I've already mentioned how Obama's got the best font of all the presidential contenders (and, thanks to an unusually lucid commenter, we now know it's called Gotham, a typeface featured in the great little documentary Helvetica), and now he's got some of the best posters of all time. First of all, anybody watching the Los Angeles debate between Obama and Clinton might have seen these, seemingly-homemade orange-and-black posters out front:
Someone forwarded me a link to a blog called Electronic Village which is tabulating rankings for black blogs. Somehow I qualify, even though it's the MoJo Blog (a 'problematic' they address). I offer this not because I'm on it but because it's a convenient way to figure out where to go looking for black blogs/topics of interest (there's a looong list of black blog links).
I can't vouch for quality (see below for mention of anti-Toni Morrison misogyny), or the quality of the organization itself, but their top 10 rankings for February 2008 are as follows:
A la yesterday's post on the literature of campaign endorsements, today Slate is running a wonderfully enticing compendium of books recommended for our winter reading pleasure. They cover all genres, but, being a non-fiction nerd, this one caught my eye:
Texas Death Row by Bill Crawford, ed. When I cracked open Texas Death Row, I thought, oooh, I see, it's a catalog of all the folks who've been put to death there, not the kind of book you sit down and read cover-to-cover. Then, I sat down and read it cover-to-cover. Not only because I knew a few of the unfortunates who wound up "riding the needle" from my long-ago stint covering Texas prisons, but because it's impossible to turn away from this inch-by-inch indictment of a culture that would feed a man with a 7th-grade education enough food to kill him right before actually doing so, and call that justice. (And how could anyone choke down a last meal of "fifteen enchiladas, onion rings or fries, eight pieces of fried chicken, eight pieces of barbecue chicken, eight whole peppers, ten hard-shell tacos with plenty of meat, cheese, onions and sauce, four double-meat, double-cheese, double-bacon burgers, T-bone steak with A-1 sauce, and a pan of peach cobbler?" No idea, but nobody dies hungry in Huntsville.)
Bill Crawford's book contains no commentary, just basic biographical information about the 391 men and women executed in Texas in the last 25 years. On page after page you see person after person who never made it past the seventh or eighth grade, and crime after crime connected with drugs—so tell me again why you still hear Texans boo-hoo about that awful Ann Richards, making them fund schools and treatment programs? This should be required reading for anyone even thinking about uttering the words fair or deterrent or closure in connection with the death penalty. As this compilation of loss makes clear, most of these people weren't thinking much of anything when they threw their own and others' lives away.
As if we readers didn't already have too many titles we're trying to get to. The same strategy that works with crackheads works all too well with us; we know we shouldn't read all those reviews but, dammit, we're just too addicted. Need more temptation?
Lately, there's been an ongoing Riffdebate about whether popular music totally sucks or just mostly sucks. Mother Jones staffers may be appalled to find the relative merits of "My Humps" being argued on the (virtual) pages of their esteemed publication, but I think it just shows the temerity of our journalistic commitments: we'll visit Iraq or Fergie-stan. The question of why people like what they likeor, more accurately, how in God's name they can freakin' stand that crap they're listening tohas popped up in a few other interesting places lately, and in both instances, it turns out musical taste has little to do with music.
Via Towleroad comes this bit of video tomfoolery; it's kind of an obvious idea, cutting together our suddenly-change-obsessed candidates over the appropriately-named Bowie classic, but right around the 55-second mark when the editing makes them "sing along," it gets pretty great:
It's Tuesday, and that's when people like to put out new CDs in the US of A, for whatever reason. Yeah, with the intertubes leaking music all over the place, release dates are less and less relevant, for sure; but say you accidentally stumbled into a record store (or ran inside to get out of the rain)? Here's what you might find, and what people are saying:
Hey, a blogger seems to have snagged a new, "leaked" single off the forthcoming Gnarls Barkley album The Odd Couple. Update: oops, it's gone already, that was fast. But hey, I've just found it on YouTube, "sans" video:
Gnarls Barkley - "Run" (from The Odd Couple out April 8th)
The song is (as its title indicates) kinda speedy, tempo-wise; Vulture is saying "too fast," but don't they remember the almost drum-and-bassy tracks from St. Elsewhere, like "Go Go Gadget Gospel?" I kinda liked that one:
Germany's Federal Statistics Office reported yesterday that beer—"proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy," said Benjamin Franklin—is increasingly being replaced in German glasses by the likes of juice and bottled water. (Only six more signs until the Apocalypse, if you're counting.) Beer sales in the Fatherland have fallen to their lowest level since 1993. Between 2006 and 2007, beer consumption declined 2.7 percent, while non-alcoholic drinks rose 18.1 percent over the same period. The German government attributes the change to an aging population combined with an increasingly health-conscious public... in other words, beer drinkers are dying off faster than they can be replaced. (I have some German friends who are bucking the trend, but so far they've been unable to drink their generation out from trouble.) The overall decline in beer consumption comes at a time when beer prices worldwide, including in Germany, are on the rise. This seems not to have offended the Czechs too much, who recently surpassed the Germans as the world's most beer-loving culture. But with Germans abandoning their national drink, they still leave Americans in the dust: the average Deutschlander drinks 30.6 gallons of beer per year versus 21.6 gallons for the average American.
The Drudge Report gave it a top-line link: Free, legal downloads of every song in the universe on some weird site called Qtrax! Come and get 'em! Qtrax claimed all the major record labels had signed on to their new service, an ad-supported, filtered P2P platform that would allow actual downloads of every song in the labels' catalogs, the files wrapped in DRM, but whatever, they're free, right?
Slate's Jacob Weisberg has uncovered the real meaning of George W. Bush's favorite painting, "A Charge to Keep," which hangs in the Oval Office and is the namesake of his 1999 ghostwritten autobiography. It's notas Dubya likes to tell visitorsan image of a steadfast Methodist missionary. Rather, as Weisberg explains in his new book, The Bush Tragedy:
...that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled "The Slipper Tongue," published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: "Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught."
Ah, the irony. So where the heck did Bush get the idea that the painting wasn't of a rustler but rather a man—who just happens to bear a passing resemblance to him—on a mission from God? I suppose everyone's entitled to their own interpretations of art, but that's really a stretch, even for a president used to making his own reality. Anyway, this may explain why Bush keeps referring to that Picasso he calls the "The Party So Fun They Invited a Horse."