Posts filed under ‘design’

Self-indulgence is the new black

~or~

If you think now is a good time to write an article about Twitter or Facebook or “social media,” you’re high as shit

– posted by russellmania3000

Because really, the last thing I want to hear or see is someone else just now catching on to one of the dumbest things to get big on the web. How about you write me an article about 10 things I should be doing on Twitter and I write you an article about 10 things you should be writing about instead of Twitter? Does that sound like fun? By the way, if you think the fail whale is an ok tattoo because it’s a cute piece of illustration despite what it means, you should know that the same dude also has an Adobe AIR logo tattoo, which is…ugh nevermind.

The Sr. VP of Biz at work sent me this the other day, not as like a joke or a sarcastic musing, but as her way of saying that even though she doesn’t really get Twitter or Facebook, she’s excited that our organization is involved on those platforms. Thanks to me. And I don’t feel great about it, but if I didn’t get them on Twitter, I wouldn’t be doing my job. And that’s the sad state we’re in. What’s sadder than that? My old intern Zack just interviewed with the San Antonio Spurs for a social media position. I’m not familiar with their front office, and maybe they have a new media team that runs 7 deep like the Suns, but I doubt it, and seeing as how their team site isn’t a gleaming example of modernity, I’m not convinced that spending money to lose focus is the right idea.

I’ve been making a concerted effort to avoid own-industry-bridge-burning-slash-mud-slinging, but fuck it, I’ve always wanted to drive a truck or be a cop or something. Here we go.

This is Chris Brogan, and he is high as shit. He writes about social media marketing on his blog, makes good money banking on his reputation, and has all kinds of followers on Twitter. He writes disposable bits about personal branding or storytelling in marketing or how to not be a toolbag when attending a marketing conference, forgetting of course that attending the conference in the first place is grade A toolbaggery. He has no sense of humor. He formulaically ends his posts with cute little open-ended/rhetorical questions like “Now that we’re done discussing turd-polishing, what do you think? What turds have you polished lately? Are there turds you’re leaving unpolished when you should be scrubbing away?” with the intention of generating discussion, or probably more likely the intention of getting some CEO to think “gee wiz I’ve never thought about our business that way. He’s good. We should pay him to polish our turds”, but in practice it reads like he’s writing to third graders or belittling his audience, as in “what did you ever do? Nothing! I invented the piano key necktie.”

The other day I was having a beer with my friend Becky, a card-carrying member of the North American Society of People Who Couldn’t Go 5 Minutes Without Touching Their IPhone Even If They Had No Hands Or Feet. I love Becky, but she’s one of those people who, when you’re hanging out with them, you’re not really hanging out with them, you’re just sort of sharing the same physical space while they tap away at their phones. It’s a whole different thing than people who are always talking on their phone, because at some point the phone call ends and you can reasonably assume their attention has returned to the here and now, at least until the next one begins, but for compulsive texters/emailers/Twitterers/Facebookers, the time spent not tapping away, you know, existing fully in the temporal plane, it’s really just a lull spent in anticipation of that noise that used to mean “your CD is done ripping” but now means something entirely different and I’m not sure exactly what because my phone is the cheap-o free kind that you get three more of when you buy one for like $20. The other pertinent bit of information that makes this whole thing make sense is that she had recently fornicated with a guy whose girlfriend was pregnant and so Becky was currently being ostracized by this particular circle of friends, and understandably so. Mid-beer, roughly the following words were exchanged:

Becky: “I hate those guys, they never tell me what’s going on.”

Me: “Huh?” (I wasn’t paying attention because she had spent the last 5 minutes burried in IPhone)

Her: “They put where they’re going on Twitter, but you know how you can put, like, @-someone? They never put @-me.”

Me: “Why don’t you just follow them? Isn’t that the point of Twitter?”

Her: “I guess, but don’t you think that’s kind of desperate?”

My job is in new media marketing, just like Chris Brogan only I’m not high as shit. I don’t mean to pick on Chris; there are hundreds if not thousands of others just like him but I’m not readily familiar with too many because I don’t live in San Francisco. I know what’s up in the web/tech world, most of the time. Personally, I don’t use Twitter, but I do on behalf of the professional sports franchise that employs me. I thought I was aware of most of the mores and norms of this platform, but apparently not. The new thing I learned that day: actually following your friends on Twitter, you know, using it as it is intended and most effectively used, is so faux pas.

