Street Use

Improvisation in Thailand


Thomas Kalak is a photographer from Munich, Germany who specializes in the offbeat. His subject is the curious art of found technology. He’s accumulated a magnificent gallery of old American cars in Cuba called “Havana Oldtimers“. In Thailand he focuses on the often-seen but rarely-noticed jumble of wires that weave their way overhead every street. Adhoc in design, these almost organic nests have their own charm if you let them seduce you. Kalak has collected an entire portfolio of Bangkok Wires.

These and more are included in a new book about Thailand called “Thailand — Same Same, But Different. No cliches here. No lovely maids, palm beaches or grand temples. Instead Kalak captures odd moments of street use. Plastic chairs in alleys; traffic cone patterns. Even the locals are blind to their off-center beauty.  Kalak has a keen eye for the way folks improvise. I think of this work as improv zen.


The ubiquitous plastic bag becomes an instant cheap bottle if you add a straw. And you can hang it anywhere.


Owner-built key ring boards.


I think these are home-made brake lights. Suspended by a wire, a bulb inside a bottle covered with read plastic will light up at night.


Filled with water this can keeps the table cloth from blowing away.

Kalak Book 10

A mop made from old socks!!


Reflectors made from CDs.

Posted on July 27, 2008 at 8:26 pm | comments

Guns on Segways


Anti-terrorist demonstration in Jinan, China. (BigPicture)

When the lovable Segway was unveiled, who would have guessed that its chief street use would be a platform for cops and soldiers.  Here’s Paul Saffo on the phenomenon:

It is always fascinating to see once-cuddly technologies turn dark.  Consider the Segway, that sweetly geeky gizmo that was supposed to drive autos out of our cities and save the planet.  Well, Segways have arrived, but instead of transporting happy auto-eschewing citizens on their daily errands, the Segway has become  the personal chariot of cops  adopting the gyro-stabilized two-wheeler for patrol and crowd control work.  Seqway-riding security dudes are turning up at airports and convention centers, and now are finding their way into the security mix at lock-down events like the G8 Summit and the upcoming Beijing Olympics.  No cuddly here, just pure menace, like the rent-a-samurai in full battle rattle riding a nobby-tired industrial Segway at the this month’s G8 summit (pic below). Watching the transformation is like discovering that one’s favorite teddy bear has fangs and a taste for human flesh. Before long, I’ll bet we’ll see squads of Segway cops in full riot gear running down fleeing demonstrators at some future anti-globalization demonstration.

Some of the pics Saffo has collected and captioned:


The G8’s rent-a-samurai and his timid sidekick.

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I  wonder how the Segway handles recoil? (Flickr)

Case Ventura

The Ventura county sheriff’s gyro-bomb squad. (Segway)


A Segway with training wheels for the vertically challenged.

Segway I2Police Twoofficers

Last one to the Dunkin’ Donuts is a rotten egg!

And a few others:

So-Segway-Article Page 1


100 2993-Segway Police

In Mexico City (Jason)

Segway Cops

You need a good belt. (Wilisms)


Nice off-road tires at Yale University (Yale)

Posted on July 18, 2008 at 8:37 pm | comments

More African Toy Vehicles

Some kids in Africa make the greatest home-made trucks. I find their creativity endlessly fascinating. For instance, using a big wheel to steer a little car, like the kid in the middle picture here is doing. Previously posted images of homemade toy trucks are here.

These are some shots taken by professional photographer Martha Cooper, posted on the site Streetplay.

Top one is a wire frame from Cameroon. The other two are from Gabon.




Posted on July 4, 2008 at 6:09 pm | comments

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