Issue #39: S P A C E | Hà Nội, ‘Paper Funnel’

Every Tuesday since December’s start last year I’ve been sharing a new issue of our online magazine, S P A C E.

Today’s is S P A C E | Hà Nội, ‘Paper Funnel’.

Collected bits from the road, including wisdom from people I run into, like this 80-year-old man who wanted to talk about life and give me advice, on a tour last year in Melakka…


‘Don’t hurry through things, don’t disappear on people. Wait for the miracle. That’s a Grateful Dead song, “Looking for the Miracle”, but I edited it. Anyway, life advice? Be honest. With yourself, and with other people.’
–80 year-old guest of a guesthouse in Melaka, Malaysia, in response to DK’s question, ‘Do you have any life advice?’


For those who like travel writing, this is the issue to get.

I worked super hard on the lead story, a longform one called ‘Paper Funnel’.

Order here


Writing the story as I find it

As always, it’s still creative nonfiction, but it’s getting tighter, thanks to editorial input and proofreading and copywriting and just general advice from those who know my writing, and me, pretty damn well, by now.

The story inside will be published in October’s issue of Saathee Magazine, which is in Charlotte NC, and for whom I’ve been writing a monthly column about where I am, at the moment, on the spot.

Get everything in this edition of the printer-friendly S P A C E.

Download it, fold it, and sew it to make your own at home.

Order this issue of S P A C E

‘Art is Conversation:’ DK

Designing for quality S P A C E

Lots to say about the why of making our mini-mag S P A C E. This Autumn, our theme is ‘Trust the Process.’ Which means it’s time to review all the big important questions surrounding that. Like, ‘What does it mean to be creative? Who does this work? Why does it matter? How can one bring more creative thinking into her or his every day to day?’

Lots like I said.

For me, it goes back in time to the nice cafe that used to be Bauhaus, in Capitol Hill, Seattle. It was down the street from my office, at the time, when Design Kompany had a brick-and-mortar on Olive Way. I was with a client of mine, an architect, who, like me, was curious about relational art. And contextualization of buildings that she was designing. She told me about how dialogues happen between buildings and the things right around them. She talked about the Situationists, Guy DeBord, the society of the Spectacle, and how we have to look around and drift a bit if we want to hit on good ideas. I ingested all this, with careful, curious expression, I’m certain. Quietly absorbing, listening for the next. She was helpful and educational and I learned so much from that engagement. Like most of our projects in Seattle, I got quite a lot out of working with some of the most intelligent people I have ever met. Living on the road these days and not really working on many client gigs, I’m missing those days, and wishing for more of the kind of stimulating back-and-forth that I so adored about having my own studio in that city, when it was ‘home.’

Now, I make S P A C E. To invite people to join me in these ad hoc, popup versions of what we used to do, in Seattle, at my office. I just kind of make up moments, on the spot, based on themes, and get together with the people whose paths I am just happening to be crossing in that shared space of time and overlap in geolocation. Given my weird gift for getting to know  people quite quickly and discovering things together in a short time, a gift I probably picked up from my father as well as a couple of years gabbing in Ireland at pubs whilst the pubgoing was good, it works. Just a handful of people are all I think I can deal with, at any given moment, learning as I did from the overwhelming crowds that came to, say #makedurham when we did that, or #durhamtweetup, when that happened, and before that, giant parties like Pop!, Sugar, and Dazzle, which I loved hosting, but you know what? They were too big, and I couldn’t carry on a quality conversation. So small. Small and focused. Is what I make now. In S P C. Mini-parties, mostly. No more than six.


‘The Great Good Place’

Architects and DK really get along. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that I used to work for some of them. A firm in Tokyo, one in Raleigh. Many people surrounding me who were just as invested in the idealism of architecture, inspiring us to be the best we can as a species. Overly hopeful? Maybe. But I think the architects that I most enjoyed jamming with, creatively, and conversationally, were the ones who, like me, wanted things to be more cool and more improved and socially exciting and good for people than just ho-hum and ‘value engineered’ and stuff that didn’t move us, idealistically.

When I worked in architecture (late 1990s), I found out about ‘The Great Good Place,’ a book and idea of Ray Oldenburg‘s, who called one’s “first place” the home and the “second place” the workplace. Wikipedia says his ‘third places,’ ‘are “anchors” of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction.’

(‘Does this have anything to do with me,’ you ask? Well, if you are feeling like there ought to be more to life than home and work, then yeah. It does.) A third place, the article goes on to spell out, welcomes you, is comfy, and is highly accessible. Old and new people are there. There’s no agenda (social, legal political, etc), and you can come and go as you like.

