In 2004, digital photography was still chiseling away at film, and smartphones with cameras that amaze weren’t yet on the horizon, which means my visual record of a one-time-only first time is a little sparse. One thing that hasn’t changed since my inaugural experience riding in the dirt, at high altitude, with breathtaking scenary around every turn was the time-tested, steady-as-she-goes Honda XR650L. Sturdy, dependable, predictable, perfect for the task at hand. In this case, transporting a Big Twin and Sportster mostly Florida riding profile through the fir and spruce forests of the West.
With a nod towards a simpler time, when digital distractions were non-existent and Saturdays meant itching to get out of the house and on the road, this piece does a little off-roading into the unique geography that makes up the Oakhurst-Yosemite-Huntington Lake triangle bordered by the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
News of architect I.M. Pei’s passing this week at the age of 102 touched off memories of my early years spent as a commercial photographer shooting everything from rock bands to cookie-cutter real estate housing developments to a nightmarish oxy-acetylene catalytic torch that could melt concrete. One of those adventures included two days in Washington, D.C., for an assignment at the then still new National Gallery of Art East Wing.
Though usually associated with his unconventional Egyptian pyramid inspired design solution at the Louvre, my path crossed his for a very brief moment the time I photographed his landmark atrium, with its signature Calder mobile floating lazily overhead while my client’s grove of ficus trees softened the sharp angularity of the structure’s beautifully polished marble surfaces, in the nation’s capitol.
If It’s Thursday It Must Be Washington
The gallery shoot was part of an extended romp around the heartland, with previous stops on the road that week in Wichita, Milwaukee, and the still under construction Minneapolis Zoo. It was the last leg of an exhausting schedule, which perhaps explains why I failed to take advantage of the unique access I was granted to this memorable national landmark.
Not that I’d ever be described as being a student of architecture’s role in modern culture today, but my knowledge back then of recognizable firms pretty much started and stopped with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.
And that’s how I landed right in the middle of this most celebrated structure, with relatively unfettered access to its rooms and galleries housing priceless exhibits, all kept safe and secure within the walls of Mr. Pei’s amazing achievement.
A few weeks after wrapping up the assignment — back when the results from analog taking to viewing were measured in days waiting for lab processing rather than digital seconds — I began editing the dozens of rolls of film shot, and picked out two Kodachromes for Cibachrome prints to send to Mr. Pei on behalf of the client. Ha! As if he didn’t already have access to gorgeous photography from the best in the business. Normally, that kind of small effort might go unremarked, or at best acknowledged by a low level assistant.
When Courtesy And Correspondence Was Still Vogue
The other thing about IM Pei, who has died aged 102 (apart from the buildings) is that he really was a very nice man. No histrionics, always dapper, gentle, modest and considerate and no arrogance at all.
Instead, I.M. Pei, one of the world’s most celebrated architects, took time to compose a most thoughtful personal note thanking me for the effort. I’m glad I hung on to it over the years, and even more relieved I was able to retrieve it for inclusion in this remembrance of the time I brushed up against architectural royalty.
I never met him. Didn’t know anything about him prior to that assignment. But for a brief moment in time I was immersed in the physical and spatial experience he wanted me to enjoy.
It’s clear from reading the tributes to his singular talent that his genius was tempered with humility and a common connection to the public that would, and will, enjoy his inspired vision for decades and more to come. I wish I’d had the opportunity to offer him personally my gratitude for his talent.
File this one under the header of why I love the web. Gridlover’s simple, powerful, and free app lets you style your site CSS for type directly in your browser, and the WYSIWYG user interface make the experience pleasant, fast, and easy.
Typically, CSS type coding for your web site or individual page requires imagining what the results will look like, and that’s not always easy. Switching views back and forth in Dreamweaver can be tiresome, and introducing variables like line height, scale (between tags), and font size tend to get bogged down, if not impossible when you’re dealing with thousandths of whatever metric you prefer – pixels, ems, or SCSS.
What About Web Fonts
Web fonts? Previewing the results typically requires updating the code and previewing online, which isn’t exactly elegant. Seeing the end result in Gridlover simply requires pasting in the HREF link and you’re there.
Try it yourself and see why using Gridlover to set up your type style sheet is a no-brainer. It puts the fun back in designing your site’s typography, instead of a chore that has to be dealt with.
In the latter half of the 20th century, when it came to movies, TV, print, and corporate branding, nobody was busier – or better – than graphic designer Saul Bass.
His title design work for the movie blockbusters of the day — films like North By Northwest, Anatomy of A Murder, The Man With The Golden Arm, Vertigo, and many others — is still revered for its attention demanding content and arresting concepts.