Let’s stop picking on Chris. This is John Chow, who, as he puts it himself, “make[s] money online by telling people how much money [he] make[s] online.” The fact that he can state such openly and still be taken so seriously and make so much coin is a good indicator of just how much Kool Aid is being passed around at the new media cult meeting, I mean party. He is, in point of fact, high as shit, though not in the same way some other guys like Brogan are high as shit (Whoops. Sorry Chris. It just comes so easily.), because deep down I think he gets that what he does is simple Simon nonsense, and to a certain extent he’s honest about it. He also made an adorable video about parenting.

This time I’m going to try really hard not to make fun of Chris. This is Guy Kawasaki. He’s a former marketing guy for Apple, now doing stuff far less interesting, and this is going to shock you, but Guy is high as shit and luuuvs Twitter. Like I mean, he really hearts it, so much so that he’s so busy going to conferences to talk about Twitter that he doesn’t have time to actually do it so he pays other people to do it for him, not like for his business, for him personally like you might pay someone to do your food shopping or dog walking. And this is I believe a good illustration of the internet meme You’re Doing It Wrong(sic). Can you tell I’ve been reading Infinite Jest? But that’s not why I brought Guy up. Guy gave a talk on Twitter at SES recently. I wasn’t there because I’m not a toolbag, but I heard he went on a tangent about how he doesn’t understand why Padmasree Warrior, Cisco’s CTO and holder of the world’s second most awesome name (first being Moxie Crimefighter Jillette), was on so many people’s recommended-to-follow list on Twitter and he wasn’t. Guy, if you’re out there, the answer is because maybe you’re the kind of guy who gets upset over Twitter. That and you don’t work at Apple anymore. Cisco is important and Alltop isn’t. Twitter also probably hates Hawaiians.

The VP of Technology at our team’s parent company sent me this article, right before he sent me a bunch of other stupid articles about social media. Probably around 90% of the people who write for Ad Age are high as shit, but their niche is in being staggeringly behind the curve and painfully speculative, vague and obvious, so one can only fault them so much. But the point is already there are ad agencies that offer placement in Twitter feeds, and Twitter itself is developing paid account features. Like hell it can’t be monetized. That’s exactly what happens when a platform’s user base nearly doubles in a little over one month.

Facebook recently changed the way most of their pages look and behave, and while the word on the street is they’ve gotten enough complaints that they’re already rethinking and making changes, the makeover is a tell that while the network isn’t over yet in the way that MySpace is over, it will be over sooner or later. Facebook’s ui is now clunkier, inelegant, straying from the near-perfect identity that made it such a success. But the upshot, I suppose from Zuckerberg’s view, is that it’s now more like Twitter. That idiot turned down all kinds of ducket in a buyout offer a couple years ago. In a couple more he’ll be kicking himself.

Here’s the thing about Twitter. It’s not all the rage because it’s simple or easy to use or “enables you to communicate in new and interesting ways” or any of that new media cult jargon. For one thing, it’s not simple. If you want to use Facebook, where do you go? Facebook.com. If you want to use Twitter, where do you go? Twitter.com? Amateur. Excuse me. Noob. There are enough third party desktop apps, feed aggregators, publishing tools and tracking utilities to make your head spin. All the really neat/lame/neat again/lame again shit people are doing with Twitter isn’t built in at all. And it’s not even that it’s compatible with mobile devices. There’s this arcane technology called email that’s been on phones for years. Hell, you wouldn’t believe, but phones actually make phone calls, or voice chats if you will, so you can fucking communicate in real fucking time and keep in touch with people and let them know what the fuck you’re doing.

Remember when you used to really like mentally invest yourself in thinking up the perfect song lyric that ever so poignantly expressed how you were feeling, right at that moment, man, so you could put it in your away message on AIM? Don’t lie, yes you do. Remember sitting around just sort of looking at other people’s away messages for the better part of an hour? Or coming home and checking your computer and the surge of pride and validation you felt when you saw all the people who responded to your away message while you were out, or the pang of disappointment you felt when no one responded, not even the person you expressly crafted the message for in the hopes that she would read it (you little emo fucker) ? I have to reach back about 7 years for that kind of warm and fuzzy memory but some of you might not have to go so far. Hell, some of you might have done this same sort of thing a couple months ago with your Facebook status, before you took up, in a nostalgic throwback to crafting AIM profiles, writing lists of 25 things that no one wants to know.

