We can obtain Plenary indulgances (sic)

We can obtain Plenary indulgances

We can obtain Plenary indulgances

We can obtain Plenary indulgances (sic) for souls in Purgatory on All Souls Day, November the second, and the following 8 days, under conditions.

1) We obtain Holy Communion
2) We visit a cementary (sic) or a church (the second time after receiving Holy Communion)
3) We pray for Pope Francis
4) We don’t preserve any attachment to, even, a vinial (sic) sin
5) We work for our sanctification

Pecarus, by Lexmilian de Mello, Inspired by Wordswarm.net

In 2013 Lexmilian de Mello utilized Wordswarm.net‘s random words pages as inspiration in writing Percarus, a free form volume of what the author describes as “diary styled poetry”. Mr. de Mello is “intrigued by the diminishing energy resources within this world. Equipped with four post graduate degrees ranging from engineering,business and sciences he aspires towards three goals alone; eudaimonia, ataraxia and abolishment of evil.”

I was happy to hear someone had made use of the wordswarm.net random words pages in the spirit they were intended. Writing prompts — in which a question or scenario is posed — are a common way to get people writing but I prefer the simplicity of raw words. I seldom post to this category any more but my Pick a Word postings were all based on words chosen from the Wordswarm.net pages. I posted more frequently to What’s the Word?, but the content management system I used to publish it threw up, making it complicated and bothersome to import it into WordPress.

My output of word-prompted essays beeth* not close to the realm of Percarus, which seems to comprise the substance and experiences of an entire lifetime. (*”Beeth” is what the author describes as a “semi-made up word which frequently appears in this volume). I’ve read a good portion of the book and find it engaging, if at times overwhelming. I intend to spend more time with it. It is gratifying to see obscure words that wordswarm.net brings to light being used in a legitimate and inspired manner.

Being informed of this book’s existence reminded me of another instance in which something may have been inspired by wordswarm.net. I was surprised at the resemblance between the random words pages and a wall at the Museum of Modern Art which I spotted last year. I don’t think I’d take offense if it was proven that the design of that wall was influenced by my hideously 1995-vintage pages, but the resemblance is hard to deny, as de Mello agreed when I presented it to him.

Pecarus was originally published as freeware but now it is distributed as donationware. Grab your PDF copy from bookbuster.com.

Boro Hotel: The New Ugly

27th Street near 39th Avenue in Dutch Kills is now the scene of this bizarre monstrosity: the Boro Hotel. I thought all the metal railings were some kind of scaffolding that would come off eventually. Nope. This jungle-gym façade is here to stay.

Boro Hotel

Boro Hotel

It’s interesting how pencil skyscrapers like 432 Park are erected virtually overnight while relatively modest buildings like this take years to complete. It has been in the works since early 2009, and appears to be almost ready for business.

Boro Hotel

Boro Hotel

Useless anecdote: I don’t remember what television show it was but I saw that some police/crime type series filmed a scene from one episode in the basement of this building while it was under construction.

Boro Hotel

Boro Hotel

The balconies are enclosed in metal wire fencing that looks like a cage.

Boro Hotel

Boro Hotel

It’s not even open yet and the building is already showing signs of wear.

Boro Hotel

Boro Hotel

Seen from Crescent Street the hulking structure looks like some kind of industrial compound.

Boro Hotel

Boro Hotel

I took a few pictures months ago, when the metal railing façade was just taking shape. I will add it to this post if I can find it. I really did think the rails were scaffolding that would come off eventually.

352-231-8304: New Number, Same Robotelespam

Another “lower your interest rate” probe call, this one appearing to be from Gainesville, Florida. I called the number using Skype (which sends fake caller ID). Here’s what happened:

I dialed 1 but for some reason you don’t hear it on the recording.

I hate wasting time with this stuff but when the call is from Florida (where I grew up) it resonates ever so slightly that it might be a real call. No live person has called my magicJack number in years, which is kind of strange since you’d think there would be a stray wrong number here or there. I guess wrong numbers are not so common any more with speed dial being the norm.

