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Wednesday, 02 May 2012


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It was also a hit for The Womenfolk (and their's was the best version, imo). I seem to remember seeing them sing it on some variety show.

Kudos to Ctein for the work load/work ethic.


And it also was the title song for the TV series 'Weeds.' :)

Let's not forget that those ticky tacky houses were surely an incredible boon to a whole generation of Americans who had suffered through the Great Depression and the Second World War.

That song is also the opening credit song for the first few seasons of "Weeds" which is one of the best shows ever made. During the second season I believe, a different musician performs the song for each episode.

"Little Boxes" is also the song in the opening credits of Weeds.

640+135? Wow, looks like you have a thriving business here! I'm a happy customer fwiw =) Cheers!

He doesn't make any money per print, but he makes it up in volume.


The song, among all of these other uses, is on British TV right now as the soundtrack for an advert for something or other. It's the first time I've heard it, and whilst I can't remember what product/service/show it's being used to advertise, the song is stuck right in my head.

"He doesn't make any money per print, but he makes it up in volume."

Hey Ctein, I'm moving in a couple months. Can you help out? I can't offer gas money (to WA state) or food/beverages or any other way of compensating you...


Whoa, catching the light right at that instant was great! This framing really brings out the identical big window on each house, surrounded by minor differences (roof shape and so forth). If the cars and street were equally lit it would distract a lot from that. (I see no evidence of masking on a quick study, and I don't especially care anyway.)

And I'm not sure I'd call working on making 750 or so prints being "off" exactly -- well, except in that other sense, where somebody might be considered "off" for agreeing to do it!

Just a shade under 800 prints. At 20 min print time, his Epson will run 15,900 min (265 hours or 11 days) assuming round the clock production! A testament to both the Epson and to Ctein.

And then there is all the post printing work...

I think we (TOP readers) should recognize the amount of effort that is going into this generous offer and thank Ctein in advance. Hopefully those thanks sustain him during his work.

WOW! Thanks for the link.
I've always heard the song but never got beyond the first stanza in understanding the lyrics. It is terrific. And I always assumed that it was a song that Pete wrote for children.
Made me smile for the day.

Ugh. I grew up there, 1959 to 1971, and was never in my life so glad to leave a place. It is hard to believe such a place sits cheek by jowl next to San Francisco (where I spent of lot of my life after leaving Daly City).

If you like that one, you should really listen to Abby Lappen's jazz version. (She freestyles some extra lyrics.) 99¢ on iTunes.


"He doesn't make any money per print, but he makes it up in volume.


It's that kind of thinking that made California what it is!

I find myself in San Francisco a couple of times a year on freelance jobs, and for all the interesting beauty of the older parts of the city, and the 1940's "feel" of those areas as well, I'm always amazed at the just total crap put up in a lot of the surrounding areas, Daly City included...the drive from the airport into the city showcases some pretty bad construction and horrendous looking design that you would be hard pressed to find in the Chicago or Milwaukee areas, unless you went way out beyond the western suburbs, and even then, the local governments probably wouldn't have signed off on those designs.

...those of us who have lived in the mid-west for many a year, always have areas of the east and west coast held up to us as genius creative enclaves, but I'm flabbergasted as I travel around the country at how many areas have this butt-ugly post WWII and early '60s development, including strip malls and the like, like nobody with a creative bone in their bodies were responsible for any of it.

All I can think of is that the people who were in charge of granting permits to build that stuff didn't give a rat's behind, and neither did the people designing and building it. You'd think no matter how cheap something was built, the builder and designer would at least try and make it some place to be proud of...

It's always hard to imagine a first timer to SFO taking that drive into the city from the airport and thinking: "this is the Paris of America?" Give me the Chicago north shore any time!

One of my preferred songs of Seeger. together with Abiyiyo which I'm listening right now :-). I keep being surprised by the many contacts with Ctein (I'm a physicist, my daughters is fond of African Grey parrots and science fiction...).
And now, back to iTunes to test your jazz version.

I really hate that song.

i would like to say a big thank you to mike shimwell, the uk "angel" that made it possible for me to get a print here in sweden. he has handled everything in a very professional manner and is donating any over charges to charity. truly an angel.

