Second Sundays

A Second Sunday. A first month.

I didn’t know of Jim Haynes until I read about him this week in Leo Hollis’s Cities Are Good For You: The Genius of the Metropolis. He’s an American in Paris who, for almost 40 years, has held an “endless dinner party” in his apartment at 38 Rue de la Tombe Issoire in Paris, inviting anyone and everyone, a salon for the world.

There’s no prior screening, no invitations, “Mr. Haynes, 78, said. “I just say the first 60 or 75 that call can come and that’s the mix.

More about Jim Haynes: Sign up for his dinner!

Inviting the World to Dinner

Jim Haynes: Godfather of the Supper Club

My goal for Second Sundays has been to create community around food like this, albeit with more structure. But structure, which can often be freeing in its application of constraints, can also be limiting, binding, onerous, and suffocating: perhaps it’s time for the structure to go, the strings to loosen, the lid lifted off. Perhaps it’s time to approach this dinner series like Jim does: Open. Trusting. Que sera, sera.

Q. How does your supper club operate?

A. We have a volunteer chef system. I have a Rolodex of 12 cooks. I just call them up and ask who’s ready for the next one. The food changes. The woman cooking this weekend is Russian; last weekend, the chef was Macedonian. The meals are almost always three courses, and there’s always a vegetarian option. There’s a suggested donation of 30 euros, but you give what you want. – Dinner? Paris? Invite Everyone!

John Locke said that ‘trust’ was at the heart of any society; and this notion of ‘trust’ has too often been ignored in the discussions of how to make a happy city. –Leo Hollis

Our last supper club was hosted at Andrew’s house in the Central District, including Andrew, me, Debra, Chris, and Aaron. Debra plans to host our next one (in April). But after that, I’m loosening, billowing, opening this supper club up to the world. Jim has the irresistible draw of hosting in an atelier in Paris and Seattle is no Paris, this is true. But Paris is no Seattle, either. There are beautiful, interesting people where ever you go.

Will you spread the word and cook for us?

Generalized trusters are ‘happier in thier own personal lives and believe that they are the masters of their own fate. They are tolerant of people who are different from themselves and believe that dealing with strangers opens up opportunities more than it entails risks. –Leo Hollis

Second Sundays

Andrew, Deborah, Aaron, and Chris. Sunday, January 10, 2016. Seattle.

Second Sundays.

Chris and Aaron. Sunday, January 10, Seattle’s Central District neighborhood.

Second Sundays

Hot buttered rum, compliments of Chris. Second Sundays, January 10, 2016.

Parisians at a café on the Left Bank, engaging in the most Parisian of activities. Paris, March 2014. Photo by Callie Neylan.

Vive la France! Or why I fly the French flag.

Why would I go to the funeral of a friend or relative but not all of the funerals happening in my city that day? Why would I visit my own sick child in the hospital but not the hundreds of other sick ones, too? Why do I, an American, fly the French flag after the attacks of last Friday, and not the flags of other nations who’ve suffered similar tragedies?

 

Muslim girl on the Seine.

A young Muslim girl on the banks of the Seine. Paris, France. March 2014. Photo by Callie Neylan.

 

So Much For Freedom Fries: America’s New BFF is France

Because it boils down to this: personal, shared stories.

See also: A Brief History of Pierre L’Enfant and Washington, D.C.

Without the French, there would be no America. Without America, there would be no France. Our very first ally, they helped us win the Revolutionary War; sold us the Lousiana Purchase; lent us their architects inspiring the beautiful, classic, timeless design of our capital city;  housed and inspired many of our greatest writers, like Richard Wright, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald; and most importantly, provided many of the philosophical frameworks on which we built our American ideals.

Few terrorist attacks in foreign lands have seized the attention of this country like the carnage in the streets of Paris, a city an ocean away but glittering in the memories of countless American honeymoons, junior years abroad and bucket-list vacations. – The New York Times

In turn, we saved them from the Germans during World War I, saved them again during World War II, and cry more for their cities and their people when, all other things equal, tragedies happen on French soil. The first thing our earliest refugees saw when immigrating to American shores was the Statue of Liberty. Our first tangible face to the world, a French face: one of our most recognizable icons, a gift from the French people to a foundling, idealistic, starry-eyed democracy. Of course we pledge their allegiance first: that’s what old friends with these kinds of intimate, shared stories do.

