Blog Archives

Can Langton Labs Host a Memorable Halloween Party? When Pigs Fly!

IMG_0543.JPG

What do you get what you cross Halloween and a house full of creative (and wonderfully eccentric) scientists. The most bizarrely memorable Halloween ever at Langton Labs in SOMA, SF. First of all the kitchen table had been transformed into a dissection station and microscope viewing area. There was something truly magical about watching a zombified doctor dissect a heart and describe all of the roles each part plays. There was also of course also frogs, eyeballs and fetal pigs – if the heart wasn’t entertaining enough.

1030-1.JPG

Various animals stood in jars of formaldehyde, whose bodies and even bones, had been made transparent by a special technique. There were also drawing pads on the table in case you got a sudden impulse to be creative.

1030-2.JPG

But the real piece de resistance was a young pig, with attached wings, realized by the impossibly unique and talented Jane Partensky (with the surgical assistance of Will Oberlin). The final incarnation of this mythological beast hung from the ceiling, above the dancing crowd, lit from below with an eery yellow lamp.

So can Langton Labs host a memorable Halloween party? You can almost see the pig mouthing: “You’re god damn right they can!”

1030-3.JPG

Read more

Burning Man!

0901-3.JPG

I am currently in the Nevada Desert creating a temporary community at Burning Man. This year we are bringing together art installations, science lectures, music events and other aspects of creative expression like never before. All hail the inaugural year of “The Institute“! This is Phager Mat Heitel’s rendering of the village – comprising of three camps: The Phage, False Profit and Relaxomatic Plushatorium:

0901-5.JPG
The Phage was especially proud of this years iteration of Strangelove, our beloved art car:

0901-1.JPG

So what does Burning Man look like from space, you ask? Pretty awesome organization for 50,000 debaucherous campers!

0901-2.JPG

Read more

Hexayurt Construction + Plush Day

0821.JPG

The Orlando house in Pasadena is abuzz with Phagers (members of the Burning Man Phage Camp) deep in preparation for the annual Burn which takes place 100mi north of Reno in late August / Early September.

Some of the days activities include creating numerous “giant microbe” pillows to be used in our 30ft dome. All sorts of cute viruses and bacteria are being assembled! There was also Playa Tech to be cut (plywood furniture that slots together) and a few of us had pooled our resources to make the upgrade from mere tent to pimptastic hexayurt!

all_hexayurts_web_dimensions.jpg

Read more

Tuxedo Tyrants / Santa Monica

0808-2.JPG

Tuxedo Travels was a project that I undertook in April 2007. It was the journey of two men, over the course of 6 months, as they journey from Asia to London wearing nothing but tuxedos. More than just a bizarre adventure, it was a mission to raise money for charitable causes that we executed along the route when we came into contact with needy communities or individuals.

If Tuxedo Travels is the altruistic, more responsible sibling – then Tuxedo Tyrants is the hedonistic younger sibling, who enjoys the intersection of bar crawls and public improv. It started in early 2008 when Dan Busby got a new tuxedo and knowing that I had one, he had asked if I wanted to join him for a drink, in tuxedos. Of course, it was so much fun, that we decided to to do it again – this time inviting our friends.

The idea quickly spread around our posse – ‘Tuxedo Tyrants: lets all get dressed up in tuxedos and ballgowns and go on a bar crawl!’. It was more than just a drunk night out, it was in no uncertain terms, a stroke of unexpected genius. Girls, as it turns out, have a slew of fancy outfits that they love to wear, but never get the opportunity – and so in the week preceding, they chit chatted about what they’d wear and flock to the event! Every month or two, a new location was chosen and the Tyrants gathered. This already would have been enough, however, never wanting to be labeled as anything ordinary, we began making up elaborate stories before hitting the bars, to tell people when they inevitably asked:

“So are you guys all coming from a wedding.” Was the obvious question.

“Actually, we’re celebrating the initial round of funding for an orbiting space casino…” Deadpan delivery.

“Haha, no, seriously!?”

“I am serious, of course, it’s no where near ready, but the planning for orbiting space casino’s takes time.” Invariably, the inquisitor would saunter off, only to approach a more timid looking Tyrant.

“So, what’s really going on here? Are you coming from a wedding?”

