New York, New York
By Maria Popova
That’s right, we’re back — with a spankin’ new site domain. (Cue in glance at browser’s URL field.) And because right now we’re in the most un-New-York-like place in the world — Sofia, Bulgaria — we’re focusing on the random, smart, bizarre stuff that makes New York New York. Welcome to the New York, New York issue.
Let’s face it, this is the age of extreme consumerism. We define ourselves by what we buy, eat, watch, and otherwise consume. And now, we can define ourselves by the stuff leftover from our consumption.
New York-based artist Justin Gignac is selling fresh-picked NYC garbage. That’s right, junk. He scours the streets of the world’s most conspicuous-consumption-driven city for leftovers — metro cards, plastic cups, cigarette buds, newspaper, receipts, gum wrappers, you name it — then carefully arranges them in small (non-leaky, non-smelly) plastic cubes, each unlike any other.
For homesick New Yorkers and randomness-seeking hipsters alike, the cubes are anything from a sentimental piece of home to an artsy-fartsy piece of self-expression. (For us, they’re just garbage-filled plastic boxes, but we dig the idea nonetheless.)
The cubes even come in special limited-edition varieties: you can reminisce with junk from the last opening day at Yankee Stadium, New Years’ Eve ’08 at Times Square, and the final day at Shea.
Here’s to trashy taste.
And if you just realized you take garbage for granted, just wait until we consider tap water. Sure, NYC’s may not be the finest, but it’s drinkable — which is more than what a huge chunk of the world can claim. That’s why New Yorker Scott Harrison founded Charity Water, a — you guessed it — charity aiming to bring clean drinking water to people in the developing world.
The nonprofit was Scott’s version of a midlife crisis — after trading in his glitzy life as an NYC nightclub and fashion promoter for a humanitarian gig in West Africa, he came to appreciate the far-reaching (and often underestimated by the priviliged) power of driniking water, from basic convenience to serious disease prevention.
This week, Scott turns 33, so he’s out on a month-long birthday campaign: he launched Boring September, an effort to build 333 drinking wells in 33 villages across Ethiopia.
The idea: Scott is asking everyone born in September to do away with birthday presents and ask their friends and family for $33 donations instead. The goal is to raise $1.5 million for the 333 wells, which will greatly improve 150,000 people’s health and quality of life.
The best part: a few do-good companies are supporting the campaign and matching donations, making our regular contributions twice as powerful. Which is good news, since 1,100 regular Virgos and Libras have joined the movement so far — each contirbutor gets an individual birthday page, where friends can donate in their name.
So if you’re a water-spoiled September baby, suck it up and ask your mom not to give you that inevitable sweater you’ll never wear anyway — poor people score drinking water, you score one less dent in your street cred courtesy of mom.
Ok, ok, so we can’t get enough of David Byrne these days. So sue us. But the Renaissance man just keeps churning out the good stuff.
His latest: design work for New York’s CityRacks Design Competition. Besides submitting 9 designs of his own — among them “The Coffee Cup” in Brooklyn, “The Hipster” in Williamsburg, shaped like an electric guitar, and “The MoMA” right outside the eponymous museum — he was also recruited to be on the jury. (Come on now, fairness is overrated.)
Byrne, a die-hard cyclist himself, got down with the powder-coated steel like a pro, but didn’t make it as a finalist in the competition. Granted, some of those top designs are mad cool — we love Andrew Lang and Harry Dobbs’ “I heart NY” and the Kubrick-like geometric sculptures by Stephan Jaklitsch Architects.
Sure beats the way we do it in Philly.
Published September 5, 2008