Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Kraftwerk's Unappreciated Timeline

Spin Magazine published a beautifully illustrated story on Kraftwerk in 1998 pulling excepts from a seminal Lester Bangs book on the band with additional and fantastic timeline art. However as this was before the internet was a household fixture the article has fallen through the cracks and has gone unappreciated in the online world of the 20XX's. That's a shame as Florian Ribisch's excellent Kraftwerk illustration is a stunning work of art and deserves accolades. Depicting our beloved electro-boffins as gas station attendants it perfectly reflects the aesthetics of any Kraftwerk album cover: the rectilinear building, a pastoral landscape, the ideal representation of a petrol station, the uniforms - all very teutonic and humorous for this is a band that you'll never see pumping gas or doing any mundane activities.

I stumbled upon this illustration doing a Google Book search and realized that it doesn't appear anywhere else on the internet. While the scan of the article was good enough for reading, it left a lot to be desired for anyone curious about the finer details of the art and also the timeline of the band's history was grainy and lo-res. I wanted to make a large canvas of this image so I eBay'ed a copy of Spin's August '98 issue and scanned it. The one I got was in perfect condition, 18 years of existence had not yellowed the paper and it was without folds or creases. I cut the pages out with a razor and scanned them at 600dpi and used Microsoft ICE to paste the multiple scans of each page together as they were too large to fit on my scanner, then color corrected and fixed the imperfections from the printing process.

Here it is for your enjoyment. I'm posting the scans at the lower resolution of 2000 pixels tall but if anyone desires the TIFFs at a much higher resolution sufficient to reveal the offset dots from the gravure drop me a line or comment below.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Infinite Subaru Wagons of Jackson Hole WY

We visited Jackson Hole WY in August 2016 and avoided the soul-crushing swelter of Tampa's summer for one week. The place is devastatingly beautiful, the mountains, the moose, the alpine lakes, yada yada, go look at a tourist pamphlet, etc.

But the Subaru wagons ... EPIC! They're more common than gnats on a summer picnic, more prevalent than long-lost relations when you've won the Lotto. You can't swing a dead cat without hitting four or five.

Initially upon arrival, I didn't really notice them,  I own one so I'm used to seeing them. But in Florida where I live they're a tiny minority. Nobody really digs their Swiss Army knife utility, their jack-of-all-trades capabilities. People in the Sunshine State tend towards bro-dozers, Ford F-150's, Silverados and Ram this or that. A Subaru doesn't prop up a tiny, damaged ego nearly as well. But in Jackson Hole where the men and/or women with mullets apparently don't need to prove anything the Subaru wagon reigns supreme.

I didn't start taking photos until our last two days there and even then didn't try that hard. Had I been diligent from the outset I can assure you there'd be 10x as many. I'll bet Marty from Mighty Car Mods would've been Johnny-on-the-spot about documenting them. Even then, I quickly decided to only photograph older generation Subaru wagons, so the more modern ones are the first few I shot. If one takes into account late model Subaru wagons, there might be more Subarus in that town than human inhabitants.

My takeaway is that there can't possibly be that many lesbians there. In fact, I suspect that's an overblown bit of marketing hyperbole. I think the denizens of Jackson Hole rock Subaru wagons because they're the perfect intersection of right tool for the job. If any other automaker can crack that code then good luck. It's going to take time, engineering prowess and some remarkable marketing. Even the unbelievably unkillable Honda CRV is a rarity there.

Now, in no particular order, I present to you ... The Subarus Of Jackson Hole!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

In Defense of the Name Blaine

Blaine was the name of my childhood neighbor, a WWII vet with the best stories and all of them earned, not overheard. At nearly 80 he still lit his smokes with a Zippo and rolled his packs of unfiltered Camels into his t-shirt sleeve. He was dying of congestive heart failure but wouldn’t admit it, his conversations interrupted by long hacking coughs that drained his color. I’d see him walking on the side of the road in Florida’s 95 degree summer heat because his unloving wife drove their only car to Sears where she managed the shoe department. I’d stop and motion him in – he’d resist, complain that I had more important things to do. If I had more important things to do that merited letting him die in the summer heat, I don’t know what they could be.

Blaine deserved better. His children up north never called, forgot his birthday but used his place as a rest stop on the rare occasion they visited Disney. I really loved the guy, he was an appreciated substitute for my own deadbeat dad when I was in high school. Before he passed away in my sophomore year of college I’d sent him a new Zippo, monogrammed with my appreciation for my stand-in dad and a pack of Camels with a stern Sharpie’d note on them that they were NOT to be smoked. I was too broke to come home for the funeral but my mom said that Zippo was in his box of greatest treasures, next to the medals and Purple Heart and other sparse jewelry that a man acquires who’s too practical for such vane things. I've missed him ever since, not a week goes by that I don't think about him or ruminate on his battlefield stories of boredom and terror. I hope you've had a Blaine in your life too.

"Blaine? His name is Blaine? That's not a name it's a major appliance!"