[Three by Five].12 Blue Tile Obsession

Vertical skateboarding was borne of drought and creativity.

In 1976 and 1977, Southern California suffered an extreme drought.

The water shortages were so extreme that agricultural activities in some parts of the Central Valley were ceased.

Reservoirs ran dry.

Homeowners drained their swimming pools.

Fires raged. Homes were abandoned.

At the time, skateboarders had just started riding wooden boards with urethane wheels.

Those wheels were more forgiving on rough surfaces and allowed the flow-y carving turns that mimicked the motions that surfers make when riding waves.

Somewhere in Southern California, a group of kids looked at those pools and saw possibility.

C.R. Stecyk III, founder of Zephyr Surfboards and Skateboards, co-author of Dogtown and Z-boys, said:

“Two hundred years of American technology has unwittingly created a massive cement playground of unlimited potential. but it was the minds of 11 year olds that could see that potential.”

 

When I want to look at skateboarders riding empty pools right now, I head over to Ozzie Ausband’s Blue Tile Obsession.

Ausband and his band of Southern California skateboarders (including legend, Tony Alva, one of the original pool riders) detail their exploits in words and high-resolution images.

Sometimes, they drive hours to find pools that were bulldozed.

Sometimes, they invest hours draining a pool, shoveling debris, sweeping and preparing the pool for riding.

The reward is the bowl, the experience, and the vicarious excitement you, as a visitor gets.

 

[Three by Five] 8. Devo

“You’re into Devo?” he asked. “Aren’t you?”

His tone mocking.

As if there was something wrong with it.

Because for him, Yeah. Devo was too mainstream. Fake alternative. He was above that, and what he thought they stood for.

“Of course I am,” I answered, thinking, Whatanasshole. “How could you not be?”

Because at the time there was no voice for the weird.

Used to be you were walking down the street, looked too weird, too punk, someone’d stick their head out of their car window and yell, “DEVO!”

It was the catch-all for anyone, anything so weird it still didn’t have a definition.

But Devo has been having a great time since the late-1970s. Laughing all the way to the bank probably because they’re still touring and their influence is widespread. It’s more than likely you heard something today that was touched by Devo and their commercial music spin-off Mutato Muzika.

So, How did Devo influence you?

 


 

 

Three by Five.6 | Teenage Engineering. Hemingway.

Teenage Engineering is a Swedish manufacturer of synthesizers and audio gear. For my birthday, Tomás and Felix, my youngest sons, gave me a Pocket Operator Arcade. It’s a calculator-sized, AAA-battery powered synthesizer. Pre-programmed with 16 video game sounds, 16 prebuilt patterns, and 16 sound effects, the Arcade is a simple, elegant sound maker. I’m using it for chiptunes-making (and time wasting!). It was the perfect, sweetest birthday present.

Question: What will be the synthetic biology equivalent of a PO-20?


Hemingway Editor. I usually jot these three by fives on an actual notecard, then transfer them to Hemingway for editing. Hemingway shows me what sentences are hard to read, reminds me not to write in passive voice. Plus, it tells me how readable my prose is. Usually, I aim for 6th grade but given the long, biology-related words I use, I’m usually happy for 12th.

Three by Five by Eleven.5 | Organism Design. Minecraft Chemistry

Organism or microbe design is an emerging industry.

It’s analogous to the semi-conductor industry. Companies design and manufacture the semi-conductors found in computers, phones, cars, and televisions.

Today, end-users rarely make semi-conductors themselves. They hire the expertise and apply what is manufactured to create a product.

Organism design companies are reprograming yeast and bacteria to produce useful molecules. Those molecules are used in consumer goods, foods, medicines and industrial products.

Perhaps the best known organism company is Boston’s Ginkgo Bioworks. Sarah Zhang profiled the company this week in an article I enjoyed in The Atlantic. (We featured co-founder Jason Kelly and creative director Christina Agapakis in What’s Your Bio Strategy?)

Minecraft Chemistry. A couple of week’s ago, Microsoft added a Chemistry Set to its popular game. Since there are about 55 million people worldwide playing (and some 122 million games sold) that’s a lot of potential exposure to chemistry and crafting. What does the synthetic biology expansion kit look like?

[Beautiful fruit photo by Heather Schwartz on Unsplash]