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“As a volunteer steward of a local urban landscape, I work to enhance native plant and animal communities by removing exotic invasive vegetation from local parks and private lands in Washington, D.C.
This harvest of alien weeds yields an abundance of material, which is processed into fuel, chemicals, pigments, lumber, paper fibers and cordage — all of which are reassembled in the studio in a form that refers to its material source. The practice harnesses the inherent wealth of unwanted plants to sustainably fund their own removal.”
Working out new ideas with the ditto loop pedal
The KKK hit with garden hoses, darkness on the edge of the tracks, apocalyptic worshipers, the famous pear tree: these are just a few of the stories found in the Compendium. To all the people who have not had a chance to read the legit history of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania that I wrote for my Masters Thesis at Temple University in 2008 – here is your chance.
3 printings were done of the book and a handful are left, but this PDF is free, digital, and should work with your iPad or Kindle.
The book is a mix of oral histories, folklore, and original musings on the nature of small town America through the lens of my hometown. There is an accompanying CD of music which I will post as well that syncs with the song section.
This project was made possible by the Philadelphia Cultural Alliance Grant, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council Grant, and with the help of the Old York Road Historical Society.
Great article about my hometown of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania in Nat Geo. Besides the fact that the author heavily borrowed many of her ideas from my book “The Compendium of All Things Close To Home” and added info about Bradley Cooper and the Goldbergs, it is a very original piece.
ready to cut. ready to cut. ready to cut. ready to cut. ready to cut. ready to cut.
Backyard picking with archtop and suitcase
Snow days require digging deep into the Weather Down zeitgeist: the post apocalyptic & dystopian future landscape. The list is in no particular order and just a short list. More to come…
1. Children of Men
2. Mad Max
3. Book of Eli
5. 12 Monkeys
7. Live Die Repeat
8. Total Recall (original)
10. Repo Man
12. Planet of the Apes
13. Blade Runner
15. Clockwork Orange
18. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
19. They Live
20. Escape from New York
22. 5th Element
24. District 9
25. Robocop (original)
27. Battle Royale
28. Save The Green Planet
29. The Raid & Raid 2
32. The Matrix
33. The Postman
1. Sweet Tooth – Jeff Lemire
2. The Stand – Stephen King
3. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
4. Alas, Babylon – Pat Frank
5. Sphere – Michael Creighton
6. Watchman – Alan Moore
7. Trillium – Jeff Lemire
8. 1984 – Orwell
9. Brave New Worlds – Huxley
10. Farenheight 451 – Bradbury
11. Southern Reach – Jeff VanderMeer
Saw this Colorado newcomer by way of Austin, TX last night in Denver – Ragged Union – in an alleyway bar. It was just the kind of bluegrass I like – outsider song writing, serious pickin’, and a sense of history to it all. Great band, great songwriter. Worthy of your time…
dark and beautiful old school track from my fav
down the rabbit hole we go america! this is amazing and the talking heads direction is so bad ass with that gurgling metal synth! YES
was up in the mountains having a quiet night and saw my friend standing by the wall. he casts a good shadow
i would go to santa fe for this but it is sold out. but trains and art and music? so good
From the huffington post:
“For Aitken’s ambitious public art piece, entitled “Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening,” the artist will travel cross country via train, making ten stops along the way.
Each stop will contain a site-specific art happening, drawing from the often too separate art, music, culinary, literary, and film worlds. Aitken’s art train will be rolling deep with creative participants including Kenneth Anger, Urs Fischer, Carsten Höller, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Ariel Pink, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Dan Deacon, Dave Hickey, Alice Waters and many, many more.”