 

Waiters on the Left Bank, Paris. March 2014.

Waiters on the Left Bank in the 6ème Arrondissement, Paris. March 2014.

2014-03-10 08.00.05 2014-03-10 07.57.20 2014-03-10 07.56.37

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2014-03-08 13.43.43 2014-03-08 10.47.17 2014-03-08 10.39.33 2014-03-08 10.26.05 2014-03-08 09.27.22 2014-03-08 09.25.52 2014-03-07 03.23.46 2014-03-07 03.23.20 2014-03-06 12.52.31 2014-03-06 10.35.12 2014-03-05 08.15.55 2014-03-05 07.45.46 2014-03-05 07.01.53 2014-03-05 06.48.22

Paris

Photos taken by me during our trip to Paris in March 2014.


The first time I ever set foot on foreign soil, it was French soil. I’ll never forget that day I emerged wide-eyed in the gates at Charles de Gualle airport, July 1996, on my way to southern France to study for the summer. I’ll never forget the first time someone spoke to me directly in French and how in an instant, theory met reality and everything I learned in my years of French study alluded me for an instant, rendering me speechless as I struggled to find les mots justes.

I’ll never forget stuffing three Americans, four suitcases, and two French hosts in a Citroën not much bigger than a smart car, driving from Marseille to my French family’s apartment in Aix-en-Provence.

I’ll never forget the first time I walked down a French cobble-stoned street, presented with the golden ratio embedded in beautiful architecture, everywhere I looked.

I’ll never forget my little French room with the terracotta balcony overlooking a dozen more terracotta balconies in the Mediterranean sun. I’ll never forget the bowls of coffee every morning for breakfast and the paté-smeared French bread everyday for lunch.

I’ll never forget Corrine, Lauren and Astrid Machulka, my wonderful host family, who greeted me with a cheerful French “Coucou!” every morning when I woke up. I’ll never forget how she a single mother, and me, a single one too, used to compare notes as we drove her daughters along the sea to their father’s in Avignon for le weekend avec leur pere.

I’ll never forget meeting my dear friend Christina – my friend to this day – and how we used to make fun of the French and their condescending rudeness even though we both loved the French and everything about them. Nor how we used to laugh our brash American laughs as we imitated Texans speaking French on the curbs of the Cours Mirabeau. Our friendship, nee en France, is a true French citizen.

I’ll never forget my first French pain au chocolat and French crepe, my first topless sunbathing experience on a rock by the Coté d’Azur followed by my first cliff jumping into a deep sparkling sea. Nor my first ride on the TGV and that time in the Latin Quarter on my last night during that first summer in France, laughing and joking and speaking much more fluent French with a long table of French, who pulled us, les jolies Americaines! into their fold as we walked down the street.

I’ll never forget how that first travel abroad expanded my world and changed me forever.

#newyorktimes #peaceforparis

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Paris, je t’aime.

On the Great Works of Software and Detroit.

I have never been to Detroit, but as a lover of cities, I am interested in what happens to it. Interested to see how it transforms itself from ruin to revival. I did live in Baltimore for four years, though – a city facing nearly identical problems. I am interested in Detroit, Baltimore and cities like them because I am a designer for one of the world’s canonical pieces of software.

Is there such a thing as a software canon? On The Great Works of Software.

I am a designer who believes that great works of software are a lot like great cities: i.e., large, beautiful, complex systems beholden to the human quirks, tantrums, and whims of those who build and inhabit them, entrenched and cemented behemoths, characteristics which at the same time spell a system’s life and death. Life because these traits are essential for the very livelihood of millions of people in a fundamental, familiar form. Death because this form is too often heavy, immalleable, and resistant to evolution.

Dull, inert cities, it is true, do contain the seeds of their own destruction and little else. But lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves. – Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

The University of Washington’s College of Built Environments hosted Detroit Future City: Design for Rapid Change, a lecture and panel discussion exploring how Detroit can tap into its own seeds of regeneration to rebuild itself. I went asking myself what software designers might borrow from urban planners to help make complex software programs better? For what is complex software if not a built environment?

There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plan. – Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

In pondering, considering, and connecting after the lecture, I came upon this, an Urban Design Framework put forth by the city of Perth in Australia:

The Urban Design Framework is a design tool that provides a physical interpretation of the City of Perth’s vision and strategies. It helps to ensure that the built environment we create reflects the community’s vision and the Council’s strategies, and it underpins an integrated approach to better physical environments.

