WAITS/CORBIJN ’77-’11 is a new book of photographs by singer/ songwriter/ actor/ poet/ artist Tom Waits and photographer/ director Anton Corbijn taken over the course of a 35-year friendship and collaboration. Notes the publisher’s blurb:
Observations (& Inspirations)
If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso
Gertrude Stein, “If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso” (1923). The artist gets artisted upon. Upon the artist. Visited by she who by her by she who so by words visits upon. She who by words. Artisted upon visit upon by words she who by words unpaints his paint.
Attention all language purists! Stephen Fry is “an English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, film director, activist, and board member of Norwich City Football Club” (Wikipedia).
In this video, Fry’s rant about language has been typographically animated by Matt Rogers. Fry and Rogers have created a beautiful and funny visual and verbal feast about the joy of playing with language.
Language is, after all, just a game that shouldn’t be taken so seriously. Language is messy, and playing with language is fun. Let’s play!
The brand positioning challenge
When naming, it’s tempting to create a well-defined, buttoned-down brand position. You may be rigidly specific down to the smallest detail. This positioning stance is often the outgrowth of a process in which competing client factions allow too many cooks in the kitchen. These “cooks” often dictate an overwhelming number of positioning “requirements” to satisfy each faction. This is a dangerous practice. It can lead to the creation of an empty set. Conflicting “rules” cancel each other out. They leave a hollow space where no possible name can exist. Here’s an example, exaggerated to make a point:
Brand Mascots: Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works Skunk
A wonderful account of the origins of the “mysterious and malodorous place deep in the forest” called the “Skunk Works,” courtesy of Lockheed Martin:
Bowie cuts it up with Burroughs
In 1974, Bowie read Nova Express by William S. Burroughs, met with Burroughs (Beat Godfather Meets Glitter Mainman, Rolling Stone, February 28, 1974), and was influenced by Burrough’s “cut up” writing technique.
Bowie employed the cut up method to write the lyrics for “Blackout,” which appears on the 1977 album Heroes:
France Gall has one of the best stage names ever. Often dismissed as a mid-1960s “baby pop” singing “doll” of the immortal and twisted Serge Gainsbourg, she was born Isabelle Geneviève Marie Anne Gall on 9 October 1947 in Paris, France, and managed to create (or was given) a galling Gallic name that James Joyce would have been proud to have coined. Gall was (is?) a popular French “yé-yé” singer.
I love France Gall’s song, “Laisse tomber les filles” (“Stop messing around with the girls”), written by Gainsbourg, and the pre-music-video video of the song below, from 1964 (age 17!), is wonderful, like a time capsule from a vanished world. Possibly the first example of really great terrible lip-synching.
~Arno Schmidt, Zettels Traum [Quoted/translated in Innovative Fiction Magazine]
About the project, Byrd said: “I mean this album seriously. Because of my own background, I’ve always wanted to write an entire album of spiritual-like pieces. The most accurate way I can describe what we were all trying to do is that this is a modern hymnal. In an earlier period, the New Orleans jazzmen would often play religious music for exactly what it was – but with their own jazz textures and techniques added. Now, as modern jazzmen, we’re also approaching this tradition with respect and great pleasure.”
Diogenes is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes papers four times a year in the field of Philosophy and the Humanities. It has been publishing since 1953, when issue No. 3, below, was published. The great cover was from famed modernist designer Alvin Lustig (1915-1955), who trained at the Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles and briefly studied with Frank Lloyd Wright. Sadly, this journal no longer hires great designers to make interesting covers, as confirmed by the website link above.
The classic Bigfoot image is from a 1967 film by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin, at Bluff Creek in Northern California (see video below). The Bigfoot might be fake, but the scarred and battered film stock is the real deal, real enough perhaps to inspire a few new Hipstamatic filters. The movie Elf is a Christmas classic from 2003, starring Will Ferrell as the feral elf, Buddy, seen here in Central Park in homage to Patterson’s Bigfoot. And the alleged and unverified photo of the late great J.D. Salinger was snapped by Paul Adao in 1988. Another Adao photo illustrates a wonderful New York Magazine story by publisher Roger Lathbury from 2010, Betraying Salinger. I scored the publishing coup of the decade: his final book. And then I blew it.
Brand Mascots: Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal’s Tony the Tiger.
A brief history of Tony
Created by ad exec Leo Burnett, Tony began his career in 1952, sharing package labels with Katy the Kangaroo on a new product, Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes of Corn. (Other contestants for representatives were Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu.) Tony proved to be more popular than Katy, so she was retired after the first year.
In 1953, Kellogg’s advertising agency further developed Tony with a four color spread in the August issue of Life magazine. His career since would be the envy of any human star. Various animation studios draw Tony, with the majority of the work being handled by Hanna-Barbera. (via Tony the Tiger)
Brand Mascots: United States Forest Service’s Smokey Bear.
“Smokey Bear,” often called “Smokey the Bear” or simply “Smokey,” is a mascot of the United States Forest Service. Smokey was created to educate the public about the dangers of forest fires. Smokey’s debut poster was released on August 9, 1944, which is considered his anniversary date.
Henry Ford’s most famous quote is often used to bolster the argument that innovation cannot be focus-grouped:
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.
It is certainly a wonderful quote. But unfortunately, there’s no evidence that Henry Ford actually uttered those famous words. Patrick Vlaskovits, in a great Harvard Business Review blog post — Henry Ford, Innovation, and That “Faster Horse” Quote — does the due diligence to track down the source of this quote and determine its veracity, which he was unable to do. He also offers a brilliant lesson for innovators and entrepreneurs in finding the right balance between not allowing yourself to be dictated to by the potentially unthinking masses, and ignoring your customers completely. Vlaskovits explicitly advocates “continually testing your vision against reality,” something Mr. Ford failed to do.
I heard on the radio this morning an appropriate turn of phrase in lieu of Justin Verlander’s (“The Monarch”) performance in yesterday’s Game 1 of the World Series, and it goes something like this: The are two types of ball players. Humble ones and those preparing themselves to be humbled.