In The Event of [ ____ ] Disaster

Having worked in advertising the past eight years, I've encountered a few worst-case-scenario assignments. The most memorable were in anticipation of Mad Cow disease and bird flu. Thankfully, none of those scenarios came to pass. But having gone through the exercise of "what if, and then what?" gives me an appreciation of this William Safire-penned speech. Written for Nixon, In The Event Of Moon Disaster prepared for some unforeseen catastrophe that would have prevented Apollo 11 astronauts from returning to Earth from the moon.
Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
This first sentence is a blatant reminder that politicians rarely speak with such eloquence any more. Where there was an implied sense of reverence and respect for the American public in Nixon's day (yes, I am aware of the irony in that statement), now is self-congratulatory smugness and complacency, if not mild retardation. Something to keep in mind with the election year approaching. Then again, if the wrong candidate wins again, there's always the burgeoning space tourism industry - and a potential to escape not only to Canada, but perhaps our nearest celestial neighbor.

[via Kottke.org]


Street Is The New Mall

I know it might sound surly or even old of me, but I think the whole streetwear thing has just about jumped the shark.

Twenty years ago, Vision Street Wear introduced the term streetwear to kids like me - and it wasn't hip-hop. It was skateboarding (street skating was a more resourceful and opportunistic alternative to vert skating). It wasn't saying "I'm from the streets" as much as it was saying "that's where I go to play". Vision Street Wear at the time seemed to be against a lot of the things it seems to stand for now. Granted, the brand went relatively dormant after one of its premier skaters convicted of killing his girlfriend, and probably needed to come back rejuvenated for a new generation of skateboarders. But do a little homework and you see the brand is almost a parody of what it once was. I suppose you don't think of it that way when you're 13, let alone do your homework*.

Likewise in the past decade, Nigo's A Bathing Ape has gone from a fringe fashion delicacy to a much-counterfeited eBay favorite. I won't get into it now; you've already gotten my thoughts on it. Suffice it to say, there are dozens of guys proudly sporting knock-off Bape gear all over the Green Line these days. At least it's not about authenticity; that would require individualism and a lot more work. It's just about having the look.

Which brings me to Satchel of Gravel's brilliantly insightful post "So You Wanna Be A Streetwearer". Follow the link to their full write-up, or check out my copy-and-paste lift of their "Ten Steps to Becoming a Streetwearer" below.

1. This is the simplest step. Learn everything about Japanese street culture. Just take everything you know about American street culture and mentally make it more expensive and limited. What do you think Bape does?

2. Perfect your masturbation skills. If this is how you’re going to start dressing, you’re never getting any ass. You may get a BJ from other dudes who really like your Jordan IIIs, but definitely from not any girls. Accept it.

3. Stay online till you go blind. Never leave the internet. Don’t worry about going to the store to buy product. You have ebay, Niketalk and a gang of forums at your disposal. Plus, you run the possibility of running into girls and with your newly perfected masturbation skills, you don’t need them.

4. Buying IS rebelling. The more you buy, the more you’re showing that you’re against the system of mass consumption. Get as many overpriced sneakers, tees, jeans, jackets and shades as you can. Also make sure that you have at least one (two max) small luxury items like a Gucci belt or LV wallet, to show off your well rounded sense of style.

5. You probably want to be white.

6.Pick up an action sport. Literally. Just buy a deck or a fixed bike and walk around with it. Don’t actually use it, you’ll lower the resale value, which you’ll need for…

7. A digital camera! Get as many megapixels as your parents will let you have. Then, go around and take pictures of your friends, pets, food, chewing gum, dirt and basically whatever ends up in front of your lens. Take a page from Bobby Hundreds and use awkward angles to illustrate your “artistic” side. When that’s done, start a blog detailing your excursions. Like we did.

8. If you’re living in Los Angeles or New York, make sure that you can be found in front of Supreme or Flight Club vying for a photo op on a cool guy blog.

9. Memorize Dipset and Wu-Tang lyrics like your mother’s life depends on it. Because it does.

10. Finally, hit up as many streetwear parties as you can (remember your camera!). As long as they’re in a small venue and Sapporo is the liquor sponsor, it’ll be awesome! These parties are really good for comparing your new hyperstrike deadstock purchases and masturbation techniques with the other guys that are there.

