Amoeblog

Charles and Ray Eames

Posted by Whitmore, August 22, 2008 08:38pm | Post a Comment


… once again I’m a day late and a dollar short, but that’s just the beginning…

Yesterday was the thirtieth and, oddly enough, the twentieth anniversaries of the deaths of legendary designers Charles and Ray Eames. Mostly known for their furniture design, their work also includes major contributions in industrial design, graphic design, architecture and film. Charles died August 21, 1978, Ray died on the same date, ten years later in 1988.

Architectural colleagues Charles Eames and Ray-Bernice Kaiser married in 1941 and moved to Los Angeles to open their own firm. In 1946, as part of the Arts & Architecture magazine's "Case Study" series that commissioned architects of the day to design and build inexpensive and efficient model homes, the groundbreaking Eames House design was selected. Built on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at 203 North Chautauqua Boulevard in the Pacific Palisades, and once a part of Will Rogers' estate, this unique house, also called Case Study House #8, used pre-fabricated steel parts and was hand-constructed in a matter of days. The structure was entirely constructed from "off-the-shelf" parts available from steel fabricator catalogs. However, immediately after the Second World War, steel was in very short supply, which explains the three year delay in construction. The Eames house was completed in 1949.

Working from their office located at 901 Washington Boulevard in Venice, Charles and Ray Eames’ hit their stride in the 1950’s in modern furniture design. Their landmark and highly collectible furniture includes early molded plywood chairs and their innovative use of materials, such as the fiberglass and plastic resin. Aside from the molded-plywood DCW (Dining Chair Wood), other classic furniture designs include the DCM (Dining Chair Metal with a plywood seat), the Eiffel Plastic Armchair and side chair from 1959, the Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman from 1956, the Aluminum Group furniture series and the wire mesh chairs designed for office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, 1962’s Eames tandem sling seating, as well as the Eames Chaise designed specifically for film director Billy Wilder in 1968. At the time of Charles’ death they were working on what would be their final design, the Eames Sofa, which went into production in 1984.

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One Man's Basura is Another Man's Trash - 5

Posted by Whitmore, June 27, 2008 08:12am | Post a Comment

Some facts on garbage: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces about 4.4 pounds of garbage a day, or a total of 29 pounds per week and 1,600 pounds a year; multiply that by the United States population of about 300 million, and you have one hell of a mountain of trash. And this average only considers households and not industrial waste or commercial trash.

The garbage produced in a year in the U.S. alone could fill enough garbage trucks to form a line to the moon… or cover the entire state of Texas two and a half times … or bury more than 990,000 football gridirons six-foot deep in compressed waste. Also, Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild the entire fleet of commercial jets in the US.

And for those inclined, here are a few more dumpster diving tips.

Tip # 1 - Never, and I do mean never, climb inside a dumpster that is equipped with a trash compactor. Sure some of those tales may be just urban myths, but once in a while down at the ol’ landfill a grisly discovery finds some poor sucker, flashlight still in hand, squished like a bug.  

Tip # 22 - I always avoid climbing a fence to reach a dumpster. Here are a couple of reasons why: first, if there is anything worthwhile to be had, chances are middling to good that the wares will be lying around outside the fence. The fact is most people are lazy and won’t take the time to put their trash bag down, reach in their pocket, fiddle for some keys, struggle with selecting the right key, unlock the fence, pick the sack of garbage back up, open the dumpster, drop it in and the relock the gate unless they absolutely have no other choice … and even then they’ll find an excuse. And the second reason for not climbing a fence: As a kid, my little sister slipped climbing over a chain link fence. She caught her arm on a spike, and as she dangled there, frantically clawing at the air and at the fence, screaming “there’s a hole my arm, there’s a hole my arm!” every thrashing twist ripped a bigger gash in her bicep, until finally it tore loose. The sight of a dripping hunk of skin hanging from a spike on a fence and the blood soaked cement below has stayed with me for many a decade. Simply put -- I don’t climb fences.

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One Man's Basura is Another Man's Trash - 4

Posted by Whitmore, June 10, 2008 12:28pm | Post a Comment


Dumpster-diving is the practice of sifting through the trash, either commercial or residential, finding discarded items someone else has deemed disposable. The art of dumpster-diving is variously known as urban foraging, alley surfing, curbing, dumpstering, picking, garbage gleaning, binning, skip-weaseling, skally-wagging, pearling or simply trashing. Here are some more suggestions, rules of etiquette and safety measures to consider.

