Posts tagged: Art

Welcome to the Latitude Society

By , October 30, 2015

Some years ago I wrote a blog about the Jejune Institute. I waited quite some time before posting that blog, because Jejune was something best discovered without assistance. I stumbled across strange stickers and unusual signs and gradually pieced together a path that led me to the Institute’s door, and I didn’t want to spoil the opportunity for another to feel that sense of wonder, with some fear mixed in for good measure, as he tried to decide whether or not he’d accidentally joined a cult. Only after the Jejune Institute began publicly advertising its own existence as a sort of “real world game experience” did I feel it was acceptable to share some information about it here.

Now, some years later, I’m here to share details of a related experience, this time as a member of the Latitude Society. Sadly, while my Jejune post came while Jejune was still operating, this post is only possible now that the Latitude has come to a close.

Latitude Invitation Handoff

As the Jejune Institute wound down, I befriended several of its creators, most notably Jeff Hull. While I never quite knew who did what with regards to that project, Jeff was head honcho at Nonchalance, the company that had produced the experience, and someone brimming with ideas concerning the repurposing of public spaces for secret games and clandestine art projects. When Jeff contacted me in June of last year to let me know he had “an object he’d like to pass onto me” I was pretty excited. It was with considerable disappointment that I had to inform him that I was getting married in less than two weeks’ time, and would not return to the Bay Area until mid-August. It’s a testament to my belief in the creations of Nonchalance that, as excited as I was for my pending nuptials and subsequent honeymoon on the continent, I felt no small amount of regret that I could not immediately partake in the new project. Had it been anything other than my wedding, I’d quite possibly have postponed the affair by a week or two for the opportunity to return to the magical land of Elsewhere, to which I was sure Jeff’s “object” would grant me entry.

Eventually I did meet with Jeff, at Oakland’s Chapel of the Chimes columbarium, a place of resonance to me as a Jejune member. There, Jeff explained that he was inviting me to join the Latitude Society, an ancient community that has existed in secret for centuries. By accepting his invitation I was bound to a code of absolute discretion, and was not to share any information about my invitation, or the society, with anyone else, ever. Or else. As such, I’m only sharing now because Jeff has closed the society and posted a long blog of his own describing its creation and spilling its secrets.

If you want to know the nuts and bolts of what was involved with joining and participating in the Latitude Society there are now plenty of “walkthrough” web sites and blogs, so I’ll spare you the minutiae. The short story is that the invitation Jeff handed me was a plain white credit card that unlocked a door to a non-descript building in San Francisco. Once inside, the house began to interact with me. Lights flashed, noises sounded, and I soon found myself sliding down a curved slide, in absolute darkness, then crawling through a narrow, carpeted tunnel, also completely dark, before emerging into a library of sorts. An open book read itself to me, complete with moving pictures, as if by magic, after which I made my way to a rathskeller where I poured myself a drink. Nowhere along the line did any other human interact with me; the house itself was alive. There was more, including a sort of scavenger hunt through the Mission District, before I ended up in a secret video game arcade where I played Asteroids using a bronze coin I’d acquired along the way. The game was interrupted by a digitized face on the screen (even the video games come to life when the Latitude is involved) who told me what to do next.

Besides being an amazing afternoon’s experience in its own right, a door had been opened to something that Jejune had only partially offered– a recondite family of likeminded individuals. That was the true magic of the Latitude Society, for once initiated (indoctrinated?) you were welcome to invite others of like heart and mind to join the community. The community was based upon the notion of “experiential tithing,” which is a fancy way of saying we were all encouraged to create and share experiences, talents, and ideas with one another, with the goal being to give more than you get. There are other aspects to the society, including myths, lore, and rituals, that I still won’t share, and I hope others won’t, either.

The Latitude Society introduced me to hundreds of amazing individuals, and I’ve developed friendships with many that will last long after the demise of the organization. It granted me access to the artistic endeavors and creations of so many talented and enthusiastic people, as well as the chance to simply sit and discuss myriad topics of mutual interest with people whose knowledge and opinions I value. Further, it gave me the opportunity to share my own creative visions and passions, and allowed those compeers (for that is what one society member calls another) with whom my notions resonated to partake in that which I was offering. Much of what I shared with compeers were my bartending skills at twice-monthly speakeasies in the rathskeller, though I had a number of other experiences to tithe had the society lived on. Sadly, it has come to an end. Hasn’t it?

