Draplin Ditty Defies Deadlines

A funny thing happened on the way to this Talent profile of Aaron “All-American” Draplin that ran in March’s Creativity.

The piece had been done for a few months, and had gotten pushed to the March issue because it had certain evergreen qualities.

It was laid out, on the page, being proofed and minutes away from being sent to the printer when it was revealed Draplin, along with Chris Glass, another designer, worked with Chicago’s Mode Project creative director Steve Juras to develop logos for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) team (seen here), which were unveiled by Big Boss Barack Obama in early March.

This was, as they go, a tiny bundle of candy placed into our lap by the great magazine fairy in the sky. And those are pretty few and far-between at the moment, so it was nice to savor. (The super-relevant photo, by the way, was taken by Mark Welsh from Nitro Snowboards back before Thanksgiving!)

We took around half an hour to rework it and a nice evergreen became much more timely and interesting.

Anyway, Draplin’s one to keep an eye on. Know how to do that? Via his kickass blog.

VidPik! A Letter From Brooklyn

About a month ago a forwarded email arrived. It was so staggering, actions were forced.

The note, laden in artistic pronouncements and full-of-itselfness, begged for an extension; a dramatic reading was considered, but it turned out only a full video could to the thing justice. After all, a 1500-word yearly update email sent to dozens of people deserves the highest degree of satire you can muster.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m an earnest man. But even sincerity, in extreme, is funny as hell. (Viz. Kenneth on 30 Rock.)

Who was the sender? An unknown personage, but clearly a modern-day Benjamin Franklin, part writer, part political organizer, all full of Brooklyn potential and privilege and so indicative of our generation’s rampaging self-importance.

We christened him Eric Anton Schechter-Oblomov; this is his yearly update, verbatim, brought to life as best we could.

A Letter From Brooklyn from Eric Anton Schechter-Oblomov on Vimeo.

Continue reading “VidPik! A Letter From Brooklyn”

The Transformative Power of Art, Pt. 239

the Glue Society's pigeon at Pulse
the Glue Society

Every once in a while you pop your head up from the daily slog and rise above the goblins of self-indulgence and negativity and fractiousness and see with crystal clarity, ‘Hey, this is pretty cool.’

Yesterday was one of those days.

I went to an early press preview of the Pulse art show with the express purpose of seeing a unique statue and writing a story about it.

Sure, the story’s just a humble few lines, but there was no need for me to do anything other than convey the facts: pigeon, man, statue, art fair, funny. An honest job, decently done. But it gives me pleasure to think of the time I spent putting this story together, and hopefully that’s conveyed. Briefly, this is something I struggled with: is it more accurate to say this is a statue of a man defecating on the head of a pigeon or of a pigeon with a man defecating on its head? Think about it.

I can say quite confidently that were fate to have brought me to the show this morning with a budget of $40k and a suitable foyer or other entranceway needing of adornment I could see no greater way to immediately communicate my worldview than this piece of contemporary art. Perhaps, one fine day, it could be mine.

Highlights from the Creativity 50

A few avid readers of both Creativity as well as this thing may not need the spur, but we’ve just posted our annual list of 50 interesting people and groups in the innovation game.

The Creativity 50 has changed a bit in the three years I’ve been involved, and I’m glad to say this year we have a great balance of both interesting and inspiring people in the world at large and the world of marketing. The latter can be myopic to a fault at times and one of the parts of the magazine I’m gladdest to bolster is introducing new viewpoints to our readership.

So, to that end, I was really excited to get to talk to some interesting people for this edition, above and beyond exciting achievers in advertising. Jason Fried is the CEO of 37Signals, and knows a thing or two about productivity and development. Aaron Koblin has an exciting worldview and is one of the few who’ve been able to wrap samples of our world’s data in elegant cloaks. Jonathan Blow, the creator of Braid, is part of a group of game developers pushing to make things that are much more intellectually and emotionally stimulating than the standard entertainment offerings. I had an in-depth and highly informative conversation with Blow, but that’s still under wraps until April.

Lastly, I got a chance to talk with the ever-interesting Dean Kamen, a guy I consider a real pioneer. The full Q&A is on our site now, and I urge you to check it out. Kamen has some very exciting opinions about growing up in our era and how our future innovations will come about.

Browse through this year’s list of honorees; you may come across a nugget of wisdom or two. Special thanks to Von for the kickass cover illustration.

Update: Something screwy came about between the ampersands in the Creativity links and my WordPress RSS feed. If you’re into the links and they’re returning noise in the syndicated version, click through to the actual post and they’ll work from there.