this was made from stamps at the DAM western collection. the museum has a number of stamps that include images from art on the walls. it is mainly for children but last time i was there, we spent 30 minutes messing around with different stamps and layering images. very cool…
the darkest and sweetest of love songs by JD Crowe and the New South
with the weirdest of redneck lines:
If the ladies were blackbirds and the ladies were thrushes Em C G I'd lie there for hours in the chilly cold marshes Em C G If the ladies were squirrels with a high bushy tail C G I'd fill up my shotgun with rock salt and nails
this was shown to me the other day and i was pretty blown away: wildly geometric and jutting, the architectural view from above is really striking. daniel libeskind has done the one world trade center, the jewish museum in berlin, and a number of other beautifully modern buildings. if you have never gone to any of his designs, it is worth checking out. [pics from google maps]
bringing out random tracks from the 2007 “Compendium of All Things Close To Home: a portrait of Jenkintown, Pennsylvania” album and book on the oral history & folklore of my hometown. enjoy!
you can purchase the album and book on amazon.com
“Pretty Saro” is a previously unreleased Bob Dylan track that was recorded during March 1970 sessions for his album Self Portrait, but ultimately didn’t make the cut. According to Rolling Stone, Dylan’s take on the 18th Century English folk song has never even made it to bootlegs, unscathed for 43 years in the possession of Columbia Records. Now it, along with 34 other alternate takes, demos, and live versions from the Self Portrait and New Morning sessions, will be released in a box set at the end of the month. Check out the collage video below, which was made by filmmaker and previous Dylan collaborator Jennifer Lebeau from images and video stored by the Farm Security Administration in the Library Of Congress. [from stereogum]
these are actual blueprints of the various mines running throughout the old wall street site up in the foothills of boulder. i took these photos of the blueprints when i was doing maintenance on the property: a large bee hive in the chimney cap had bees spreading throughout the historic house… i can really appreciate the complexity of the mines as well as the visual beauty of the blueprint itself: crisscrossing names, geometric shapes, and the worn blue against white.
“At the turn of the twentieth century, hard rock mining in Boulder County was in full swing, and the area known as Wall Street played a prominent role in this chapter of our community’s history. The assay office was the place where prospectors would take their ore samples to find out whether or not they had potentially “struck it rich.” So important was the determination of the assayer that the results of their work could, and often did, make or break a prospector.” [from the boulder county website]
two of my favorites right here:
these handmade frames were built with the expert guidance of local carpenter and all around whiz – brian bartel. he helped me rip down the wood in his shop and showed me how to match the grain for most of the frames by using the same piece of wood. the 45s came out looking tight and overall quite beautiful; so, i have to thank him for all his hard work and the quality product. just have to cut glass, add various hardware, and they will be ready to hang.
I bought the wood for making picture frames just north of Gunbarrel, CO. at United Wood Products. The saw mill, “… operates a complete wood processing yard, running a treelength processor, firewood processor, sawmill, de-barker, and woodchipper…” They make various products ranging from firewood, to fence, to rough cut lumber, and most of it comes from local forests.
The place is pretty interesting because you can park and walk down to the warehouse/saw mill and watch the huge teeth cut right through logs, sawdust misting the racks, and take in the smell of pine in the air. You have to let your wood dry out a bit as it is not kiln dried, but they have some beautiful beetle kill.
preparing for an august art show here in denver and just finished making 12 frames from locally harvested pine beetle wood. the wood has a beautiful palette of colors ranging from blue, to grey, to orange; which, are all caused by the infestation of the pine beetle. the wood has a rich character that is perfect for colorado in that it is tragic so many trees have been killed, but from that devastation comes a distinct and local product providing jobs on various levels. i will include pics in an upcoming post of the frames, but here is an article my friend robbie whelan wrote about the craft side of the beetle kill phenom here in colorado.
trains = check
philly = check
soul music = check
a good friend gave me a lovely present the other day: a 1923 guide book to the art of carpentry. besides the knowledge within, the engraved images of tools and sundry objects is pretty stunning. great ideas for relief print techniques abound. enjoy
Was just sent this photo of last Spring’s epic linocut battle – the ketubah. It came out really nicely and was handsomely framed in barn wood with brass brackets. Hanging above is another favorite – “the Saint of Space.” Having an artist for a brother isn’t always a bad thing…
Get this limited edition sick summer print to celebrate the invasion of Brood II. This nerdest print will be a short hand printed run of just 20/20. Each print is only $20 – great fathers day gift and or budding naturalist surprise. Get it!
