Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Lovely Paragraph

From David Leonhardt in the New York TImes:

The history of the United States economy over the last 70 years can be roughly divided into two periods: the decades immediately after World War II, when inequality plummeted, and the past three decades, when global economic forces and government policies caused it to soar. Mr. Obama is setting out to begin a third period that looks more like the first than the second.

This is beautiful writing that simplifies many complicated and controversial ideas into one small, lovely paragraph.

No one knows how this unbelievably risky stimulus package will play out in the next few years. But we do know a few things. We know the United States is a consumer-based economy. We know that our economy will collapse if the Great Middle Class does not consume. For various reasons, the vast majority of Americans live on the precipice of disaster, all the time, and if they're afraid to spend, those that they've made wealthy will suffer as well.

Oscars Thoughts

Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School, session 2, precluded my viewing of the bulk of the Oscars telecast, but I'll still weigh in on some of the winners:

Slumdog Millionaire - Yes, it's a movie about India filtered through British colonialist eyes, but Slumdog was still my favorite film of the year. A sweeping, sentimental love story, it mixed the pluck of an O. Henry hero with thoroughly modern globalization themes, and soared.

Sean Penn - While the real life Mickey Rourke-redemption story was fascinating, Sean Penn's performance as Harvey Milk was much more nuanced. "The Wrestler" was essentially Mickey Rourke playing himself; Penn's "Milk" was a tougher sell. He pulled it off magnificently, but still, this was not a year of stellar lead actor performances.

Penelope Cruz - Her dutiful turn as the girlfriend of Tom Cruise paid off at last. Cruz turned in two fantastic performances in 2008 ("Elegy" and "Vicky Cristina Barcelona") and deserved her statue. She's also the most gorgeously Mediterranean actress I've seen since Sophia Loren, and that doesn't hurt.

I also managed to catch each of the 5 nominated live action short films. My favorite, "The Pig," did not win, but that's because it was up against a film about the Holocaust. Does a Holocaust film ever lose?

Monday, February 9, 2009


A-Rod admits he used steroids! Unbelievable!

Seriously, at what point do we just decide to throw away the record books and start over? A-Rod is chasing the record of Barry Bonds, who was clearly juiced while pursuing the record of Hank Aaron, who broke the record of an overweight guy who ate dozens of hot dogs in one sitting. What records are we going to legitimize?

Though he's no longer top cat, Babe Ruth was clearly the greatest home run hitter in baseball history. In his era, few hitters managed 20 homers a year; in fact, some teams didn't even hit as many in a season as the Bambino.

But let's not overlook Hammerin' Hank. I was fortunate enough to see him play at the tail end of his career. He was playing for the Brewers at the time, and when he took the field I couldn't take my eyes off of him. He was any bigger than the other guys. He was kind of stumpy looking at the time, in fact. But somehow, he managed to hit a ton of home runs, even during the dead ball era of the late 60's.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Recent Work

Recent posters I've designed, all pro bono, and all publicizing creative events. These are some of my favorite projects, because you don't have to worry about "dumbing down" the visual solution.

For a small chamber ensemble performance of a Schubert-focused program. Schubert epitomizes Vienna, so Viennese architectural features dress up the black space at the bottom. Undulating waves of lines suggest a musical staff unfurling across the horizon, and help soften the top/bottom color break.

Call for entries for a university literary and art journal. The idea was to graphically represent the jumble of ideas and images that writers, poets and artists chew on during the creative process.

For a small chamber ensemble performance. "Auf dem Strom" means "On the Stream." The large amount of typographic information is balanced with an abstract intrepretation of a stream running through the center of the poster.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hooray For 'Da 'Burgh

I'll end a long blogging layoff with congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers for an exciting Super Bowl victory.

Pittsburgh occupies a warm place in my heart; it's Cami's hometown and its blue-collar, heavy-industrial heritage reminds me of my own hometown of Baltimore. It's a city of neighborhoods and ethnic enclaves that change from hill to hill. Pittsburghers have their own unique accent ("yinz" means "you all"), their own unique foods, and a singular physical setting at the confluence of three rivers.

Pittsburgh, perhaps because of its unfortunate name, often surprises visitors with its beauty. Driving to city from the south, one enters the Ft. Pitt tunnel, where everything goes dark, then finally, "blam!". You're suddenly hit with a postcard view of the "golden triangle," that area of downtown where the three rivers meet. It's like looking down on a mini-Manhattan: you see modern architecture mixing with sturdy bridges, with boats floating along the water. It instantly feels intimate, like it's your own little jewel of a city.

The steel industry has basically disappeared, but somehow, PIttsburgh manages to survive. The city has a couple of top-tier research institutions, which attract a steady stream of intelligent, ambitious people from around the world.

Sure, the weather's lousy, and there are tons of residual infrastructure problems to solve, but somehow, despite it all, PIttsburgh is shaping up to become a phoenix city of the rust belt.