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» WE LOOK LIKE THE TYPE

Blickensderfer

Text and photos by Brian Awehali

A recent surge in interest in typewriters isn’t just about nostalgia or fetishistic hipster concerns. It’s about light, speed, focus and pleasure. It’s also about digital discontent: As our type has grown speedier and more legible, we’ve become more legible to corporations, governments and private individuals in increasingly centralized, synoptic positions. What we look at looks back, in aggregate.


Two women — one young, the other elderly and pushing an upright shopping cart — paused to look in the window of the California Typewriter Company on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley.

“Typewriters,” said the older woman, meaningfully.

“Old,” said the younger one, before glancing down at her smartphone.

It’s true; typewriters are old. But their invention, rise, and popular decline also paralleled one of the most transformative periods in modern human history. The newest typewriter in the Berkeley store, a sky-blue Olivetti Studio 46 manual built in Brazil in the early 1990s, might have been made before the younger woman was. Most are decades older, and it’s likely that many of these machines were used at some point by a woman entering the workforce for the first time, as a typist or secretary. The oldest typewriter in the store, a Smith Premier No. 2 with what look like wooden keys, was built in the startlingly retro-futuristic year of 1890, when events like the massacre of ghost dancers at Wounded Knee and the formal end of the US-Indian Wars co-existed in time with mass electrification and the appearance of the first computer — a punch card tabulator used for tallying census data.

The nostalgic and historic appeal of typewriters is easy to understand. But what’s driving the recent revival of practical interest in them? Who’s using typewriters, and why?

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» NATIVE AMERICANA IN TURKEY AND BEYOND

Photo EssayAt the Dandalos Hotel in Karacasu, near the ruins of Aphrodisias in southwest Turkey, I was surprised to come across this 8-foot-high translucent image of a bygone Native American chief.

Native American chief wall hanging at the Dandalos Hotel in southwest Turkey, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised, since I’ve seen plenty of other images of Native Americana in Istanbul — including a garishly “sexy” Native outfit on a very skinny mannequin in the window of a clothing store in Galatasaray. Why all the Native American stuff? Continue reading

» AFTERNOON PHOTOS IN KADIKOY

Photo EssayKadıköy, on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, is a lot less touristy than the parts of the European side near the Galata Bridge. Frankie and I took a ferry over and shot some photos of its buildings, animals and people.

Kadıköy pier view of the Bosphorus at golden hour. – (c) 2014 Boots Natanama

Kadıköy pier view of the Bosphorus at golden hour. – (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

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» KARDEşIMSIN (YOU ARE MY BROTHER), MICHAEL BROWN

Photo Essay

Kardeşimsin Mike (“You are my brother, Mike”): Street stencil in Galata, Istanbul expressing solidarity with Michael Brown, who was killed by police offer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014. - (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

Kardeşimsin Mike (“You are my brother, Mike”): Street stencil in Galata, Istanbul expressing solidarity with Michael Brown, who was killed by police offer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014. – (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

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» RUINOUS SEX CULT(URE) IN APHRODISIAS, TURKEY

Ruins of Aphrodisias, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

Photo EssayIf you visit Turkey–and hey, who doesn’t love visiting increasingly intolerant authoritarian dictatorships?–it’s definitely worth strolling the nicely overgrowing ruins of Aphrodisias (Ἀφροδισιάς), a place originally erected in honor of a local cult’s goddess of fertility who has come to be known most widely as Aphrodite, goddess of love.

Ruins of Aphrodisias, (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

Lots of different areas had their own interpretations and names for her: Cytherea, Cypris, Acidalia, Cerigo, Ourania, Artemis and Ashtart among them. “Aphrodite” is Greek, “Lady of Ephesus” Anatolian, and “Venus” is Roman, but they’re all basically the same cult image, reinterpreted and adapted for local and/or religious purposes usually involving fertility. Continue reading

» QUALIFIED APPRECIATIONS AT HAGIA SOPHIA

 

Photo EssayHagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey - (c) 2016 Brian Awehali

Spiritually speaking, I’m fairly described as an atheist anarcho-Buddhist, and I didn’t want to go stand in line to look at the Hagia Sophia, one of the oldest and largest monuments to monotheism and feuding totalitarian religious dogma in the world. But F. really wanted to go, and I didn’t have any better plans for the gray and rainy day.

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