Since August 2005, I’ve put up nine posts about the problems our country’s faced since the horrors that nature and man have reaped. Unfortunately, I assume there will be many more. As many on the ground have observed, it’s going to be at least a decade before we begin to repair at least the surface damage.
There’s really a dilemma. Things are terrible, and things are improving. The New Orleans 100 was set up by All Day Buffet to highlight the good works that are making New Orleans and the area better, with links to lots of the organizaitons you can help. Take a look, maybe something will strike your fancy.
Americans deserve better than we’ve done for them so far. Please help.
If you love modern American popular music, you probably know it wouldn’t exist as we know it without New Orleans.
I’ve written quite a bit since 2005 about the tragedy that befell the United States while Hurricane Katrina hit and our government bungled the chance to save a great American region.
And I posted once about the graphic art that’s been created to help donate funds to help the rebuidling, but I’ve only glanced upon the personal part of me that resonates with New Orleans, and that’s the musical culture.
Briefly: Tipitina’s was set up by some music fans to provide a place for piano legend Professor Longhair to perform in his later years. Bad business met good intentions and the place almost went under until a good samartian resurrected the joint in the mid-90s. Katrina almost put it down for the count with the rest of the area but our samaritan instead set up Tipitina’s Foundation to help the city’s most important asset, it’s musicians. You can read more in detail about the foundation’s work here.
The point? Please donate to Tipitina’s Foundation. The tragedy is not over by a long shot –it won’t be for most of our lifetimes– and any help you can give will help. If you love music, this should be an easy check to write.
It’s 11:21pm, Friday, July 20, 39 minutes before the official release of the new Harry Potter. I’m in line at the Maine Coast Book Store in Damariscotta, Maine (”We’re not online yet — someday!). I’m with over 300 fans (including my two boys and my wife)–most of whom are well over 16– waiting for our reserved copies of Harry Potter + the Deathly Hallows. I’d never been in Maine until six hours ago and standing in this small town with all this excitement is a fantastic introduction to the state. I’ve never stood in line for the release of anything and it’s thrilling to see that a book can motivate all these folks as much as a movie star. I can’t believe I left my camera at the hotel.
This post has absolutely nothing to do with animation.
I’ve been cleaning out my drawers lately which caused me to scan some of my stuff and throw it on my Flickr page. Some of it’ll eventually get linked to on my old branding agency archive, but who knows about the rest.
The picture above is from the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. It’s from a random collection of photographs I found in a box at a junk shop specializing in then-uncool mid-century furniture. I couldn’t resist the hundreds of vintage prints of these amazing deco buildlings I’d really only seen in amazing stylized illustrations from the fair. I had no idea what I was going to do with the snaps –hell, I still don’t know what I’m going to do with them– but they were great just to have.
In the late 70s I was producing jazz records and became friendly with Michael Cuscuna, soon to become one of the medium’s most revered producers and the leading reissue producer in history. In the early 80s he and BlueNote executive Charlie Lourie started the pioneering MosaicRecords as the first company specializing in boxed set reissues of classic performances, available only by mail order. Michael and I became reacquainted when I ordered their first set (The Complete BlueNote Recordings of Thelonious Monk) and he asked me to get involved with helping them out of the hole. It turned out their ’sure thing’ idea wasn’t having many takers and they were worried about shutting down. My partner Alan Goodman and I turned them down two years in a row with a lot of unsolitcited advice about what they could do better –we were broke and our company was barely alive itself– even if we were talking through our hats. Everything we knew about direct mail cataloging was from being mail order customers ourselves and from a direct mail how-to book I’d read the first chapter of. We loved Michael and Charlie, and we admired what they were trying to accomplish at Mosaic, but we were just too low on bandwidth.
Three years in our company was doing a little better and Mosaic was doing a lot worse; Michael and Charlie successfully prevailed on us to finally help. We knew no more, but full of the arrogance of youth we lugged out Alan’s first generation portable computer and invented the first Mosaic 12-page brochure on our summer picnic table. Alan wrote every word (I supervised “strategy” — what else is new?), our friends Tom Corey and Scott Nash designed the thing, Jessica Wolf supervised the production and we mailed out the first Mosaic catalog ever in the summer of 1986.
We waited for the order phones to ring, and lo and behold, in the first three weeks Mosaic’s business had increased 10 fold. They were in business forever. Alan’s still writing the brochures, I’m still getting the free box sets and lobbing in ideas from the side. What a world we live in. I’ve never been prouder of any project I’ve worked on in my life.
Running into this old article on the origins of the MTV logo (designed by Manhattan Design: Pat Gorman, Frank Olinksky, Patti Rogoff) in my junk recently reminded me of the accidental process that “branding” is and how often the most successful stuff seems to have an innate intelligence that really isn’t there.
Sometimes I watch a great cartoon and marvel about how the creative team thought about something or other, or how smart they were to use the music a certain way, or how they must planned for the world domination they have.
And then I remember. It’s all an accident. Sure there’s talent, often there’s who knows whom, maybe the fix was in. But luck, never underestimate it.