Then again, you might not have to go back that far either. If you’re a Twitter user, chances are you participated in this same sort of time-honored fishing-for-attention ritual earlier today. What Twitter really brings to the table is a diabolical tightening in and expanding upon the core of what makes self-indulgence and voyeurism so appealing to so many while stripping away all the extraneous features of social networks that might cause you to lose focus on yourself. Don’t have digital camera? Can’t edit video worth a damn? Screw that shit, relegate it to links to other sites. Can’t formulate cogent thoughts and arguments in written English? Fuck it, 140 characters is no place for nuance, complete sentences/spelling/punctuation optional. Don’t have any hip interests or feel weird lying about what bands/books/movies you like? Profiles are a thing of the past. Don’t have any real friends to friend? Plenty of people you don’t know will follow you for no reason. Your life is so stunningly uninteresting that your Facebook page is a barren waste of inactivity? Tweet on behalf of your pet. Or real people who have better things to do. Bored by friend counts or unable to generate comments? The following-to-follower ratio provides a brave new paradigm for competing for status.

From a business standpoint, I totally get the whole Twitter cult. There’s no compelling reason not to join and that’s why I helped get our organization on board. People might ask how much money you’ll really make or traffic you’ll generate or engagement you’ll create in your audience and the answer is I don’t know, but however much it is, it’s more than you would get by not doing it. And even though I don’t have a personal account, I can see the potential value for the individual. I just don’t see the potential being put into practice all that much. The kind of people who use Twitter in valuable ways are the kind of people that would get the same shit done if Twitter didn’t exist. They’d be awarded the same jobs, have the same reach to the same audience through blogging or something else, contribute to the same communities, and so on.

But for the laymen, the students, accountants, bankers, (ahem) fabric designers, media figureheads, entertainers and scores of other people who have joined the cult, something vile and absurd and uncomfortably revealing about what it is to be human is coming out of them on Twitter. It is a gateway drug, an enabler of a kind of short and not-at-all-sweet celebration of self, or the celebration of circuitous, silly shit, like tweeting about how to use Twitter better. It’s another way to shout at the world about nothing of consequence, another way to wear ourselves obnoxiously on our sleeves, another mirror for us to look into. It teaches us to use characters efficiently at the cost of using language well. It encourages us to believe the way to be interesting is to be proliferate rather than thoughtful. I mean for fuck’s sake, athletes are Twittering at halftime instead of listening to their coaches and Congressmen are Twittering instead of listening to the President speak. I don’t know what that speaks volumes about more: how little respect they have for Obama, how much Congressmen are shitty people, how much they don’t really care about how fucked this country is, or how clear it is that, even though we might like it and much like a lot of other things we happen to like, Twitter isn’t a good thing for us.

Advertisements

March 29, 2009 at 6:55 PM 3 comments

The things I chose to keep to myself

– posted by russellmania3000

To the best of my knowledge, I had thought Sam was either in France or dead of bowel cancer, and for my intents and purposes, there isn’t a big distinction between either scenario. But she’s back States-side and if I know her at all she’ll be riding the I-hate-it-here wambulance for a spell, so I guess we’ll see if any further contributions from her are forthcoming. I’ve been terrible busy and working on and off on a long-form piece on Jim Henson, but this is more temporally pertinent, and if I were to go another week without writing anything, I may as well give Redikulus up for keeps.

Until earlier in March, I hadn’t gone to see anything on First Friday in several months; all too often I’m too late getting there or too disillusioned from the last time I went so I skip the galleries and go straight to the bar. This month, I avoided Old City altogether and opted for a few spots I’d never visited, which didn’t really help with the disillusionment but at least it wasn’t ass-to-ankles crowded.

First stop: Juanita & Juan’s for the launch of Megawords issue 10. In case visitors didn’t want to physically handle a zine, a copy had been unbound and the pages had been tacked to the wall, which really deprives you of the experience of paging through 112 pages of in crowd ego stroking that “reflects upon the exhibition’s thirty-one days as a physical outlet for creativity in a melange of color and black and white photographs, reproductions of storefront plans and proposals, and written reflections about the project.” In other words, a scenester scrap book, in effect a publication whose subject is itself. I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that this was perhaps not their strongest issue.

Second stop: Vox Populi had a exhibition called Bivouac which included: creepy drawings of Snow White; photos of constructivist/readymade-ish sculptures; film of guy telling molestation story while molesting wad of clay; film of naked Juggernauts; film of hands paging through book. There was also a performance/installation piece called Rented Time, consisting of: balloons; giant cigarette carton spinning on wall; guy in Halloween costume making funny noises, breaking in and out of character. Also three really scrawny guys talking about their weightlifting routines in the corner. Next please.

