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The end of the drive-in

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Figure 1

鈥淟et鈥檚 face it, graphic design is short of real drama. There are no good design roles in films (Robert De Niro鈥檚 girlfriend in Heat? Really?). The high point of most design biographies is a studio relocation or a sculpture commission.鈥1

Staid.
Incredible word that.
Look at it all noble and silent there on the page.
We鈥檒l get back to it if we can, we don鈥檛 have too much time to be fucking around.
Yes, before we sojourn any further together, there will be a certain amount of swearing involved, because as Joyce probably said at some point in his storied career: 鈥淔uck it, it鈥檚 only fucking language for Stephen鈥檚 sake鈥. If you鈥檙e ever looking for a model when writing post it notes to your better half…
 

Right, confession time. As a failed Catholic and a pretty apathetic atheist/non theist (I mean God  / no God, do I really want another dichotomy when there鈥檚 the whole legibility2 wars thing still to get through 鈥 and that鈥檚 without bringing the whole readability3 thing to the party (she can sit in the mini out in the car park and wait)…
 

So where was I. Ah yes:). Ok that鈥檚 those brackets closed (on a side note, there may be what my younger son calls 鈥榖ig words鈥 but there will not be what his older sister calls 鈥渟mileys鈥4, despite certain unfortunate combinations of signs which may give that impression. For the record, smileys stoke a profound desire for murder in me. I will not have them. I will not.).
Brackets closed, and then… ah Christ on a crutch, let鈥檚 go again:
 

As a failed Catholic and a pretty apathetic atheist/non theist it may just be time for me to come clean and Massimo be damned…5
 

Good lord I have had more than my fill of graphic design and all that that word encompasses in what passes for the current art/design/craft/maker landscape, and I come into contact with the top of the food chain on a pretty regular basis too. Not your mealy mouthed, visual communication-monkey-bastards for me, no sir, bona fide contemporary artist type, relatively educated, READERS. You know, REAL BOOKS N鈥 SHIT.
 

We鈥檙e all book-sluts too. I鈥檓 probably the worst, nothing I like better than getting home, stripping down to the basics, 鈥渢he grid that nature gave me鈥 if you will allow me the expression, popping the cork on a nice bottle of something particularly numbing and looking at and touching some of my many, many books. I鈥檝e read the majority, but like some kind of paper Fassbender (the handsome Irish one, not the other one) I can鈥檛 help myself. I keep bring more of them home, piling them up on already stuffed and overflowing shelves. Sometimes imagining that even if I wasn鈥檛 paying attention to the persistent pain on the right side of my ribcage, and that shortness of breath that I get on certain days which announces the oncoming, final, Winter of discontent, I know deep down that even if I never buy another book in the year/s remaining, I have barely enough time left to read what鈥檚 already in this atrociously hot and sweltering apartment. I mean I鈥檒l probably end up going to bed with one tonight, fall asleep unceremoniously in the middle of the fated act, then wake up tomorrow morning with nothing but regret and an inability to look at myself in the mirror as I brush the bad taste from my twitching mouth. As I write this I can see a red, clothbound hardcover out of the corner of my eye, sitting there, showing off its beautifully straight spine, telling me to leave this keyboard (I am normally a sucker for moleskin and black ballpoint, almost an obsessive when it comes to the word, because, and deep down we all know this, even if we politely cough and change the subject at the slightest opportunity, 鈥 no digitally trafficked alphabet can express the same feeling as hand to pen to paper, but fuck it, I鈥檒l be dragging us through some regrets, probably by a fistful of hair, most probably in the guise of a beard, but you saw that one coming didn鈥檛 you, and that left pointing arrow will come in handy, as will the redo icon, and some kind of lazy assurance is obviously needed at this late hour) and come take it down from its cramped spot on the shelf to spend an hour or two flicking through its pages absentmindedly, its unblemished and unsullied, if not slightly rough, clothbound cover cradled gently against the curved palm of my hand with an almost imperceptible twitching of a calloused thumb, nails purposefully cut tight so as not to snag. The inevitable moment of inattention and the stinging paper-cut. One more.
 

