February 28th, 2007 § § permalink
One of the finer pleasures of life in Taiwan is that brands cease to signify.
Apparently, when a shirt has its tag slashed and goes on sale for a third of its American retail in a store generically named “Outlet”, it is also stripped of the ability to indicate social class, taste, or economic standing.
A stout housewife in middle-age brings out all the shapeless frumpiness you’d never guess was in an Abercrombie sweatshirt from its usual setting, draped with calculated provocation across some lithe and nubile teen.
There’s a carnival air to this upending of expectations, which I find perpetually refreshing. Asia really is a parallel universe. The basic criterion for a parallel universe is that everything must initially seem the same, but reveal itself to be subtly different, as though the mirror dividing and begetting the two realms were slightly warped.
The housewife, who is probably engaged in some activity like rinsing her steamer trays with a hose over the gutter of an empty lane, is wearing the sweatshirt because it was cheap, because it was a factory second, because it belongs to her daughter now working in Shanghai, or because it’s not really an Abercrombie sweatshirt at all.
Knockoffs run the gamut from the bald and careless to the fairly meticulous. On one end are those whose blatancy is the obvious product of shamelessness. The athletic brand IKE, above a slightly shorter and less graceful swoosh (ah, for an aesthetics of the swoosh!), can be faulted for laziness and lack of creativity, but not for really giving a damn. At the other end, appropriation approaches self-consciousness: the bakery Just Do Eat has almost entitled itself with punny ingenuity to use of the same swoosh, in its case an stretched croissant. NET, a popular and fashionable domestic clothing chain, fills much the same mildly upscale market niche as The Gap, whose font it apes.
Of course, as is sometimes the case with close-up work, it turns out on taking a step back that, artisan forger though you are, you have been maniacally attentive to the wrong things.
I once saw “dimberlanT” embroidered on a man’s fleece sweater above the zippered chest pocket. The font was impeccable, just as it was another time, for the improbably lengthy and nonsensical name “Cavalier KillerDiller”, which replaced the comparatively banal Calvin Klein in superimposition over the standard CK initials—also, needless to say, perfectly reproduced.
This last was in the subway, on a hat a stout middle-aged woman was wearing, a candystriped plastic sack of fresh fruit swinging from the arm she kept folded to her chest, her fist clenched over her cardigan. I noticed all these things, despite not being able for several minutes to tear my gaze from her hat. A fascination that she, fortunately, did not remark, as she was shorter and it went quite literally—perhaps also figuratively—over her head.
What gives rise to these phenomena: accuracies of appearance and comedies of content? » Read the rest of this entry «
February 20th, 2007 § § permalink
A short stateside tour: popping up at, among other places, NY Comic Con. Forgive the absence–too luddite, or is it lazy? to post from the road. Happy Lunar New Year, best wishes to all believers for the pig days ahead. Snow country, here I come.
February 13th, 2007 § § permalink
Belated backdated post, now that it’s safer to link to the site that inspired it:
This is the way to do it. Make sure you read the fine print at the bottom. No, really–it’s the best part. I’d post it, along with a photo of Oscar the Buccaneer, if I didn’t want to draw probably unwanted publicity to what is still, despite the number of people who engage in it, a clandestine endeavor. The contemporary definition of “clandestine endeavor” is “carried on behind closed doors, with the cameras on”. Try it. It works for sex, spycraft, and filesharing. It doesn’t have to be illegal, though in all three cases often is.
I wish the brisk world trade in ripped goods were as exciting as plying the high seas and pirate routes, but “intellectual property theft” just doesn’t have the gleam and heft of stolen gold doubloons: for want of a cutlass, perhaps, or a square-masted galleon, or the menace of a dagger between the teeth? No one bites a DVD to see if it’s real. O pirates who never leave their houses. O brave new world, that has such people in it!
As for the section entitled “Legal Notes”:
“To those worried about downloading in case they get sued: by our calculations, your chances of getting nailed are way less than your chances of winning the lottery. Don’t think twice about it.
To all intellectual property landlords: we are aware that OscarTorrents might annoy you — but contain your righteous indignation for a while, and think: we’re only linking to torrents that already exist. Face it: your membrane has burst, and it wasn’t us who burst it. Your precious bodily fluids are escaping. » Read the rest of this entry «
February 6th, 2007 § § permalink
* Two new translations by yours truly up at Words Without Borders, the Online Magazine of International Literature, as their first ever Graphic Issue, long in the offing, becomes a reality this month. O frabjous day! Treats for lovers of la B.D. dit avant-garde, as L’Association founding member Jean-Christophe Menu would have it, or alternative Euro-comics, as they might say in the States. Which means no tights. An excerpt from La Bombe Familiale, by French comics superstar David B., best known in English for his epic Epileptic and his appearances in Fantagraphics’ Mome, thanks to the tireless efforts of the polyglot Kim Thompson. A short first published by L’Asso in their Patte de Mouche collection back in distant ’97, it tells the humane and absurd tale of a city in the shadow of war, and the dangers of befriending missiles. David B.’s bold blacks and whites, as ever, combine unease, imagination, and storybook immediacy.
Favorites of The Comic’s Reporter‘s Bart Beaty since their début, the Belgians Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot, who walked off with this year’s Best Newcomer Award at Angoulême for their Panier de Singe (L’Association, coll. Ciboulette), penned a short, “Les Pharaons d’Égypte“, from the January 2005 issue of Les Réquins Marteaux‘s revue Ferraille Illustré. The duo upend traditional time and space within the panels of this nightmarish social invective; their faceless characters achieve a worrisome menace. I hope I’ve done justice to the almost Beckettian exchange of banalities, the patter populating their pages. » Read the rest of this entry «