debbie millman

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Model Transformation

The complete and utter transformation of a brand is often the only remedy in keeping a fading or dying brand alive. Whether it is because of changes in the marketplace, new competitors, evolving consumer behavior or changes in cultural trends, the slow erosion of brand equity is an inevitable pitfall of longevity. Not all brands suffer this demise--brands such as Tide and Coca-Cola have been popular and profitable over the course of nearly one hundred years. Other brands such as Cadillac or Burberry have arisen from near death to recapture lost equity and market share. Once an iconic American brand, Cadillac was suffering from a stodgy persona, and frankly, it had fallen out of cultural favor to brands with more cache (BMW) or more hip appeal (the Mini Cooper). Then Cadillac introduced the Escalade —a powerful SUV endowed with an edgy urban attitude. Nearly overnight, Cadillac was transformed into an edgy urban brand. Likewise, fashion brands such as Burberry and Abercrombie & Fitch were both considered “old man’s brands” not more than ten years ago, but have been transformed via new designers and sexy advertising campaigns. But in the last decade, there has been one brand—one brand above all others—that has risen from the ashes of death and defeat to recapture acclaim and glory. And that brand is none other than Kate Moss.


Supermodel Kate Moss was "discovered" by Sarah Doukas of the Storm Modeling Agency, while she was passing through JFK International Airport in New York. Moss first starred in a series of Calvin Klein ads through the 1990s, spurring a period of waify, androgynous "heroin chic" and the accompanying public outcry.

According to the Kate Moss fan site, in 1999, Moss publicly said that she had never walked a fashion catwalk sober, "even at ten in the morning". She has been a member of both Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Moss is 5-foot-7 and weighs an estimated 100 pounds, perhaps a few pounds less, though she says she never weighs herself. In 1998, she was hospitalized for exhaustion, and her people dismissed all rumors that "exhaustion" was a code word for heroin addiction. In 2000, she was hospitalized with a kidney infection. In 2003, she was hospitalized with a sleeping disorder. She also smokes in the neighborhood of 80 cigarettes daily.

Despite her bad behavior , bad choice in boyfriends and lack of height (average height of most supermodels is 5 foot, 10 inches), Moss has had a long career by supermodel standards: 15 years and counting. She has consistently been one of the most sought after models for both editorial work and advertising campaigns, gracing the cover of Vogue more than ten times and appearing in ad campaigns for Gucci, Burberry, and Chanel. She has reportedly made upwards of $10 million annually, needs only her first name for instant recognition, and was named one of People Magazine’s 50 most beautiful people.

All that changed in September of 2005. Videotaped in the wee hours of the morning snorting cocaine with boyfriend Pete Doherty at a recording studio, Moss immediately made the front page of London’s Daily Mirror emblazoned with the headline “Cocaine Kate.” Four of her ad sponsors immediately pulled the plug on their relationship with her, including Chanel. One company, H & M, stated that they reserved the right to assess the situation before making a final determination on their relationship, but after substantial consumer backlash, they too fired her as their spokesperson.

It had been a long time since the world witnessed such a vehement brand backlash, even the recent Nike sweat shop scandal didn’t compare to the brand banishment of everything Kate. Moss quickly made a public apology followed by an announcement that she was entering a rehabilitation facility. Naysayers and Kate critics boldly predicted her career was over.

Cut to exactly one year later. Kate is back and she is once again working with Chanel, Burberry and Dior, but in addition, she seems to be everywhere; the September issue of Vogue featured no less than twenty ads featuring a rehabilitated Kate, including David Yurman, Bulgari, and Roberto Cavalli. She also graced the cover of Vanity Fair for the first time, as well as Vogue and W, to name but a few.

So what did Kate do to warrant such an enormously successful “comeback"? Did she tour Africa and adopt underprivileged children? Did she publicly donate millions of her earnings to victims of Katrina? Did she valiantly state how her rehabilitation made her a better, more emotionally available person? No. No, no, and no. She didn’t. In fact, she did nothing. Not a thing! She simply re-emerged into the same world she had previously inhabited, and matter-of-factly picked up where she left off.

Kate’s immediate resurgence into our visual vernacular is even more remarkable when you consider the lead time of most magazines: months. Given the time frame of her re-introduction, this would suggest that she was booked and photographed approximately one day after she completed her rehab. Which means magazine editors and fashion houses alike were willing to bet on the strength of her brand stamina. She is now the spokesperson for no less than 18 major fashion houses.

It is a rather profound statement of Moss' public acceptability and good will that she was able to immediately recapture her previous bankability. While contemporary culture longingly treasures a good comeback, fallen celebrities such as Martha Stewart, Marv Albert, John Travolta, Anne Heche, Mariah Carey, Sean Puff Daddy P Diddy and Bill Clinton were expected to prove that were going to be bankable commodities before they recaptured their former glory. Even Britney Spears’ comeback is being documented and assessed by the hour as she flits back and forth between “has been” and “must follow.”

Earlier this month, Yahoo! reported that the post-rehab Moss was earning three times what she earned pre-rehab, to the tune of $56 million this year alone. Furthermore, Kate was recently honored as Britian's Model of the Year. "Kate Moss is a fashion icon, and without doubt, one of the most prolific models in the industry," the British Fashion Council said in bestowing the prize. "She has now been modeling for over 15 years and remains at the top of her game."

No one knows exactly why or how Kate has been able to do what Martha Stewart or Whitney Houston or Levi's or the Gap can't. By far, my favorite assessment of Kate's continued reign as a superbrand was summed up by London Telegraph columnist Tom Utley: "'Supermodel scoffs doughnuts' - now that really would be a story. But 'Supermodel snorts cocaine' ranks somewhere between 'Dog bites man' and 'Gardener mows lawn.'"

