Search Results for: Hunter Oatman-Stanford

My Electric Bike is Not ‘Cheating.’ And It Could Replace Cars for Millions of People

Boy learning to ride a bicycle
Learning to Ride a Bike via Wikimedia

“Hey, no fair! You’re cheating!”

The guy was wrapped head to toe in black Lycra. He had clip-in cleats and a racing helmet. I was wearing a skirt and blue suede shoes. He was annoyed because I’d passed him. He was riding hard, I could see his effort and as I pulled out on the left, I could hear him breathing.

This stretch of road doesn’t look like much, but it’s an uphill grade. When I’m heading into town, I hit it from a right turn or a full stop, both of which kill my momentum. It’s nowhere near the gut emptying climb before you reach my house, but it’s not a coast, either. Road bike guy had probably come from the park at sea level; he’d likely been climbing for a mile already. Read more…

Before the Avon Lady, There Were a Bunch of Monks With a Bottle of Vinegar

santa maria novella church in florence, italy, at sunset
Photo by Giuseppe Moscato via Flickr (CC BY NC-SA 2.0)

Hunter Oatman-Stanford, writing in Collectors Weekly, introduces us to the lifestyle and wellness hawkers of 13th century Italy: the Monks of Santa Maria Novella, in Florence.

One of the company’s most fabled products is Aceto Aromatico (or Aromatic Vinegar), which was known as Vinegar of the Seven Thieves in the early 15th century. “The story says that one part of the recipe was known by each of seven thieves, so they could only make the product when they were all together,” Foà says. “They used the recipe to protect themselves so they could rob people affected by the plague, but only when they were all together could they create it. Later, it was used as a cure for fainting. Back when our grandparents were young, it was very common. We called it the salts, as in, ‘Give me the salts!’” Today, the pungent liquid is sold as a stimulant and air freshener.

Other traditional recipes include pastilles called Pasticche di Santa Maria Novella, an antispasmodic sedative called Acqua di Melissa (or Lemon-Balm Water), and the pharmacy’s signature calming tonic called Acqua de Santa Maria Novella, originally known as Anti-Hysterical Water.

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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times Michael Dingman, 28, is seen in a Bradenton residence where he sometimes stays on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, while waiting for his next heroin fix. Dingman injects heroin multiple times per day, getting very ill when he goes for long without it, he says. On this night, he was able to inject shortly after this picture, and said he felt immediate relief from the physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal.

 

Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.

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How the Hand Painted Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip Came to Be

Photo by Weho City, Flickr Rock N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip Exhibit Reception - July 30, 2013

Driving down the Sunset Strip has always felt a little like being in a magazine. The billboards loom and beckon, towering and untouchable and yet still totally in your face. Today they advertise luxury brands and new TV shows, but once upon a time—back when the Sunset Strip was at the heart and soul of rock ‘n’ roll—they were hand painted musical monoliths, larger-than-life variations on album art and psychedelic interpretations of soon-to-be hit records. As Hunter Oatman-Stanford put it, “in the 1970s, you knew you’d made it big if your record label paid for a hand-painted billboard on the Strip.” The hand painted rock billboards on the Strip were an art form specific to LA’s car culture, intended not for gallery walls but to be seen through a windshield at cruising speed, and preferably with the convertible top down.

According to the Los Angeles Times, each billboard took roughly ten days to produce, with costs ranging from $1,200 to $10,000. Craftsmen would hand paint the illustrations on individual wood panels at warehouses in Mid City, before ultimately reassembling the pieces on location in the wee hours. And they were by nature ephemeral—each was destroyed after its contract ended.

Luckily for us, a photographer named Robert Landau documented many of the billboards during their roughly decade-and-a-half heyday (from 1967 to the advent of MTV in the early 1980’s). Landau was a teenager living with his dad in the hills above the legendary Sunset Strip Tower Records when he first started documenting the fleeting masterpieces, shooting with a Nikkormat camera and Kodachrome film. A few years ago, he published a complete catalog of his photos with Angel City Press, and in a few weeks the billboards will finally grace museum walls, when an exhibit of Landau’s work opens at the LA’s Skirball Cultural Center.

Over at Collectors Weekly, Hunter Oatman-Stanford has interviewed Landau about his work and the billboards themselves. Below is a short excerpt:

Collectors Weekly: Who started the music industry’s billboard trend?

