.

I would recommend anyone out there to come to Housing works to see the next _Live from Home_ music performance. It is an eye opener and helps homeless people with HIV and AIDS.

Picture of Fountains of Wayne

It’s Not Phair

Intrigued with the prospect of a new Liz Phair album coming out _(June 24)_, I decided to pop my ass over to the “Capitol Records”:http://capitolrecords.com/ website to see if they had any samples. You know, to wet the appetite as it were.

*Boy did they.*

3 tracks later, I sat in front of my computer, mouth open, disbelieving my own ears. Is this the woman I had a crush on back in junior-High? Was this the woman whose lyrics were so overtly dirty it made your 15 year old cheeks blush? Yes they were. Unfortunately, the record industry has gotten ahold Liz and turned her into a perfectly recorded, highly polished, and utterly uninteresting “female vocalist.” Yes you heard me right, Liz Phair has officially sold herself out to the suits.

*Hello Avril, I would like you to meet your clone.*

It wasn’t so bad when it was Jewel, I didn’t like her music anyway, she became pop without much work, but leave Liz out of this. What happened to the “Blow Job Queen?” Well she’s gotten older, had a baby and somewhere along the line she allowed a “producer” to produce her album and let record execs tell her that they “undersand the kids.” They have moved her from the Alternative to Pop.

*Angry is in.*

On _Whitechocolatespaceegg_ it looked like Liz had left the angry music behind, that she had grown up, and in a sense moved past that time in her life. It was a relief for me, because I had also moved past that angry time in my life. Now she’s back being bitter and angry accept now she’s 36 and I, for one, would like to see Liz get her life together. She’s singing songs that could come out of an 18 year old and could easily have been recorded by Avril Lavigne. Liz’s songs sound like they were written for her, not by her.

BREAKUP SONGS LIZ!!?

bq. I’m sorry Liz, this relationship is unhealthy for both of us, I think it is better we not see each other anymore and I would appreciate you not write a song about it. Thanks.
_-Funtime Ben_

*I am no longer a fan.*

Validate Me Please!

*WARNING: This entry is extremely dorky, please be careful.*
Well, after reading “Designing with Web Standards”:http://www.zeldman.com/dwws/ by “Jeffery Zeldman,”:http://www.zeldman.com/ I have finally updated my HTML(Hyper Text Markup Language) and Stylesheet to be fully compliant with the “World Wide Web Consortium.”:http://www.w3.org/ To the untechnical this is the equivalent to assembling an IKEA table, finding out you have one screw left and even though completely sturdy, you disassemble the table, just in case it wasn’t extra.

I first updated my HTML (while listening to an episode of “This American Life”:http://www.thislife.org/ about “Camp”:http://www.thislife.org/ra/109.ram)… After a few tweaks it validated. Much easier than I thought… Although, I thought it was _valid_ when I wrote it, but that’s my problem.

Because of my fantastic ability to follow direction and conform, I got a chunk of code to prove to the world that I am a conformist.

Valid XHTML 1.0!

This equals this…

Valid XHTML 1.0!

So, being the conformist I am, I decided to snap my CSS(Cascading Style Sheets) into being valid as well. This, to the non-technical, is equivalent to removing the wallpaper to see if it is securely fastened and then sticking it back up. Sounds easy right? In the technical world it is.

*Cha-Ching!*

Now that I had tasted the pleasure of _validation,_ I needed to post yet another little image saying so.

Valid CSS!

So, where’s the point of this story, you might be asking yourself, well here it is. This organization that prides itself on *standards* and rating my ability to follow them, well their code that they gave me to post on my site…

Valid CSS!

Is NOT valid under their specifications. It’s kind of like building an IKEA table and a technician from IKEA comes over to your house and takes apart that table and walks out with the screw.

*Well it isn’t really, but who’s counting.*

The correct code would look more like this:

Valid CSS!

See that little

/>

at the end of the Image tag? It makes all the difference in the world. _Wait until Zeldman hears about this._

Web Design

On “Ultramicroscopic,”:http://www.ultramicroscopic.com/ one of my new favorite weblogs concerning design, a recent entry has sparked a fuse in my aging brain and I thought I would use the comment I left on this site as a springboard for a more technical entry today.

bq. late last year zeldman did a public redesign of his site. visible changes happened daily. some minor some major, some even seemingly contradictory to changes made the previous week or sometimes day. At SxSW in the spring he talked about the redesign. his main reason for doing it publicly was to share the redesign process and the thoughts in action with his readers (largely made up of web developers). his was not the first to transform before his users eyes, but definitely the first high profile site of some one regarded as a direction setter in the industry.

i am a great fan of zeldman, but this irritated me greatly. it seems like a whimpy way out. as a visual designer, i take a stand right or wrong with my designs. the potential for failure has always been an accepted risk. as a visual designer i am presenting a specific identity or persona to my users. I only want them to see the finished product, i do not want them peeking behind the curtain.

Zeldman, from “Zeldman.com”:http://www.zeldman.com/ is a leader in standards web design, by publicly updating his site he was, in a sense, teaching and inviting critique of his code from other designers and developers. Standards design is still woefully inadequate in ease of use and applicability, so by showing us his readership his process, it opened the door, both for help and discussion.

As a graphic designer, newly thrown into the field of standards based web design, I found the redesign an eye-opener. I also feel that graphic design is a process, and web design doubly so, because of it’s nature it is open to collaboration, review, and update. I agree that a designer should stick to his ideals of design and personal convictions, I also agree that too many chefs ruin the pot _(or whatever the colloquialism is),_ but I believe above all else that collaboration makes for the best design. The more ideas that get tossed around the better.

*I think this holds true for most things.*

When a site redesigns itself, often all that happens is new sidding gets thrown up and an additional bathroom gets added to the back. When the Gugenheim built the addition _(which makes the building look like a toilet),_ They made a huge hoopla about the event, but it really wasn’t all that impressive because it’s still the same building. Often designers will take a site offline to tell you that a new redesign is in store.

Basically all that happens is they loose audience by going offline. Your readers don’t care what you are doing behind the scenes, or if they do they wouldn’t trade a blank _”redesign comming soon”_ page for some stories about your grandpa and his two watches.*

*My grandpa wears two watches.

I Be Illin’

I don’t think this is what Run D.M.C. had in mind when they wore their huge gold chains. I feel like crap and no amount of chicken soup is going to make me feel better. I’m sick. Red nosed, stuffy headed, and temperature running sick.

*This is what I get.*

I stand out in the rain taking pictures of the wet streets and I get wet… I get a cold… and it gets beautiful out and all I got to show for it is a pile of snotty tissues each more revolting than the last. Now everybody’s out enjoying the sun and I’m stuck going home and cuddling _Pepper._

It’s not fair damn it!
It’s not fair.

The Exterior of a Plane in Long Beach airport, California

(Good news is I’m heading back over to California on the 25th… So EXCITED!)

Lunchtime Karma

Sometimes, when you see a waitress trying to remove a giant dragonfly from her broom by scraping the dragonfly across the pavement, you have to step in and take the insect across the street to Union Square Park for release.

Dragonfly on a Broom

_(I actually stepped in when a cute little old man suggested removing the dragonfly from the broom by grabbing it’s wings.)_