forget daft punk as the summer jam, my pick is philly native and hair master kurt vile. laid back jams with plenty of great hooks and lyrics
growing up in pennsylvania, there were many summers where my brother and i would run the yard pushing through old fence lines in search of one thing or another. we had a spring/summer of grubs that was pretty disgusting but very cool. one memory in particular was when we filled an entire dannon yogurt container with grubs and then proceeded to dump them on the head of an unsuspecting neighborhood child. he might have wet his pants it was so disgusting – i later apologized to him when we were in our mid twenties.
cicadas acted as marker of warm weather for the young pennsylvanian: we picked their shells off trees, listened to their night time call as we lay in bed, and watched the famous cicada killer buzz around in search of victim; now, living in colorado where cicadas are few and far between, i sort of miss those weird red eyed monsters.
that being said, this guy is clearly strange but i like his enthusiasm…
Short clip of my call in last night about Fast & Furious 6 and White House Down/Olympus Has Fallen
Tom is the best
a short tune for the mesertiz shul in the east village. it was a place you could drink whiskey with the old timers, eat herring, and pray.
Excited to be putting some new pieces up on the walls at Pablo’s at 6th and Washington for the month of August. Pablo’s makes some of the best coffee in Denver – they roast it themselves here in town – and have a lot of great artists on their walls. Not sure if I’ll be putting up relief prints or my collages, but either way, look forward to some cool new work for the show.
i was working out on the plains the other day on a construction job when i saw this beautiful coyote loping across the field. he stopped here and there to investigate a prairie dog hole all the while marking his territory. it soon saw me and raced out of sight, but in that brief moment in which the coyote was quiet and alone in the landscape, i knew i had to make a print in its honor.
If you ever find yourself in Philadelphia, head north to Doylestown, Pennsylvania to the Mercer Museum. It is an amazing cement castle created by the historian Henry Mercer. It houses some 30,000 handmade objects created prior to the industrial revolution. There are early printing presses, a whale boat, trapping and hunting equipment, apple corers, and most aspects of early 18th Century life around the home and farm. I included pics of an old meat grinder, a view of the clock display, the zithers, and a view looking out the 6th story room. The online tour is also worth checking out.
weather down is a duo featuring robert taylor on drums and benjamin hesse on guitar. the duo have been recording and wood shedding in the basement for over two years and are currently at work on a full length album due summer 2013.
no one has seen them play, no one has heard them, no one knows of their existence until now. having written over 40 songs, they have narrowed down the choicest for your listening pleasure. a few sketches are up on bandcamp and a vinyl LP will follow come summer. enjoy!
It has been six years since the release of the finest book ever written about a half square mile town & the stories remain strong. in its third printing, “the compendium of all things close to home” is a great gift idea for anyone interested in the strange & mysterious goings on of small town life. the book is also accompanied by a CD of original music illuminating things like the 1918 kkk march, the history of the tyson pear, and a seriously awesome avant-garde rendition of the jenkintown alma matre.
great single: “ohm”
put through the most rigorous of tests known to man, i, benjamin hesse, have narrowed every single album released in 2012 down to the finest of the fine: the top ten!
even though this list is probably infallible, feel free to add your own to the best of.
10. jamey johnson “living for a song: a tribute to hank cochran”
9. norah jones “little broken hearts”
8. first aid kit “the lion’s roar”
7. best coast “the only place”
6. dr. john “locked down”
5. grizzly bear “shields”
4. dr. dog “be the void”
3. jeff the brotherhood “hypnotic nights”
2. my morning jacket “circuital”
1. the shins “port morrow”
by the edge of the field
still looks pretty
the hard days put on
near final phase of the historic harney/lastoka milk & mule barn preservation
rail car off the tracks
snowfall in the a.m. hours
fall weather has come
benjamin hesse: telecaster
robbie taylor: ocatpad & ipad synth app