Hebrew School

“I slept until 3:00”
December 1, 2007, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Links, web | Tags: , , , , , ,

Few destinations on the web are as dependably satisfying as Queens resident Mark Thomas’s sorabji.com. A poetic reflection on the everyday without glamor or glitzy design– the site looks about the same as I discovered it around five years ago– Thomas catalogs amateur sound, images, thoughts, receipts, and stories. As you might imagine, I think the sound page (entitled “soundcrap”) has some truly engaging moments. I particularly like a segment called “I slept until 3:00,” (real audio link) which documents Thomas’s friend Alan’s wanderings through a Bronx apartment building in 1969 with a “newfangled portable cassette recorder.” Other segments from this particular series feature elderly men singing niggunim and Yiddish songs.

Thomas also operates the Payphone Project, which documents 750,000 payphones through text, news clippings and images. The project reveals the hidden beauty of an increasingly anachronistic form of communication, as well as the detrimental effect of its decline on those who exist at society’s margins.

Thomas has been keeping a regularly-updated archive of bar, supermarket, gas station, etc. receipts for the last five years. One gets an oddly fascinating view of something that is simultaneously trivial and private– Thomas was way ahead of the “Web 2.0” curve here. (To paraphrase Muriel Rukeyser, “What would happen if one man told the truth about his buying habits? / The world would split open.”) Above: three pints of Guinness on Thanksgiving evening; sounds about right.

NY Times article about the Payphone Project


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