Always outnumbered. Generally overdresssed.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Not Voodoo's Heroes of Prose: David Foster Wallace

Yeah, sorry about last week. Student lifestyle innit? I don't know if you've spent any time in the British Library (let's face it, I don't know a damn thing about you) but it is an incredible place. I think you know you're a nerd at heart when you get butterflies in your stomach just walking into the Humanities Reading Room.

And when I said that the next Hero of Prose would be a less obvious one, that was a massive lie.


Even casual readers of this blog will know I am a huge fan of David Foster Wallace. The name of this blog, comes from his story Mr Squishy:

One of the first things a Field Researcher accepts is that the product is never going to have as important a place in a TFG's minds as it did in the Client's. Advertising is not voodoo. The Client could ultimately hope only to create the impression of a connection or resonance between the brand and what was important to consumers. And what was important to consumers was, always and invariably, themselves.

A friend gave me his book of short stories, Oblivion, in 2004. A book that would literally change my life, leading inadvertently to my giving up drinking, entertaining the prospect of not being miserable and almost certainly saving my own personal map. As well as being a provider of revelatory experiences DFW had one of the most engaging written styles in modern literature. One good thing that emerged from his suicide in September 2008 was that the coverage it generated contained some significant insights into the way that he wrote. In fact, if you imagine someone with an IQ close to 200 writing extremely fast and with a biro you will get the idea.

There is also this amusing primer which began circulating on the internet last year - to my mind, it only covers the style he developed for Infinite Jest, and actually towards the end of his life, he was moving towards something if not spare, then very much sadder.

I don't feel at all qualified to write about his writing. But here are a few things that I have tried to copy.

Just ending sentences where the hell you want in the interest of producing a realistic cadence:

I mean, it has to be something about me if you can't trust me after all these weeks or stand even just a little normal ebb and flow with always thinking I'm getting ready to leave. I don't know what but there must be.

Punctuating third person narration with spoken idiom, just being confident that the reader will read intelligently in the voice that you offer them, and just letting it come out:

The Advanced Basics chairperson looks like a perfect cross between pictures of Dick Cavett and Truman Capote except this guy's also like totally, almost flamboyantly bald, and to top it off he's wearing a bright-black country-western shirt with baroque curlicues of white Nodie-piping across the chest and shoulders, and a string tie, plus sharp-toed boots of some sort of weirdly imbricate reptile skin, and overall he's riveting to look at, grotesque in that riveting way that flaunts its grotesquerie.

Getting up ahead of the reader:

I know this part is boring and probably boring you, by the way, but it gets a lot more interesting when I get to the part where I kill myself and discover what happens immediately after a person dies.

The night before he died I was actually watching his Charlie Rose interview on YouTube, which doesn't seem to be there any more. I did keep meaning to write to him to say that he'd made a massive difference to me, but had somehow never got round to it. Sad really.

Sad too, but I think this going to be my last post here after all. I will be posting on the other blog, but my other commitments aren't leaving me with the juice to write this one too, and it's mainly just making me feel awful.

So thanks very much for reading, it's been lovely.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Ride on time!



GC submitted his column for Nursery School Assistant Magazine on time this morning, including two uses of the phrase 'queening stool'. The new blog is up at a secret address. And this afternoon he's hanging with Paul Smith at the Design Museum. Pretty sweet Friday.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Planners are evil



Taxi receipt, looks fairly innocuous, £15 probably rounded up from £12 on a I'll-do-you-a-receipt-then-shall-I-nudge-nudge-basis. But look, there's some gibberish on there. Turn it over and you're confronted with this:



Obviously this is a warning-as-advert par excellence. Presumably the best thing about having an affair is the thrill, the sheer un-wisdom of it. That once, just once, you're prepared to give in to a libidinal urge in the face of all that accreted responsibility and prove that yeah, underneath it all you're really young and alive after all.

So in this case a warning of the dangers, for those looking for danger is the best possible advert.

Plus 'having an affair' sounds just much more fun than 'working on or ending a marriage' doesn't it? A Cornetto is not an alternative to a back hand slap across the face.

As the product of what was once quaintly called 'a broken home', now known as a normal family, GC feels somewhat conflicted about this. On the one hand I've got the whole libertarian argument a la Hegarty that says if they sell it, we sell it. But on the other is the straight-forward commonsensical aversion to the promotion of something that's bound to cause more misery, in a world already superabundant in misery.

And don't say, well, by allowing people to select an appropriate partner to have an affair with MetroEncounters are preventing the pain and misery caused by people beginning affairs with the wrong people, because that is so much sophistry. You might as well offer humane murder training for those considering doing a murder. ('Not everyone is suited to murdering, but if you would like to quietly smother your partner to death...')

I'm not sure I'd work on it, but I'd like to meet the planner who did. As would several thousand angry, angry spouses within the radius of the M25 I expect.

Whaddyouthink?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Not Voodoo's Heroes of Prose: Charlie Brooker

The second in a series of features in which I pontificate about people who write really well in an utterly transparent attempt to establish myself on some kind of equal footing with them.

This week Charlie Brooker.



I was going to save him for later, but he wrote this piece on the horrible horrible Windows 7 launch parties thing that Microsoft made. It's fine when he's writing about TV, but when he starts on advertising then I'm like oi Brooker stay the fuck off my patch you trout-faced old hack.

He's over at his desk laughing. Ha, ha, ha. That's the relationship we have you see.

All male journalists under 30 want to write like Charlie Brooker. Which is ironic, given that he's rapidly approaching 40.

The extraordinary thing about him is that, in an age when the media cares less and less about talent and more and more about youth and beauty, he's managed to build an extremely successful career, work with Chris Morris, present TV shows and poon beautiful former Big Brother contestants, on the basis of a powerful imagination and an expletive-laden prose style. And it all starts with the writing - initially for PC Zone, then for his own website TVgohome.

TVgohome is still the funniest thing on the internet. It doesn't seem to get old. I had to stop reading it during the years I spent working as a medical secretary because people kept coming into the room to find me with my head on the keyboard apparently crying. Whilst I was living in South America I used to read it to remind me that there were parts of the world where humour was relatively widespread.