[* Full disclosure: I always did my homework.]


Help Yourself

I'd like to point to three links you may or may not have noticed in the right-hand column. I find myself checking these out of curiosity at first, then reading further because I've found useful, practical advice on how to better get one's proverbial shit together.

  • 43 Folders - "Merlin Mann's family of websites about stuff like personal productivity, life hacks, and simple ways to make your life a little better."
  • Dumb Little Man - "...tips that will save you money, increase your productivity, or simply keep you sane."
  • Lifehacker - seems self-explanatory enough to me. Part of the Gawker Media empire.
  • Ririan Project - "learn practical ideas to make important changes in your life, both big and small, so you can get your life on track and start living up to your true potential."

Enjoy. Let me know if I missed any good ones. I'm sure there are more out there.


How To Have A Number-One The Old-Fashioned Way

Taking time to talk pop reminded me of something I meant to post a while ago, yet I never got around to. That something is The Manual: How to Have a Number One the Easy Way. Long out-of-print and impossible to find, this book was hugely influential on my early forrays into the music industry. The K Foundation's combination of discordianism, Illuminatus references and unabashed pop sensibility stuck with me. I've followed the further exploits, musical and otherwise of Jim Cauty and Bill Drummond. I've had The Manual in my Amazon wish list for years, never to see it actually "available". I loved it when I read a friend's copy in college, and always wanted to have my own copy. Now we can all have it.

A relatively recent BoingBoing post about the KLF links to a PDF version of the manuscript. So while you miss some of the illustrations and the tactile sensation of holding this adorable little case study, full of instructions (which were guaranteed to work, BTW, if you followed them to the letter), you can still read it.

It's worth knowing that The Manual did in fact work, too. The Austrian Euro-trash band Edelweiss found #1 hit status with "Bring Me Edelweiss" - a song they claim was created by following the instructions in The Manual. And this was some time before you could use a MySpace page to collect friends or distribute a new single. Of course, with theories like The Long Tail afoot, it's probably not so much about having a number-one anymore.

Does anyone feel like telling Kanye?


Undertones Make It Pop

Stronger Revisited from Kanye West on Vimeo

I'll admit it, I get down on Kanye West a lot. I never understood why he got popular for speeding up R&B samples, a.k.a. "chipmunking", a rudimentary sampling tactic which had been going on long before he tried it. I have never cared for the blatant, just-add-a-drum-track style of sampling he often employs, either. And I personally don't see or hear enough original talent to justify his notoriously pissy arrogance. On top of that, it bothers me that someone of his disposition has come to represent the Chicago music scene to the masses. He's from upper-middle-class Oak Lawn, not proper Chi-Town - and folks* in the city of big shoulders just don't whine like he does.

That said, I find this clip sort of endearing. Kanye just can't get his drums sounding the way he wants, and has to consult eleven(!) different mixers... until finally Timbaland schools him about undertones and proper drum-tone layering. Watching it, I considered that maybe West is so desperate to win awards because it won't be long before people realize his naiveté. It's almost cute, in a way. He's really just trying to become a super-star.

But, back to my beef with him, that's the approach you expect from NYC or LA, not our beloved Illville. (I know, I know... then how do I explain Billy Corgan? I don't; he's another over-entitled rich kid from the burbs clamoring for attention over integrity.)

Clip courtesy of E.
[* Full disclosure: I'm originally from the "Chicagoland" part of NW Indiana, and truly dislike it when people claim to be "from Chicago" when they actually live outside the city limits, sometimes further from the actual city than I was growing up in Indiana.]


Seven Hills Of Time Displacement

It's been forever since I posted anything. As if you couldn't tell by looking at the date of my last post. I'm in Lisbon for work this week. While I was here, Chicago turned up on Google Street View. Nice to be able to check on the place while out-of-town.

Rounding out the time in Lisbon with a bit of a head-cold. Thought it was allergies, but allergy meds are doing nothing to relieve the symptoms. Somehow, in the haze of jet-lag and work-related hang-overs, I am at this moment in the throes of time displacement. Why else would I by trying to get a new post up at a time like this? Rhetorical question. More photos posted once I get home. For now, see what I feel like while walking through the city of seven hills, on sinus medicine.