Archive for the 'Dudes with Attitudes' Category

On Objectified and Rams

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Yesterday, I saw the movie, Objectified with Dyna at the IFC Film Center. It’s a documentary on contemporary industrial design—interviews with designers, an endless parade of cool products designed within the last 20 years, discursive bits on the nature of “good design.” You see how certain products (say, an OXO Good Grips vegetable peeler) were created, how various functional and esthetic considerations were thought through, how a product is brought to market. The movie parses the various sub-disciplines of industrial design (Interaction Design is interesting: the design of computer interfaces.) You get a lot on “sustainable design.”

You don’t get much arguing between the designers. All of them are pretty strictly in the Modernist/Functionalist camp. No one is fighting for doohickeys. Some of the car designers (like clothing designers) will talk about “aspirational” design, design as fantasy for how you want to see yourself. Some talk about nostalgia and sentiment (one nerdy-looking Times writer talks about a scenario where you’re forced to save the most treasured items from your burning home. You choose kitsch.) But for the most part, people agree that design should first and foremost be useful.

There’s no historical context presented for this understanding of design. Design was not always this way—design was ornate Rococo sliver candlesticks and the like. We get a bit on mass-production, but no Bauhaus, no Mies, no Corbu, no Jean Prouvé. No discussion of traditional craft or traditional utilitarian objects, no discussions of “class.” It would be interesting to get something on the Protestant ethic’s influence on design thinking. Or Communism. We get some Zen ideas from the (fun) designer at Muji. [EDIT: this is the amazing Naota Fukasawa who did more than just things for Muji.]

We get a tiny glimpse of the great Charles and Ray Eames, but not nearly enough.

But I’m so interested in this stuff that I’ll forgive the movie’s faults (it’s a bit boring.) For example I got to see the work of the great Dieter Rams who was Braun’s lead designer in the 60s.


Oh, Dieter Rams! You are so very, very good! I never knew your name but I knew your things. You were doing Apple designs long before Apple. In fact, from the looks of it, Apple ripped you off.

In the movie, Rams reminds me of a calculating German supervillain—kind of ruthlessly austere. And his products look at bit as though they were designed by a cold, emotionless supervillian. But I love them. They are perfect. So in honor of Mr. Rams, I present a catalog of his work:








The Tivoli Audio Model Three radio totally aped the design of this, but the Tivoli radio is a complete piece of junk…







In praise of Rob Lathan, but perhaps not his t-shirt

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

If you don’t know Rob Lathan, you should. He’s a very weird dude.

He’s also one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. Plus he’s hysterical. So basically, if you were to walk into a bar and notice Rob Lathan sitting at an empty table, it would be a very good idea to sit down next to him and share a drink.

Just in case that ever happens, here’s a picture you can use use to identify him:
The image is taken from the neighborhoodies website, which sells the official “ROB!” t-shirt based on a prank he helped facilitate for the popular group, Improv Everywhere.

My Rob Lathan t-shirt just arrived today and it looks like this:

There are many things that I like about my Rob Tee (the color, the fact that it has Rob Lathan’s face on it, the flattering cut.) But there are some things that I don’t like that I will now put to you in list form:

1. Rob’s face is too small.
2. The “navy”-colored ink looks black.
3. Some of the details around the ears, nose, and under the mouth have been lost in the printing.

But still, even with all its faults, I love my Rob Lathan T-Shirt.

And I love Rob Lathan.

A New Job

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

Because of my poverty, I took on a job as an art mover a couple days ago and I can already easily see myself getting fired.

It’s not the work; the work is a snap; you drive a big truck around, you box-up high-end art, you move it someplace else—that’s the job. You don’t even need to be all that strong because you’re putting everything heavy on dollies.

But with the job comes a need for a certain working-class-dude ethos that I don’t possess. It seems, I don’t carry myself in the right way—I don’t yell at the cars when I should; I don’t shut my mouth when I should. I really stick out and I think the dudes hate me. They all look like pretty tough guys, like they could take a punch to the gut pretty well.

Guys in these jobs hold really simple information that you don’t know over you like you’re a dipshit. Something that would take two and a half seconds to learn—say, where the trash goes—if you don’t know it, you’re a dipshit. Also, there are always a lot of tight-ass rules that are held sacred; like don’t ever ask another guy for his box-cutter—you take your own box-cutter out of the toolbox and hold onto it all day, asshole. Right, got it.

Also, the boss will ask me if my dad was in Vietnam an I’ll say, “no, I think he got out on a college deferment” and I’ll immediately know I’ve made some cultural faux pas.

So I’m going to get fired or quit. It’s just a matter of time.

Making Love the “Jerry Saltz” Way

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

I just got finished reading Jerry Saltz’s review of the current Rauschenberg retrospective at the Met. It’s an all-around decent review. Jerry’s an all-around decent writer, if not without his quirks and gimmicks. But one sentence stuck out in particular—he describes Rauschenberg’s famous 1955 piece, Bed, as looking “like sheets after lovemaking.”

