I picked up the new Strokes album and I’m disappointed. Not in the Strokes or in the music or in the originality of the tunes but in myself. See, I downloaded the album from Apple’s iTunes which I thought was the coolest thing since swiss bread, as I was dying to get my hands on the album and there’s nothing like getting it over the Net legally. But here’s the problem: I miss the album art. Sure, the music art’s gotten smaller and smaller over the past ten years – from LP to casssette to CD to a small icon in the bottom left of your MP3 player tray on your desktop. But I really want to see what they come up with visually to complement the album. I want to know what array of visual arcania the Strokes decided to put together to help us make sense of the tunes and they’re connection to us. And I won’t have that chance as the album is now burned on a boring, plain, 50-cent Sony CD-ROM, which, I might say, sounds quite delicious.
I was showing photos of our family and friends to our daughter this evening. This has become a favorite part-time pasttime for us, which I find moving, difficult, and thrilling all at the same time. The pictures dislodge memories of younger days, when I looked wiser and more alive, and the baby pictures remind me of those squawking first few weeks that gave life to a new being. Some of the photographs depict people who are no longer alive, like my grandmother. I told my daughter, “this was my grandmother,” and as the words rolled out, I found myself drowning in the word “was,” a word not like any other, a word that shows the finiteness of our being in three long letters and one syllable. I also thought about how the word “was” somehow indicates objectness — a non-human quality, as if the coil sloughed off of us is an it and not part of us.
Every so often, a magazine comes out that carries every article, image, and author that you’d ever want to grace your bedside table. It happens to me maybe once every three years and it happened today. The November 3, 2003, New Yorker is superbly cool. Here’s why:
• Tina Fey, the cutest and smartest Saturday Night Live actress ever, is featured in a nice “anchor” piece.
• David Sedaris, one of my all-time favorite authors, writes about growing up under the sign of Halloween.
• A large reproduction of a new painting by my second favorite artist, John Wesley, appears on page 26. (His new show is at Fredericks Feiser.)
• John Updike, another fave writer who alternately bugs and cajoles me, writes about my third favorite artist, Francisco Jose Goya.
• In a story about Merce Cunningham, photographer Richard Avendon shoots Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Jon Thor Birgisson of Sigur Ros with Cunningham. I do like these two bands an awful lot. (Why all three men have eyelid problems in the photos is beyond me.)
• The new book by David Foster Wallace, the demi-god of contemporary writing, is reviewed and I can’t wait to pick up a copy of Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity
• Peter Schjeldahl, a good and sometimes great art critic, writes about the current retrospective of Philip Guston at the Met. Guston beats all hands down; he is my supreme aesthetic leader, my joystick, my uber-fave. (My goodness.)
I haven’t seen it yet, but apparently the New York Times has adopted new typefaces and have streamlined its page design. I’m fascinated and can’t wait to run out tomorrow morning to buy a copy. New Typefaces are being substituted for the old ones, but in a bit of irony and subterfuge, the original Imperial font, used for the main text of the newspaper, will be kept as was.
It’s not everyday that a friend gets to make the grade in the photo-journal A Day in the Life, which is an ambitious name for an ambitious project. Nice work, Jake.
I know that there are web designers out there that live to be validated by the World Wide Web Consortium, which inelegantly provides standards for web developers, browser manufacturers, and others to help ensure a relatively democratically visible Internet. I’m all for it! Standards is small news to the advanced web designer, but for most people the W3C may appear less than useless and I’m all for promoting its “interoperable technologies.”
Today I can say that this here site is fully XHTML 1.0 Transitional and CSS2 Validated. What this says is that the site upholds the somewhat strict standards being developed for the Web and that the presentation of the site (its colors and effects) are separate from its content (the headlines, graphics, and text). It also means the visually and aurally challenged have a shot at reading the site. Find out more by clicking on those little validating links at the bottom left of this page.
A number of years ago, I along with my many former OVEN Digital colleagues, worked on the Tiffany & Co. website. Tiffany was a good client and their jewelry really is as impressive as they want you to think it is. Today I received a massive marketing piece from TCO (as we used to call them) introducing The Tiffany Mark. It’s actually a book, filled with gorgeous photos of new watches that, yes, any man would buy if he had an unlimited flow of dollars. The book is carefully composed, as are all TCO collateral, and there are even Gray’s anatomy-like diagrams of the watch innards, complete with plastic overlays. The photographs are stunning, the text crisp and persuasive, and the heavy black binding would leave a bookbinder bound. The level of detail, and the fact that the book was published and sent prior to this “fall back” Daylight Savings weekend, is remarkable. What does it all mean? Nothing.
I haven’t checked Apple’s iTunes in a few weeks, in part because there is so very little to choose from. I mean, I don’t want to download the new Rod Stewart or Eagles albums, both of which are top-featured on their iTunes home page. BUT, what I find most interesting and innovative now is their Celebrity Playlists, which are basically mix tapes, set up and refined by folks like Moby, Michael Stipe, Mark Ronson, and Missy Elliott. The songs these artists pick and choose is as interesting as any other person’s and the cost is rather prohibitive — Mr. Stipe’s 31 songs costs $30.69. But one doesn’t have to purchase the entrie list and can simply “sample” the music on display. The extravagance of posting for-sale mixed playlists on the web does more damage, however, to the idea of the LP, the album-as-art, and the probability that records as we know them will be around five years hence.
The redesign is getting there. At least it’s not completely ugly.
I’ve purchased the new Lost in Translation soundtrack today at Virgin Records, which seemed an apropos place to buy it, as I never understood why a media store would be marketed as “Virgin” — it’s not funny and it’s not a great name. Perhaps it’s a British neologism? In any case, I purchased it just to have the new Kevin Shields tracks on it; Mr. Shields is one of my all-time favorite early 90s musicmen, and the main composter of the once-great My Blood Valentine. He’s a Brit and yes, it’s nice to have him back, after a million rumors about MBV’s “new album” over the past ten years.
It’s here. Movable Type is installed. I know it’s not a big deal, but I’m happy with the install and more than thrilled that three years of posts are now happily residing on the server. I still have a tremendous amount of customizing to do, so bear with me as I learn how to rebuild the Titanic.
Thanks goes out to Mark Paschal, who via the beauty of screenshots, shows how to import Blogger content to MT. More thanks soon.