Pick up this week’s NY Mag (not just for my ad spread)

nymag-parish-advertising

Over the last month or so I helped compile a list of the most memorable New York-styled ads for New York Magazine, and, at long last, here it is. We polled a whole host of past and present NYC ad luminaries to determine a big list of spots that had grabbed the city’s attention, then narrowed them down with a poll to find out which rated highest.

New York’s 40th Anniversary issue is fat, well worth the $4.95. Head over to NY Mag’s site to read my bit, but don’t forget to pick up the magazine–there’s a ton of good stuff inside.

Burgerman Bogusky Flips and More Late-Summer Follies

It’s been an interesting, albeit slow, few August weeks round these parts, so here’s a bit of a Creativity-related fill-in.

One of our favorite publishers, PowerHouse books, sent by a catalog for its new season, which, strangely, included a huge, front-and-center push for a book on small-plates portion control written by none other than Alex Bogusky. If you failed Know Your Advertising Creatives 101 (and no shame in that–certainly other coursework has greater world relevance) Mr. Bogusky is the Chief Creative Officer of Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, the Miami-based ad agency whose clients include Burger King and Domino’s. The evangelical pizza business is new, but CP+B’s relationship with Burger King is going on a decade, in which time they’ve revitalized the marketing, with a rock-n-jock approach hitting hard in the agency’s breadbasket, the young adult male. Continue reading “Burgerman Bogusky Flips and More Late-Summer Follies”

Radiohead, but with lasers.

Oh, you know, just another day at the office writing about Radiohead, lasers, and the folks that love them. Last week I talked with James Frost, the director of Radiohead’s new “House of Cards” video. I’m seeing the group play for the first time at All Points West next month; I’ll report back if the stuff from the video is used at all in the live show. It’d be a bit of a shame if it wasn’t; this look is too closely connected to this song to be utilized in a fresh way anywhere else. So Radiohead might as well keep trotting it out with “House of Cards” when they play it live. Come to think of it, as amazing as applying this technology to film the crowd and band during a live performance would be, it’d probably be impossible to render the data in time to produce anything but the crudest preview. But I’m sure you stopped at the link to read Frost say that in our talk and have already ruled out that possibility.

Good thing, too, as who knows whether that LIDAR stuff might cause some impromptu LASIK for audience members, like these dodgy Russian rave lasers.

Nerd Farming

Here’s a piece from the June issue of Creativity I feel came out quite well. Pulling in young talent is a constant source of gnashing whether you’re blogging or running a basketball franchise–but as far as digital marketing goes, it’s time to take the next step from hiring designers and coders who can make things look cool to hiring developers who can form concepts and bring together a team with knowhow to execute higher level things. Software tools. (Like, imagine if Chase built Mint.) There aren’t any great case studies yet as to how these things will look but smart agencies are already thinking beyond microshites to applications.

Here’s the full thing; poke around on the site for more goodies–we were all really proud of the June issue (let me know if you’d like me to send one). I’ve also pasted it below for convenience (erm, and search engines).

Continue reading “Nerd Farming”

Brad Neely’s Big Debut

If emerging web video platforms are sports teams Brad Neely is Super Deluxe‘s franchise player. Neely’s been rolling with his twisted brand of hilarity for some time, but now that he’s at the Turner-sponsored spot thousands are braying for Babycakes and the Professor Brothers. Here are the interview bits I didn’t use when I talked to Neely recently for Creativity. Check out more of his work at his Creased Comics site and at his Super Deluxe site. Look for the rest of the interview and a few morsels of Neely’s funniest after the break.

Hey Brad, how’s it going with Super Deluxe?

BN: It’s been really fun so far. Iím turning in a great deal of work, both Babycakes and Professor Brothers and a lot of one shots as well, they’ll be just characters that you never see again, some holiday things. But the core will be Babycakes and the Professor Brothers.

At what point did you take the comics you were making and put voices and animation along? Had you always been doing that?

BN: No, I hadn’t. A few years ago I did “Wizard People, Dear Readers,” which was an unauthorized alternate audio that’s synched with the first Harry Potter movie. I toured around with that and got shut down by Warner Brothers and I had such a good time doing that, it was my first time to be really close to film in a weird way, but it got me to thinking about how to continue to make things on my own terms with my own brand of comedy. So making the pictures sort of cartoons was an easy thing that I could do all by myself.

Where did the character Babycakes come from? I saw one of your comics with a Babycakes-esque guy.

BN: I’m always drawn to the giant, hairless bald person, I don’t know why. Babycakes, whenever, I’d done the George Washington cartoon on YouTube and the Super Deluxe people came to me and asked me if I had anything else to work on, and I just kind of rummaged around a lot of notes and Babycakes and the Professor Brothers just kind of evolved out of that. There are certain types of jokes that I want to be able to tell and certain tones and songs and fantasies and nightmares and prophecies and dances and all that kind of stuff and you make characters that will bring those out.

