Designed by Dutch designer Bertjan Pot and manufactured by Arco, these Slim tables are so thin, they're practically optical illusions:
The tops and legs are just over an inch thick, and that's actual wood (or at least veneer) surfacing them. The structure that allows these tables to stretch to 160cm (63 inches) long is "an innovative sandwich construction of steel and honeycomb," Arco writes.
"Some will see the Slim Table as counterfeit or not real, but it is very genuine and pure," says Pot. "All materials have been used in the most honest way possible: metal for a strong construction and wood for tactility and an attractive design. exterior. Without innovation, minimalism is a dead end."
The companion Slim Bench can be had in lengths of 150cm, 170cm and 200cm (59", 67" and 79").
There's also a Slim Plus that's a centimeter thicker, which enables it to stretch up to 360cm (142", nearly 12 feet!) long, and can seat 10 people.
I'm digging this optional sock, which lets you run a cable down the leg.
Lastly, if you need to seat the entirety of the UN General Assembly, you can order this Slim+ Connected, which joins two Slims together with a mirrored base in the middle. The Connected tables are of custom length, made-to-order.
With cryptocurrency, other of course than LoomCoin, the only true cryptocurrency and which should you give me your hard earned dollars ($$$$$ not other bullshit money) for, totally failing, it’s worth noting this isn’t the first time people have decided to just make up money with less than desired results. The historian Rebecca Spang, who is also active on ye olde twitters, recently reupped this piece she wrote in 2018 about the French Revolution’s attempt to create its own money.
The early years of the French Revolution were a time of excitement, enthusiasm, and political creativity but also of chaos and anxiety. As often happens during periods of political and social uncertainty, merchants stopped selling on credit and even people who had money became very reluctant to spend it. There had, in fact, never been enough small change in actual circulation—this was a chronic problem in medieval and early-modern Europe—but it hadn’t mattered as long as bakers, butchers, and café keepers kept accounts and had their regular customers pay every three months or so. As I explore more in my recent book, the outbreak of the Revolution changed all that, making all bills come due at once. Suddenly, there just wasn’t enough money. To deal with the crisis, the National Assembly issued large-denomination bills backed by the value of properties nationalised from the Catholic Church (these bills were called assignats because they were “assigned to” a particular fund for payment). But the smallest of the assignats was a bill for 200 livres and that was just no good for buying a cup of coffee or a loaf of bread (even when bread was expensive, you could get 800 loaves for that much money). Smaller denomination assignats were eventually issued but, before they were, literally thousands of entities—chiefly local governments, but also political clubs and for-profit businesses—responded to the 1790-1792 shortage of small change by issuing billets de confiance: small-denomination bills themselves backed by large-denomination assignats held by the issuer.
Though their circulation was never legally forced (no one was obliged by law to accept one), the shortage of any other small change meant that refusing them was not really an option for many people. The exchange relationship between buyers and sellers, like that between an employer and his wage-earning employees, was however unequal. Farmers—people who had crops to sell—were ideally positioned vis-à-vis this money of trust. If they felt so inclined, they could accept billets in payment; if they doubted them, they could take their eggs or their barley and go home. Wage workers faced a very different situation. A wallpaper painter in the Fresneau Frères’s factory, for instance, could either accept the billet she was offered or go unpaid. Bill in hand, she had then to find a baker willing to accept it. And if the billets proved an effective “stop gap” in some contexts, they were far less useful when they were carried far from their place of issue. With the outbreak of war in spring 1792, volunteer soldiers raced to the borders to defend France and the Revolution, only to find that the local money they carried was rejected by their fellow countrymen. Who, then, was the enemy?
Materialisations of old networks of trust—networks that were local, particular, and unequal—the billets were outlawed by the republican government in 1793 as it tried desperately to assert authority and build a sense of shared, national identity. The history of these radical objects suggests that decentralised money production works best where there is little, or only very regular, movement of goods and people. It also reminds us that the difference between private money (like the bills issued by manufacturers or for-profit banks) and public money (such as the bills produced by towns or districts) may be as important as that between local money and central-bank money.
Pretty interesting stuff on a topic (which let’s face it is basically all of European history, a continent about which I care probably the least on the planet except for Australia about which I really don’t care) that I know little about.
The crossword competition laid in the first edition
Earlier this month, the Guardian's crossword blog writer wrote a nice little piece about, well, crosswords, and their contribution to developing the reader's understanding of Len Deighton's famous 'unnamed spy' - later, of course, Harry Palmer.
The article looked in particular at Horse Under Water, the second book in the series but the only one of the four main books not turned into a film starring Michael Caine (the producer Harry Saltzman chose to film Funeral in Berlin first, because in the mid-60s the city had become the hot-spot of the Cold War, so to speak, and he thought it would make a better movie. While there were some early plans for a Horse Under Water film, nothing - sadly - ever materialised)
The piece recalls that, famously, the chapter headings in Horse Under Water are in the form of crossword puzzle clues, and that the crosswords on the endpapers of the original first edition drew on clues which in effect, when solved, created a sort of table of contents for the book.