I am a self confessed Pete Seeger fanboy.... Knowing this will add an extra smile to my face when my print arrives. Thanks to all for making it happen...

"I really hate that song."

Yeah, it's a ditty. And it's funny how many popular songs from every far-flung parish of music are actually just ditties when you strip all the dressing off 'em.

--Mike the music snob

An elitist song, made famous by The World's Most Successful Communist ;-)

Richard Howe hit the nail on the head with his comment, too. By the mid-1950's, people living in those "little houses" were enjoying a better, more prosperous life than kings and tzars of just 100 years earlier (could the Tzar have a navel orange any time he wanted, for example, or watch television, or fly to Paris?)

What the songwriter and Mr. Seeger is how time would change the little boxes that all looked the same.

In Levittown, NY, for example, it's almost impossible to find an unmodified Levitt home... and with mature trees and curved streets, that area looks pretty darned good.

The first version I met of that song was sung by Victor Jara. Same music, somewhat different lyrics.


Victor Jara (Chile)

Las casitas del Barrio Alto
con rejas y antejardin,
una preciosa entrada de autos
esperando un Peugeot.
Hay rosadas, verdecitas,
blanquitas y celestitas,
las casitas del Barrio Alto
todas hechas con resipol.
Y las gentes de las casitas
se sonrien y se visitan.
Van juntitos al supermarket
y todos tienen un televisor.
Hay dentistas, comerciantes,
latifundistas y traficantes,
abogados y rentistas.
Y todos visten policron,
juegan bridge, toman martini-dry.
Y los niños son rubiecitos
y con otros rubiecitos
van juntitos al colegio high.
Y el hijito de su papi
luego va a la universidad
comenzando su problematica
y la intringulis social.
Fuman pitillos en Austin mini,
juegan con bombas y con politicos,
asesina generales,
y es un gangster de la sedicion.
Y las gentes de las casitas
se sonrien y se visitan.
Van juntitos al supermarket
y todos tienen un televisor.
Hay rosadas, verdecitas,
blanquitas y celestitas,
las casitas del Barrio Alto,
todas hechas con resipol.

On Youtube, it's here, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7ku1VwAzx0

I sing this every time I reach the top of the hill next to where I used to live. I watched the new houses go up a couple of years ago. I doubt that they'll be in good condition without major work after 50 years, unlike the place I live in now.

I sing the song, but I can never remember the second half, or even what order the colours are in.

If you want to see the exact opposite of houses that all look the same. You may want to check out jamesrosecenter.org.

One of the leaders in landscape architecture his home is a fusion of indoor and outdoor space.

While in considerable disrepair today, efforts are being made to restore and preserve the home for its historical significance.

Ticky tacky eh?
Sounds to me like rectangular shaped boxes lined up in a mortuary all ready for use as the baby boomers who lived in those tacky houses occupy one by one their own little boxes for evermore.

Yep, it's been a long day here too!

"made famous by The World's Most Successful Communist"

Yes, he's a great man. A true American original.


Ah, the Geography of Nowhere......as James Howard Kunstler saw/sees it. Or suburban sprawl. But hey Ctein, when you open your eyes (and have the bedroom at the right side of the house) you can see the Pacific in al it's splendor. Happy printing (and even happier cartridge changing.......nice moment to keep a log about ink consumption of the Epson 3880.....just a thought. Note the ink tank changes, maybe their's a story in it.

Greetings, Ed

I really love that song.

Each one of those light, bright little houses provides shelter for a potentially happy, loving family whose members are contributing to the greater community, in warmth and safety. Take a run down to the hill shanties of Venezuela or Rio sometime and then take whacks at our "ticky-tack." It is oh so relative...

I like Pete Seeger plenty but I think that song sort of boxes up a lot of people and paints them with an ugly brush. And yeah, it's annoying at that.

Calm down everyone, it was a song criticizing mind-numbing conformity, not a personal insult.

