Aug 202008

Last night a generous coworker gave us tickets to the opening night preview of Spring Awakening at the newly renovated Balboa Theatre. The theatre has been in a state of neglect for a very long time and somehow survived being turned into parking lot and/or condos during downtown San Diego’s many changes. Thankfully some people have put a lot of time (Steve Karo) and money (Balboa Theatre Foundation) into restoring the theatre. They have done an amazing job; it looks fantastic now. Many of the design elements have been fully restored, like the great old neon sign out front and the interior of the main hall. Do yourself a favor and check out this wonderful venue.

Nov 262007

The Guardian has good news on the fascinating Untergunther group in Paris:

Four members of an underground “cultural guerrilla” movement known as the Untergunther, whose purpose is to restore France’s cultural heritage, were cleared on Friday of breaking into the 18th-century monument…

For a year from September 2005, under the nose of the Panthéon’s unsuspecting security officials, a group of intrepid “illegal restorers” set up a secret workshop and lounge in a cavity under the building’s famous dome. Under the supervision of group member Jean-Baptiste Viot, a professional clockmaker, they pieced apart and repaired the antique clock that had been left to rust in the building since the 1960s. Only when their clandestine revamp of the elaborate timepiece had been completed did they reveal themselves.

Since the 1990s they have restored crypts, staged readings and plays in monuments at night, and organised rock concerts in quarries. The network was unknown to the authorities until 2004, when the police discovered an underground cinema, complete with bar and restaurant, under the Seine. They have tried to track them down ever since.

But the UX, the name of Untergunther’s parent organisation, is a finely tuned organisation. It has around 150 members and is divided into separate groups, which specialise in different activities ranging from getting into buildings after dark to setting up cultural events. Untergunther is the restoration cell of the network.

Aug 232006

As I said last year, I’m taking a year off from Burning Man. I was getting too jaded, bitching about the work of getting there, rather than being giddy about the sights to come. It turns out I have other things I need to attend during the labor day weekend anyway.

I figured there would inevitably be a twinge of regret for not going. Up until today, there was nothing. But then I saw a project which I really hope makes it to Burning Man – The Neverwas Haul:

The NeverWas Haul explores the theme of the intrepid explorer, boldly adventuring into the unknown, seeking golden cities, mysterious artifacts, fame and glory. This pre-turn of the century, steam powered, mobile Victorian house is 3 stories in height, and is decorated with the relics and artifacts collected in its journey around the globe, as well as a few more specimens collected in Black Rock City. Participants are interviewed, measured and documented in arcane and amusing scientific experiments. Traditional Irish tea is served every afternoon, and visitors may tour the Haul and be impressed by our advanced steam technology and finely polished brass scientific instruments.

Wow, that is going to be very amazing. Here is the catch though… It didn’t get official funding. Why? I have no idea. But they are having a party and fundraiser tonight, Wednesday, August 23rd at The Shipyard in Berkeley starting at 7:30pm.

NeverWas Haul NeverWas Haul NeverWas Haul

Jan 242006

(All photos for this entry are posted here)

Technomania Circus Technomania Cirucs Technomania Circus

Saturday night rolled around, and I headed south into Barrio Logan to check out Jimmy & Co (aka Bologna Ponies) play. After their burlesque show appearance in North Park, they had been asked to play at the Technomania Circus. Their punchy-sideshow sound fits well with the circus.

I really didn’t have any clue about the Technomania Circus, despite it being only 12 blocks from my house, and in existence for some time. Hell, a lot of the people involved are burners, or part of the Xara Project. I can only plead ignorance.

So what the hell is Technomania Circus? Well.. think of a heavily Burning Man influenced circus, but in some guys backyard. Its kind of weird. Yes, I do mean back yard. You have to sign a waver when you go, because if some flaming sword stabs your leg, they don’t have insurance for you. Hah.

Despite its humble appearance, it really is a lot of fun. Gags, freaks, acrobats, robots with fire. The circus has what you have been missing in life. I had a great time. If you go, dress warm, as its all outdoors. I just about froze my ass off wearing a hoody.