* * *

First published today on the uber-design blog Speak Up

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Tables Are Turned

I was the lucky guest of Nate Voss and Donovan Beery, two of the lovely authors on the Blog Be A Design Group, for an episode of their radio show Be A Design Cast.

It was a wonderful experience, made all the more fabulous by Nate's opening intro--a parody of my own intro's on Design Matters. They asked great questions, made me think real hard, and best of all: they made me laugh an awful lot.

Thanks Nate and Donovan--for being great hosts and really great men.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Poetry Tuesday: "Give me a full-throated tune, tell me that you are in love, and I'll know once again what it feels like to be alive."

‘I do not love you as if you were brine-rose, topaz,’
XVII From: ‘Cien sonetos de amor’
by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were brine-rose, topaz,
or barbed carnations thrown off by the fire.
I love you as certain hidden things are loved,
secretly, between night and soul.

I love you like the flower-less plant
carrying inside itself the light of those flowers,
and, graced by your love, a fierce perfume
risen from earth, is alive, concealed in my flesh.

I love you without knowing how, whence, when.
I love you truly, without doubts, without pride,
I love you so, and know, no other way to love,

none but this mode of neither You nor I,
so close that your hand over my chest is my hand,
so close they are your eyes I shut when I sleep.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Victory Through Hare Power

In a frightening and foreboding episode of the famous cartoon, Bugs Bunny goes to a military base where he meets up with a mischievous gremlin who gets the better of him. Animation by Rod Scribner, music by Carl W. Stalling. Produced in 1943.

From Wikipedia: "Falling Hare" is a 1943 Merrie Melodies cartoon directed by Robert Clampett, starring Bugs Bunny. Within the cartoon are several contemporary pop culture references, including to Wendell Wilkie, John Steinbeck's novel Of Mice and Men and the folk songs "Yankee Doodle" and "I've Been Working on the Railroad". Bugs' Gremlin nemesis also makes a reapearance in the 1990 cartoon Tiny Toons episode Journy to the Center of Acme Acres with two look alikes as the secondary antagonists of the episode.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Learning To Smoke

I’ll never forget the weekend Ben brought his kids around to meet me. It was about two months after he’d started seeing them again and he finally felt that the time was right. We had separate apartments in the city, but together we had a big house in the Catskills, with a Jacuzzi and a garden and dense woods all around. But that weekend I had to stay with Amanda and Jesse way up the mountain, until the “appropriate moment.” The time finally came Sunday morning. It was a warm June day, I was wearing my hair in braids—Ben liked it like that—and he brought the kids over. Margaret was curious, Michael was younger and more tentative, and overall the tone of the afternoon was cautious—like band members auditioning a new drummer. Was I going to play too loud or too fast?

After a few hours we decided to go to a movie—someone else’s reality for a few hours—and then we went for pizza. Margaret was almost a teenager and couldn’t keep her eyes off of me; she watched me smoke, reapply my lipstick after we ate—she even asked me to braid her hair the way I braided mine. I was touched and flattered, and suddenly felt something for this skinny freckle-faced kid who seemed so desperate for love and attention.

The ritual of that afternoon was repeated many times, weekend after weekend, and new events were thrown in once and a while: swimming in the creek by the house, shopping for cowboy boots for Margaret in town, and bowling. Mostly we had a good time together. Margaret got frustrated with me when we bowled, complaining that I did everything so well, and she was so bad at everything thing she did—but I tried to teach her and after she got over her awkwardness at being shown how to do something, she relaxed and had fun.

Ben was on his best behavior then, basking in the glory of having his kids back, smothering them with presents and money, never getting angry or irritated. I wondered how long it would last and which kid would be the first to tick him off and begin to see how violent he’d become in the five years since their mother had left him.

I never thought it would be me. I saw Ben kick a dog once, threaten the mailman and the garage attendant, even fire a few of his best employees. And while he yelled at me, and sometimes scared the shit out of me, I never thought he’d ever raise a hand to me.

In November, we all decided to celebrate Thanksgiving together. Ben knew I wasn’t much of a cook, but he begged me to put something together, this being a year he felt he really had something to be thankful for, his kids being back and all. So I got a turkey and ingredients for stuffing and pumpkin pie and did the best job I could to make a meal they would all like. Margaret and Michael and I got all dressed up and Margaret even wore some make-up.

Something happened during the Giants-Redskins game, I don’t know if it was because dinner was running late—after all I wasn’t experienced at cooking a turkey and didn’t know how long those damn birds needed to cook, or maybe it was that the Giants were losing so badly or maybe it was because Margaret and Michael were bickering, but as soon as we sat down for dinner I knew something was going to happen.

“What’s wrong with the turkey?” he demanded to know.

Nobody answered. There was something in his voice that had us all paralyzed.

Margaret finally broke the ice. “Tastes fine to me,” she said, her mouth full.

He ignored her. He asked again, but this time directly to me. “What’s wrong with the turkey?”

I looked at him. I didn’t want to look scared, because that always made it worse, but I was scared.

“I don’t know,” I answered. “You tell me. Don’t you like it?”

“No,” he replied, “I don't.” And with that he threw his plate across the room, sending turkey flying all over the sofa. Then he got up, sent his chair reeling, and charged through the room and out the glass sliding doors onto the deck. Michael started crying. Margaret was biting her nails. “What should we do?” she whispered.

“Lock yourselves in the bathroom,” I replied. “I’ll take care of him.”

