day 5 – walking lucile street – georgetown

Lucile Street - Ms A's photos highlight the range of placemaking actions in this industrial district

Today we walked from 15th Ave S by Flora Bakehouse all the way west to the end of Lucile Street at East Marginal Way South. We connected the two segments of Lucile Street on Airport Way S. Joining us for this segment of Lucile was our neighbors, the Yamashitas.

Lucile Street – we walked from 15th Ave S to E Marginal Way S and back.

Reflections

Walk reflection by Ms A
Walk reflection by Ms N
Walk reflection by Ms M

For our only walk through an industrial zone, it really wasn’t all that bad! Much of the industrial uses fronting Lucile Street had an office park feel with maintained landscaping or parking areas.

As the kids noted in their reflections with mentions of hearing and seeing cars and trucks, this segment had by far the most traffic. It was positively busy compared to the residential stretches where on some days we only had one or two cars pass us for the entire walk.

Lucile Street – Sidewalk quality could range from leafy and complete to non-existent. Concrete blocks filled in parking spots along several stretches.

But for being a busier area, the kids still described themselves as feeling happy although maybe a bit hot. The elements of placemaking that businesses used to make the street comfortable included regular landscaping, large creative and/or colorful signage, and large painted murals with images appearing unrelated to the business it was on.

We did, however, speak as a group about one other element of placemaking that is more controversial – concrete “eco-blocks” are used on a few unfinished curbs to define the edge of the sidewalk, but clearly as a strategy to resist the parking of RVs by unhoused neighbors. The strategy appears to be working on this part of Lucile Street.

Lucile Street – A visit to Hilltopper Electric Bike Company where we learned about their electric conversion kits for standard bicycles and how they develop and test their battery and motor kits.

The kids illustrated and mention bicycles in their reflections, because we stopped-in at the HQ and warehouse of Clean Republic, makers of Dakota Lithium brand electric batteries and Hilltopper Electric Bike conversion kits.

Clean Republic is a great example of one of several green industry businesses that are on Lucile street. The most prominent of which is the Ardagh Group’s glass recycling plant. It occupies several city blocks along the Duwamish Waterway at the very end of Lucile Street. According to the company’s website, the glass plant is over 91 years old, sits on 17 acres rented from King County, and employs 345 workers.

Clean Republic is far smaller than Ardagh, but far more approachable. Chris and the team were very welcoming and gave us a generous amount of their time to see their products and give us a hands-on demonstration of how they perform quality testing on their electric bike conversion kits. If you have and love your bike, but have been considering an electric bike, check out their conversion kits.

After our tour of Clean Republic, we purchased a few banh mi sandwiches from Pho Sriracha on 4th Ave S and walked back to Georgetown Playfield and Spraypark. The kids took in the cooling mist of the spraypark before we returned back up Lucile Street to the car parked off 15th. And with that, our walk across Seattle on our street came to a close.

Dossier

Lucile Street – The sidewalk and mini-park on the south side of Cleveland High School feels forlorn even at the corner of the school’s high-end sports field on 13th.
Lucile Street – Visual typography include vintage neon signs, creative industry-themed street art and signage, and plenty of industrial hazard signage including a shop for these signs.
Lucile Street – The road ends at East Marginal Way South before the Duwamish River. The factory across the street is a glass and packaging manufacturer operated by Ardagh Group, a Luxembourg-based multinational company. Some of the best street art lines the wall of the complex across from Lucile Street. Aerial photography courtesy Google Earth.

Measurements

Date of walk: Wednesday, Aug 17th, 2022
Start time: 10:06
End time: 13:44

Sunny, 73℉

Elevation plot generated by Garmin Connect App. Although it feels flat, interesting to see that Georgetown gradually slopes down towards the Duwamish on the west.

Max elevation: 152ft
Min elevation: 13ft

book review: gramophone, film, typewriter by friedrich a. kittler

Hansen's Writing Ball, also known as Malling-Hansen Writing Ball. 1906-9. Science Museum Group Collection Online.

