• Christmas mix 2013

    I’ve been making a year-end mixtape forever. It’s a diary of what I was listening to in the last twelve months. A dwindling number of us continue to swap discs, but we know we are dinosaurs. Music is easily accessible now, and there is so much good stuff to listen to. Nobody needs a mixtape-a(…)

  • 21@58

    I’ve been making mixtapes since I was fourteen and my long-suffering Mom bought me my first cassette deck. I still make a mixtape every year on my birthday-a type of musical diary always named tracks@age. It’s fun to go back and see what I liked long ago and far away. There’s no theme-simply music I(…)

  • Robert McGuiness

    Hard Case Crime has reprinted “KIll Now, Pay Later” with a new cover by my favourite noir cover artist, Robert McGuiness. I love his low BMI women, with impossibly long legs. McGinnis has recently done a wonderful cover for the hard cover version of Stephen King’s “Joyland”-his 1200th book cover!

  • Archers Away

    Martha Stewart Living, one of my favourite magazine designs, has been redesigned in response to sagging sales and short attention spans. Will give it a look over when I can tear it away from Ann MacKay. At first glance, it looks like Archer is gone? After a pesky look over Ann’s shoulder, I see that,(…)

  • “It’s not a house, it’s a home”

       Photo and quotation taken from The Worst Room Blog. I’m old enough that the days of being a starving artist scrambling to make the rent for some overpriced, cockroach filled hovel have taken on a warm and fuzzy romantic glow. But a recently discovered blog brought back bad memories of bad apartments. The Worst(…)

  • The big black rocket

    Every Spring, when the weather gets warm enough to read outside, I pull out Gravity’s Rainbow (GR) and crawl into this amazing book. I first discovered GR in 1974, and it fuelled much of my early artwork. GR paid for my first art show in London. Luckily, I knew a bit more about Rilke than the(…)

Christmas mix 2013

Damaged cover

I’ve been making a year-end mixtape forever. It’s a diary of what I was listening to in the last twelve months. A dwindling number of us continue to swap discs, but we know we are dinosaurs. Music is easily accessible now, and there is so much good stuff to listen to. Nobody needs a mixtape-a Reader’s Digest condensed version of the wealth out there.

And speaking of dinosaurs, I picked up the year-end review of Rolling Stone, and hardly knew any of the artists. I am getting old…

As always, every track was legally purchased. That is not me being self righteous-it is totally selfish. If we don’t support artists, we won’t have any music to enjoy. Artists have been freed from the greedy grip of the record companies-there is no excuse not to pay for what you enjoy.

And goodbye, Lou Reed.

Christmas mix 2013

1. Queen of the Underworld, Jesse Malin  03:25

2. My Father’s Gun (BBC Session), Elton John  03:32

3. Wildfire, John Mayer Feat. Frank Ocean  01:21

4. See the Sky About to Rain, Neil Young  03:12

5. George Square Thatcher Death Party (Justin K Broadrick Reshape) Mogwai  04:49

6. Get Lucky, Daft Punk  05:20

7. She May Call You Up Tonight, The Left Banke  02:11

8. I Hope You Find It, Cher  03:40

9. One Day At a Time, John Walsh  03:03

10. Wake Up, Arcade Fire 05:33

11. Helen of Troy, OMD 04:03

12. Love Is A Bourgeois Construct, PSB  06:26

13. Clash City Rockers, The Clash  03:48

14. Shake Your Moneymaker, Elmore James  02:23

15. Couldn’t I Just Tell You, Todd Rundgren  03:16

16. Hanging On The Telephone, Blondie  02:10

17. Maybe I’m The One (For Me), Make Out  01:01

18. Alright Hear This, Beastie Boys  03:05

19. Paid In Full (Mini Madness – The Coldcut Remix), Eric B. & Rakim  03:35

20. Summer, Highland Falls, Billy Joel  02:57

21. She’s Got a Single Thing in Mind, Conway Twitty  03:44

21@58

Peanuts records

I’ve been making mixtapes since I was fourteen and my long-suffering Mom bought me my first cassette deck. I still make a mixtape every year on my birthday-a type of musical diary always named tracks@age. It’s fun to go back and see what I liked long ago and far away. There’s no theme-simply music I was listening to and enjoying in that twelve months of life. Many mixtapes have stood the test of time, though I do wince at some of the bands I played at high volume on my cheap lime-green stereo. Black Oak Arkansas? Yikes! Mom you were right. I’m sorry!

