A Baker's Dozen of Essential Blogs More Than Worth Your Time

Steve Young has been a writer for thesince 1990. One year ago he happened to glance out a window in the upstairs hallway and noticed a piece of petrified gum on the window ledge.
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In no particular order, this is a baker's dozen of blogs and websites I consider essential visiting daily, weekly, and sometimes even hourly.

Steve Young has been a writer for the David Letterman Show since 1990. About a year ago he happened to glance out a window in the upstairs hallway one afternoon and noticed a piece of petrified gum on the window ledge, which led him to conceive of "a boring conceptual art project: take a picture of the gum every day, through the different seasons and weather." One day he noticed that while he was framing the shot, a celebrity guest for the show was getting out of a limo downstairs. Thus are great ideas born. Young did a series of photos of celebrities arriving to be on the show, with the gum in the forefront of the shot. "There may be better paparazzi photos on the internet, but this is the only place you'll find the juxtaposition of celebrities and hardened gum," writes Steve. Unknowingly, celebs like Snooki, Paris Hilton, Justin Bieber, Blake Lively, Donald Trump, Barbara Walters, Amanda Seyfried have all participated in CelebriGum. The photos are further enlivened by Young's wisecracking commentary.

The Sassy Curmudgeon
I discovered Una LaMarche on this very site when we both worked ourselves up into a froth blogging about Project Runway. She's freaking awesome. She has her own blog as well, and it's the bee's knees. Recently she became pregnant and her posts have given a whole new meaning to the term mommy-blogger. She wondered, in a recent post, what exactly the phrase meant:

"Is it possible to be a mom who also just happens to blog? From everything I've heard, becoming a parent changes your life. And if you have a blog that's basically just a glorified diary of your life, as I do, wouldn't it naturally follow that after I give birth the blog will focus -- if not exclusively, at least heavily -- on my child and experience of motherhood?"

To my delight she now examines bizarre parental stuff with the same fabulosity she brought to her Project Runway recaps: "...Look no further than the PreVue pregnancy screen, an "abdomen attachment" that acts like the oven light God forgot, projecting an image of your developing baby using ultrasound technology." And this post convinced me that someone out there in publishing with more than half a brain needs to wise up and give this gal a book deal. It's about a shy seventh grade girl who must deal with her best friends deciding they don't want to hang out with her anymore. Her writing is funny and wise and sad and sweet.

Somehow, recently, things seemed to change quite a bit over at Flavorwire, which bills itself as Cultural News and Critique. Suddenly they became really fabulous instead of just fun to read once in awhile. They're also the home of Flavorpill, which is targeted to different cities. But Flavorwire in general is not just aggregating great content, but also writing their own. Recent stories include an announcement that a UK supermarket chain will be placing excerpts from Roald Dahl stories on cereal boxes. "Over the next few weeks, Asda will replace the games and advertisements on the backs of all of their own store-brand cereals with 200-odd word excerpts and illustrations from Dahl classics The Witches; The Twits, The BFG; Danny, the Champion of the World and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Didn't you need to know that? I know I did. Other delights; "A Gallery of Elderly Animals;" "15 Weird and Beautiful Collaged Album Covers;" "The Most Beautiful Dead and Repurposed Movie Theaters in the US;" "What Your Favorite Kids Book Then Says About You Now;" "Famous Authors And Their Typewriters."

The Big Picture
The Big Picture is a photo blog created by a group of picture editors at the Boston Globe. Entries are posted Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Their m.o. is high-quality, amazing imagery, with a focus on current events. The majority of the images come from places like the Associated Press, Reuters, and Getty Images, who license them to the Globe. Other photos are from public domain sources such as NASA, and still others from private photographers who share them for one-time use. It's always a stunning look-see. Recent galleries included Japan's Crisis: One Month Later; Holi: Festival of Colors; and Yemen: Months of Unrest and Turmoil.

Boom Underground
According to creator Julie Mihaly: "Boom Underground is my effort to create the magazine that I'd publish if I could." It calls itself "an online magazine created as a forum for smart and humorous takes on what it is and was like to be a member of the generation that shook the status quo." It's like Chinese boxes full of endless time-wasting deliciousness. From a gallery of comic book romance covers from the 50's and 60's to a list of weird fads (like Magic 8 Ball and Etch-A-Sketch) to recipes for party essentials like pigs in a blanket and cheese straws to entertaining pieces on facets of pop culture -- well, one can spend hours here.

Burning Wood
Sal Nunziato owned a record store in New York for 12 years called N.Y.C.D. I was a regular and logged some quality time chatting about great music with him there. The store sadly fell victim to the vicissitudes of record store owners post iTunes and Amazon. Sal has written liner notes for all the major labels, as well as writing for many outlets including Newsweek and the New York Times and the Huffington Post. He knows more about music than just about anyone I know and through his blog has turned me on to many, many things I'd never heard of. This is how I know what's coming out every week -- the stuff that matters, mind you, not the crap. "Have I told you lately that I love The Beatles? How do they do it? It's been 50 years since "Ain't She Sweet," and I still feel like they are surprising me," he writes in one post. In another, he discovers the Four Tops' cover of "Elusive Butterfly:"

"I know what you're thinking. 'Elusive Butterfly? Really?' But once you listen, and stop saying to yourself, 'Man, Levi Stubbs can sing,' -- and you will say that at least 5 times during the 3:09 duration of the song -- you will be hooked on this sublime cover of the Bob Lind hit, which really wasn't so bad in first place.