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Games of Nonchalance

By , May 13, 2010

The pay phone is ringing as you reach it, so you quickly answer. The voice on the other end is instantly recognizable as that of Commander 14. He instructs you to begin dancing, and so you dance. From nowhere a breakdancer appears, boom box in hand, and dances with you. Things get really weird when Bigfoot turns the corner and joins the dance. After a few moments, Bigfoot hands you your next clue and he, and the breakdancer, quickly saunter away.

What just happened? How did you end up here? Who is Eva, and where has she gone? Is Octavio Coleman, esq. behind her disappearance? And just where *does* one acquire hobo coinage??? Your quest begins on the 16th floor of 580 California Street in San Francisco.

I want to say so much more, but I cannot. I’ll simply tell you that some time ago a mysterious cult invited me to a free orientation session. Once inducted, I began to notice the divine occurring all around me in a thousand miniscule ways. Soon thereafter, via encoded transmissions from another realm, the Elsewhere Public Works Agency enlisted my help in their ongoing battle against the Jejune Institute, perpetrators of “False Nonchalance.”

If this sounds amazing to you (and believe me, it is amazing), and you are in the Bay Area, visit the Jejune Institute and begin your journey down the rabbit hole.

Whatever you do, and no matter how difficult it may be to resist, do not search for details about any of this. This is probably the funnest way a person can spend an afternoon (or three) San Francisco, for free by the way, and knowing what is coming ahead of time will ruin the entire experience. Googling it before doing it is akin to working a crossword puzzle with the solution in front of you– boring and pointless. Trust me on this. Now go have some fun.

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Enchantment Under the Sea

By , January 4, 2005

I recently shared my living room with you, my gentle readers. Today I would like to invite you into a little place I like to call “Undersea Paradise.” A less fanciful name for it is “the bathroom,” but for the sake of not being weird and hitting up the bathroom together, let’s stick with my chosen moniker.

When I moved into my current apartment, the bathroom was just awful. I wish I’d taken more pictures to prove it, but I only have a few. Here is one of my wonderful sink. Nothing says dark ages better than separate taps for hot and cold water. Burn your hand, freeze your hand, burn your hand, freeze your hand. (I won’t even discuss the nastiness festering in the bottom of that sink, but you can see it in the picture.)

The brush, pink thing and jar came with the apartment.

Original Sink

The “decor” consisted entirely of this fixture below. The prior resident didn’t even leave me any paper on the roll.

Original Toilet Paper Holder

Here’s another “before” shot:

Original Wall

The first thing I did was bust out a crowbar and yank out the old sink. I swapped in a nice, lovely, new one. You will also notice that I put a mirror over the sink. Oddly, there was no mirror above the sink before. Just a plain white wall. I felt like a vampire in the mornings. Where am I?

New Sink

Much better– my hands are no longer simultaneously blistered and frostbitten– but I didn’t stop there. I decided to create an Undersea Paradise. Naturally, that attracted fish, so I had to put up some netting. Oh, look! It attracts crustaceans too:

Fishing Net

Here we see the catch of the day. He’ll be mighty yummy once he’s been basted with something spicy and grilled to perfection:

Catch of the Day

This little fellow insists he belongs; he claims he is a sea monkey:

Sea Monkey

When I moved in, the bathroom lighting consisted of a bare light bulb jutting from the ceiling at an odd angle, so I installed a new light fixture:

Light Fixture

But that wasn’t bright enough, especially for a pretty little Peasprout like me. I must make sure I am appropriately coiffed each day, so I added some vanity lighting:

Vanity Lights

Believe it or not, there was no electrical outlet in the bathroom, so I had to put one in. And yes, I put the main fixture on a dimmer, so I can set that romantic mood. Actually it’s so I can go in there at night and not blind myself once my eyes have grown accustomed to the dark, but it does make for nice bubble baths as well:

Light Switches

The room still wasn’t quite jazzy enough, but some pretty fishy lights around the door frame solved that in a hurry. Thanks Fizzy! You can get a glimpse of the jungle-themed foyer in the background; perhaps I’ll detail that in a future post.

Door Frame

You can’t really tell in any of these pictures, but I also tore down the shower and rebuilt it with new tiles, plaster and grout.

And finally, here is a nice overview of the Underwater Paradise:

Bathroom Overview

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