The level of oddity in Tokyo is pretty off the charts (which I love!) You can find pretty much anything your heart desires, and so much more that you never could have dreamt existed. Cast in point, these chopsticks …
Because we should obviously all be eating in style! If you’re interested in upping your utensil game, AmiAmi has you covered.
We’ve all heard it said that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. For Dmytro Szylak the saying rings all-too true. The Ukranian immigrant has managed to create a treasure on the level of Watts Tower in the middle of the Hamtramck neighborhood of Detroit. It began as a project for Szylak after he retired from a GM factory after 32 years of work, and it seems to have never stopped. It is named “Hamtramck Disneyland,” though I would say Disney is a bit of a stretch (minus the Mickey head that can be found in the mix). Perhaps Szylak named it that because it offers the visitor that same bit of fantastical whimsy and heart-warming joy that can be found at the themepark, in the comfort of good ol’ Detroit.
In 1976 Bruno Bozzetto created his animated feature-length masterpiece, Allegro Non Troppo. The film is a parody of Disney’s Fantasia; in Allegro Non Troppo, life does not begin with Micky and magic, but Coke and science (and Ravel’s “Bolero”)!
Running with that Fantasia-esque theme, the film pairs animation to classical scores – Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun accompanies the story of an aging satyr chasing much younger nymphs, Dvorak’s Slavonic Dance #7 is the score to a brief humourous parable on conformity, Sibelius’s Valse Triste adds emotion to the heartbreaking story of a slum cat – the list goes on, with one story more beautiful than the last.
There are some live action segments here as well, just as in Disney. Where the former presents the striking Leopold Stokowski and the symphony, Bozetto gives us a parody. His conductor (played by Nestor Garay) has an orchestra of aging women, all at least 65 dressed in an odd assortment of costumes. They are locked away before the performance, fed slop midway through the show and escape later. There is also the animator (played by Maurizio Nichetti, a screenwriter in Bozetto’s stable) who draws the images seen in the film, the Cleaning Girl (Marialuisa Giovanni), and the Presenter (Maurizio Micheli).
If you like animation, or music, or good movies, Allegro Non Troppo is a must!
Walt Disney was an amazing guy. He gave us Mickey Mouse and Daffy Duck, Bambi and the Peter Pan, Disneyland and Disney World, and so much more – the foundations of childhood all around the world! But did you know that Disney also plans for his own city? The heart of his enterprise was to be Walt Disney World and EPCOT – an actual Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, a futuristic city that would serve as a proving ground for the latest science and technology. Obviously, given the nature of the current theme park bearing the same name things did not go exactly as planned …
To start, it was supposed to be EPCOT City, not EPCOT Center, and it wasn’t a theme park with rides or admission fees. It was an actual city. A place where people would work and live out their days in what Disney called a “living blueprint of the future;” a perfect city with dependable public transportation, a soaring civic center covered by an all-weather dome, and model factories. It was meant to be “a community of tomorrow that will never be completed, but will always be introducing, and testing, and demonstrating new materials and new systems.”A vibrant new design for city living through which Disney hoped to seek new cures for old cities’ ills by luring in the best innovators in the world, a place where the captains of industry could test their solutions for the problems of modern-day city living.
Everything in Epcot City would radiate out from its epicenter “like spokes on a wheel.” Shopping districts, office buildings, convention centers, the hotel and a transportation center would sit at the heart of the community under a common roof, completely enclosed and climate-controlled. Along the perimeter of this core would sit high-density apartment buildings, home to some of the city’s workers. Just beyond these structures would be an expansive green belt upon which would sit community buildings, schools, churches, sports and recreational complexes for EPCOT’s residents. Further out still, surrounding the entire development, would lie the low-density neighborhood areas. Here houses would back up against broad parks where children could play safely, free from traffic.
So, what happened to Disney’s Dream? Well, he died shortly after making this video. And his dream turned into EPCOT Center, a theme parked, admission-charging pavilion of rides that talked a big talk about how “one day, in the future, someone will see to it that we will all live like this!” Just think what might have been …
In 1957 the people at Disney bought into a very unique collaboration with the Monsanto Plastic Company – together they created the House of the Future, also known as the Monsanto House. The home was a part of Tomorrowland. It offered visitors the opportunity to preview their future in 1986 … a time when nearly everything in life would have a lot more buttons, and just about everything would be made of plastic.
From the brochure … “Is everything of plastic? Almost. Dishes, cups, countertops, walls, floors, ceiling, tabletops, shelves, and cabinets. Plastics in all their colorful, functional, and beautiful versatility have transformed a work area, have stepped it years ahead.”
In it’s short run, more than 20 million visitors got a glimpse of what life was going to be like in 1986. The inventions of the future included insulated glass walls, picture telephones, plastic chairs, microwave ovens, speaker phones and electric toothbrushes (psychics!), but some of the other inventions like the ultrasonic dishwasher, atomic food preservation, and plastic sinks with adjustable heights never came to be (yet).
The house also featured some excellent modernist designs by such as George Nelson‘s Coconut Chair, furniture by Estelle and Irwin Laverne, and fabrics by Alexander Gerard; and when the interior was updated in the 60s it was put in the hands of Vladimir Kagan!
Amazingly enough the plastic House of the Future was ridiculously sturdy, so much so that when demolition crews failed to demolish the house using wrecking balls, torches, chainsaws and jack hammers, the building was ultimately taken down using choker chains to crush it into smaller parts in 1967. The reinforced polyester structure was so strong that the half-inch steel bolts used to mount it to its foundation broke before the structure itself did!
I was in Japan not long ago, and I stumbled upon these familiar characters who looked terribly twisted. At first I thought that it had to be a Disney mistake, or a spoof of some kind, but no, turns out it’s just Cubic Mouth! They are a series of plush dolls and toys designed by Satoshi Fumihara, creator of MTV Japan’s The World of Golden Eggs and some rather interesting ads for Nissan (yes, they are real!). While one would think that a big company like Disney would never go for something like this, in Japan things are obviously a bit different.
For more Cubic Mouth merchandise check out the Rakuten website.