I was recently looking through some old photos in my Lightroom archive and came across a set of photos I took 15 years ago about a lost piece of Dallas-area culture.
The Good-Latimer Tunnel was built in 1930 for Texas State Highway 559 and the Texas & Pacific Railroad. In the 1960s, vandals began to tag its walls with graffiti. By the late 1970s, the City of Dallas had grown tired of cleaning the tunnel, so they began to organize several days each year wherein the street would be blocked off so that artists could paint the tunnel walls. Unfortunately, this came to an end in 2007 when Dallas Area Rapid Transit tore down the tunnel to build a new rail line.
A few weeks before demolition began, I made a trip to Deep Ellum to document some of this artwork. While some of it has been previously published on my website, 75CentralPhotography, most has never seen the light of day until now, seven years later.
I was recently playing around with Photoshop’s Content-Aware fill, trying to replace a drab Chicago sky with something more interesting on a phot of the 1929 Carbide & Carbon Building (now in the process of being renovated to the Pendry Chicago Hotel) and accidentally made this piece of abstract architectural art:
A lot of criticism is (rightfully) thrown at the for-profit college industry. Most gladly take money from students and leave them deep in debt and unprepared for promised careers.
Surely, there are some success stories, but I suspect that these are people who would’ve succeeded on their own—naturally smart, very motivated and quite amiable people who just needed some sort of degree to get them in the door. But for everyone of these individuals, there must be hundreds that aren’t working in the career they trained for and are struggling to pay back the massive amounts of loans they took out to get their wasted education.
Thankfully, one of the worst offenders, ITT Tech, shut down a few years ago after years of fraudulent activities against both students and the government.
As a interviewer and hiring manager in my day job in information technology, I’ve never once interviewed someone from either ITT or any of the other technical for-profit colleges that was “hire-able”. Technical interviews would show they lacked even basic skills for their chosen career, some even to the point of not being able to write and compile a “Hello World” program in their chosen language. Or they lacked soft skills, inabilities to communicate their ideas or thoughts or even to hold a conversation.
But that’s only my experience…like I said earlier, surely there are those that have found success via the for-profit education route. And, to be clear, my criticism here is leveled at the technical school genre of these colleges. I can’t speak to experiences with online, for-profit universities such as WGU, Strayer or University of Phoenix (though these three do have regional accreditation, which is “more legit” than national accreditation).
That said, all this is just a long lead-in for a stupid photoshop that I made years ago that subtly mocks DeVry Institute of Technology, which now calls itself DeVry University:
My advice for anyone that wants to get into a technical job without going to a traditional university: Get an associates degree at a community college…it’s cheap and will be much-more-likely to get your foot in the door in a company as community colleges are usually seen as “legit” compared to for-profit technical schools.
When I was a kid, I had a vivid imagination. As, I suppose, most kids do. Except for the particularly dull ones.
One of my favorite things to imaging was spaceships. Fueled by a steady diet of late 70s-early 80s science fiction (Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers!) along with the optimism of the early days of NASA’s shuttle program (“we’ll be sending astronauts into space weekly and a moonbase is only years away” was the promise), I loved imaging space-based stories of distant planets, their bizarre denizens and the starships that would take us to meet them.
I thought of these imaginary storylines and vehicles again over the weekend, as SpaceX made their first manned launch to the International Space Station (we still don’t have that moonbase, but we do have a space station!). This is, hopefully, the first step for private enterprise to pick up where NASA gave up on space exploration. Hell, Elon Musk even imagined a starship and is building it.
But just because I thought of these imaginary interstellar ships again over the weekend doesn’t mean that I haven’t thought of them since I was an awkward little kid growing up East Texas…I actually think about imaginary space ships on a regular basis.
One of my favorite sites to peruse is Concept Ships, a site filled with user-submitted spaceships. Users with much-better artistic talent than myself (seriously, you’ve seen the limits of my sketching skills). Some of these are so good, that I yearn to see them on TV or in a movie, just to see the adventures that they are engaged in.
I also regularly flip through the ImaginaryStarships subreddit. It’s strangely-reassuring to see that I’m not the only one that imagines spaceships on occasion.
However, my new favorite place to see imagined spaceships is the Instagram feed of Eric Geusz, more popularly known as spacegoose. His specialty is taking everyday objects and reimagining them as spaceships (not unlike how, as a kid, I’d imagine the TV remote as a starcruiser or my Bic pen as a rocket).
Quick post today, since I’m lazy and burned out from work and haven’t had time to properly author an exciting and engaging post.
I recently got a promotion at my day job and, to celebrate, I upgraded from my old iPad Air 2 to an iPad Pro 12.9. And, using some incentive points I had saved up, I got the Apple Pencil to accompany it.
Since I had a stylus and a tablet, I downloaded the digital artist’s iOS app of choice, Procreate, and thought I’d take a metaphorical stab at sketching.
