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How Kraftwerk’s 'Computer World' Predicted the Soundtrack of Modern Life

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Maybe Kraftwerk had a time machine.

How else could they have known thirty years ago what the ambient symphony of everyday life would sound like? The mechanical chirp of the cell phone. The alert chime of an incoming text or email. The assortment of bleeps, buzzes and bloops that emanate from the microchip-based brains of everything from our laptops to our cars.

On the German quartet’s 1981 release Computer World, these synthetic sounds are woven into seven pulsing, intricate compositions that say: the future starts here.

If they sound eerily familiar now, think how they must have sounded back at a time when a Mac was a hamburger and a mouse was a rodent.

Kraftwerk was formed in 1970 when Florian Schneider and Ralf Hutter, two classical music students at Düsseldorf College, got bored with studying the old powdered wig composers. Drawing on their love of synthesizers and experimental avant–garde sounds, they forged a style that they intended to be “machine-like” (Kraftwerk means “power plant”).

But it was no ordinary machine. It had heart and mystery, and it threw off sparks of warm-blooded melody along with piston-pumping, robotic dance beats. Kraftwerk’s sound became a blueprint for so much that followed - from techno and house to trance and hip-hop (Afrika Bambaataa’s Kraftwerk-based song “Planet Rock” is often called the birth of hip-hop) – that you could argue they rank with The Beatles as the group who’ve cast the widest influence on popular music (Kraftwerk has also been sampled by hundreds of artists, from Madonna to Beck to Fergie).

In 1981, as the personal home computer was making its first tiny inroads into our lives, it seemed to align perfectly with the cyborg ideal that had already been implicit in Kraftwerk’s music for a decade. To celebrate what they saw as a new revolution, the band created an album honoring the computer. Song titles included “Home Computer,” “Computer Love” and “It’s More Fun To Compute.” The music was played using all synthetic instruments – from synthesizers and drum machines to Texas Instruments pocket calculators and Speak & Spell devices. It was a preview of how music would increasingly be made in the 21st century.

Moreover, in its sparse, spoken lyrical observations, the album also predicted the loneliness of cyber-romance (“Another lonely night at the screen”), the idea of privacy-threatening interconnectedness (“Interpol and Deutsche Bank, FBI and Scotland Yard”) and even the binary code of the coming digital age (“You are just a number and I ain’t got a name”).

In short, Computer World was a postcard from the future, signed by four very prescient musicians.

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Little Baby's Ice Cream
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Food
Pizza and Cricket Cake Are Just Some of the Odd Flavors You'll Find at This Philadelphia Ice Cream Shop
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Little Baby's Ice Cream

Ice cream flavors can get pretty out-there, thanks to the growing number of creative scoop shops willing to take risks and broaden their customers’ horizons beyond chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Intrepid foodies can cool off with frozen treats that taste like horseradish, foie gras, and avocado, while Philadelphia's Little Baby’s Ice Cream is pushing the boundaries of taste with chilly offerings like everything bagel, Maryland BBQ, ranch, and cricket cake.

Cricket-flavored ice cream, created by Philadelphia-based Little Baby's Ice Cream
Little Baby's Ice Cream

Everything Bagel-flavored ice cream, created by Philadelphia-based Little Baby's Ice Cream
Little Baby's Ice Cream

As Lonely Planet News reports, Little Baby’s Ice Cream launched its first signature “oddball” ice cream—Earl Grey sriracha—in 2011. Since then, its rotating menu has only gotten quirkier. In addition to the aforementioned flavors, customers who swing by Little Baby’s this summer can even try pizza ice cream.

The store created the savory flavor in 2011, to celebrate neighborhood eatery Pizza Brain’s inclusion into Guinness World Records for its vast collection of pizza memorabilia. The savory, Italian-esque snack is made from ingredients like tomato, basil, oregano, salt, and garlic—and yes, it actually tastes like pizza, Little Baby’s co-owner Pete Angevine told Lonely Planet News.

Pizza-flavored ice cream, made by Philadelphia-based Little Baby's Ice Cream
Little Baby's Ice Cream

“Frequently, folks will see it on the menu and be incredulous, then be convinced to taste it, giggle, talk about how surprised they are that it really tastes just like pizza … and then order something else,” Angevine said. “That’s just fine. Just as often though, they’ll end up getting a pizza milkshake!”

Little Baby’s flagship location is in Philadelphia's East Kensington neighborhood, but customers can also sample their unconventional goods at additional outposts in West Philadelphia, Baltimore, and a pop-up stand in Washington, D.C.’s Union Market. Just make sure to bring along a sense of adventure, and to leave your preconceived notions of what ice cream should taste like at home.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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Warby Parker
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Space
Warby Parker Is Giving Away Free Eclipse Glasses in August
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Warby Parker

When this year’s rare “all-American” total solar eclipse comes around on August 21, you’ll want to be prepared. Whether you’re chasing the eclipse to Kentucky or viewing it from your backyard, you’ll need a way to watch it safely. That means an eclipse filter over your telescope, or specially designed eclipse glasses.

For the latter, you can just show up at your nearest Warby Parker, and their eye experts will hand over a pair of eclipse glasses. The stores are giving out the free eye protectors throughout August. The company’s Nashville store is also having an eclipse party to view the celestial event on the day-of.

Get your glasses early, because you don’t want to miss out on this eclipse, which will cross the continental U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina. There are only so many total solar eclipses you’ll get to see in your lifetime, after all.

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