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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Arthur’s Landing

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Arthur’s Landing is a group of musicians, all of whom worked at various times in various contexts with the late Arthur Russell (Wikipedia), a cellist and composer from Iowa who lived on the Lower East Side for most of the later part of his too-short life.

I don’t know Russell in person, but I came to enjoy his music via Steven Hall.

Born Charles Arthur Russell, Jr. (May 21, 1951 – April 4, 1992), Arthur Russell found the most success in dance music. Russell’s career bridged New York’s downtown, rock, and dance music scenes; his collaborators ranged from Philip Glass to David Byrne to Nicky Siano. Relatively unknown during his lifetime, a series of reissues and compilations have raised his profile in the 2000s.

The band members of Arthur’s Landing are:

  • Steven Hall: guitar / vox
  • Bill Ruyle: drums / hammer dulcimer / tablas
  • Peter Zummo: horns / vox
  • Joyce Bowden: guitar / clarinet / vox
  • Ernie Brooks: bass / vox
  • Mustafa Ahmed: perc

Musicians who play with the band on occasion include: John Scherman, Elodie Lauten, Peter Gordon, Max Gordon, Michael Evans, Carlos Hernandez, Zach Layon and Alex Waterman.

You can listen to their music at on their MySpace page. Various videos of the band are also uploaded on YouTube. Their music is licensed by Moon Caravan Records.

I went to see Arthur's Landing at Zebulon in Williamsburg last week, in conjunction with a Chinatown Records party hosted by Brennan Green. Here are some photographs taken that day:

Steven Hall + Ernie Brooks

Steven Hall + Ernie Brooks / Arthur's Landing @ Zebulon / 20090822.10D.51770.P1 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Steven Hall

Steven Hall / Arthur's Landing @ Zebulon / 20090822.10D.51754.P1 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Peter Zummo

Peter Zummo / Arthur's Landing @ Zebulon / 20090822.10D.51774.BW / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Joyce Bowden

Joyce Bowden / Arthur's Landing @ Zebulon / 20090822.10D.51762.SQ / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Zach Layton

Zach Layton / Arthur's Landing @ Zebulon / 20090822.10D.51758.P1.SQ / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Carlos Hernandez

Carlos Hernandez / Arthur's Landing @ Zebulon / 20090823.10D.51790.SQ.BW / SMLb (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Xavier Smith

Xavier Smith / Arthur's Landing @ Zebulon / 20090822.10D.51756.P1 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Brennan Green

Brennan Green / Arthur's Landing @ Zebulon / 20090823.10D.51786.P1 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Related SML
+ SML Flickr Tags: Arthur's Landing

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inner Beauty Parlor

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Inner Beauty Parlor is a free series curated and hosted by Josphe Keckler. This fun event, which features artists, musicians and performance artists, is held monthly at the Envoy Gallery at 131 Chrystie St in the Lower East Side.

It was Gerry Visco who told me about the event. I met her just the day before on Flickr. I saw this rather crazy photo titled money money money money on her stream and I was determined to seek out this fashionista.

Gerry told me that she will be performing the very next day (awesome!) -- the same day that the VizThink NYC Pictionary Showdown was happening (ugh!). Because of my scheduling conflict, I only got to see the last bit of the show.. but it was *totally* worth it. The show was awesome and the people were super talented. Next time I'll be going on time!

Here are some photographs taken at the show and intelligence data snipped by SML Bio Bot:

The Venn Diagrams: Jeffrey Marsh + Rick Sorkins

The Venn Diagrams: Rick Sorkin + Jeffrey Marsh, Inner Beauty Parlor / 20090819.10D.51602.SQ / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Jeffrey Marsh and Rick Sorkin (Twitter) having been working together since 2001. They blend classic cabaret, modern composition / performance and audience interaction. Basically, if they ike it, it makes it into the show. That can be a joke about The Golden Girls or a 1930's German war song.

The duo cut their teeth playing the night club circuit in the early aughts, touring the act around NE America. Highlights have included a project with an 11 piece rock orchestra and SRO shows in various venues.

The Venn Diagrams
Modern Day Cabaret

Gerry Visco as Nurse Gerry

Gerry Visco, Inner Beauty Parlor / 20090819.10D.51609 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Nurse Gerry aka Gerry Visco gave the audience a complete physical with disco yoga. She also presented a scientific lecture on Physiognomy, Phrenology, and the Ancient Chinese art of Reading Faces.

Gerry Visco (Flickr / Twitter) is a freelance writer, photographer, and radio host who has published in New York Press, The Village Voice, The New York Sun, New York Magazine, Fit Yoga, Beyond Race, Our Town, West Side Spirit, the Chelsea Clinton News, New York Blade Gay City News, Spread Magazine, The Villager, Columbia Review, the Adobe Anthology, and other publications in print and online. She hosts a show on WKCR FM entitled “Arts and Answers.”

