When I was in junior high school, way before I learned there was such a job as "graphic designer," I was into two things: heavy metal and art. Well, okay, three things. Girls were on that list too, but most of them avoided me. Mostly because I was into heavy metal, come to think of it.
We had an art class at school and I was always working my interest in metal music into the art projects. The screen-printed T-shirts I made featured Ozzy Osbourne logos and the pottery lesson turned into a bust of the gore-spewing Ozzy from the cover of Speak of the Devil. Since I was one of the best artists in our class, people were always asking me to help them with their projects. Art class was the only class where I was popular.
Later on in high school, I took art, jewelry making, and four full years of drafting, all of which furthered my interest in commercial art. I was only beginning to think there might be a career for me in graphic design when I took a journalism class and caught the bug, getting sidetracked on that career path for the next four years.
By the time I started my independent newspaper in 1988, I'd already been publishing all sorts of things for years: little fanzines, newspapers, and magazines. I'd even taken a summer school course in "magazine making" when I was probably 12 or so, and I'd been on the "newspaper" staff in the 6th grade, although it was laughable to call that mimeographed atrocity a newspaper. Hell, I was the "Filler Editor" in charge of jokes and word searches to fill in the holes, so that should give you an idea of our 6th grade professionalism.
In the 7th grade I'd started an Ozzy fanzine called The Fellowship of the Blizzard, which I'd painstakingly piece together using pen and pencil art, pictures cut out of rock magazines, and typewritten pages I'd cut into columns like a real magazine. I even sold a few copies on consignment in a rock shop in Los Gatos called Buffalo Trading Co. (sadly defunct now).
In those days of the 1980s (*shudder*), I had two main graphic design influences: Steve "Krusher" Joule and Derek Riggs. Krusher was the art director for the UK's Kerrang! magazine, which I subscribed to at great cost (weekly air mail delivery to the U.S. cost over $100 per year). He was also the mastermind behind the album designs for most of Ozzy's early groundbreaking solo albums.
I copied Krusher's designs for much of my work between the 7th grade and the 11th, when I finally gave up publishing the Fellowship newsletters. You can see his influence by comparing the Ozzy albums above with the newsletter. I designed the Fellowship logo in the 7th grade, deducing the concept of a vanishing point purely be scrutinizing the Blizzard of Ozz album cover. Not bad considering I hadn't even taken my first drafting class yet.
Derek Riggs' work was also influential (as was the music of Iron Maiden, not coincidentally), and I even dedicated a special edition of my Ozzy fanzine to Maiden, with plenty of Riggs album and single covers displayed inside. I would later spend a lot of time avoiding my homework in high school by drawing the Maiden logo on everything from my binders and schoolbook covers to my pant legs and a couple of friends' jackets. If I'd had the smarts to charge people, I could'a made a few bucks.
In later years I'd dabble in copying the style of Pushead, who was famous then for skate decks and lots of Metallica T-shirt designs, and I'd mastered the reproduction of the logos of bands from Queensryche and Dokken to Dio and Megadeth.
Krusher stopped doing Kerrang! eventually and I'd moved on before then anyway, gathering plenty more "traditional" graphic design influences. Riggs stopped doing Maiden's album art when the band didn't like one of his covers, and they've been done by other artists since, often in a similar style and of course always featuring the famous Eddie.
But even today those two artists stand as possibly the first two professional designers I knew by name, and they've had a lasting effect on my style, technique, and aesthetic. Thanks guys.
StartCooking.com This site's great for people like me, who never really learned to cook. Plus it's attractively-designed, professionally presented, and features well-edited videos. www.startcooking.com
Lunch inside the 12 Galaxies You ever wonder about that guy who walks around San Francisco every day with a black protest sign that makes no sense? Meet Frank Chu. www.eightyfourfilms.com
Meeting some friends at the corner of Market and Church for brunch, it was going to be between Sparky's (which I love), Chow (which I like), and Home (which I'd never been to). Velma loved Home's chicken pot pie last time she ate there, so she enthusiastically voted for it. The others were amenable to any of them, so it looked like we were Home-ward bound.
On Velma's urging, we opted for the patio, which has a decidedly more laid-back and cozy feel than the main dining area inside. On the way, we passed the a-la-carte Bloody Mary table, which a gaggle of slightly bleary-eyed hipsters were making good use of.
Home serves brunch on the weekends from 10am to 2pm. We were there at 11:15 on a May Sunday, and it was suitably busy without being crowded.
Home serves up classic American comfort food with a gourmet twist. They offer vegetarian alternatives and free-range Niman Ranch beef, although organic eggs come at a slight cost increase. You'll pay a tad more for your brunch here, but not much more.
