Comment

Helvetica hunt

This weekend I finally got around to watching Gary Hustwit's Helvetica documentary. Super interesting by the way, much recommended.

A longtime fan of comedic standing and pointing, my favourite part was Lars Müller (author of Helvetica: Homage to a Typeface) on a font-hunt around the streets of East London. Note the joy on Keep Clear.

Comment

Comment

Bruce Chatwin's deep freeze

Excerpt from a letter to his fiancée Elizabeth Chanler, 22 July 1965
From Under the Sun: The Letters of Bruce Chatwin

Now all week I have been instructed about the evils of paganism and heresy. I have learned the implications of life everlasting, the light of Heaven, the darkness of Hell, and the mist of Purgatory. But I now find myself faced with the greatest HERESY known to man, the DEEP FREEZE.

Imagine if you were put in a deep freeze. Your outward form might remain, but where would your soul be? Flitting about the Fields of Asphodels or knocking at the Golden gate. But vegetables have no souls; they die. It is a major article of my faith never to eat dead vegetables. A doctor friend of mine nearly dropped down dead in Harley Street as a result of eating dead vegetables. It is a complaint known as scarlatina. So give up all this nonsense of a deep freeze, do not deprive me of the pleasure of eating fresh food in its due season and learn to make a proper apple pie and the best chowder.

xxxx B



Comment

Comment

Did you find them?

 

Guys, enough! This weird template advertising swaps personality for "You're all different and awesome. Anyhoo, use our product". Hoping it's just about run its course.

(Update, March 2016: it has not run its course)

(June 2016: No AXE, nooo!)

Comment

Comment

Give vultures a chance

Last Friday I did some falconry with The Hawking Centre. One of the birds we met and flew was Morticia the hooded vulture—here she is in the photos. Our falconer Katie declared the vultures to be her hands-down favourites, over and above the majestic eagles, savvy harris hawks and fluffy barn owls. She's taken it upon herself to change people's perceptions of this misunderstood bird, portrayed in myriad cartoons as the opportunistic, stubble-headed baddie, beak red with entrails.

We had to fly Morticia from one person to another (as opposed to between trees and distant landing posts, like the other birds), because left to her own devices she will trot along the ground behind you like an obedient puppy. When Morticia is fetched from her aviary, gets her dinner or enjoys hugs with her favourite falconer, she blushes bright pink. You can see this in the picture above. 

In the wild, the vulture has a crucial role: clearing up diseased carrion. Apparently they can eat carcasses infected with TB, cholera, even anthrax bacteria and be completely unaffected, halting the spread of these potentially fatal diseases. They very rarely attack healthy or living animals. Also they have a super-cute running style and very fancy neck plumage.

So there you have it, the case for the misunderstood scavenger. 

Comment

Comment

Ivy Beatz


Dear Gran,
How are you?
We’re all good here..still working hard. Thanks for the £30. How’s it going with the new stylus? Hope it’s the right one. Mum sent me details of what you wanted but there were so many to choose from. Next time you come up we’ll have to take you to the shop. It’s in Soho near that pub you like..
Heard any standout tunes lately? I’ve been listening to Kendrick Lamar’s new album, also some nice sounds on Kitsune New Faces – have a listen when you have chance.
We’re moving soon, I’ll send you the new address once we’re there. Look forward to hearing all the news.
Love,
John x

……………………………………………………

To John,
Hello love. Thank you for the letter it was lovely to hear from you.
I am getting on very well with the new stylus! Thoroughly spoilt this Christmas I think. I still have the manicure from your mother, although I think I may have to pass it on to someone at the club. The last time I went I had those gels and I couldn’t handle my vinyl.
Thank you for recommending “Kitsune New Faces”. I particularly enjoyed “Shot” by “To Be Frank” and played it on Tuesday at the bingo. Most people seemed to like it – except Cheryl. But she never likes anything, she’s a miserable bugger stuck in her ways. Anyhow.
Now I have a recommendation for you. Have you heard a band called “Mo Kolours” (it’s supposed to be a K not a C). They have a song called “Sumerian Mother” that I very much like. I played it last week and mixed it with the melody from “Summertime”, you know Ella Fitzgerald. Let me see if I can get my internet working and I’ll load it onto Soundcloud for you.
Better dash, off to visit Linda. I will give you a ring next week.
Lots of love,
Gran
xx
PS I did listen to Mr Lamar but too much cussing for me!

Comment

Comment

"Opel's 54 horse powerplant runs on peanuts"

On a trip to the States last year, I stayed in an airbnb flat in Washington and was pleased to find a stack of coffee-stained magazines from the 60s. Flicking through, it struck me how accomplished, persuasive and charming the ad copy was, in comparison with most of what we read today. It's not uncommon to find two or three cracking one-liners (I've underlined some) in each.

Reading these, I can't help feeling that our ads have become lazy. Way too many brands that simply don't suit epic, life-affirming campaigns (no names mentioned Nurofen. Everyone takes ibuprofen, not just those who "live a great story") are passing up the chance for some good old seduction. I would've considered a Buick Opel for that horsepower line alone.

Here's one for Contac, a brand of aspirin.

