The Medium is ...

Regarding McLuhan's most famous title...

"[...]the title was a mistake. When the book came back from the typesetter, it had on the cover "Massage" as it still does. The title should have read The Medium is the Message but the typesetter had made an error. When Marshall McLuhan saw the typo he exclaimed, "Leave it alone! It's great, and right on target!" Now there are four possible readings for the last word of the title, all of them accurate: "Message" and "Mess Age", "Massage" and "Mass Age"."

-- Eric McLuhan in Phil Baines. Penguin by Design, A Cover Story 1935-2005. Penguin Books.Pg 144

Source: Wikipedia


Herb and Dorothy

This time of year, you'll find me quite scattered. I'm finding it hard to put together any meaty posts but sometimes when I'm driving home and listening to the radio, I hear something fantastic that I just have to share. Tonight it was the story of Herb and Dorothy Vogel:
Herbert and Dorothy Vogel are an ordinary couple of modest means who managed to build one of the most important contemporary art collections in history. Herb was a postal clerk and Dorothy, a librarian.

"In the early 1960s, when very little attention was paid to Minimalist and Conceptual Art, Herb and Dorothy quietly began purchasing the works of unknown artists. Devoting all of Herb's salary to buy art, and living on Dorothy's paycheck alone, they continued collecting artworks guided by two rules: the piece had to be affordable, and small enough to fit in their one-bedroom Manhattan apartment. Within these limitations, they proved themselves curatorial visionaries; most of those they supported and befriended went on to become world-renowned artists. Their circle includes: Sol LeWitt, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Richard Tuttle, Chuck Close, Robert and Sylvia Mangold, Lynda Benglis, Pat Steir, Robert Barry, Lucio Pozzi and Lawrence Weiner.

Thirty years on, the Vogels had managed to accumulate over 4,000 pieces, filling every corner of their living space from the bathroom to the kitchen. Their apartment was near collapse, holding way over its limit - something had to be done.

In 1992, the Vogels made headlines that shocked the art world: their entire collection was moved to the National Gallery of Art, the vast majority of it as an outright gift to the institution. Many of the works they acquired at modest prices appreciated so significantly that their collection became worth several million dollars, yet the Vogels never sold a single piece to breakdown the collection.

The Vogels' discerning taste and magnanimity changed the face of contemporary art collecting. In 2007, James Stourton, the chairman of Sotheby's UK, included the Vogels in his acclaimed book, Great Collectors of Our Time: Art Collecting Since 1945. Stourton placed Herb and Dorothy among the top art collectors in the world, alongside Getty, Rockefeller and Mellon."
I want to write more about Herb and Dorothy Vogel because their story is so inspiring. But for now, here's the trailer to a documentary about the Vogels by Megumi Sasaki called Herb and Dorothy.

And of course, some links if you want to read ahead:
* Herb and Dorothy Documentary
* Vogel 50/50 (National Gallery of Art)
* Meet the Vogels (The Moment, NYTimes)


love it.

Unlocking Newspapers, Pt. II

This trick I discovered for unlocking archived material from the New York Times website also works for the online edition for the Globe and Mail

You're welcome!



Never feel safe flying again

Recently, I was in YVR reading an old issue of the Atlantic and my plane was delayed. So I finally got around to taking in the full details of Jeffrey Goldberg's article, "The Things He Carried" (November 2008), which I heard about on The Colbert Report earlier last year.