Third stop: Tiger Strike Asteroid. No link for this place, not a huge surprise, because the name should be a dead giveaway that it was just some art students’ loft. In one room they had hung what looked to be someone’s projects from a freshman year design curriculum, over-performing homework assignments but under-performing pieces of art.

Fourth stop: Toy Factory. Again no link, but again this was just another loft apartment with a name, and in some extra space adjacent the kitchen were a couple found object sculptures and some pseudo-Giger-ish drawings with Game Boys, Transformers and a smattering of other pop culture ironies-du-jour. The antique movie camera converted into a music box was a hugely redeeming factor to an otherwise lackluster display.

I should also mention something about the ambiance of these last two places. As if going into smaller spaces doesn’t already sometimes feel like you’re intruding on a private engagement, entering these last two spots, glorified residences as they were, definitely felt like I inadvertently stumbled into the wrong room. Tiger Strike Asteroid was confined and crowded and full of chatter, the place was pretty sparse, most signs of inhabitation had been tidied away, and there were definitely, like, senior citizens there, presumably done with Vox Populi and just poking around, so that wasn’t so jarring. But Toy Factory was far more awkward in that the place was larger, emptier (of people) and had all the trappings of a very cozy, comfy home. Lived in, is the phrase. A small crowd was to one side and speaking quietly amongst themselves if at all, lounging about rather than huddling together like you do when in unfamiliar territory, and one guy was in an adjacent living room watching a skateboard video like it was Tuesday. And there was a blind dog with cataracts the size of dinner plates. It felt too personal for comfort.

Contemporary art, like much of all art, is self-indulgent to an extent, but usually it comes off as an adverb, as in “this piece self-indulgently but successfully renders so and so” or “this guy paints really well, albeit a little self-indulgently.” But this month more than any other I can remember, the work I saw seemed to embrace self-indulgence in a new and profound way, as sort of the object noun/central thesis/raison d’etre. You know violence for violence’s sake or sex for sex’s sake? Well…yeah. How exquisitely postmodern. More on this to come.

Bonus round: Khmer Art Gallery. You know how in like every kung fu movie there’s some smarmy Brit who’s stealing truckloads of Chinese artifacts and selling them to “the institute” for major ducket? This place is like that dude’s hideout, only substitute Chinese for Cambodian and smarmy Brit for portly, middle-aged hippy lady. I mean, their collection is so extensive it feels pillaged.

Bonus round 2: More recently I popped over to the PMA, because, you know, what the hell, can’t be worse than First Friday. They have an exhibition on called CĂ©zanne and Beyond which is quite possibly worth the $24. Among others, there’s some lesser-known works by Picasso, Matisse, Jasper Johns, Max Beckmann, Giacometti, Gorky, Braque and Mondrian, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. There was also some Japanese photography and a small Gehry exhibition, which is neat if you’re into Gehry.

March 18, 2009 at 12:01 AM Leave a comment

Nifty Fifty Shmifties

everybody must parade!

everybody must parade!

I haven’t done a design or illustration post in a while, and I need to redeem myself as an illustrator. While paging through an old Print magazine, I came across a book review for Cartoon Modern: Style and Design in Fifties Animation. I could only see the cover, pictured above, but I knew that this book was for me, and I will soon be in ownership of it! The author, Amid Amidi has also put together a very nice blog, which I have now added to my ever extending list of bookmarks. This is a great supplement to those fans of the wonderful retro blog, GrainEdit, who wish they would update more. They definitely believe in quality over quantity, and I’m not complaining.

the hardest way to play!

the hardest way to play!

I’ve mentioned being into fun drawings before, whimsical characters and drawings. I have not mentioned Jim Flora, who’s work is pictured. He was a really great designer from the fifties. Now I also translate this appreciation to 50s animation as well. Fifties animation had a great style, that also featured off set inking. (Note for non-artists: off -set is when the ink color and the line don’t match up, aka off-registration printing) It also features really great textures and color themes and mixtures that are really unexpected. I wasn’t able to figure out why I was so drawn to this style until about a month ago when I saw a Mr. Magoo cartoon for the first time in several years.

caution: blind man with a temper stuff in traffic

caution: blind man with a temper stuck in traffic

When I was younger, I really had a thing for old men, Mr. Rogers and Jim Henson included. The cartoon old man Mr. Magoo is really great, and I know why I liked it so much. He’s such a strong willed little man for being blind, and he always knows what he’s talking about. I think I developed a great deal of my personality from watching Mr. Magoo navigate his way around the world. He’s very sassy, which I think I’m pretty sassy. He also inadvertently becomes the center of a catastrophe frequently. Plus he acts like he’s drunk the majority of the time, becoming increasingly demanding and condescending of other characters. The cartoon is a visual feast of stuff I’m about to rip off! Netflix will be delivering a DVD to me shortly.