‘Third places put no importance on an individual’s status in a society. Someone’s economic or social status do not matter in a third place, allowing for a sense of commonality.’


‘Conversation is the main activity’

No prerequisites, no obligations. And my favorite part is this: ‘Conversation is main activity. Happy conversation is the main focus of activity in third places… The tone of conversation is usually light… and humorous; wit and good natured playfulness are valued… Regulars to third places attract newcomers, and are there to help someone new to the space feel welcome and accommodated… Occupants of third places often have the same feelings of warmth, possession, and belonging as they would in their own homes. They feel a piece of themselves is rooted in the space, and gain spiritual regeneration by spending time there.’


The invitation

Join me in my online version of this, S P C. I’m keen to gather the new and the different, for conversations and co-creations ahead. Who wants to be part of this journey of making, together, improvising and seeing what happens, as we go? It’s a conversation, and I’m the host. I’m kind of into it, already. People meeting each other, near and far, thanks to this small initiative to invite, connect, and discover. Together. In S P C. I’m asking people to subscribe so I can focus on just those who opt-in, one of the very important features of Open Space is that those who elect to take part are truly engaged, and interested, of their own accord. No need to join for being polite, and no need for me to host, by the same turn, for that same reason, either. Let’s focus on what conversations develop, with those who subscribe to take part. Participation fees apply. More at the crowdfunding page about the whole project…  learn more, and subscribe to Make | S P C.

Architects are especially welcome, this round. Thanks!

Grice’s Maxims of Conversation

In linguistics, the cooperative principle describes how people can be effective at conversational communication in common social situations—that is, how listeners and speakers must act cooperatively and mutually accept one another to be understood in a particular way.

Paul Grice put it this way it, ‘Make your contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged.’

Put some of this stuff into the story, in the Ninh Binh issue of S P A C E.

That was a fun one..


Today and all the next few days and maybe even on into next week I am doing something I have not done for a very, very long time.


Okay, but besides that: file-cleaning.

Clearing the clutter.

Making the space.

I’m in charge of mashup for the next 12-set issue of S P A C E. It’s Autumn 2019’s series, ‘Trust the Process.’

I need to go through and find all the things that have helped me learn what this means. That means starting with… the records I have been floating about in the cloud since 2006 or something or maybe before that, even. Whenever it was that we got Dropbox, and other things, that let you place files ad hoc into ‘storage’ and you never ever think about them again.

It’s time to review.

Take stock, and delete the things that don’t fit the narratives that are emergent, now.

‘Flapping’, and then ‘diving’

That’s me, standing up, way way in the back on the left. Kind of. This one is also in B&W on instagram. I have to find a better one. Will keep looking. But this was MAKE II, a year after the first one. I did this one at Fishmonger’s because they were super nice and tweeted and stuff and we had a nice rapport. I like people like that.

I cannot remember why I don’t have good pictures of MAKE in Durham, when I had hosted that event right after returning to the Triangle after 10 years away. John Wendelbo, a bronze sculpture artist who likes math things like fluid dynamics and you can see that when you see his work, was one of my panelists and guest speakers. I loved what he had said, way back then, about how the creative process (which is what Make was about), is when you just fly around like a bird and you’re flapping, and you’re flapping, and for a hell of a long time you’re flapping, until, wham, you see something and as soon as you see that thing, you dive.

Returning to the Triangle was a mixed bag. After all, I’d been happily working on Design Kompany projects in Seattle for four years, and working as a newspaper daily reporter for two years in that city before that. And Ireland, of course. Was before all that. And leaving the Triangle had been a heckuva project, and then, why was I going back? Because… home. Seeking home. A nagging thing, with me.

[Long story deleted. Perhaps SLH will be able to relate.]

So yeah. Back I was, back in the Triangle (which, to those who are not familiar, is Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill NC which RK likes to say ‘has the highest PhD per capita in the United States’). This might be dated info, of course, because it was the eighties when RK said that. And now, NC seems to be a place I have a very, very hard time thinking about calling ‘home.’ So I just don’t think about it. And go on the road, continuously, instead. Looking for home, wanting to find comfort, solace, and solidity. Okay, fine. That’s not easy to build, or to expect. It’s what happens when you go to the places that you know, and that know you.

These are rare.

But one of them is Dropbox.