Here is a hasty and inadequate survey of some of the characteristics of his writing:
  • hyphenation and conjunction - so A&R men are shark-eyed, Nathan Barley is cock-haired, his friends are shitcreeps, etc. By stacking a load of these up you can create the impression of language straining to accommodate spleen, or misery or whatever else you're trying to express.
  • surreal flights of description, but studded with weirdly poetic detail. So here, describing his experience of a minor neck operation: 'What if, just at the crucial moment they stuck the needle in, I was seized by some awful Tourettes-like urge to suddenly jerk around on the slab, cackling like a madman in a rainstorm, deliberately severing my spinal cord against the cold, hard spike?'
  • precise technical specifications. In 2002 Nathan Barley was using a Sony Vaio laptop and a Nokia with an infra-red connection, today Brooker revels in the full name of the Mac operating system 'Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard'. These add sudden moments of focus and clarity and give the whole schtick an Easton Ellis-type hypermodern feel. (He's up on product numbers because he used to work behind the counter at CEX, not sure which one, maybe down the road from Dave Trott's place, which raises the possibility that they might have met, and probably argued, neither one aware of the other as a culturally significant prose stylist.)
  • Cloacal fixation cf. the fictional Ralph Fiennes vehicle, Widdleplop III on TVgohome.
  • All of these things put to the service of an amazed horror at human selfishness, cruelty and self-regard eg.: 'While filming himself receiving fellatio from a coke-twisted anorexic work experience girl plucked from the corridors of his uncle's TV production company, Nathan Barley momentarily interrupts his warm-gummed prickbliss to read a text message from the Ananova automatic news update service informing him of the latest Afghan death toll, before sliding his hideous gitprong back into position and intuitively grasping the back of her head like a man trying to pierce a basketball with his fingers.'
Interestingly, it is a rule in advertising that the more like Nathan Barley someone actually is, the more likely they are to namecheck Nathan Barley as a self-aware conversational gambit.

So there you go. Charlie Brooker, we salute you.

Next week will be less predictable, I promise.

I'm not going to be posting much tho', because I've just started this MA and am already having anxiety dreams about writing a book.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Britons: America's Australians



I don't know who made this ad - might be Fallon, might easily be the first execution of the idea that DDB took them from Fallon with, it's impossible to tell from the caption in the Campaign article I nicked this picture from. Lazy journalism if you ask me.

At any rate, this ad is around at the moment in every paper format going. They even wrapped Time Out London with it the other week, which I found ironic, given that the picture clearly shows no city on this island.

Good times. They're out there.

Not literally out there obviously. But somewhere. In America maybe.

The British are peculiarly susceptible to this idea: somewhere there is a glamorous city where you will shake off your social anxiety and be much more like a fun-loving, and yet fashionably sardonic, character from a 1990s sitcom. You'll get phone calls behind the bar. You'll play pool on those tables with the massive pockets. Women will assume you're intelligent, because of your accent, even if you're technically an idiot.

In fact, this is the archetype, if not for all advertising, then at at least for the majority of advertising for booze.

How do I get to this magical place?

Should I take a plane or catch and ocean liner?

No old friend, you just have to drink enough Budweiser.

Then you will have no fucking idea where you are.

The other thing that lends this advert its weird archetypal feeling is that it's actually the only advert you can make for booze now, since it became illegal to show attractive people having fun, socialising and drinking.

Good times. Woo!

Monday, September 21, 2009

How not to write No. 2

Surf YouTube collecting as many intro sequence to 90s yoof TV show 'The Word' as you possibly can. Watch them over and over, and try to work out what the word is for how they make you feel.

It should exist between 'nostalgic' and 'embarrassed', but it's just not there.

I believe Quiet Storm made this one.



If you want to waste extra time not writing, try uploading your videos straight to Blogger. It takes much much longer, but it does seem to get round the no-embed code that Channel4 put on their videos, no-fun sticklers for copyright that they are.

This is going to be sort of a 90s week on Not Voodoo. For precisely no reason.

The 90s were a really long time ago

Let's just take a moment to appreciate how long, with the help of this video.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Brother Stevie's Hot Show


Next Thursday GC will be making the pilgrimage east to worship at Brother Stevie's opening at Shoreditch trendhole Jaguar Shoes.

Downstairs will be a special Not Voodoo retrospective.

Come along and say hello. That would freak me out.


TFL Design Department fucks it up again



Oh look, here's a nice idea. A short story based on the Underground, presented in the context of an Underground station, and maybe written with the input of Underground staff.

Mmm, maybe I'll get a bit closer and read some of it while I wait for the tube...



Arrrgh my eyes!

Incredibly small type plus super long line length makes it impossible to track to the end of the line so that the process of reading is incredibly laboured and boring and oh look I just can't be bothered any more.

Over at Set Square and Protractor Magazine the designers are moaning about how they've fucked up the map. Something for everyone hey TFL.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'll edit this later, I have to go and exercise



I love this clip, in fact I love this film. I may put up the home improvement scene, where Charlie Sheen buys a West Side apartment and, with a team of burly interior designers and Daryl Hannah, does the place up with detachable neo-Georgian cornicing and stencils to the sounds of 'This must be the place'. Aspirational with a capital A.

Also: the hair. As a heavy pomade user myself it's a weird relief to see this. Some say Mark Lamarr, and I always counter with Johnny Otis, but maybe Charlie Sheen in Wall Street is where it's really coming from on a level too deep for me to admit even to myself.

So apart from all that, I was thinking about this video because I recently read William Gibson's Spook Country. It's not a great, or even a very good book. It caused me to wonder whether it's easier to write sci-fi in a merely workmanlike way. The little Philip K. Dick that I've read is as badly written as an unexceptional edition of Razzle, in fact Blade Runner is even better once you realise what a terrible book 'Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep?' is.

Fans of Bladerunner, Through a Scanner Darkly and Total Recall may also notice that they are all essentially the same film - about a man who believes himself to be part of a system, whilst schizophrenically existing within another rebel system. This effect might not be unconnected to Dick's biscuits having been thoroughly flipped taking mind-bending hallucinogens during the 1960s.

Hem...anyway... Sci-fi is all form, no matter. It's a literature of ideas, so things like a plot or writing may be secondary considerations, merely devices that you use to get your hi-tech widgetry airborne.

Spook Country is based on a rather interesting art idea called 'locative art', massive artworks that exist on the internet that are viewed through a special GPS headpiece. Artists use the technology to create site specific installations, for instance, the body of River Phoenix lying dead outside the Viper Rooms - in the actual spot in which he died, or a hotel room full of Monet's lilies.

This is one of the heroine's (her name is Hollis Henry and she seemed to me to be modelled, absurdly, on Justine Frischmann of Elastica) first encounters with locative technology:

"Alberto was digging through a canvas carryall on his lap. He produced a cell phone, married with silver duct tape to some other species of smallish consumer electronics. 'With these, though ... ' he clicked something on one of the conjoined units, opened the phone, and began deftly thumbing its key pad. 'When this is available as a package ... ' He passed it to her. A phone, and something she recognised as a GPS unit, but the latter's casing had been partially cut away, with what felt like more electronics growing out of it, sealed under a silver tape."