Goldberg traveled around through America's major airports exposing serious holes in the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) system. To say he got away with a lot is an understatement. Just a page in, Goldberg writes:
"On another occasion, at LaGuardia, in New York, the transportation-security officer in charge of my secondary screening emptied my carry-on bag of nearly everything it contained, including a yellow, three-foot-by-four-foot Hezbollah flag, purchased at a Hezbollah gift shop in south Lebanon. The flag features, as its charming main image, an upraised fist clutching an AK-47 automatic rifle. Atop the rifle is a line of Arabic writing that reads Then surely the party of God are they who will be triumphant. The officer took the flag and spread it out on the inspection table. She finished her inspection, gave me back my flag, and told me I could go. I said, “That’s a Hezbollah flag.” She said, “Uh-huh.” Not “Uh-huh, I’ve been trained to recognize the symbols of anti-American terror groups, but after careful inspection of your physical person, your behavior, and your last name, I’ve come to the conclusion that you are not a Bekaa Valley–trained threat to the United States commercial aviation system,” but “Uh-huh, I’m going on break, why are you talking to me?”"
Mmm yes, and then I got on the 20-year-old plane as it fought waves of turbulence for the full 2-hour+ flight. Between that, the tragedy in Buffalo, and my unreasonable paranoia, I could have sworn we were going to fall from the sky.

Ok, so the TSA is bad... how about airport security in the rest of the world? Well,
"Easyjet's rule seems strict and clear: its website and tickets insist "all passengers provide photographic ID at check-in on all flights, including domestic services". So when Arnie Wilson, a magazine editor from Haywards Heath, turned up at Gatwick this month for a flight to Edinburgh only to realise he had neither his passport nor his driving licence, he started to panic.

Check-in staff confirmed the requirements for photo ID but, as Wilson began to make plans to have his passport couriered from home, they offered a helpful alternative - he could make his own.

"They suggested I go to the railway station within the terminal, buy a season ticket and with it get a photocard, which they'd then accept as ID," Wilson said. "In fact, it was even easier and didn't cost a penny. Southern Rail gave me a photocard and sent me upstairs to the public photo booth. I asked if I needed to come back to the ticket office with the photos; they said, no, I should just fill in the card myself then seal down the plastic covering.""

--The Guardian, "Photo ID - how about this one I made earlier?"

Love for Love

The first issue of Love hit the newsstands this week and shamed all the skeptics (i.e. me) because the magazine does look good. (That said, it's nothing crazy original). Now the website (not the blog!) is up so you can take a sneak peak at the photography and contents while we impatiently wait for it in Canada.

Left: here's Adriana Lima as Amy Winehouse

Merci, M. Saint Laurent

While in San Francisco, I stopped by the YSL Retrospective at the De Young Museum (a spectacular, dystopic building, by the way, designed by Swiss Firm Herzog & de Meuron), the only US stop for this stunning exhibition. We were truly lucky to be able to take in 120+ accessorized outfits, including that creepy knitted wedding dress from 1965, an original Le Smoking, and those iconic wool jersey, Mondrian-inspired shift dresses. The exhibit was inspiring. I overheard women talking about the first time they saw some of the fashions and how truly groundbreaking it was at the time - it's not just fashion myth! YSL revolutionized women's fashion.

And then I watched Project Runway Canada , and a member of a team assigned to create a couture collection inspired by YSL had no idea who the designer was. Fortunately, Iman gave him a tongue lashing and declared that he "descrated" the house of YSL with his design. (Heidi Klum would never say such a thing.)

So, lest his name be forgotten by more young folks, I want to remember M. Saint Laurent tonight with these striking pictures by Hedi Slimane:
"World renown fashion designer Hedi Slimane took a visit to the Yves Saint Laurent home back in November of 2008. Playing a major role in the relaunch of YSL Rive Gauche Homme, Slimane shares a well documented history with the famous Fashion house tracing back to his stint as Art Director. Of course, he is also well known for his time spent at Christian Dior until his departure in 2007. We now get a look at some of his photographic work from the latter part of 2008 capturing YSL’s partner Pierre Berge in his Parisian residence."



Oscar Stuff

Newsweek produced the best-styled round table of Oscar nominees I've seen this year and the conversation is actually engaging at times. Other times, it's very self-congratulating but then I thought, these folks are actually really talented, maybe they deserve some congratulations. The magazine's website has an hour of these conversations which you can watch here.