Sussing, staring, learning, and deletions

9.jpg, from ‘Don’t Kick the Pigeons’, a zine by DK Seattle 2006ish

So now I have to go through and see what’s worth keeping. Revising. Sharing. Or getting rid of altogether in that permanent state of ‘never to be seen again, ever.’ Which I like. Those who know me well know that I don’t like to keep the boxes hanging around, indefinitely, all open and waiting for something ot happen. If nothing happens, nothing happens. Moving forward, moving onward, towards the shapes of spaces yet to be. That’s more interesting to me. So I get rid of stuff. And Im going through things and I’m looking around and finding some curious things like the jpg 9.jpg, which is part of a ‘zine’ I had made in Seattle, was it 2006? Something like that. I xeroxed it and showed it to JK, one of the more creative people I knew in that city, and he was like, ‘Okay!’ And I just… stopped zining.

Then it’s 2017, and guess what? I start up a zining thing that takes me to Europe and back to Asia like three times. Why? Zining must be important to me. The archives seem to tell me. Which means what. Which means getting rid of the other files in the archives that have no bearing whatsoever on the work I care about today.

Old bad poems, for example.

Old notes for books I’ve already published, as well.

Deletions, deletions. Make space for new things.

This graph one’s from a video of me talking about fuzzy logic and stuff, a video that you can find online, ‘Fuzzy Quantum Pop.’


The video is here: checkit.



Still fits

I like it, even after seven years. I like it so much, in fact, aesthetically and philosophically because I haven’t wavered much on what I said here and still stand by most of it and this is why I am even where I am anyway and doing what I’m doing, in the first place. In fact, since it’s still valid, why reinvent the wheel? When they asked me to put a video link in to the crowdfunding page for Make | S P C, I used this one. Yup. I put it on the video link thing for our crowdfunding page for Make | S P C, the next and newest thing I’m up to, too.


I wonder if that’s something you can do if you have the video to a youtube that goes to a 7-year old video.

I wonder if it matters, anyway, what the rules are. Probably not. But anyway. You might like FQP.

If you do, then yeah, it’s a good sign that we’d get along in real life. Or online conversations that would develop, perhaps to the point of a collaboration, perhaps even in S P A C E. I care about that. I care about things growing and discovering stuff and learning together, and building something cool that is bigger than just you-and-me-met-at-a-party once and that was it.

Know what I mean?

The bigger story.

Us connecting. Deeply. Together, but also then, to others, too.

People who are curious.

And new.

Yeah. I hemmed and hawed about what video to put at the Chuffed crowdfunding page (‘does it have to be like everyone else’s? So many of them are just really terrible videos, probably costly, too… how the hell does that happen? F, f, f’)…

… and I don’t have any kind of video making skill after I got over making ‘Moving Pictures’ for YouTube when RV was 7. Ha ha. I wonder if RV will see that. You were like 7, dude. SEVEN. I was half kidding when I said that thing but you actually were in grade school.)

So why make a giant video abut S P C when it’s still emerging and all that. Better to just share my vision. Vision about ‘you don’t know what’s even gonna happen anyway so let’s just play, and enjoy it!’ Yeah.

To the journeys, then.

And to the things to come, with the new and different others, joining me this week in ‘Trust the Process.’ Join at our crowdfunding page, of course. Make | S P C… Link is this.

Here we go!…

‘Briefly in Sheffield’ | 1999-2015

Redesigning means revisiting some of your favorites ideas.

The story Briefly in Sheffield is one of those, for me. I’m happy whenever people read this zine of ours, in the real life context. I’m happy when they put it down and smile and say, That was a good story.

It’s short and sweet, much like the real life encounter that inspired this short story.

Often I hear, ‘I can really identify with the main character…’

Well, yeah. He’s quite a lark. Which is why I wrote this—so I could share the feeling of meeting and becoming curious about… ZM.

Art for art’s sake

‘Briefly’ is for ZM, one of the first people who challenged me to become fast on my feet in articulating a response, not hefty, when someone asks me something pointedly that I really don’t want to answer. Why that happens, how it rolls from that moment of questing through to the one where you find yourself in an unimaginably close-knit bond, in a short space of time, is the subject and delight of the young love that this story shines a light unabashedly upon.

I finished it in a jiffy, more than a dozen attempts since the late nineteen-nineties, and then, wham. There it was. Typed. Printed. Zined.

Like most situations, the impetus to figure out my way to the feeling came after meeting someone randomly, someone new. Whose shoes, which I remarked upon, and accent, which I remarked upon further, reminded me in every way of Z.