At which point the modern reader will be thinking, hang on a minute Alberto, you radical cyber hipster, where's your iPhone? Don't you read Crack Unit? What you're dealing with here is known in real life as Augmented Reality.



So Gibson published Spook Country in 2007 and already he's looking a bit Gordon Gecko. There'd be nothing to stop an advertiser, right now, producing a piece of locative art to hover above Piccadilly Circus, one that was only viewable through certain kinds of mobile handset.

Gibson then goes trundling off into this alternate reality nerd-fest. This stuff, hanging around, in geographical locations and yet in cyberspace, is it any more or less real than, for instance, voodoo, or Catholic mysticism?

I don't know, I don't care that much, what's more interesting is that you can now steal ideas from sci-fi, safe in the knowledge that rate of technological development is so fast that they'll almost certainly be viable in just a couple of year's time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Not Voodoo's Heroes of Prose: Peter York

So this is a feature that I've been thinking of doing almost as long as I've been thinking I should start reviewing films, and maybe trying to send them out to papers, you know, nothing ventured nothing gained, like since I was 16.

Heroes of Prose are people whose written style I particularly like. Some of them will be obvious, some less so.



First up is Peter York. I first came across his writing in the excellent REWIND. Your Art Buying department should have a copy, unless you're working at some tinpot Dog and Pony operation, in which case Westminster Library has a copy, and seriously, you need to move on, you only live once and life's too short to work with people that you want to murder etc., etc.

York (real name Peter Wallis) was ascendant in the 80s and has owned the decade, from a cultural commentary point of view, ever since. As style editor for Harpers and Queens he wrote a series of articles on modern British culture, which were collected in Style Wars (published 1980). He also published a book, which I don't own, but I remember my parents talking about, called The Sloane Ranger's Handbook.

As well as being a journalist he's a management consultant, and his writing has something of the best low-bullshit business lit about it. Not only do I, obviously, like the idea of someone taking popular culture, if not seriously, then at least seriously enough to write intelligently about it, but I also love his prose style.

According to his Wikipedia entry his idol was Tom Wolfe, but he's better than Tom Wolfe in that he tends to avoid the purple writerly stuff that most American authors after Updike see as their birthright. Also Tom Wolfe doesn't know what an occiput is because he's a fucking philistine.

Here he is (in Peter York's 80s, the book that accompanied the BBC TV series, which I picked up in a second hand shop for the princely sum of three pounds) talking about, of all things, B&Q:

Actually, B&Q were not just making a profit out of the self-expression craze, they were instrumental in defining the way we thought of ourselves as we went about our labours of creativity. The B&Q warehouse approach said it all: it was big, competent and businesslike, taking care of everything from itty-bitty brass screws to lengths of 5-inch diameter wastepiping to sprigged wallpaper to burglar alarms. And by extension, we too were big competent and businesslike. We knew we could handle anything from a window lock to a complete re-wiring of the upstairs because B&Q told us we could and let us have the gear, no questions, just as if we were real builders and decorators. What a change from the stuffed, accretion-filled hardware shops of our past, staffed by professional fifty-year-old sceptics in dun-coloured work coats! What a change after the horrors of the builders' merchants ('You can have it, but you gotta buy at least three hundredweight') It all fitted in with that heady feeling of change, experiment, no limits!

The long sentences, with their ease and fluidity make you feel as though you're in a conversation dominated by someone you'd like to keep talking to. There's a speed up, slow-down, speed up technique with inserted clauses. It's like he's drunk, but he's a really good drunk. A slack-rope walker, a raconteur. His lists, as evinced above, or here (writing about Bernie Madoff's home) are exhilarating - he's a materialist, but a soulful one.

Not afraid of the exclamation marks too you'll notice.

So, buy some of his books, comb your hair into a pompadour and go clausal.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How not to write. No.1

Try to beat my high score of 5000m on this.

The copy and the music really do a lot. Anyone know what this is written in/on?

UPDATE: That really is the flash game equivalent of meth amphetamine. It's beautifully designed.
  • It's an escape game, but you can never escape.
  • To play again, you just hit the jump button - so you have no time for your ego to kick in and stop you, you're just suddenly playing again.
  • There's only one button.
  • The music is excellent.
  • The sound effects are excellent.
  • It's really exciting, but it looks like you could run it on a BBC Model B.
  • There's no explanation, it's just laden with stuff that is suggestive of a story.
Can I nominate it for a D&AD pencil? Or something. Can we nominate the bloke that made it to be president this year? Or is that all over already?

Monday Morning Memento Mori


I'm sick of trawling the internet for mortality stats so this is the last ever MMMM. No warning, just sudden and final. The best any of us can hope for really.

So, suggestions please for a new Monday morning feature. And no carping, seriously, if you're relying on an advertising blog for your hard existential truths you are living in a strange reality indeed.

If you need a continual reminder that you're days are numbered, get a tattoo or something. That's what I'm going to do.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I'm a tiger. A tiger. Rrarrrg!

So here I am, back in W12 - at home during the day, with the children, the elderly and the chronically ill.

Not all in my flat, although I can hear the happy cries from the playground down the road, which makes me feel like a Victorian child with TB.

Really need to work on my self-concept.

No, no. The idea is that I'll be freelancing from here and also starting an interesting MA in about a week's time.

So if you need a freelance writer, do get in touch. I'm available about two days a week. I discharged some of my remaining advertising duties yesterday - requesting work for my portfolio and going to run in the NABS Interagency 5k with the last place I worked at.

That was a weird event now wasn't it? I particularly liked when we were led in physical jerks by a woman with a Bobby Brown radio mic and the voice of Barbara Windsor, flanked by her two silent aerobic cronies.

Overall, it was fine.

Only it was a bit like we were acting out a metaphor for advertising for the entertainment of a spiteful tribal monarch wasn't it? Maybe an socialist African warlord. To wit:
  • No one knew why they were doing it. I asked several people, those that would talk to me muttered something about their agency, when pressed a few confessed to a desire to crush their enemies underfoot.
  • Onlookers stood back as we passed, observing our sad straining faces with blank incomprehension. 'It's clearly painful, it looks meaningless, so why are they doing it?' That's what they were thinking.
  • Before the race everyone knew everyone and chatted awkwardly, and during it, we ran silently, each one of us alone with his own pain.
  • The few that streaked ahead seemed to be made from something more rubbery and nerveless than flesh and bone. After a while the idea of ever catching up became frankly laughable.
  • Everyone else ran in a dishevelled pack - sneakily overtaking one another over grassy corners.

GC came in around 200th. There were 700 runners, but you have to try pretty hard to be pleased about coming in 200th in anything. Maybe I should have thought creatively and elbowed my way to the front of the funnel - which was pretty clogged, as per the above, by the time I got there.