The Urban Design Framework focuses on the broad scale and the long term, and sets an overall planning and design context within which more detailed and localised strategies, studies and projects can be coordinated. It also identifies administrative actions, economic, environmental, and social initiatives that have a bearing on the creation of a great city.

The need to have an urban design ‘manifesto’ has been acknowledged by other Australian cities, such as Melbourne’s ‘Grids and Greenery’ which has provided a sound policy framework for over 20 years. Such a strategic document includes directions for improving both the public and private realm, reflects a political commitment to urban design, and guides urban design quality and consistency through future capital works programs.

What if we approached design for software like design for cities and had design frameworks, manifestos, and broad scale plans? What if we asked ourselves this: What would Jane Jacobs do?

Paris streets.

Letters from Paris: On cities as museums.

It’s springtime in Paris and I have something to confess (although the fact that I feel the need to dub it a confession makes me sad). I’ve been in Paris for almost 10 days and have only been to one museum (no, it wasn’t the Louvre). And, due to societal expectations that when in Paris, you go to museums, I feel guilty about that.

But I don’t want to go to museums.

Instead, I want to leisurely flâneur about, hang out with the French in outdoor cafés, look for the best foodstuffs I can find and revel in the superior urban planning and architecture, rather than seek out the best paintings, tapestries, or sculptures. And watch all the people. The beautiful, ugly, wonderful, horrible, stupid, smart, magnificent, never-endingly fascinating people.

So why should I feel guilty? Is not living a fine art? Is not the rhythm of the city and the choreography of the streets as complex and beguiling as the Mona Lisa? Is not the Eiffel Tower a sculpture formed of metal, blood, sweat, and tears; the Luxembourg Gardens a thousand paintings brushed with strokes of flora, fauna, and light? Is not the city itself a museum, each neighborhood its own exhibit, and each one of us an author of our own unique tableau? A tableau that we paint as we go, on the canvas which is our city, for all the flâneurs to see.

11 ème, Paris.

Letters from Paris: Things Parisians Like.

The thing I love about Parisians is they just don’t give a damn. And that, contrary to popular belief, they aren’t rude. In fact, they’re wonderfully polite.

I think people don’t understand that there are a number of things that are said and that have to be done in order for anything to start. Sometimes I’ll see Americans in a store in my neighbourhood and they’ve gone right to the front – they don’t understand that there’s a line. Maybe they just weren’t paying enough attention. “I want that in the window!” They don’t understand that you begin by saying hello, and you don’t just say hello. You say, “Hello ma’am,” or “Hello, sir.” You have to do that in Paris. You have to say “madame” or “monsieur.” You have to remind them what sex they are. There are these pleasantries that have to be exchanged. It’s like the American South that way.

I always think it’s funny when people say, “Well, they said, ‘Hello, how are you?’ but they didn’t mean it.'” Aren’t you an adult? Nobody means it. You just do it. It’s all part of the conversation. It’s a prelude and it has to be done. But so many people who think that the French are horrible just don’t acknowledge that part of it.

– David Sedaris on misconceptions about Parisians

Listen to David Sedaris talk about living in Paris with Ira Glass on This American Life’s Americans in Paris.

Les Parisiens aiment:
Fumer!
Foulards!
Jack Russell Terriers
Red lipstick on the weekends
Marlboros, Camels, and Pall Malls
Les lunettes trés chic
Department store mannequins in semi-sexual positions
Meringue
Macarons
Sitting in cafés. All day and all night. All night and all day.
Meat
Cheese
Du pain, du vin, du chocolat!
Faire du shopping!
Rollerblading in the streets
Politeness
Living in the moment
Biking in heels
Their beautiful culture
Eminem and Daft Punk
Really bad classic rock
Typography on their clothes
Longer-haired guys
Pacifiers for 4-year olds
Government-sponsored everything!
Obama
Scooters

Les Parisiens n’aiment pas:
Bicycle helmets
Faire du jogging!
Exercise
Spoiled children
Work
Pedestrians in crosswalks
Kale
Les Arabs
Doing business on Sundays
Doing business on Mondays
Doing business after 7pm (or, as they say in France, 19h)
Rules
Consequences
Rude tourists
George Bush
Dick Cheney

Letters from Paris: Flâneur as Voleur.

