Saturday, October 3, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Image of the Day

Google Books has every single issue of Life magazine from 1935 to 1970 online. Yep, that pretty much seals it, the work week is over.

Above, the Space Needle and Minoru Yamasaki's white arches at the Pacific Science Center, from the May 4, 1962 issue (photo by Lawrence Schiller).

[via SLOG]

The Light Goes On

My recent book and record posts made me think of these interviews that my friends of sound Coolhands and Chad did with Steinski (who's that) a couple years ago for a webzine we used to do called Friends of Sound. I've only met Mr. Steinski a couple times but that's enough to know that he's a brilliant and entertaining dude with enough knowledge of obscurities to fill a museum...i.e. his house.

Check these out – if you have any interest in books, records, or collecting things, I think you will enjoy them:
Steinski on his books
Steinski on his records

Much more Steinski at his website.

Save Yourself I'll Save You All the Time

[ click images to enlarge / click here to view all ]

Extra Special

Images from an incredibly cool photo project in Vice Magazine by Miranda July and Roe Ethridge.

Please go to Viceworld right now to see the rest of the series. [Be sure to swing through the Dos and Don'ts while you're there.]

International Salute to Flawless Form

Legendary commercial artist Bernie Fuchs died last month at the age of 76. His iconic artwork from the 1950s, '60s and '70s is instantly recognizable and spawned countless imitators and admirers.

I have always loved Fuchs' work but never knew much about him, so I particularly enjoyed an initial remembrance from the absolutely phenomenal illustration blog Today's Inspiration, as well as subsequent posts there about Fuchs (all of these images are from there, with the scan below courtesy Charlie Allen's Blog, another place I could fall in headlong).

As always, Steven Heller's obituary at The New York Times is also interesting and informative.

Your Weekly Mr. Littlejeans


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Grand Groove

This is a detail from one of a few posters I designed awhile back for Wheedle's Groove: Seattle's Sacred Soul of the 1960's and '70s, which is showing this Saturday at Northwest Film Forum before heading out on the road for several festival showings around the country. The film is directed by Jennifer Maas, who I have worked with on a number of websites over the past few years. The band in the photo above is Cookin' Bag, one of many legendary Seattle bands featured in Wheedle's Groove. Check out [my former business partner] Supreme's blog for audio samples – the film project came about as a companion to the Light in the Attic compilation of the same name, culled from his vinyl finds over the years.

Emily and I were lucky enough to see an early cut of the film, and I don't think we can make it to this Saturday night's screening, but I'm looking forward to seeing how it's progressed next time it rolls through town. If you're free this weekend, I recommend checking it out.
Here's the trailer:

Visit for more info.

Deep, Dark

Lawrimore Project has a new exhibit that I dipped into yesterday as the sky opened up and the reality of Autumn's arrival became apparent: a solo show of Leo Saul Berk's latest drawings and sculptures that will be on display through the end of October.

Berk explores negative space through a variety of media. Although overly technical at times in his execution, there are some interesting ideas and some real gems. A short excerpt from one of the placards at the exhibit reveals an interesting angle to the work presented, describing his computer generated, three-dimensional representation of Naj Tunich, a sacred cave of the Mayas: information-poor repository of the ancient psychologies therein and a taciturn surrogate for the collective emotions of the contemporary culture...
Lawrimore is a great gallery with a great space to match. Of note is the fact that many of the works have been sold, some pieces topping $10,000 or more. Seems that the Seattle art-buying world is still kicking.

Lawrimore Project is located at 831 Airport Way South, in downtown Seattle.

Tripping Around the Town

. I haven't bought many records since we moved to Seattle, primarily because I don't have any more room on the shelves – I have a couple boxes I need to trade in before I feel like I can justify digging again. Still, my man Coolhands was in town from Austin the other weekend, and there was no question we would have to hit up a few stores.

I like digging with Coolhands because (1) he knows a ton about records, and (2) we come from totally different backgrounds in terms of what we know. I'm not gonna say it's an even exchange – he has a record store (Friends of Sound), so he is constantly focused – but we put each other up on a lot of different things. These are some highlights of my cheapo finds that afternoon.

Remember Danny O'Keefe? I think this might be his first record, on a local Seattle label.

Regrettably I haven't digitized most of these yet but I will get to it.

You can check this one out though:
ZZ Hill
That Ain't The Way You Make Love mp3

Image of the Day


Wednesday, September 30, 2009


This past Sunday afternoon I took the bus over to Volunteer Park, sat in the grass as the sun slowly went down and watched the Gaslamp Killer play his first DJ set in Seattle for the Decibel Festival. It was damn good.