In other news Dan Germain, chief beard at Innocent has posted about the interview I did with him for Athlete's Foot Magazine. Nice bloke, but he swears like a thin, bearded, alive version of Bernard Manning. Here's a link, straight back atcha Dan.

Haven't heard a peep out of Gary Garnczarcyk at Malmaison. I liked him, as you will see if you read the piece.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

YouTube recommended it to me...



...so I'm just passing on what I was freely given.

Seriously though, first person to convince their creative director that this is what youngsters are doing these days, and use it in an advert for a tumble drier, gets some kind of incredible award.

Shiny, shiny.

If Brüno had an ad agency...



... it would be Das Comitee.

You don't have to be German to find these ads complexly offensive. And not in a good way. Someone should explain that to them.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Not Voodoo: new and improved


  • GC is back from Istanbul and more curmugeonly than ever.
  • Don't think this point form post is just me slacking off the hard graft of sewing long, intricately clausal sentences together.
  • Oh no.
  • It's punchy.
  • Punchy.
  • Or as the Art Director used to say 'panchy'.
  • But then, she was Italian.
  • Istanbul is great.
  • You can smoke tobacco there, from a bong, even if you gave up smoking like three years ago.
  • It's traditional.
  • You can have your calf muscles soaped up and manipulated by a wiry old man with a moustache and incredibly hard thumbs.
  • Their idealised feminine silhouette is wastey-hippy.
  • Pantherine.
  • And yet, kebabs?
  • Corsets.
  • Like Parisians, river-dwelling, sensualist, so good at cooking they've even made innards delicious.
  • You can haggle there. They like it.
  • Seriously.
  • Can't recommend it enough.
  • I've discovered something I really don't like though, and that's genre-straddling covers of third rate pop songs. Ok, cover 'Smoke gets in your eyes' or 'Mona' or something. There's no need to produce a mambo version of 'Clocks'. There's enough shit in the world without recourse to U2's 'Elevation' played on balalaika. Jeezus. I'm trying to smoke a bong here.
  • Probably not going to give up this blog.
  • Probably starting a new one to run concurrently.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

WTF TFL



Black people love to tell white people Carnival 'is over'.

No need this year chaps.

Blogging will probably be suspended till I get back from holiday next Sunday.

Friday, August 28, 2009

No more comedy for me thanks. I'm stuffed.


Would you believe it, I actually photographed that image, right here, on the train, turning my National Express fold-out seat-back table into a mobile photographic stage.

Incredible hey?

No?

It's strange being on this train, going amazingly fast, backwards, and with free high-speed Wi-Fi, and yet still feeling impatient. That's what happens though when you spend a week yawning, dull-eyed and listless whilst the world's finest entertainers do their highly-trained best to provoke you to mirth. I've probably done all my weary smiling for the year already.

Stand-up is dominated at the moment by men who are younger than me, know my girlfriend and ignore me when they're talking to her.

Having spent some time with comedians I can reassure you that they are even more careerist and awards-fixated than advertising people.

And but it's worse, because you expect advertising people to be appalling ladder-climbers and so you're pleased when you find that, by and large, they're not. Where as you might expect comedians to be funny, principled and free-spirited, and so it's disappointing when you discover that they're all nakedly ambitious and would gladly pimp their own nephews to get on Mock the Week.

When they're off-stage what they do is review one another. And that morose look they get? They're thinking of snide things to say in 100 Best... interviews about other comedians who have been more successful than them.

In fact, like advertising or indeed most kinds of creative industry it seems like comedy is about 30% talent and 70% hustle.

I wondered whether going to the trouble and expense of getting a show together and taking it up to Edinburgh is roughly equivalent to putting a book together and finding a partner and traipsing around London with a portfolio of advertising, and whether the process has a similar effect on the survivors to sharks ratio?



Anyway, I wasn't just sitting there thinking about advertising. Tim Key, Tom Basden and Jonny Sweet (particularly Jonny Sweet), all made me laugh quite a lot - they all use projectors, some use graphs. In fact, Tom Basden's visual jokes, the ones that appear on screen, work very much like ads. It made me wonder whether the grads of the future might go into Mother with a stand-up routine rather than a portfolio. But then, if you had a decent stand-up routine, why would you want to work at a Mother anyway?

Andrew Lawrence is great if you're after a tiny sweary version of Schopenhauer. Hans Teeuwen is one of those comedians, like Rick Shapiro, who you're really glad exist whilst not actually finding funny like I'm actually laughing out loud funny.

Pornographer Ben Dover* is not at all funny, intelligent, charming or any of the things the review said he might be. He's actually a rather nasty, small-minded materialist.

K was much less surprised than I was by that information.

Performance poet Luke Wright needs therapy. Seriously.

Ha ha, I'm joking. Sort of. I only say that though, because I know that he's in the habit of Googling himself.

In fact there was a barely a comedian who didn't do some kind of 'look at this weird shit from off the internet/look at this weird shit about me on the internet' material. Again, as in advertising, it seems like looking at the internet is just much easier than thinking of your own ideas.

The festival is quite an interesting place for observing consumers who want to get themselves gratified on an hourly basis in a market that's glutted with product. The star rating system is completely absurd - everything has at least two reviews that give it at least four stars. Reviewers from small websites give shows four stars so they'll be featured on the fliers, which, in turn, becomes free publicity for their sites. When punters are in a market like this, they will read loads. They will go right up to a wall pasted with photocopied reviews in 1o point type and read them, several of them, for ten minutes.

Anyway, it seems like everyone went to Edinburgh last week. Where were you?

In other news, I have the satisfaction of having a feature in the latest edition of Jams of the World Magazine this month and simultaneously having some advertising in the Private View feature of industry toilet-rag Campaign.

Dave Trott seems to have become somewhat confused by the task at hand. Someone just needs to sit with him till he's calmed down.

They're adverts Dave. Ad-verts.

*(I can smell the keyword stats already).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Shameless girlfriend-promotion

No Monday Morning Memento Mori yesterday, but rest assured, it's a problem that doesn't go away.

As you may have gathered from my incessant Twitter updates, I'm in Edinburgh. Partly to watch as much as stand-up in a week as is humanly possible, and partly as a member of the publicity operation for K.'s show "Laure-Anne D: She gave her all for France."

Since she's in the Five Pound Fringe, and therefore only on for a week, there isn't a chance for reviewers to come in and review and then publish in the dead tree media. So she's relying on bloggers and websites to provide the obligatory five stars that you need if you want to convince anyone to invest an hour of their life in your show. So here goes...