Originally from Boston, Mass., she's lived in New York City since 1974. Her subjects have included personalities such as Sufjan Stevens, Todd Haynes, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Penny Arcade, Clayton Patterson, Buck Angel, Crispin Glover, the Cockettes, David Del Tredici, the Cockettes, writer Daniel Mendelsohn, and other artists, musicians, and performers. She's written restaurant reviews, pieces covering NYC neighborhoods, features about yoga and martial arts, humorous essays, and profiles of people who aren't afraid to be on the edge. She's writing a memoir about her descent into the gritty exhilarating inferno of New York City during the 1970s and 1980s.

Visco has an MS from Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism in 2005, an MFA from Columbia's School of the Arts in 1990, a BA from Columbia's School of General Studies in 1987, and an AAS from Fashion Institute of Technology in 1980. She taught a fiction workshop for Gotham Writers' Workshop for seven years and has also worked as an editor, actor, secretary, model, teacher, coat check girl, census taker, and muse but is currently employed as an indentured servant at Columbia University.

Joseph Keckler

Joseph Keckler, Inner Beauty Parlor / 20090819.10D.51647.BW / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Joseph Keckler (Twitter) gave a fabulous vocal performance with his unique mixture of blues, classical opera, and psychedelics. I haven't got a chance to talk to him much, but this is what the press has been saying about him lately which I agree completely:

The New York Press says that he "commands the stage with erotic bravo."

Backstage says that he "can flip styles as though responding to a switch, take on myriad voices, and draw on an extensive musical repertoire, his vocal skills are just one aspect of this gifted storyteller."

Village Voice calls him "Studly". And Timeout New York says that he is "The Divine".

Other amazing people spotted

Dan Bartfield accompanied Keckler with his violin.
Dan Bartfield, Inner Beauty Parlor / 20090819.10D.51605.SQ.BW / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Guitarist (Name? SML RFI) with Keckler.
Inner Beauty Parlor / 20090819.10D.51639 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Bryan Heyboer + Gian Maria Annovi (Flickr). Paintings by Stephen Workman.
Bryan Heyboer + Gian Maria Annovi, Inner Beauty Parlor / 20090819.10D.51674 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Bandanna Guy (Name? SML RFI) + Chavis Woods.
Man + Chavisa Woods, Inner Beauty Parlor / 20090819.10D.51620.BW / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Louis Jordan.
Louis Jordan, Inner Beauty Parlor / 20090819.10D.51617.BW / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Tory Lipsey + Go-Go Harder Faster Stronger + Gerry Visco.
Tory Lipsey + Go-Go Harder Faster Stronger + Gerry Visco, Inner Beauty Parlor / 20090819.10D.51663 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Additional photographs taken at the event can be seen at its own set on SML Flickr.

Related SML
+ SML Flickr Tags: Events
+ SML Flickr Tags: Inner.Beauty.Parlor

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Multiple Personas Disorder

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Personas is an art installation by Aaron Zinman. It reveals the inner workings of data-mining technologies, and outputs a visualization of your Internet personas based on your first and last name.

Many sources have pointed out that although the experience was great, the piece failed to deliver consistent results. What most people failed to note, however, is that inconsistency was exactly the message the creator tries to deliver: that although fortunes are sought through the indispensable use of data-mining, this kind of data is far from infallible.

The site reveals inconsistent results for me, too, but I decided to perform multiple samples of the results to see if I can see an underlying pattern - in other words, turning an inherent fault of the machine to useful and relatively accurate results with additional sampling. These are my results:

Multiple Personas Disorder / 2009 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)
large size / original size

As can be seen from the graph, although the results vary greatly, I can still observe patterns using the multiple results.

While the proportions of categories vary greatly, there is definitely patterns in the categories of online, books, sports, movies, social, and professional. I don't know how sports got such a big chunk in the graph, but my guess is that it must have to do with my skydiving videos which were very popular in YouTube a while back.

Things become a bit more interesting as I use a different variation of my name to perform the search. As my own experiments with Google has shown, Googling See-ming Lee vs Seeming Lee vs seeminglee can yield fairly different results. While the main hubs of my universe remain the same, the weaker nodes vary greatly. Until I managed to teach Google how to equate all my identities as the same (more on this at another time), my online presence are determined mostly by people's preference of how they wish to spell my name.