“Actually, we’re celebrating the initial round of funding for an orbiting space casino. But i’m only in the accounting department.” And that was the genius – a cohesive story and a role you felt comfortable in faking. Sales, legal, marketing, engineering, accounting – all were represented.

In the couple of years that the Tyrants had been crawling around the city and gaining in numbers, we’d hit about 15 neighborhoods, and each time, we’d come up with a different story. Some of my favorites:

  • “The successful (re)launch of the BuddyGuard™ 2.0 robotic system. BuddyGuard was a government subsidized program that offered poor and underprivileged children a robotic helper. It could help them with school work, engage them at play time as well as protect them from bullies with a built in tazer. The ill-fated launch of BuddyGuard 1.0 was doomed by a critical flaw that categorized almost everyone as a bully. But we have great faith in the new firmware, loading into almost all 2.0 systems…”
  • “ZyCorp is an Elton John Foundation sponsored company that focuses on genetic splicing. We’re excited to be celebrating the fist success at creating a healthy zygote (the pre-embyonic ball of splitting cells) derived from the genes of two sperm. We’re excited to pave the way for homosexual men to have offspring made up of their combined genes…”
  • “We’re a privately held research and development group, attempting to bring the new field of Perceptive Therapy into the mainstream. We’re excited for our first successful implant which is able to augment the perception of those suffering from schizophrenia and depression. Of course there are many other potential conditions that we could see treating in the future, as well as even spilling over from the world of therapy, into the world of consumer recreation… That of course, it a little way off!”

And so on and so forth! But tonight, amid the gleaming white patio of a Santa Monica hotel, we were representatives from Everyoung Labs, celebrating the healthy first birthday of ‘Tuck‘ – the companies eldest ‘permakitten‘. Thanks to isolation of the Greenberg gene, named after Leyah Greenberg who’s body had shown some unusual aging processes, Everyoung Labs has created a technology so that kittens, stay kittens, for life.

Happy Birthday, Tuck!

0808.JPG

Read more

Swimming with Sharks at the Standard Rooftop

0724-02.JPG

Few things say “summertime in LA” like the bi-weekly Swimming with Sharks on the rooftop of the Standard Hotel in downtown LA. Here’s how it feels to me: a bunch of kids were all at free swim, playing around and being care free. Then all of a sudden, everybody was transofrmed into a 20 or 30 year old adult. However, everyone is still acting like a kid, wearing funny hats and bathing suits, splashing each other and frolicking around. Only now, people are drinking champagne from bottles and everyone is feeling horny.

It’s really quite a fantastic way to spend the long summer Sundays. When the water fights get tiring, it’s fun to take a break on the astroturf lined sun bathing areas and order some more champagne. After all, we’re all just mischievous kids and Monday is but a distant concern 🙂

0724-01.JPG
Read more

EPIC: The Death Valley Dunes 2010

Wild Skies

A few times a year a group of adventures seeking individuals meet up and go on EPIC outdoor adventures. This is the 3rd year returning to the Eureka sand dunes of Death Valley to spend a night on the dunes, under the bright stars.

Group Shot

There’s nothing like retreating to the desert with some of the smartest people you know to discuss topics such as quantifiable morality, malleability of social order, altruistic incentive, interstellar logistics, routine hacking and continued experiments in experience engineering.

The Dunes

The “booming” dunes of Death Valley are just a handful in the world where the conditions are just right that the sand, as it shifts emits a deeply resonant groaning! A magical place filled with old mines, bizarre rock formations jutting up from the austere desert landscape. More pics here…

Read more

Tacos, Baja and Vipassana 2.0

After creating Taco Havoc for Halloween, I finally said goodbye to a hellish end of 2008 with an EPIC adventure to Baja, Mexico. 2009 blasted off in LA with unparalled energy; the majority of my time spent on a ‘so far sold out in ’09’ Mindshare. Another exciting development has been the creation of Mindshare Labs, a group of highly talented techies and scientists who create interactive installations for Mindshare and other events. On a personal level, February was a cleansing month: I completed my 2nd, 10 day Vipassana sit, did a 14 day Master Cleanse and gave a lot of possessions away to charity! And of course no winter would be complete without a little snowboarding 😉 Now I’m sitting in Dallas, getting ready to attend SXSW

Read more