'Laure-Anne D: She gave her all for France' is a genre-bending tour-de-force, taking in erotica, food-based puppetry and the tour d'Eiffel. In the hands of Kamal and Smith the episodic sexual encounter format, beloved by all readers of pornography, becomes an unflinching exploration of the sticky intersections between sexuality and comedy and appetite. Their conclusion that 'if you're going to write extremely low quality misogynist pornography, people are bound to infringe your copyright for the sake of sheer devilment' is unarguable. Despite the size of their accordion, and the sound it makes, this is still definitely the best thing I've seen on the fringe this year.

***** five stars

As well as prostituting my blogging integrity I spent an hour yesterday flyering - which has to be advertising in its rawest form. Can I just say, it makes you feel horrible. I wonder if all advertisers should be made to this from time to time, just like it might be good for meat-eaters to occasionally have to kill something with their own hands before they eat it.

To distract myself from the similarities it bears to handing out an extremely unpopular free-sheet newspaper I used the opportunity to test the importance of messaging hierarchy.

"French onion-based saucy comedy"
"sexy French puppetry - it's very funny"
"Food-based sex comedy - the only show on the Fringe this year starring an onion"
"It's like 'allo 'allo, only funny and starring an onion."

I can report that none of these worked all that well.

In other news, have Williamsburg hipsters finally killed rap?



I've had a surprising amount of interest in the group blog idea (see the end of the post below). I'm away for two weeks now, but I will try and get it airborne as soon as I get back.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

'What's in your fridge?' With Jeffrey Dahmer. (Or the art of shock).


Mmmm. One post a week then.

I found myself in the office at midnight last night, fully clothed and working. Not for the first time during this freelance stint either. I was one of six people on this floor; all creatives, I probably shouldn't point out.

One of the consequences of agencies with worldwide offices working with big global brands is that they seem to be able to send work around the world just ahead of the timezone, so you end up with an agency that never sleeps.

Speaking of creepy, I finished last week Brian Master's excellent biography of Jeffrey Dahmer, The Shrine of Jeffrey Dahmer.

True crime suffers from a bad rep as a genre, some see it a particularly nasty form of pornography. I think this is a mistake, based on a confusion. The desire to read about people who do terrible things is confused with the desire to read about terrible things.

An account of violent crimes, without context, would be pornography. It is the context that you can learn from.

Don't get me wrong. Reading about terrible things is part of it. It seems like there are certain things you can do that take you into a moral area that is as unknown as the bottom of the ocean. Once you've got a handful of warm human entrails, you may as well do the worst thing you can possibly do with them. Really. This is a unique form of experience, and worth reading about just in the spirit of reading promiscuously.

But this information is made more interesting once you know that Dahmer was an obsessive fan of Return of the Jedi.

His fridge may have contained a pickled head, but it also contained gherkins and milk that was within its best before date. The terrifying has a peculiar effect on the banal, even objects, it makes them weird.



We are more like sociopaths and killers than we are unlike sociopaths and killers. That's what makes them interesting.

Something can be utterly extreme, unreal and memorable, but still relevant, so long as there is a continuum between reality and the weird. A lot of adverts work like this.

  • People sing in the car. A dog sings in a car.
  • Commuters pass through a station. Commuters dance in a station.
  • Surfers surf in the waves. Surfers surf amongst horses.

You will open hundreds of fridges in your life, but you will remember the one that had a human head in it.

UPDATE: Something weird is happening to my blog. I can't really explain it, but it's like I'm doing an impression of myself.

For instance, a while ago, I might have written the above in a parody of Dave Trott, where as now, it takes me a week to write and it's more or less the best I can do, my own self. There's so many advertising bloggers out there, looking for some sort of analogy or insight, that you're basically bound to end up writing about Jeffrey Dahmer - that's the satirical angle.

I may as well tell you now that I'm thinking of stopping writing this blog and starting a group one, with a broader editorial policy, in about a month's time. The idea would be to create an online magazine that would entertain advertising creatives, and other people, whilst they're at work. It will definitely feature video, illustration and writing. If you're any good at any of those things, and that's something you're interested in being a part of, do get in touch on the electronical mail.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday Morning Memento Mori



GC took time out from his glamorous advertising schedule this morning to fail his driving theory test, transforming every single car between here and Southwark into an accusation of personal failure.

An opportune moment to remember, then, that despite having been something of an all time low 2,934 people managed to get themselves killed on Britain's roads last year.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Who could have made this?



Could it be the same people who made this:



Who were the same people who made this:



Which raises the question: are they taking the piss? And does it matter any more?

Pets


As part of the birthday celebrations GC undertook the epic journey by car, boat, train and catamaran from W12 to the O2 to watch the 'Walking with Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular'.

As you can see from the picture, from Section 42 Block 111 it was almost as much fun as watching someone else playing with several plastic dinosaurs in a sandpit.

This was an instance par excellence of what DFW called a Spect-Op; futuristic marketing speak for a 'spectatorship opportunity'. He wrote a beautiful story about this idea called 'Mr Squishy' - it's the best short story about modern marketing there is, I suggest you read it.

Some people can achieve a state of self-forgetting by being around large numbers of people all doing the same thing. I am immune to this sensation - it just makes me feel worthless.

It's basically an affront to my ego.

It's just one of the reasons I hate football.

Anyway, I think DFW had this image of the modern man being most himself when part of a large group watching something. We've got this real sense of entitlement when it comes to being entertained. Boredom and loneliness being the bain of modern gratified existence.

His last book, The Pale King, set in an IRS office, was an investigation of boredom. Let's just hope it's more fun to read than it was to write.

The creators of the Walking with Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular had plumped very firmly for an asteroid-based lizard holocaust scenario. Even so, the dinosaurs were top of the food chain for 160 million years, which frankly shits all over the 200,000 years homo sapiens have been shuffling about worrying about things. The world has been a cruel place for much longer than it's been anything like an Orange advert.

Commenter EmJ, whom I suspect of being a socialist, and also Welsh (ok, I know she's Welsh), links to this very interesting article in the New Scientist about the role of advertising in the horrors to come.

I've always been keen on the idea that since advertising has got us into this mess, it should be advertising that gets us out. After all, it's far more effective when it comes to influencing behaviour than governments have ever been.

I wonder what that would do for the industry's self-esteem, if communicating with people in such a way that they really would change their behaviour became essential for the survival of the human race.

'Save the world, become a copywriter.'

I'd buy that.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Don't Panic

I was a very wakeful child. This along with my propensity for arson, lying, my bone collection and the habit of introducing myself to strangers using an assumed name, caused my parents some concern.

To treat my insomnia they'd leave a tape recorder playing The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in my room at night. Tape recorders in those days would turn over automatically, ad infinitum. This was when I was 5 or 6.

