inkwell.vue.75 : John Seabrook -- NOBROW
permalink #26 of 38: surrounded by mini-pumpkins (scarf) Thu 1 Jun 00 10:16

Ah-ha!  The Hilfiger example.  We (white boys from Sacramento) don't want to
"look" like gangstas, we want to "be" gangstas!

On the craft front, I'm interested in the progression of the book.  I
remember many/most of these from the magazine, in some form or another.
When did the articles you were writing begin to develop their own _Nobrow_
thread?  When did you begin pursuing articles that would support your
inkwell.vue.75 : John Seabrook -- NOBROW
permalink #27 of 38: The Mayflower Modem (seabrook) Thu 1 Jun 00 13:49
That's a interesting can of worms, but let me first second Scott's point
about the increase in media and it's effect on "taste." I think this is
right one and a key factor in the spread of what I'm calling Nobrow. The
whole notion that the elite had some specialized knowledge that the masses
could not have, because they were cut off from the sources of where that
knowledge came from -- I think that has disappeared with MTV and its
brethren, and now with all the style-related Web sites, plus all the
magazines you see devoted to "design, fashion, art, culture." 

In certain respect design is the last citadel to fall. The notion that the
masses actually care about good design seems to be only now beginning to
occur to the high end manufacturers like Herman Miller, who for year
avoided the taint of "trade" by not selling directly to the public, only
through to the trade only retailers. This is kind of ironic since the
Bauhaus movement made such a big deal about democractizing design. But to
me it seems it was really one the idea of democratization -- the use of
machines and commercial materials and simplie lines, yes -- but actually
make something for $50 and sell it in a Bed bath and Beyond - Never!

Re:David Brooks. We've never met but he wrote a nice review of Nobrow in
the WS Journal and we were just trading voice messages today, trying o
organize a joint appearance in the Philadelphia area in mid July. I've
been working up a kind of AV presentation of Nobrow where I talk for a
while and then show my digital snapshots of different kinds of cars,
jeans, shoes, and teapots, etc, to illustrate my point. 
inkwell.vue.75 : John Seabrook -- NOBROW
permalink #28 of 38: Scott Underwood (esau) Thu 1 Jun 00 16:17
Design is an interesting field (that I'm close to) because the
practitioners have matured in a couple of very important ways: they
care more about people now, and so there's a marked trend away from
complexity (whistles and bells) and design-for-design's-sake. And
people like Steve Jobs understand that it doesn't cost that much more
to make a functional product beautiful as well. Plastic is wonderful
that way.

And, as you say, companies seem to understand that quality sells.
Especially as the mergers and downsizing and factory-efficientizing
have squeezed the last penny they can, companies are back to realizing
they have to make a better product than their competitors. So now
Michael Graves designs for Target!
inkwell.vue.75 : John Seabrook -- NOBROW
permalink #29 of 38: The Mayflower Modem (seabrook) Fri 2 Jun 00 08:06
I started to concievie the project Nobrow at some point aound the time I
was doing the Geffen pofile and the Artist and the Suit essay for the New
Yorker. MTV and George Lucas were before, Soho and much of the father's
closet stuff afterwards, though that started out preNobrow. The last
chapter stuff was happening, the Next Conference, etc, though while I was
at the Next Conference it did not occur to me that I would be writing
about it later. All the Tina stuff came post Nobrow, and the whole opening
chapter, obviously.

In going back to some of the earlier material, I reworked it and
incorporated the idea into it.  My rationale was that Nobrow was what I
had been writing about, only I hadn't realized it then. 

It's unfornaute that reviewers seem so hypersensitive to books that
originally appeared in or grew out of magazines . It's like they want to
make sure you don't get paid twice without people hearing about it.
inkwell.vue.75 : John Seabrook -- NOBROW
permalink #30 of 38: Michael W. Martin (michael-martin) Fri 2 Jun 00 08:22
inkwell.vue.75 : John Seabrook -- NOBROW
permalink #31 of 38: Michael W. Martin (michael-martin) Fri 2 Jun 00 08:27
inkwell.vue.75 : John Seabrook -- NOBROW
permalink #32 of 38: Michael W. Martin (michael-martin) Fri 2 Jun 00 08:42
I have been rather forcefully reminded of your comments in Nobrow
about the changing nature of the New Yorker, and other magazines as
well. Witness the magazine's recent "money issue" (with the obscene
cover image of 1950's suburbanites harvesting bills from a "money
tree"), or last week's "digital age" edition... Seems that what used
to be a primarily literary endeavor is becoming little more than
another rag hustling cheap tales of fast bucks. Come to think of it,
whenever I look at a newsstand recently, I seem unable to find a
"serious" magazine that isn't devoting itself to the get-rich-quickness
of itall. The barbarians are no longer at the gate, Mr. Seabrook: they
are feasting in the banquet hall.

