April 30, 2006


Like anywhere, San Diego has its share of amusing quirks. Here are a couple I managed to snap along the way.

One is the often-seen nuclear plant by the ocean on the way down here... I think the joke is obvious, but it does make you wonder what symbolic message that theyre sending? That we're safe in the bosom of nuclear energy?!

And then there are the roadside smog signs - apparently you can buy official smog or just local smog!

April 29, 2006


I'm down in San Diego for the weekend for another rodeo. I made sure I took pics of animals to prove to Dad that there really are animals here...

April 27, 2006

sun. set. repeat.

I dunno what it is about the ocean that mesmerizes me. I'm obviously not alone or people everywhere wouldn't build next to it or travel to it for a vacation... Nonetheless, I never get tired of seeing this. Its interesting - I notice people in my neighborhood who step out into the street or onto their porch every day to watch the sun set. There are times when Manhattan Beach can feel just a little too suburban, a little too white, a little too impressed with its money and all those Orange County-ish values (it is not in Orange County, for the record). Seeing people engage in rituals like stopping for the sunset make me feel a little better that the town hasn't lost all of its beach town charm. And I'm happy to join them.

April 26, 2006


I'm up in San Fran... looks like I'm gonna spend a good part of May up here filling in for a Senior Art Director who's going on vacation. Unfortunately I won't be in the city itself, but basically at an office park between the city and SFO Airport. The work is very different than the kind of work I normally do, so its gonna be interesting! I'll post more on it next week and fill in the blanks before I come back up here...

April 25, 2006


I had to do a doubletake as I passed this in Santa Monica today....

urban sprout

I love LA. Its a beast, but its unlike anywhere else on Earth, for both good and bad. LA has a long history of trying to compete with the only other comparable US city, New York, and by doing so, has only kept itself feeling like it is in New York's shadow. It's a mistake that has never worked. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art was designed to copy the Met. It has never worked. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was designed to copy Lincoln Center. It doesn't work. New York's a great city too, but as places, the cities have nothing in common. Proverbial apples and oranges.

Ever since I have lived here, it seems almost every year there is another announcement about a new development project to revitalize downtown and create a "Times Square"-like district. Then we never hear anything more about them. Maybe that's a good thing. Times Square doesn't belong in LA. Every now and then, signs show that LA is beginning to recognize itself. Projects like the Cathedral of our Lady, the Department of Transportation Building, the Disney Concert Hall, and the cancelled new Koolhaas design for LACMA are recent examples.

Today a new development was announced to revitalize downtown. hmmm. This one shows promise. If for no other reason than because it is designed by Frank Gehry, the architect of the Disney Concert Hall. This isn't a Times Square. It calls for two towers and several other buildings including retail and parks surrounding his Disney Hall and essentially connecting it to City Hall, the MoCa, and the Music Center.

from the LA Times:
"Gehry's foray into high-rise design - his first major retail development - gives the project and the surrounding area an instant architectural cachet. Along with Disney Hall, Jose Raphael Moneo's cathedral and Thom Mayne's headquarters building for the California Department of Transportation, the plan creates a pocket of world-class building design in the city center. Most large-scale downtown projects built in the last few decades have been primarily functional, said architectural historian Robert Winter. As a result, he said, downtown has suffered, "with all that money wasted on mediocre and sort of dumb architecture."'

So, we have a model of hope. Question is, will it get off the ground?

  • LA Times article

  • NY Times article
  • April 23, 2006

    gorgeous has a name

    I first wrote about the current Jaguar XK commercial on April 4th. I then found I was getting a lot of hits to my blog from people searching 'jaguar commercial music' or something similar, so I wrote a second on April 11th to give the music info ("I Turn My Camera On" by Spoon - I still get an unusually large number of people coming to my blog from searching that).

    In the first post, I mentioned Jaguar's ad agency for the overall "prefergorgeous" campaign, but didn't have any specific credits for the new XK spot. I got an anonymous email this weekend that gave some of them - so, a big round of applause for the minds and talents responsible for the Jaguar XK campaign:
    Creative Directors: Alicia Johnson and Hal Wolverton
    Editor: Neil Gust (formerly of the band Heatmiser)
    Graphic Design: Jaime Lemond

    I find this interesting, because Johnson & Wolverton's website (j-w.com) is one of the first places I went after seeing the spot - I just sensed they migh be involved. Until December of '05, I was the Design Director for Fine Living tv network. We launched in 2002 with a package that was initially designed by Johnson & Wolverton. They established the basics of a clean, simple, bold yet elegant look that was a joy to develop and evolve over my years there. I don't know if Johnson & Wolverton as an agency still exists (and Jaguar's ad agency hired them), or whether Alicia and Hal have moved on and are part of Jaguar's ad agency itself. Either way, it's clear that they and their cohorts are still creating great work.

