Bayard Rustin HS Marching Band at the West Chester Halloween Parade

Marching bands are like mana for small-town awesomeness, I think. The little girl in the stroller certainly thinks so!

That’s Bayard Rustin’s high school marching band. The West Chester Halloween Parade is organized by West Chester Parks and Rec, and they did a great job. Coming up, the Christmas parade is organized by none other than Todd Marcocci, who I talk all about in the post below. It’s fantastic, and you should not miss it!

Bayard Rustin HS Marching Band at the West Chester Halloween Parade

Farrell Field and the Glory of Rome (a repost from September 2002)

I wrote this post in 2002, back when you capitalized “Blog”, and “my homepage” was still something you said with a straight face. I published this story as a bunch of short pages, but then they got lost in series of site reshuffles. I’ve stitched them together here, with horizontal lines to show the page breaks. I hope you enjoy it!

The house that Kate and I bought in April is a small, 1950s-style ranch. It’s in a quiet working-class neighborhood: our left-hand neighbor, Jerry, has a long, grizzled beard, cool merchant-marine tattoos, and an elderly springer spaniel (our catsitter, I think, has a crush on him.) Our right-hand neighbor, Todd, is an event producer, and has been sprucing up his small house with bright white and blue paint, low-voltage lighting, concrete benches, flags, and a hot tub. He also owns every two-stroke gas-powered yard tool that Home Depot has to offer.

Continue reading “Farrell Field and the Glory of Rome (a repost from September 2002)”

Farrell Field and the Glory of Rome (a repost from September 2002)

Guerilla Drive-In: Edward Scissorhands (with 32-second haircuts!)

Our last Guerilla Drive-In showing of the 2009 season was Saturday night; we showed Edward Scissorhands in the big, beautiful auditorium of the Chester County Historical Society (our only showing ever scheduled indoors!)

Real-life scissor impressario Anthony Giunta III of Salon Chemistry was on hand to give 32-second haircuts to the audience. That’s because Kathy Baker’s haircut in the movie lasts exactly 32 seconds on screen.

A sudden and massive thunderstorm knocked out all power on the block just as we were getting ready to start. We found the building’s only working emergency outlet, and ran a long extension cord all the way to the projector. Anthony used a straight razor under emergency lights, for a moment of amazing “life-imitates art” verisimilitude. Especially with local pianist Terri Moss playing the grand piano up while we counted down the 32-second time limit on a big Gra-Lab darkroom timer.

Here’s a short video that Chris Young made about the showing! Don’t miss expert submarine-service projectionist Eric Lewis stripping and rebuilding the projector while the movie was playing, and Anthony’s big entrance at 1:10:

I had a wonderful time, and learned a couple of valuable lessons. For instance, don’t plan GDI showings indoors, since it will just result in typhoons destroying the building we are in.

Here are some links from Saturday’s show:

  • The “Listen Local” series at the Chester County Historical society is a cool BYO event next showing on November 6th. Come on out and enjoy the auditorium with actual electricity in it!
  • Given more than 32 seconds and electrical power, Anthony Giunta can give you an even better hairstyle than the ones he gave at the show! You can find Salon Chemistry behind Limoncello in West Chester.
  • Pianist Terri Moss, who leaped onto the stage to deliver impromptu piano music for the haircuts, is available for lessons and gigs (I’m pretty sure she does regular events in addition to secret speed-haircut sessions.) You can reach her at mailto:terrimoss@gmail.com

The next Guerilla Drive-In showing will be in spring 2010. I’ll see you there!

Guerilla Drive-In: Edward Scissorhands (with 32-second haircuts!)

The Oakbourne Water Tower Just Gets More Amazing

Oakbourne Water Tower at Night
As you may know, there’s an Edward Gorey-style mansion near my house, featuring a wonderful Victorian/Bavarian/Miyazaki stone-and-cast-iron cuckoo clock of a water tower. I’ve breathlessly written about it before, going as far as buying a domain name with the intention of donating it to the group that runs the park.

Tonight, my friend Jim Haigney and I went to a meeting of the Friends of Oakbourne in order to:

  1. Meet the folks that take care of the park and give the domain name to them,
  2. See about possibly having a Guerilla Drive-In showing next year, and especially
  3. Maybe get to see inside the water tower.

