2014 Project Neon Calendar
Maybe for sale next week on Etsy
Hey, so I was thinking I needed a little wall calendar for next year, so I made this one. Maybe you would like one, too? It’s 4” x 6”, printed on heavyweight specially coated matte paper with archival inks. You can hang it with a binder or bulldog clip (or a magnetic bulldog clip), put it in a frame (if it’s under glass, you can write on it with an erasable pen!), use double-sided tape to mount all 12 at once, or just tack it to the wall. I had thought of getting out the jig saw and making a fancy stand, but in the interests of keeping things simple, I thought I’d just let you sort out how to hang it, OK? If I hear some rumblings of interest, I’ll aim to get it listed by next weekend on Etsy, probably for about $25 (a bargain for 12 lovely neon photos!), plus a couple bucks for domestic shipping.
Is this something that would interest you?
Hey, I actually did a proper neon visit for a change. I can see that the photo-only format is pretty popular (I know the internet likes cats, but I had no idea it liked cats this much!), but here are a few words for you.
I love this sign, which although not technically on the sidewalk is visible from it. I love that it’s entirely abstract, and that it’s exuberantly colorful. I especially love it in the context of the dim, grotty loft interior. It’s the perfect beacon to guide you to a wonderful shop.
Kiosk is definitely my favorite shop in SoHo — more like a museum of design where you can buy things. But unlike most such places, the stuff is all very affordable. There are usually a couple of things over $100, but most of the stock is much less and many of the objects are under $20. I picked up two great drinking glasses, only $6 each! I may have to go back for the larger size.
The assortment at Kiosk rotates regularly, and is generally a selection of objects from one particular country, with a few ongoing all-time hits from previous collections.
It sounds like Kiosk won’t be able to hang on in Soho much longer, so visit while you can. Look for the hot pink arrow outside. (I love the way the arrow’s corners turn — you can see it better from the side.)
Look in and the sign below will give you a clue that the graffiti-covered stairs are all part of the plan. There’s more cool neon inside the shop, but I’ll let you discover that for yourself.
I know most of you are here for the pretty pictures — and there’s nothing wrong with that! A lot of the time I spend on the internet, and even in real life in front of neon signs, is spent admiring lovely colors and pleasing forms. Having a lot of time resting at home lately, though, has given me time to think, and one of the things I’ve been thinking about is the appeal of neon signs beyond just the visual.
There are more pretty pictures queued up, so no worries if you want to skip on to those, but if you’re curious about one of the reasons one person here finds neon signs compelling beyond the pleasing act of looking at them, read on.
- - -
Life for me is a search, and I think it always will be. Maybe I’m just in a mid-life kind of mood lately, but I’m beginning to suspect that I’ll never be the kind of person who is fundamentally settled and contented. I don’t think that’s a bad thing — it doesn’t always make life easy, but it means I’ve got a kind of built-in restless energy driving me to look both for new things to see and for new ways of seeing familiar things. It also means I’m always looking to try different ways of doing things, from mundane tasks like washing dishes to larger undertakings like living life. And it definitely means I’m always on the lookout for answers to questions about myself, most especially lately, Where is my place in the world? Probably this is true of most people, but I think a lot of people are better at setting those kind of things aside while they get on with living, while I tend to fall more into the fret-about-them-endlessly camp.
Maybe part of the reason for this restlessness is that one of the things I’ve been told all my life, in one way or another, is that I am weird. Now humans, even the introverted sort, are a social species, and weirdness has just the hint of a shadow of ostracism about it, so it can be a little unsettling. Weirdness can also be a point of pride, of course, and plenty of people strive all their lives to be considered different. But still, it can feel a little lonely. Neon signs, though, have shone a little light into that loneliness for me.
The neon signs I love most are the ones that are unique. Made by hand, different, even a little, yes, weird. One of the main reasons I love New York is that it is a weird city, though it has certainly gotten a lot less weird lately. Standing in from of a Starbucks, you can forget what city you’re in for a moment. Standing in front of Colony Records (RIP), though, you knew right where you were.
Exploring the city alone at night looking at neon signs makes me about as content as I ever am.
Wandering the city of strangeness and serendipity makes me feel like there is still room for weirdness and wonder in the world. On the other hand, I never feel more lost than when walking indistinguishable suburban streets looking at indistinguishable split-level houses with indistinguishable cars in indistinguishable driveways. The numbers on the houses are sometimes the only clue that they aren’t all interchangeable. And isn’t the fact that we are fundamentally not interchangeable what makes us most human? I find it hard to remember that, though, when my surroundings are so unrelentingly uniform.
And so I love bold, beautiful handmade neon signs that have their own lettering, their own patina, their own particular glow, signs that are located in a specific place and point the way to a specific local institution, whether it’s a bar, a drug store, or a church. The saturated colors, subtly altered by time and weather, the hand-formed letters not found in any font, and even the hint of buzz and flicker, remind me that I don’t need to be normal to be a regular. They insist that I am a particular person standing in the glow of a particular sign, and that both of us belong right where we are.