Last night I had the chance to watch Martin Scorsese’s new documentary on the writer and speaker Fran Lebowitz called Public Speaking, which I enjoyed immensely. If you’re like me and aren’t quite familiar with Fran, she was a writer back in the last 60′s/early 70′s hired by Andy Warhold to write for Interview magazine. Then in 1978 she wrote a collection of essays called Metropolitan Life which was quite popular after it was released with many companies and celebrities trying to option it for a movie. After that she released one more book and then stopped writing for the most part. Instead, she’s taken to public speaking, espousing her opinion about all number of things.
It was really interesting watching this documentary because I felt like a lot of the things she spoke about in regards to writing are very true about blogs and the internet as well. For example, she says that sure, anyone can write, but not everyone should write, writing should be done by people with talent. I love her strength and her determination in her opinion, I wish a lot more people were so fiery and determined about the things they believe.
The folks over at A2591 took on a lovely project of trying to simplify the branding of some major products. I’m sure a lot of you feel like packaging these days can get a bit out of hand, A5291 uses the great example of the Microsoft iPod packaging video that went around a couple years ago. What they’ve done is shown the original packaging and then began removing elements until getting it to it’s most minimal.
I’ve picked my three favorite designs which I think do the best job of proving and dismissing the need for simplifying packaging. The first is Nutella which in my opinion is the most successful of the bunch. The packaging when stripped down to it’s bare minimum is simply a showcase for the delicious contents inside. I don’t want to the ingredients or that I can spread Nutella on bread, the Nutella itself is enough to sell me.
Second is Mr. Muscle, which for this one I feel like the second one is best. When stripped of all it’s branding I feel like it’s a mystery bottle of green liquid. As cheesy as the packaging is I feel like that bit of context is necessary to really get a sense of what the bottle should be used for.
Last is Nestle’s Corn Flakes, which I feel needs a version between the original and the first revision. Yet again I think this is another good example of having context. Is the packaging a bit over the top? Sure. But at least you can see what kind of corn flakes they are, you can imagine how they might taste.
A few weeks ago, when Bobby asked if I wanted to contribute to the blog, I asked him what he had in mind. “I just want you to share what you’re listening to week by week” he said, adding that he thought it would be interesting for me to share it with you. Unfortunately I don’t think either of us considered that we were so close to December 25th and that my listening habits in the coming weeks would be far more predictable then interesting.
Christmas is the Bermuda Triangle of my musical radar. It’s that scary time of year that will see me humming along to Wham! and Mariah Carey without even noticing. As a precaution I’ve decided to share the three albums which I feel are the most essential to help you make the most of the next few days.
A Christmas Gift for You (1963) from Phil Spector
For me, Christmas sounds best when it’s produced by Phil Spector and in 1963 Spector put together ‘a Christmas gift’ for fans of his trademark ‘Wall of Sound’. The album features The Crystals, The Ronettes and many more with each performing a number of Christmas classics. This really is the Christmas album to own. It also just happens to be Brian Wilson’s favourite album of all time, so if that that’s not an endorsement to go out and get it then I don’t know what is.
A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) by Vince Guaraldi Trio
Another favourite of mine is Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas. While it may have originally been the soundtrack to the Peanuts television special for me it’s become the soundtrack to nights curled up on the couch with a good book and enjoying a nice drink by the fire. What makes A Charlie Brown Christmas so special is that it’s one of the most popular Christmas albums of all time and yet it still sounds fresh.
The Home Alone Soundtrack (1990) by John Williams
Speaking of soundtracks, it’s fair to say that for many Home Alone should be the perfect reminder of what it felt like to be a kid at Christmas. If, like me, you grew up in the 90′s then this is the way to remember how much you wanted to be Macaulay Culkin. The score is beautifully sweeping in that trademark John Williams fashion and it should easily help stir up memories of other great film adventures Mr. Williams has helped you go on as a kid.
If you’re still looking for more music then there’s certainly been plenty of new releases this year to satisfy your Christmas cravings. I’ve really been enjoying Dent May’s excellent Holiday Face which you can check out over on Gorilla Vs Bear. Likewise Beach House have delivered a really great track called I Do Not Care For The Winter Sun, available here. Finally Target have put together an exclusive Christmas compilation that features people like Best Coast, Wavves and Coconut Records. The whole thing is free and it’s got a few gems on it, download it here. Best wishes for the Holidays!
My buddy Felipe wrote me a nice email the other day letting me know about a new video that he had completed for MOCA’s new exhibit Suprasensorial: Experiments in Light, Color, and Space. The show features Carlos Cruz Diez, Lucio Fontana, Julio Le Parc, Hélio Oiticica and Neville D’Almeida, and Jesús Rafael Soto and their exploration of light and color as a different way of seeing art. For someone like me who can have some, um, problems with contemporary art and how exactly it’s art this video does a great job of explaining why these artists are in the museum and why their work is important or unique. I think a lot of these works are really beautiful especially Cromasaturación by Carlos Cruz-Diez. It’s beautiful to see how he’s creating these spaces out of color and that you as the viewer are the final necessary part of the piece.
Today, I visited the Kennedy Space Center. Above are historic photos from the center of the assembly of the Saturn V rocket that carried the first humans (the Apollo 11 astronauts) to the moon. It’s the same Saturn V rocket that was developed by von Braun, the rocket scientist who wrote a book for his daughters, and we looked at illustrations from that book last week. But today I walked under the entire length of the Saturn V rocket, a rocket as long as a 36-story building is tall and built with the precision of a microscope.
The concentration of space artifacts at the center is insane: I touched a piece of lunar rock, wandered around a ‘rocket garden’ and met an older astronaut. However, the most amusing thing I happened to see was video footage of astronaut Michael Good (nicknamed Bueno) making a fajita aboard the shuttle Atlantis. There was also a bevy of quirky space suits that I can’t wait to show you.