Here is Personas' output of Seeming Lee (my name with no hyphen) and it reveals a more complex person:

Multiple Personas Disorder / 2009 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)
large size / original size

I think that these results reveal a more complete picture of who I am. The interesting bit is my music, which was absent in my first attempt, becomes a much greater part in my overall persona makeup. This makes me wonder if it is best for me to go by Seeming Lee instead of See-ming Lee, but the fact that the compact form also introduced an illegal attribute (whatever that means!) also worries me a bit. It is useful to observe however that there are consistencies among all 10 searches: online, books, sports, social and professional, so I'll accept that as generally a good thing.

All in all, the piece is fun to play with, and I recommend that you check it out at

Additional information can be found at

Thursday, August 20, 2009

VizThink NYC Pictionary Showdown


VizThink is trying to build a community of visual thinkers. I learned about the organization about a week ago from Twitter, and I thought that it was a nice idea.

I'd like to think that I am a visual thinker. I am a graphic designer after all and data visualization has long been my passion. Besides, I speak and write Chinese fluently. Chinese characters are intrinsically visual, with the core of its character set primarily made up of pictograms and ideograms. While thinking visually is not a new concept, actively putting it to use in my daily note-taking is interesting. I was determined to find out what they are about, and was delighted to find an event so very soon.

The VizThink NYC Pictionary Showdown was a casual event. And it was fun, which might explain the absense of my photography shortly after the game started. But here is what I managed:

Rules of Engagement, VizThink NYC Pictionary Showdown / 20090819.10D.51577 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)
At the start of the show down, Heather Willems, one of the organizers of the event, explained to the participants the rules of the game.

Drinking = highly encouraged, VizThink NYC Pictionary Showdown / 20090819.10D.51579 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)
Having an event held at a local bar mandates that drinking is highly encouraged.

Category: People, VizThink NYC Pictionary Showdown / 20090819.SD850IS.2615 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)
Words for the event were custom-created by the organizers and were intended to be much harder than what you normally see in your box of Pictionary. Pictured above was one of the challenges, in the people category. Can you guess what it is?

Steve Cherches, VizThink NYC Pictionary Showdown / 20090819.10D.51583 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)
Steve Cherches, the person I would forever remember as that who drew the fabulous hot dog.

Ray DeLaPena + Nora Herting, VizThink NYC Pictionary Showdown / 20090819.10D.51584 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)
Ray DeLaPena and Nora Herting

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Self penalty system

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Most people create reward systems for themselves when they manage to achieve their goals. A friend does the opposite. He set up a self-penalty system for punishing himself when he fails to achieve his goals. His penalty: burning 20-dollar bills. He keeps evidence of the penalty on his fridge as a constant reminder.

Self-penalty system / 20090815.10D.51563 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

He reasoned that when the system is as harsh as burning one's own money, those goals are more readily achieved - for example, it serves as a great way to quit smoking. Each time you smoke a cigarette, you must burn a twenty-dollar bill.

He suggested that putting physical evidence as a penalty reminder is not something new: in the old times when the penalty of crime was getting one's head chopped off, cities used to place those heads on spears and placed at the town square to remind citizens to not commit crime.

French opening

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I am not very good at chess, but whenever I have the time, I visit Washington Square to play a few games. Aside from being fun, it's great brain-training exercises.

Chess players at Washington Square are easy to spot. Once you get near the south-west corner of the park, you'll hear questions things like "Chess players? Chess players?" fairly quickly.

Yesterday I played with Jerry Gateway (pictured) and he taught me how to play the French Defense. Jerry has been playing at Washington Square Park for about 15 years, before that he was playing in Harlem for about five years. He started playing chess when he was fifteen, and currently has a rating around 2300.

Chess at Washington Square Park / 20090818.SD850IS.2592 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

People at the park play for money, which goes for $2-$3 for a 5-minute blitz. For many of them, hustling chess at the park is their primary source of income. Jerry told me that he makes around $100 a day doing just that.

I don't play for money. I prefer to give them a flat fee and learn a few openings instead. I prefer queen-side openings, and I normally play Sicillian Defence even though I never quite like it.. Jerry taught me how to play the French Defense. It goes something like this:

  1. e4 e6
  2. d4 d5
  3. e5 a6
  4. Nf3 c5
  5. Be3 Qb6
  6. Qc1 Nc6
  7. c3 Bd7
  8. Nd2 Rc8
  9. Bd3 dxc4

After pawn takes c4, my massive army on the queen side can attack effectively. Castling so late seems awkward at first but the lesson pays off:. I used it on the same day against other folks and actually won a couple of games using this strategy.

HeartChallenger = Ice Cream + Candies on Wheels

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Next time you see this pink truck roaming in your neighborhood, you are in for a sweet treat.

HeartsChallenger / 20090819.10D.51566 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Officially launched in New York in June 2009, the HeartsChallenger is the world's 1st internationally stocked ice cream truck. In addition to ice cream, they also have candy and toys for your sweet tooth.

