Friday, September 30, 2011

UrbanArch Graffiti is Art Auction

Park(ing) Day lives on. You can own a piece of the graffiti art created by Memphis artists Brandon and Eric, commissioned by the architecture firm UrbanArch for their interactive Park(ing) Day installation. The two large canvases are created by giant puzzle pieces which are on auction right now. You can bid here. Hurry! It ends today. Proceeds go to the UrbanArt Commission. See the stop motion video they created during Park(ing) Day below. See more of my photos of Park(ing) Day here and here.

Graffiti is Art 2 - PARK(ing) DAY Memphis 2011 from UrbanArch Associates on Vimeo.

Photos by Sophorn. Video by UrbanArch.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

foodiememphis at The Green Beetle {Sneak Peek}

The architectural facelift of The Green Beetle restaurant says a lot about the rebirth of the menu as well. Owner Josh Huckaby gave us a great sampling at the last foodiememphis dinner group. Stay tuned for the full review on the foodiememphis blog but in the meantime, read the Q & A with Josh here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Guest Music Mix {Matt} Architecture Month Memphis

For the last week of Architecture Month Memphis, I’m excited to introduce our guest dj Matt Seltzer of archimania who is the first guest dj who has actually been a radio dj, back in his college days for Rice’s KTRU. I challenged him with selecting not only great songs but great songs that fit an architectural theme. It turns out it wasn’t much of a challenge for him. Seriously, if I were to switch brains with any great Memphis architecture mind, it would be Matt’s wildly multifaceted but realistic intellect hands down.

Enjoy Matt’s brilliant music mix listed below with the band name next to each day along with his song commentary. To find out what song he's selected, visit the sidebar music player each day. Thanks Matt!

See the Architecture Month Memphis events held by AIA Memphis here.


These songs were chosen around a loose theme of contemporary urban fabrics: exurban development, utopia and its discontents, and the dialogue between new and old.

M / Neil Young / Get your work week started with some everyday running around. A Monday morning gut check: are you doing what you should be doing? Are you with the people you need to be with? Are you where you need to be?

T / (Twofer Tuesday)  Talking Heads / So we’re not quite sure what happened, but the urban is now the wilderness, and we are missing some of what was here before.  / Joni Mitchell / They paved paradise and put up a parking lot: It’s not a Counting Crows song. Sure the song was reportedly written about Hawaii (and relationships) but we could apply the sentiment to many a paradise.

W/ Arcade Fire / How can such a beautiful landscape of sound be created about the generic landscape of nothingness? There are lots of architectural examples of the banal being sublime, but this song is a lot more portable.

TH / Superchunk / Just because suburbia seems bland and banal, doesn’t mean young people in and out of love can’t create drama within its khaki confines. Real people in unreal places.

F / LCD Soundsystem / Somewhere between 4th and 5th period, you hear some kid you really don’t admire telling some kids he doesn’t know about the party of the millennium, coming this Saturday. You don’t believe what he’s saying, but around 11:30 on Saturday you find yourself pulling into a cul-de-sac loaded with cars, walking down the sidewalk toward the only house on the block with lights on. What happens next?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Unintentional Lunch Date { Andre }

At the age of 5, I understood the meaning of poor. I understood that just getting a good meal on the table was sometimes the best my parents could provide and focused first to provide for me and my siblings. Somehow, I understood that my parents were beginning a new life in a country they felt was blessed with promise. Somewhat spellbound by their hopefulness, I was under the impression that those already living here had literally everything they needed and wanted.

One of my first memories of kindergarten was the moment I felt a real sadness that this was probably not true. Not really comfortable around other kids, I wanted to pick a secluded spot to eat my lunch when I noticed a boy by himself with no food at all. I’m not sure about any hesitation to change my plans of being alone but it was a strange sense of compassion that pushed me over to him. I asked if he brought any lunch. He shook his head no. I looked inside my lunch bag and offered to share half of what I brought. Once he accepted, I sat next to him, and we ate together quietly…

I said the only thing I could come up with.
“Can I touch your hair?”

I think I’ve learned the art of conversation since then, but I learned some 25 years ago about true compassion. That being blessed means assuring blessings on others. Now in Memphis working in the downtown core where I see so many of those needing help, I see that their need is beyond a few dollars for a sandwich or a night in the shelter but also the value of my time and honest concern for their well-being.

When I met Andre, he asked if I could spare 50 cents for bus fare. I told him I would have some change after I picked up my lunch, and I would look for him then. Assuming he probably hadn’t had lunch, I made sure to order a large sandwich I couldn’t finish by myself. I headed back to Court Square to nestle on a bench to keep my eye out for him. Once I saw him, I pulled out my change and showed the half of the sandwich that was his if he wanted it. He genuinely was satisfied with just the bus fare but gave himself time to identify my sincerity. Just like the first unintentional lunch date I had in kindergarten, I offered my company while he ate his lunch but, instead of quiet stares, we talked. About how he had been to Cambodia during in his years in the army. About how he loved to cook. About how he really could use the internet to find the photo I took of him whenever his sister would let him.

I have always felt a calling to do mission work, imagining a return to Cambodia to help, but recently, through the leaders of my church Fellowship Downtown, I understand that I’ve been positioned every day at work purposefully, where a mission trip is a only few steps out the door.

I recently did graphic layouts for Fellowship’s new outreach program called Downtown Neighbors partnering with the existing impact of the Memphis Union Mission and Habitat for Hope. It was such a reminder to me that I needed to do even more than just sharing a meal. Prayer is powerful.