Marc Andreessen on everything in Silicon Valley

I mentioned this on twitter last night before the video was available... here's the full show for your viewing pleasure: this is Marc Andreessen in conversation with Charlie Rose about all things Internet-related and why the next iPhone will probably have a kindle-sized screen. Andreessen is completely ready for us to be more wired and is optimistic about what technological innovation can bring to society and the economy. It is refreshing to hear that the end is not nigh because we have a dependency on technology.


Walking towards an incredible farmers' market in San Francisco, I found this in a newspaper box: The Printed Blog, a cool, printed aggregate of pictures, lists, articles and jokes from around the world in the past few months, and published in Chicago.

Near Fisherman's Wharf

From my travels . . .


Wish you were here...

...will return on Feb 18. Peas.


Ah, to be 10 again

I mention the Voyage of the Mimi at least once every few months to someone; we had to watch it in school when I was in grade five and it included, at one point, 10-year-old Ben Affleck and another crew member getting naked in a sleeping bag to warm his (also nude) hypothermic grandfather. Practical, yes, and something you can’t show a room of 10-year-olds without EVERYONE breaking into hysterics.

It really was educational. And wee Ben Affleck had some killer tight 80s jeans.

Reblogged from The Daily What via Michelle



I was doing my homework, I swear

While researching on Google Books, I discovered that they now have back issues of Popular Science, Ebony, and New York, among other magazines available for your perusal. Happy reading (and procrastinating).

"Konichiwa, Daniel Radcliffe des"

Harii Pottaa!

Excuse the flurry of posts. There's just so much work to put off.
NB: This is a different trailer than the American version found here


That's right! I'm holding a contest for this first time in this blog's illustrious history. The first person who can send me a working link to the video mentioned here--that means you can watch it in Canada--will win Underworld by Don DeLillo, a gift card from Starbucks, or a Slurpee. You win, you choose (It's like the Millionaire Lottery. Exact same thing).

Note to self: Learn how to use Twitter now

... or get left in the dust.

According a blog on Wired.com people are getting their household plants, appliances, etc. to twitter them. That is so cool.
Businesses are starting to be built around it. Botanicalls, for example, sells a Twitter-enabled hardware kit that lets your neglected house plants alert you when they're thirsty.

The company has developed a tiny moisture sensor attached to a circuit board with an Ethernet port. You stick it in your plant's soil, and when the moisture levels drop below a certain level, your plant sends you a tweet begging to be watered.
Wired.com, "Twitter Fast Growing Beyond Its Messaging Roots"

The future of fashion

MIT students have developed a wearable computer system! Maybe now they can figure out how to put music and sound into their videos, too. (I kid).

The Shanghaiist wrote:
"We suppose the bad omen of having something that important to China's image to the world burn to a husk on 元宵夜 (The Lantern Festival) wasn't lost on the CCP. But is trying to sweep it all under a rug really the best solution? It's a building! Who has a rug that big?"

Beijing is Burning!

This brand-new building designed by Rem Koolhaas went up in flames yesterday. This unconventionally shaped tower houses the Beijing Mandarin Oriental hotel, which was yet to open. It is a part of the TVCC complex, which also houses the very oddly shaped China Central Television headquarters. It is reported that the hotel tower exploded with flames as revelers set off fireworks celebrating the end of Chinese New Year.

An interesting twist on the story has emerged in recent hours, however, regarding coverage of the event in Chinese media(from HuffPo/Reuters):
According to the Shanghai-based site [Shanghaiist], the Chinese government sent notices to various news sources and sites in the mainland in an attempt to control the online coverage of the event. The notice demanded that news outlets cease posting photographs and videos and to only publish details consistent with the official state media report. The notice can be found at chinaSmack, an English-language China news blog.