[I will skip the parts that didn’t, like that ridiculous potato-sack hopping thing that a lot of thirtysomethings were doing. I can’t deal with this kind of architecture ‘playfulness’ that this age group have, but whatever. I sat in the corner and mused about Z., watching the grown adults race in bags. But the peanuts. The peanuts were good. That was over Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh, in 2017. A new muse, a new poetry. A new beginning. And a new art.]

Jazzy, this one. With a clear understanding that this kind of thing can happen…

‘Shall we dance?…’

Cue ‘Shall we dance…’

Short stories and fresh writings

And now, here it is, reworked. A new cover design. I’m putting it over at the store for Kismuth.

Lots of reorganizing, around here, these days. Redirections. Reinventions. Sorting out the clutter, getting rid of the dead weight. Thank you most especially to AM, and a few others. Who have helped me very much in recent weeks come to some new understandings and insights; as I hope, I always hope this, I hope I did for them, too. And others, too, of course. Granted. Sure. Not a whole hell of a lot of others, but a handful, to be sure. Acknowledgements. Count.

Who, exactly? Coming soon. I have to write down the next things and then I’ll be able to understand who it is that has been here, with me, in the learning and sharing, int eh connecting and conversing, in the opening up and being around and telling it like it is and not-stopping, even if there’s a little space in the midst… space is natural… but meaning it.

Caring. Showing up. Is huge, for DK. And what we do, here. Making. Making things. Artworks come from this intention… meaning it.

Hugely important. For quality.

In search of Quality

Quality! Is all I really want to make more of, around here. And everywhere. Putting more beauty into the world. Forgetting my platform, there for a bit. Too distracted trying to make meaning with people who don’t know what that even looks like. Letting go. Clean, fresh openings.

Another country, soon. Another round and boisterous new start. I made a new personal website, too. Seeing. How it all feels. Writing and designing and zining and publishing, all in one spot here, was maybe kinda a bit… much. Enter podcasting and more stuff like that and yeah, even I’m kinda dazed. So let me simplify things. Let’s make this page all about the publishing of things. In Kismuth, or in S P A C E. I do like to include people in those conversations that lead to things, like co-created bits and pieces. I’m inviting people to join me, now, but in an invite-only kind of way. If you’re curious, get in touch somehow. We have a million channels.


Issue #37, S P A C E | ‘A Westlake Story’

RETURNING TO VIETNAM to make a second batch of issues of S P A C E set in this country, we finished #37 with one about walking… walking and talking… and finding one’s way by sheer ambient ambulatory motion to that breakthrough moment of, ‘a-ha.’

Includes the very short short, ‘Hon_sty,’ probably one of DK’s best flash fiction pieces in that it’s so direct. You can download the issue and print it at home. Four pages front-and-back, so that’s a 16-page zine.

Order Issue #37

Reinventing Kismuth

A while now, this project, has been sitting to the side.

Been meaning to get back to it. Writing and stuff like that.

Was fun publishing S P C.

After 37 issues (I love all of them but probably my favorite is the set from Latvia), I’m getting back to an older, more long-term project.

A different kind of writing. Over at:

HT SS. I’m gonna write that rain thing, now. Thank you for writing, editing, and critiquing. All that has helped in so many great ways. To the journeys, the near, the new and the next. To Kismuth, and The Way.

Four issues of S P A C E set in Latvia

This is a good day.

It’s the day we publish my personal favorite of the four issues of S P A C E | Latvia. It’s called ‘Lūdzu’.

Find S P A C E | Latvia, the four-issue set of zines, at Roberts Books in Rīga. ‘The Weather Report’, ‘Sunny Side of the Street,’ ‘Drift’, ‘Lūdzu’.

Writing in the spaces

Sometimes you go to the story. Sometimes the story comes to you.

Words I had written into an article, part of a column I write for a small magazine in Charlotte, NC

Not that I wanted to become a column-writer, it just… naturally happened. I always like to write in the way that I write, (without bending to conform to someone else’s ideas of what I ought to write, I mean, a stance that will not earn you very many writing gigs, *cough*, but then again, who cares?).

Meanwhile if an editor is willing to help me make it better, cool. I’ll go with it. (HT SS.)

But what is really intriguing, to me, is that sometimes when I just write a thing, just write it, you know, without really thinking much, it turns… real. Countless examples here, but one of them is this story, this very issue of S P A C E that launches in our online store, today. I had no idea… that I would show up somewhere unexpectedly quiet and overpriced and difficult and pretentious, mostly looking to get into my head and away from the tourist throngs of Old Town, and instead, hide, so as to be able to put words down… instead, the thing that happened was… well, as I had written in another place, in another time, I found myself on a stage. Of sorts. Instead of, you know, a writing studio… A stage? Yes. A stage.

