Documenting the Decline of the Bingo Hall

Documenting the Decline of the Bingo Hall
From thriving social clubs to piles of rubble.

abandoned bingo
(Image credit: Forsaken Fotos via Flickr)

The rough-hewn simplicity and rustic charm of traditional land-based bingo halls have captivated the imagination of thousands of people throughout the decades. Indeed, brick-and-mortar bingo halls are teeming with vibrant characters and interesting personalities that bring life to a time-honored establishment. So it’s not too surprising to learn that a few talented photographers have devoted their time and energies to document the humanity inside these old-school bingo halls. Washington resident Andrew Miksys was exposed to bingo at an early age. His father published the daily Bingo Today newspaper, which Miksys then delivered to bingo halls and convenience stores across Seattle. Miksys eventually toured America’s bingo halls to present a respectful look into the communal spirit that’s part of a bingo hall’s character.

There’s even more proof that the time-honored game is a veritable treasure trove of expressive portraits. German photographer Michael Hess is a structural engineer by training and a self-taught photographer by choice. Currently residing in London, Hess lived near a bingo hall in Southampton in 2005 and always wondered what happened inside. One fateful game in that same bingo hall was all it took to motivate Hess to travel to almost 70 bingo halls in the UK for the next four years. The result was Bingo and Social Club, a good-natured and graciously rare peek into the enigmatic society of bingo halls.

However, bingo halls are believed to be not long for this world, with many different bingo halls now closing all over the world. The classic game has found its new home online, where various companies have begun to launch online bingo portals which are much more convenient and easy to play. The Virtue Fusion software that runs the games on Betfair Bingo also allow for a variety of themed games to be held simultaneously, and land-based bingo halls just cannot keep up. As such, many bingo halls have shut down, their doors closing as though to keep their memories nestled within.

While they’re no longer visited by the average bingo player, these abandoned bingo halls have made for some truly evocative images, inspiring wayward photographers with the stories they seem to tell. Web Urbanist has even come out with a collection of haunting photographs of abandoned bingo halls called “Punched Cards”. The selection of photos has everything from dilapidated signage to the remains of old bingo cards and the remains of old structures that have now been reduced to rubble, and they make one think about all the history and memories that have been made in these places. Where people once crowded and fought to shout, “BINGO!”, there lies nothing but shambles and old signs. But often, these are exactly what the urban photographer is looking for.

Open Source Embroidery

Open Source Embroidery

Embroidery is constructed (mostly by women) in hundreds of tiny stitches which are visible on the front of the fabric. The system of the stitches is revealed on the back of the material. Some embroiderers seal the back of the fabric, preventing others from seeing the underlying structure of the pattern. Others leave the back open for those who want to take a peek. A few integrate the backend process into the front of the fabric. The patterns are shared amongst friends in knitting and embroidery ‘ciricles’.

Software is constructed (mostly by men) in hundreds of tiny pieces of code, which form the hidden structure of the programme or interface. Open Source software allows you to look at the back of the fabric, and understand the structure of your software, modify it and distribute it. The code is shared amongst friends through online networks. However the stitches or code only make sense to those who are familiar with the language or patterns.

The same arguments about Open Source vs Free Software can be applied to embriodery. The needlework crafts also have to negotiate the principles of ‘freedom’ to create, modify and distribute, within the cultural and economic constraints of capitalism. The Open Source Embroidery project simply attempts to provide a social and practical way of discussing the issues and trying out the practice. Free Software, Open Source, amatuer and professional embrioderers and programmers are welcome to contribute to the project.

Open Source Embroidery pays homage to Ada Lovelace (1816-52) who helped to develop the Analytical Engine, the first idea for a universal computer, with Charles Babbage. Lovelace wrote “we may say most aptly that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jaquard Loom weaves flowers and leaves.” (Gere, 2002, p24). The Jaquard Loom (1810) was the first machine to use punched-card programming.

The above is the introduction cut and pasted from the site. It was information which I wanted to have to read over again so I decided to post it all here with the link.

I wonder if anyone is doing something like this with machine knitting?

Does anyone know about Cory Doctorow?

The first piece of writing I put into this I was told I write like Stephen King. But it was a short bit I wrote as a writing prompt and an odd style. An off style for me. My second try at it came back:

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I’ve heard the name Cory Doctorow but don’t know a thing about him or his writing.

Serif Free Software

Free versions of Serif software, includes WebPlus and DrawPlus for creating sites and making your own graphics. I found this a few years ago and never did do much to try them out. Now they are updated and still have free versions, which was nice to find. Or, you can pay and get a few more features. Or, go to the main site and get the latest versions of the same software. Pretty reasonable, even for the newest versions, when compares to DreamWeaver which is up to $500 now versus the $100 it was when I first got ahold of what is now an older version, before Adobe added it’s name to the whole thing.

Vector Drawing Tips Link

Vector Drawing Tips – I need to start figuring out how to use the graphic software I have had for years. Kind of typical of me that I am looking at the latest version of Paint Shop Pro, now part of Corel instead of Jasc, yet I have not done more than use it for a screen capture a couple of times. I really need to get to work on it rather than just upgrade the software. Why do I so often do this sort of thing? I have a stack of books about CSS and HTML and web design in general yet I have only read one of them and not even totally finished that one.

Blogger Backup

Found something new for backing up Blogger blogs: Blogger Backup. Will be giving it a try with Word Grrls later today/ tonight. The real challenge will be this blog which has far more content. A heavy duty job for any blog backup software.

I did use Getleft before and it seemed to work well, on this blog. I have not done it in awhile and never had an urgent need to test it. So far. Kind of good to know there is a backup plan though.