Margaret dragged Michael off his chair, and she pushed him into the bathroom. Ben was still screaming outside, carrying on about our lack of appreciation, our selfishness, our self-centeredness, and his inability, no matter what he did, to succeed in making us happy. “Can’t you just once, just once,” he hollered, “be happy for my sake?” I went outside to try and calm him down.

“What do you want?” he said as soon as he saw me. "Where are the kids?”

“They’re OK,” I answered. “They’re in the bathroom.”

And that was it. I guess he felt embarrassed, humiliated that his kids had hidden from him, but in that brief second I saw his eyes flash and I knew he had gone over the edge. He grabbed the garden shovel and lunged at me. I took off. He ran after me. And off we went into the woods surrounding the house, me running in my Thanksgiving outfit, him screaming at me, cursing and chasing me with a shovel over his head. Somehow I out ran him. It was dark and I ran and ran and ran and ran, and suddenly there was no more yelling and I stopped and knew I was alone. I crouched in the woods, my heart pounding. I believe I stayed this way for several hours. I don't know; I lost track of time. Finally, I could breathe again. I realized I was freezing, my arms were cut and my feet were aching. I slowly started to walk back to the house. All the lights were off and the doors were locked. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to bang on the door; afraid I might start everything all over again. I tried the cars. One of the doors was opened. I crawled in, curled up in the back seat and squeezed my eyes shut as tight as I could. I was shivering. I fell asleep.

A little while later I awoke as Ben opened the car door. I remember recoiling in fear, and then I noticed he was crying. “Baby, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please come inside.” He was blubbering. He begged me, pleaded with me to forgive him. I was numb. I didn't say anything. We got out of the car, and slowly walked back to the house. I went directly in to the bedroom and immediately fell asleep. In the distance I vaguely remember him whispering over and over again how much he loved me and couldn't live without me.

In he morning Ben pretended nothing had happened the night before. He was in a gregarious mood and made large gestures of affection to all of us. He had a small plane and insisted on taking Michael out flying. He gave me $500 and told Margaret and me that “the girls should do a little shopping.” He dropped us off in town on his way to the airport. We shopped and Margaret asked me if I would teach her how to smoke. I told her I would, when we got back to the city.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

One Of The Greatest Songs Ever Written

Lover You Should've Come Over
by Jeff Buckley, from the masterpiece

Looking out the door I see the rain fall upon the funeral mourners
Parading in a wake of sad relations as their shoes fill up with water
And maybe I'm too young to keep good love from going wrong
But tonight you're on my mind so you never know

When I'm broken down and hungry for your love with no way to feed it
Where are you tonight, child you know how much I need it
Too young to hold on and too old to just break free and run

Sometimes a man gets carried away, when he feels like he should be having his fun
And much too blind to see the damage he's done
Sometimes a man must awake to find that really, he has no one

So I'll wait for you... and I'll burn
Will I ever see your sweet return?
Oh will I ever learn

Oh lover, you should've come over
cause its not too late

Lonely is the room, the bed is made, the open window lets the rain in
Burning in the corner is the only one who dreams he had you with him
My body turns and yearns for a sleep that will never come

It's never over, my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder
It's never over, all my riches for her smiles when I slept so soft against her
It's never over, all my blood for the sweetness of her laughter
It's never over, she's the tear that hangs inside my soul forever

Well maybe I'm just too young
To keep good love from going wrong

Oh... lover, you should've come over
cause its not too late

Well I feel too young to hold on
And I'm much too old to break free and run
Too deaf, dumb, and blind to see the damage I've done
Sweet lover, you should've come over
Oh, love well Im waiting for you

Lover, you should've come over
cause its not too late

For a great bio on Jeff Buckley, you can go here.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Birthday Present: Late Wife

Claudia Emerson is the author of the poetry books Late Wife, Pharaoh, Pharaoh and Pinion: An Elegy, all published in Dave Smith's Southern Messenger Poets series. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Southern Review, Shenandoah, TriQuarterly, New England Review, and other journals. The recipient of a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Commission for the Arts, she is an associate professor of English at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She is mindblowingly amazing.

by Claudia Emerson, from the book of poetry Late Wife

I think by now it is time for the second cutting.
I imagine the field, the one above the last

house we rented, has lain in convalescence
long enough. The hawk has taken back the air

above new grass, and the doe again can hide
her young. I can tell you now I crossed

that field, weeks before the first pass of the blade,
through grass and briars, fog — the night itself

to my thighs, my skirt pulled up that high.
I came to what had been our house and stood outside.

I saw her in it. She reminded me of me —
with her hair black and long as mine had been —

as she moved in and then away from the sharp
frame the window made of the darkness.

I confess that last house was the coldest
I kept. In it, I became formless as fog, crossing

the walls, formless as your breath as it rose
from your mouth to disappear in the air above you.

You see, aftermath is easier, opening
again the wound along its numb scar; it is the sentence

spoken the second time — truer, perhaps,
with the blunt edge of a practiced tongue.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

House Hunting

I peered down from the second floor and watched the girls play in the street
unsure if I would end up living in this house
with the dusty, long road and the pretty picture window and the green shag carpeting.

I watched the girls swing their hair and their hips
and wondered what it was like to be one of them:
surely there was no need for boundaries and barricades.

I would join them in their game and I would make them laugh.
I would know the power of one way or the other.
I would know then it wouldn't happen the way it would happen.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Aiken: Rude, Disrespectful, Homophobic, Sexist?