When I moved to New York I went dialed the phone number of the house I grew up in in Tampa, but within the 212 and 718 area codes, to hear who might answer the doppelganger number. This was something I wouldn’t have done as a kid on account of the long distance toll charges. I don’t remember anyone being at the 212 version of that number but the 718 version at one time went to a limo company in Flushing. Area codes used to have meaning but that is less and less the case, save perhaps for the legacy mystique of the 212 area code. I actually picked up a 212 area code number a couple of years ago. Verizon claimed they had no 212 numbers left but I always knew that was baloney.

Bemob

BEMOB means “Heavy” according to the Dictionary of Ro, an articial language developed by one Rev. Edward Powell Foster early in the 20th century.

Before clicking on the word (it was among the daily spew of 1000 random words that posts to Wordswarm.net every day) I thought it might have meant something more suitable to its English-language appearance. A space bemobbed is on that has slowly but deliberately been filled with a mob of people. To bemob would differ, I think, from traditional mobbing, which happens spontaneously and suddenly.

“Bemob” could also refer to development of mobile-friendly web sites and applications, such that a typical desktop-formatted web site is bemobbed via templating jujitsu or whatnot. The more accurate word would be “BEMOBI”, I suppose, in reference to the ill-fated ‘.MOBI” top level domain name extension that was intended to be used exclusively for mobile content formatted for mobile devices.

A preferred definition for “bemob” refers to the monotony of rage that characterizes much of the Internet’s daily rituals. Hordes of strangers bemob insignificant individuals previously unknown to them to express their outrage at issues and opinions that would be none of their business and of no interest save for the opportunity to be publicly offended. The bemob crowd comprises those individuals who turn out to protest anything.

Chilean Book Covers

This was a strange and almost haunting discovery. In 2003 A Chilean publishing company used several of my photos on the covers of their books. I am virtually certain no one requested permission to do this but the publisher did have the courtesy to credit me by name and web site URL.

It is mysteriously weird seeing something of your own creation incorporated into another work, especially when you never knew that other work existed. It’s like someone has been reading my mail and responding to it as if they were me.

El pianista que mandan llamar

El pianista que mandan llamar

This photo of a payphone from the West 4th Street subway station appears on the cover of El pianista que mandan llamar, by Luis Domínguez Vial. This book was reviewed at elperiodista. That photo actually appears to have been taken from this page at the old Payphone Project site, though it may have resided at sorabji.com earlier. This happened to be the first of these book covers that I found, and I was taken aback by the fact a pianist and a payphone appeared in the same context. As a pianist with a particular interest in payphones I initially imagined the connection was deliberate, but that seems unlikely.

Ciertas Criaturas Terrestres

Ciertas Criaturas Terrestres

The Hammacher Schlemmer window display seen on Jorge Diaz’s Ciertas Criaturas Terrestres was “The Big Picture” for December 5, 2002. That’s a photo of which I had no memory whatsoever, and which I find unpleasant to look at.

I discontinued “The Big Pictures” 4½ years ago, after Chinese hackers blew out my web server and nearly sent me over the brink. I was ready to stop doing a daily picture anyway. The idea of presenting a single daily image as some kind of marquee piece of content made less and less sense on an Internet that is drowning in images.

Nueva Narrative Cubana

Nueva Narrative Cubana

Nueva Narrative Cubana‘s cover uses a photo from Coney Island (they spelled it “Conney Island” in the citation) that was the “Big Picture” for August 26, 2002. The cover image from the publisher’s web site is hard to make out but that’s definitely the same shot, just cropped at the upper right.

