surrounded by mini-pumpkins (scarf) Thu 1 Jun 00 10:16
Ah-ha! The Hilfiger example. We (white boys from Sacramento) don't want to "look" like gangstas, we want to "be" gangstas! On the craft front, I'm interested in the progression of the book. I remember many/most of these from the magazine, in some form or another. When did the articles you were writing begin to develop their own _Nobrow_ thread? When did you begin pursuing articles that would support your theory?
The Mayflower Modem (seabrook) Thu 1 Jun 00 13:49
That's a interesting can of worms, but let me first second Scott's point about the increase in media and it's effect on "taste." I think this is right one and a key factor in the spread of what I'm calling Nobrow. The whole notion that the elite had some specialized knowledge that the masses could not have, because they were cut off from the sources of where that knowledge came from -- I think that has disappeared with MTV and its brethren, and now with all the style-related Web sites, plus all the magazines you see devoted to "design, fashion, art, culture." In certain respect design is the last citadel to fall. The notion that the masses actually care about good design seems to be only now beginning to occur to the high end manufacturers like Herman Miller, who for year avoided the taint of "trade" by not selling directly to the public, only through to the trade only retailers. This is kind of ironic since the Bauhaus movement made such a big deal about democractizing design. But to me it seems it was really one the idea of democratization -- the use of machines and commercial materials and simplie lines, yes -- but actually make something for $50 and sell it in a Bed bath and Beyond - Never! Re:David Brooks. We've never met but he wrote a nice review of Nobrow in the WS Journal and we were just trading voice messages today, trying o organize a joint appearance in the Philadelphia area in mid July. I've been working up a kind of AV presentation of Nobrow where I talk for a while and then show my digital snapshots of different kinds of cars, jeans, shoes, and teapots, etc, to illustrate my point.
Scott Underwood (esau) Thu 1 Jun 00 16:17
Design is an interesting field (that I'm close to) because the practitioners have matured in a couple of very important ways: they care more about people now, and so there's a marked trend away from complexity (whistles and bells) and design-for-design's-sake. And people like Steve Jobs understand that it doesn't cost that much more to make a functional product beautiful as well. Plastic is wonderful that way. And, as you say, companies seem to understand that quality sells. Especially as the mergers and downsizing and factory-efficientizing have squeezed the last penny they can, companies are back to realizing they have to make a better product than their competitors. So now Michael Graves designs for Target!
The Mayflower Modem (seabrook) Fri 2 Jun 00 08:06
I started to concievie the project Nobrow at some point aound the time I was doing the Geffen pofile and the Artist and the Suit essay for the New Yorker. MTV and George Lucas were before, Soho and much of the father's closet stuff afterwards, though that started out preNobrow. The last chapter stuff was happening, the Next Conference, etc, though while I was at the Next Conference it did not occur to me that I would be writing about it later. All the Tina stuff came post Nobrow, and the whole opening chapter, obviously. In going back to some of the earlier material, I reworked it and incorporated the idea into it. My rationale was that Nobrow was what I had been writing about, only I hadn't realized it then. It's unfornaute that reviewers seem so hypersensitive to books that originally appeared in or grew out of magazines . It's like they want to make sure you don't get paid twice without people hearing about it.
Michael W. Martin (michael-martin) Fri 2 Jun 00 08:22
Michael W. Martin (michael-martin) Fri 2 Jun 00 08:27
Michael W. Martin (michael-martin) Fri 2 Jun 00 08:42
I have been rather forcefully reminded of your comments in Nobrow about the changing nature of the New Yorker, and other magazines as well. Witness the magazine's recent "money issue" (with the obscene cover image of 1950's suburbanites harvesting bills from a "money tree"), or last week's "digital age" edition... Seems that what used to be a primarily literary endeavor is becoming little more than another rag hustling cheap tales of fast bucks. Come to think of it, whenever I look at a newsstand recently, I seem unable to find a "serious" magazine that isn't devoting itself to the get-rich-quickness of itall. The barbarians are no longer at the gate, Mr. Seabrook: they are feasting in the banquet hall. The Japanese have a saying "chasing two hares and catching neither," which I think aptly characterizes the conflicts between "new directions" taken by so many publications, and their older roles. In the New Yorker's case, because they are not a straight-up money/tech journal like Red Herring they can't hope to snag those readers. And they alienate their natural core readership: those who would turn to them for relief from endless tales of the New Economy. Squeezed indeed.