Gaslamp Killer is part of the Brainfeeder crew out of L.A. which includes among others the talented Flying Lotus. He is know for his high energy DJ sets which swing wildly from Psychedelic to Dilla to DubStep, bridging the similarities and exploiting the differences. With bass as his anchor he played for two hours, often changing songs every minute or so, appearing to be fully electrocuted the entire time, with his wild hair, skinny look and Dr. Frankenstein-as-conductor hand movements.

Recently he has started producing tracks of his own, some of which have been released by Shepard Fairey's Obey Records, with complimentary Obey album art. When in LA, visit the Low End Theory Club where he is a resident DJ most weeks when he is not touring.
Download his mix with BBC radio show host (and killer DJ in her own right) Mary Ann Hobbs here.

Buy a mix or his latest release here.

Tailjob, Yeah.

Alright, fine, that's it, goddammit, we are getting HBO again.

Luke Burbank is going to interview Jonathan Ames (the creator of "Bored to Death," which incidentally was shot in Fort Greene) in approximately 23 minutes – tune in at, or go there and download the podcast later if you weren't paying attention to me the second I posted this. It's okay. No, seriously, it's fine.

Image of the Day

This is an image of photographer Irving Penn's Studio in Paris, 1950, when Penn was 33 years-old. There, as well as in London and New York, he took a series of photos of working people of all kinds (firefighters, a milkman, dance instructors, seamstresses, etc.). 252 of them are on display through January 10th in a show called Irving Penn: Small Trades at the Getty in Los Angeles. Read a review and see a slideshow at the Los Angeles Times' art blog, and visit the Getty Center for more info.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

On the Grid

The National Parks: America's Best Idea, the six-episode Ken Burnsian documentary by Ken Burns, began airing on PBS this past Sunday night, and I thought I would take the opportunity to post about one of designer Massimo Vignelli's best ideas: his 1977 template for the national park system's brochures. Vignelli himself has said it is one of his all-time favorite works – and that is really something, considering he is responsible for New York's MTA subway map and signage, Knoll's graphic identity system, and with his wife Lella, classic designs for Heller, among other iconic designs across a variety of disciplines.

Vignelli's design utilizes a "unigrid" template to maintain consistency across brochures for the almost 400 parks in the national parks system.

The unigrid in action.

The most effective, instantly recognizable part of the design is the black bar across the top with the park's name in very clear Helvetica (a signature Vignelli move, and an echo from his earlier designs for Knoll and the MTA). I always look forward to seeing what image each park chooses, and how they crop it in the space provided. The Ozarks brochure with the watercolor of people canoeing on the river is my favorite, of the parks I've visited. (Click to enlarge.)

In recent years I think attention to detail has slipped a bit on some of the brochures – for example, above, you can see that someone decided to get creative and make the word "Dinosaur" bigger than normal on that brochure (because, you know, dinosaurs are big). Though, now that I look at it, maybe that's the size it was meant to be originally. It sits nicely in the space, if there's no tagline required.

One truly disturbing development is the fact that many of the parks have replaced Helvetica with what looks to me like a medium-weight Verdana (?). For non-designers: this is the same problem presented by Ikea switching from Futura to Verdana – but far more serious, because the parks belong to us, whereas Ikea belongs to some Swedish guy.

Verdana (and Arial too, which might have been a more logical misstep) were designed as low-memory screen fonts, and – even the typographers who invented them would probably agree – are not meant to be printed on anything that matters.

Still, the main elements of the system are in tact, and as the John Muir of printed ephemera, I'm no less excited to get a brochure each time I visit a park. I just prefer Helvetica. Used in the way Vignelli intended it, it emanates modern civic-mindedness – it reminds us on a subtle level that the parks are ours, that we as a people, through our government, own these majestic places and reminders of our history.

More info:
Read about Massimo and Lella Vignelli at AIGA's website and at Vignelli Associates. Plan a visit to your national parks at; check out Ken Burns' documentary series The National Parks: America's Best Idea on your local PBS station and at

Image of the Day

Photograph of a photograph by Skye Parrott, from a recent issue of Abe's Penny.

Skye Parrott is creative director of the bi-annual arts and culture journal
Dossier; Dossier's editorial director, Katherine Krause, wrote text in response to Parrott's images for the September
Abe's Penny. Read my interview with the founders here.