I ordered the California omelet, which contains tomatoes, scallions, and pepper jack cheese. It arrived with two gigantic dollops of avocado on top, which was my first indication that I was going to like this place. Any place that doesn't scrimp on the avo gets at least three stars in my book. My plate was further festooned with Home's breakfast potatoes, large cuts of small roasted potatoes that are highly seasoned in a way that made my heart sing with love. Another two stars. The omelet's very fresh ingredients and zesty taste (albeit with few ingredients) sealed the deal. I had been looking forward to a filling omelet at Sparky's, but Home stole the show by leaving my taste buds awed and my stomach full.
Velma chose the buttermilk biscuit and country sausage gravy with two eggs. Having tried a couple bites, I can confirm that it was splendid, maybe even better than mine. I think Chris opted for the eggs Florentine, English muffin, poached eggs, sauteed spinach, hollandaise, and breakfast potatoes, which I didn't try but he finished as quickly as I did, so I guess it was good. Jenny had the buttermilk pancakes, which she said were great but didn't finish, because they were huge. And because I've never seen Jenny finish a meal ever. Carmen had already eaten, so I'm mentioning her only to add a blonde to the mix.
Taking a look at their dinner and dessert menus makes me want to go back some evening. Home has a wide variety of wines and spirits as well. Happy Hour is daily from 5 to 7pm.
Junk mailers pay less for postage than you do – a lot less
While individuals now pay 42¢ to mail a regular letter, direct mail marketers have once again been granted a much lower rate by the government bureaucrats who make up the rules. It costs just as little as 14¢ to mail one of those credit card offers you got twelve of yesterday.
ForestEthics.org believes junk mailers shouldn't be rewarded for invading our privacy and destroying the environment. Less than 10% of Canada’s Boreal Forest is protected. It is being logged at a rate of 2 acres a minute, 24 hours a day, to make things like catalogs and junk mail.
If you're a Firefox user (or IE7 I'm told), you can search YouTube, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Amazon, IMDb, several dictionaries, and even the global Whois database directly from Firefox by installing simple add-on extensions.
"Search box add-ons" are not to be confused with "toolbars," which — while sometimes useful — generally add more functionality than just search, and also insert a new horizontal bar into your browser's chrome. I prefer to keep my Firefox chrome pretty clean and rarely use toolbars.
Many search box additions are available directly through Mozilla's Add-Ons section. Many other useful ones aren't listed on Mozilla.org, but they are available out on the Internet, if you know where to look for them. They can be pretty hard to locate sometimes, so here's a list of where to locate some of my favorites that I couldn't find on Mozilla.org:
Pixar – A Human Story of Computer Animation A long (101 minutes!) but really interesting panel discussion at the Computer History Museum featuring the guys who invented texture mapping and alpha channels back in the early 1970s. They would later do early computer graphics for some films you may have heard of (like the original Star Wars) and go on to found a little animation studio you also may have heard of: Pixar.
Top 5 update: Donnie Hoyle unmasked Back in March I told you about the hilarious "You Suck at Photoshop" tutorials by Donnie Hoyle. Time magazine last week revealed the creators of the series as Troy Hitch and Matt Bledsoe. www.time.com
Cirque du Soleil: Wheel of Death A few weeks ago I surprised Velma and my mom by taking them to see Cirque in San Jose. They had the Wheel of Death at this performance, although there was only one of the contraptions (with two wheels and two guys). Still, it made my skin crawl to watch it.
Know your rights as a photographer Good legal tips for the next time you're stalking Britney of taking a picture at the airport. I'll have to remember these the next time I'm in Boston and they give me a hard time again about taking pictures in the T. photojojo.com/content/tips/legal-rights-of-photographers
MP3.com Live: Queensrÿche Queensrÿche was one of my favorite bands when I was in high school, and they played a live acoustic set at my former workplace recently. Wish I could've been there to catch it, but these four videos are good. www.mp3.com/news/stories/10972.html
Unless you're a big fan of junk mail (I suppose there's someone out there like that) you may want to sign ForestEthics' petition to create a Do No Mail Registry that would work like the existing Do Not Call Registry.
An astonishing 100 billion pieces of junk mail are delivered in the U.S. each year, accounting for one-third of all the mail delivered in the world (!).
And guess whose forests are being cut down to make all that crap you just throw away?
We're very familiar with the local fare, as we take brief jaunts to the redwoods once or twice a year from San Francisco. So it's with plenty of local experience that I can say that The Groves is extraordinary. We were in the area for two and a half days, and we went back our second night for dinner because it was so good the first time (and let's face it — there's very little else that compares, locally).
I gave The Groves 4 stars because it didn't disappoint, on two separate occasions. I was skeptical at first when some bread arrived with the menus that was far too sweet and fluffy for dipping in the olive oil it was served with. I was also puzzled by the slightly schizophrenic decor that's certainly nice and upscale enough, but had a few puzzling touches that made me wonder whether I was seeing a bit of the building's original use show through.
