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July 2004

Freak Parade

I love this bit of snarkiness from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking about the upcoming deluge of delegates:

We've never had so many Republicans in Manhattan, so I would urge all New Yorkers to come from everywhere, and enjoy the scene. They'll get to see a Republican. Maybe it's the first Republican they've ever seen in their lives.

East From West

FYI, I’m back from the 12-day California mega-trip. I’m exhausted beyond belief, but happy. There's always a lot of processing to do after a long trip, so expect some stories, musings, and lots of photos to come trickling through over the course of the next few days. Well, unless I get distracted, in which case expect a few pictures and an eventual post apologizing about not having anything interesting to say.

Seeing Eddie and Rachel was great, and long overdue. Same for getting to spend some time with their son Leon, my new best friend. Visiting the land of make-believe was great, and caused a lot of cognitive dissonance. TypeCon was amazing in all ways.

I’m unsatisfied, though. With all the running around the conferencing and the new pals and the endless hauls up and down Nob Hill, I feel like I barely got to see any of Jessie, Chris, Michael, or even the Rooster. There were lots of group outings which were fun, but it's always draining to juggle the social dynamics with people to whom you relate very differently one-on-one. I saw quite a bit of everyone, but hardly feel like I got a chance to talk to anyone. Another week of just hanging around would have been nice.

Stories, pictures, and e-mails soon.

Los AngelesSan Francisco

Donuts by All Star

It's Tops

In both Los Angeles and San Francisco, I saw a lot of well-preserved examples of kicky old signage. I think this is my favorite so far.

It's Tops

It's Tops

A surprisingly well-preserved, irony-free coffee shop out of a time warp on Market Street. Fantastic pancakes.

MUNI in Motion

Cable Car in motion

Things to see when you're waiting for the cable car to haul your sleepy ass up that damned hill.

(Read the rest...)

Nob Hill at Night

Nob Hill at Night #1

Just an assortment of what those fancy schmancy buildings look like at night.

(Read the rest...)

Foggy Night on Nob Hill

Nob Hill Fog #1

The thick fog that rolls into San Francisco every night is no urban legend. You can see it rolling over the hills like mustard gas. It's particularly striking at the top of those steep hills scattered around the city.

(Read the rest...)

Bewitched, Bewildered

Bewitched House

Pen Vendorama

Pen Vendorama

Perhaps the quirkiest vending machine I’ve seen, found alongside a bunch of standard candy machines at Galco's Soda Pop Stop in L.A. I have no idea whether that petent has ever been granted.

New York Street

New York Street #1

A little bit of the Big Apple, eerily recreated in scenic downtown Burbank. You've probably seen these exact fake buildings a million times already.

(Read the rest...)


I’m in L.A. and having a lovely time hanging out with the Schmidts. Yesterday we went to a store that sells more types of soda than I knew existed (Cel Ray in a bottle! Mexcian Coke made with cane sugar!) , and today I’m heading over to the Warner Brothers lot to visit Rachel at the Gilmore Girls set, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the Ocean's Twelve set if the stars align correctly.

More later...

The Oval Office

Oval Office

I could make a snarky post about the Commander-in-Chief's frequent vacations to Texas, but in the interest of accuracy I'll confess that this is the mothballed office of Jed Bartlett, not George W. Bush.

TV Houses


Famous set houses on the Warner Brothers lots. Can you identify them without checking here?

(Read the rest...)

Architect Sign


Sign on an architect's office in Silverlake, Los Angeles. I believe these are the Neutraface letters sold by House Industries.

Star Wars Portraits

R2-D2 and C-3P0

A series of original portraits made shortly after the 1977 release of Star Wars. My knowledge of anatomy was still crude, but I captured the essential visual characteristics of each character, don't you think?

(Read the rest...)

Religious Propaganda


Artifacts of the early theological indoctrination of a young Catholic school student. Note that complex, nuanced issues of dogma are avoided at this stage. (From my own personal archives.)

(Read the rest...)

More Letters to Unsolved Mysteries

Letter #1

Any old eccentric can send a typewritten letter but we all know that the world-class crazy prefer hand-written rants and pleas.

(Read the rest...)

Letters to Unsolved Mysteries

Letter #1

These are from an thrill-a-minute packet of photocopied letters sent to the producers of Unsolved Mysteries by some very...earnest viewers. Priceless.

(Read the rest...)

Romance Comics

Girls' Love

Words can barely express the wonders to be found in old romance comics. They're a terrifying, hilarious snapshot of damaging influences on a generation of young women. (Bear in mind that these were almost always written and drawn by men.) And the ads! Astounding, but perhaps I'll save those for another day...

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Gripe, Again

Status: Hating work more than ever. Too frustrated to function at all. Must escape. Fly! Be free! Sadly, there seems to be nowhere to go yet.

N is for Neville who died of Ennui

More Studio Tips

More Studio Tips for Artists

I couldn't resist showing pages from the second volume of this magical, outdated series. Have you noticed yet how all the pages are hand-lettered and illustrated?