Update: I probably won’t be back to check out their quite freaky adult show on Feb 18th. “Extreme sideshow acts, suspension artists” – i.e. meat hooks & human flesh are the milder parts of this show. They are really going to push the shock envelope. More than likely it is going to be too much for even me, and I’m pretty unflappable. A much better bet is to wait until their March show.

Oct 082005

(All photos for this entry are posted here)

Last week Anna and I checked out Tower After Hours at Balboa Park’s Museum of Man. The event focuses on the art, food, drinks, culture, music, and dancing of a particular country. This edition was focused on Puerto Rico, and was put on by the Puerto Rico house. The music and dancing performances alone were worth the $20 admission. You can really see the African and Latin roots of the country through the dance – Full bodied, stylish, enthusiastic, and rhythmic.

We both enjoyed Tower After Hours, and would return. However, the Museum of Man receives failing marks on two things. One is the food. The food was excellent, but they ran out of it 15 minutes into the event. Many people ended up only eating rice and bean dregs. I assume this was poor planning, perhaps this particular event was a bigger crowd than usual. The second was recycling. The event included drinks, but nowhere to recycle. Which means that something like 200 recyclables ended up in the trash. This is something that could be easily fixed, and I hope they make the change.

Aug 112005

In my last Burning Man post I found the Thermokraken grant page online and was excited that the Kraken might be coming back to Burning Man this year. I emailed the Therm guys to ask what the outcome was. Unfortunately they told me the Kraken only received 40 votes from the Borg2 community, which means no funding. It will sit in Oakland rather than the playa. I was happy to hear that it got out and about at the Fire Arts Festival at The Crucible in Oakland a few weeks back. If anyone has any serious venue or funding ideas, please check this out and contact Orion. The Kraken is an amazing piece and I hope more people can enjoy it.

While checking out the wiki for Burning Man, I was surprised to see the sudden growth last year. 2002 had a bit of a growth spurt (12%), but from 1999 to 2003 Burning Man grew relatively slowly. For some reason, 2004 brought an extra 5000 people or 17% more. I wonder what caused the surge last year. Good press?

TheHun has a write-up on the DPW BBQ for Gerlach and fixing the 100 year old water tower roof. There is also a webcam shot of the BBQ here.

Surprisingly, and for no good reason, I don’t have any contact with the San Diego Burning Man community or their events (Fuego de los Muertos, Xara Dulzura). But they are great people, go check them out.

SFGate does a story on the carpenters of Burning Man that make the man – The heart of burning man; Volunteer carpenters craft festival’s namesake totem for its moment in the moon

SFGate does a story on BORG2 – Artistic sparks; Creative ‘revolt’ falls short, but group gets own spot at festival

Aug 052005

The golden spike was driven in to the playa of Black Rock City on Wednesday. You can see some photos and a write-up from the DPW crew right here. From there they start to map out the streets and grid the city. Once completed, the big projects can be erected – the man, center camp, etc.

This year’s art lineup looks quite good. A few repeats, but most of it is brand spanking new. There are a number of larger works thing year – Clockworks and the Tower of Memory should be quite impressive. It looks like Therm is trying to bring back their magnificent beast, the Thermokraken. I hope they can find a sponsor. BORG2 also has a good looking list of art grants. I can’t wait.

Everything is seems to be coming together and getting ready. Except us. We are pressed for time this year, and will be doing a some what forced march. This means heading Thursday, overnight in Sacramento, stock up in Reno and hit the playa Friday afternoon. Not a whole lot of time, but better than nothing. Sadly this also means we don’t have many plans this year. No el wire, structures, etc. I guess we will just have to last minute an easy way to participate.

Jun 022005

(All photos for this entry are posted here)

Last Saturday night Anna and I went to check out this year’s Fern Street Circus performance at Balboa Park. FSC is our very own Goldenhill circus recreation program. What does that mean? They provide free instruction for kids at the Rec Center in acrobatics, balancing, clowning, contortion, juggling, trampoline, trapeze, and tightwire. Each year FSC puts on a circus that is a mix of professional ex-circus performers and students from their program. The show is inexpensive ($12) and very fun. I highly recomend checking them out.