Saturday June 30, 2007
Over at PRINT—where I work intermittently—James Gaddy has a great article up about James Harvey, who you’ve probably never heard of. He’s the guy who designed the actual Brillo cartons that inspired Andy Warhol to create his pop art masterpiece Brillo Box. That might not be so interesting, but it turns out that Harvey was an artist in his own right—a staunch Abstract Expressionist—who loathed the commercial work he did for products like Brillo and Philip Morris. He also knew Warhol slightly, attended the Brillo Box opening, and (like any good AbExer) thought Pop Art was silly. Reading about Harvey and Warhol is like reading about two minds separated by a monumental cultural shift.
The box pictured here, by the way, isn’t a Warhol. It’s an original Brillo carton signed by Harvey. He sent it to friend and art historian Irving Sandler—who still has it—as something of joke. Harvey died shortly thereafter at the age of 36.
Tuesday June 19, 2007
Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid has an official campaign song: “You and I” by Celine Dion. Hey, that’s great. It worked for Chrysler, right? Um, wrong.
Ad geeks will recall that Chrysler’s tres cher deal with Dion—built around the anthemic “I Drove All Night”—was declared a marketing disaster in 2003. The automaker paid $14 million for a three-year arrangement with the chanteuse, but stopped using her after less than a year. Chrysler’s agency, BBDO, warned it wouldn’t work, but the client didn’t listen. The dealers revolted and hotshot Peter Arnell—who brokered the deal—got booted off the account. And all this happened for a reason that should be—but apparently is not—salient to Hillary’s handlers. Namely, even in 2003 Dion appealed to consumers with an average age of 52, according to Ad Age, and Steven Levitt (the man behind the so-called “Q scores”) characterized Dion’s likability numbers as “not terrific.” I know “You and I” was chosen via online poll, but still.
Also, as TPM notes, “You and I” was originally written for an Air Canada commercial. Come on, Hillary. We have got to reduce our troubling dependence on foreign theme songs.
Thursday June 14, 2007
An interview I did with author George Saunders for Stay Free! magazine is now online. This is the second interview I’ve done with him (the first—from seven years ago—can be found here), and he always has smart things to say. He’s also a genuinely nice guy.
This time around, we talked about 9/11, reality TV, Buddhism, and hope. Stuff like that. What sticks with me, however, is his observation that reality television “is like a play, but it’s a play that isn’t designed to do anything except agitate you so you can’t stop watching it.” As if to illustrate that point, VH1 rolled out The Springer Hustle months after our conversation. The show is a great (and chilling) look at how the plays Saunders describes—plays that produce only agitation—are produced.
Tuesday June 12, 2007
As you can see, I decided to give the blog a new look for summer. Most notably, I’ve added a column for quick posts, which should go well with my shrinking attention span and the attention spans of the Twitterati and Tumbleloggers among you. Those services are popular, but I decided a trusty old del.icio.us linkroll was the best tool for the job. Bring on the micro-content. Can micro-consciousness be far behind?
I’m sure the tinkering is far from over, so beware of broken links and erratic margins.
Monday June 11, 2007
A) Sweatshop labor
B) Fallen arches
D) The need for clean drinking water
Friday June 08, 2007
From this morning’s Cincinnati Enquirer:
The man picked as Adam by the Creation Museum has led quite a different life outside the Garden of Eden, flaunting his sexual exploits online and modeling for a line of clothing with an explicit mascot.
Registration records show that Eric Linden, who portrays Adam taking his first breath in a film at the newly-opened museum, owns a graphic Web site called Bedroom Acrobat. He has been pictured there, smiling alongside a drag queen, in a T-shirt brandishing the site’s sexually suggestive logo.
The museum’s operators, informed Thursday of Linden’s online appearances, acted swiftly to suspend airing of the 40-second video in which he appeared.
For what it’s worth, Linden claims he only brokered the bedroomacrobat.com domain name and has no control over the site’s content. On his own site, he writes, “Adam was the one who brought sin into the world, and apparently I have brought it into the Creation Museum, and for that I sincerely apologize…” However, the site also includes a photo of Linden posing with Jared Leto, for which there can be no excuse.
Tuesday June 05, 2007
I know the opening of the Creation Museum has been well-blogged, but I can’t help but flex my local knowledge, such as it is. (Prediction: The Creation Museum will quickly surpass the Angola Prison Rodeo and the Adult Entertainment Expo as feature-writing chestnut #1.) The museum is less than 15 miles from my ancestral home in Erlanger, Kentucky, where my family still lives. This means that I’m a little, well, intellectually humiliated by the whole thing. Meanwhile, an informant from the 859 sent me this flier for $5 off admission. (It appears to be transferable if anyone’s going to be in the neighborhood. You even get a free Coke at the museum’s in-house cafe!) But isn’t it strange that an institution single-mindedly devoted to a literal interpretation of Genesis is open 7 days a week? Whoops. Ye shall know them by their hours, I suppose.