Saul Bass was the graphic force that single-handedly changed the look and feel of American popular and corporate culture. His signature style was applied to virtually everything that had to do with print, film, or television, long before branding became a thing.
Before Adobe, It Was All Done By Hand
Students today should be reminded that his complex and complicated movie title sequences were concepted and produced before digital could even be imagined, let alone implemented. Then, accuracy was measured with a wooden ruler, a stopwatch, a film cutter, and some tape. A minor note, he did all this without Google and YouTube for reference.
His unique approach to title sequences was a spectacular break from the cookie-cutter template marketing methods cranked out by studios that had evolved little from the early days of film. His dramatic style used static design elements to convey mood, feeling, and focus to what had been traditional for the sake of tradition — and it worked.
Today, two-plus decades since his death, his work from a half-century ago remains vital, and is itself a continuing source of inspiration across a variety of media.
If you watch television, use the post office, have a checking account, buy gasoline, or enjoy modern art, you’ve seen their work. Driven by research and pure instinct, the duo is responsible for a library’s worth of abstract marks and recognizable logotypes that continue to withstand the test of time.
In this video the unassuming pair go on record about the formative years, their staying power, and what they bring to the highly competitive table of corporate communications and graphic design.
After a Penn Railroad train ran off the rails, PR pioneer Ivy Lee gained the upper hand over reporters covering the story with a subtle account of the accident that minimized the reputational damage to his client.
Public Relations Born When A Train Derails
The modern era of managed information began with a succinct press release written by a former newsman on behalf of his industrial client, a northeastern railroad that had just suffered a derailment resulting in multiple deaths. To be sure, ten eyewitnesses if asked to describe the accident would have ten different accounts of the exact same facts. But the one that made it into the New York Times that day is the only one that counts.
The first press release of the modern era was crafted in 1906 by Ivy Lee, one of public relation’s original founders, for his client the Pennsylvania Railroad. Following a derailment that resulted in multiple deaths, Lee arranged for reporters to be transported to the accident scene – under his watchful eye – and at the same time released an account of what happened, complete with asides, misinformation, and human interest.
The Power of The Press Release Is Established
What ran in the paper that day wasn’t Fake News, but it wasn’t a totally objective, unbiased account of what actually happened either. It was a subjective report presented as an objective story on behalf of a client in exchange for income.
#FakeNews isn’t a new concept. Public relations is, among other things, an extension of the psychology of people, and towards that end is best known as a communications tool that can shift public opinion from Point A to Point B while operating beneath the radar.
How You Interpret News Isn’t Always Transparent
Like any profession its goals aren’t always in everyone’s best interest. Lowlights include the extensive campaigns, often presented as news, that promoted smoking, especially when the marketing goal was to convert women’s attitudes towards the habit.
All news is not created equally, and the modern concept of so-called Fake News is somewhat of an oxymoron. News that’s fake by definition isn’t news at all — it’s propaganda.
In a consumer culture we seldom come to a conclusion strictly on merit, as opposed to being nudged in ways subtle enough as to escape detection as a motivating factor for any particular decision that is made. Ford? Or Chevy? What’s your choice?
A swelteringly (and typical) Orlando, Florida evening greeted several hundred VIP guests as Ace Cafe London opened their first North American outpost celebrating legendary British food, bikes, and music just a few blocks up from Church Street Station.
Ace Cafe Orlando’s new home is a pair of century-old historic supply warehouses, the perfect environment for the fabled biker mecca that was born of industrial roots at the dawn of rock ‘n roll but couldn’t survive drowning in the soft rock and disco wave that followed.
Resurrection of An Iconic Brand
The original Ace was shuttered in 1969, a victim of changing times and tastes, before being resurrected in 2001 by Believer-In-Chief Mark Wilsmore and friends in the image of the golden era of British Twin dominance. From that rebirth the Ace has spread out internationally, now finally crossed the Atlantic to what some might think an improbable landing in Disney World’s back yard.
Although Orlando is already home to virtually every kind of entertainment concept and half-baked attraction imaginable, including Holy Land a few miles down I-4, Ace Cafe Orlando offers a distinctly different environment to a targeted community, beckoning bikers and hot rodders to get together and swap ideas over traditional British fare served in several restaurants and bars that surround the main stage and flank the museum and retail stores.
Anchoring the north edge of Orlando’s downtown redevelopment district and light years away from the homogenized banality of International Drive a few miles to the west, the Ace is a comfortable fit for this multi-ethnic Florida town that’s pulsing with energy.