Kelly Ripa suggested Rosie O'Donnell be more "responsible" after O'Donnell accused her of making a homophobic remark about Clay Aiken. I think the comment about Regis is the most accurate.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Poetry Tuesday: Adrienne Rich

In honor of Bill Drenttel's link on Design Observer.

Adrienne Rich was awarded the US National Book Foundation 2006 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters last week.

November 1968

you're beginning to float free
up through the smoke of brushfires
and incinerators
the unleafed branches won't hold you
nor the radar aerials

You're what the autumn knew would happen
after the last collapse
of primary color
once the last absolutes were torn to pieces
you could begin

How you broke open, what sheathed you
until this moment
I know nothing about it
my ignorance of you amazes me
now that I watch you
starting to give yourself away
to the wind


What We Live With

Creative Clients

Monday, November 20, 2006

Michael Richards: Yet Another Outed Racist


What Was Judith Regan Thinking?

This just in, courtesy of Television News and Minus Five:

News Corp. Cancels O.J. Simpson TV Special, Book
By Michele Greppi

News Corp., facing public and internal pressure, on Monday canceled the TV special and book in which O.J. Simpson talked hypothetically about how he would have killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.

In an abrupt development, News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch declared: "I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project. We are sorry for any pain this has caused the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson."

The book was to have been published by ReganBooks, which is owned by News Corp. and run by Judith Regan. Ms. Regan conducted the interviews for the special, which was scheduled to air Nov. 27 and 29 on News Corp.-owned Fox Broadcasting.

At least 13 Fox Broadcasting affiliates as of Monday had refused to air "O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How It Happened," the two-hour Fox special in which Mr. Simpson talked about the two killings, of which he was acquitted in criminal court but held liable for in civil court, and how he would have carried them out if he had done the crimes.

"We believe it has no beneficial interest except to O.J. Simpson," a Pappas Telecasting spokesperson said, adding that the company did not want to help Mr. Simpson benefit. The spokesperson said Pappas also had gotten "a slew" of calls and e-mails asking that the special not be aired.

Five Fox-affiliated stations owned by LIN Television, four Pappas-owned Fox affiliates and four Fox affiliates owned by Meredith Broadcasting said "no" to the Simpson special.

Not all of the pressure came from the public and Fox affiliates.

Fox News Channel star Bill O'Reilly had railed against the special on his popular "The O'Reilly Factor." Mr. O'Reilly urged people not to watch it and said he would boycott any advertisers who bought time in the program. Geraldo Rivera, anchor of "Geraldo at Large" on Fox-owned TV stations, appeared on "Good Morning America" Monday to explain why he thought the project was a bad idea.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Height of Arrogance is the Height of Control

Edwin and I watched the film "What the Bleep Do We Know" tonight; I had seen it before, this was his first time. I loved it (again), he was a bit skeptical, but I think he tried for me. Plus I made popcorn from scratch.

In any case, you can go to What The Bleep for more information.

Makes you wonder...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Theory of Everything

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Trend in Blaming Abusers?

Three of the last big news stories feature a common denominator: blaming an abuser for one's own bad behavior. They are:

Mark Foley blaming his his childhood priest for his bad behavior with Congressional Pages

Ted Haggard blaming "historical ghosts" for his lies and hypocrisy

Judith Regan blaming a domestic abuse experience for her desire to publish OJ Simpson's "book."

Why can't anyone own up to their bad behavior and lack of judgement?

Just because someone has had something heinous happen to them doesn't give them *any* right to do the same to anyone else.

Just once, just once I would like to hear someone say the following:

"I am sorry, I made a mistake, it is all my fault."


As If There Was Ever Any Doubt

duh, originally uploaded by debbie millman.

Yet another reason civilization is doomed. This man is a murderer, a heinous liar and a pig. The book shouldn't be called "If I Did It," it should be titled "Since I Did It." Damn double jeopardy, he should be rotting in jail.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Welcome To The Jungle

the new zune
Originally uploaded by debbie millman.
Well. Here it is. Four years after the launch of the iPod, with an incompatible operating system selling tunes that are more expensive than the music on iTunes. Clearly a home run. I bet this one will be a gold mine.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Buy This Book

my new favorite book, originally uploaded by debbie millman.

Some Quotes:

Considering the Alternative

"Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go right this minute, put on a bikini and don't take it off until you are thirty-four."

On Maintenance

"Sometimes I think that not having to worry about your hair anymore is the secret upside of death. Tell the truth. Aren't you tired of washing and drying it? I know people who wash their hair everyday, and I don't get it. Your hair doesn't need to be washed every day, anynore than your black pants have to be dry-cleaned every time you wear them."

What I Wish I'd Known

"Never marry a man you wouldn't want to be divorced from."

"The last four years of psychoanalysis are a waste of money."

"You can order more than one dessert."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Poetry Tuesday: Ai

by Ai

We smile at each other
and I lean back against the wicker couch.
How does it feel to be dead? I say.
You touch my knees with your blue fingers.
And when you open your mouth,
a ball of yellow light falls to the floor
and burns a hole through it.
Don't tell me, I say. I don't want to hear.
Did you ever, you start,
wear a certain kind of dress
and just by accident,
so inconsequential you barely notice it,
your fingers graze that dress
and you hear the sound of a knife cutting paper,
you see it too
and you realize how that image
is simply the extension of another image,
that your own life
is a chain of words
that one day will snap.
Words, you say, young girls in a circle, holding hands,
and beginning to rise heavenward
in their confirmation dresses,
like white helium balloons,
the wreathes of flowers on their heads spinning,
and above all that,
that's where I'm floating,
and that's what it's like
only ten times clearer,
ten times more horrible.
Could anyone alive survive it?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Would You Like Me To Seduce You?