Dear Ed,

Well, yes, actually we do have an ocean view from the bedroom. In fact, people who want to see my house can look up my address on my website, plug it into Google Maps, and go to Street view. You can find my house (the house numbers are legible), you can “wander” a bit down the street and around the corner and see the view I get out the back window. There are worse fates.

Oh yeah, I monitor ink. Absolutely necessary when I'm pricing out what a printing job like this is going to cost me. So, for your amusement, here is the ink consumption in milliliters per hundred prints:

Photo Black ––13. Light Black––29. Light Light Black––48. Cyan––8. Magenta––8. Light Cyan––96. Light Magenta––68. Yellow––8.

Because there was a timely rebate on the Epson paper when I bought it for the sale, the cost of the ink per print is higher than the cost of a sheet of paper. Absent the sale, the paper would've been just a bit more.

When I find myself terrified of how much I'm spending on paper and ink, I just remind myself how much I used to spend on dye transfer materials. Then I unclench my teeth. (I realize this is no consolation for folks who never had to spend that kind of money on dye transfer materials and are now being gouged by the “Gillette” marketing model.)

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

I heard the songs a few time on Prairie Home Companion and my wife said that they were referring to Daly City. Then I visited Ctein and saw Daly City and thought, wow, the song is true :-)

The ocean view is lovely though.

Thanks Ctein for working for less than slave wages on this ad the history lesson.


The light colors are used in bigger amounts then the darker tones (my experience as well over a range of prints), light cyan being the one hit the hardest which is to be expected. But your print looks rather saturated in color (nicely saturated). Now if I was suspicious of commercial companies I would detect a nice way to "use a bit more ink". A light dye contains less pigment and is used more so sells better..........but lets not be suspicious about the benevolent printer manufacturers and think about the wonderfull prints we can make now.

BTW, I did StreetView the Ctein residence :-), nice looking little box. BTW, JHK has a word or two (hundred thousand) tho say about those foreclosures too.

Greetings, Ed.

Just as an aside, I spent a lot of time in Baltimore when I was living in DC, liked the city much more for actually being a "city", in the broadest sense, rather than whatever Washington DC was...

...anyway, was appalled by the row houses in Balto, if Daly City makes Levitt Town look like it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, then the Baltimore row house I've seen make Daly City look like it was designed by I.M.Pei! There are areas of the city where you can stand outside the row houses, spread your arms, and the walls of a unit would only be about 1.5 to 2 feet farther on each side...and the back yards are divided by chicken wire, so from a block or so away, the back looks like one big green space, but you get up close, it's got chicken wire every ten feet from the back of the houses for the length of the yard! Being raised in the Chicago/Milwaukee corridor, I never knew anything like this existed.

What's interesting about this kind of construction (both the row house and Daly City), no matter how revisionists want to call it quaint, is it was about shoving the maximum amount of people in the smallest space for the least amount of money and charging the most you could get for it. Period...

Say what you will about the "sewer socialism" of south-east Wisconsin, the area seemed to shy away from this type of construction mayhem, and counter it with the 800-1200 square foot ranch home on it's own little yard with it's own little detached garage. If every mans/womans home is their castle, it's pretty tough to feel that way in an east coast row house or a west coast post WWII house staring into your neighbor's bedroom window five feet away. But in your little ranch home, at least 20 feet away from neighbors on every side, you just might feel like you're home.

I applaud the extension of this mind-set: the new "small house" movement...I've always said for a nation of people not getting married, or not having many, if any, kids; all they ever wanted was their apartment on their own property. Now if they could deliver it for under a 100K, that'd be great, and there's no reason they couldn't aside from greed. I always love to laugh at Dwell magazine, home of the 2 million dollar 800 square foot house. Whata joke...viva the Tumbleweed Tiny Homes guy!

@Tom - There's plenty of small houses available under 100k, and were even at the height of the recent 'boom'. They just aren't available, and never will be, in the metropoli where land is scarce and demand is high. Econ 101.

Dear Tom,

Are you trying to insinuate that it's all about the money?

In real estate?!

I am shocked, shocked.

Next you'll try to convince me there's gambling going on in this establishment.

pax /Casablanca Ctein

Ctein, your story about your neighbor is so, so sad. How have we come to this? Good Lord, who are we?

