Inspired by the ongoing destruction of pre-WW2 craftsman houses in Portland Oregon (my home). Invariably they are replaced by pastiche replicas that are 50% bigger than the surrounding homes, with a two car garage mutilating the pavement, or worse, a modern carbuncle that looks like something from an Orwellian dystopia - built to withstand a zombie apocalypse.
When the signage is put up by the builders, there is guaranteed to be a blurb about the new monstrosity being 'green' or 'energy efficient'.
(The poem in the image above is by the Irish poet
Michael Hartnett. Though written to describe the Finns, it applies to
many displaced and colonised peoples).
Messy Nessy article about the photographs of
Edward Curtis, who saw the rapidly disappearing way of life of the North
American Natives, and photographed it. A sad story from every angle.
In 1913, Curtis’ unlikely financier, J.P. Morgan died suddenly. The banker’s son significantly cut sponsorship which soon forced Curtis to abandon his work. During the years he had been away, the photographer’s absence has taken on toll on his family life and several years after his funding dried up, his wife Clara filed for divorce. She was awarded his studio and the family home but Curtis made sure she wouldn’t get his work. Together with his daughter, he made copies of some of his glass plate negatives and then destroyed the originals.
But Curtis was already a ruined man. In a last-ditch attempt, he had tried to make a motion picture for Hollywood, but the film flopped, along with his $75,000 investment. The American Museum of Natural History bought the rights to the movie for $1,500. He then tried to strike a deal with the Morgan Company that saw him give up all his copyrights on the images for The North American Indian in exchange for some minimal funding to return to his field work.
But it was too late, the traditional tribal life he had visited in his earlier career had disappeared...
Today, the art of the magazine cover has been vanquished by celebrity worship and bad taste. Designers are simply fulfilling the dictates of their industry, not unlike the paint person on an auto assembly line. Innovation, creative expression, or even cleverness has been mostly abandoned. Artistic considerations are limited to how much retouching the celebrity headshot requires in Photoshop and how many headlines can be crammed in before the cover looks too "busy." The result: A world in which it's difficult to tell the difference between Playboy and Harper's Bazaar without cracking them open.
Today, you'd search in vain for a magazine that commissions covers like those. The best-designed mass circulation American magazines today - Details, GQ, Vanity Fair and, yes, Esquire - usually feature a really good photograph by a really good photographer of someone who has a new movie out, surrounded by handsome, often inventive typography. The worst magazines have a crummy picture of someone who has just been through some kind of scandal, surrounded by really awful typography ... today I also think that there is simply a general distaste for reckless visual ideas.
Why has the mainstream magazine publishing industry come to this artistic nadir?
Publishers would tell you that the only way they can compete with television and the Internet is through the magic drawing-power of celebrities. When faced with a choice between an illustrated cover or Julia Roberts, consumers will pick Julia every time, they say. Publishers may be right–but why did uninspired shots of celebrities promoting their latest products become the only answer? Why did putting almost the entire contents page on the cover become required? What's worse about these simple-minded solutions is that not many designers or editors trouble themselves over the inherent esthetic failings–this is the only way they've ever known magazines to be, so how can they be any different?
Neither passage explains why the decline happened when it did.
One of my favourite shows from the mid 1990s was 'Dr. Katz'. The style isn't
typical of recent American TV, as it has a quiet pace, wit, absurd
humour and charm over frenentic tricks and loud gags. Wiki:
Dr. Katz was a professional psychotherapist who had famous comedians and
actors as patients, usually two per episode. The comedians' therapy sessions
generally consisted of them doing their onstage material while Dr. Katz
offered insights or simply let them rant. Meanwhile, therapy sessions
featuring actors and actresses offered more interpersonal dialogue between
Katz and his patient to better suit their predisposition. Dr. Katz is a very
laid-back, well-intentioned man who enjoys playing the guitar and spending
time at the bar with his friend Stanley and the bartender, Julie.
Interspersed with these scenes were scenes involving Dr. Katz's daily life,
which included his aimless, childish 24-year-old son, Ben (Jon Benjamin),
his uninterested and unhelpful secretary, Laura (Laura Silverman), and his
two friends: Stanley (Will LeBow), and the barmaid, Julie, voiced by one of
the show's producers, Julianne Shapiro. In later episodes, Todd (Todd
Barry), the video store clerk, became a regular character.
Each show would typically begin with Dr. Katz and Ben at breakfast and
initiating a plotline. These plots included events like Ben attempting to
become a radio personality, believing he is in possession of ESP, or the
moral conundrum he suffers after receiving a chain letter. The development
of these plotlines would occur in alternation with the segments between Dr.
Katz and his guests.
The show would end in a similar way each week: while Dr. Katz was in a
session with a patient, music signaling the close of the show would begin to
play. Katz would acknowledge it by saying, "Whoops, you know what the music
means... our time is up" or some variant thereof.
On New Year's Day 1934, Fr. Conifrey led a march through Mohill, County Leitrim, in which demonstrators shouted "down with jazz" and "out with paganism" and called on the government to close the dance halls and ban all foreign dances in Ireland.
De Valera sent a representative to the rally and wrote a letter of support.
Jazz, the campaign argued, was "abominable" music that originated in central Africa and was exported to the West by "a gang of wealthy Bolshevists in the USSR to strike at church civilisation throughout the world."