We pulled into an empty parking lot and walked into the mansion, to find one gray-haired man sitting halfway back in a room full of empty folding chairs. He turned to greet us, revealing a jaunty curled Salvador Dali mustache and a pair of wide rainbow suspenders.

“Hello!” he said. “Are you here for the meeting?” We replied that we were.
“I don’t think there’s going to be one tonight”, he said. “I’ve been here for half an hour, and it hasn’t started.”

We checked our flyers. The meeting was indeed supposed to be tonight, according to the papers we held — but then Jim spotted a stack of minutes from the last meeting, which indicated that tonight’s meeting would actually be held a week from now, on the fifteenth.

“Oh!” said the man. “Well, the secretary of the association wrote that, and he should know.” He stuck out his hand. “Hi, I’m Walt. I’m the secretary of the association.”

The evening only got more awesome from there. I am absolutely not being sarcastic about the awesomeness. If you called Central Casting and asked for an English colonel to come charging down the mansion’s stairs in the middle of the night with a Webley revolver on a lanyard and a leopard-print bathrobe, Walt is the man they would send you.

Walt showed us the inside of the mansion: Giant carved bear-head newel posts! Marble fireplaces! Oak paneling! He told us all about how big, rambling house had been used as a convalescent home for sick episcopal women confirming my suspicion that the house must be packed with ghosts in frilly white victorian gowns.

But the best part was still to come:
“Walt, do you think you could show us inside the water tower? I’ve been dying to see it.”
“Oh, the water tower… no, I don’t think anybody has been inside the water tower for many years!”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The most eccentric piece of mysterious steampunk architecture in Chester County, and the slatted castle door has been BARRED FOR YEARS?

Obviously, this amazing architectural relic is packed to the steeply-peaked rafters with magical sarcophagi. Or brass monkey hands. Or jewel-topped staffs brought from the furthest reaches of the Kalahari, their evil gemstones throbbing with an eldritch light.

Walt seemed amused at my theories, and suggested that I get in touch with Westtown township’s roadmaster, who is likely to have the keys. “You know, the tanks don’t hold water any more!” he warned me.

Of course they don’t hold water. Because, I’m quite sure, the water tanks are now full of imported, sun-bleached Egyptian sand, beneath which the withered form of ancient prince Amonhotep slumbers… until his rest is disturbed.

I snapped the picture of the floodlit tower on my iPhone before we left.

Fire Training Center at nightDriving back across route 202, we saw a stream of water arching high, high up into the night air, over the treetops. Investigating, it turned out they were doing night exercises at the West Chester Fire Safety Training center — the concrete building was shuttered and smoking, and fellows were bustling around with radios crackling. Wow, all in all an adventurous and entirely successful trip. Thanks, Jim!

The Oakbourne Water Tower Just Gets More Amazing

What Kenn Munk is up to (continuing to be awesome, basically)

Sashimono!
My Internet friend Kenn Munk is one of my very favorite designers. He’s made a number of things for me that I really love, including the Tikaro Interactive “gear pixel” logo, the designs featured on the top half of my “commando nerd” patches, the Coworkout Wi-Fir, the logo for the dormant Gorilla Suit Construction Workshop, and the upcoming grid bike project.

(I picked just about the most embarassing picture I could find of him, wearing his sashimono for the “Sweaty Sightseeing” project, where he takes tourists on jogging tours of London.)

This morning, I saw a bunch of photos in his photostream of him taking a medal-making workshop. Which, given that one of my ambitions is to someday get away with wearing a Napoleonic frock coat with a chest full of medals, is extremely relevant to my interests!

Here’s his first effort after the one-day workshop; a “curse” medal with nordic runes and a prototype, impressionistic mermaid. According to his photo commets, Kenn likes the idea of making medals for physical attributes, which seems very recursive and satisfactory to me. Also punny — a hair medal!

I really enjoy having an Internet correspondent and collaborator that is always doing doing so many different interesting things. Like meatcards maker Chris Thompson, Kenn is a master both of Illustrator and of making things in the, you know, Real World, and I love seeing the results.

Here’s some of the range of things that Kenn does:

If you want to see a really cool product-redesign story, go to his site at http://www.kennmunk.com, and in the topnav, click “self initiated work”, then “truth in packaging” for a Revell model box that I think is really great.

What Kenn Munk is up to (continuing to be awesome, basically)