The halibut was quite good, I've only had better at restaurants right on the coast, and the braised and roasted duck was excellent — very flavorful and not at all gamey. We finished with splendid deserts (mousse and homemade chocolate mint ice cream) served in portions worthy of chocolate lovers.
The following day we had The Groves' hamburger and one of their single-serving wood-fired pizzas. The pizza's size was just right after a day of hiking around in the redwoods, not too small as they often are in many California cuisine establishments. Even with the thin crust (my preference anyway), the meal was filling on a day that I was certainly hungry, and the wood-fired pizza and its adornments were extremely flavorful and the crust extra-crispy, just as I like it. The burger was fresh and excellent too, and the fries were great, no ketchup necessary, which I can't say often of restaurant fries.
For those unfamiliar with the Redwoods Region, Myers Flat is located just off Highway 101, a short drive (~10 miles) north of Garberville (which is about 200 miles north of San Francisco and about 70 miles south of Eureka).
Velma woke me up this morning before she left for work and told me to meet her at Market and 2nd at 5pm. I remember groggily protesting but she insisted she had a surprise for me.
I dutifully turned up on the corner downtown this afternoon, not knowing what I was in store for.
Turns out The Dandy Warhols, one of my all-time favorite bands, were hosting a pre-release listening party for their new album at 111 Minna Gallery. Velma had signed up for their emails a long time ago so she could pull something like this on me.
The album's called ...Earth to The Dandy Warhols... and I liked the sound of it (although it's always hard to get a good impression when there's a buzz of assorted merry socializing competing with the music). It comes out May 19 on their site, and they've offered the first track, “The World The People Together (Come On),” as a free MP3 download.
Brent and Zia were there early. Zia even came with her case of records to spin for our aural pleasure after they'd played the new album two or three times through. I'm not sure whether Courtney and Pete came down from Portland for this, as I left pretty early. Maybe I'm just old, but after Velma left (she had a prior engagement so she could only spend an hour with me) I got bored looking at people I don't know drinking and socializing. So after a beer and listening to some of Zia's picks, I headed for the hills.
Astute readers may recall that The Dandy Warhols are actually listed on my very long list of clients. I used to shoot the band every time they'd play anywhere in the Bay Area in their early years (mid- to late-1990s) and at one time their management asked if they could use some of my photos for publicity since they had just switched drummers and didn't have any new pictures yet. A bunch of my live shots had been featured on their website way back then too, but they're long gone by now.
Funny enough, I'd just recently been thinking of getting together all my Dandys photos and putting out a book. I'd even gotten the box of prints and negatives down off the shelf just last week.
To top it all off, the photo featured today on my photoblog is one of those old Dandys pictures, which I'd added to the database last week.
I think it's all a sign that I should do the photo book.
Didn't happen. This Sunday I spent most of my afternoon at the old Hunters Point Shipyard looking at the work of artists whom I'd never seen before at all, either because they were new tenants, they hadn't opened their studios the past times I'd attended (not everyone participates every time), or they were borrowing space from other resident artists who weren't showing this spring.
Here's a sampling of the new art I really liked...
Zabrina Tipton Zabrina's San Francisco Urbanscapes appealed to me both because of the familiar hometown sights and because the saturated colors and posterized look evoked some of the 1970s pop art I grew up looking at in magazines. sfguild.exposuremanager.com www.zabrinatipton.com
Rebecca Haseltine Haseltine makes her “pourings” using pigments and water, achieving an interesting effect on a translucent mylar that's almost incandescent when displayed in front of a window. www.rebeccahaseltine.com
Leslie Lowenger I liked a couple of the prints by this artist, especially the one pictured above. www.leslielowinger.com
Alan Mazzetti I usually prefer abstract painters to strictly representational, and Alan Mazzetti's didn't disappoint. I especially enjoyed his Foils series, inspired by wine, and talked with him about the interesting characteristics of viewpoint and motion exhibited in his Probabilities series. www.amazzetti.net
David Goldberg I talked with David about traditional photography and his adept use of multiple exposures. I couldn't find him on the web, though.
Kathryn Kain I may have mentioned Kain before, but she was displaying two large pink works from 2006 (I think) that were stupendous. Since they were predominantly pink, it was amazing that I loved them so much, since that's my least favorite color. Unfortunately they're not on her website, and there's nothing else featured there that I particularly like. www.kathrynkain.com
I also saw jewelry by two artists I really liked, which is rare since I'm not interested in most jewelry. Many of the pictures on their respective websites don't really do justice to their work, but in person they were fabulous. Josie Adele – www.fluidance.com www.claudiakussano.com
Even though I've mentioned them before, I'm going to feature these two artists whose work continues to blow me away.