Continue reading “Brad Neely’s Big Debut”

Navel Gazing and other Humid Pursuits

Self reference time! Post-Euroswing I’ve had to relearn the most basic human motor functions, including complex cognition and not expecting chilled bottles of champagne lurking at every turn and beaches packed with delirious hedonism. Unravelling? No, I’ve tied up several loose ends in recent weeks in several strange twists of fate.

The first came in Cannes, a few days after I left the techno madness of Barcelona behind. I was dining at a quaint Italian restaurant called Arcimboldo when I noticed a guy at the table next to me was wearing a M.A.N.D.Y. T-shirt. I had to mention something, and when I did he introduced himself as Peter Hayo, a founding member of Get Physical and producer of many fine dance records. He was in town as part of his other concern, Perky Park, a company that does music production for commercials and otherwise. His two co-conspirators, Walter Merziger, Arno Kammermeier are also known as Booka Shade. So, naturally, I asked him about a rumor I’d heard, that they produced Aqua’s “Barbie Girl.” The rumor delighted me–that the popularity of a silly Danish pop song I’d found so much delight in could have been been responsible for the genesis of one of the biggest forces in contemporary dance music would have been an utterly fun piece of cosmic coincidence. Alas, not so, entirely. Hayo and chums just remixed the track for Universal Music, and, as you know, it spent a significant amount of time on the charts, and, subsequently, fattened the Perky Park synth fund.

The second weird, ‘What the?’ techno moment came after I returned, and got a tip from a diligent German about the closeness between the group awarded the Titanium Lion at Cannes and work done by pfadfinderei, Bpitch’s design gurus. Turns out, shaping barcodes to make them look cool while still functioning is a pretty routine concept in graphic design. So kids, don’t believe everything the awards shows tell you.

Also worth noting, on recommendation from this man I picked up some Hans Fallada, which, some months and many pleasurable pages later, turned out to be appropriate here:

Hans Fallada wrote The Drinker over two weeks in 1944, while residing in a a criminal asylum near AltStrelitz, Germany. He was confined there for the attempted murder of his wife. Given these inauspicious beginnings, the book has been especially troublesome for critics. It’s disingenous, however, to look at The Drinker as anything but the personal reflection of an author torn asunder by a turbulent society in collapse.The novel begins as narrator Erwin Sommer’s successful grocery concern teeters on the brink of collapse. With sparse language, the book composes an intimate psychological profile of an obsessive who would fling everything to the wind sooner than ask for assistance. He empties his savings and steals his wife’s silver — anything for another moment with his muse, Elinor, a village barmaid he fixates upon during his initial jag and who becomes his queen of schnapps, ruler of a woozy and throbbing world.

All his life, Fallada — a pseudonym chosen by Rudolf Ditzen — has inflicted tortures upon himself and others. During a melancholy childhood, he killed a chum when a suicide pact disguised as a duel went awry. Ditzen later grew into morphine addiction, alcoholism, and a carton-a-day smoking habit, with eventual trips in and out of institutions and prisons. Astonishingly, Ditzen found time to write nearly two dozen books during his dissolute life, very few of which are available in English. While Little Man, What Now? is justly famous for its excavation of pre-War German consciousness, The Drinker is an equally profound exploration of the author’s own demons of substance abuse.

While the book’s spare tone, lack of flashy language, and stark portrayal of German society are all signature marks of Ditzen, The Drinker more closely resembles Evelyn Waugh’s The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. The novel is clearly founded in life experience, yet its narrative flights of fancy cultivate readers who place confidence in the narrator’s inner turmoil, but remain wary of the details.
– Nick Parish

Biding my time…

Wednesday I embark on a trip destined to try my patience and rub the nerves raw. Four days in Barcelona for Sonar and six days in Cannes for the international advertising festival. I’m not sure where I’ll find the strength, considering the schedule at Sonar and the plans for Cannes (we’re doing a blog at AdCritic, which I’ll link up when it goes live). Expect plenty of commentary as well as photos and grainy videos, barring a stress-induced loss of memory. In the meantime, check out a review of DJ 3000’s first full-length here:

Album Review
DJ 3000
Migration
Submerge 

June 08, 2006

Surrounded by Detroit, the smaller city of Hamtramck is best known for the paczkiMotor, and Franki Juncaj, aka DJ 3000. On his debut studio album, Juncaj, who grew up in Hamtramck, celebrates his Albanian heritage by looping, sampling, and tweaking traditional instruments over a variety of backdrops. The strongest tracks stick to the meaty techno and house rhythms that earned him his Underground Resistance badge, but Juncaj also explores broken beats and slight, wispy moods. Along with Los Hermanos’ 2005 release On Another LevelMigration strengthens his crew’s growing reputation as a musical force with equal footing in the future and the past.

