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More On Blackletter: A Reader Responds


I love when you smart UnBeige readers send me email! John Gordon sent me along his musings about Blackletter in response to my post last week:</P

Read your post about Blackletter font and immediately was transported back to my young punk rock days in Los Angeles. In the late 70s and early 80s Blackletter was a very popular font among the Flipside fanzine and punk rock flyer crowd. For me it came to symbolize the first wave Los Angeles punk rock DIY aesthetic. Now, I’m sure there were some thoughts of co-option when the font was used (I mean, that’s punk rock, right?), but I remember making flyers in the days before desktop publishing and a lot of the design choices you made were about availability of resources. When it came to lettering you were pretty much limited to cutting out pre-existing letters from a magazine or newspaper for a proper ransom note look or purchasing die-cut letters at the craft shop. In those days if you were making a flyer for a punk show and you had a choice between Cooper Black and Blackletter die-cuts, there was a good chance you were going to pick Blackletter.

If you look beyond the font treatment and at the whole of the Reebok campaign you can see that same DIY punk aesthetic in the look of the ads (rough tears, photocopied look, etc.). Maybe the edgy style that Reebok and the others are trying to emulate is not a Nazi style, but the last great underground youth scene in America, punk rock.

Will a Phoenix Lapidus Rise from The Ashes?

2005_04_smallodd.gifOver on Curbed they’re reporting that “some… Lapidus Lovers are now arguing that the destructive owner should be forced to rebuild the structure“. Sounds like a bit of a pipe dream to me, and to Curbed as well, where Lock notes that “destruction is 90% of the law.”

I was walking South along Union Square West on Saturday evening, which gave me a head-on view of the half-dismantled building. All the distinctive features have been demo’d. The ugly brick wall that runs along University is still completely intact. As my friend Daniel mentioned when were discussing the teardown, a big part of the issue (to me and many others at least) is that aside from tearing down something of some historical significance, it’s highly likely that what’s built in it’s place will be ugly, lack character, etc and so on. Miss Representation concurs:

It’s a shame about the Paterson Silks building. But the more acute failing is the quality of building that is replacing it. That is why the current logic of preservation is flawed — once the battle for saving has been ended there is no recourse to mandate quality going forward. I’m okay with progress, if it has value, and here there is none.

UnBeige has reported extensively on the Lapidus flap:

Crimes Against Urbanity (Preservation Edition)

More Love for Lapidus

Raise a Glass to Lapidus?

Miss R on Lapidus (and More)

More on Midcentury Preservation

Exactly What Steichen Had in Mind!


This fresh interpretation of the classic Steichen image comes to us via a clever Curbed reader.
An excellent follow-up to yesterday’s Crimes Against Urbanity post.

German Tourists: Not So Discerning?


UnBeige reader Jon Selikoff sent me this photo and said:

In regards to the post on the new H&M ad wrap on the Flatiron, I was quite amused at Michael Bierut’s suggestion that the German tourists would be pissed. To them, I say, “Hah!” …the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin was wrapped (and not by Christo) while undergoing restoration. Not only was it wrapped, though, but T-Mobile worked a little photoshop magic and made it into a big T. The horror, indeed.



It’s Miss Representation to the rescue (again). He just emailed me the links I was looking for about light pollution. The article was in the May 2003 issue of Metropolis. The article White Nights featured a photo essay by David Allee. It was the image above that I was remembering: it’s taken on the roof of a bowling alley across the way from Yankee Stadium.

General Foods International Coffee!


In my item about Francis Francis yesterday, I couldn’t come up with name of the flavored coffee that came in tins, that was introduced in the 70s.

Reader John Edwards came to the rescue with the name: General Foods International Coffees. I was delighted to find the timeline above on their site, along with titillating copy along the lines of this:

General Foods International Coffees introduces indulgence to a nation in need of some pampering with its first three flavors: Suisse Mocha, Cafe Vienna, and Cafe au Lait (later renamed Cafe Francais).