PARIS — Aggravated robberies are up more than 40 percent in the Paris public transport system, and the government places blame for the rise on the attractiveness of smartphones.

See: Smartphones Lure Sticky Fingers in Paris

The interior minister, Brice Hortefeux, calls it the “iPhone effect,” and the police talk of thieves’ “going to pick apples” on the Métro. While Métro thieves seem to find iPhones particularly attractive, usually fetching at least $200 and sometimes as much as $400 on the street for some upgraded versions, smartphones in general have become a favorite target, the police say. – The New York Times

It was somewhere between Gare de L’Est and République. Jacques Bonsergent, je pense. One Métro stop with an emphasis on stop. One minute I, the flâneur, slipped my phone into my pocket. The next minute, le voleur slipped it out. The last photo I took was as we walked onto the platform, Will and I collectively dragging three black suitcases and two starry heads full of hope. To my right was an old beggar, sitting three feet up on a concrete ledge. Wearing a faded turban, dirty white robe, and an elegant patina of international hardship. He may or many not have had all his limbs: I couldn’t tell. His voice was raspy and wane. He spoke Arabic, not French. Holding out a creased, greasy cup with grimey edges, he implored all of us with squinted eyes. I could see that he was blind.

“To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder – a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.” – Susan Sontag

So I ignored him. It’s much easier to ignore those who can’t look you in the eye, don’t you think?

Ignored him until I stopped to wait for the train, turning back in fascination to take a photo. Taking his image, without asking first and giving nothing in return. Point. Shoot. Slip into my pocket, to post later on Instagram, appropriating his misery for my “likes”. Taking something that wasn’t mine. Taking something from nothing. As opposed to the thief who stole from me. Taking nothing, really. From something. From someone who has a lot. From me, the flâneur, and also, voleur.

An apiary, a city, and beautiful cinematography.

Made by Hand / No 3 The Beekeeper. Via Made by Hand on Vimeo.

First I wanted chickens. Now I want bees. I don’t have either yet, but…maybe this summer. Will and I have been learning about wonderful things in our research on sustainable agriculture. Things about biodynamic farming, about the reasons behind different colored chicken eggs, and about how farming is a lot of long, hard work.

I also had my interest in beekeeping piqued after an interview with Denzel Mitchell of Five Seeds Farm. We drove half an hour to his farm in upstate Maryland, talking for a while at a long, stately wooden table in a light-bathed room. Then we meandered a mile or so down the road to his fields: me, Will, Denzel and his delightful daughter, followed by the long February sun. Even if you’re not a country person, you would have loved it out there. I just know it.

Denzel runs an apiary as part of his urban farming and my interest in bees was piqued. So I did a little research and came across the beautifully shot video above, and

My city, myself.

From Mapping Home: Learning a new city, remembering the old. By Aleksandar Hemon

I returned to places I had known my whole life in order to capture details that had been blurred by excessive familiarity. I collected sensations and faces, smells and sights, fully internalizing Sarajevo’s architecture and its physiognomies. I gradually became aware that my interiority was inseperable from my exteriority, that the geography of my city was the geography of my soul. Physically and metaphysically, I was placed.

I’ve befriended many cities in my life, both large and small. Here’s to the more significant ones and how they’ve shaped me, for better or for worse.

Durango, Colorado; 1974. I learned that life goes on, even when people you love don’t. Snow and mountains are beautiful.

Denver, Colorado; 1979. I learned that roller coasters are therapeutic and that being there in spirit will just have to do.

Albuquerque, New Mexico; 1988. I learned that there’s nothing like cherry malts in a desert summer. A mother’s love cuts while it caresses and sisters are to cherish.

Seattle, Washington; 1995. Big, urban cities aren’t that scary. Rather, they’re like beautiful boys you fall in love and have affairs with. Cities are like people.

Aix-en-Provence, France; 1996. I learned that people are the same where ever you go. And that lavender fields smell good.

New York, New York; 1998. I learned that the world fascinates me. I can’t get enough of it.

Rome, Italy; 2005. I learned to never back down. And to drink grappa before noon at least once in your life.

Washington, DC; 2008. The city is an interface. I learned that Margaret Mead was right when she said: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Baltimore, MD; 2010. I learned that broken cities beget broken people beget broken cities. And that the East Coast hardwood forests are my favorite. Warm velvet night, seduce me.