What every aspirin taker should know about Contac.
You can't beat aspirin. For aches. For fever.
But if you nurse colds on aspirin alone, here's what you're missing: Relief from drippy sniffles. Relief from messy, germ-spreading sneezes. Relief from the miseries of a stuffy nose.
On the other hand...
If you catch your cold early with Contac - and keep up the Contac throughout your cold - you can head off these bothersome symptoms before they take over. You may never even feel the worst part of your cold.
Get Contac at your pharmacy. And try taking it early. You'll be amazed at how much of your miserable cold you can miss.

Now for some whisky-

One sip and you'll know why we want everyone to know just who it is that makes this Bourbon.
We put a lot of art and science into the making of this Bourbon. During every step of the distilling process, we're always checking and double-checking. What do we get for our troubles? The same thing you get. A more faultless and better tasting Bourbon. Remember our name. "Canada Dry Bourbon". (It's not the kind of folksy name Bourbon-drinkers are used to, but it sure leaves a good taste in your mouth.)

Actually, whisky seems to be one of the few products that's held onto "old fashioned", long-form copy. This recent one for JD shares a few similarities with Canada Dry.

Of course we all know about VW's iconic style, but here's one - just because it's lovely to read.

Pick the right day to test drive a VW and you'll have the road to yourself.
Back when the weather was better, everyone was inviting you to come in and test drive their new whatevers. But now that the weather isn't so hot (and a test drive is really a test), the invitations have dropped off sharply.
Now maybe you can spare a little time to try out the new Volkswagen.
Not right this minute. Wait for a nice lousy day. The next time it's snowing or slushing or something like that, drive down to your VW dealer. (If you can make it in your car.)
He'll be happy to take you out and show you how a Volkswagen works when hardly anything else does.
How the weight of the motor on the rear wheels makes the VW dig in and go, in the snow or the mud, or even on ice.
As you pass all the stranded cars that passed their test drives in balmier days, he'll tell you about the VW's other cold-weather comforts.
The air-cooled motor. It doesn't freeze over, so it doesn't need anti-freeze or a winter thermostat.
And if you have to leave the car out on a cold wet night, it's got four coats of paint and a sealed bottom to keep it cozy.
You've even got an edge with a Volkswagen if the worst happens and you get stuck.
What could be easier to push?

And something a little more affordable for the twentysomethings:

Could it be because the Opel Kadett is General Motors' lowest-priced car? That and much more. Opels are sold and serviced by more than 1200 Buick-Opel Dealers throughout America.
Opel's new Sport Coupe has smart fastback styling yet offers standard features other car buyers pay extra for. Like all-vinyl bucket seats, wall-to-wall carpeting, clock, front and rear ashtrays and armrests.
Like safety-features including a telescoping lower steering shaft, four-way hazard warning system, front and rear seat belts and front seatback latches. Opel's 54 horse powerplant runs on peanuts.
Popular? Good-looking? Easy on the pocketbook? All of these. If you want a car that looks and acts more expensive than it is, see your Buick-Open dealer. He may play our elephant song for you.

And finally, an ode to electric living, from the Edison Institute.

Flameless home heating - so cozy and clean - is part of the joy of Total Electric Living.
What happens when you change to modern flameless electric heat?
You get flameless heat that's gentle, even and truly comfortable. Heat that's as clean and quiet as electric light. Your whole home stays clean - curtains, walls, window sills...everything.
And no heating system is as dependable and efficient. Maintenance and repairs stay low because there are few or no moving parts. And fuel dollars are not wasted up the chimney in smoke.
Automatic flameless heating offers you the widest variety of systems to choose from, many with individual room temperature control.
So make a clean break with the past...and old-fashioned fuel-fired systems. Check into the modern benefits of flameless electric home heating.
More than 2,500,000 families have already found electric heating reasonable to own and operate. And there's a system to fit any home.
Talk it over with your electric utility company - and start on your way to the joy of Total Electric Living.

Comment

Comment

Land of plenty

Excess is defined as an amount of something that is more than necessary, permitted, or desirable.

On a recent US road trip I marvelled (as always) at the complete and utter abandonment of “necessary”, and the ever-expanding nature of “permitted” and “desirable”.

Utz’s 32oz Cheese Ball barrel. 1120 cheese balls, 4160 calories, 64g saturated fat, 8320mg sodium.

Utz’s 32oz Cheese Ball barrel. 1120 cheese balls, 4160 calories, 64g saturated fat, 8320mg sodium.

We’re gonna need a bigger ark.

We’re gonna need a bigger ark.

Gherkin section of a standard supermarket.

Gherkin section of a standard supermarket.

The Venti (or Trenta) Angry Bird, 16″ round

The Venti (or Trenta) Angry Bird, 16″ round

Reese’s T-shirt, headphones (two kinds) and scented candle.

Reese’s T-shirt, headphones (two kinds) and scented candle.

If you’re not used to it, having so much choice in every purchase decision is kind of incredible. I wandered around Walmart for hours, taking in the inexhaustible categories of everything.

This is something that Malcolm Gladwell talks about in Choice, happiness and spaghetti sauce: how Howard Moskowitz helped the food industry to understand that people don’t know what they want. About horizontal segmentation, about how there’s no “good” or “bad” mustard, just different types of mustard to suit different types of people. Democratizing the way people thought about taste, and embracing – through product variety – the diversity of human beings. Which I guess means that in the UK we are less embracing of diversity? Or at least that we’re just starting to catch up?

It would be interesting to look at how this affects national psyches. Does having exactly what we want all the time make us better people? To what extent has the obesity epidemic in the US been caused by the important of choice outweighing the dangers of excess?

Comment