[Blinking] Er… Right.

Ergo, I wrote a play.

This issue

S P A C E | Rīga, ‘Lūdzu’

…is all space and light and airiness.

It’s based on a conversation with someone who… was challenged, and then challenged me back. Writing that down. Took some work.

Putting it onto the page took all of my six weeks’ worth of observations, caring for things related to things, and learning how to understand. At least, a little.



This issue of S P A C E is for MC.

(M, That was cool, what we made happen. I appreciate it… Paldies...

Also, I went to the Latvian National Museum of Art. You were right.

More when the things come into shape, if and how and when they can, for 2020. Maybe. Let’s see where things go.

And… I told everyone to go by and see you and ask you questions as pointed as the ones I had asked you…

You’ll be happy to know that in recent days, someone asked me very pointed questions, and… well. This time, I had to… well, this is getting all kinda long. I’ll just write you an email…



‘Sometimes it takes a lifetime to just get started!’

HERE’S A SNIPPET of a short, direct story that I found refreshingly honest.

I read it today in my email box.

Find it, just below.

(It comes from the jazz club Smalls, which is in New York, and which is one of the first places I used to frequent when I lived in that city. Ages ago. I am on the mailing list in part because I always wonder who’ll be there, when and if I make it to that town again, for the sounds. Mostly, wanted to keep an ear out for if TE is there. That would be fun, to show up with my pens.

We don’t know each other, but I read your words, SW–thank you for sending this along and sharing your story)…


Running these clubs stripped me of my need to prove myself and took me away from self-analysis.  Who has the time for all that?

Becoming a father has made me understand what value in living really is.  Who has time to be concerned about a “career”?  Music, I realized, is a children’s game – to be played with wonder and joy, not ego and career-mindedness…

It took me an entire lifetime to realize this… Sometimes it takes a lifetime to just get started! —Spike Wilner, Smalls


I love this.

I love the honesty of it. I love the way it flows, from some heartfelt place. I write and draw and stuff, so I get it, what this is trying to say, I think.

I remember when the feeling came to me, too, that there are some things you just push out and publish just because you don’t have enough of yourself in one space to get all the details perfect.

You just have to say the thing that you know has to be said. It’s a thing.

You share, and something cool could happen.

But sharing. Wow. Is hard work. Mmmmmm.

Another topic, for another thread.


To trust the process.

Math + Jazz // Improvising and zining // DK 2014


‘Conversations in the Rainy Season’ / DK Phnom Penh, 2014
Jazzy drawings for ‘Breakfast in Cambodia’ (Kismuth Books)

The importance of opening to possibility

DESIGNERS, writers, poets, architects. Engineers, conversationalists, philosophers, leaders. All of us, really. All of us who make things that society will use. People. Everywhere. We have to hear each other… better. Infrastructure, or the softer things like how we relate to one another… being aware… of the need to listen. Is huge.

I’m just…

Reading so much news, and feeling so… many things.

I’ve been talking a lot, here, about me. I’m ready to listen, now. But how? We’re so… far away and disconnected now from each other.

It’s hard to know how to move together, in a way that flows, and adds to things, instead of just feels like… random blips.

Right? Am I right, or?…

We have to be able to be open to the whole of it, the potentiality of whatever might fall into the picture, right?

If we want to explore to the best-of edge, then we have to be open to the possibility of being changed by what we might hear.

That of course, is the very definition of listening. Enter J. Krishnamurthi here.

Maybe that’s why I like this kind of music. But I’ve taken a break from it, to be honest, to find my way back to other things, like pop stuff, and old stuff, and things that people share.


Flux is there.

It’s lovely.

It’s art.


Celebrating ‘just let’s see what happens!’

Hosting ‘Math & Jazz’, in Phnom Penh, with musicians and academics to talk about flows.

I remember when Mathias Aspelin and I co-hosted something called ‘Math & Jazz’ at Raffles’ Elephant Bar in Phnom Penh. (See pic, just above).

That was a lark—a bunch of philosophy people, artists, musicians, and the band members themselves came to the bar to talk with me and whomever showed up about the things that M&J have in common. This was nice. This was unexpected. And improvisations in making it up just kept going, for me, from there… I could talk more about it. But here, for now, I’ll let things slow.

I wonder if VJ remembers running into me right here in this lobby, ahead of the event. It was cool to be friends, there, for some time, when we were in synch.



‘Math and jazz, then, huh, DK?’




It’s the thread that makes the necklace

Protected: Writing in my head

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