Tumblr teems with single-subject blogs, and a few get famous, thanks either to weird premises (think: Selleck Waterfall Sandwich) or a brush broad enough to get book deals (like Look at This Fucking Hipster). But there’s more to them than a ravenous hype cycle or grinning “I don’t know why I like it, I just do” know-nothingism. Here are ten worth following; all explore their limited terrain with real gusto.
This bright project isolates long-forgotten record ads (mainly for singles) from old issues of Billboard from the ’50s on. Some are cute (Boots Randolph’s Benny Hill Show theme “Yakety Sax”); some are marvelously of their time (the Dixie Cups’ “Iko Iko”), and some are simply moving, such as the two-part two-pager Clive Davis took out in the wake of Janis Joplin’s death for Pearl.
2. Crime Brulee
Text rather than image-based, this blog features a cub police reporter in Bloomington, Indiana offering a deadpan recounting of the day’s crimes involving food and drink. From Sept. 21: “12:02 p.m., Elk’s Club, a barbeque smoker that had been donated for a weekend wedding was reported stolen from the club parking lot. Police found the smoker in a nearby yard, and it was returned. Charges are pending.”
It seems instructive to contrast this with Fuck Yeah Lens Flare, which was last updated in July — maybe because no one has lens flare anymore. But everyone with a digital camera shoots streetlights — the more impressionistic (i.e., blurry), the better! That means this blog has never, and will never, run out of material.
Season 3, Episode 16 (1.17.1985)
Mallory: “I can’t believe Skippy just called me and asked if I wanted to go to the Van Halen concert with him on Sunday.” Elyse: “What’d you say?” Mallory: “I asked him if he’d sell me the tickets so I could go with a normal guy.”
“A comprehensive rundown, in chronological order, of Mallory Keaton’s outfits from the series Family Ties (1982-1989).” Or, as a friend put it, “Now, this is what the Internet is for.”
If Tumblr is good for anything, besides porn and emo outbursts, it’s bad art. So this compendium of the worst of the worst provides a welcome public service — we think. Inspirational Sidebar Notice: “(SUBMISSIONS CURRENTLY CLOSED, AS WE HAVE OVER 1000 TO GO THROUGH.)”
A conceptual triumph: Every image here is a single, solid block of color, labeled with its hexadecimal code. It’s as pure as minimalism gets, and the site I most look forward to seeing pop up on my Tumblr dashboard every day.
7. Rock Glasses
Exactly what it says — photos of everyone from ’60s rock icons to today’s indie stars wearing shades (plenty of Keith Richards and Joe Strummer) and prescription specs, particularly in rare shots of the likes of closet four-eyes like Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and Eddie Vedder. Mercifully light on de rigueur Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder pix, too.
Robert Mapplethorpe, Gladioli. 1979
Who says the Internet has no room for the classics? The still life, that most durable of formal exercises, is explored here from every conceivable angle, from silk paintings from 12th-century China to loads of Cezannes, from the mid-century photography of Ruth Bernhard and Ilsa Bing to a seed package from 1907.
A group blog with over 50 contributors, this site is nothing but photos of interior and exterior décor, and it’s a feast — nearly every image leaps off the screen. Quick — somebody call Taschen.
10. Women Reading
Stick to one topic and you can find examples everywhere. That’s the secret of this sharp site, whose five contributors mine everything from movie screen shots (Sophie’s Choice) to symbolist paintings to our friend Flickr to unveil yet more women with their noses in yet more books.