I think I would like to live here

I think I would like to live here

This brings me to a studio who is cleaning up with their monopoly of this style. Invisible Creature is two guys, brothers, sitting around and drawing, having a grand old time. At least that’s what I imagine, but I know they must be working very hard to be producing the amount of work that they do. I mentioned Grain Edit earlier, and they were great enough to have featured Invisible Creature in one of their artist interviews. These interviews are really great because they usually feature some tips from the artist on how to create these visuals yourself. How wonderful is that? Wonderfully nice! I’m not so nice, I probably wouldn’t reveal my secrets.

Don & Ryan Clark of Invisible Creature

Don & Ryan Clark of Invisible Creature

WOW! Doesn’t this all look like so much fun. Well, it’s the weekend, go off and have yourself some!

-posted by samsquared

February 20, 2009 at 8:04 PM 2 comments

Non sequiturs: vol. 1

– posted by russellmania3000

The problem with reading on public transportation, other than that it can put you to sleep and cause you to miss your stop, is that you can’t look up and check out whether other people are impressed with what you’re reading. Because if you’re looking for around for potential people to chat up, you’re not really reading, are you? Don’t give me this I-read-for-enjoyment/self-betterment crap. Books are fashion accessories, same as everything else on your person.

Is it just me or are keffiyehs the new buffalo plaid button-downs? In fact, in the last couple days I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some oversized purple or aqua buffalo plaid neckerchiefs with tassels, which pretty much qualifies as keffiyeh in the same way Chipotle qualifies as Mexican food. And we wonder why they hate us.

Christoph Niemann - I LEGO NY

The thing about walking downhill on ice is that it’s really easy to start moving diagonally but once moving diagonally it’s really hard to straighten out again. Walking uphill on ice won’t put you in the same quandary.

A woman getting cat called and a man getting stared down by a gay guy are not the same kind of uncomfortable. They’re just not.

The thing about getting idea for a project is that most of the time you just accumulate the idea but never really follow through on it. Maybe you return to it a few months later and realize it’s a terrible idea. If you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky, you start thinking you’re some kind of great idea man when you’re not and maybe you turn it into a start-up and lose some VC firm’s coin and ruin the show for everyone else.

I know that deep down I’m an awful person because I’m not that upset about all the lives drunk driving has claimed, but I am upset that Charles Barkley is off the air. Police are such cockblockers. This segment in which Bob Costas talks 2008 with John McEnroe and Sir Charles on HBO is amazing. No disrespect to Chris Webber, but for the last several years Charles has been the best basketball pundit in business, and outside of Bill Simmons and Nathaniel Friedman a.k.a. Bethlehem Shoals perhaps the best pundit in sports.

equine ass

A while ago Sam was talking about viral marketing and mentioned Ray-Ban’s cow-birthing-a-dude spot. So the guys from Never Hide Films actually contacted us to mention they had 2 new spots out, which is, I mean, hey thanks I guess but we don’t care. Even though Disco Ballers is marginally amusing, once you have a guy coming out a cow vagina all covered in amniotic fluid and chunks of gross, you’ve pretty much maxed yourself out in advertising and you might as well pack up and hit the beach. I think Sam’s tongue-in-cheek/backhanded compliment might have been lost on them had they read her piece at all, but I don’t think they did, which makes me wonder how many times it occurs that a blog pokes fun at – or outright tears new rectums in – a particular ad or product or institution or whatever and said entity’s marketing/web team gets wind of the fact that they’re mentioned in the post but doesn’t pay attention to the context and tries to cozy up to said blog without even realizing they are poor bedfellows.

