Facebook In The Age Of Da Vinci

Red Fez, September 13, 2015.

Dear reader: I should tell you that I’m not “friends” with these people. But one day, without reason or root, this is what popped up on my Facebook stream.

Michelangelo Buonarroti: I’ve just arrived in Rome and been told by Pope Julius II of a change of (his) plans. He wants me to stop work on the sepulchral monument he’d commissioned earlier and get to work with earnest on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I’m a sculptor, not a painter, I told him, but it appears as though I’ll have to drop the chisel, at least, for now, and pick up the brush. This Florentino is annoyed.

Vatican City, Italy

Leonardo da Vinci: I’m not so sure about what Jesus Christ would’ve liked on his platter, but I’m going to go ahead and put on his plate a dish we’re all a fan of: eel, garnished with slices of orange.

Milan, Italy

Charles Darwin: Thank you, for all for the “bon voyage” wishes. As I pen this, I’m on the deck of the H.M.S. Beagle, headed out to the stormy seas. My Internet connection is very feeble and fickle, but I shall, from time to time, attempt to recount, in brief, the natural wonders that greet me.

Plymouth, England

Arthur Conan Doyle: Amid the bustle of waiters, chink of fine silver and the hum of a dozen conversations, I’m seated at a table in the opulent dining room of the Langham Hotel, awaiting the arrival of an American gentleman named Joseph Stoddart, who runs the Lippincott’s Monthly, a Philadelphia magazine. He’s in town to establish a British edition of his publication. The other invitee is one Mr. Oscar Wilde.

Upper Regent Street, London

Ludwig van Beethoven: Fine. I could be a mercurial and slovenly man, but can you blame me? I can’t even hear my own compositions.

Vienna, Austria

Queen Victoria: For their loyal and dedicated service, I’m bequeathing to my servants, all the pairs of bloomers that have graced my bottoms.

Buckingham Palace, London

Marie Curie: Sliding open my desk drawer, I see a faint greenish glow emanating from my test tubes. As you know (or perhaps not know), I made something of a discovery back on December 21, 1898. God willing, I hope it’ll be put to good use.

Paris, France

Antony van Leeuwenhoek: I’m at my workshop, penning a letter to the Royal Society of London, describing my observations on what I found in the lake water, the other day: green, serpent-like streaks, spirally wound. Their whole circumference was about the thickness of a hair of one’s head.

Delft, The Netherlands

Plato: Thinking about how I’ll open The Republic, while I’m sitting under a plane tree, beside a quiet stream.

Athens, Greece

Mahatma Gandhi: I hope many of you will join me in making the long, long trek to Dandi and making our own salt, without paying tax. Please ensure that you’re in your best walking shoes.

Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad, India


50 Shades Of Blue

The sky appears blue. The sea appears blue. Earth, when seen from space, appears blue. But the Internet is the bluest of them all.

Writing in The Awl, John Herman asks why that’s so? Why, indeed?

The world’s largest crayon, created by Crayola, a 1,500-pound torpedo, 15 feet long and 16 inches in diameter, is also blue because it happens to be, writes Crayola, “America’s favorite color.”

This is Google blue.

This is Facebook blue.

This is Instagram blue.

This is LinkedIn blue.

This is Microsoft blue.

This is Tumblr blue.

This is Twitter blue.


When The Blue Bird Tweets

A “#Flock” of four birdhouses.

“#Flock” is a series of four cuckoo clock-like devices, three of which have colorful avian occupants. The fourth is vacant, and is a common clock.

Each of the three birds is designed to poke its head out in response to a flutter on a Twitter stream. They can even coo a little birdsong, whose volume can be controlled by a chunky dial.

Designed by the London-based creative studio, BERG, the goal behind the project was to give a physical presence to a digital activity.

A biergarten cuckoo clock, handcrafted from wood.

As wonderful a bauble as this is, I much prefer a traditional cuckoo clock, which are not only beautiful, but where the bird, too, leads a less disruptive life, its routine uninterrupted by the vagaries of human chatter. After all, it pops out only to announce the hours, not every time someone retweets.