Having listened to it several thousand times I can sort of re-read it now, mentally, at leisure. I imagine if I was mountaineering and fell down an ice chasm I would hear it in my head as I died.

And that would be annoying for me, because it’s a fairly geeky book, full of set-up gags and people with names like 'Zaphod Beeblebrox', 'Slarty Bartfast' and 'Ford Prefect'. It does have some wonderful ideas in it though.



One of the best ideas in it is that a race of superbeings (in fact, mice) create a computer called Deep Thought, in order to answer the question of the meaning of life. The computer goes to work. Thousands of years later it emerges from its deliberation to announce, to the great-great-great-great-great grandchildren of its original programmers, that it has arrived at an answer to the question of the meaning of life.

The answer, it says, is 42.

The silence is broken by a veritable fusillade of forehead slapping as the scientists realise the error their hapless ancestors have made. In their utterly results-orientated scientific way they'd failed to ask Deep Thought something really important. Namely, what the question that the answer to question of the meaning of life answered was.

Chastened, they begin, with Deep Thought’s help, to design a new computer. This computer is called The Earth.

The assumption then, is that the planet we inhabit is a massive organic computer designed to generate questions and not answers, with human beings and other lifeforms in place of electric currents and microchips.

I've always really liked this idea, so when I saw the news last week that scientists have developed a bacterial computer that uses DNA to answer complex questions at astonishing speed it got me thinking.

I like advertising, I like working in advertising, but I sometimes I find it overwhelmingly futile.

So we advertise things, so companies can sell things, so an economy can keep running at an unnaturally high speed, so we can sell more things, money can circulate and everyone can have the things that we sell that constitute the modern idea of comfort and happiness, which is in fact a fiction that we've created to sell more things.

(I'm sure even doctors get a similar species of feeling sometimes. 'I keep making people better but they all get sick and die in the end', but where as if you saw a doctor at the bar looking all haggard and introspective and saying he was engaged in a pointless activity you might be inclined to clap him on the shoulder and say, 'what you do is a good thing and a fundamental service to humanity', if you saw an adman doing the same thing you might look him in the eye and say, 'yes, yes, this is the chance you've been waiting for to do that TEFL course and move to Chad. Do it now, today, here's the money, please go.')

So I've got sort of attached to the idea that futility is in fact the point of advertising. That if it is not meant to waste money it is an absurdly badly designed industry, where as, if the purpose of it is to waste money, to some more mysterious end, then it does its job beautifully. I've written about this here and here, if you're interested.

Writing on advertising has also made me realise that there are distinct creative trends that supersede one another in much the same way they do in art and science. In Scientology they would call these different ways of doing things technologies:

The importance of application in Scientology comes from the fact that L. Ron Hubbard developed as part of the religion an actual technology that enables one to use his discoveries to better oneself and others. Technology means the methods of application of the principles of something, as opposed to mere knowledge of the thing itself.

(from the Scientology website)

The conclusion (which is starting to feel a bit manic) that I'm coming to, is that perhaps advertising does not support industry, but that industry supports advertising.

Advertising is art powered by capitalism.
All art is religious art.
Advertising is a religious activity.

UPDATE: In weird bit of random synchronicity it turns out Pan MacMillan are reissuing The Hitchhiker's Guide books with fancy new sticker covers, causing Bomber! Magazine to k-nick the title of this post. Almost but not quite infinitely improbable, as Douglas Adams might have written.

When I was a lad adverts were ... furry

Monday, August 03, 2009

Monday Mori Memento Mori



The chances of being killed and eaten by a cannibal are so small as to be virtually infinitesimal. If that's just not good enough for you, I suggest the good people at the Cannibal Cafe forum may be able to help.

But who knows, after this post, the comments section might become a global meeting point for consensual cannibals from all over the world. After all, a sizeable proportion of my googlehits come from people searching for the words 'arsehole', 'bukkake' and 'kate moss famous vagina', or sometimes even her 'virjina'.

Most of them end up squinting at a very gloomy picture of M Denton esq. glinting in the dark at the Creative Circle book launch and, no doubt, speculating hopefully about what that is he's holding.

This week may be less insane, in which case I will post some of the ideas I've been having recently about Scientology and advertising. Ironically, they are also insane.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beauty is exuberance pt. 2


Ok, sorry I haven't been blogging at all, really, for a couple of weeks. I have made up for this, I think, by being an incredibly prolific adman.

In fact, I reckon I might be in the running for the creative with the most print ads in print this year. I'm fairly serious about this.

For instance, the last freelance bit I was doing was retail/headline based stuff. I don't feel any shame about this. Pictures of products and facetious word play may look a bit 1978, but as a technique it still offers the most efficient creativity:speed ratio of any kind of advertising.

You can spend Tuesday and Wednesday polishing headlines until they really zing, slap'em under some pictures of dishwashers or whatever and have a half page ad in all the papers on Sunday. You'll get a certain amount of input from the client and the Creative Director, but assuming they buy your lines you'll also really own the ads. It's your bit that makes them good, it's your bit that makes them different.

So I did about 7 of them.

Bosh.

Then since I came into this agency I've done a total of 13 press ads for various clients. When I say I did them, I mean I did enough of them that I could put them in my book and not be ashamed to show any of the, incidentally, superb people I worked with that I had done so. Ok, about seven of them were for a single campaign, out this weekend, that was admittedly quite a lot more labour intensive for the illustrator and designer than it was for me. Three were retail. One or two 48 sheets are still in process. A couple of thoroughgoing press ads - one of which is probably my favourite to date.

Bosh.

So that makes 20 ads since January in a year in which I also managed to get made redundant and spend two months on the dole playing Spore.

That's as well as six articles and one feature in Jeffrey Dahmer Magazine and one and a half short stories.

Apart from my nakedly sounding off about how I'm a major cultural force and basically decide what you think about everything, there are some general conclusions one can draw from all this:

  • Copywriters thrive in a recession. This is because people stop dicking around and start wanting to sell things again.
  • You produce more under the lash of capitalism than you ever would through mere self-appreciation.
  • That it's worth having an ideology, even if it's just to not make things that are demeaning, because you may feel like what you're doing makes no difference, but if you're doing lots of it and not paying attention the aggregate effect of your thoughtlessness will be to make the world an uglier place.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reasons to be cheerful



Sometimes when you haven't been paid for loads of freelance work, your credit cards are being rejected by all major cash machines, your script got spiked and you haven't had a weekend not dominated by a wedding or stag weekend or screaming work nightmare for upwards of a month, it's worth using the tiny sliver of personal time afforded by your journey to work to make a list of the things you're grateful for.