Landau: As far as I can tell, it was the Doors in 1967 for their debut album. I talked with Jac Holzman—the head of Elektra Records who signed the Doors—while writing my book. In 1967, he had just come out here from the East Coast and opened an office on La Cienega Boulevard, not far from Sunset Boulevard, and it occurred to him that billboards were being used for everything except promoting records and music. A lot of radio stations where popular disc jockeys worked were farther east on Sunset, and he knew they drove on the Strip, and that the entertainment industry in general was based there.

The Doors were really into it; the whole band even climbed up on top for a photo shoot. Jim Morrison was quoted as saying he thought it was cool he’d be hanging over the Strip like a specter. I think at that time, it cost about a thousand dollars a month, which was quite a bit of an investment then. Elektra signed on for a year, and they had several different billboards. Little by little, the other record companies caught on.

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Childhood Heroes: A Reading List

Earlier this year, a 17-year-old high school student from the Bronx named Donna Grace Moleta won the chance to meet Bill Nye “the Science Guy.”

“Meeting my childhood hero was one of the greatest experience of my life,” she told the Bronx Times. “It’s something I’ll never forget. He’s such a strong believer in what science and education can do.”

Inspired by Ms. Moleta’s experience, here’s a reading list of some of our childhood heroes:

1. Ever Wished That Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Would Return to the Comics Page? Well, He Just Did. (Stephan Pastis, Pearls Before Swine, 2014)

Getting to work with a celebrated comic artist:

…I emailed him the strip and thanked him for all his great work and the influence he’d had on me. And never expected to get a reply.

And what do you know, he wrote back.

Let me tell you. Just getting an email from Bill Watterson is one of the most mind-blowing, surreal experiences I have ever had. Bill Watterson really exists? And he sends email? And he’s communicating with me?

 

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The Self-Driving Revolution

Let’s be honest: Humans never should have been allowed behind the wheel in the first place. There’s so much that can go wrong, so much room for negligence—it’s incredible to think that we managed human-controlled cars for as long as we did.

Here’s a reading list covering the past, present and future of transportation. Read more…

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.

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Why Soda First Became Popular: It Wasn't Just the Cocaine

“Recipes I’ve seen suggest it was about 0.01 grams of cocaine used in fountain sodas. That’s about a tenth of a line of coke,” he says. “It’s hard to be sure, but I don’t think it would’ve given people a massive high. It would definitely be enough to have some kind of effect, probably stronger than coffee.” While the dosages were small, they were certainly habit-forming, and soda fountains stood to profit from such consistent customers.

Soon “it became obvious to the medical profession that there weren’t any health benefits to carbonated water on its own, so people started selling it as a treat,” says Funderburg. “It’s hard to put our heads around how much of a treat cold fizzy water was back then. People didn’t have mechanical refrigeration, so to have a cold drink was a big deal.”

-Hunter Oatman-Stanford, in Collectors Weekly, with a brief history of soda consumption in America. Read more from Collectors Weekly.

The Year That Cars Took the Roads Away from Pedestrians

In a new essay for Collectors Weekly, Hunter Oatman-Stanford and Peter Norton, author of Fighting Traffic, examine the history of the automobile in America, and how our perception of city streets changed:

In 1924, recognizing the crisis on America’s streets, President Herbert Hoover launched the National Conference on Street and Highway Safety. Any organizations interested or invested in transportation planning were invited to discuss street safety and help establish standardized traffic regulations that could be implemented across the country. Since the conference’s biggest players all represented the auto industry, the group’s recommendations prioritized private motor vehicles over all other transit modes.

Norton suggests that the most important outcome of this meeting was a model municipal traffic ordinance, which was released in 1927 and provided a framework for cities writing their own street regulations. This model ordinance was the first to officially deprive pedestrians access to public streets. “Pedestrians could cross at crosswalks. They could also cross when traffic permitted, or in other words, when there was no traffic,” explains Norton. “But other than that, the streets were now for cars. That model was presented to the cities of America by the U.S. Department of Commerce, which gave it the stamp of official government recommendation, and it was very successful and widely adopted.” By the 1930s, this legislation represented the new rule of the road, making it more difficult to take legal recourse against drivers.

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Longreads Archive: Collectors Weekly

Photo via Shorpy