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The Relentless March of Progress

Through the misty shroud of time long past, picture a young Sparky full of optimism and armed with a shiny new BFA in graphic design chirping with glee over his shiny new Mac IIci, juiced up with 12 megabytes of RAM, an 80-megabyte hard drive, and a luxurious 80-megabyte external hard drive. Imagine how drunk with power I felt! This first system still holds a record for being the priciest set-up I’ve ever owned: about $7,500 for the whole kit and caboodle, including a full version of Adobe Illustrator, version 3 or 4 or somesuch. (I make a point of buying at least one fully licensed piece of software everytime I buy a new machine.) Just think of the perks: high-density 1.5MB floppy drive! And...um...um...well, I could have attached a 2400-baud modem if I were feeling extravagant. Or maybe a second floppy drive. Or I could have stored shoes or something in all that extra space inside the case.

Some twelve years or so later (so I’m old sue me), and I’m on my eighth computer (my seventh Mac, my fourth laptop) which cost about half as much for its gigabyte of RAM (now, keep in mind that a gigabyte is 1,024 megabytes) and 40-gigabyte hard drive (not to mention all the other Star-Trek-future enhancements like wireless communication and rewritable CDs and more kinds of peripheral support than you can shake a stick at). In fact, just about every system I’ve bought has been cheaper than the last, except for this last leap from a modest iBook to a supercharged PowerBook. (By the time I bought the PowerBook, the price of an iBook had dropped below what I’d originally paid.) And the advances in related gadgets and doodads! For the price of a couple of theater tickets I just bought a 160-gigabyte backup drive, just so my ass could be covered in case of a disaster. (Yes, that’s 2,048 times the capacity of my first drive, which made me feel like such a goddamn hotshot at the time.)

I’m always awed by the pace of progress in this sort of technology when I look down at my own timeline like this. Even though I’ve known about things like Moore's Law for ages, it's astounding what invention and market forces and whatnot can accomplish over a relatively short span of time. I suppose the greater complexity and adaptability of digital technology is the main reason for this madcap pace of feature development. There was only so much you could do with the telegraph or the manual typewriter, after all. Every iteration was pretty much like the last, so unless you wore the hell out of what you had there wasn't much need to upgrade. With computers, every couple of years I find my precious, delicate tool bursting at the seems, taunting me with its encroaching obsolescence.

Granted, I put my machines through their paces. Just about every computer I’ve owned has moved on to a happy life elsewhere, proving to be more then merely adequate for someone else's needs. But c'mon, even a couple of years seems like a ridiculously short lifespan for such an investment.

For the sake of my own future reference, here is a round-up of the machines I’ve owned:

  1. Macintosh IIci (I think I passed this on to my friend Miki.)
  2. PowerBook 540c (Left in custody of asshole ex-boyfriend.)
  3. Power Macintosh 7200? (I can't remember exactly which it was. The only used computer I’ve ever bought. Donated to Miki.)
  4. Power Macintosh 6500 (Later passed on to nephew James for Christmas.)
  5. Dell Inspiron (I don't even remember the model, but Charlie has it now, so he can remind me. The only Windows headache I ever owned.)
  6. iMac DV SE (graphite) (Wonderful machine, now in custody of my brother-in-law.)
  7. iBook (Dual USB) (Another great one. I sold mine, but the Rooster still swears by his.)
  8. PowerBook G4 (15" FireWire 800) (My current pride and joy.)


Fredom Tower cornerstone

I’m stunned. Not only did a completely gorgeous contemporary typeface make its way onto the Freedom Tower cornerstone (Thank you once again, Pentagram), but the Times even did a decent story about Gotham and its inspirations.

It's the little things that make nerds happy.

This kind of publicity is great for the company that produces Gotham, and the attention paid to Gotham's designer, Tobias Frere-Jones, dovetails nicely with his recent promotion to full partner of what is now known as the Hoefler & Frere-Jones Foundry.

Update: And, of course, Gothamist chimnes in with commentary and a few extra links. (And yes, I believe the Frere-Jones gents are les frere.)

Lego My Hero

Watch this totally fun stop-motion battle between Lego Spider-Man and Lego Doctor Octopus (or "Doc Ock" for the modern audiences who apparently can't be trusted with extra syllables). I want a Lego Flatiron Building of my very own. (Maybe I should commission a Brick Apple model!)

Studio Tips

Studio Tips for Artists

This little paperback is an invaluable source of information about the handicraft of design and illustration. It's also a time capsule about how things were done in the era before computers half the tips in the book are curious artifacts of obsolete skills.

(Read the rest...)

Hang in There!

The best satire (or let's own up to the inherent subjectivity of this medium and say "The satire I love the best...") is so intoxicatingly delicious because it doesn't need to do anything more than state the obvious in a way that highlights the absurdity of the way things are. As reknowned philopher Homer once said (and I often quote): "It's funny because it's true!" It's that dash of zing that puts a little life in an everyday flavor, like an onion.

Gay Glasses

Gay Glasses

They are festive, aren't they? My sister nabbed them from her neighbor's garage sale. I adore the typography.

Blue Ranger and Glassware

Blue Ranger

Flea markets can lead to the most unusual juxtapositions.

Globe Detail


It goes without saying that I think New York is the center of the world.

Grandma's Tea Cups

Grandma's Tea Cups

There is o better way to serve a proper tea than with real china handed down through the generations.



Mmmmmmm, candy. Unfortunately, it's movie-theater candy so it costs a gajillion dollars a pound.

Easy Chair

Easy Chair

A cozy seat drenched in a sunbeam. Picture me there, slack-jawed and dazed after work each day.

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