While listing the usual suspects – controlled messaging, precise targeting, detailed facts and contact information – the article also makes the very good point that press releases are first and foremost an announcement, not to be confused with the offhanded SEO role far too many assign them.
SEO – Yes and No
Stuffing a press release with nothing but keywords – a practice Google has for some time now disavowed as effective, and in some cases of overuse even destructive when it comes to SERP rank – is attractive only if you’re a bot, as opposed to a real person looking for relevant info.
While many make the case for text only press releases, utilizing the same information as part of a properly prepared PDF can pay lasting dividends well into the future.
Knowing how to optimize a document as a PDF file is underappreciated and an enormously powerful part of SEO and SMM. When a press release is processed using Acrobat Pro, the amount of metadata a PDF is capable of storing is like getting free money at the bank.
The article concludes with the observation that traditional press releases should work with, and not be excluded from, a client’s social media marketing plan. I agree with this approach, as well as the opportunity it presents for a well-designed release to be launched strategically for years of lasting benefit.
In what can only be described as a Christmas miracle, perhaps the single most momentous event since Lazarus emerged intact, comes news of the acquisition of defunct trade pub label Dealernews by a midwest consortium, DN 2.0, headed up by Columbus, OH Harley-Davidson franchisee Bob Althoff.
“What we are doing is unprecedented in the powersports industry.”
“What we are doing is unprecedented in the powersports industry,” says the owner of three OEM dealerships. The plan for DN 2.0 is apparently to restore what was lost during the mid-2000’s heyday by recalling editorial staff and management from the brand inherited by UBM in 2015 when they purchased Advanstar and which was then abruptly shuttered.
Relaunch Has New Focus, Reach
The revived brand will ostensibly be guided by an advisory board made up from a number of well-known powersports single and multi-line dealer heads, industry consultants, and communications veterans. Will it make a difference? The field of national powersports trade publications has shrunk from five to two over the last decade as social media channels have proliferated and advertising options have multiplied. For many, that constitutes a trend.
They sure look like jeans. They sure fit like jeans. They sure wear like jeans. But they really perform like a cool breeze across a simmering swamp.
When Wrangler threw their hat in the powersports market, they took on a longstanding de facto preference for an iconic brand leader in the denim and leather category. Going up against Levi might seem a tall challenge, but not so much when you introduce some serious technology into the game. And decades of idling a Harley at a red light in the middle of a sweltering Florida summer meant I had a basis for comparison and the motivation to try something different.
In hot weather you’ll notice the difference immediately, and not by increments.
Florida’s climate can readily test that claim, but the real challenge lay about 700 miles west, where I’d spend a few days clearing timber and brush under an 85-degree Louisiana sun. I prepped my Cool Vantage Wranglers with Sawyer’s Permethrin to ward off mosquitoes and ticks, and to hopefully confuse any yellow jackets I might stumble into, before heading into the woods to see if their claim of cool comfort would hold up.
Cool Vantage Transforms Into Athletic Sportswear
I’m familiar with the performance of athletic sportswear, as well as the misery of conventional jeans, especially after they’re soaked with sweat that dams up underneath the waistband before spilling over to slowly trickle down my legs.
Along with a relaxed fit stretch model, Wrangler’s Cool Vantage dry fit material delivers the same level of advanced sports technology usually associated with brands like Under Armour and Nike, while maintaining the style and appearance of traditional denim.
At least they’d be no worse than my drawer full of regular denim. At best? That was what I was anxious to find out.
Wrangler did their homework when they figured out how to combine the dri-fit characteristics of athletic sportswear with the ruggedness of traditional denim jeans.
After strapping on my chainsaw chaps (further increasing the insulation factor), I picked up my Stihl and lumbered off into the woods. There, after a few hours of tromping up and down the ravines while maneuvering over and around the felled logs, I realized that what would have had sweat pouring into my boots was instead, apparently, wicking to the surface and evaporating. Not only was I noticeably cooler, I was measurably more comfortable as well.
I had one more test, wherein I donned a 4-gallon backpack sprayer filled with herbicide. Being able to shed my chaps meant a lot more freedom of movement, offset by the weight of the contents on my back. Adding another 40 pounds or so to a weigh-in north of 235 when clothing and footwear are included gave my legs a workout, and the jeans another challenge. The legs quit long before my Wranglers.
Here’s the verdict. They work just fine as everyday wear, and in cool weather nothing’s lost. But in hot weather you’ll notice the difference immediately, and not by increments. It’s night and day, while still retaining the sturdy work characteristics and working style of traditional denim wear. Cool Vantage is just that — cooler to work in, with the look and feel of what you’re accustomed to wearing.