The chinaSmack site notes that television coverage of the fire was virtually non-existent and that China's bigger sites, such as Sina were made to pull photographs off the Web.
My friend Herman is in Beijing... maybe he has something say about this. Or not, possibly because the gov't has already removed his assuredly investigative report. Why do I suspect this might be happening? In past months, the great Firewall of China was very good at interrupting our skype conversations, eliminating profanity and some vaguely democratic musings. Perhaps I should have resorted to "frak" a la Battlestar Galactica to better communicate my frustration. "Their Own Worst Enemy" by James Fallows for The Atlantic (November 2008) sums things up nicely, though only tangentially related.

And then here is an analysis from the ever enlightening blogosphere:

"I'm not scared, the fire has not spread to the Big Underpants yet!"

If you are still reading, you may also appreciate this virtual tour of the (former) building:


Auto-tune (a.k.a. the Vocoder) fights back

I've given the Vocoder too much sass. It deserves some respect.

Oscar winners: follow suit

At the BAFTAs, Micky Rourke gives a good speech.


Ad sales for magazine nerds

Leap of Faith

Like the Atlantic Monthly, Newsweek is redesigning and reformatting its magazine to adjust to changing times. They're ditching the old Time-like, mass newsweekly format, and adopting something closer to the New Yorker. The reformatted magazine will be lighter on the text and printed on a heavier paper stock. The magazine hopes that this will attracted a more educated, wealthier, and savvier readership.

To me, this just looks like a magazine for people who aren't interested in reading (see: "The Bluffer's Guide", the redesigned magazine's back page that works like the Daily Beast's Cheat Sheet"). Essentially, they're adopting more blog-like qualities by providing commentary rather than facts, and distilling the big news bits into a one-pager. But they're even asking subscribers to pay twice what they're paying now... so far, I haven't seen anyone succeed wildly at this "capture-a-new-audience" game. Can Newsweek make it work?

Tip: The New York Times, "Newsweek Plans Makeover to Fit a Smaller Audience"

Another staid staple might change things up-- the Oscars:

It's here!

A banged-up back issue of Interview arrived at my doorstep - corners smushed, pages wrinkled, but awesomeness still intact. I diiiiiiiie™.


Guess Who

...is doing herself no favours by admitting to this (quelle horreur!):
"She wore a slim black McQueen sheath, printed with a thin plume of cigarette smoke, to an SATC event in New York. “He’s incredible. I actually had to cut myself out of that dress that night. My husband was out of town, so I was alone when I got home, and I couldn’t unzip it. So,” she says, wincing, “I got out the scissors.”"
--New York Magazine

Clue: She channels Diana Vreeland in the March issue of Harper's Bazaar.


Book Theft Rampant in the UK

The Times:
An estimated 100 million books - a black market worth about £750 million - are stolen from bookshops in the UK every year.

...Predictably, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final work in J.K. Rowling's epic series, turns out to be Britain's most borrowed book.

It is not, however, Britain's most stolen book. That accolade belongs to the London A-Z, at least according to a straw poll of more than 50 independent bookshops across Britain (the giants, such as Waterstone's and Borders, say that they don't keep figures).

“I've been in bookselling for 20 years and the London A-Z is the most stolen book in the world,” says Patrick Neale, who worked at a Waterstone's in London before setting up Jaffé & Neale bookshop in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. “A-Zs were like porn - you had to keep them under the till.”

...Literature thieves come in all shapes and sizes. A bookseller from Bakewell in Derbyshire recounts how an “unassuming, doddery old lady” would come to the shop every week and steal a novel by Terry Pratchett, the author of the hugely popular Discworld fantasy series - who, incidentally, is the most stolen author in the UK. Police eventually found some 60 Pratchett books on the old lady's shelves.

...there are some thefts that simply elude comprehension. The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger was stolen from Liverpool Central Library so often that eventually the librarians stopped restocking it. And Pam Jones from Troutmark Books in Cardiff reports that someone stole The Devil a Monk Would Be: a Survey of Sex and Celibacy in Religion.

“It was about nuns and monks getting hot under the collar when thinking about the opposite sex, and had tips to calm them down,” she says. “One piece of advice was to sit in an icy pond. I was gutted when that went missing because I was reading it.”

