Tag Archive for 'chicago'

Drake in Europe: The Prologue

Hello, dearest Superforest!

Allow me to apologize for my absence on this wonderful hypertext expanse; you see, the process of expatriation takes perspiration and dedication. I write to you from the heart of Prague, known affectionately as the Golden City, the City of a Hundred Spires, the Mother of All Cities. I am blessed to call her home. I’ll be here for a while, for as a lovely lass told me on arrival, this mother has talons.

But before we meet her, I’d like to take you through my journey to this wonderful place. I left my home in the Middle West months ago. I have roved through Dublin to Istanbul, made many friends and photos, and now return in this Central European jewel. But before we get to that, allow me to lavish you with lithographs from my first landlocked love: Chicago!

Early morning, balcony.

Early morning, balcony.

In early August my sister and I met up with our dear mother in Chicago. We spent a wonderful week together as a family. Momentously memorable moments they were. We feasted on potlucks and plays. Hear you can notice the famously broad shoulders of the City by the Lake. When you visit Chicago, say hello to downtown and then head to the neighborhoods. As with any place I inhabit, I found myself wandering. I suggest you do the same.

Guerilla knitting, Wicker Park.

Guerrilla knitting, Wicker Park.

My wise friend Theo once told my that in this world, one can be a positive or negative force. He then cleaned my friend’s kitchen. I see the same spontaneous, wonderful positivity in the above: perhaps the bike rack would grow cold in the winter! Also, if you’re tactile-oriented like myself, you treasure the textures of those textiles. Keep knitting, knitters. The rest of us appreciate it.

A modern fossil

A modern fossil

While the above is not nearly so revelatory as the first two photos, I find it poetic in a simple way. I could wax rhapsodic on temporality literally cemented, which seems so relevant as autumn increases, but I would rather hold in my mind that spectacular walk through the upper west side. Can man and nature peacefully coexist? This is a false question: We were never not a part of nature. And this blog attests to that.

Next: Dublin — and a poem I wrote on that formative flight across the pond.

With love,


Brave New Food! Homaro Cantu on Algae, Food Printing, and How We’ll Feed the Masses!

Make enough food for everyone. That’s the end game.
And to get there, we have to start thinking a little crazier about what food is.

Homaru Cantu is a Chicago chef with some bold new ideas about the future of food.

This is a very pressing question with so many new humans born every year, and the Earth’s resources being stretched thin as it is. How are we to ensure that everyone will be fed?

Mr. Cantu’s idea: Challenge the very idea of what makes food food!

Wired.com has a great interview up now.

Wired.com: What is food?

Cantu: It’s what enables us to live — and more than that, it’s dense energy storage. If you look at it from that point of view, you start shooting two birds with one shot.”

So if “food” is just another word for dense calorie storage, that pretty much means that anything that you ingest to provide your body with muscle energy is food.

By this definition, “food” can now be made in a great number of ways.

Like using a laser printer!

Sayeth Mr. Cantu:

“There’s two ways to look at it. Let’s say you have a food printer and eight cartridges, and grow eight crops on the roof, and that’s all you need to replicate any food product you can imagine, from mom’s apple pie to a cheeseburger with French fries. That would decentralize the food structure, and you’d know exactly where your food comes from.”

Right now we use 3D printers to create everything from new cell phone designs to human organs. Why not just use basic food molecules in place of plastic or cells?

Print a pie! Print a burger! Print some fries to go with that!

(via flickr user oskay)

This amazing object was printed by the superstars over at Evil Mad Scientists Labs using the Candyfab. Is is made by heating white sugar and extruding it in layers.

Obviously this is a major leap from the ways food is thought of and prepared today, but keep in mind that research into what Homaro Cantu is proposing will inevitably lead to refinement, mass production, and ultimately could solve how we go about feeding our billions of brother and sister humans.

And not only that, but “food printing” will come in mighty handy when we decide to start seriously exploring both outer space and the sea bed.

Homaro Cantu is an amazing mind. When asked what he’s been up to recently, he replied:

“Homaro Cantu: We’ve been trying to incorporate food from the green world, and started growing microalgae. You can get 10,000 to 30,000 gallons of algae per acre. It can be grown in salt or fresh water, in a whole variety of temperatures. It increases the food supply rather than depleting it, and it’s a net energy gain.

For $300 we built a photobioreactor that produced 15 gallons of food per month. The idea was to take algae, process it into sushi and fuel, and deliver it it in a truck running on algae biofuel. And we’re just a bunch of chefs. If we can figure this out, I don’t know why others can’t.”

Here’s an algae-makin’ bioreactor in action:

In his free time Homaro Cantu works up bioreactors for sushi and fuel. This cat is an absolute hero!

Here is Homaro Cantu’s site: Cantu Designs.
And here is the full wired.com interview.

For further reading, check out the amazing wikipedia entries on:

Molecular gastronomy.
Rapid Prototyping.
Algae fuels.

Homaro Cantu, for your algae-loving, sushi creating, forward-thinking ways, in addition to your research into how to feed the Earth’s humans, you are the deserving recipient of the SuperForest Good Person Award:

Bravo, Homaro!!!

The Fabulous Fearless Flying Bill Murray!

Bill Murray…

Actor, golfer, ghostbuster…

Now, Master of the Skies!


Air Murray

Air Guitar Murray!

If this doesn’t make you happy, tell me what will.

Bill Murray was skydiving to raise awareness for the USO at an air and water show in Chicago.

Egads, I cherish this man’s existence.

(photos via AP & Reuters)


Every night there are hundreds of people that spent the tiny hours on the streets, simply because they are homeless. Chicago-based artist Michael Rakowitz thought up of a solution. paraSITE.

paraSITE is a temporary tent for the homeless that is made from two layers of sturdy plastic. So why temporary? Well, the ‘tent’ features an air tube which can be attatched to an air vent of a big building (those things blow warm air 24/7, unused warmth that goes up in the sky). The warm air fills the two-layered tent in no-time and there you have it, paraSITE.

The air vent is nicely visible here and the tent is still inflating. But when it’s filled up it provides a roof and bed for someone who doesn’t have that on a regular basis. And it’s also nice and warm. From an environmental perspective paraSITE is awesome, it uses energy (the hot air) that would have gone to waste otherwise. But from a legal perspective it’s not so cool. The law says you can’t just put up your tent on the sidewalk. But Rakowitz found a hole in the law and designed another model.

It’s maybe a bit hard to see but the paraSITE is laying at the back. Now it’s not that much of a tent anymore, Rakowitz made it a bag; comparable to a sleeping bag. Now that the tent part is mostly gone officers can’t say “You’re violating law x here so please get your stuff together and leave” anymore. The above photograph was actually taken during a meetup of a homeless man who spent the night in the sleeping bag and an officer. This is what Rakowitz writes about the situation on his website:

“We designed his shelter to be closer to the ground, more like a sleeping bag or some kind of body extension. Thus, if questioned by the police, he could argue that the law did not apply because the shelter was not, in fact, a tent. On more than one occasion, Michael was confronted by police officers. After measuring his shelter, the officers moved on.”

How fun is it to find holes in the law use them to a good extent.