I'm pleased - after getting in touch - that they used a couple of my images and provided a link to the page I have on the main Deighton Dossier website specifically to do with the crosswords in this book. In the Bernard Samson series, in London Game, Bernard Samson too is found toying with a crossword, using it to elicit a false answer from Giles Trent's sister to get to the bottom of the former's attempted suicide and his potential guilt as a London Central spy.
I watched Summer of Soul recently. I don’t per se know if it is such an amazing piece of work that it was the obvious Academy Award winner; some of that was certainly it ticking certain boxes and the performances are what carries it. But the commentary was useful too. I did think at times that we could have seen more of the performances, but that’s a fairly minor critique. The best commentaries tended I thought to come from the musicians themselves. Mavis Staples talking about Mahalia Jackson passing her the gospel torch was very powerful. The 5th Dimension needing this festival to prove to Black people that they were in fact Black music was also quite interesting to hear about; my problem with that band is it being bad, but hearing this stuff was still useful. It was also great to hear everyone from Stevie Wonder to the great Sonny Sharrock in action. Hope there’s a later release that has more of the performances.
I also finished Joe Nick Patoski’s Willie Nelson: An Epic Life biography this week. I don’t know that it blew my mind in terms of completely changing my opinions about Willie, but it did reinforce a lot of useful things about him. Among those are just how hard it was for Willie to establish himself and the enormous risk he took in going back to Texas. Despite Old Man Willie seeming like such a nice guy today, he could be a real bastard in those early days. Part of the reason he became the stoner’s stoner is that he was a very nasty and violent drunk and he needed to stop that. So good for him. It also confirmed what I had long believed–once Willie got famous he just didn’t feel like writing songs anymore. Almost all his great songs are before 1975 and while there are a few after that, there’s not very many. His work in the late 70s and early 80s mostly holds up well, but it’s almost all cover and tribute albums, from Stardust to Willie Plays Kristofferson to the duet album he did to raise Ray Price’s profile with his new to country listeners. But he wasn’t writing much. Also, he was so, so, so, so bad with money. This was not a man programmed to get his taxes paid and we all knew how that blew up in his face in the 80s. Probably the one thing I did learn that interested me was the central role University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal played in the Texas country scene of the 60s and 70s. He was basically the biggest supporter of Willie and many other musicians through these years. Today, a coach listening to music would be seen as a distraction from watching yet more tape or texting recruits, but at this time I guess, Royal could just hang with Willie and even sit in on endless recording sessions. Anyway, it’s worth a read.
What does a week of album listening look like? Here’s the albums I listened to in the last 7 days of listening to full albums instead of shuffle. Also, it doesn’t count what I heard in the car.
Ennio Morricone, The Legendary Italian Westerns
Screaming Females, Ugly
Buddy Tabor, Edge of Despair
The Coathangers, Suck My Shirt
V/A, Bloodshot Sampler (there’s a lot of these but I’m not sure what number it is)
T.J. Kirk, self-titled
Peter Gabriel, Us
King Crimson, Vroooom
The New Pornographers, Whiteout Conditions
Drive By Truckers, The Big To-Do
Robbie Fulks, Georgia Hard
Big Thief, UFOF
Tommy Jarrell, The Legacy of Tommy Jarrell, Volume 1
Johnny Paycheck, The Lovin’ Machine
X, Los Angeles
Prince, Sign o’ The Times
Priests, Nothing Feels Natural
Jon Dee Graham, Full
Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks, Vol. 2
Fred Anderson and Hamid Drake, From the River to the Ocean
Ian Tyson, Cowboyography
Jimmie Dale Gilmore, After Awhile
Merle Haggard, I’m a Lonesome Fugitive
Chicago/London Underground, A Night Walking Through Mirrors
Margo Price, All American Made
Fiddlin Arthur Smith & Earl Scruggs, 1957 Home Recordings
The Allman Brothers, Live at Ludlow Garage, Disc 1
Shovels & Rope, Little Seeds
Rusty & Doug Kershaw, Louisiana Man
George Jones & Tammy Wynette, Golden Ring
Lydia Loveless, Real
Juliana Hatfield, Pussycat
Jaimie Branch, Fly or Die II: Bird Dogs of Paradise
V/A, African Music Today
Cindy, Free Advice
The Tallest Man on Earth, There’s No Leaving Now
Kasey Chambers, The Captain
Hank Thompson, The Capitol Collection
Leyla McCalla, The Capitalist Blues
V/A, Canto Libre
Dizzy Gillespie, The Dizzy Gillespie Story, Disc 1
Drive By Truckers, Heathens Homecoming 2020, Friday Show
Johnny Paycheck, Slide Off Your Satin Sheets
The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow
Sonny Rollins, A Night at the Village Vanguard, Disc 1
Larry Young, Lawrence of Newark
Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson, Double Barrel Country (a kind of lame compilation but it’s there and is good for 20 minutes of country music when I need it)
Laura Veirs, Year of Meteors
Richard Thompson, Amnesia
Tom T. Hall, Ballad of Forty Dollars
Butch Hancock, You Coulda Walked Around the World
Terry Allen, Bottom of the World
The Allman Brothers, self-titled
Kitty Wells, Love Makes the World Go Round
Patti Smith, Horses
Led Zeppelin, LZ II
Pink Floyd, The Wall, Disc 1 (still don’t like it!)
