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25 July 2017
Morning Sedition

I’ll take "Chairs You Can’t Sit In" for $500

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more champagne."

— John Maynard Keynes

Chair made from a champagne cork by Jan Santos

Champagne-Cork Chair made by Jan Santos

For the second year in a row, Design Within Reach, a retailer of designer home-decor furnishings, has run its contest for the best-designed miniature chairs built from a champagne bottle, including the cork, wire, foil, and glass. An impressive number of entries were submitted this year: "Ultimately, we received more than 400 tiny, handcrafted chairs in a deluge of small packages that arrived between Christmas and the New Year."

Chair made from a champagne cork by Rick Ebbers

Champagne-Cork Chair made by Rick Ebbers

As this is an exercise in pure, unbridled creativity the contest's rules are dirt simple:

The idea presented a unique design challenge, with entrants allowed to use only the cork, wire, foil and glass of a champagne bottle to construct their creations.


People like the contest because it's a project that can be completed in one evening. Sophisticated software, CNC routers and master's degrees are of little help. All you need are a few bottles of champagne, some friends, a couple of hours, and maybe a pair of needlenose pliers and some wire clippers. As for anything more technical than that, a glue gun is about as sophisticated a piece of equipment as you're allowed.

Contest Rules

Chair made from a champagne cork by Striblen Fabien

Champagne-Cork Chair made by Striblen Fabien

The results are quite impressive. (Details can be seen here and here.)

A poster of last year's entries is available for $20.

Confessions of a Photographer Criminal

New York/New Jersey sign in the Holland tunnel

Taking this picture was a crime. (No, not because it has some glare, either.)

The tunnels in New York are now festooned with signs saying, "Camera Use Prohibited". (I have a shot of the sign, but it is on film which hasn't yet been developed. I used film and a telephoto, instead of the point-and-shoot digital, because I didn't want to tempt Clotho, Atropos, and Lachesis by taking it up close and personal, what with the cops having a car parked right underneath the sign.) Such a prohibition is, of course, a blatant and egregious violation of the First Amendment and I hope someone takes the city to court over it.

Article I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Bill of Rights, United States Constitution

Illegal restrictions will, of course, do nothing to stop anyone with a van outfitted with a combination of video cameras and still cameras who really wants that footage for some nefarious purpose. And if there is anything we know about terrorists, it is that they can be particularly meticulous and patient. Given that traffic moves at a crawl during rush hour, anyone who really cared could obtain footage of every inch of the tunnel without too many passes and without ever being spotted.

Anyway, being a stubborn troublemaker, I make it a point to snap pictures inside the tunnel whenever I can. These are not easy shots to take; far from it: I must hold the camera in my left hand — right hand on the wheel — and take the shot without aiming or, in the case of film, focusing. (I prefocus before entering the tunnel.) Oh, and I do all this at forty-five miles per hour, guessing when the sign will appear. Not to worry, my eyes are on the road and I'm plenty far back from the car in front, but putting safety first means I miss a bunch of shots.

This may not be my finest work, but given the awkward circumstances of its birth, I'm quite proud of it; framed and focused is half the battle. When camera use is a crime, only criminals will have cameras.

"And, damn, it feels good to be a gangsta."

— Geto Boys


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