Saturday, September 30, 2017

Audubon's Birds of America | Sydney Hughes

Audubon Poster © Sydney Hughes (2017)
Above and below Reinterpretations, in poster form, of John James Audubon's The Birds of America, designed by Sydney Hughes, graphic design student at the University of Northern Iowa (2017).


Andrew Nelson Lytle, A Wake for the Living: A Family Chronicle. New York: Crown Publishers, 1975—

Papa, my grandfather Nelson, rarely went to church. The evangelical sects seemed lacking in ritual and ceremony, and he had had the chance to know full well the hypocrites. I asked him once for a nickel to go to Sunday school. He enquired if a penny wouldn't make as much noise in the pan. [p. 31]


Aunt Tene and I were very fond of each other. She was thin as a straw but with a clear eye that never mistook its object. She managed to outlive one of those old-fashioned "consumptions" which was a medical term of the day for death's affair with life. During the Great Depression I used to borrow her burial money to go courting. "You might as well have it," she said. "It looks like I can't die." [p. 20]


I think I have already told you that I called my grandfather Nelson, Papa, as if I were a younger child…

I never heard Papa complain, but at times he was politely tart. Once, speaking out of a general silence, he said at large, "All old women ought to be shuck out every morning."

His intentions were not misunderstood. Aunt Tene without hesitation replied, "Well, every old man ought to be stood in a barrel of lye." [pp. 15-16]


Cousin Mary set an extravagant table and, I understand, ruined her husband. She took on great weight and died at Grandma's one hot July day…The wagon carrying Cousin Mary's coffin to the funeral cracked a wheel, as it jolted through a creek. Before the matter could be mended, the hot July sun made her well and Cousin Mary split the coffin.

"She wants out," a mourner said, downwind. [p. 113] 

Audubon poster © Sydney Hughes (2017)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pulling the Teeth of Frank Lloyd Wright

FLW montage © Roy R. Behrens 2017
Ben Masselink in "Gene" in Edgar Tafel, ed., About Wright: An Album of Recollections by Those Who Knew Frank Lloyd Wright. New York: John Wiley, 1993, pp. 189-190—

Gene [Masselink, his brother, an apprentice to Wright] had driven Mr. Wright in that open Cord down the rolling green hills of Wisconsin and along the sweeping outer drive of Chicago and through the smoky war of Gary, Indiana, and up along the huge, blue lake through Benton Harbor and Saugatuck, Gene's old art school, and into Grand Rapids to see the dentist, who was my dad. Mr. Wright wanted every tooth in his mouth pulled, which could compare to storming the Great Wall of China single-handed, and in one sitting, and then to be fitted for false. This greatly impressed my dad, as this was never done; it was too hard on the patient. Usually, one or two teeth were pulled at a time, four at the most, but Mr. Wright insisted, and so my dad pulled them as if he were plucking corn off a cob. Mr. Wright never flinched, but treated it as casually as if he'd come to have a hair trim.

Frank Lloyd Wright and Mason City (2016)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Nonsensical Info Graphics | Chad Hagen

Nonsensical Infographic © Chad Hagen
Above This exquisite image by Minneapolis-based designer Chad Hagen is what he calls a nonsensical infographic. As he explains, infographics are usually judged on "how well they communicate their data." But in Hagen's delightful series of prints (he should do more!), the table is turned. He has omitted the data, reversing the priorities of form and (the customary) function of infographics.•


Edna Ferber, A Peculiar Treasure. New York: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1939, pp. 114-115—

[While she was working as a newspaper reporter in Appleton WI, Ferber was assigned to interview the famous magician and escape artist Harry Houdini, who had grown up in the same town.] Celebrities didn't come our way often. When Houdini, the Handcuff King, arrived with his show he got shorter shrift than he deserved, being a hometown boy. Before my day, he had been a local product, [named] Harry Weiss, the son of a Russian Jewish rabbi. Failing to find him at his hotel I encountered him by chance on College Avenue at the drugstore corner just across from the [Appleton Daily] Crescent office. Outside the store was the usual slot machine containing chocolate and chewing gum. As he chatted affably with me Houdini leaned carelessly against this. At the end of the interview he dropped a cold metal object into my hand.

"There's the padlock to this slot machine," he said. "Better give it to the drugstore man. Somebody'll steal all his chewing gun."

I hadn't seen so much as a movement of his fingers. Tottering with admiration I went back to the office to write my story.

• For more on form and function see this new top-selling book about Frank Lloyd Wright.