A single bottle is in not going to be enough to get us through this.
 
Nowhere near.
 

There is drama here, dirty, fucking shameful, dreadful, life scarring drama everywhere you turn. It just never gets talked about though does it? Ice cubes might be cold to the touch and provoke a gasp or two if handled correctly, but in the end you鈥檙e putting tap water into perfectly good scotch which, if you bring your frankly blinkered idea to it鈥檚 logical conclusion wastes everybody鈥檚 time. Just leave the robinet open my good man and be off with you while the rest of us drown in our sleep.
 

Why so sad? as the pasty faced man sniggers.
To put it another way, what is the sound of what we do?
Sealed, beaten down / up into its ghetto, an accountant taking off his sensible shoes so as not to tarnish the white polyester carpet before stepping into a moderately sized, sensibly furnished one bedroom apartment not too far from a bus route to near the office, the shuffle across the correctly proportioned space to wash his quite clean hands for the nth time building up so much frustrated energy that dust streams in from all directions to stick to him. It is the sound of five engineers around a horrifyingly obscure machine part fighting over a pair of calipers while a sixth stares out the window, or worse still, into the black mirror of a dead phone that doesn鈥檛 even belong to him. The low hum of collectors poring over plasticized sheets of penny royals, worrying about enzyme acids ruining the few floaters that remain free. An unbearable, almost instantiate noise that scrapes the inside of your skull red raw until unrecognizable screams come from your own throat.
 

Staid. Staid will be for next time because this time there is no more time.
 

Great word all the same…
 

« My book doesn鈥檛 exist because I have never taken steps to make it exist, beyond writing. Simple as that. If I had taken those steps it still might not exist, because I might be a crap writer or not what publishers want. But that鈥檚 irrelevant 鈥 you can鈥檛 win if you don鈥檛 take part. I have every advantage and privilege a writer could want, and if I didn鈥檛 turn vague daydreams of 鈥業鈥檇 like to write a book鈥 into an actual plan to write and sell a fucking book, that鈥檚 on me. I鈥檓 upset with myself that this has made me glum this afternoon 鈥 I鈥檝e obviously got some nasty reserve of entitlement backed up. »6

Figure 2


Notes

  1. Taken from a review of Vignelli Transit Maps in Eye magazine, Spring 2013 (Jeeesus…I had the time and inclination to read it all the way through as well…what does that say about me?) []
  2. Legibility can be defined as the ability a human reader to read something without effort. It can depend on many things. Often, the size of font chosen restricts legibility. For our purposes though, legibility is discussed in light of typeface choice. []
  3. Readability can be defined not on a letter by letter basis, but how he combination of letter are read within a larger body of text. In other words, readability is defined by the amount of effort one needs to make to read text, not single characters. []
  4. A happy face, smiling face, smiley, or :) is a stylized representation of a smiling humanoid face, commonly occurring in popular culture. It is commonly represented as a yellow (many other colors are also used) circle (or sphere) with two black dots representing eyes and a black arc representing the mouth. « Smiley » is also sometimes used as a generic term for any emoticon. []
  5. Ok, enough of this silliness masquerading as the authority of knowledge. No more footnotes, it鈥檚 2013, it should be all just hypertext links to those other parts of the godhead don鈥檛 you think? We鈥檙e all grown ups in here aren鈥檛 we? Can you believe that you鈥檝e just read the definition of a smiley in a footnote? C鈥檓on, what鈥檚 really going on here? []
  6. Footnote number 5 was a lie. No one planned the lie, it just happened and if you鈥檙e feeling hurt about it, well that鈥檚 not our fault. We weren鈥檛 thinking things through, we needed our space and now that we have it. These words come from an Alex balk post on 鈥淭he Awl鈥 but the fool never gave up his source. Slow clap to fade… []

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