Now, as luck would have it, I have a very good memory and about two years ago in one of his reviews, Jerry described a Twombly piece as looking “like sheets after lovemaking.” So aside from the fact that Jerry Saltz seems to have a handful of go-to phrases, this begs the question—Jesus Christ, Jerry, How on earth do you make love?

Here is what Bed looks like…

Here is what a Twombly looks like…

Never in my life, after a good round of “lovemaking,” have I looked down to discover sheets that look like either of these two pieces. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of great sex before, sex that could only be described as “crazy” or even “nasty.” But still, I’d be confused and terrified if my lovemaking ever created bed sheets that looked like a Twombly. It would mean that someone had been seriously maimed in the process.

Now it turns out that I’ve met Jerry Saltz and his wife Roberta Smith. In fact, Jerry was my adviser when I was a graduate student in Chicago. Both Jerry and Roberta are terrific, intelligent and charismatic people. But, my goodness, either Jerry is making stuff up or he’s having some type of intercourse that I can’t even picture…

Thank-you, Doc.

Sunday, January 8th, 2006

Huge thanks go out to Doc “Mathieu” Cornillion for helping me update my comedy page!

Seriously, you should visit the comedy page. I actually proof-read the sketches and converted the files to PDF.

The comedy page has been something I’ve largely ignored, seeing that I haven’t been doing any comedy lately.

comedy page,


Sorry Lee…

Thursday, January 5th, 2006

It was a relief to see that this week’s New Yorker contained no cartoon by Lee Lorenz…

Which leads me to my next post—the New Yorker should fire Lee Lornez; he’s terrible.

If you’re having a hard time picturing his cartoons, a usual Lee Lorenz panel consists of a schlubby middle-aged man ogling an impossibly buxom doe-eyed blond while his equally schlubby wife angrily looks on. His women look like fantasies your grandfather might fixate on while masturbating (sorry, Gramps…). His drawings have that slightly brushy style that seems lifted from an “I can teach you to draw cartoons” book. It’s a style that screams, “1970s.” In fact, every one of his characters are inexplicably dressed in 70’s attire. And his humor is the recycled borscht belt dreck that would have been shameful even 30 years ago. I’m sorry, New Yorker, but I didn’t pay my $50 subscription to be stuck inside that head of a sexually fixated 70-year-old.

So Lee, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry but it’s time to hang up the hat. If your cartoons had any relevance, that time has passed. They are now only embarrassing. Besides, anyone whose credits included illustrating the moronic, Reagan-era joke book, Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche, deserves a fate far worse than this scornful post.

Damn you, Dick Cheney, Why Won’t You Twist?

Friday, December 16th, 2005

Lynne Cheney, the vice president’s wife (who, strangely enough, authored a [lesbian Western novel]( likes to recount the story of how she and Dick first met at a Wyoming dance in the 1950’s and, in order to preserve Lynne’s modesty as well as his own self-respect, Dick refused to do The Twist on the dance floor. The Twist, it seems, was all the rage in Wyoming in the 50’s, but Dick was having nothing of it.

This story produced a lot of good-natured guffaws from the audience when I watched it told at the last Republican national convention. But, sitting at home, I couldn’t help thinking, “You fucking bastard, Dick Cheney, why won’t you twist?!” I pictured a young Dick, arms folded, tight-lipped, staring straight ahead while a crestfallen Lynne, trying to make the most of bad situation, stood by Dick’s side. Dick, so controlling of his own self-image and distrustful of “race music,” sat it out.

For me, Dick Cheney not twisting represents everything that’s wrong with the moneyed right wing, a portrait of elitism in miniature. Here is Dick, so careful of his public persona, so domineering, so dogmatic and intent on maintaining order, so skeptical of sensual pleasure, unwilling to mix it up with the lower classes, sneering from the bench of some Wyoming auditorium. It probably took a lot not to twist back then. He had to summon up a lot of evil power.

Of course, nowadays he’s tricking the American public into going to war and pushing for torture and such so I guess not twisting isn’t so bad.

But still…

Any Suggestions?

Monday, October 10th, 2005

Today I was thinking about songs where I like the less famous remake to the original. Here are the only two I’ve come up with so far:

Hurt – Johnny Cash over Trent Reznor

Happiness is a Warm Gun – The Breeders over the Beatles

Lord of War poster: Retarded/Creepy

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005

A typical blog post…
At first you think, “huh, Nicholas Cage is covered in frost.”
Then you think, “No wait a second Nick Cage, for some reason, is covered in beads.”
Then, “Yikes, what the hell is wrong with Nicholas Cage? Are those worms.”
Finally, you realize that they’re bullets, lots and lots of bullets and you think, “God Damnit, I’ve wasted all this time looking at this poster. I’m never going to see ‘Lord of War’”