    April 22, 2006

    the worst type

    One of my favorite magazines is Metropolis. I love their way of seeing beyond just graphic design and instead into the role it plays in culture, architecture. spaces, and products. The new issue has a Perspective column by Steven Heller on something that has been making me crazy for the past several years - the message backdrops that appear behind George Bush at speeches. No President before Bush has had to rely on a typographic message to get his message across. (My favorite is still the one for 'Strengthening America's Economy" where they surrounded him with boxes on which they had to tape over the 'Made in China' printed on the boxes and add fake 'Made in USA' labels.) The link at the bottom will take you to the actual article, but it is for print subscribers only on their website (which seems like a shame - wouldn't you gain more subscribers through web traffic?). Here are some of Heller's comments:

    "Whatever one thinks about this administration's domestic and foreign policies, the White House's garish type selections are so thoughtless they trivialize rather than enhance the rhetoric of our POTUS (no, not a synonym for doofus--or that substance he used to smoke--but rather the Secret Service's acronym for President of the United States). While his handlers would never allow the leader of the free world to go out in public wearing a rayon leisure suit and white bucks, they nonetheless use clownish shareware typefaces with hokey beveled edges and cheesy drop shadows to represent his ideas."

    "...[the 'Mission Accomplished' banner] debacle has not prevented the White House from penning more slogans and designing additional signs set in garish types with cliched graphic gimmickry derived from overused Photoshop filters. And what a bag of tricks they are. The most persistent is the use of Roman-like faux intaglio and engraved letterforms to give an air of authority and truth--although the effect is more Las Vegas casino. To celebrate the fourth anniversary of the "No Child Left Behind" act, someone got a little creative and added a drop shadow to a font that fakes the look of chalk or crayon lettering. This is only one evolutionary step away from introducing the Lariat font (novelty letterforms made from rope) whenever W is speaking from Crawford, Texas. Another intelligent design trope is the use of secondary colors to "complement" the classic red, white, and blue backdrops at many of his speeches. Sparkling gold and silver are now favored, as if a little bling might instill ideas pimped by POTUS with a certain regal street cred. He bad!"

    "...Beveled edges and Photoshop drop shadows may be fine for candy bar and football logos, but they don't give our country the credibility it wants or, for that matter, deserves. In the final analysis, good typography is patriotic."

  • POTUS Typographicus by Steven Heller
  • April 21, 2006


    I'm having a little bit of writer's block, plus I have to work a shift tonight, so today I'm just dipping into some unpublished pics from the Europe trek. Enjoy.

    April 20, 2006

    pop rocks

    There's a lot of interesting advertising lately pushing the profanity envelope, some good, some bad. Perhaps proof that just using something close to profanity without any creativity beyond that just doesn't cut it - from "big buckin chicken" (love it or hate it, when was the last time you ever heard people talking about a McDonald's ad?) to the recent Volkswagen "safe happens" campaign (chilling spots that have the drama knocked out of them by the cheap 'safe happens' line), to even a stomach remedy spot I saw tonight using the line "kick acid".

    Not one to waste time beating around the bush, MTV in the Netherlands was running this outdoor campaign that I spotted from my train window on my way to Amsterdam.

    April 19, 2006

    lorax stadium

    I love a game at Dodger Stadium. When I first moved here, I didn't understand the love for the place the locals had. To me it was just another stadium from the era of big impersonal stadiums. This wasn't some historical ballpark or anything like a Comiskey or a Fenway. Over time I came to learn that a stadium built in '62 WAS historic for Los Angeles, as well as develop an affinity for the little unique things that give Dodger Stadium its character and flavor. This is one of em - these crazy topiary trees in the parking lot. I searched for some history on them, but couldn't find any. I can only guess they've been that way since the '60s, since they feel so much from that Dr Seuss/Disneyland era.

    April 18, 2006

    flying friends

    more highlights from the Easter Dog Parade on Sunday in Long Beach... The folks from "Disc Dogs in Southern California" showed off their stuff. They started the show with a really well done demonstration on how to teach your dog to catch frisbees - I had never seen it put as simply yet thoroughly before. Hopefully I'm not forgetting any steps:
    - master basic obedience - sit, lie, stay, come
    - teach him to like the frisbee as a toy, if this doesn't happen, a trick is to use it as a dog dish for a couple weeks
    - make all play sessions short, so that he always is left wanting more
    - glide the frisbee across the ground upside down - he can easily pick it up that way
    - once that's mastered, advance to rolling the frisbee like a wheel - this teaches mouth/eye coordination
    - move on to short tosses to his mouth of just a foot or two distance
    - then gradually increase the lengths of the throws

    But don't take my writing that just from memory as correct. Search the web for more details. Here's a link to Disc Dogs in SoCal as a starting place:
  • Disc Dogs in Southern California
  • April 16, 2006

    easter with friends

    Today brought one of those perfect California days, which was perfect to go down to Long Beach for brunch and the Easter Dog Parade with friends. Now, the Long Beach Dog Parade is a fraction of the size of the Pooch Parade in Dallas on Easter - one of my all time favorite events anywhere - nonetheless, its still a fun day! Probably a couple hundred dogs fill the park, many of them in costumes ranging from simple to extravagant. The parade itself is on sidewalks, so it never really works, but the gathering in the park before and afterward is great fun. Say what you will about your cat, but I have to believe that only man's best friend would be willing to put up with fun foolishness like this.

    April 15, 2006

    living color

    I had lunch today with my buddy Matt and hung around some in his woodshop while he worked. There's something inspiring to me about watching someone in a different creative field do their work. We had lunch at the Brite Spot Cafe in Echo Park. Its a little diner on Sunset that I've passed a million times on my way to Dodgers games and when I lived in Silverlake. Its one of those places that I would always pass and say 'that looks cool, someday I need to go there', but I never did. The place was full of great color, texture and pattern inside and out. The waitress was just as colorful... and the food wasn't bad too. Was a good way to spend a day.