Jazz was an "engine of hell" deployed to do the devil's work. The Gaelic League weighed in on the day with an attack on then-Minister of Finance Seán MacEntee, who, in allowing jazz to be broadcast on Radio Eireann, was "selling the musical soul of the nation for the dividends of sponsored jazz programmes.
This documentary looks back at that anti jazz campaign.
Poster: Dublin c.840~c.1540 'The years of mediaeval growth'.
During the years 1986-88 I worked for my uncle
Liam O Connor, who was a good friend of the poets
and Michael Hartnett. Liam had this
poster hanging in his studio, and it was the one possession of his that I wanted
after his death in 2010.
Click on the image above for the full sized version, which is very large.
The poster is from the late 1970s, so no doubt some of the archaeology is out
of date, but there's a great deal of information in it that will be of interest
to anyone familiar with Dublin. Note 'The Green Area of St. Stephen', which is
now St. Stephen's Green - this will allow moderns to locate the general area of
today's Grafton Street. Also note that hangman's lane and the gibbet mede are
very close to today's Four Courts, so that part of Dublin has had the same
function for at least 500 years. Also, Dolphin's Barn is 'Dolfynesberne' - the
story that it was named after the French Dauphin being a myth, sadly (Dolphyne
was a family who owned a storehouse there). Thomas Street is still there - and
was where I spent a farcical 9 months in a so-called Art College in the mid
I spent about 2 weeks working on the image in Photoshop, cleaning it up,
removing scratches and creases, fixing the contrast.
Comparison of the famous hospital scene in the movie 'Lawrence of Arabia' with
the actual account given by T.E. Lawrence in 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom':
The scene makes Lawrence seem to be callous, deranged and incompetent.
Contrast this with his personal account
from 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom':
At lunch an Australian doctor implored me, for the sake of humanity, to take
notice of the Turkish hospital. I ran over in my mind our three hospitals, the
military, the civil, the missionary, and told him they were cared for as well as
our means allowed. The Arabs could not invent drugs, nor could Chauvel give them
to us. He enlarged further; describing an enormous range of filthy buildings
without a single medical officer or orderly, packed with dead and dying; mainly
dysentery cases, but at least some typhoid; and, it was only to be hoped, no
typhus or cholera.
In his descriptions I recognized the Turkish barracks, occupied by two
Australian companies of town reserve. Were there sentries at the gates? Yes, he
said, that was the place, but: it was full of Turkish sick. I walked across and
parleyed with the guard, who distrusted my single appearance on foot. They had
orders to keep out all natives lest they massacre the patients--a
misapprehension of the Arab fashion of making war. At last my English speech got
me past the little lodge whose garden was filled with two hundred wretched
prisoners in exhaustion and despair.
This is the point where the book and the film diverge - as Lawrence deals with the situation:
'To Boldly Grow' is the third of five sequences from the film
Tomorrow' (34m) presented here by itself as a single work.
TBG works as a stand-alone, because it focuses on the central problem raised by
TNT: the impossibility of infinite growth on a finite planet (such a statement
should not be controversial, but for a great many people today, it is
A little joy and strangeness came into my childhood around 1980 with the arrival of
'The Unexplained', a publication by Orbis. 165 issues were published; contributors / consultants / editors included Peter Brookesmith, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Professor A. J. Ellison, Brian Innes, Colin Wilson and Rupert Sheldrake. The tone of the magazine, contrary to popular perception, was more agnostic - many phenomena were actually debunked in the magazine, others left open.
I recently re-acquired my collection. This is the scan I made of issue #1. I'd like to make more - but it does take a shocking amount of time. Depends on how badly people squeak for episode #2.
Notice the absence of adverts (barring the one for the binder on the back
cover). Also notice the simplicity of the design/layout. There are rarely more
than two fonts per page, the text is spaced out for legibility, and there are no
stapled inserts with free samples for mens' cologne.
In the remarkable novella 'The Machine Stops' (1909), E.M. Forster described a system that
very closely resembles the internet and modern life.
from THE MACHINE STOPS by E.M. Forster (1909)
Then she generated the light, and the sight of her room, flooded with radiance and studded with electric
buttons, revived her. There were buttons and switches everywhere - buttons to call for food for music,
for clothing. There was the hot-bath button, by pressure of which a basin of (imitation) marble rose out
of the floor, filled to the brim with a warm deodorized liquid. There was the cold-bath button. There was
the button that produced literature. and there were of course the buttons by which she communicated with
her friends. The room, though it contained nothing, was in touch with all that she cared for in the world.
Vashanti"s next move was to turn off the isolation switch, and all the accumulations of the last three
minutes burst upon her. The room was filled with the noise of bells, and speaking-tubes. What was the new
food like? Could she recommend it? Has she had any ideas lately? Might one tell her one's own ideas? Would
she make an engagement to visit the public nurseries at an early date? - say this day month.
To most of these questions she replied with irritation - a growing quality in that accelerated age.
She said that the new food was horrible. That she could not visit the public nurseries through press of
engagements. That she had no ideas of her own but had just been told one-that four stars and three in the middle
were like a man: she doubted there was much in it. Then she switched off her correspondents, for it was time to
deliver her lecture on Australian music.