Monthly Archive for November, 2008

Bruce McCall on Letterman

I TiVo most of the late-night talk shows each night, in the hopes that some band or author that I love is fea­tured – some­how, that’s eas­i­er than pre­emp­tive­ly scan­ning TV Guide. But, I was gen­uine­ly sur­prised and thrilled to see the illus­tra­tor and writer Bruce McCall as a guest on David Letterman’s show, the oth­er night.

I’m far too young to know his work from the Nation­al Lam­poon, but McCall’s New York­er cov­ers are ingrained in my mem­o­ry:

Bruce McCall New Yorker Covers

Some of Bruce McCall’s New Yorker covers, from 1995–2008.

Letterman’s show might not have the cul­tur­al rel­e­vance that it once did, but you get the sense by watch­ing the seg­ment that he’d rather be sit­ting there talk­ing to McCall, than Mary-Kate or that chick from Twi­light. It’s just one of the many things that make Dave tick, and why I have a TiVo sea­son pass for the Late Show.

In the clip below, Let­ter­man and McCall look at and dis­cuss some of the work in McCall’s new children’s book, Mar­vel­town.

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘Bruce McCall on Let­ter­man’

The Mostly True Story of Helvetica and the New York City Subway

The Most­ly True Sto­ry of Hel­veti­ca and the New York City Sub­way:

There is a com­mon­ly held belief that Hel­veti­ca is the sig­nage type­face of the New York City sub­way sys­tem, a belief rein­forced by Hel­veti­ca, Gary Hustwit’s pop­u­lar 2007 doc­u­men­tary about the type­face. But it is not true—or rather, it is only some­what true. Hel­veti­ca is the offi­cial type­face of the MTA today, but it was not the type­face spec­i­fied by Uni­mark Inter­na­tion­al when it cre­at­ed a new sig­nage sys­tem at the end of the 1960s.

r-train
R-train icon, set in Helvetica and Standard.

I noticed this dis­crep­an­cy ear­li­er this year – I had to recre­ate some MTA sub­way icons for use on a project, and noticed that the R train map icon looked noth­ing like the Hel­veti­ca “R”. The MTA’s own web­site seems to be con­fused about the type used in the sys­tem icons, let alone its sta­tion sig­nage.

Enter typog­ra­ph­er Paul Shaw, and his 10,000+ word piece on AIGA’s site. Did you now that Boston’s sub­way sig­nage sys­tem was the first to use Hel­veti­ca, with­out mod­i­fi­ca­tions? Ever curi­ous as to the process by which enam­el signs are made? Want to just look at pret­ty pic­tures of sub­way signs over the years?

It’s a great his­to­ry, for fans of typog­ra­phy and the MTA.

Saving Buffalo’s Untold Beauty

Downtown Buffalo

Photo Credit: Tony Cenicola/The New York TimesA photo of downtown Buffalo.

The Times had a great piece yes­ter­day on Buffalo’s archi­tec­tur­al lega­cy, and recent attempts to save his­toric build­ings:

Buf­fa­lo is home to some of the great­est Amer­i­can archi­tec­ture of the late 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­turies, with major archi­tects like Hen­ry Hob­son Richard­son, Fred­er­ick Law Olm­st­ed, Louis Sul­li­van and Frank Lloyd Wright build­ing mar­vels here. Togeth­er they shaped one of the grand­est ear­ly visions of the demo­c­ra­t­ic Amer­i­can city.

Yet Buf­fa­lo is more com­mon­ly iden­ti­fied with the crum­bling infra­struc­ture, aban­doned homes and dwin­dling jobs that have defined the Rust Belt for the past 50 years. And for decades its archi­tec­ture has seemed strange­ly frozen in time.

There is also an accom­pa­ny­ing slide show, from which the pho­to above was tak­en.

Full dis­clo­sure: I’m orig­i­nal­ly from Buf­fa­lo.

What’s Hebrew for “Yes We Can”?

Well, that didnt’t take long – giv­en the suc­cess of Barack Obama’s dig­i­tal and design strat­e­gy in our recent pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, some­one was bound to, ahem… com­plete­ly rip him off, soon­er or lat­er.

Sur­pris­ing­ly, the most recent exam­ple is the cam­paign of Ben­jamin Netanyahu, the con­ser­v­a­tive Likud leader run­ning for prime min­is­ter of Israel. The Times reports:

The col­ors, the fonts, the icons for donat­ing and vol­un­teer­ing, the use of embed­ded video, and the social net­work­ing Face­book-type options — includ­ing Twit­ter, which hard­ly exists in Israel — all reflect a con­scious effort by the Netanyahu cam­paign to learn from the Oba­ma suc­cess.

I won­der if that type is the Hebrew Gotham?

wp-Hyphenate by KINGdesk

Wp-Hyphen­ate is a very promis­ing plu­g­in for Word­Press, because it enables some typo­graph­i­cal con­trol not pre­vi­ous­ly avail­able for the web:

With it your left aligned text will be less ragged, and your jus­ti­fied text will avoid the ghast­ly word spac­ing that has pre­vented seri­ous web design­ers from using it.

It’s still in its ear­ly stages, but I’m exper­i­ment­ing with it here – using jus­ti­fied para­graphs and block­quotes. Let me know what you think.

Out of the box, the plu­g­in broke my linked flickr image codes, so I had to put <a> tags on the whitelist, so the plu­g­in ignores any linked text. Hope­ful­ly that issue will be addressed in the future.

UPDATE: Nov 16, 2008 – Jeff King has updat­ed his plu­g­in to address the issue described above.

Grant Park — Alex Wright

My col­league at NYTimes.com, Alex Wright, hap­pened to be in Chica­go last night, so he made his way to the Grant Park cel­e­bra­tion. I’m sure that will be a moment to remem­ber for some time.

Newsweek’s ‘Hackers and Spending Sprees’

Newsweek.com has some inter­est­ing tid­bits about the recent­ly com­plet­ed pres­i­den­tial elec­tion between Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin:

  • Palin’s “rogue” shop­ping spree was greater than the ear­li­er report­ed $150,000.
  • Oba­ma didn’t choose Hillary Clin­ton for the VP slot most­ly because of her hus­band.
  • Palin appeared with noth­ing on save for a tow­el, when McCain aides and strate­gists came to her hotel room to brief her at the Repub­li­can Con­ven­tion.
  • Oba­ma thinks some debate ques­tions are stu­pid.

More will be released on Newsweek.com in the com­ing days.

Who Said Print is Dead?

OBAMA
Today’s edition of the New York Times.

I count myself lucky today, for scor­ing a copy of the paper before they ran out. Appar­ent­ly, the sit­u­a­tion is the same through­out the city, (though I’ve heard rumors of anoth­er 50,000 copy run).

In fact, there are a hun­dred or so peo­ple stand­ing on line out­side the Times head­quar­ters, wait­ing for a fresh deliv­ery of news, print­ed on dead trees.

Print Isn’t Dead

A hundred or so people, waiting on line for today’s paper, in front of the Times headquarters in midtown.

From Gawk­er:

Every­body wants a sou­venir of Obama’s vic­to­ry, and you know what makes a great sou­venir? That’s right, a news­pa­per. This is a pho­to of a line out­side the NYT build­ing on 40th Street of peo­ple waiting—for a news­pa­per!

I hope that peo­ple still come to the Times for more than just a sou­venir.