I always designed a cover and type treatment, and sadly to say, most of those have not aged well. 

I’d trade tapes with friends, and we would eagerly wait to see what new music we would discover on the tapes. The internet allows us to sample any tune, but decades ago, a mixtape often determined if you would shell out your hard-earned Rainbow Valley money on an unknown group. I still remember hearing “Life on Mars” from Hunky Dory on a friend’s mixtape, and running out to buy everything Bowie I could find (Not much on PEI, circa 1971).

I still send out a few mixtapes to some old dinosaurs like myself. Not cassettes, but CDs, as most of our decks-including my cherished Nakamichi Dragon-have long crossed the Rainbow Bridge to Stereo Valhalla. 

But I will always call them mixtapes. One word, not two.

Here’s the track list for 21@58

1. Motivational Speaker, Cut Chemist, 2006

2. Save Yourself, Hiatus, 2010

3. Bonnie, Tire Le Coyote, 2013

4. I Never Dreamed, The Cookies, 1963

5. Doin’ It Right, Daft Punk, 2013

6. Parade, Rone, 2012

7. It’s Tricky, Run DMC, 1986

8. Long Way To Go, Dwight Yoakim, 2012

9. Love/Hate Transmission, Liz Phair, 2003

10. I Don’t Believe A Word You Say, Ben Harper And Charlie Musslewhite, 2013

11. Beverly Penn, Waterboys, 1985

12. Just Like Me, Paul Revere And The Raiders, 1967

13. Microphone Fiend, Eric B And Rakim, 1988

14. Down The Road, C2C, 2012

15. Kellogg’s Jingle, The Monkees, 1967

16. Et Puis Je Sais, Johnny Hallyday, 2006

17. Mother Blues, Ray Wylie Hubbard, 2012

18. La Mer, Julio Iglesias, 1968

19. Si Fragile, Luc De Larochellière & Gilles Vigneault, 2006

20. An Accidental Memory In Case Of Death, Eluvium, 2004

21. Moonraker, Shirley Bassey, 1979

Robert McGuiness

21508392 35 KillNowPayLater

Hard Case Crime has reprinted “KIll Now, Pay Later” with a new cover by my favourite noir cover artist, Robert McGuiness. I love his low BMI women, with impossibly long legs. McGinnis has recently done a wonderful cover for the hard cover version of Stephen King’s “Joyland”-his 1200th book cover!

Archers Away

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Martha Stewart Living, one of my favourite magazine designs, has been redesigned in response to sagging sales and short attention spans. Will give it a look over when I can tear it away from Ann MacKay. At first glance, it looks like Archer is gone?

After a pesky look over Ann’s shoulder, I see that, yes, Archer is gone-only use was in a partnered ad that would have pre-dated the redesign. Kudos for serious white space real estate, but a very generic grid that I’ve seen in other lifestyle magazines.

I’m a big fan of Didot fonts, but wonder how well the stencil version used in slugs will age.

“It’s not a house, it’s a home”

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Photo and quotation taken from The Worst Room Blog.

I’m old enough that the days of being a starving artist scrambling to make the rent for some overpriced, cockroach filled hovel have taken on a warm and fuzzy romantic glow. But a recently discovered blog brought back bad memories of bad apartments.

The Worst Room documents attempts to find affordable housing in NYC. Reading The Worst Room, and looking at the pictures is like watching a train wreck. You are horrified, but can’t look away.

Here’s a recent example:

Union Square, Manhattan. $1000.00
“I am looking for someone to move into a large closet space in one of the three bedrooms of my apartment. The bedroom has two closets but there is no need for it so we are looking to sublet it as a living space to a 4th roommate. The closet is about 5 feet wide and 7 feet long. It has no windows and think it would be ideal for a twin size bed and small night stand.”
“Amazing Location”

The big black rocket

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Every Spring, when the weather gets warm enough to read outside, I pull out Gravity’s Rainbow (GR) and crawl into this amazing book. I first discovered GR in 1974, and it fuelled much of my early artwork.