We, are, more than ever before in our culture, being constantly seduced by design. Our world is so saturated with design now that we can hardly separate ourselves from it. Though much of design is explicit and sometimes obvious, we hardly notice that in so doing, it is continually reorganizing us. I am wondering if it is possible now that design is now taking over the social role that music or fashion have served over the last half a century. It seems to me that design is becoming the most important, and least understood influencers of our culture and our consciousness today.

The idea of what is intrinsically beautiful or cool or phat or blazin’ has become more elusive, revolutionary, even controversial. No longer is beauty limited to a pretty face or a pretty package: beauty has come to personify and reflect the social and cultural issues of our day. Now we end up defining a generation by the products it buys. Think of the iPod. Think of the Mini-Cooper. Think of a Blackberry. These products are no longer being differentiated by flavor or form or price. They are being differentiated by the difference they make in our lives and the attitudinal difference it creates in the passionate zealots that participate in these new consumer cults. Design has become the leading factor in that difference.

And whether we like it or not, these objects are also now defining us. As we "give style" to our character, we do nothing more than claim and renounce freedoms and choices. Style now ends up signifying our beliefs and our affiliations.

And with affiliation comes choice. And with choice comes…brands. Brands create intimate worlds inhabitants can understand, and where they can be somebody and feel as if they belong. Brands create tribes. In 2006, people can join any number of tribes in any number of ways and feel part of something bigger than who we are individually. When I was a little girl and my dad drove around in his beautiful Porshe 911, I remember that when he passed another one on the road, he always acknowledged the other driver—and the driver acknowledged him back. It was the private Porshe 911 club. But it wasn’t just the Porshe club, it was the Porshe 911 club. I think Marty Neumeier stated it best when he confides his thoughts about sneakers in his book, “The Brand Gap.” He says “As a weekend athlete, my two nagging doubts are that I might be congenitally lazy, and that I might have little actual ability. I am not really worried about my shoes. But when the Nike folks say, “Just do it,” they’re peering into my soul. I begin to feel that, if they understand me that well, their shoes are probably pretty good. I am then willing to join the tribe of Nike.” But to see the world in brand tribes is to take possession of much more than just a theory of the world. It is to possess a theory of all the activity in it, perhaps an entire science, an ethology that could tell us everything we want to know about human behavior. And what would we find out if we were to analyze that style in regards to our culture and to human behavior today?

Ultimately, I think that the goal of a brand should be to change the culture in which we participate. A lofty goal, yes. This should inevitably evoke a unique composition of perceptions. The extension of any one of these perceptions alters the way we think and act—and the way we perceive the world. When these perceptions change, people change. I contend that brand and its inherent dependence on design—has more impact on our culture than any other medium.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Andy Rooney On Women Over Forty

In case you missed it on 60 Minutes, this is what Correspondent Andy Rooney thinks about women over 40:

"As I grow in age, I value women over 40 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:

A woman over 40 will never wake you in the middle of the night and ask, "What are you thinking?" She doesn't care what you think. If a woman over 40 doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do, and it's usually more interesting. Women over 40 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it. Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it's like to be unappreciated. Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 40. Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 40 is far sexier than her younger counterpart. Older women are forthright and honest. They'll tell you right off if you are a jerk if you are acting like one. You don't ever have to wonder where you stand with her. Yes, we praise women over 40 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman over 40, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress. Ladies, I apologize. For all those men who say, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?", here's an update for you. Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realize it's not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!"

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Both Brilliant: White Noise on White Noise, Two Interpretations

"White Noise on White Noise" is a collection of 36 randomly selected fragments of text from Don DeLillo's novel White Noise. The identifying details of each fragment - the page number it appears on, the line number to begin quoting from and the number of lines to quote - were selected using a random number generator. The fragments appear in page number order, to provide an experience akin to quickly browsing through the novel in a bookstore.

The text of each fragment has been hand-annotated with hypertext links to the World Wide Web, chosen by Michael Sippey to have relevance to the passage being quoted.

From Sippey's post: "I used the Viking Penguin hard cover edition. Page numbers were randomly chosen between 3 and 326. Line numbers were randomly chosen between 1 and 36. The number of lines to quote in each fragment was randomly chosen between 1 and 10. There are 36 fragments in all, based on the number of lines of text found on a full page."

Enclosed are the first ten selections from White Noise on White Noise, and then, for some levity, a parody of Delillo's writing in White Noise as interpreted by the funny folks at Saturday Night Live.

selection 1 of 36
start on page 5, line 30, and go for 8 lines
miscellaneous swarming air of families. I watch her all the time doing things in measured sequence, skillfully, with seeming ease, unlike my former wives, who had a tendency to feel estranged from the objective world -- a self-absorbed and high-strung bunch, with ties to the intelligence community.
"It's not the station wagons I wanted to see. What are the people like? Do the women wear plaid skirts, cable-knit sweaters? Are the men in hacking jackets? What's a hacking jacket?"

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if these people could see us through a telescope we might look like we were two feet two inches tall and it might be raining yesterday instead of today.