Thanks, John!

Triple Mint Penthouses


Kim from Triple Mint sent me a link to their great item on New York City penthouses. Of special interest to me is the penthouse pictured here, which sits atop the former East River Savings Bank Building which was recently converted to lofts and dubbed Spring… Home (OK, that link takes you to some serious scary flashitude: everything is moving, there is some kind of ritualistic chanting going on over music that you can’t turn off, but there IS a lovely picture of the building once you suffer through all the crap.)

So, 60 Spring Street was the original home of Meetup, and let me tell you: back then it was more Barton Fink than it was Soho chic. And I liked it that way – the doors to all the offices still had semi-opaque safety glass windows with hand done gilded lettering. (Hot!) And the occupants of the building were a diverse lot. (<— Understatement.) Also, the owner of the building, if i remember correctly was quite a… character. Perhaps a UnBeige reader who also held a lease in that building can email some details in: jen AT unbeige DOT com.

Anyhow, Penthouse living – not so bad, huh?

Kottke and PowerPoint

template_small.gifApparently Kottke is a fan of the PowerPoint as well. He sent me loads of links the other day after my David Byrne PowerPoint post. (Thanks, Jason!) Here they are:

The Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation
Putting the “Power” In PowerPoint
The PowerPoint Creed which contains gems like this:
My PowerPoint is my best friend.  It is my life. I must master it as I master my life.
Processing Mapping by Tube (using a handy PowerPoint template, pictured here)
PowerPoint To The People “a two-part competition that follows artists, designers, and purveyors of the digital pitch right to the limits of the unintended.”

Kottke himself created the best PowerPoint slide ever.

Byrne PowerPoint Update (and a Rant)

ledger.gifSeeing as how this comes from the ever-acerbic Miss Representation, the fact that it’s a bit of a rant is utterly unsurprising:

Here is the source of Byrne’s image:
The Break Up Style of PowerPoint [Ed note: Click and read. It's good]

I find Bryne a little too twee anyway, and PowerPoint is its own thing, but, really, couldn’t you say the same thing for PageMaker, or Keynote (or is the box too nice)? Or a ruled pad? I’m sure somewhere there is a funny example of an accountant who wrote a break-up letter on a scrap of double-entry bookkeeping paper.

Besides, isn’t his overarching point that fat and ugly people who didn’t go to RISD for five minutes are easy to make fun of when you have a roomfull of namechecking, starfucking hipsters?

There Must Be a Better Way


I’ll say this: UnBeige readers love their coffee. And their coffee makers. My coffee post yesterday generated a lot of advice and feedback via email. My Polychrome pal Tom Dolan found a new object of consumer desire when he checked my link to the Apartment Therapy site: apparently he can’t stop thinking about the Rowenta coffee maker designed by Jasper Morrison

Somehow, with everything else I have going on in my life, I found myself in front of a computer monitor last night helping Antony decide between replacing his beloved Francis Francis with a new, clearly inferior (aesthetically speaking at least) model or throwing Francis over entirely for the hot looking KitchenAid machine.

Reader email included Christian Moerk (of FishbowlNY fame) weighing in about his Nespresso (warning scary musical flashness at that link) machine:

My espresso maker is Nespresso, model D-150. Dirt cheap, not hard to look at and makes a perfect $0.75 cup every time. ‘Sides, those Swiss have a 24-hr hotline and will send you a loaner for free if your machine breaks down. Now, does that seem like Norman Rockwell-land, or what?

Reader Tisha, and my Well pal Lisa Church both agreed with Antony’s Bialetti recommendation. But here’s the thing, as much as I love espresso, in the morning, philistine that I am, I like a plain old American style cup of coffee. OK, well, with foamy milk, which is clearly creating some issues for me at the homestead as evidenced by the picture taken in my kitchen this morning illustrates. Stop laughing at me, OK?