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ebogjonson's March 2006 archive

March 24, 2006

Random LA MOCA party

Where I was this Friday.

Posted by ebogjonson in city of angels at 9:34 PM | Permalink

March 9, 2006

500 coffeeshops to go before I sleep

Found this on Slashdot:

Cubicles: The great mistake Even the designer of the cubicle thinks they were maybe a bad idea, as millions of 'Dilberts' would agree.

Robert Oppenheimer agonized over building the A-bomb. Alfred Nobel got queasy about creating dynamite. Robert Propst invented nothing so destructive. Yet before he died in 2000, he lamented his unwitting contribution to what he called "monolithic insanity."

Propst is the father of the cubicle. More than 30 years after he unleashed it on the world, we are still trying to get out of the box. The cubicle has been called many things in its long and terrible reign. But what it has lacked in beauty and amenity, it has made up for in crabgrass-like persistence.


The cubicle was not born evil, or even square. It began, in fact, as a beautiful vision. The year was 1968. Nixon won the presidency. The Beatles released The White Album. And home-furnishings company Herman Miller (Research) in Zeeland, Mich., launched the Action Office. It was the brainchild of Bob Propst, a Coloradan who had joined the company as director of research.

After years of prototyping and studying how people work, and vowing to improve on the open-bullpen office that dominated much of the 20th century, Propst designed a system he thought would increase productivity (hence the name Action Office). The young designer, who also worked on projects as varied as heart pumps and tree harvesters, theorized that productivity would rise if people could see more of their work spread out in front of them, not just stacked in an in-box.

The new system included plenty of work surfaces and display shelves; partitions were a part of it, intended to provide privacy and places to pin up works in process. The Action Office even included varying desk levels to enable employees to work part of the time standing up, thereby encouraging blood flow and staving off exhaustion.

But inventions seldom obey the creator's intent. "The Action Office wasn't conceived to cram a lot of people into little space," says Joe Schwartz, Herman Miller's former marketing chief, who helped launch the system in 1968. "It was driven that way by economics."


[Stewart Brand, co-creator of the Whole Earth Catalog] says that the most productive people he knows have developed ways to work outside offices, not in them. Brand himself worked out of a converted shipping container in Sausalito for seven years and now commutes to a beached fishing boat a few yards from his house. He sees two workspaces rising up to compete with the modern office: homes and what might be called the third space--i.e., Starbucks.

full article

I've got a fairly narrow rotation of "third spaces" that includes the above pictured Groundworks Cafe in Downtown, LA. Having access to range of sunny public spaces, each with their own mood and tenor, is amazing, but they all also have their own unique distractions - bad music, for example, or the seductions of eavesdropping or over-immersion in the (perceived) lives of the staff. Then there's what me and my cafe buds like to shorthand as TML -> Too Many Ladies.

Another thing is that the ubiquity of wireless access means that the great, subversive weapons in humanity's fight against the bosses (loafing, IM, debating whether or not that forward is "work friendly") suddenly become weapons against yourself in a cafe.

Time permitting (wink-wink; what else do you have but time when cruising the wireless-enabled coffeeshops of LA) I'll upload more pics of the various places.

Posted by ebogjonson in brain maintenancecity of angelsplaces at 2:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

March 8, 2006

rips - gordon

Gordon Parks passes at 93.

I think between the Oscar win for Crash and the din of accolades for the impressive size and length of Tyler Perry's box office (some cynical, some credulous) Hollywood's first major black director had likely had enough of us.

Posted by ebogjonson in memoryscreened at 7:46 PM | Permalink

March 5, 2006

oscar notes 1 & 2

1 - jada looks like a man.

2 - british people have bad teeth.

Posted by ebogjonson in mediascreened at 4:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 2, 2006

boston beef

Apparently some genius at Boston's alt-alt-weekly the Weekly Dig has a beef with my man the illhindu. The Dig's comments are super-trifling, but instructive. Seen as a stage in the evolution of the whiteboyus urbanus (or, at least, in the evolution of the legions of the whiteboyus urbanus loving), most of the Dig occupies that awkward place where white folks know that there's something closed and off (i.e., racist) about the working class enclaves they've escaped, but nonetheless still can't bring themselves to countenance any broader cosmopolitanism. Moving past the space of grudging acceptance strikes them as an endorsement of a rankly commerical hipsterism, or as a betrayal of roots that (depending on what kind of white ethic you are) can be as grim as they come. While (and this is the thorny thing) they're right in some respects, their stubborness indicates a typical arrest of their pyschic development. A few stages down the line (after moving out of Boston, for example?) they might realize that you really do have to kill/disavow the metaphorical father/nabe before you can move back, or at the very least, just look back with any real understanding or appreciation.

The Dig's complaint that the illhindu parsed people and arts in terms of their race is a common gripe among recently evolved (emancipated?) whiteboyus urbanus. Having just grokked to the fact (and genuinely, I believe) that people of color are just as human as they are, whiteboyus urbanus tends to be baffled and outraged by any subsequent suggestions by ungrateful coloreds that there are still real, discernable differences between the various us'es and thems. That kind of suggestion strikes them as a betrayal, and you can hear a hint of childish hurt in the howl: I did all this work, I stopped using all those bad words, I kept those dudes from beating up that gay guy, that girl I fingered in the back of the Middle East was Asian or Cape Verdian or something. So why, after all that, do you still insist on reminding me I'm white?

Why indeed, my brother, why indeed.

Posted by ebogjonson in placesrace and other identities at 3:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)