The Best Job in the World

My friends are applying for a work position based in the Great Barrier Reef, which the employers advertised as the best job in the world: you take care of the fishies, fly planes, get paid lots of money, and video blog about your experiences. Thousands of people have applied but there's only one job. Help my friends, Sammy and Will, make it to the shortlist by viewing and rating their videos!

Will - VOTE

Sammy - VOTE


Last year, Roman Polanski directed Michelle Williams and Natalie Portman in a commercial for a fictional perfume called "Greed", part of a project by Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli. The symbolism in Greed is heavy handed but the humour is right on point.

The exhibit at Rome's Gagosian Gallery features print advertisements and a bottle of the perfume, designed by Miuccia Prada. Dazed and Confused premiered the commercial--full of lush imagery--online yesterday.

Gagosian Gallery
Dazed Digital.com


Abstract City

My brother (portfolio forthcoming) sent me this link to Christoph Niemann's column in the New York Times (of course!). These are his memories, evoked in Berlin while playing with his sons and manifested in Lego. It affirms that everything can remind you of New York if you love the city, and especially if you are far and away. I also love how the NYT is using visuals in big and interesting ways, and embracing the possibilities of new media in a way that is frequently inspiring. And isn't it fantastic that you can get paid to play with Lego?

The full post is here


The District

Newsweek's pitch-perfect spoof of MTV's The City. This is "The District."

e-books by an expert

The once and future e-book: on reading in the digital age
"Take all of your arguments against the inevitability of e-books and substitute the word "horse" for "book" and the word "car" for "e-book." Here are a few examples to whet your appetite for the (really) inevitable debate in the discussion section at the end of this article.

"Books will never go away." True! Horses have not gone away either.

"Books have advantages over e-books that will never be overcome." True! Horses can travel over rough terrain that no car can navigate. Paved roads don't go everywhere, nor should they.

"Books provide sensory/sentimental/sensual experiences that e-books can't match." True! Cars just can't match the experience of caring for and riding a horse: the smells, the textures, the sensations, the companionship with another living being.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Did you ride a horse to work today? I didn't. I'm sure plenty of people swore they would never ride in or operate a "horseless carriage"—and they never did! And then they died."

More Love for the New York Times

Could I possibly go without posting something from the New York Times every week? I tried and for that reason, I've been saving this one for a while. But I've decided to give in because it's beautiful so you should have a listen and a look... maybe it's gimmicky but that crisp, romantic black and white photography steals my heart.

One in 8 Million is a series of slice-of-life stories from New York City:
"New York is a city of characters. On the subway and in its streets, from the intensity of Midtown to the intimacy of neighbourhood blocks, is a 305-square-mile parade of people with something to say. This is a collection of a few of their passions and problems, relationships and routines, vocations and obsessions."
ONE in 8 Million


The Onion's most cutting headline in recent memory: "Asian Teen Has Sweaty Middle-Aged-Man Fetish"

LOVE Magazine

This weekend was the Superbowl, couch building (nothing says you're in your 20s like building furniture from IKEA with your friends), bike rides, movies and hot torta subs.

In a nutshell, nothing too blog-appropriate. However, I do have a spot to keep your eye on in the next few weeks. On February 19, Conde Nast will launch a new luxury magazine focused on fashion and art, titled Love. The editor is Katie Grand, fashion-stylist extraordinaire and former editor of Pop magazine, and contributor to Interview, The Face, and Dazed and Confused. Grand and co. have quietly been posting on a blogger site about happenings in the office. Highlights so far this year included some lo-res pictures of a bald man, and a short narrative about one of their staffers leaving to get a boob job. I'm hoping the magazine will be more impressive. After all, it's been very a slow year for luxury items, publishing and Conde Nast in particular -- this is a bold move and there is a lot to lose. These magazines have a short shelf life and even the best have tanked in the past few years... this could be a spectacular crash and burn.

LOVE blog