For some stupid reason I decided not to watch the AC Milan game on Sunday and instead go to the Punk Rock Flea Market, which was so crowded that even if I had wanted to buy something, I doubt I’d have been able to reach for my wallet without groping three asses that were way too young for me to be groping. Every third person smelled of reefer or of just plain body stank. I spotted a mug shaped like a tree trunk with an owl peeking out of a knot in the side, which was actually kind of cool and surely one of a kind, but no, the girl working that table told me she was only selling that in a set of six. So what she meant by that was she wasn’t going to be selling them at all.

February 3, 2009 at 9:20 PM Leave a comment

coming soon: space in your face!

nebulaaaahhhhhhzzzzz

nebulaaaahhhhhhzzzzz

No, not this space. Although, space pictures are really cool. I’m a big fan of nebulae, because it’s like making shapes out of clouds, only they are sweeter. Because they come in super radical colors, and plus that’s where stars are born. That’s all pretty badass to me, but then again, I still love going to the planetarium. Don’t hate.

theselby.com

theselby.com

Also,this interior space is also not in your face. It could be. I wasted several hours looking at these interiors. Owned by people who presumably have cooler lives than I do. (Or at least nicer houses and apartments). The photography is truly interesting. I can thank one of my favorite online writers for this find, Rosecrans Baldwin. He writes for the Digital Ramble column in the New York Time Magazine’s The Moment. He’s coming out with a book later this year, so I’ll keep you posted on that. For now you, can also catch him on The Morning News, an online publication that he helped to start in 1999.

The space I’m talking about is the one being carved out by N.A.S.A. It’s okay, I also thought that our space program might be releasing an album of ambient space noises, asteroids colliding, or secrets hidden alien tracks recorded for the past 30 years. It’s actually a collaboration between two L.A. based DJs and their friends. If that saying is true about the company you keep, this album is going to be awesome. Their new single, Money (see video below) is going to be making them just that. It features David Byrne, Chuck D, Ras Congo, Seu Jorge, and Z-trip. If that’s not enough for you, their album is going to be released featuring covers by five artists: Shepard Fairey, Marcel Dzama, Sage Vaughn, The Date Farmers, and Mark Gonzales.

Sidenote: Russ really likes how I manage to reference Shepard Fairey all the time. It’s not my fault he’s popular and people love to blog about him, take pictures of his installations, and crowd his openings. So in an attempt to write about other things I’m interested in, it was only fitting that Shepard Fairey ironically show up anyway! I heard he designed this poster people may have heard about, it had to do with our new president. I also heard that the poster is now in the National Portrait Gallery.

inauguration installation

inauguration installation

Last spring I chased two of my favorite men, (who are also extraordinarily fast walkers, it’s a light jog of a pace for anyone of the short legged nature) around the galleries in New York . One of the best shows I’ve ever seen was by one of N.A.S.A.’s cover artists at the David Zwirner Gallery. Marcel Dzama’s Even the Ghost of the Past was on display, with the first room dedicated to paintings and sketchbooks. The second room was dark with two displays of his sculptural work. The third room was a theatre for a black and white video installation. One of the things he is most noted for is his muted color palette, which is attributed to his using a root-beer paint for the variations in browns he achieves. He also kept amazing company in a collective known as The Royal Art Lodge, with Michael Dumontier, Neil Farber, Drue Langlois, Jonathan Pylypchuk, and Adrian Williams. Marcel features work in several galleries. I’ve seen some minature sculptures at a gallery in Philadelphia, as well as a print of his featured in a show at F.U.E.L. gallery. His sculptural work and video is as equally and as darkly enchanting as the rest of his work.

Owl Troubles, 2003

Owl Troubles, 2003

May I suggest keeping good company? It seems to be working out for everyone else.

-posted by samsquared

January 26, 2009 at 8:59 PM Leave a comment

Adventures in consumption

posted by russellmania3000

We are apparently in the throes of a recession. I wouldn’t know. But I have little doubt that at this point we’re mostly doing it to ourselves. Forget whatever weak housing markets or flawed “financial instruments” or incorrect models you’ve been told of to explain away why. You know what causes a recession to continue? Talking about the recession every goddamn day.

I find it odd that people respond to economic downturn by saving more money, since our economy is defined pretty much by how much we spend, not how much we have. The funny part – as in funny strange, not funny ha ha – is that, if you buy into the Paradox of Thrift, by spending less we actually save less than if we were to spend normally. I know that seems illogical but that is why something like this is called a paradox rather than, say, a law.

