Lost in the Plastic Forest

The recent Figment 2009 event, held June 12-14 at Governors Island in New York, is described as “a FREE, annual celebration of participatory art and culture where everything is possible.”

One possiblity realized was “Watershed” an eco-installation from MSLK that ties together, literally, the many senseless aspects of bottled water consumption in the West. From the Figment 2009 website,

“Watershed” is a man-made forest of 1,500 plastic water bottles collected from the New York City area, which serves as a visual representation of one second of U.S. consumption. Out of the 50 billion bottles of water consumed each year, 80% of these bottles are currently not being recycled. Bottled water is 1,900 times more expensive than tap water, and the toxins emitted by it have been linked to serious health problems, such as reproductive issues and cancers. “Watershed” was created with the hope that viewers will shed the notion that they need to buy water in plastic bottles. If we are looking to better the environment, water is a great place to start, since we have the best quality water coming out of our taps.

Photos by Katie Killary on Flickr

If you’re wondering who threaded and hung all those bottles, MSLK’s website features a prequel to the main event with a video that documents the nuts and bolts of building “Watershed.”   

Watershed Assembly at MSLK 5/24/09 from MSLK on Vimeo.

Four Corny Water Jokes

Since THE INTERNET overtook our lives, we miss those old-timey, hokey jokes. You remember… the kind  that came straight from someone’s mouth, face-to-face. The not-really-funny jokes that were made hysterical with huge dramatic overkill. No hyperlinks or email chains, it was first-person skilled delivery, timing, and frequently, alcohol.

If I could, I’d tell you these four water jokes over a beer or two or three!

The King of a primitive but strategically-important third world nation visits the U.S. for the first time. As the King was being wined and dined by US officials in a four-star restaurant, his thirst was huge but he was distrustful of the water he was being served by the over-gratuitous staff. He quietly instructed his servant  to go and fetch him a glass of water. Time and again, the King motioned his servant to fetch more water, and he would scamper off and return with yet another glass.

On the fifth trip, though, the servant returned empty-handed. “You wretched man, why have you returned without what I ask?” demanded the King. “I beg your forgiveness, O Illustrious One, stammered the servant. “When I returned to the well, the white man was sitting upon it!”

A BLONDE WHO’S PREPARED: A guy notices that his new blond girlfriend brings two glasses to bed each night, one empty and the other filled with water. “Why do you do that?” he asked. She answered, “Well, if I wake up i the middle of the night, I don’t know if I’m going to be thirsty or not.”

THE CURE: A man goes to his doctor because he’s been feeling very ill for days. The doctor examines him, leaves the room and comes back with a large assortment of pills. He says, “Take the green pill with two big glasses of water when you get up. An hour later, take the white pill with another glass of water. Take the blue pill with a big glass of water after lunch. Mid afternoon, take the orange pill with plenty of water, and repeat that at dinner. Then, just before going to bed, take the red pill with several big glasses of water.”
The man is alarmed at huge volume of medicine he has been given to take, and nervously asks, “What’s the diagnosis? What’s wrong with me?” The doctor says, “You’re dehydrated.”

BEDTIME NEGOTIATOR: A father sends his kid to bed. Five minutes later, the boy screams downstairs, “Dad! Can you get me a glass of water?” The dad says, “No. You had your chance.” After a minute the boy screams again, “Dad! Can you get me a glass of water?” The dad says, “No. I told you, you had your chance. If you ask one more time, I’ll come up there and spank you.” After a short silence, the father hears, “Dad! When you come up to spank me, can you bring me a glass or water?”

Busted: Felony Possession of Water

Sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, weapons, a-OK, proceed ahead. Water? Contraband, you’re busted! We’re no fan of bottled water, but is it really this high up on the sin and shame-scale these days?

Kansas City’s ROCKFEST, supposedly the biggest one-day rock music festival in the country, took over the town last month, and some commenters at KC’s premier rock blog, BacktoRockville, describe just how criminal bottled water has become:
Photo: Jill Toyoshiba/The Star via backtorockville.typepad.com

Photo: Jill Toyoshiba/The Star via backtorockville.typepad.com

Rockfest is a bizarre event. Here are some of my observations: I saw a lady forced to pour out a 30 oz bottle of water, but inside, I saw open drug use from pot, to crack, to cocaine. How people can be padded down for water but keep the illegal drugs tells you something immediately. The performers literally encourage the drug use, screaming from the stage how great (the pot) smelled. I personally had no problem getting into Rockfest with a large pocket knife that I literally forgot was in the pocket of my cargo shorts, but had to hand over my opened bottle of water in case it had booze in it… And to the organizers of ROCKFEST….dudes….come on…..while you are focusing on keeping people from carrying too much water in, people are easily taking everything else in there under the sun! (original comment here.)

While another commentor noted,

The much hyped watering stations for refilling bottles? I saw only one.

And here’s proof that it’s not an isolated podunk Midwestern incident, but a cresting global trend! Via www.telegraph.co.uk.,

Photo: CATERS via telegraph.co.uk

(London, June 11) A plane passenger was able to take a six-inch serrated knife past airport security but was stopped before boarding for carrying a bottle of water.