This technique was propounded by Sigmund Freud, inventor of modern life as we know it.

1. Eyes
2. Limbs
3. Wang (fully-operational)
4. Brain
5. The love of a fine red-headed woman
6. Family (not wholly abusive relationship with)
7. Being English
8. The English language
9. Really nice kitchen
10. Recovery
11. Not having swine flu
12. That swine flu has not mutated into a more virulent strain
13. That sea gulls have not mutated into pterodactyls
14. Penicillin
15. Pornography
16. DFW
17. Beginning Creative Writing MA in September
18. Swivel-eyed, cocksucking, sharp-elbowed Metro readers on the tube, for aiding in the daily practice of tolerance and understanding
19. Winston Churchill
20. Umbrellas
21. Portrait of the depressed man from 'Light' by Proxikid
22. This

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Mori Memento Mori


Happy to report that this agency I'm freelancing at is delivering on its reputation for both good work and scant respect for the Sabbath.

Too much stress won't kill you, but too much of anything that alleviates stress probably will.

Proof, if it were needed, of Schopenhauer's proposition that 'if the immediate and direct purpose of our life is not suffering then our existence is the most ill-adapted to its purpose in the world'.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

5 tips that will help you win all the awards


GC has never won any awards.

Here are my excuses:
  • Youth. Although there are a few 28 year olds out there with more metal hanging around than a professional body-piercer's passive-aggressive co-dependent girlfriend-slash-assistant, the golden window for award winning tends to be 28-38.
  • Certain sociopathic tendencies mean I never end up working anywhere longer than a year, which means I'm usually a freelancer, so I never get to work on the big campaigns that people win awards for cause they tend to go to the lifers.
  • Time wasted clambering up through the successive layers of advertising: CRM, DM, mobile and web so that despite now having been in the industry, sort of, since 2004, I've only been in above the line for two years. Below the line awards don't really count anyway do they? Not that I've won loads of them or anything either.
  • Blah, blah, blah.
  • I'm certain anonymous commentators will waste no time at all bravely pointing out the hard truth about the real reason why I haven't won any awards, so I'll just say in advance, thanks, and you are right, but have you ever noticed how people don't often choose to spend time with you?

As someone who makes something of a USP out of being utterly shameless, I have to do a lot of squirmy self-justification before I admit to my inadequacy in the fake gold baubles department don't I?

Even otherwise clear-sighted people cannot resist their siren call. You, for example, are probably only still reading because you're waiting for the 5 tips that will help you win awards.

Once you've got a few awards, you're allowed to become dismissive of the whole overblown fandango. It's a simple economy of scarcity and value. Scamp, I believe, sits under a shelf, that, even to the untrained eye, constitutes a major health and safety risk. At DDB I believe they use them as door stops. Tony Davidson is in the process of constructing a 1:1 scale model of Westminster Abbey with his. I shit you not.

Now I don't know, but I reckon advertising has more awards systems than any other industry out there. So I just wanted to ask: what's with all the awards chaps?

Why do we have this constant need for self-congratulation?

Why does the industry have to spend so much time, and money, slapping itself heartily on the back in this disgusting way?

Is it because, deep down inside even the most jaded, saurine, adman is a idealistic child who believes that really advertising is evil? A child who needs to be consoled with praise and shiny objects just so he'll shut up for five minutes so you can get on with earning money to buy the ungrateful wretch trainers, graphic novels and expensive 45 rpm records for fuck's sake?

Is it because the people we make our product for, the public, don't actually like our product?

It's just that a person who seeks gratification, and can't find it in the world outside himself, and instead resorts to a fantasy world of praise and self-gratification based on his own set of mysterious criteria would be, not just deluded, but also in all likelihood, a really furious masturbator.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Light Pt. 2



Delayed by poor time management and back by popular demand, the second part of a collaboration with the incredible Proxikid. Click to enlarge and enjoy.

(Haven't worked out how to post it at full size so this is how it's gonna be I'm afraid. Plus I get a time reading on people when they click to enlarge, so it's good for the metrics see?)

Monday Morning Memento Mori



Last Friday saw the death at 113, of Henry Allingham, veteran of WWI and the world's oldest man.

Basically you can run, but you can't hide.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I am mad busy

So you're just going to have to amuse yourself clicking this banner ad for the next couple of days.

Pinched from Waldemar's twitterfeed - I am follower.

UPDATE: Still mad busy. Richard Herring is an arsehole, but his blog is sometimes quite funny.

Have the next Light comic ready and just have to drop in the text which I will do today, but so far I have not had time to even eat.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Brother Phil: The Midweek Freak



Here's the fourth in a series of collaborations with Brother Phil. He's a pimp in every sense of the word.

Together we're exploring what might have happened if we'd invented rap and everything in it.

My thanks brother, this one's for you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Freeze the placenta Mark, do it.



This post on the Kidney Hat blog has attracted rather more attention than I'd intended.

Everyone with a computer and their eight year old nephew seem to think it's all so obvious and you'd have to be utterly perverse and morbidly fixated to believe that the Passat ad could refer to anything apart from the light at the end of the tunnel in the most optimistic sense possible.

You're thinking too much about it they say.

There are some things you can think about too much. Like the fact that the people you hold dear only demonstrate their affection to you in order for you to reciprocate that affection so as to allow them to feel loved and successful. Or the fact that, when you die, it probably won't cause anyone to be so upset that they miss their breakfast for more than two days in a row.

But I believe your job is one of the things you're allowed to think about as much as you like. Particularly if your job involves thinking about ads. You may as well try and prevent a microscopist going into so much detail the whole time.

And let's face it people who say 'You're thinking about it too much' are probably the same people who say 'Leaving early then?', or 'Why are you wearing those shoes?', or 'Why don't you like football?', or 'Why don't you read the Metro?', or 'Why don't you drink?', or 'Why don't you have a TV?', or 'What, do you secretly believe that you're better than me or something you preening upper-middle-class cunt?'

Anyway for new readers, that's basically my schtick, applying close reading to advertising.

Kidney Hat magazine pay me to do this, but I'd probably do it anyway, because I really hate the anti-intellectual streak in advertising that says 'well it's just an ad isn't it?' and leaves all the thinking to the planners. It's why all advertising is art direction these days and everyone is Swedish.

But back to the ad. Clearly the creatives meant it to be the light at the end of the tunnel, that was never what I was trying to dispute. What I found strange was that all this other stuff seemed to have got in without anyone noticing.

Irony is quite a slippery term, but the OED gives it as something like a figure of speech where the 'intended meaning is the opposite of that expressed by the words used'. Obviously we're used to this in advertising where the visual says one thing and the words say another. But in this ad it seems like all the bells are ringing for irony, the irony alarm is going ballistic in fact, and yet the message we're meant to receive is utterly unironic: the world may be shit, but you can rely on a Volkswagen.