Though Sam has lately been on some sort of crazed anti-consumerist crusade, I haven’t personally felt the recession, at least not yet, so I recently posted on some of the newly purchased artwork that I’ve hung in my home, and today I’d like to continue giving props to the creative individuals who have tricked me into giving them my goddamn chips, but this time for neat things that cannot be framed and hung on walls. It’s not my intention to turn Redikulus into some kind of NOTCOT-ish celebration of materialism. I’m simply doing my patriotic duty to stimulate the economy.

By the way, “stimulus package” is my new favorite sexual euphemism. Try that one on and see if it doesn’t tickle you ever so slightly, you gigglepuss you. Okay here we go.

Books

Malfunction - Eric Joyner

I’m currently trudging through Infinite Jest and I have Sidewalk, Collapse, and Godel Escher Bach waiting in the wings. I know, some light recreational reading. So I picked up some lighthearted fare to refresh me when I need a break. I found this Giger book at a local comic shop and it’s way cheaper than any other Giger book you’ll find but just as comprehensive, good quality reproductions and all that. While I was there I picked up Flight Vol. 5 and Eric Joyner’s Robots & Donuts. Flight is without a doubt the most gorgeous and heart-warming series of comic anthologies I’ve ever seen, an absolute joy to look at and read. And Eric Joyner is a terrific painter, even if you’re not into robots or vintage toys.

Kobe - FreeDarko

But far and away the best book purchase I’ve made lately is FreeDarko‘s Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac. This book has been getting a lot of good press from every angle, but I’m not sure about this “you don’t have to like basketball to like this book” idea that a lot of reviewers have been floating. I work in the NBA so whether I like basketball or not isn’t really up to me, but the Almanac makes me like it more but for bizarre, twisted reasons. The book is an otherworldly amalgam of gorgeous illustration, inventively hilarious charts and sports writing that intelligently weaves in science, history, art, and mythology to paint players as cosmic archetypes of style and super- (or sub-) human feats. Their blog is good, but doesn’t even hint at the analytic onslaught the reader is in store for. And the authors occasionally, though more so in the blog or other writing, let the fact that they’re Jewish peek through, which is … what’s the word I’m looking for … charming.

Clothes

Candy Floss

My man Gene, who works up at Dock Street where they make delicious beer and pizza, has a fledgling clothing line going called Candy Floss, and their stuff ain’t cheap but it’s quality. FreeDarko and Damon Soule also make classy shirts in addition to their prints, books, toys, etc.

World of Goo

Games

At a younger age, I used to insist that video games were an art form, but now that this idea is largely accepted and I’ve moved on from wanting to design them for a living, I’ve stopped evangelizing on this. With more demands on my time and better things to do, I don’t really have as much interest in games as I used to. But every now and then, a game comes along that reminds me of both why I loved them so much and the creative potential in the medium. Right now that game is 2D Boy‘s World of Goo. It’s also gotten press and a few award nods lately, though some of you may have been hip to this thing back when it was Tower of Goo at Carnegie Mellon’s Experimental Gameplay Project. You won’t do much better than this for $15 (Wii) to $20 (Mac/PC). It’s got intelligence, humor, charming visual direction, strangely touching music, memorable levels and a well-designed progression of difficulty and physics-based play mechanics. I do so hope 2D Boy makes fleshing out The Swarm their next project. Also, though it’s not by Kyle Gabler and it probably wouldn’t make a good finished product, On a Rainy Day is pretty great batty fun.

Music

It’s been over a month since I attended Blip but I’m still sort of on a chiptune/electronic music kick, though much less than in the days immediately following. Except for a few rare instances, I haven’t been in the habit of paying for music for many years. So as luck would have it, most of these 8-bit artists are total computer nerds and put out a lot of their music for free online anyway. Of the guys I haven’t already given nods to, recently I’ve been favoring Trash80, Stu, and Nullsleep. Speaking of which, Nullsleep is playing 8static (who knew there was a Philly scene for this stuff? Not I.) on Feb 7, and Starscream are no slouches either so I’d consider showing up if I were you.

January 19, 2009 at 4:47 PM Leave a comment

What’s on your wall?

posted by russellmania3000

Though ill-advised as I was still recovering from food poisoning, I went down to National Mechanics on Saturday for Sam’s birthday, to have a beer and put in my face time. She introduced me to a friend who upon hearing my name said something to the effect of “oh, the other half of the blog, the half who never updates.” I feel stupid trotting out the quality-over-quantity clichĂ©, but not so stupid that I won’t do it. And if one was to compare word count rather than number of updates, we’d be about even anyway. Irregardless nonetheless…

Remember the “what’s in your tray?” game? You might not; it had a pretty short shelf life during the 1990s. If you were of that flirty young age but old enough to have a multi-disc CD changer, you could use this to get to know someone on a completely superficial level. It was handy since most people with decent taste in music had trouble naming favorites, there was a good chance a guilty pleasure would slip in, and the number of albums named would speak to economic status. Sadly, it was quickly phased out by the “what’s in your playlist?” game, which is still played competitively today.