I used to sketch fairly often. I started out in college as an architecture major with dreams of being the next Frank Gehry, Santiago Calatrava or Frank Lloyd Wright , and thus thought I needed to be able to sketch out ideas as they came to me. But those dreams were dashed and my college career progressed from architecture→computer engineering→management information systems.
So, consequently, I stopped sketching and haven’t really sketched anything in over two decades (also, I was just shocked to realize I graduated from college over 20 years ago!).
So now that I’ve picked up Procreate, I’ve started to familiarize myself with its myriad of tools and, I must say, I’m quite impressed. There’s a ton of different drawing tools/brushes available, from sketching to charcoal to painting. And, with the Apple Pencil, they’re extremely accurate and pressure-sensitive. You can tell that the engineers behind the app are artists as well.
After a basic familiarizing, I gave a try at getting back into sketching by doing a quick two-minute sketch of our youngest dog, Etta, lying on the floor. To quote Dylatov, it’s “not great, not terrible“:
I then took a shot at some portraits of the other dogs:
Man, that was rough. My skills are not-so-great. But I plan on keeping at it, improving my sketchiness and learning the tool. If I improve enough, I’ll try these same sketches again in the future and share them here.
Sometimes, late at night, while I’m trying to go to sleep, ridiculous thoughts rise up in my mind. I’ll smirk at them in my half-asleep stupor and my mind will wander on, searching for elusive slumber.
If I’m lucky, I’ll remember them the next morning. If I still find them funny and am suitably inspired, I’ll fire up Photoshop and bring them to life.
Here are a couple of them for your enjoyment (legal disclaimer: enjoyment not guaranteed).
The inspiration for this one came last year when Food Network was heavily promoting the premier of their series Buddy vs. Duff, which pits celebrity pastry chef Duff Goldman versus Carlo’s Bakery owner Buddy Valastro in a series of baking-related challenges.
However, being a good student of pop culture, I immediately thought of former Cricket Buddy Holly and former Guns N’ Roses member Duff McKagan. It wasn’t until later that I considered that comedian Buddy Hackett might’ve been a funnier alternative.
Last year, I started watching the science fiction show The Expanse. However, in my twisted mind, I heard “expanse” as “ex-pants” and immediately thought of a pair of cutoff shorts as formerly being a pair of jeans, or “ex-pants”.
I recently came across an article about a 1943 exhibition of Alexander Calder‘s work at MoMA that jumpstarted his career and had a massive impact on the America art scene.
If you’re not familiar with Calder, you’ve probably seen some of his well-known work throughout the years without even knowing it, such as in the parade scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which features his 1974 sculpture, Flamingo:
*note to whoever posted this video: it’s “Bueller”, not “Buller”. Also, the apostrophe is unnecessary
The connection probably sounds tenuous at best, but that’s probably because Braniff has long-since-faded from your memory (or, if you’re on the younger-side, you’ve never even heard of it). But the connection is real.
In the mid-60s, Braniff began to undertake a decade-long rebranding, embracing the spirit of the times (space age, swinging, cocaine) and commissioned a few well-known designers to bring their image out of the staid 50s and into the modern era.
Fashion designer Emilio Pucci was hired to design new uniforms for the flight crews:
And the (in retrospect, sexist) AirStrip was introduced, in which flight attendants (or, in keeping with the times, “stewardesses”) would, over the course of the flight, remove their Pucci uniforms in favor of something more-comfortable.
In addition, Braniff built a swanky “Hostess College” adjacent to their home airport, Dallas’ Love Field.
It featured this of-the-times conversation pit:
Noted architect and designer Alexander Girard was hired to completely rebrand the airline, from sugar packets, to airport gates to jet interiors, as part of the “End of the Plain Plane” campaign.
And, finally, getting back to Calder, he was invited to use Braniff jets as giant canvasses for his art, resulting in some of the most bold, exciting jet liveries to ever grace the sky:
Unfortunately for Braniff, these undertakings were not enough to keep the airline alive. Due to mounting debt and a threatened pilots strike, the airline ceased operations on May 12, 1982. The daily nonstop from Honolulu to DFW, was the airline’s last flight, undertaken by the 747SP named “747 Braniff Place”, but more affectionately-known as “Big Orange”:
The designs of the 60s and 70s had a certain optimism to them, no doubt inspired by unease over the Vietnam War and the Cold War, and percolated by men walking on the Moon, that it gives me hope that great art will emerge from the current coronavirus-stricken world.
I was recently digging through some of the previously-mentioned effects and memorabilia that I’d inherited from my father and found this sketch of a Victorian house he’d made in 1976.
At the time, I would’ve been less-than-a-year-old as I’d been born in late 1975 and we were living in the South Texas city of Kingsville, home of the King Ranch and not much else, and decidedly not home to much Victorian architecture.
Unfortunately, time hasn’t been too kind to this sketch…it’s been torn and faded to a vague yellow. It seems to have been taped onto something at one time…perhaps a portfolio or a frame. That said, I might have to frame it sometime as a small item to remember him by.