This Sunday at 9:30am, Fellowship Downtown under the Downtown Neighbors banner is hosting a prayer walk to pray for the transient community, the city leaders, and the kids and families in the hospitals. Read more about it here. Fellowship’s Ricky Jenkins is definitely more articulate than I am.

Film photo by Sophorn. I was still trying to figure out the Nikon F camera settings.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lunch Date with Chip Chockley { The Little Tea Shop }

To a hungry tummy, even the mention of food stirs a mad craving. Now imagine the reaction if it’s presented with mouth-watering photographs detailing every luscious ingredient. To my recent visit to the Little Tea Shop, I had to recruit Chip Chockley, one of the best food photographers I know, to visually turn a seemingly simple plate of comfort food into a complex landscape of enticing layers. Plus, I had the secondary motive of picking up a few food photography tips from Chip, who recently was hired by several of my favorite restaurants like Las Tortugas to lure in customers with his mouth-watering images.

Before I go any further into the food photography tips, I also wanted to continue the discussion from the McEwen’s post on what makes a restaurant so well established. The Little Tea Shop definitely has the previously mentioned ingredients of good food, good atmosphere, and good service, but everyone including Chip seems to agree that the draw to this 93 year old restaurant, the oldest in Memphis, is greatly due to the gracious personality of Suhair Lauck, who owns the restaurant with her husband Jimmy and is ever present at the front counter greeting all the customers, either loyal or new like me. The fact that Suhair is the sister of Ameerah, the co-owner of the Peanut Shoppe nearby, is much more than trivia since Ameerah and her husband Ridda suggested I try out the Little Tea Shop to support their sister’s business. Always with a heart for hard-working people coming to the U.S. to find a better life for their family like my parents did for ours, I made it a point to try it several times then give it a worthy post with photographs that truly show off Suhair’s personality and her dishes she works so hard to prepare every morning.

In a roomful of suited regulars and the more casual tourists, Chip confidently pulled out his camera and professional lighting gear in a fairly challenging lighting atmosphere. There was one very important lesson I learned from Chip about lighting – avoid direct lighting on the subject trying to place the lighting source to the side of the subject to create more depth. In the first set of food shots, he tried the Photo Soft Box Pro app on the iPad but then switched to a Nikon SB-700 flash inside a little Lumiquest Softbox III, which he’s holding in the photo I took of him. Chip also let me try out his macro lens, which seems to be a must for me if I want to take this food photography thing seriously. The detail needed to show off the complexity of the dish is captured using the macro lens./ Photo Details - Chip: Nikon D700 with Tokina 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. The exterior shots: 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

The famous corn sticks were served when we sat down. The dishes we ordered were the Lacy Special – chicken breast served between corn sticks and topped with gravy; and the catfish with fried okra and mashed sweet potatoes. Sorry for the straightforward description but the photographs truly speak for themselves. / Thanks so much Chip for the great photography and of course all the tips and encouragement.

The Little Tea Shop has been featured on the food network an insane number of times and part of the Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives show you can see here.

The Little Tea Shop
69 Monroe
Memphis, TN 38103
ph +1.901.525.6000


Little Tea Shop on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 12, 2011

Guest Music Mix {Andrew} Architecture Month Memphis

Architecture Month Memphis is well underway, though the more exciting social events are yet to come, so in the theme of architecture with a mix of fun, I’d thought I would let three great Memphis architecture minds, who also share my passion for great music, take over the featured songs each day this September.  See the Architecture Month Memphis events held by AIA Memphis here.

This week, our guest dj is Andrew Parks of archimania who also teaches at The University of Memphis School of Architecture. In addition to his award-winning design and teaching talent, he has seriously mad skills in creating photo realistic 3-d renderings which you can see more of here.  In the music realm, I was really impressed with the number of great bands we had in common and began a personal challenge of finding one great indie band that he had yet to discover.  Well, after a handful of attempts, I did finally suggest one band he didn’t know – Motopony. Oh the joy in something so trivial, but it also got me excited to know what five songs he would pick for this challenge – songs appropriate for each day of the week with at least one cover and one remix. The result – a super cool mix that should put a little bounce in your week.

Enjoy Andrew’s super cool music mix listed below with the band name next to each day along with his song commentary. To find out what song he's selected, visit the sidebar music player each day. Thanks Andrew!

M / Generationals / An up-tempo but relaxed song to start the week off.

T / Fleet Foxes / How can you not like this one? Very mellow.

W/ Local Natives - Simon & Garfunkel Cover / This song always puts everyone at my house in little a better mood and this just so happens to be Ken Frampton’s favorite band (a little architecture humor there in honor of architecture month). To watch the video, click here.

TH / Bombay Bicycle Club / I guess you could dance to this? At the very least tap your foot and bob your head…

F / JamieXX - Remix of Adele featuring Childish Gambino / I know this song has been remixed at least 100 different times, but this one is definitely one of the best. Swag.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Farewell to Summer { Photo Recap / Nikon F Test }

The three day weekend gave us a chance to see our family, our brand new niece, and, of course, the most popular weekend attraction - my sister's pool. / Here are the best shots I got from the vintage Nikon F camera with black and white Ilford xp2 film. Stay tuned for the official post on this camera, which my friend James is offering up for sale.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hello September!

As we opened the front door today feeling the rush of hot air, Atticus asked if I was ready for winter yet. I'm definitely ready for the end of the scorching/humid weather combo but I'm not ready for winter. No. Truly, fall is my favorite time of year, and note to my traveling friends and family, September and October, considering the milder weather and tons of events planned, are the best times to be in Memphis. *wink* / Have a great Labor Day weekend! See ya next week.

Photo/graphics by Sophorn. Photo taken at Shelby Farms end of winter last year. The cold wind blasted past Atticus causing him to howl in shock.
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