Note: this is not to be confused with this variant of the “what’s in your tray?” game. Nerds.

As people get older, taste in music becomes an increasingly poor measure of character, so I’ve taken to making note of the things people use to decorate their living space. It’s rather shameful when someone hasn’t graduated beyond the typical dorm room Pulp Fiction/Animal House/Hendrix/Floyd poster, but it’s a quick way of knowing I won’t have to remember someone’s name.

I put a decent amount of effort into adorning my apartment and office and, especially now that I make a modest living, I like to throw artists some duckets when I find something deserving of my precious little wall space. I know a lot of artists will hang their work in their own homes, but I have a policy against that. I guess they’d say that looking at their work constantly forces them to be critical of it and improve themselves, but I’d argue that it makes you either self-satisfied or simply reminds you of old lines of thought and hinders new ones. Anyway. Some of the things I hang I’ve had since I was a small child, but I’ve recently acquired some new stuff and I feel I should give the artists their due.

New York

I rearranged a few walls to make room for a pair of eBoy posters, which are delightfully playful and colorful and HUGE! The nice thing about pixel art is that it can be enlarged quite a bit without losing clarity. They’re moderately priced if you grab them from a US reseller. But you may notice that they are available only in really large and non-standard sizes, sizes that would cost over $100 to get a fitting poster frame. There’s something disconcerting about paying over four times the coin for a frame than for the piece in it. What to do, what to do?

Fortunately I happened across these handy Poster Hangers which were much cheaper and did the trick nicely. Granted, you wouldn’t want to use these for something really nice unless you got it laminated or something. But they offer a little protection for the top and bottom edges and look a hell of a lot nicer than tacking something to the wall.

Speaking of tacking to the wall. Ever wonder what to do with all those postcards you get from show openings at galleries? You know, the ones you take thinking to yourself “this looks really cool, I’m gonna hang this up or use it in a collage or something” but you never do, they just sit in a folder or at the bottom of a drawer or on a shelf collecting dust. Postcard mobile, bitches! It drives cats bananas.

little blind rat

Without a doubt my favorite additions are a pair of Damon Soule prints. I saw his work several years ago at the Nexus Gallery, before they were rudely displaced from their home in Old City by some fucking hair salon. Please give his work a look; the prints are lovely but do not nearly do justice to the other seminal examples he has on virtual display. He even included a little ink drawing on sketch paper in the package. What a guy. Guess where that is? Postcard mobile, bitches!

I’m currently in the market for a Brute! poster, but not that one. Anyone have any leads? I’m coming up pretty dry. I’ve been chatting with Aidan Hughes himself on Facebook (I know, right?!), where he has a pretty sweet Manhattan Short Film Festival poster for sale, but he says he’s launching a store on his site in the coming weeks, so I guess I can hold out.

So what’s the guilty pleasure in my apartment? The framed equivalent of my Juno Reactor CDs? It could be the Softer World print. Or the Ben Shahn posters. Or the alphabet made of butterfly wings. Or the Pixar colorscript. No no. Child’s play. Behold:

fuck yes

I have no idea what this is or who to attribute it to. It was given to me by a crazy old friend who brought it from Seattle. There’s no writing anywhere on the goddamn thing, no clues. I think “motorcycle warrior” was the second or third thing I tried in Google image search and lo, there was my poster at like number 2. I shit you not. I love this thing. It’s right next to my head when I wake up, so if you were ever to sleep with me, it would be right next to your head too, and that’s something you’d have to take into consideration.

So, I pose the question to you, dear internet denizen: what’s on your wall?

Update: 1/13/2009, 3:47 PM – An old college buddy has informed me that my most prized piece of artwork is in fact the source illustration from the poster for George A. Romero’s 1981 film Knightriders, a movie I’ve never seen, but now I suppose I must. So, um, thanks to Max, the human compendium of B movies.

January 12, 2009 at 4:37 PM Leave a comment

Older Posts


Categories

Feeds