Sunday Money

Sports books generally aren’t very good. At least for the sort of people who prefer reading to sports. But Jeff MacGregor nailed the crossover in his most recent, Sunday Money. It was by far my favorite sports read last year, and if you’re looking for an introduction to NASCAR you’d be hard pressed to find a better primer.

For the uninitiated, NASCAR can seem a set of baffling unknowables — or just 300,000 rednecks in the grandstand, braying at death-frenzied hayseeds. Lacking the pastoral sophistication of baseball or the strategy of football, for as many adherents NASCAR claims (around 75 million) there are sports fans set against its inevitable rise.

Jeff MacGregor’s first book serves as a shot across the bow for those staunchly in the “stick-and-ball world;” Sunday Money is a primer on the history of stock car racing and a vivid portrait of the season MacGregor and the Beep (his “Beautiful, Brilliant Partner,” photographer Olya Evanitsky) spent crisscrossing America in a motorhome, clocking 47,649 miles on the Winston Cup tour.

But more than offering race descriptions, anecdotes, or driver hijinks, more than recounting life in the NASCAR tent cities or parking lots of Wal-Marts, MacGregor examines the sport’s commercial machine — the squadrons of flacks regulating image, the promotional juggernaut packing logos and endorsements into sports columns and TV highlights. Incorporating an analysis of consumerism into his book, MacGregor shows NASCAR as larger than the sport and its myth. It is the inexorable Tony Stewart, Orangeman of Home Depot; Mark Martin in the Viagra Ford; Jimmie Johnson in the Lowe’s Chevy. It is Will Ferrell as Official Spokesman of NASCAR Day. It is the scads of products bearing drivers and their cars, it is the cardboard cutout of Dale Jr. in the beer aisle with a pile of Bud. As MacGregor argues, in buying widgets, shopping at Home Depot, or seeing Will in his new movie (coming this fall with Sacha Baron Cohen), you’re anteing up, so you might as well learn how to enjoy it. To that end, short of attending a race, track down this primer. The depth of description and insight jacks it head and shoulders above the ordinary.
– Nick Parish

I rocked the Rocker

Please allow me to preface the following with an explanation of my baseball talent:

Previous to this “pseudo-professional” (Rocker’s words) at-bat, the most recently I’d picked up a bat was during a cameo appearance on “No Comment,” the Fordham student paper’s club softball team. I went 2-3 against the yearbook team in a pathetic effort by the Ram squad.

I played little league until I was twelve or so, mostly as catcher. I couldn’t engage the game long enough to play infield, as my coaches and parents learned one fateful day when I was stationed at third. I guess my attention wavered, and a liner that should have been an easy out hit me square in the forehead. Knocked out cold. The last thing I remember was hearing the bat and looking up at the ball flying toward my face. When I came to, with my dad and the coaches around, the first thing the coach said was “Well, that’s why they call it the hot corner.”

So my history makes this all the more improbable, exciting, and, well, awesome. I’d like to thank the inventors of Lasik, who allowed me to take the batter’s box without Rec Specs for the first time in my career, as well as Deadspin’s Will Leitch. Will took the photo, offered words of encouragement, and, well, a least common denominator. I mean, what would the world be coming to if print guys are outhit by bloggers?

Amare on the Rebound

 

 

Magnetic Resonance bounced around Amare Stoudamire‘s reconstructed left knee, tracing the results of last year’s microfracture surgery and showing things were on course in his recovery. If you cruise to the newsstand this month and want to hear the big man’s take on his recovery, pick up this month’s Slam, with Allen Iverson on the cover. In addition to the regular Bball goodness, I got Amare’s take on his injury and the patience required for recovery.
His return is still up in the air, and estimates vary wildly. One tidbit with little regard to dates or places relates to performance: due to increased resistance training during rehab, it’s rumored his vertical could increase by as many as four inches.
What does this mean for the Suns? Well, the timing of the announcement — Amare beginning light jogging in early February — suggests it’ll be at least March before he’s ready to suit up. Their schedule this month is light, with two homestands and the All-Star break. A series of winnable games to put distance between themselves and the Clippers. But faced with the option of easing Amare back into the lineup against mid-grade players in the conference or in March, when key matchups include two clashes with the Spurs and one with the Clips, I’m sure Mike D’Antoni would rather the former.