Mar 30, 2007

Every once in a great while (and I mean a great while), an opportunity arises where politics and common sense might interact to a positive end. Such is the case with the recent mass recall of contaminated pet food. From this story, a relevant excerpt:
One veterinarian suggested the international sourcing of ingredients would force the U.S. "to come to grips with a reality we had not appreciated."

"When you change from getting an ingredient from the supplier down the road to a supplier from around the globe, maybe the methods and practices that were effective in one situation need to be changed," said Tony Buffington, a professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State University.

The FDA's Sundlof said the agency may change how it regulates the pet food industry.

"In this case, we're going to have to look at this after the dust settles and determine if there is something from a regulatory standpoint that we could have done differently to prevent this incident from occurring," he said.
There are few things more horrifying to me than the idea of someone losing a pet (or, for that matter, a human family member) because some nameless, faceless organization acted with wanton neglect. Who do you blame? And really, what the fuck does it matter at that point? It's inexcusable on every level, and the only solution is to address and correct the systemic issues.

So while expanded government regulation is generally a bad idea, here we have a situation where it actually makes sense. And if such regulation means that more food producers find it prudent to start sourcing their ingredients locally, all the better. It's a win-win.

I should note, though, that my argument is limited to the safety of the food, and not the relative merit of the food.

I have a feeling that Bryan might have something to add here...

Mar 14, 2007

Three quick links, all fantastic in their own way:

First, some of the guys from the Girl Skateboards Art Dump (including friend and collaborator Tony Larson) have a cool thing going called the Art Dump Photoblog. Soon to be a permanent link in the sidebar, but bookmark it now. The creativity and good work coming out of those guys is equal parts mind blowing and inspiring.

Second, a company called Zenph Studios has developed a way to take old recordings and play them on a modern piano, duplicating the experience of seeing the pianist in the flesh. Their first target? None other than Bach's "Goldberg Variations" as played by Glenn Gould.

I've got so many thoughts on this is that I don't know where to start. It's really an entirely new idea, an entirely new way to look at technology and how it might enrich the creative and artistic world. Fairly amazing.

Third, here's an interesting article from the New Yorker about dueling. Well worth reading for the kind of historical perspective that can only come through purely human stories.

More later.

Mar 12, 2007

In keeping with the last post about giving work away, it's time to do something I've been planning on for a long time: give some work away.

You all remember the article I wrote recently about designers Milton Glaser and Paula Scher. The contents of the article represent a small fraction of the material I collected in the conversations I had with them. Once upon a time I wanted to write a second piece for another publication, but as of right now it doesn't look like that's going to happen. So...I thought I'd make the transcripts of my interviews available for anyone who's interested.

pdf downloads:

of the Glaser interview here.
of the Scher interview here.

On top of that, I wanted to share my scripts for Borrowed Time volumes one and two. If you're a fan of the book this should give you an insight akin to looking at sketches or character designs. At the very least it's a look into the comic book script format (as filtered through me - these aren't standard) and the ways and hows of making a book come to life.

pdf downloads:

of issue one here.
of issue two here.

I'd love to hear some thoughts on these, but even if you don't chime in I hope you enjoy.

Mar 11, 2007

Time to do a bit of catching up. This past week has been busy, to say the least. Generally speaking that's a good thing. So here's what's up:

First, a handful of tracks from the new Wilco album have found their way into the tubes. They are, in a word, fantastic. I got around to Wilco with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which struck me at the time as the most eerily perfect record I could imagine in the shadow of 9/11. The follow-up, A Ghost is Born, sounded solid but not spectacular. If the five tracks I've heard off the new album are any indication I think they're poised to do something quite impressive with this next record. It's classic songwriting in the same tradition of Dylan, Nilsson, Jackson Browne, et al, though it doesn't exactly sound like any of them. It just sounds like Wilco, staking their claim to a spot in that canon.

Look in particular for a song called "Either Way" - fucking amazing.

Second, I love this article about giving your work away - "the free download isn't a frivolous act". I couldn't agree more. Every bit of anectdotal evidence I've seen suggests that creative people benefit from making their work available for free on the internet in ways they could never achieve by sticking to the traditional modes of paid distribution. It's really quite simple when you think about it. To ask someone who doesn't already enjoy your work to pay for that work requires them to take a huge leap of faith. Producers of creative content need to be doing everything they can to make that leap of faith less of an imposition. Giving work away for free is the best way. I'm not suggesting either (a) giving everything away, or (b) failing to recognize one's own value. I'm simply saying that making content accessible nearly always works.

The article explains the numbers pretty well, and I definitely recommend a full read.

Third, here's a great article about why the Apple Store is so successful. In much the same way that giving creative work away seems counter-intuitive, the Apple store seems like it shouldn't work. Yet it does. Proving yet again that combining creativity and confidence rarely proves a bad decision. In fact, when has that combination ever not worked? Also note the talent they assembled before they even started - a high premium was placed on assembling great minds before any actual work was done.

Fourth, I watched a great documentary last night called Who Gets to Call it Art?, about former MOMA curator Henry Geldzahler. It's a riveting document of the New York art world from a time when it actually mattered. Equal parts informative and inspiring.

Finally, I may as well go ahead and announce the new project that I've been teasing: I'm writing a cookbook. For real. But it's not the kind of cookbook you're accustomed to seeing.

You may not know this about me (in fact, I hope you don't) but I've been vegan for about 12 years. While at 16 I might have viewed that as a political statement, my ethos have evolved significantly since then. I see it now, correctly, as nothing more than a personal choice about how to eat. So I'm creating a vegan cookbook that seeks to simplify and demystify the notion of vegan eating. I'm going to provide recipes, of course, but as importantly I'll be trafficking in ideas.

The whole thing will start off as a web-based project, but I've already secured some representation to help make it a physical reality, as well. I'll provide links and info as the process continues.

Mar 10, 2007

Wow. Brad Delp, lead singer/multi-talented genius of the band Boston is dead. Crazy and sad.

Mar 7, 2007

Following up on that last post, the folks at Comic Book Resources have posted the second part of their feature on Borrowed Time. This time it's a preview of issue two along with some quotes from me about the book.

click here to read it!.

And like I said, I've got a backlog of good stuff to talk about. Look for that (hopefully) tomorrow. In the meantime, read the previews!

I've actually got a ton of stuff built up that I want to mention/talk about/promote here, but I've been busy as sin for the past week. I'll get to everything soon, I promise, but in the meantime I wanted to check in and drop the big news.

The second issue of my ongoing graphic novel series Borrowed Time hit stores today. In conjunction with that, the fine folks at Comic Book Resources have released the ENTIRE contents of issue one, for free, online!

Click Here!

Later on today, the same site will feature a preview of issue two with some quotes from Joe and me. I'll link that when it goes live.

This is the easiest way I can imagine to get acquainted with the book, and I hope those of you who are on the fence will check it out. If you like what you see, head on over to the website or your local comic shop to pick up a copy.

More to come...