Adrian Elvy, who was flying from Bristol to Barcelona and owns a stock delivery company, said he forgot to take care of the knife, which he uses to open boxes in his warehouse, while packing. The 39-year-old revealed he was stopped by authorities after they saw a bottle of water in his bag and missed the knife, which features a serrated edge and a separate three-inch ’spike’ for loosening sailing knots.

Go in Style: 2009 Finalists for Best Public Restroom

Go the the polls…or maybe go AT the polls…and make your vote count for the 2009 edition of America’s Best (Public) Restroom. (Voting ends July 31, 2009.) You can vote here; the main website is here; and check out the fascinating “ABR Hall of Fame“, featuring Top Flush standouts since 2002.

We, of course, must accept that this is a sponsored affair, by Cintas Corp., a company that, surprise! …makes restroom supplies. (Unintentionally-funny line in the site’s header: “…as voted on by the Internet Public.” Because of course, that’s totally different from the normal, general public!

The field has been narrowed to ten finalists for the creme de la creme of public facilities. On this exclusive Thirsty in Suburbia LooLocator® map, we can see a good regional distribution of the finalist facilities, although if you’re cruising the interstate through Colorado or South Carolina, you’re going to be holding it for awhile.

Following, the finalists, flush with pride, no doubt!

My vote? Fortunately, you don’t have to choose just one, you get to “rank” each on scale of 1 to 10. I have a great love for grand old hotels and theaters, but a “touchless environment” sounds appealing, too!

Shoji Tabuchi Theater in Branson, MO: marble fireplaces, hand-carved mahogany pool table, antiques, lion’s head sinks, leather chairs, stained glass and chandeliers.

 Radio City Music Hall in New York NY: Designed in the early 1930’s, restroom and lounges feature classic tile work, art deco furnishings and unique materials, including cork- covered walls.

 Zeffirino Ristorante – Venetian Resort, Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada:Custom-made mosaic tile artwork, Carra marble floors, Venetian plaster, Murano Glass chandeliers and washbasins, limestone water fountain and private restroom suites.

 Canlis Restaurant, Seattle, Washington: Zen-like atmosphere, handmade organic wall coverings, designer fixtures, Japanese art, large picture windows overlooking garden.

 The Tremont Plaza Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland: Extensive use of imported marble, grand columns, chandeliers, hand-carved woodwork.

 The Tampa Theater, Tampa, Florida:Designed in the 1920s, vitrolite glass on walls, intricate tile designs, pipe-shaped sconces.

 Macy’s Union Square, 6th Floor, San Francisco, California: Art Deco design, Italian marble, chandelier with carved ceiling medallion, full-length stainless steel stall doors.

 The Drake Hotel: Palm Court, Chicago, Illinois: Palm tree murals, private suites, in-stall makeup tables, elegant sconces, an array of chandeliers

 NOVA 535, St. Petersburg, Florida:Full-length solid birch stall doors, Italian mocha travertine with black granite diamond inserts, completely touch-less environment.

 The Fox Theater, Detroit, Michigan: Designed in 1928, custom-made furniture and tile, hard-carved moldings, chandeliers.

h2o mp3s: Água de Beber

The song “Água de Beber” (Water to Drink) is a 1963 bossa nova blockbuster composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim, a Brazilian songwriter and artist celebrated as one of the primary creative forces behind bossa nova jazz and one of the most influential popular composers of the 20th century. (He also wrote “The Girl from Ipanema” and  “Águas de Março” (Waters of March), a promising song for another day!)

Following, two versions to start your weekend off with a jazzy Latin beat, plus two amazing bonus links:

Your love is rain, my heart the flower, I need your love or I will die
The rain can fall on distant deserts, the rain can fall upon the sea
The rain can fall upon the flower, since the rain has to fall let it fall on me
(In Portugese, Água de beber, Água de beber camará
(In English, Aqua de Beber, Give the flower water to drink)

From Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66

Play the track


Download Agua de Beber – Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66





From the 1969 sessions of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Frank Sinatra (fab 8-track cover and mp3 via artdecaade.blogspot.com)

Play the track


Download Agua de Beber – Sinatra & Jobim





BONUS #1: Did any of you Mad Men fans catch Agua de Beber in a racy scene where a malfunctioning washing machine sends Betty Draper into a hot fantasy involving a door-to-door salesman? (Not for the kiddies! Embedding is disabled, but you can watch it here on YouTube.)

BONUS #2: Like your tunes with an urban beat? Check out this excellent 2008 version of Agua de Beber by Sergio Mendes featuring Will.I.Am. Stream the song here on imeem.com (signup required).
Update: Here’s an Amazon.com purchase link for this track.