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"A tautness, a suspense. First-rate. I will choose."
"I will read," she said. "But I don't want you to choose anything that has men inside women, quote-quote, or men entering women. 'I entered her.' 'He entered me.' We're not lobbies or elevators. 'I wanted him inside me,' as if he could crawl completely in, sign the register, sleep, eat, so forth. Can we agree on that? I don't care what these people do as long as they don't enter or get

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"Pretty good. I think I got him cornered."
"What do you know about this fellow? I've been meaning to ask."
"Like who did he kill? That's the big thing today. Concern for

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blessed my life. I felt its support and approval. The system hardware, the mainframe sitting in a locked room in some distant city. What a pleasing interaction. I sensed that something of deep personal value, but not money, not that at all, had been authenticated and confirmed. A deranged person was escorted from the

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"Just in case what?"
"Just in case I faint from hunger. Let's sneak up on some ribs why don't we? You got your leg men, you got your breast men. Babette, what do you say? I'm about semiprepared to slaughter my own animal."
"How many jobs is this anyway?"
"Don't pester me, Denise."
"Never mind, I don't care, do what you want."
Bob took the three older kids to the Wagon Wheel. I drove

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It's a simple case of misuse."
Grappa casually tossed half a buttered roll at Lasher, hitting him on the shoulder. Grappa was pale and baby-fattish and the tossed roll was an attempt to get Lasher's attention.
Grappa said to him, "Do you ever brush your teeth with your finger?"

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Little Richard's personal bodyguard and had led security details

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"Hitler was a lazy kid. His report card was full of unsatisfactorys. But Klara loved him, spoiled him, gave him the attention his father

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Steffie washed her hands at the kitchen sink and went upstairs.

* * * * *

Friday, November 10, 2006

Brett Dennen: There Is So Much More

More. What a concept. A heartbreakingly beautiful voice and my current musical obsession: Brett Dennen singing "There is So Much More" at the Canal Room in NYC on June 19, 2006.

There Is So Much More
Brett Dennen, from the album So Much More, available on iTunes

When I heard the news
My heart fell on the floor
I was on a plane on my way to Baltimore
In these troubled times its hard enough as it is
My soul has known a better life than this

I wondered how so many could be in so much pain
While others don't seem to feel a thing
Then I curse my wiseness and I get so damned depressed
In a world of suffering why should I be so blessed

I heard about a woman who lives in Colorado
She built a monument of sorts behind her garage door
Where everyday she prays for all whom are born and all whose souls have passed on
Sometimes my trouble gets so thick
I can't see how I'm going to get through it
But then I would rather be stuck up in a tree
Than be tied to it

I know
There is so much more

I don't feel comfortable with the way my clothes fit
I can't get used to my body's limits
I got some fancy shoes to try and kick away these blues
They cost a lot of money but they aren't worth a thing
I want to free my feet from the broken glass and concrete
I need to get out of this city
Lay upon the ground and stare a hole in the sky
Wondering where I go when I die
When I die

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Malcolm Gladwell on Tomato Sauce

In this talk, filmed at TED2004, Malcolm Gladwell explains what every business can learn from spaghetti sauce. (Recorded February 2004 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 18:15)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One More Reason To Feel Vindicated

Sad, but oh so true. Thanks to Dan W for the footage.


Finally, at long last, justice.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Poetry Tuesday: Anne Sexton

Her Kind
by Anne Sexton

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Behind The Typeface: Cooper Black

From my lovely student Bruno Silva at the School of Visual Arts.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Blood and Concrete, 1985

by Edwin Rivera

One meaty thud in the eye and I'm down like a satchel of bricks. Bawling, crawling longwise on my belly, struggling to get away from my tormentor.

Brian O'Terry. He of the buckteeth and braying laughter, lanky dirtyblonde hair, muckcaked skin. Smelling of antifreeze and spoiled milk. Barefooted, hopping from one foot to the next as if the concrete was steaming. It looks like he's dancing a jig. Would be funny if he didn't have his fists balled up, pummelling me. Every inch I move he rewards me with a sharp blow, and I'm slogging like a drowning segmented worm desperate for deep earth.

Snapkick and I'm on my back, winded. I'm walking in the deep blue above me. Trying to figure out sun from sky in my dizzy head but none of it makes sense. Flat and swirly like abstract art.

Get up you goya bean, you motherfucka, he says, bony fists knocking against the knob of my spine, my hips, my head. Fiery pain screams along the bone, a whitehot detonation that wants to dance my eyes right out of their sockets.

Mouthful of blood, grit lodged in my jaws, pebbledust in my nostrils.

Leave me 'lone, I manage to croak.

The neighborhood punks are enjoying the spectacle of my beating on this fine June morning. Jump out from one kind of education to another-- the real school is in the streets. They're hopping around like they're on trampolines, waving sticks and warcrying, kicking away crack vials, forty-ounce bottles, glassine bags, egging on their favorites. Nobody expects me to win. They expect me to die.

Jennifer and Sandra Martinez, the twins from apartment six-D in my maroonbrick building, sit disconsolately to one side of the concrete, picking at the ants and leafdust in between the cracks. Cars and trucks chug past without stopping. The people weaving past see right through us, anxiously searching for the corner boys.

Jennifer is mildly retarded, harelipped, jittery. She always wears two dresses, one on top of another, and they're always patterned with the kind of garish and hideous flowers that look as if they'd eat flesh. She's oblivious to my beating, picking at the filthy pockets of skin at her neck and studying the dirty speckles with drooling fascination.

Sandra watches me with intense interest, crouched beside her sister, her forced-upon charge, grit and dust sifting through her fingers like time. She never said a word to me before, though we'd been in the same classes, crossed paths in the bodega, whacked each other with rubber balls during gym, avoided the same evils and heard the same language, squinted at the same hazy sun. But just because she is real to me, I could never be sure how real I am to her.