Dublin, Ireland; 2012. I fell in love with the word “diaspora”. And discovered that one can come home to a place where one has never been.

Durango
Denver

Albuquerque
Seattle

Aix-en-Provence

Manhattan

Rome

Washington, DC

Baltimore

DublinAll images are screenshots taken from Google Earth queries.

On cities and multiple mental models.

Dame StreetLooking down Dame Street toward Trinity College. Dublin, Ireland. Photo by Callie Neylan, February 2012.

What I love about cities is everything. What I love about traveling to other cities is how it expands and challenges ones mental models. As Charlie Munger expounds, having multiple mental models is a necessity for wisdom:

Well, the first rule is that you’ve got to have multiple models because if you just have one or two that you’re using, the nature of human psychology is such that you’ll torture reality so that it fits your models, or at least you’ll think it does…

It’s like the old saying, ”To the man with only a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” And of course, that’s the way the chiropractor goes about practicing medicine. But that’s a perfectly disastrous way to think and a perfectly disastrous way to operate in the world. So you’ve got to have multiple models. And the models have to come from multiple disciplines because all the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department. That’s why poetry professors, by and large, are so unwise in a worldly sense. They don’t have enough models in their heads. So you’ve got to have models across a fair array of disciplines.

While visiting Dublin, I compiled a list of mental models challenged while there: cars driving on the wrong side of the road, leaving me shocked when seeing there was noone in the driver’s seat and causing near fatal steps into crosswalks when I failed to look in the relevant direction toward oncoming traffic; bathrooms with tiny, water-saving toilets and no handicapped stalls; bilingual signage, Irish then English; pubs every half block – there’s really no equivalent in Baltimore, but in Seattle, it’s coffee shops; language and dialect – while the Baltimore accent grates and annoys, I’d assume an Irish one in a heartbeat; branding and visual communication design – for me, looking at candy aisles and respective packaging in convenience stores is a litmus test for the visual culture of a given place; currency – the Euro is so much more beautiful than the dollar; flora and fauna – plant life definitely speaks volumes about a city, providing geographical reference via sight, texture, and smell. And lastly, the people. As a general populace, Americans originating from the East Coast of the United States are neither congenial nor happy. The Irish, jolly and optimistic, were a cheery breath of fresh air.

Interestingly, many of these challenged mental models, while on the one hand so different, are simultaneously, fundamentally unchanged from the ones on which I base my American existence. Which attests to the humanness that we all share. We are all so different on many levels, and yet so exactly the same.

But in these differences lies the power of the subtle, slight, shift. Which, when multiplied over instances and time, can produce profound changes in our thinking and the ways in which we perceive and respond to the world.

On urban semiotics and self image.

In This Means This, This Means That: A User’s Guide To Semiotics, author Sean Hall outlines key semiotic concepts (in which are cloaked Peirce’s sign, object, and interpretant):

Sender (who)
Intention (with what aim)
Message (says what)
Transmission (by which means)
Noise (with what interference)
Receiver (to whom)
Destination (with what result)

While discussing this with senior design students this week, I left campus thinking about how – through individual choices for personal expression via clothing, products, media, the places we choose to inhabit – we form images of ourselves that mean something. To ourselves first and foremost. Then secondarily to others. Therefore, in most cases of forming our own personal mythologies and identity, we are both the sender and the receiver, the intention and the destination. Meaning, the image I try to create of myself needs to be successfully received by myself, with the desired destination. Otherwise, there is cognitive dissonance.

I have always been very sensitive to place, often finding my intention and destination based on where I live to be at odds. For me, semiotics of place has always played a large part in personal fulfillment; for example, whenever I’ve lived in places where there are no mountains (like I do now, and like here, and here, and here), I feel like a square peg in a round hole. I can only imagine this is because I was born and raised in Colorado. Mountains are part of my family-of-origin mental models. Without them, I feel lost; a faux image of my true self. In an interview with Good Magazine about his book, Who’s Your City? Richard Florida says this:

The place we live in is a fundamental contributor to our overall subjective well-being. Most psychologists and behavioral economists have said that the two things that make you happy in life are work that you can identify with and that you find challenging, and having great social relationships.

I think the community we live in is that incredibly important third part of that triangle of human happiness. People put a lot of systematic thought into picking a job and career and selecting a spouse or a life partner. It may be that your choice of neighborhood is equally important.

Urban semiotics. I’m so intrigued.