Dangerous Minds
This one is very sci-fi to me personally, because it's kind of like someone went into my brain and dug out all the coolest stuff and made a blog about it. They also have their own radio show, The Dangerous Minds Radio Hour. Here are some recent blog subjects: a 1968 documentary about J.R.R. Tolkien; An Ayn Rand fan dating site (called Atlasphere); The lost episodes of Roald Dahl's classic TV series Way Out, from 1961; Screaming Jay Hawkins and Serge Gainsbourg performing "Constipation Blues;" 1960's French music videos by Francoise Hardy, Spencer Davis Group, Marianne Faithfull, and The Equals; and Marianne Faithfull sings Serge Gainsbourg in 1967 cult movie musical Anna. Any blog with multiple posts about Marianne Faithfull and Serge Gainsbourg is All Supreme as far as I'm concerned.

Jeremiah's Vanishing New York
This blog by Jeremiah Moss calls itself "a bitterly nostalgic look at a city in the process of going extinct." New York Magazine's Justin Davidson said "Jeremiah Moss... is the defender of all the undistinguished hunks of masonry that lend the streets their rhythm and give people a place to live and earn a living: bodegas, curio stores, a metalworking shop in Soho, diners, and dingy bars." Moss began the blog in 2007 with a post about the Times Square Howard Johnson:

"Maybe the first vanishing that really broke my heart...The blog has connected me to new people, both in person and electronically. It also reacquainted me with New York. For awhile, I'd been turning away from the city, a place where I no longer feel at home. But writing the blog forced me to turn outward again. It sent me out walking and got me to travel around Manhattan and the outer boroughs to seek and find what remains. Along the way, there have been moments of hopefulness, instances when it seems the soul of New York is still alive and well. I've tried to record those moments here, together with the vanishings. The compulsion to preserve, even if it's only with a few words and snapshots, spurs me on."

When Parents Text
This blog is dedicated to the trials and errors that come when a parent handles a cellphone. One of those brilliant ideas that you're amazed you didn't come up with yourself. Just a couple of the endlessly hilarious entries submitted by readers; Grandpa: I finished the harry potter movie. Couldnt hear half of it because my hearing aid fell out but it was visually stimulating. But not as visually stimulating as Avatar. What is Voldamert's purpose in life?
Dad: Is your index finger longer than your ring finger? If it is, you stand a high chance of getting prostate cancer. Thought you should know. Love you!

Selleck Waterfall Sandwich
When I first saw this I laughed until I cried, which is the best kind of laughter. I wish I knew who was responsible so I could build them a shrine to their awesomeness, but it's someone with really kick-ass photoshop skills who does beautiful renderings of images that include Tom Selleck, a waterfall, and a sandwich. A recent image shows Selleck dressed as an Indian warrior pouring a waterfall and a bounty of sliders over a pastoral scene; another shows a hunky Selleck on a surfboard spearing a sandwich while a waterfall crashes in the background; there's another image of a prehistoric sunset with a waterfall, a sandwich floating in the sky, and the face of Selleck large and all-knowing like the face of God in a dream. You know you needed this site, but until you saw it you couldn't imagine it. Well done, Mr. Anonymous.

Washington Square Park Blog
Cathryn Swan is a writer, blogger, publicist, strategist, and activist. She's currently in the process of self-publishing her first book, The B-girl Guide: In the Context of Now in which she plans to offer unique prescriptions for interacting with animals, the planet, and each other amidst the pressures and crises of daily life -- practical suggestions for navigating the twists and turns of trying to stay sane and meaningful in an increasingly commercialized, at times insane, world. Her Washington Square Park Blog is a hyper-local, citizen journalism blog covering events, preservation, redesign of the park, and its history. The blog began as an attempt for Swan to outline what had transpired with regard to the city's controversial redesign plans for the park. It also covers other New York City parks, the privatization of public space, and other city issues.

Inga's Angle - one shutterbug's take on the Big Apple
Inga Sarda-Sorensen calls herself "a New York City mega-enthusiast, passionate photog and consummate optimist." The photographs on the blog are taken on her travels throughout the city -- she says I love to roam NYC with my camera, open to serendipity. The photos are magnificent and truly awe-inspiring and do what the best photos do; make you catch your breath and allow you to see the world in a whole new, reverent way. She's very talented and absolutely brilliant.

The Yummy List
Writer Holly Gleason's Yummy List website has been a necessary part of my life for several years now. She writes incandescent prose about anything and everything that delights her. From hot pink nail polish to a certain kind of tea to rice chips to peonies to coconut m&m's to...

"...Sitting on the front steps in the rain: It is a whole new world, being washed clean before you. Under the eaves, rain coming down at any number of velocities: you can smell the world being filtered through the clouds and the water, permeating grass and dirt. There are rhythms and veils of droplets. There is the sense of a new balance being stuck. But especially, there is an awe at the way the earth and the heavens trade precious resources back and forth -- and the gentleness and intensity of nature at work."

The website hasn't been updated since last year, but it's worth reading anyway for every word. Nowadays Gleason seems to be doing recent updates via a Yummy List Facebook page and describes it as "a song, snack, moment, scent, yoga pose, new pair of shoes, great article, place, quote, movie, book or state of grace...& instant DINGS." What she said.

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