Since their ice cream selection changes often, HeartsChallenger doesn't have a fixed menu. Instead, they print the photos and names of their selection onto these magnetized labels which sticks to their truck when ready to serve.

HeartsChallenger / 20090819.10D.51567 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Inside the truck is candy, candy and even more candies!

Candy, candy and even more candies! / 20090819.10D.51574 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Wanna check them out but not sure when they might stop by? You can follow the truck around town on their twitter feed at

For more information, visit

Related SML Flickr Tags:
+ HeartsChallenger

Jonathan Adler: Manifesto

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We believe our designs are award winning even though they'ver never actually won any. Jonathan Adler Manifesto / 20090818.SD850IS.2584 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)


We believe that colors can't clash.
We believe that, when it comes to decorating, the wife is always right (unless the husband is gay).
We believe in mixing periods: Saarinen chairs in a French chateau, Cinoiserie in a futuristic pad.
We believe in carbohydrates and to hell with the puffy consequences.
We believe in the innate chicness of red with brown.
We believe celebrities should pay full price.
We believe minimalism is a bummer.
We believe our designs are award winning even though they've never actually won any.
We believe that happiness is chic.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Application Installation / I love Linux

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One of the reasons why I really like Linux is easy application searching and installation. To do this on Windows or Mac, I first need to Google where I can download the application, I download it, run the program, go through a tons of windows for the GUI installation process, and then I can run it.

When I need an update, I need to again get to some web site, download the app, run the installation executable, which then prompt me with even more choices before I can finally run it. Some applications come with its own updater, but it's not a standard practice, and although it helps with the user experience, it's considered a feature, and not a requirement.

With Linux, if I know what I need, I can perform installation in a single step:

apt-get install inkscape

Even better is the fact that if I knew I have to install multiple applications at once, I can just type:

apt-get install inkscape gimp firefox

and they all get downloaded automatically, installed, and ready to run.

Future updates to the applications are automatic. Ubuntu tells me whenever there's an update my applications, with an unobtrusive tray icon. Updates are a click away, simple as that. Updates for all the applications happen the same way, with very no in-your-face GUI after GUI to go through during the process.

I didn't get very conscious about these experience until moving from the Ubuntu desktop back to either a Windows or Mac machine. Those tasks often create unnecessary stress which I do not need.

SML Data

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I have been building my CMS for a while now. The idea of building a database came from noting that I have lots and lots of content that needs to be indexed. I'd like to put everything happening in my life so that I can possibility find hidden structure (emergence) within the structure. I believe that my multitudes of interests (the leaves) are preventing me to discover what I'm about (the tree).

Coming up with the database structure and figuring out an efficient way of accessing those data with unknown criteria was problematic. I'm not a database architect, most certainly lack the know-how to structure a scalable database architecture that can index everything about my life. So I decided to create my outsourced my CMS and database--free CMS database via user-generated content sites.

It works something like this:

  • bookmarks: delicious
  • music: acidplanet
  • writing: blogger (or wordpress, haven't decided yet)
  • photography: flickr
  • portfolio: flickr
  • flash 'experiments': still looking for a good database
  • videos: you tube
  • books: librarything
  • book recommendations: amazon
  • mails: most likely gmail
  • news: probably twitter

Utilizing ugc sites to manage my content has many benefits

  • My data are hosted on very safe environment, usually with very good backup systems, all for free
  • Management of the content can be performed using tools specifically created for the management of those content.
  • The CMS on those sites will continue to improve as the next generation comes, and I save on the need to improve my own administrative tools, which can become time consuming
  • Accessing data on the services are easy through the their respectively constantly improving APIs
  • The application to drive all the content become very easy to host--as the size required to host the large database is no longer an issue

Putting my data access API together is still at the works since the original idea from 2007--but the important fact is that it hasn't stopped me from content creation. One of the key problems in many startup is not having data to play with. Now that all of my 3rd-party content portals have enough data to play with, the development effort has been moving much rapidly since the original idea inception back in 2007.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Paul Pangaro + SML

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Thanks to the thoughtful and generous introduction from Hugh Dubberly (SML Wiki), I met up with Paul Pangaro at his place, where I enjoyed a delightful and inspiring conversation about his philosophies.

Paul Pangaro / 20090814.10D.51465 / SML (by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

I had problems keeping track of all the topics discussed on my Moleskine, and so it was wonderful that Paul sent notes, links and references back to me as an email as we speak. SML Thank You

SML Notebook

Designing for Conversation

Random stuff

  • Transcendental Meditation (Wikipedia) by Maraheshi Mahesh Yogi
  • Occam's Razor

I also learned an important lesson from Dr Wires: "ideas do not have to be taken seriously to have an impact."

Related SML Universe