Chicago Design General

Waking Up

Late last year, I noticed I had lost a few things from my life. I had fallen into a rut; I wasn’t happy. To make matters worse, I’d fallen into a routine, and this routine excluded doing a lot of things that were important to me: Things like designing websites.

Ultimately this discovery lead me to try something drastic and pick up and move to Chicago from New York, where I had spent my entire life until that point. While I miss NY and I miss my friends, I’m happier now, and I’m carving out a new niche for myself here. I’ve missed web design a lot, and I’ve lagged behind. Well, I decided to do something about it, and last month I attended An Event Apart: Chicago with the hope it would get me back into things.

Boy, was I right! Since the conference, I’ve had design on the brain non-stop. I found myself creatively inspired in particularly by Jason Santa Maria, Jeremy Keith, and Liz Danzico.

I’ve been fussing over a site design for this site here for over three years, and it gave me the guts to finally scrap everything I had and start rethinking. I’ve found myself re-energized. The new header graphic treatment is hopefully a taste of things to come as I plan to be a much more active participant in the design community, so stay tuned.

General Pop culture

Honoring a Commitment to Myself

When I was young, I desperately wanted to have an arcade machine in my home. I remember that one Christmas, I took all the money my family had given me for my birthday and Christmas and invested it in a bank account expressly for the purpose of saving to one day buy an NBA Jam arcade machine.

Well, it’s years later, and I still have that dream. My love for NBA Jam has come and gone, but some things have stayed the same. For years I have put on my Christmas list that I know I will not receive, but do anyway: A Dodge Viper, a Ms. Pac Man arcade machine, and a Guns N’ Roses Pinball machine.

Well, it’s been years, and well, that account grew a lot. It is now actually enough money to barely cover the purchase of an arcade machine. So I’ve decided, once I am in and settled in Chicago, I’m going to honor this promise I made to myself years ago and buy a machine. The G N’ R pinball is not going to happen, at least not till I’m mega-rich. Those machines are R-A-R-E. However, NAMCO put out something that recently caught my eye:

PAC-MAN 25th Anniversary Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Galaga. All in one machine.

It will be mine. I think younger me would be pleased.

General Pop culture

I’ve got the scars to remind me…

…I’ve watch the clocks go ’round.
Walked myself through some days
that have put me where I am.
In another time, In another place
all things might have been in place
But for now I’m finding myself up here standing on a rooftop screaming.

Hey world are you listening… listening to me?
I’m here and I’m hurting to begin again.

It’s another time, it’s another place.
We are making more old days.
But for now I’m finding myself out and standing on my doorstep screaming.

Hey world are you listening… listening to me?
I’m here and I’m hurting to begin again.
Hey world I’m ready to listen… and learn something new.
I’m here and I’m willing to get myself through.

Hot Water Music “Rooftops”

I wasn’t going to do this, but Zeldman’s post stirred up a lot in me.

Has it really been five years? I really don’t know what to do. It still seems so unbelievable. I feel like I have spent the last 5 years living in a bad dream, just waiting to wake up. I still sort of lie to myself about things. I let the media corrupt me and my memories of what happened that day. I feel cheap and used. Until recently, I had almost completely forgotten parts of it. As if they were blocked out of my memory.

The endless smoke. The smell of burning and ash. The jumpers. The smoldering holes that were once buildings. How they didn’t stop burning for weeks.

A few weeks back, I went upstate with my friend Christine and her family and found papers from 9/12. I looked through them, and every article was somehow related to the towers. It was like everything else in the world had froze. Like someone put the rest of history on pause for a moment. I had forgotten that baseball went on hiatus, or how long it was before planes were flying again. And how weird it was to hear fighter jets overhead, rather than the commercial planes, that you were so used to that you barely even noticed them anymore.

I was living in Brooklyn at the time, attending the Pratt Institute. I remember that morning like it was yesterday. My roommate Dan and I were on our way to class when the guy across the hall from us yelled, stopping us from getting on the elevator.

“Some idiot flew a plane into one of the Twin Towers.”

We ran into his room, where his roommate was videotaping it from his window. Although it disgusts me to admit now, honestly… at the time…. we laughed. We laughed recounting the famous story of the plane that hit the state building back in the ’40s — thinking this to be the same: a very public accident of small proportions.

What you have to realize is that we had no concept of scale. Despite being nearby, the towers were too massive to comprehend. We figured it was some private plane and honestly didn’t even think about size or injury. It seemed impossible that anything could even damage the towers, so we didn’t even think anything of it. The longer we stood there, the more smoke we saw, the more serious it felt. But we also figured we were late for class, so we had better get a move on.

When I got to class, most of my classmates hadn’t even heard about it. About 10 minutes in someone comes running into our room and yells:

“A plane just flew and hit both Trade Towers!”

Half of our class went running into the other room to go look out from their window. Once again: the issue of scale. You never really realized how big those things were until a plane flew into them. It seemed reasonable to many to believe that they were close enough together that one plane’s wingspan could hit both towers. As I looked from the window and watched the North and South towers billowing out black smoke, it hit me. I was the first one to say it aloud:

“The one tower was already smoking when I left my room this morning, the second one just happened. This is no accident, someone planned this.”