Support the people who make music – buy these tracks at…
Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66: Amazon.com or iTunes
Antonio Carlos Jobim: Amazon.com or iTunes
Frank Sinatra: Amazon.com or iTunes

Next Up: The Air-Water Nexus

As we run great rivers nearly dry, suck our aquifers empty and pump, pump, pump, in increasingly futile attempts to meet unsustainable water demand, hope springs anew as a vision for tomorrow’s uptapped water source—the air—begins to materialize. And thanks to some architects with their heads in the clouds, that vision looks impressive!

Design-savvy Angela B. pointed us to an Inhabitat.com feature with conceptual plans for The Water Drop Resort, which will convert air to purified water. (No word yet on a completion date… or even a location!)

Architecturally and thematically designed in the shape of a drop of water, the Water Building Resort intends to become the first building ever to convert air into water with the help of solar power. What sounds like magic will be achieved with the following combination of nature and technology: A sunny, southerly facing facade made of photovoltaic glass will harness solar energy, allowing light to pass through. The northern facade features a latticed design for ventilation as well as unprecedented Teex Micron equipment that will convert humid air and condensation into pure drinking water.

Designed for construction in warm and humid coasts, the Water Building Resort, a resort complex, will also house a water treatment facility in the bottom floor, for purifying salty sea and rain water, along with a center of technological investigation to control and certify water quality. Restaurants, gyms, exhibition halls, hotel and conference rooms, and spa services will fill the upper floors – all based on the theme of water, the environment and renewable energy. An underwater aquarium will sit at the base of the Water Building Resort, rounding out the water conscious theme and practices.

See more photos and details of Water Building Resort From Orlando De Urrutia Architecture & Sustainable Urbanism, Barcelona for a Teex and Al-Mutawa Consortium.

Your Towering English Country Estate

For less than the price of a slightly-fancy European automobile, you could own your very own European water tower! That’s the kind of status symbol that could completely deflate those BMW-driving show-offs, huh?

From www.eveshamjournal.co.uk,


PEBWORTH water tower owned by Severn Trent is one of 420 properties going under the hammer over the next 18 months. The water tower stands on 343 meters of land next to Manor Cottage and is up for auction on July 1 in London.

The ground at Pebworth is part of the first phase of sell-offs expected to raise millions for Severn Trent. The selling agent for the Pebworth Water Tower, Jason Birch from Kings Sturge Savills (Nottingham), expects the land to go for around £20,000 to £25,000.

He said: “It is big enough for a detached house to go on, but that depends on planning permission.”

Severn Trent Water’s director of property services said: “This first batch of properties are mainly small ones with likely values of between £25,000 to £50,000 each. The sort of thing people may buy to add to their gardens.”

Pebworth is a village in Worcestershire, by the way. I can’t dredge up a photo of the tower, but we can see on this detailed map that your tower is likely nestled somewhere between the east and west sewage treatment facilities.

You know you’re interested, so to get more information, “contact Mr Birch direct on 020 7087 5427 or register an interest in the portfolio at propertydisposals@severntrent.co.uk.

If a water tower seems a little daunting, enquire of Mr. Birch if there’s another property more to your liking…perhaps a modest little reservoir? According to Severn Trent’s website, “We’ve already had considerable interest in the sites, which could be anything from a patch of land containing a manhole cover through to a small, redundant reservoir.”

Astronaut Water: There Are No New Ideas

I’m coming to believe that there really are no new ideas! After our flash of Tang-inspiried brilliance regarding astronaut-branded recycled water, Kerry Freek (@CanadianWater on Twitter), Managing Editor of the excellent trade magazine Canadian Water Treatment, pointed us to this gem!

So it appears that Canada Dry Corp. has long ago been-there, done-that with astronaut-branded water, although we wonder if they stole the idea from Tang or visa-versa! (From a post on boxvox.net, where you can see other interesting vintage space-themed bottles. This photo is from theimaginaryworld.com)

That quote we led with? The full quotation is actually, “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” (Audre Lorde)

On that note, I give you another photo from my files, more evidence that China is surpassing the West, this time with…you guessed it, astronaut water!


NIMBY Noisemakers Will Never Surrender

The hated tower, pre-paint job in Jan. 2008 (from uncle mike in knoxville on Flickr

Bring on the new development–condos, apartments, retail, we’re all for it! But wait. That big hulking water tower rising over our breathtaking mountain ridge view? Well, we’re NOT for that! Who knew it would be that big and ugly? For south Knoxville (Tennessee) water tower opponents, the fact that it’s already built hasn’t quelled the controversy, and a sky-blue paint job hasn’t impressed many of the locals. Can the opposition accomplish a knock-down in Knoxville? From WBIR.com,

May 29, 2009: The future is uncertain for a south Knoxville water tower that some consider an eyesore.

The Knoxville Utilities Board built the tower in December 2007 to provide better water pressure to south Knoxville residents. From the beginning however, some people said it was a blight on the city that should be torn down.

Knoxville City Councilman Joe Hultquist said there are serious negotiations with KUB to find an alternative to the tower. According to KUB officials, they plan to review any firm proposals brought to their attention. However, they said another tank would have to be placed nearby to provide the same level of service to customers.

Looks like KUB has a proactive public communications strategy in place to address the public’s concerns. Well, maybe not.