I'm not sure why Brian is beating me up this time. I know that he thinks I'm a geeky spick, that he's a born sadist, the one white boy on the block who manages to become a walking terror. But I think it's more than that. He feels that my nose is always up in the air, because I'm not as dirty as he is, because I don't live in a room with tumble-down walls, because my father works and my mother is not a junkie, because my sister doesn't quarter around the living room wearing nothing but skimpy panties, panties that slide down for any boy willing to put up a few dollars, and you could see the shadow of her head bobbing in an alley, any hour of the day-- sometimes, she'd give it away for free.

If only Brian knew that both of our fathers were drunks of the same temperament, then maybe we could be brothers. But he can never know, because these are the things that I keep to myself.

What went on behind closed doors was too strange for him to fathom: the rapidfire voices, the strange smells emanating from the windows and sleeping ghostlike on kidclothes, the jungle-hot music, the dark complexions browned by an unfamiliar sun, in a distant hemisphere, in a land he would never know. And yet me of all people he pegged as the instant outsider. As if I didn't have enough problems.

Kissing the concrete, hands over my head, I wonder where my mother is. Probably lost in her telenovelas, or singing loudly to the cuban music that bursts out of the kitchen radio as she prepares one of her crackling meals. She doesn't go out much these days. If she needed anything from the bodega, she'd send me, even though I'd sometimes come home crying. I'd put down the brown bag of cilantro or platanos on the kitchen counter, a smudge of dirt on my cheek or the beginnings of a bruise forming at my brow, and mami would thank me and kiss me on the cheek and return to her cooking, salsa-stepping behind the pots and pans. My mother is still beautiful, but she looks lost more and more.

I feel a thud against my leg but it doesn't hurt as much. His blows are getting lighter. Like he's holding back.

Suddenly there is a quick patter. I can hear hoarse breathing, can see a blur of lacywhite socks and pink sneakers. Above the socks are upthrust towers of pale flesh, a light and golden down of hair. When I look up and see the angerflushed face of my older sister, Tatia, I can swear from my vantage point that this is no mere thirteen-year old girl of flesh and bone but a revenging apparition descended from gold dust and sunfire.

She hurls to the sidewalk and shoves Brian away. He skids backward with a flurry of arms, right onto his bony ass. He scrapes his elbow on the hollow barkskin of an elm tree. He sits there, nursing his raw elbow, glaring at my sister.

The crowd hushes, awed. A girl has felled the badass bully. Defiance of the natural laws, world turned upside down.

Sandra is standing now, arms akimbo, face serene and unreadable.

Jennifer picks her nose and inspects her findings.

Leave my brother alone, you ugly fuck, Tatia says, all whiplightning defiance.

Tatia. My protector, my sometime enemy.

I might as well confess now, since I feel heavy guilt weighing my soul ballastlike, that the month before we'd gotten into a brutal battle over television rights while my mother was vacuuming the living room carpet and General Hospital was on in the Zenith, and I wanted to watch He-Man and Tatia didn't and I called her a bitch and she called me a fuck and I went into my mother's bedroom and picked up a hefty length of the suction pipe my mother was using but had set aside and in a clean but nasty arc I whapped Tatia just above the left eye, right where the bone meets the slash of her eyebrow, and I'd never seen so much blood gush out, just like in the Jason movies, and I didn't know that a face could swell up so quickly, and I screamed louder than she did, thinking I'd killed her, and ran out still screaming, out of the apartment, down the stairs, screaming all the way down the street, and I hid out in the dead-dog park, throwing rocks at the dead pond, looking away from the sweaty and smelly people that passed ocasionally and ocasionally begged for money, walking back through our door with hung-head when the stars dipped across the sky, seeing more stars in my head when the buckle of my father's belt snapped against my ear.

But the wound has healed, as they often do, and Tatia had forgiven me weeks before, and here she is now, bending to retrieve me, twining her arms beneath my armpits and drag-walking me to an upright position.

Show's over, folks. Nothing to see here. My sister and I head towards our building, ascending the short flight of steps, and as I look behind me dazedly, searching for Sandra, there is a violent rushing of arms, a tangling of legs, and fingers describe insane pictures in the air. Tatia keels backward and bangs her head on the stone ledge of the stairway.

Now she's the one crying, only this time no one is cheering and laughing and Brian is statue-quiet.

Blood trickles down the stone steps, drips from the ledge, stains the concrete. So much blood, once again pouring out of my sister.

The kids are silent. Feet tap the ground, hips swivel, mouths are agape. They look as if they want to call out for help, run, only they can't reach the apex of courage necessary for action, because they're all kids and they've all been beaten down before and no one has ever rushed to their rescue, so they're rooted where they stand, doomed to watch the nervous flow of blood, to absorb the negative energy of a good time turned bad, and there is something in their eyes that tells me that they know that this scene will play out in their lives again and again, bystanders who watch things happen and can't do a thing in the world about it, even when it's happening to themselves.

Favoring his elbow, Brian struts to my sister's prone and crying figure, hawks up a great gob of snot, and launches it right in her face.

Spick cunt, he says.

Then he walks away, into the chipped-gray rowhouse next door. Proud, victorious. Only there's something off in his walk, the cockiness betrayed by the trembling of his hands.

The kids spread out in an expanding radius until they are in the street, on the sidewalk across the way, down and up the block, and thus, evenly fanned, they watch the scene with a dispassion bordering on hatred.

I'm the one bending over Tatia now, and I feel as if my heart is going to shatter into a billion pieces. I try my best not to cry, but there is so much blood, just pouring out of my sister. Nosy neighbors at every window now, on every porch, the do-nothings, the layabouts and sorry-for-themselves, the noncaring, the inconsequential. They point, observe, gossip. And they don't do a fucking thing.