#16- When sorting through the goodies in a dumpster DO NOT TAKE paperwork containing someone’s confidential records. It’s dishonest, immoral, and you’d be equal to the trash, scum and vermin you’ve been digging through. And besides, it’s really bad karma. I suspect in your next dive you might meet with a razor-sharp, rusty, hepatitis-tainted jag of metal slicing into perhaps the most personal and indispensable part of your carcass, or you might just get lucky enough to come face to face with a pissed off rat the size of a cat! Keep in mind the garbage gods have a way of exacting revenge!

#19- I don’t want to sound like your Mother, but always wash your hands and arms afterwards. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to wash your face and neck. Oh, and don’t forget to get behind your ears.

#8- Be inventive: look around and use the items in the surrounding environment to construct tools or poles or steps to help you reach that desired piece of treasure just out of reach. And though this is something everyone should already know, be careful. In dumpster diving, death defying stunts are not necessary; no piece of garbage is really worth injury. Being aware of your comfort zone is kind of essential. And though I seldom followed this creed because I am something of a nimrod -- and I have paid the price-- be prepared to walk away … and forage another day.

Dumpster Diving Story

Posted by Whitmore, May 12, 2008 08:56pm | Post a Comment


As a child I spent many of an hour dumpster diving, trash picking and rummaging where I shouldn’t have been rummaging. In my neighborhood, Wednesday was the night-- trash night. I’d sneak off after dinner in search of treasure, check out all the neighbors' garbage cans, boxes of junk curbside, apartment building dumpsters, and I’d be back home an hour or so later, laden with exotic booty from the world over. My mom would usually yell at me to get my latest cache out of the house, “That crap might have bugs in it, for Christ sakes!” But it wasn’t all infested! In fact, I still have some of that ‘crap,' and some of that dumpster swag still decorates my parents' house.


Over the years I’ve lugged home great pieces of furniture, collectible books, pottery, artwork, glass wear, jewelry, you name it … and once I found something that altered and twisted my thinking forever. I found it right there on Franklin Avenue right down the way from the Shakespeare Bridge in the Los Feliz district in Los Angeles. Stuck to the bottom of an empty trash can was an LP from 1963 on Vanguard Records, Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo by Sandy Bull. Back then I was just an innocently corrupt thirteen year old Catholic school boy, but already on the long path I’m still unraveling today-- that of a musician. I had just started taking guitar lessons, and as could be expected, I was struggling with all the important fundamentals: getting the hang of bar chords, finger picking, playing those newbie-guitar standards like “House of The Rising Sun” and “Knocking on Heaven's Door,” and trying to convince my parents to let me grow my hair long. Anyway, I got home, I threw this Sandy Bull record on the turntable, turned it up and it blew my freakin’ pubescent mind.

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One Man's Basura is Another Man's Trash - 3

Posted by Whitmore, May 10, 2008 10:41pm | Post a Comment


Here are a few suggestions, rules of etiquette and safety measures you might find helpful as you delve into the art of dumpster diving. These ideas might come in handy when the proverbial shit-hits-the-fan and just about every one of us will have to resort to something weird/cheap/pathetic/extreme for an evening’s worth of entertainment, an afternoon’s respite, a shopping fix, or simple economic survival in these feeble, hoary days of the 21st century. Ladies and gentleman - dumpster diving tips #3, #17 and #129:

#129- A small ladder or step-stool is always a damn good piece of gear to have close by, especially when you’re my age and the ol’ knees just don’t flex much anymore. Also be prepared, you just might hit the mother lode; bring a bag or box or shopping cart to stash your plunder. You really don’t need any other fancy doohickeys to engage in this mode of trade. Some people insist on carrying a flashlight, or wearing coolly equipped tool belts, or donning special military-issue-only night vision goggles … shit, this isn’t Mission Impossible! It’s just digging through somebody’s garbage. I don’t know, I guess a flashlight might be handy if you don’t have the cojones to dumpster dive in daylight hours!

# 17- Share the wealth. Take only what you can use, and leave the rest for some other lucky diver. Remember, just because something might be ‘free’ doesn’t mean you have to take it home. The fact is this country has one national resource we’ll never be without: garbage.

#3- Here is one of the most essential, vitally important bits of information you need to know: remove your keys, wallet, cell phone, asthma inhaler, sunglasses, or anything valuable in your pockets before plunging into a dumpster … trust me, this is from the voice of experience!

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