Why did the record player (gramophone), a fairly simple mechanism, take so long to be invented? This is one of the curious kinds of questions that Friedrich Kittler will raise and explore over and over again through this book.

While I feel invited now to learn more about the context of this book and the discussion it fits into, here’s my impression. Through the media technologies of the gramophone, film, and the typewriter, Kittler assembles a triune model for understanding the development of communication technology as an analogy for understanding ourselves and a mode of history.

As an analogy, for example, the very development of film and its language of shooting was developed alongside the development of machine guns and mechanized warfare. “The entertainment industry is … an abuse of army equipment,” says Kittler in one of his occasional one liners that seems to playfully summarize a section of analysis. Also, loads on how we can understand development of ideas by the seeing and recording mechanisms that were used to develop them.

As a mode of history, for example, Kittler describes computers as accelerated typewriters and an object of and over which a tension between men and women develops. Typewriter signifies both machine and woman, he says. Hm, okay.

Kittler seeds suspicion of military redirection in all media technology development. “Every culture has its zones of preparation that fuse lust and power, optically, acoustically, and so on. Our discos are preparing our youths for a retaliatory strike,” he writes. Goodness. What would he think of TikTok and other viral reel-formatted social media (vireel media?). Bootcamps for fascism!

Although record players are back in fashion (glamor is just a Scottish corruption of grammar, he says), much of this triune model feels difficult to track forward to today where the framing of word processors, note apps, cloud computing, and interface hardware exponentially amplify the dimensions by which we can understand writing, but also risk disappearing much faster with a single software update or dependency deprecation. Easier to look back at the Hansen Writing Ball and connect it with Nietzsche’s one-eyed thought.

The subject technologies – record players, movies, and typewriters – as a mode of history also seems dated, in part because history doesn’t feel like it is closing in the way that he maybe thought it was in 1986 when the book was published, but also because the convergence of the audio, visual, and writing modes are now solidly subsumed by information computer and network technology.

It is Kittler’s ontological ideas that I think I’ll come back to, though. In particular, I’m interested to follow further the thread of his discussion of Carl Schmitt’s The Buribunks – a kind of allegory about a people who all have to maintain diaries, that they are always writing, that exist because they write, and where “writing is nothing but anticipated publication”. Our increasingly always online experience of life, means we too are continuously etching marks in databases of our movements, our interests, our reading, our trace through our day and through life. Part of that is unintentional, but part of it is very much in anticipation of going viral, of something happening.

Why read this book now? I think we’ve hit a strange kind of stride with media communication technology development that ties back to the curiosity of the gramophone question – of missing the painfully obvious. On the one hand there is this great vision of immersive virtual worlds (metaverse!) or of decentralized finance (bitcoin!), but on the other hand – literally in our hands – is basically the same computer and mobile computer technology we’ve had for 20 years.

In the hyperkinetic landscape of quick social media networks over higher capacity network technology, the vector of technology development seems to set now on the same course as commercial aircraft since 1980s – pack more in and use less fuel / increase pixel density of images and video, reduce power consumption relative to computational processing ability.

At the same time, faith in institutions and professions have eroded while lies and violence gain acceptability as legitimate political action. “You used to call me on my cellphone.” Now I need to read into the meaning of your likes. The culture is sending many into silence – the trolls control the comments, the influencers post perfect lives, the rest of lurkers nibble at the bait in the streams.

Mobile computing technology (cellphones, laptops) and the contemporary discourse on privacy was the product of the Global War on Terrorism. It brought us a surveillance state where agencies track individuals and masses of peoples as foreign actors. Individually, users of mobile technology monitor the state of subjects of concern – their location and condition – with a latent sense of the individual burden of responsibility modeled by superheroes in all the movies or the counter-terrorism agent of take-your-pick long running series. We’re now tired of all the notifications, sending them to daily summaries or filtering them by focus mode. Still, how well do you sleep at night? Haunted by a feeling of missing the painfully obvious.

In this context, I think it is relevant and necessary to pick up the thread and to experiment with other models for describing the historical development and mode of being through media. For in them we live, and move, and have our being. Not that we must continue to do so, but for now we are their offspring.