Fingers brush through my hair. I look up, feeling the tears streak my cheeks, shocked to find Sandra standing before me.
Her eyes are accusatory, but there is a hint of sadness to the set of her features, a general softening of the bones, as if her skin was all frown.

You lost, she says, quietly, again running her fingers through my hair, a loving gesture, the gesture of one who is in love. That was how my mother used to touch me, before she became lost.

Sister in hand, she walks up the stairs, into our building, and I know that she is gone. No more real than if I'd slapped her into the air with watercolors.

And as for myself? I'd paint myself away, if I were any kind of artist.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Polling Place Photo Project

The Winterhouse Institute and Design Observer, in collaboration with AIGA, Design for Democracy and NewAssignment.Net have created an important cultural documentation initiative called the The Polling Place Photo Project. What is posted on the Design Observer website is this:

"The Polling Place Photo Project seeks to advance innovation in citizen journalism by documenting local voter experiences during the U.S. midterm elections on Tuesday, November 7. The goal of all participants is to both engage voters and to document voter experiences at the polling place, harnessing the power of online citizen journalism to build an archive of photographs that capture the richness and complexity of voting in America.

Through an open call for photographs, citizens can post local images and visual stories that, together, form a picture of every polling place in America. Importantly, we are also looking for basic data (zip code, state, ballot type, etc.) that will encourage research into how voting happens and how voting can be made easier, clearer, less confusing, more reliable.

Get your cameras ready: Election Day is November 7, 2006. We need your photographs.

Seriously, we need your pictures of Election Day 2006. The idea for this project came up at a lunch with Jay Rosen, a leader of online citizen journalism, only a month ago. This is a test, and our execution may not be perfect. But we have a group of great partners who have jumped on the potential of this project, and we owe them our thanks. To our many Design Observer readers living in the United States, we ask that you: 1) go to the polls and vote, 2) take your camera with you, and 3) come home and post your photos at Polling Place Photo Project. This is a day in the life of America, the world's oldest democracy.

Partners & Sponsors
The Polling Place Photo Project is part of Design for Democracy, an initiative of AIGA, the professional association for design. The project was conceived by Winterhouse Institute and Design Observer, working in collaboration with Jay Rosen, founder of NewAssignment.Net (a project of New York University's Department of Journalism).

How to Participate
Photographs of your experiences on November 7th may be uploaded here. We are looking to collect photographs of every polling place in America, so you are welcome to participate no matter where you vote, how large or small your polling place is, what kind of ballot you use — or what is your party affiliation.

This is a nonpartisan initiative, and the photographs collected will not be used to further the aims or agenda of any party or candidate. We are interested in how voting happens, how it can be improved, and how the execise of the ballot, perhaps the most basis act in a democracy, can be captured in photographs. If you are wondering what to photograph, take a picture of that!

Submission Guidelines
The submission guidelines are simple: photographs may be submitted by anyone. We are currently focused on the November 7, 2006 election. Do not post old photographs of previous elections. Do not post photographs of polling places that are not in the United States.

You may submit up to five photographs. With your submission of photographs, we are asking for some basic information: name/location of polling place, time, type of ballot, etc. Our submission form also allows you to make comments on your voter experience, and suggestions for improvements. This information will be displayed with your photographs. We do ask for your name and email address, but give you the option that this information not be displayed. If you provide this information, you are acknowledging that researchers may contact you at a future date to learn more about your voting experience. (None of this information will be sold or distributed freely.)

Use of Photographs
In the spirit of public access and broad dissemination, this is an open source project. All photographs are contributed under an "Attribution No Derivatives (by-nd)" Creative Commons license. It is understood that all photographs may be shared with other sites, including, AIGA, Design for Democracy, Design Observer, Winterhouse Institute, PressThink and NewAssignment.Net. Further, the database of photographs may be distributed to other sites, commercial or non-commercial, which share our goal of encouraging voter participation in America. Photographs will not be sold individually for personal profit by any participant; any profits accured will be used to support this project, its maintenance as an archive, and expansion of the archive in future elections. It is our goal that these photographs be used, researched and broadly disseminated, and all contributors willingly (and cheerfully) acknowledge that their photographs are a part of this open source initiative.

Special Note: Photography & Election Laws
Photography of polling places is governed by state and local law — there is no one answer for what is permissible. Every state has different election laws, some which allow photos of polling stations and others which do not. It is important to check your states' procedures to find out what is and isn't acceptable. Most states have laws prohibiting loitering or congregation around the polling place, as well as laws prohibiting any type of intimidation or interruption of voters. The Polling Place Photo Project, and AIGA, encourage all participants in this project to follow all applicable local, state and federal laws."

Thanks Bill and Jessica and AIGA for making this important initiative possible.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Richard Dawkins exposing Ted Haggard for what he is: yet another lying, moronic hypocrite

Revel in Dawkins' exposé on Ted Haggard as he dumps "evident falsehoods on (his) flock." A must-see.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


You held your hand across your mouth as I spoke,
watched me with squinted eyes and I knew what you were thinking
as if I had thought it myself.

I watched the waiters shimmying as they walked by
They did not want to see what I knew they were seeing:
Your hand on your mouth; they were afraid to touch us.

You knew all along. You knew as I buttered the coarse bread,
how easily the creamy spread smeared my fingers.
You knew when I arrogantly sipped my wine,

eyes flickering, unwilling to meet your gaze
as I swallowed the last little bit and wiped
my wet mouth with the white, sauce stained napkin.

I told you I had waited my whole life to hear what he told me.
I told you that I thought I loved him.
You watched me, you covered your mouth, you blinked.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Beyond Evolution: Girls in the U.S.

things i paint
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