The Japanese have a saying "chasing two hares and catching neither,"
which I think aptly characterizes the conflicts between "new
directions" taken by so many publications, and their older roles. In
the New Yorker's case, because they are not a straight-up money/tech
journal like Red Herring they can't hope to snag those readers. And
they alienate their natural core readership: those who would turn to
them for relief from endless tales of the New Economy. Squeezed indeed.
inkwell.vue.75 : John Seabrook -- NOBROW
permalink #33 of 38: The Mayflower Modem (seabrook) Fri 2 Jun 00 15:51
Plus ca change...
inkwell.vue.75 : John Seabrook -- NOBROW
permalink #34 of 38: Ron Hogan (grifter) Fri 2 Jun 00 16:21

Have you not seen the Baffler, Mr. Martin? Or McSweeney's? They might
give you hope in an otherwise bleak existence.
inkwell.vue.75 : John Seabrook -- NOBROW
permalink #35 of 38: jumping the railroad gate (vasudha) Fri 2 Jun 00 19:44

 i attened the monthly meeting last night of the
"junto" society which was formed by Victor Neiderhoffer
on the model of the original formed by Benjamin Franklin.
The members are eclectic "Libertarians." I was musing on
something Victor said and how it relates to this topic
and to politics, i believe it does anyway.

Victor said he has learned to never trust a 
"liberal" thinker in business. Every time he did
he had been cheated. They were not to be trusted 
because they just felt "anything is alright." He seemed to feel the
"liberals" ostensible concern for 
others was always a ploy or fake. And it only proved
how shify and untrustworthy they are. (His assumption
must be that altruism in unnatural)

[sort of what i said in the inkwell topic on Dylan.
His pretense to altruism made him all the more slimy,

This relates to stuff I was thinking after reading
the section in John's book about MTV. Though I don't
agree with Mr. Neiderhoffer. I think what he said
was interesting. 

 It seemed to me that, as John <seabrook>
described it, the consumer culture
which seems to be exemlified in _Nobrow_ by MTV, 
models it's trend on the desires of youth.

Instead of the youth learning from the older people
the older people strive to emulate the youth. So the values
were dumbed down and shallow. :)

The "right-wingers" and right-leaning Libertarians
seem to harp on the "values" issues. I think what they
say is  correct though i don't support their reasoning
as it moves to the particular.

I believe culture at it's best will always be cumulative.
I beleive in progress over long long spans of time. 
To me it's problematic if the adults have nothing to
teach the children/youngsters. And the children/youngsters
are so jaded or somehow otherwise conditioned to
totally lack any idealism or high calling or enterprise
than material consumption and being cool.

When I was a kid I couldn't stand it. To me there
was no world to grow up into. I realize the majority did
not and does not feel the way I do. I don't think. 
But my conclusion is that we live in a decadent culture.

I am not as well-educated as most of the people here.
Someone, please, explain to me why I am wrong. 

Vicotor claims Alan Greenspan has the mentality of
 an old man. A fuddy-duddy, who had lost his 
ability to be attuned to the times.
But Victor, himself, prides himself on not reading
any books less than 100 years old. I know i can be
called a fuddy-duddy here. I just never "got" gansta
inkwell.vue.75 : John Seabrook -- NOBROW
permalink #36 of 38: The Mayflower Modem (seabrook) Sun 4 Jun 00 05:44
I think adults stay youthful a lot longer, partly because they are
forced to in a society that values youth, but it's not altogether a bad
thing. When you see pictures of your ancestors' faces, it's always
surprising how old they looked when they were your age. They were old by
the time they were thirty five! Well their lives were hard, and we admire
them for their struggles, but do we want to emulate them? Or don't we want
to stay young too?

And add to that all the boring, consevative things adults do, simply
because it's behaviour appropriate to adults, carefully eschewing anything
fun, because that's for kids...

But I wish my one and a half year old would sleep later on a Sunday
morning and stop playing that infernal music box over and over again!

Also it's the times. Wars and depressions and disasters made kids into
adults, and by in large most people today in this country have been spared
those events. Perhaps there are a lot of people who want to become adults,
but don't know how, or are even angry because external events have denied
them the chance to be adults.

At MTV, there is an element of manipulation involved. They are celebrating
youth because it sells CD's. But when you sit at a playground watching
children play with one another, and say to yourself Why can't I be that
open -- then it's something else. 
inkwell.vue.75 : John Seabrook -- NOBROW
permalink #37 of 38: woe is a me bop (sd) Sun 4 Jun 00 09:57
Enjoyed your commens on C-SPAN's New Yorker Panel, John.
inkwell.vue.75 : John Seabrook -- NOBROW
permalink #38 of 38: The Mayflower Modem (seabrook) Mon 5 Jun 00 08:41
Thanks. I just heard from someone in the office it was on. Did they say it
was going to be replayed? If you hear anything, post a heads up here, pls.

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