GR paid for my first art show in London. Luckily, I knew a bit more about Rilke than the Pynchon scholars, and a bit more about Pynchon than the Rilke scholars. I turned a little learning into a paper, an art show and a first class plane ticket.

GR is about myth, and the biggest myth is that this is unreadable. Granted, it is not James Patterson, but, neither is it  James Joyce

The Viking first is the reference edition, and all critical writing on the book uses the Viking pagination. And like, land, they don’t make it anymore, so the price has skyrocketed. My copy is worth more than my car. (But, not as much as my bicycle.)

So this year, I’m taking a new approach. My Viking will stay safely on the bookcase, and I will read GR on my Kindle. I’m not sure how this will work-I found I could not read Joyce on an e-reader.  Bloom bloomed best on paper between hard covers.

 

 

The Structured Life

Bslp

Lately, my life has been on hold as I waited for events to unfold. They have, and I can get back to making gantt charts and tinderbox diagrams to map out my life. I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. I never feel secure until I have a map to the future clasped in my big sweaty paws. Experience has proven conclusively the planned map rarely unfolds, but the detours provide the opportunity for new maps.

These charts are a running diary of my life, and are amusing to revisit. Nothing puts the future in perspective better than a look at the creased and scribbled maps of the past. I prefer to work on paper, and find a Leporello to work best. Moleskine makes a nice one.

At the moment, all the arrows and bars radiate from the true north of two events: a Black Sabbath concert in August, and the Montreal Marathon in September. Both will be gatherings with old and dear friends.

What do Lady Gaga and William Butler Yeats have in common?

The secret life of pronouns

First, the creepy part: this book is about computational linguistics, a new science using powerful computer programs to crunch words into dehumanized abstract spreadsheets.

Now, the warm and fuzzy part: The Secret Life of Pronouns, by social psychologist and author James Pennebaker, is written for laypersons and does a superb job making this esoteric science seem simple and logical. A review in the WSJ said it best, “”A good nonfiction book often feels like a new lens prescription: You marvel at suddenly being able to see what was always there.”

Pennebaker holds our hand as we walk into the sometimes Skinnerian world of word crunching, building a strong case that “style” and “function” words can be read like fingerprints.

Pennebaker drew recent headlines when he differed with the common analysis of President Obama’s bin Laden speech.

I wanted to hate this book-and the theory, as I (incorrectly) saw it as an extension of structuralism. (I still have not forgiven Germany for structuralism or Stockhausen.)

But I loved this book—it revealed new avenues to consider language, and how the “how” is the “what”.  (That’s the most Lewis Caroll statement I’ve ever typed.)

So what do Lady Gaga and William Butler Yeats have in common? Pennebaker’s analysis of Gaga’s tweets and Yeat’s poems points to both being depressed. (I didn’t need a Cray to tell me Yeat’s was depressed-read The Second Coming!)

Stay away from Whitehorse…

Signs

…because you’ll want to live there. 

I had a lovely long weekend in Whitehorse, a hip little gem of a city in the Yukon. Whitehorse reminded me of Charlottetown-except they have more mountains and we have more Tim Hortons.

Everyone was very friendly and chatty. Standing on a corner with a map and looking bemused guaranteed someone coming over and asking if they could help me find something. (I do bemused very well.) That said, the city is easy to navigate. Even one as direction-challenged as I had no trouble retracing my steps.

The local beer is good, and the city seems partial to those greasy IPAs from Seattle that I so love. Every bar or restaurant I entered alone always resulted in sitting with new acquaintances.

I love vintage signage, and the city boasts many working signs in good repair.

It was grey and snowing when I arrived and I could not see the mountains. Saturday I opened the blackout curtains in my hotel (Land of the midnight sun-remember?) and was staggered to see the bright shining mountains looming over the city. Breathtaking!

Thanks to the good people at Yukon College for the opportunity to have this taste of the Great White North. It really is great and white-though the locals assured me the snow was usually gone by now. (I think this was a conspiracy to delude a gullible tourist.)

I’ll be doing up a large letter postcard for my trip when I get caught up with the paying clients.