Cuentos Perfectos

Cuentos Perfectos

The cover of Cuentos perfectos, by Antonio Rojas Gómez, has another photo of a Hammacher Schlemmer window display, though I cannot seem to find where it is or might have been at sorabji.com. The weird thing about this shot is that I would have bet cash cash money that I took it later than 2003, when this book was first published. From what I can piece together from the book’s Amazon.com page the title was reissued in 2008 and more recently issued again in a Kindle edition. If they changed the cover for the Kindle Edition that might explain it, though I’m not bulletproof certain that the picture postdates 2003.

Flores para un cyborg

Flores para un cyborg

The cover of Diego Muñoz Valenzuela’s Flores para un cyborg
looks like a cropped version of the “Big Picture” for December 12, 2002, though I seem to remember posting other shots of that graffiti. On account of this particular title I have an entry on record at the Tercera Foundation. I’m sure that doesn’t mean a damn thing but it’s an unexpected and strange discovery.

There are others, too. I think I found 8 or 9 books out there with my photos on the covers. Normally I might take offense at this sort of thing but I can’t. It’s been so long since it happened, and I don’t think this publishing house meant any harm or made cash money on account of the images. I also like the way the covers look. The mutual amateurishness of the books’ designs and my images complement each other. I also appreciate the clear citations.

Not being fluent in Spanish I cannot even imagine what thematic connection might exist between the content of these books and the photos on their covers. Probably there is none. I did find it striking that a pianist and a payphone appear on one cover (El pianista que mandan llamar), but it seems far-fetched that the choice of photo was based on knowledge that the photographer was a pianist with an interest in payphones.

This all reminds me of a time I had a photo printed and framed by a professional purveyor of such services. I sent the framed print as a gift to somebody who, upon receipt and installation, sent a photo of where she had placed it on a wall in her dining room. Seeing it there felt vulgar, though not overwhelmingly so. It felt like a piece of me was trapped in a glass box and put on display against its will.

I would not feel so selfish about that scenario today. There is something to be said for being seen if you learn something new about yourself because of it.

615-469-0355 – New Number For “Financial Stimulus” Robocall


615-469-0355 – New Number For “Financial Stimulus” Robocall

Habits can be hard to break but I intend to make a concentrated effort to stop writing phone numbers with parenthesis around the area code. I don’t know if all parts of the U.S.A. have made it necessary to dial the area code when making a call within the area code but I assume most of the country has. The parenthesis, I think, identify digits which are either optional or otherwise supplementary to the unique 7-digit number. Area codes have not been optional for a long time, and their relevance in terms of identifying where a call is physically coming from has faded. I will continue to use dashes in phone numbers as well as social security numbers, for as little as I have need to write the latter. In those cases the dashes format the otherwise arbitrary looking string of digits to indicate what type of number it is.

I remember when 10-digit dialing was made mandatory. I don’t remember when, exactly, the change was announced by the phone company but I recall it being conflated into an an actual news story. A local television program interviewed representative citizens to ask how they felt, and how 10-digit dialing would impact their lives. People were livid, claiming this extra bit of busywork would mar their daily routines with inconvenience and consume enormous amounts of time over the remaining years of their lives. I heard these complaints and marveled at the tininess of certain human beings.

Before proofreading this I saw that the opening of the first sentence said “Habits can be heard to break …” I corrected that with the assumption that this habit will be broken inaudibly.

Above Ground Subway With Accidental Leonard Bernstein Reference

Combing through old sounds I recorded with a field recorder and super-sensitive nature microphone I found this short clip of an above ground subway arriving at and departing from the 39th Avenue station in Astoria/Long Island City. When the new subway cars came out years ago I was among the first to notice that the trains emitted the beginnings of the tune from “Somewhere”, from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. I thought of this when it was announced that Sam Smith would be paying royalties to Tom Petty for the “musical accident” in which Smith’s song “Stay With Me” inadvertently sounded a little too much like Petty’s “Stand By Me”. I don’t expect that the Bernstein estate would sue the MTA for royalties but I imagine at least one lawyered-up meeting was held to discuss the possibility. The “Somewhere” tune rises up at about 1:02.