It just seemed inconceivable at the time to everyone in the room, and honestly, I forget sometimes how carefree we all were before that day. The teacher rushed us back to our respective room, where we continued class for a bit. Time passed, and he called for a break. I started walking across campus to the cafeteria and attempted to phone my parents at home — baffled that I couldn’t get a signal out.

“Turn off your phone asshole! Other people need to use the networks.”

Confused and completely caught off guard, I looked up at the upperclassmen had just yelled this at me, and I didn’t know what to make of it. The phone was useless anyhow, so I shut it off. When I got into the cafeteria, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. A massive amount of people were crowded around the TVs that were mounted on the ceiling. Someone had changed the channel from the usual corporate marketing bullshit CTN (college television network) and put on the news. I stood there, frozen in shock as we watched the first tower fall. When I managed to regain thought, I then rushed myself to my room and put on CNN. My roommate, Dan, had just arrived as well, and we sat and watched in astonishment as the second tower fell.

Neither of us knew what to do; we both agreed that we weren’t going back to class. Fuck class. We spent the rest of the day in a fog, dumbstruck from what happened. I remember trying to load up, and it was just crawling and going even to a white page with headlines briefly announcing countries that were wishing their sympathies. Horribly enough, Afghanistan was the first to issue a statement of sympathy. It wasn’t for a few days before we would realize the grim irony in that.

The first thing on everyone’s mind was war. And honestly, the first nation people thought of was Iraq. It was no secret even back in 2001 — BEFORE 9/11 — that Bush wanted to invade Iraq. They were still our “enemy.” The media had conditioned us to think that way, so it seemed to make sense that they might perpetrate such an evil. All I could scrounge up from the news, though was something about an unmanned US spy plane being shot down over Iraq that morning. Something I’ve never seen or heard mentioned since.

At some point, I made it to the rooftop of my building and snapped the photograph you see above. The door to the roof was normally locked at threat of expulsion, but somehow none of that mattered anymore.

My biggest regret, the one thing that gets me to this very day, is that I was so close, and yet, all I did was sit there and watch TV like everyone else. I should have taken off and gone into the city and found a way to help, but I sat there and did nothing like a zombie.

I can’t explain exactly why I’m writing this or what conclusion I am hoping to come to. The fact is, I don’t think I have one. I’m writing this just to write it, to put it out there. I can’t explain what this is better than Zeldman did so I won’t try:

“These mini-essays are not art. They are not reportage, either (but what is?), and may not even be accurate. We were all a bit dazed—although not so dulled as now. The shock and sorrow were fresh. The events of September 11th had not yet been branded, nor turned into tools of partisan rancor, nor made into a mini-series, nor used to justify atrocity.”

So much of our world changed on that day, and for once, people really came together. Now I look at where we are today, and I am concerned that we haven’t learned a thing. We’ve let ourselves and our feelings be used and manipulated in the name of this atrocity to commit others.

Have we learned the right lesson? Have we done the right thing? Is the world a better place today? I hope dearly we can say yes, but my gut seems to tell me otherwise.

General Pop culture Technology

Allegedly this is not a blog…

…unless I update it.

Fair enough, I guess I’ll work on that. I’ll try to make this brief. I’ve been busy for the past few months, but things seem to be settling down for the moment, which is good.  Work is good, back to school season is just ending so hopefully things might ease up, that’s about all I can say. I’m hoping for new products soon, but I have no clue in truth. I plan to pick up a MacBook Pro whenever they put out a new version. My 12″ Powerbook’s AppleCare has just expired. While it’s still running and treating me well, it’s time to move to something with a little more power, something that can run Aperture or actually interface with a video iPod. (12″ had USB 1.1)

So I’m back playing Halo 2 again, that game will not die for me I still enjoy it every bit as much as I did when I bought it. Oh, that reminds me, I officially, after what… 4 months, have decided that my X-Box 360 was a completely worthwhile purchase. 3 reasons:

  1. I finally used it as a DVD player and a messaging center at the same time. I have my old wired Apple Keyboard plugged into it. Being able to voice chat as VoIP or text message while watching a movie is incredible.
  2. X-Box Live Arcade is finally actually worthwhile. I downloaded Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting and have been getting my butt whupped by strangers on the internet while listening to music streaming from my PowerMac. (Thank you Connect 360)
  3. Dead Rising. Nuff Said.

Other stuff….

So I’ve been keeping busy, not working on any major design projects at the moment, mostly studying new programs and trying to (re?)teach myself how to draw. That said, I have been working at getting back up and running. I’m not sure what we’re going to use it for, but I moved all the content over to WordPress, and as of yesterday two days ago I installed the Beta of phpBB 3 on the site which seems to be running REALLY smoothly, it’s leaps and bounds better than any other free message board system I’ve used.

I’m also now hosting/administrating the official message board for The Epoxies. In case you haven’t checked them out, they are a new wave/punk band from Portland, Oregon that totally rocks, I highly recommend checking them out.

Canon put out a new version of the Rebel… I want it.