Comics are for Lovers (20070929)

Comics are for Lovers, Isotope Comics, San Francisco. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. Comics are for Lovers, Isotope Comics, San Francisco. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. Nothing says romance like sequential art. I'm sure that wearing a shirt to match the Batman cover in the background didn't hurt his chances, either.

The Secret Revealed (20070929)

Jon Sung reveals his secret identity as a Green Lantern. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. Jon Sung reveals his secret identity as a Green Lantern. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. Too bad the wishing ring works about as well as a movie prop. Although judging from the way that fantasy and science fiction are in the midst of a second Golden Age with their resurgence across all forms of popular culture, an adult wearing a ring with imaginary powers no longer identifies him as either infantile or fit for the loony bin, even if both are true. (Jon's a friendly guy, though, so I'm assuming he's not.)

Art of the Bat (20070929)

J.H. Williams, right, talks with a fan at the opening night of his exhibition at Isotope Comics. J.H. Williams, right, talks with a fan at the opening night of his exhibition at Isotope Comics, San Francisco. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. Although most people probably think of comic book artists as slaves, chained to their drawing boards and permanently stained by India ink and, perhaps, drooling a little, the opening of the J.H. Williams "Batman" exhibition at Isotope Comics proved that at least one of them cleans up fairly well, and can even walk a bit upright.Okay, so maybe I jest. Maybe. Not only were Williams and the Isotope staff courteous and polite, none of the comic art aficionados in attendance were particularly devoid of social skills, either. Well, no more than we normally are. It's quite a fine time to be living in an age where pop art is celebrated with gallery-style showings, complete with complimentary bat-themed booze. Although I'm not sure that last double Cape and Cowl was a good idea...

Alley of Interest (20051109)

An alley in the CBD, Melbourne, Australia. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2005. An alley in the Central Business District, Melbourne, Australia. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2005. There are times when somebody shows you their favorite... whatever. Their favorite book, their favorite baseball team. Their favorite dish that their momma used to cook. Their favorite bum that's been begging for change off the same corner for 15 years. As I said, their favorite whatever. And your reaction is appropriate for a whatever it is, which is to say that you just don't give a fig. Their favorite porno, to be indiscreet about it, is not your favorite porno. Not only that, but it may even be closer to your least favorite porno than anything else you've been subjected to in quite some time. However, although this alley somewhere in downtown Melbourne was not the FMA's favorite whatever, it was indicative of one of her favorite parts of her hometown: the alleyways and corridors that sprouted artistic graffiti, forty-foot tall petri dishes of pop culture, biding their time 'til they exploded on the scene or died a horrible lab death. Fortunately for both of us, this was a mule that we both could get behind. Popular culture is a funny, three-armed and one-legged thing, hopping around and clawing with all its strength for acceptance. Tags and graffiti that embody the transient and kinetic nature of some artforms are looked on as nothing more than territorial pissings by those who haven't grown up with them. One of my friends describes herself as being the younger generation's cultural ambassador to her folks. If only we all could have such insight, and if only it came with diplomatic plates.

A Well-Earned Bench (20051124)

Respite from the crowd at Victoria Market, Melbourne, Australia. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2005. Respite from the crowd at the Victoria Market, Melbourne, Australia. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2005. I had the strangest sense of deja vu walking through the Vic Market. I'd never been there before. In fact, I'd never been to any place quite like it. It was a familiar yet unique mix of deli, Chinese vegetable market and urban farmer's market, all rolled into one and topped off with a long black. That's a coffee, an Americano, but stronger and more flavorful.

870 on the 78 (20051114)

Car 870 on the 78-line, Prahran, Melbourne, Australia. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2005. Car 870 on the 78-line, Prahran, Melbourne, Australia. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2005. Unbeknownst to me until about 5 seconds before I started writing this, the Melbourne, Australia - as opposed to Melbourne, Florida - public trams constitute the third-largest public tram network in the world with, as Wikipedia points out, 245 kilometers of track, 500 trams, and 1813 tram stops. More importantly, they have these gorgeous wooden trams that are supported by a hidden steel underskeleton. The featured tram is a W class car, first introduced to Melbourne in 1923. It's either a W5, W6 or W7, so designated by safety and other substantial tweaks introduced as late as the mid-1950s. Their use was discontinued in the 1970s and then brought back in the 1990s after certain safety measures had been enacted, and now most of them ride the 78 and 79 lines from North Richmond to Prahran/St. Kilda. While this is all fascinating, I'm sure, it raises a very important question: Why do we keep looking to the past? What is it, in this modern era with our modern trappings, our ability to communicate with people on the other side of the planet from a plastic device in our hands, our ability to resist death with a couple of pounds of synthetic fabric, and our ability to let inaction and greed, not inability, determine whether a disease is a scourge or a footnote, why do we keep looking to the past? It's a fascinating conundrum, when technology advances at such a pace that people devote their lives merely to tracking it, and yet we derive more and more aesthetically from eras more than 50 years gone.

Windsurfing Wings (20070916)

Windsurfing near Crissy Field, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. Windsurfing near Crissy Field, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2007. Even when you're standing right at the beach near Crissy Field, with leaping windsurfers jumping from wave to wave until they succumb to the tide, it's hard to believe you're still standing in a major American city. It's a big part of the reason that San Francisco has a housing market at least as bad as New York's, and it's a big part of the reason why the revitalization of the Crissy Field area has been so important to the City. It is the dramatic gateway to the bay, just east of the Golden Gate Bridge, and in most other towns you'd expect to have the homes of the rich and overprivileged lining the coast. Fortunately, the Spanish military got there first and established a base on what would become Fort Point there in the late 18th century. When the Americans took control of California, the army took control of the Presidio and it remained in their hands, generally unchanged, for nearly two centuries. When the Presidio became a national park in the 1990s, though, some of the changes wrought by the needs of the U.S. Army came to light, and efforts were made to reverse them. Most important of the two were replacing Crissy Field's concrete with the original native grasses that were there and used as a landing strip in the 1920s, and restoring a wetlands area. As I mentioned briefly here, the restoration project was so successful that native birds began using the area as a landing and feeding ground years before the project would be finished.

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