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Archives: April 2005

Stop the Presses!


I can’t quite believe my eyes, but it appears that my favorite mis(s)anthrope has encountered some new construction in New York City that he has a few nice things to say about. Truly shocking! The building above, 37 Arts, is a new mixed-use arts building on 37th St. Here’s a bit of what Miss has to say on it (for the full item, go here.):

I’m pleased to share that [the building] should stand as an exemplar for the coming development on the West Side, and as an impressive memorial to architect John W. Averitt, who passed away during construction… One hopes that the Prince of Pulsation, Mr. Charles Gwathmey (who has his offices across the way, along with another local titan Richard Meier), looks over occasionally and takes inspiration on what restraint and simplicity can produce.

Miss(ed) Manners

applenotecard.jpgGetting my act together with regard to social correspondence is a perennial New Year’s resolution for me. I think my poor form in this regard is some teenage rebellion hangover that I’ve never recovered from. For as long as I can remember, my mother has kept a large agenda on the dresser in her bedroom and slipped into the pages are occasional cards, bought far far far in advance, commemorating birthdays, anniversaries and graduations of friends, friends’ children and family members. I am the sort of girl you’ll find shuffling through the slim selection of Hallmark cards in the supermarket on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. It’s tragic, truly. Especially considering the high regard I have for receiving paper mail, which has only increased as more and more of my personal and businss communication is conducted via email (or IM).

Lately I’ve been of the mind that I simply lack the proper tools. I’m convinced that if only I had the finest pen and stationery, writing a pithy and warm note to my host or hostess after a dinner party would be as natural to me as IMing absurd links to my friends in California is. So I’ve been on the hunt. I could stock up on pre-printed notecards – there is a vast array of choices.

But no, right now I am preoccupied with getting engraved stationery, because hey look, I’m a classy lady. And a print geek to boot. The gold standard amongst the society folks is Mrs John L Strong. (Clearly their web presence is not a priority – the placeholder page at that URL lists the physical stores you can visit to purchase their “Fine StationAry”. Hello.) Alas, such luxury comes at a price well beyond my means. So, I’m the hunt for something of that ilk, but you know, affordable.

Right now, I’m enjoying educating myself about the particulars of making such a purchase.

Till then, I am going to make do with ThankYous of the store bought variety. If you’ve done something nice for me lately, keep an eye on your mailbox.

(You can find the notecard pictured here at Pancake & Franks.)

UnBeige Party Pix

We had a little party for UnBeige a few weeks back. Pictures were taken. Here is the evidence:


Don’t mess with Spiers. No, really. Just don’t.


John Lee looks good, even when he’s overexposed.


The bar. That’s where drinks come from.


Two hour party people.


Diana Lind, EIC of Work Magazine, uses NYers predeliction for black to her own advantage.


Lock threatens Spiers with physical violence. I always knew that guy was a thug.


Michael Grossman chats with me and the ever-fabulous Jeffrey Teuton.


Spotlight on: Miss Representation.


Andrew Hearst listens attentively to the news: His apartment needs therapy.


Spring Fashion Forecast: It’s all about denim. Again..

Hey, Hot Shot Winners Announced


We wrapped up the first season of Hey, Hot Shot yesterday, and I have to say that the whole process was really fun. I loved working with the very smart (and terribly tasteful) panelists and it was interesting every step of the way. It was also nice to put my web chops to good use when developing the site itself.

The very best part was having a chance to look at all the submissions. Obviously, the photos are front and center, it being a photo competition and all, but the bios and statements of the photographers were fascinating. Well, the very best part so far. I have a feeling that the opening reception for the showcase (which is on May 5th. So soon! eek.) will be terrific. It’s always a huge shift to get images off line and into a gallery space, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the results.

I posted a small item on the gallery blog and I also made a Hey Hot Shot Spring Winners photo set on Flickr.

Nerd On Nerd OFF

I just got word from the mothership that tonight’s Blog panel is cancelled.

I ran into Lockhart last night and promised to heckle him mercilessly at said event. Now the event is cancelled?

Coincidence? I think not!

(I’ll let you know when rescheduling details are available.)

Math is Hard


I am over the moon excited about an article in a recent issue of The New Yorker. The cover date is April 11. (Come on, it’s not like you’re on top of the most recent issue either.) The article, by Richard Preston, Capturing the Unicorn is about finding a mathematical solution to the problems that the Metropolitan Museum faced when trying to digitally document the The Unicorn Tapestries with any kind of accuracy.