I wanted to like this, but it felt a lot like some of Frank Ocean’s recent releases, where someone needs to grab this guy by the collar and tell him to make something that is other than floating through the universe in a weed-smoke haze. Even Pitchfork calls it “an afternoon barbeque in the back yard.” This is evidently seen as a good thing in a very positive review, but I just found this very frustrating, with a clear talent wasting it by putzing around. If I want backyard easy listening, I can get it lots of other places.
Another tepid release by the Goldsmith brothers and friends. Some of this is kind of catchy, but there’s just nothing here that breaks through the cheesy soft folk-rock sound. To paraphrase above, if I want to listen to chill out folk-rock that doesn’t challenge me at all, I can listen to better bands than this one. This album is just flat out pretty bad.
Brandy Clark, Your Life is a Record
I needed some goddamn country music by someone who can really write a song after the first two things I heard for this week. So I went with the reliable Brandy Clark and this 2020 release. Overall, this is a good though not great set of songs. While Clark is a fine singer, one can see why her songs have tended to have more success when performed by others, as there’s something of a sameness here over an entire album. But that’s a relatively minor criticism, even if it doesn’t sound so. I always love to hear country songwriters put together sets of a very good songs. Highlights here include “Bigger Boat,” a duet with Randy Newman which is about America no longer being able to survive together and “Who Broke Whose Heart” with the chorus line of “All I know is I love you so fuck the rest.”
The Lumineers, Brightside
Not terrible but definitely unsubstantial. Given that this band is often compared to Mumford and Sons, who suck, I had very low expectations. This was better than low expectations. It’s just boring, not terrible. Americana for people who like boring music is I guess how I’d describe this.
Rays, You Can Get There From Here
Pretty fun little rock and roll album here from this Oakland band in 2018. This was on my list ever since and I wish I had heard it earlier. Good vocals, a bit of noise but within a pretty traditional rock concept, songs traded off between a male and female lead. I’m not saying this blew my mind. I am saying that it rubs me the right way. I’ll probably listen to this more going forward to a lot of A- albums I’ve heard. Worth your time unless you don’t like rock and roll and then I don’t even know what to say to you.
Allison Russell, Outside Child
Allison Russell is a real visionary of melding Black music with Americana in a way that has gone far to dewhiten the latter genre. Her work in Our Native Daughters made her pretty well known, but she’s had a substantial career outside of that, mostly with her Birds of Chicago band. Her solo debut relives the incredibly horrible trauma of being sexually abused for a decade as a child to make music. I can see why an artist would never want to channel that into anything, but if it helps Russell, well it also helps the rest of it because this is a very fine album. Like most of us, I didn’t hear this on CD, but I guess the liner notes make it very clear what is going on here and only drives home the pain that she is working through here. You wouldn’t think you’d want to listen to an album like this, but it’s actually quite inspirational and uplifting. “Montreal” is a love song to the city that she escaped home to at 15 and found a better life sleeping in cemeteries and being homeless than she had as a victim. She is French-Canadian so some of this is in French, though most of it is in English. Anyway, just check this out.
Willow, Lately I Feel Everything
Although I am hesitant to give the Will Smith-Jada Pinkett world more oxygen and I am a bit depressed by the number of musicians these days who are just the children of rich people, I had to give the Willow album a listen. It’s not bad pop-punk, on the face of it. Some of it is pretty silly and even childish. But she can play. She has enough attitude to pull it off, though I feel in a different era she would have just been a straight pop singer. It’s alright but not overly memorable.
Dave Holland, Another Land
What a fantastic set of new tracks from the legendary bassist Dave Holland and his band for this outing from last year, including Kevin Eubanks on guitar and Obed Calvaire on drums. The interplay between these three guys just astounds. It’s not the most experimental music ever made. But within the general world of contemporary jazz, it’s one of the best sets I’ve heard in the last year or two. Eubanks especially really shines through this album, though that’s probably just me really enjoying his guitar work because I like guitar. When solos are needed by any of the musicians, they shine, and yet no one here is dominating the proceedings or taking anything away from the others. It’s really a first-rate set.
Emi Makabe, Anniversary
This is an extremely limited recommendation as only 3 of 11 songs are available. What I can say is that this Japanese vocalist is a highly interesting musician. Some of the songs are in English, some Japanese, some are just her making noises. The latter usually drives me to distraction, but at least in the example here did not. She also plays the shamisen. The band is certainly solid. Bill Frisell stalwarts Thomas Morgan on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums have played together for so long that they know each other incredibly well and it shows. Vitor Gonçalves is on piano and accordion and I don’t know his work so well, but he’s good here. It’s an interesting album, at least what I could hear.
Ty Segall, Harmonizer
I like Segall’s guitar rock fine, but I think that there’s a very strong sameness to his work that can get frustrating. But this is an above average album for him and actually does stand out a bit. Propulsive is the way to describe this. It’s still a Segall album–garage rock’s garage rock. So your opinion about it will probably follow how you feel about that.
As always, this is an open thread for all things music/art and none things politics.