I only knew the song from the very humorous "Weeds". (I loved the variant versions in season 2.)
Thanks to Ctein for telling that fascinating history. It's a weirder world than we know.

THat song sure reminds me of this one:


Who could have sued who in this instance? :)

Hi, Ctein. I accepted your invitation to drive by your neighborhood in the Street View van this morning, my time. In your time zone, it was pretty early, so I didn't stop in to chat. Driving the streetview van is pretty tricky. I think I knocked over your neighbor's recycle bins on the way out, sorry. Your street must be pretty late Doelger. I grew up surrounded by the mid-Atlantic rowhouses that an earlier poster mentions, and these are WAY nicer. But what happened to all the palmettoes? When did the deed restrictions get broken, so that the present population, which is probably about 50% Asian-American, could develop?


Many people comment on the houses and the song (the trivia) and so few comment on the issue of the neighbour being expelled from his house after having to pay his wife's medical expenses(the tragedy).
Thank God at least one asks what can she do to help.
There is something fundamentally wrong in a country where these things happen to perfectly innocent citizens. Those who are so satisfied with the standard of living in the States, or for that matter, in the "little boxes" should give it a second thought.

Ha ha Ha, Ctein, you're killing me...that's one of my favorite scenes...BTW, here are your winnings!

I guess what I was trying to say, was that in a lot of these "sewer socialist" areas like Milwaukee, those housing plans were probably brought to the table here as well, it's just the city officials, at least the ones they had at the time, wouldn't sign off on them, as "not in the publics best interest".

It's no mistake that the greater Milwaukee area was one of the sites selected for the governments late 1930's "green belt" project (as constructed in Greenfield or Greendale, I forget which, but similar to Greenbelt, outside of DC), and the Garden Homes project, where we first moved when my Dad got transferred from Chicago. You can google 'em for more info; but basically, the city was predisposed, due to it's "socialist" european bent, to think that building projects should be zoned for the greater good of the community, as well as putting in a lot of parks, etc.

Seems like it's all falling by the wayside now, as "too costly"...

And Derek Lyons, you are correct to some extent...I remember a story not long ago about the architecture department at UWM in the city here, designing a small house design to be used as "in-fill" at vacant city lots, and no one would give them a loan to build a test model; they eventually had to get private donors. The banks do not want to be in the small house business. You cannot get a loan for anything that the bank doesn't think it can resell easily if they have to foreclose. basically, as with everywhere, you are held captive in everything, by the relative intelligence and asthetic values of the people around you. Much easier to get loans and permits to build this stuff on the west coast!

Dear Scott,

Our house was built in 1954. There was a major earthquake whose epicenter was only a few miles from our house in 1957. None of the homes here suffered major damage. The Doelger homes are, in fact, build pretty sturdily by the construction standards of the time. In that one respect, Malvina's song is incorrect; they only LOOK like they're made out of ticky tacky.

There are still a few palmettos about, but mostly they've died out or been chopped down by their owners since the Homeowners Association and the covenants became defunct.

We moved to California in 1960; my folks bought a house here in 1961. Housing discrimination was legal in California until 1963, when the California legislature passed a fair housing act. The real estate industry got an initiative on the state ballot in 1964 to re-legalize discrimination, and it passed by a 2:1 margin. The California Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1966, as a violation of the equal protection clauses, and the US Supreme Court upheld that in 1967, ruling that the Fourteenth Amendment takes precedence over such laws. At that point, racially- and religiously-restrictive covenants became unenforceable, and any language to that effect in a covenant was null and void. The rest of the covenant, though, would remain in effect.

That's a pretty good guess on the demographics. It's actually a majority Asian, with Hispanic/Latino and white populations being slightly less than one quarter each. It's been claimed that Daly City has the largest Filipino population in the US, but this is incorrect. At around 33%, it may have the highest percentage population, but Daly City only has about 100,000 people, so it's not impressive in absolute numbers. Many cities have much larger numbers; greater Las Vegas, for example, has almost as many Filipinos as the entire population of Daly City.

Anyway, it makes for a REALLY nice selection of restaurants!

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

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