That is a summary in the broadest possible strokes. The article offers a confluence of elements that I find absolutely fascinating:

Digital photography overall, and its uses in terms of accurately documenting a (huge) museum collection

Math at very abstract levels that make my brain hurt. (But also make me wish that I’d paid more attention when I was back at Stuyvesant

Really really really smart people: Two brothers, Gregory and David Chudnovsky, who “insist that they are functionally one mathematician who happens to occupy two bodies.”

Unicorns! Because that is exactly the kind of dork I am. (Yes, my junior high school diary journal had an image of the Unicorn in Captivity on its cover.)

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

A color digital photograph is composed of pixels. A pixel is the smallest picture element that contains color. The Unicorn tapestries are themselves made up of the medieval equivalent of pixels—a single crossing of warp and weft is the smallest unit of color in the image. The woven pixels were maddening because they moved constantly. The brothers understood, at last, that it would be necessary to perform vast seas of calculations upon each individual pixel in order to make a complete image of a tapestry. Each pixel had to be calculated in its relationship to every other nearby pixel, a mathematical problem, known as an N-problem, big enough to practically choke It. They decided to concentrate on just one of the tapestries, “The Unicorn in Captivity.” Gregory said, “This was a math problem similar to the analysis of DNA or speech recognition—”

“Look, my dear fellow, it was a real nightmare,” David said.


20050413ronaldstatue.jpgI trotted through yesterdary largely oblivious to the rest of the blogosphere, which means I overlooked Michael’s Design Observer item where his response to the ginormo new McDonald’s in Chicago serves as a springboard for discussing the work of illustrator Bruce McCall, who he describes as the visual poet of American gigantism. (Nice turn of phrase there, eh?).

I was in Chicago last week and from a distance glimpsed something I thought at first was a hallucination. It got bigger as I got closer, and then finally, there it was: the most enormous McDonald’s I have ever seen.

This was no mirage, but a newly-opened restaurant built to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of McDonald’s. And this it does with a vengence, deploying 24,000 square feet of space, two 60-foot golden arches, seating for 300, two escalators, a (first ever!) double-lane drive-thru, and — lest anyone fear that Chicago’s extraordinary design legacy is being ignored — a “living room” area with furniture by Mies van der Rohe.

Photographs and even the online animated fly-through fail to do it justice. This thing is just unbelievably big. And naturally, the design community has reacted with horror. But I find something funny and charming and peculiarly exhuberant about the place — and something strangely familiar, too.

I’ve seen lots of commentary on the exterior of the building, and loads of images too. I would love to see images of the interior though. If anyone has links for me, I’d be much obliged. A first person account of an entire dining experience in the new place would be golden. (She said archly.)

Get Your Nerd Blog On

No, it’s not revenge of the nerds, it’s a blog panel! OK, maybe it IS revenge of the nerds, but it looks like fun. Don’t miss an opportunity to see some of your favorite bloggers live and in person tomorrow:

Random Acts of Journalism: How to Be a Better Reporter via Blog

Elizabeth Spiers, editor-in-chief,; founding editor of, a weblog about “the darker Manhattan-centric themes: class warfare as recreational sport; pathological status obsession; and the complete, total, and wholly unapologetic embrace of decadence.”

Ron Mwangaguhunga, blogger, Razor magazine

Peter Rojas, editor,, former editor at Red Herring, Cargo

Ben Smith, blogger, The New York Observer’s Politicker blog
Lockhart Steele, managing editor of Gawker Media

Wednesday, April 20, 7-10 p.m.
7 pm – 9:00 pm – Discussion and Q&A
9:00 pm – 10 pm – Informal drink hour at nearby bar

The Studio Theatre
at Theatre Row
410 West 42nd St.
New York, NY 10036
more info

Crimes Against Urbanity: Fast Food Edition


I posted last week about the Chicago edition of Crimes Against Urbanity, brought to you by Archidose.

The grand opening of the McDonald’s flagship was last Friday, and Archidose was on the scene. Follow the link for more pictures, commentary and excellent linkage to coverage of the building.

Also, judging from the photo above, it looks like McDonald’s is using a different font in their signage, no? Does anyone know if they’ve recently updated their branding?

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.