How did we imagine things when we were children picturing our adult lives? Exciting and strange, moving more quickly than the quiet creep of childhood, and painted in much broader strokes inside much more confident outlines. We would fill our houses with grass instead of furniture. And when we fell in love, we would be held fast in strong arms or gentle, delicate hands, and kissed as the sparkling night kept us safe.
We met Leah Siegel in that fantastic possibility, in a mischievous loft with grass instead of carpet, the magical surroundings completed by ladders leading to hideaways and a forest wall scattered with glittering stars. And when the Presto was nestled snugly in the soft ground, she sang of a whimsical and lovely romance contained in the smallest most innocent of gestures.
Our beautiful early hopes and feelings are not lost to us. In fact, more often than we even know, we look for and find them again in songs.
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The rest of the story is a memory. A view of a dreamy past carried along through life, strange and unforgettable and intoxicating.
We like to say that The 78 Project bridges 100 years of technology. And it’s true that in the course of shooting our movie the Presto has met and befriended many an iPhone. It’s the simple beauty of the technology and design behind the Presto that invokes the fascination that drives The 78 Project…
Just past a bustling artisan market, behind a graffiti-ed gate on North 7th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, lies a 2,500 square foot vacuum tube wonderland named Leeds Radio. For the vintage amp and hi-fi fanatic, it’s a dream come true, and for those who simply appreciate weird science and beautiful design, it’s a fascinating place to spend an afternoon.
The keeper of this shop is Richard Matthews, a man who knows his tubes – each and every one of the more than 100,000 he has stashed on floor-to-ceiling shelves. He also knows our tubes, because we bought them from him, and bring them back periodically for him to test. Our Presto relies on Richard’s sage knowledge of vacuum tubes to run its best, we just like to shoot the breeze with him and to pick his brain about technology.
On an unseasonably hot Saturday a few weeks ago, Richard pulled open the gate and invited us in with our camera to talk about Prestos, Tesla coils, radios and every topic in between, and to give our tubes a good going-over before our next road trip begins…
This weekend marked The 78 Project’s one year anniversary. Labor Day weekend of 2011 we had a marathon first three shoots, Dawn Landes in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, The Reverend John DeLore and Kara Suzanne at the High Horse Saloon, and The Mynabirds in our backyard in Williamsburg (the episodes from those shoots are reposted below!) We knew then that something special was happening.
We talked many times this year about a time when we’d be on the road, traveling to record. Now that we are, it’s every bit as challenging and spectacular as we dreamed it could be. We’re so thankful for the wonderful generosity of the musicians, friends and enthusiasts who have helped us to take The 78 Project this far. This first year’s work is dedicated to you all.
The first three Full-length Episodes of The 78 Project, shot August 31 – September 1, 2011 in New York: