Here today, gone tomorrow

All gifs/videos by Wells Baum

Standing in Grand Central Station reminds us of the temporariness of life, that what’s here now can be gone in a flash.

We should be dubious of ephemerality, especially in the internet world where things get consumed and promptly forgotten. Good feelings are equally fleeting.

Instead, the overall wager should be on long-term serotonin rather than one-off surges of dopamine.

Here now, gone in an instant

Better to find our feet in the urban wilderness rather than orbit around a flock of sheep. In the hierarchy of happiness, stillness plays the long game by persisting through noisy places.

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Temporary foliage

All photos by Wells Baum

Constant and changing, the Fall comes around and whips durable trees into seasonal characters, reminding us that everything is temporary.

The form is ephemeral, the roots are permanent. The colorful autumn foliage tree jettisons its leaves, falling without regret.

The ‘e’ in leaf stands for effortless; its intuition accepts the will of the wind. Those that remain appear vivid under the flash of light. The season’s cycle into GIF loops.

Photo by Wells Baum

The round jumpman

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Photo by Wells Baum

The original Jumpman wasn’t Michael Jordan; it was Mario! But the name didn’t stick because it wasn’t marketable enough according to Minoru Arakawa, Nintendo’s American boss in the early 1980s. Luckily, he got some outside inspiration.

From the Economist:

“His name was an afterthought. Top billing on the game was always going to go to the gorilla. (“Kong”, in the context, was more or less a given; “Donkey” was found by consulting a Japanese-English dictionary for a word meaning silly or stupid.) The protagonist was simply called “Jumpman” for the one thing he was good at. But Minoru Arakawa, the boss of Nintendo in America, wanted a more marketable name. Around that time, writes David Sheff in “Game Over”, an authoritative account of Nintendo’s rise, Mr Arakawa was visited at Nintendo’s warehouse outside Seattle by an irate landlord demanding prompt payment. He was called Mario Segale, and he had a moustache. Thus does destiny call.”

By 1990, the pudgy plumber who gained energy from mushroom fluff became more recognizable than Mickey Mouse. And if the lost hat from a Halloween costume I found on the street yesterday morning is any proof, Mario is still king!

Photo by Wells Baum

Making dream states visible 📱

Photo by Wells Baum

It was surreal. Standing in the face of General Colin Powell at Madame Tussaud’s in DC had a dream-like quality too it.

A window stood between us, the reflective glare merging our bodies. See my arms?

Powell’s face seems to conceal my iPhone; the stage-lighting effect of portrait mode paints a dark outline. Yet, everything was unintended. There were no tricks, just a play on consciousness at the magic wand of technology.

Wrote Teju Cole in his piece Strangely Enough: “But the surreal image — which, at its most resonant, breaks through consciousness instantaneously and surprisingly — is an elusive thing.”

Strangeness is hard to pin down, so to speak.

Basking in the train glow

All photos by Wells Baum

The only source of light is a mellow glow on a metro head. Whether bald, strawberry blonde or redhead, the light shines through on top of the dome.

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But there’s also a type of soft glow of that keeps you awake. It’s the strange glow of stoic pride that screams with confidence ‘I got this.’

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Stay the course, sitting among the living glow of neighbors, tethered to the sterile glow of handheld devices, all the way underground into the train’s magnetic flashlight.

The glow of independence, the weird-colored glow of elegant ideas, all arrive trademarked by the fluorescent glow of the train’s exit. The powerful glow ends. Doors open.

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A window into perception 🚗

All photos by Wells Baum

Outside the windows, where I focus my attention on an overstretched street light backed by a series of palm trees, bicyclists brushing past the American flag on LA’s 405, with vehicles that match camouflage into their immediate surroundings.

Through the lens of a window were sights too commanding, mirroring objects with my third eye.



Welcome to Los Angeles

All photos by Wells Baum

As someone who’s lived and worked in both New York and Los Angeles — this article sounds strangely familiar.

“Once, I walked nine miles through the streets of Los Angeles, tiptoed through the hobo village under a 101 overpass, got briefly trapped on a crosswalk-less median, and then stood on line behind waiting cars to enter the Warner Bros. lot. Because I’m not a Hollywood wuss. I’m from New York. I don’t drive. I don’t know how to drive. I don’t know how to do something that teen-agers can do, and I’m proud of it. That’s how much of a New Yorker I am.”

In LA, we wait to tell each other stories in order to impress while New Yorkers tell you how it is right then and there. There is no real outside in LA; there is only real inside a cold New York. Both cities thrive in their own eclectic touch, ridden with signals, smoke and mirrors.

Read No, I’m from New York

‘Learn to do everything lightly’

gif by Wells Baum

We can do whatever we want. The problem is that we often wait to be told what to do. The inertia of indecision makes us better doers than deciders.

It is not the thinker nor the thought that wants control. It is the novelty that comes from trial and error, the individual pursuit of constant motion to ride out the sea of change.

Do first, learn later. As Aldous Huxley wrote in Island:

As Aldous Huxley wrote in Island:

It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.

Streams as anti-structure 🏞️

Photo by Wells Baum

The structure of a stream lies within its anti-structure, the unpredictable and chaotic movement of its flow; fresh water slithering over rocks, persisting downward all the way into the mouth of the river.

Streams can only perform their function if nature permits such fluidity, the human renter backs off, and it swims unimpeded; flexing a dynamic energy so essential to the information Earth collects.

Seen and heard 🔉

All photos, gifs & videos by Wells Baum

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Pedestrians at the corner

All photos by Wells Baum

At the corner,
Patiently waiting,
At least trying to,
Fidgeting instead,
Generation thumbs pecking at the phone,
A passing bus emits CO2 into the air,
We breathe in street dust,
Overtaken by wafting the delivery man’s pizza,


Staring at the other side,
Eavesdropping on each other’s chatter,
The newcomers give the placebo button another pinch,
A living signal turns white,
Twenty seconds to cross,
The clock ticks,
We all go together,
Dog trotting to safety,

One minute united at the corners,
Signalling styles,
Anonymous the next,
Walkers dignified as pedestrians,
Jealous of those who stayed behind.

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Your support goes a long way: for every contributed dollar, I can keep the blog running and continue to provide you interesting links.

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Distracted by organized chaos

Photo by Wells Baum

I’m a sucker for seeing extraordinary in the ordinary. Last Friday on my walk home from work I stumbled upon a set of loose white paper sheets scattered on the sidewalk. Except it didn’t exactly appear haphazard. The paper zigzagged in a pattern.

After taking the photo, I felt compelled to pick it up. It was some type of packing material or art supplies. About twenty steps away was a shiny shopping bag, which was perfect for storing all the unfettered scraps. It made cleaning up so much easier, perhaps a reward for taking the initiative to clean up someone else’s trash.

What first appeared to be scrap in disarray was actually organized chaos. The disorder was magnetic, beautiful in its ugliness. Most importantly, it felt damn good to get it off the green patches of planet Earth.