The Mayflower Modem (seabrook) Fri 2 Jun 00 15:51
Plus ca change...
Ron Hogan (grifter) Fri 2 Jun 00 16:21
Have you not seen the Baffler, Mr. Martin? Or McSweeney's? They might give you hope in an otherwise bleak existence.
jumping the railroad gate (vasudha) Fri 2 Jun 00 19:44
i attened the monthly meeting last night of the "junto" society which was formed by Victor Neiderhoffer on the model of the original formed by Benjamin Franklin. The members are eclectic "Libertarians." I was musing on something Victor said and how it relates to this topic and to politics, i believe it does anyway. Victor said he has learned to never trust a "liberal" thinker in business. Every time he did he had been cheated. They were not to be trusted because they just felt "anything is alright." He seemed to feel the "liberals" ostensible concern for others was always a ploy or fake. And it only proved how shify and untrustworthy they are. (His assumption must be that altruism in unnatural) [sort of what i said in the inkwell topic on Dylan. His pretense to altruism made him all the more slimy, imo] This relates to stuff I was thinking after reading the section in John's book about MTV. Though I don't agree with Mr. Neiderhoffer. I think what he said was interesting. It seemed to me that, as John <seabrook> described it, the consumer culture which seems to be exemlified in _Nobrow_ by MTV, models it's trend on the desires of youth. Instead of the youth learning from the older people the older people strive to emulate the youth. So the values were dumbed down and shallow. :) The "right-wingers" and right-leaning Libertarians seem to harp on the "values" issues. I think what they say is correct though i don't support their reasoning as it moves to the particular. I believe culture at it's best will always be cumulative. I beleive in progress over long long spans of time. To me it's problematic if the adults have nothing to teach the children/youngsters. And the children/youngsters are so jaded or somehow otherwise conditioned to totally lack any idealism or high calling or enterprise than material consumption and being cool. When I was a kid I couldn't stand it. To me there was no world to grow up into. I realize the majority did not and does not feel the way I do. I don't think. But my conclusion is that we live in a decadent culture. I am not as well-educated as most of the people here. Someone, please, explain to me why I am wrong. Vicotor claims Alan Greenspan has the mentality of an old man. A fuddy-duddy, who had lost his ability to be attuned to the times. But Victor, himself, prides himself on not reading any books less than 100 years old. I know i can be called a fuddy-duddy here. I just never "got" gansta rap.
The Mayflower Modem (seabrook) Sun 4 Jun 00 05:44
I think adults stay youthful a lot longer, partly because they are forced to in a society that values youth, but it's not altogether a bad thing. When you see pictures of your ancestors' faces, it's always surprising how old they looked when they were your age. They were old by the time they were thirty five! Well their lives were hard, and we admire them for their struggles, but do we want to emulate them? Or don't we want to stay young too? And add to that all the boring, consevative things adults do, simply because it's behaviour appropriate to adults, carefully eschewing anything fun, because that's for kids... But I wish my one and a half year old would sleep later on a Sunday morning and stop playing that infernal music box over and over again! Also it's the times. Wars and depressions and disasters made kids into adults, and by in large most people today in this country have been spared those events. Perhaps there are a lot of people who want to become adults, but don't know how, or are even angry because external events have denied them the chance to be adults. At MTV, there is an element of manipulation involved. They are celebrating youth because it sells CD's. But when you sit at a playground watching children play with one another, and say to yourself Why can't I be that open -- then it's something else.
woe is a me bop (sd) Sun 4 Jun 00 09:57
Enjoyed your commens on C-SPAN's New Yorker Panel, John.
The Mayflower Modem (seabrook) Mon 5 Jun 00 08:41
Thanks. I just heard from someone in the office it was on. Did they say it was going to be replayed? If you hear anything, post a heads up here, pls. Thanks.
Members: Enter the conference to participate