This is interesting, especially if you're employed by a diurectic headpiece periodical to apply critical theory to advertising, because if it was art we'd obviously say 'ah yes, death symbolism, dix points.' But because it's advertising it just seems uncontrolled.

When we look at advertising we're actually trying to work out what the person on the other end of it means. We judge an ad on its ability to communicate precisely where as we allow art to be rich and mysterious. As I've said before, I think at the moment the two things are colliding.

If you like I can email and ask them.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Morning Memento Mori



Obviously this is an absolute gift.

News that a London cabbie contrived to decapitate himself in his own taxi elicited this comment:

I have spoken to at least twenty Taxi Driver today and not one of them was surprised by this unfortunate incident.....

- Ian, London

'Cause it's not at all surprising is it really mate with conditions what they are for cabbies now it's enough to make you want to just tie one end of a rope round yer Gregory Peck and the other round a lamppost and then drive off at sixty pulling yer 'ead clean off.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Let there be Light



A new collaboration with the wonderful Proxikid. We have devised unique method of writing it, so we both get to be surprised with what comes out. I'm pleased with this one.

The same four characters in every strip. Yes there are four.

Click to enlarge and have a happy Friday.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Co-branding Watch



Following on from my piece in this month's edition of Spermatozoan Supplement (which I can't myself read as I don't have an online password) here is an advert for Santander.

Arguably this isn't the best time for a bank to be announcing their intention to spend your money childishly. But fine, ok, Santander's bought a load of banks on the cheap and they probably should let people know.

But Airfix! How did they get in there?

If you notice any more co-branding collisions, do let me know in the comments or on the electronical mail.

Brother Phil: The Midweek Freak


I'm very proud to present the third in a series of collaborations with superfreak Brother Phil, bringing you the favourite rappers you never had in eighties bubble-gum card form.

For more of mad skill from the man like Phil check his site.

Yeeeah Boi! As Flavor Flav would no doubt say if he were still alive today.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Art! Fuckers!

The Classified: Contemporary Art exhibition at the Tate is great.

It's all about advertising really.



In the first room there's this excellent Mark Dion cabinet of things. I wanted to own this. I think that's from working in advertising, it means when you see art, you want to buy it.

It turns it into a commercially viable object, and therefore makes it less threatening. Or accusatory even.

I don't know, but I reckon Charles Saatchi has a bad case of this.

There's a couple of really big Hirsts in it. One is a whole room, a sculpture you can be in, and as modern consumers we're all experts at reading environments, so all your environmental senses light up, and you think 'I'm in a hospital' and that is part of it.

There's also 'The Chapman Family Collection' which is a dimly lit room full of sculptures that look like tribal African art, but as you go further into the room you see that they all incorporate elements of the McDonalds brand identity.



I insist on my right to take pictures with my mobile in galleries, even though it's not my right. But given my history of high-concept camera phone art I reckon the rule is legally unenforceable in my case.

So we might look at African art and think 'oh how primitive, look at the way they use personifications to connote different ways of being or feeling'. Obviously we now classify this behaviour as branding, but it is the same behaviour.

Sometimes when I'm in the Westfield (I am often in the Westfield) I walk around thinking that you really need to believe in something to create a building like this. In the same way that people believed in a God terrifying enough for it to be worth building cathedrals for.

And when you think about buying an iPod, and the way that you want the latest iPod, but can't ever really have the latest one, because that only exists in a kind of timeless place where things never grow old, you realise that the whole commerical process is votive and utterly primitive, no matter how many apps you download.

My sister got the same feeling in the Westfield and she really is religious. But then, it is an excellent shopping centre.

The part of this that makes it relevant to you is that, according to their own argument, there's no difference between what the Chapmans do and what you do in a creative department. In fact, I believe there's no difference in what it takes to become the Chapmans and what it takes to become an advertising creative. They went to art school, they did apprenticeships with Gilbert and George and then they started working.

I think the art world, seen from where they are must feel just like the advertising world feels from the inside. You struggle to get into it, and it seems like people that really do it are a whole different species and talented in ways you could never be. And then when you finally do get into it most of it is shit and hype, apart from the one or two people who you admire who maybe died before you got to meet them. The rest is just administration.

If anyone wants to talk about the difference between Banksy and the Chapmans we can do that.

Banksy makes art for London Lite readers.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Am I missing something here?



I suspect this is not ironic, which is why it feels weird. As one of the greatest advertisers of the late 90s and early 00s VW made irony their own.

Direction (by Noam Murro) is a bit odd. The singer keeps doing things just out of shot that you can't quite see.

I'm also having to fight off the implication in the final frame that he's going to drive full pelt into the front of an oncoming lorry. Because isn't that glowing light at the end of the tunnel a film convention for death generally?

What do you make of it?

UPDATE: Maybe it is ironic, with the sheep in the Butchers van. And the end line. I'm confused.

(I'm not into bashing DDB by the way. Unlike Mother whose work I dislike before I've seen it.)

Monday Morning Memento Mori


If you're in the habit of trawling the internet for mortality-based statistics you'll have noticed that the lowest incidence of death occurs in the small Carribean island state of Monserrat. An average of 40 people die there every year, which sounds great, only then you realise it has a population of only 4,448 and that it's basically not so much an island, as the top of a large volcano and that the stats tend to spike unnervingly when it erupts, which it does every ten years, and in between times its prone to being utterly devastated by hurricanes. So I'm just saying, 'et in arcadia ego' if you know what I mean (i.e. are a Roman).

Friday, July 03, 2009

Brand New Cadillac



Hey, look at my new shoes.

Rarely have I been so pleased by a view of my own feet. Admittedly, they tip the balance of a look that might kindly have been termed 'anachronistic' into 'supporting dancer from Grease the musical', but still, I was delighted.

I bought them from Paul Smith, because, being a freelancer, I have to dress entirely from Paul Smith.

As a teenager I used to make Paul Smith's tea (milk no sugar), and sometimes I can get clothes there for cheap. As well as making the best shoes, he keeps a blog, that I believe to be authentic. If you want to feel miserable about your life take a gander, lots of cycling, eating in beautiful restaurants and looking at supermodels. As you can see, he's copied my use of the courier face.

I went to buy these shoes even though a friend had scored tickets for Blur last night. Thinking about Blur makes me depressed. They were only ever famous because they were all British music had left once people started making fun of the The Cure. They're just The Kinks but with cynicism instead of wit and an intolerable shit for a singer. All this isn't-it-wonderful-that-they're-back? stuff makes me want to kill myself.

But the shoes.