Monday, June 15, 2009

Are you retro or just plain old.

Dig this—

I realize I haven’t been the most active citizen of the blogosphere lately, but it seems a little tricky to pull off having a life AND commenting on one at the same time.

One small development in the carny ride that is my life (‘do ya want to go FASTER?‘ says the toothless man at the helm) is the impending addition of an iphone to my collection of ‘things that need to be charged’ (or digitalia, if you prefer).

Now you might think from these postings that ol’ Lou might be a little techno-shy but far from it. If nothing else, the blender has taught us the value of life-improving technology.

The flip side is that our world is now littered with putty-colored computers, square black plastic coffee-makers and a virtually chrome-free modern auto industry. If this is the future, where is my jet pack and silver jumpsuit.

Back to the iPhone. It’s got a little chrome, a little whimsy and will quiet the blackberry ninjas who demand to know why I do not instantly answer an email wherever I am. It also has an appstore loaded with goodies from a compass to a cocktail guide (what, no corkscrew). It also has a rotary dial.

Is this really necessary?

I look better under incandescent light, I miss my turntable, and I sure can’t rest my cell phone on my shoulder (the original hand-free technology), but is it good just because its retro? They should have an app that makes operator connect your calls for you.

I guess it’s a fine line. Retro style is comforting and often better thought-through but often just a pain in the ass. For every T-bird there is Gremlin. And for every modern technological breakthrough there is another American triple-hopped ice-brewed ultra beer that tastes like frat party keg dregs.

Sorry cats, I might have cast adrift and can’t see land or my point any more. I’m just saying you shouldn’t have to sacrifice style for substance, or subtance for style.

And my iPhone will be able to make perfect julienne fries.

Have you got a piece of modern tech that makes the ladies weak in the knees? Give us a peek. Seen a USB-powered lint brush with multi-colored LEDs ? Share the wealth. Have you hand-coded the iPhone app that will materialize a Sidecar onto a Bluetooth-enabled cocktail napkin? By all means, let us know.

Lou is listening.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bright ideas and budget boosters

Dig this--

I know as well as anyone that you don't have to understand something to enjoy it, but I'm having a hard time wrapping my noggin' around the urge to create this fine shirt. That said, I will be sporting one soon, and I might suggest that you too would look sporting if you also shopped here.

This photo might not be the clearest representation of this fine "I " design, but you also got to love the monkey lamp co-star in the pic.

The folks at snorgtees have a wide variety of tangentally inspired sportswear, so if you're looking to retire your "I'm with stupid" shirt, give it a peak.

Even more inspiring, and even easier on your bottom line that mail order t-shirts, is the collection from Design Without Reach. These little DIY projects can give your home (or cubicle, or refrigerator box) the feel of a designer pad at an almost zero price tag. So if you've ever wanted a miniature Wasily chair made from paper clips and electric tape or a classic Nelson satellite clock made from tootsie rolls, this is a spot for you.

Do you have a project that has inspired you? Show it off? Finally finished that boat from pudding cups? Welcome us aboard. Or even if you just saw some crazy shit you feel the rest of us need to know about? Give us a shout out.

Lou is listening

Friday, March 27, 2009

(Seriously) Lighten Up.

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Two lamp posts in a row. Get it, lamp posts? I kill myself sometimes.

On the serious side, Lou came across a report the other day that I thought I should share. It seems that about 1.6 billion people in this world don’t have access to electricity (tough news for lamp sellers,). Not only that, but using fuel lamps are costing these people like $40 billion a year and dumping 190 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year.

Several organizations are working on this issue, but one that struck me as pretty hip is Cosmos Ignite Innovations, a spin-off of Stanford University. They are currently in Delhi, India and they have developed a portable, water-proof, solar powered LED lamp they call the MightyLight. LEDs can deliver 100 times more useful light than kerosene and the lamp can run for up to 12 hours on a charge.

MightyLights sell for about $50 and can be purchased here. It seems like most of their sales are to charities and I’m sure they would welcome broader distribution. Lou’s no business tycoon, but it would be cool to see little buy-one-give-one action here. It might be hard to picture me with a Patagonia cocktail shaker, but I’m an avid camper and the MightyLight would be mighty handy in the woods.

These aren’t the only guys out there trying to help out on this issue and if you know another good one, let us know. If you’ve found an easy place to pick one up, drop us a line. If you’ve attached a solar array to your back side so your tiara glows 100 times brighter than kerosene, share it.

Lou is listening.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

…And now a word from our sponsor

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I’ve been asked recently (specifically by the good people who offered up the virtual real estate for ol’ Lou to pull up his soapbox) why this little blog seems to be more about liquor than lamps. So, I figure, why not mix the two.

This little wonder is ‘task lighting’ for Lou’s at-home bar (a veritable River Rouge plant for sidecars). It’s transition started at a Chicago neighborhood garage sale, when I stumbled on an old box filled with glass seltzer bottles from days gone by, many etched with logos of long-defunct manufacturers. I scooped them up without giving any thought to what possible use they would come to.

Returning home, the effervescent Miss Dee questioned the value of my discovery. Forced to improvise, or accept a lack of foresight, I told her that I thought they would make awesome lamps. With that, she welcomed them into our happy home.

When next I ventured to storied Detroit, I brought the box to the Lounge. When he saw these old glass bottles, Jimmy the wiz-kid immediately shared my vision. So I traded him the rest of my box for a bar lamp, and the rest is history.

The point is, good lighting is very important to cocktail mixing. Wait—although that’s true—that’s not the point. The point is that the lamp is more than the light bulb.

Take a look around your world. Are there things you love, want to display and want to bring new life to? Light ‘em up! If you’re handy, do it yourself. If not, find a handy person or call Jimmy the wiz kid at the Lounge.

Old bottles, vases, tchotchkes that occupy your shelves are good places to start, but anything stable can do. I’ve seen coffee cups mounted as kitchen lighting, and a swank table lamp built from a cube of old cassette tapes.

Some truly inspired lamps can be seen here.

So what do you have around the house that’s calling out to be wired, let us know. Have you converted a ukelele into a lamp, give us a peak. Always dreamed of turning a cabbage into a light source, drop me a line.

Lou is listening.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dig this—

I might be risking getting potatoes chucked at my shade-swaddled noggin, but I have some issues with St. Patty’s day. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the opportunity for some mid-day tippling, but the idea of knockin’ back chartreuse Schlitz while dodging lager-sodden sorority girls rocketing toward the bathroom has a few holes in it.

Take it from Lou. There is nothing Irish about a beer with the words Light (or—shudder—Lite), Ice, Draft or Dry in their names. If the song playing is by Def Leppard or Celine Dion you should probably go somewhere else. If the decorative shamrocks feature the above-mentioned words, you might want to take a walk. And finally, if you wouldn’t eat there any other day, consider steering away from the corned beef and cabbage special.

Since actual drinking at the Lampshade Lounge is frowned upon, at least for those of us with Toro-at-Tiffany’s tendencies, here’s a few thoughts on making this hallowed day work for you:

Straight up.

Lou can be a bit of a purist. If you need a color scheme for your beer, consider black and tan. Or a simple pint of Caffrey’s or Beamish Stout. Consider a shot of Jameson’s or Bushmills with your morning coffee. You’ll need something to get you through the parade.

All bars are Irish on St. Pat’s, but make the effort find one with at least one fiddle player about. And, you are NOT too cool sing about alligators and geese, and you SHOULD kiss her because she IS Irish.

One more thought. A truly under-used pub pastime is toasting. Its pleasant, its social, and it gives you another reason to drink. If you weren’t born with balls of blarney, try this spot for true Irish blessings, or here to generate thematic gibberish.

With a twist.

So maybe you’re not up for a pint, but you’re still looking to shake your shillelagh for St. Patty’s. May I suggest a mojito (O’jito?) for your pleasure. It’s green, it’s tasty, it’s minty fresh. And, I’m pretty sure it scares away snakes.

What have you got going on St. Patrick’s Day? Do you have a favorite haunt we should know about, let her rip. Pictures of you with your shorties dyed green, post away. Got a passionate defense of green Coor’s in a plastic cup, ship it.

Lou is listening.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I am writing a blog! I’m sure there are folks out there joking that I’ll ruin the screen trying to scratch out mistakes with a fountain pen. But I say ‘old dogs, new tricks’ and bring on your modern-age hurly-burly.

So I sit me down in the lounger with a snazzy laptop and a stiff cocktail (classic Sidecar, thank you very much) and prepare to share the wisdom. So, what do you want to know?

The boys at the lounge gave me this space to chat you all up, talk about wicked-cool lamps, maybe convince you to buy a couple (just a click away, what are you waiting for…), and otherwise sap bandwidth away from more worthy causes. But then I get stuck on where to start…

I take another sip, and think—Hey! It’s always nice to start with a cocktail. So let me tell you about my Sidecar. A sublime combination of brandy, cointreau and lemon juice in a sugar-rimmed martini glass. Esquire’s take on it is here, and it’s as fair as any. They go cognac and I can accept that. I’ll even allow triple sec for Cointreau if the economic stimulus package hasn’t gotten to you yet. I will, however, demand real lemon juice. The lord looks down on that weird plastic lemon-shaped vessel rolling around the back of your fridge.

The liquor pundits (not to be confused with the liquored-up pundits) say the Sidecar came out of the big war and was tossed back at many a speakeasy, as well as becoming the signature at Poppa Hemingway’s hang in Paris, Harry’s New York Bar. Now that’s a drink that’s been around.

But that ain’t the point. The point is that it’s damn tasty. Don’t put it in your mouth, because its cool, or its retro-hip, or even if its on sale. Like what you like. And Lou likes to share a drink with the ghosts of gangsters and Parisian ex-pats. Style is not a trend it’s a personal statement. Whether its in your glass, rockin’ your ipod or lighting up your pad, its what sets you apart from the herd. I don’t know about you, but Lou thinks the herd is big enough.

So if you got a favorite brandy, let me know. Got a question about swank lighting, shout it. Want to know if those pants make you look fat, bring it on.

Lou is listening.