The Manhattan Projects

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The Manhattan Projects is a pretty rad little comic that’s been out for about a year now.  It asks, what if the actual Manhattan Project was really just a front for a number of other highly unusual science experiments carried out by a super-team of scientists including Einstein, Oppenheimer, Fermi and others?  It’s sci-fi with an extra dose of science.  Aside from it being a great comic, I wanted to post it here because of how big of a departure the modern minimalistic cover artwork (show above) is from what you’d normally see in this realm.  Really stunning, in my opinion.

Levi’s Acts As If…

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You may be familiar with the Levi’s Archives.  If not, I’ll give you a quick run down.  Essentially, it’s a meticulously maintained collection of artifacts from Levi’s 150 year history.  The collection was built from the ground up by Lynn Downey a historian and apparent icon among denim fans, and now contains a significant array of garments, posters, photos and more.

Among some of the noteworthy elements in the collection, as mentioned by Levi’s, are:

  • The XX, the oldest pair of 501 jeans in the world, dating back to 1879
  • Denim jackets redesigned and decorated by Elton John, Queen Latifah, Yves St. Laurent, Elizabeth Taylor and more
  • A jacket and pair of jeans signed by The Rolling Stones
  • Letters to Levi’s from Cary Grant, Henry Kissinger, Clint Eastwood, Lady Bird Johnson and silent-movie cowboy William S. Hart

I love that Levi’s invests in preserving it’s own history.  The act serves to solify the brand’s place in our historical and popular culture. But, even more than that, I am reminded of the old catchphrase “act as if”, which encourages us to carry ourselves as if we have already achieved the thing we are pursuing and that orientation alone will help to get us there.

Although, Levi’s is already the most iconic denim company in the world, they’re treating their products as treasures worthy of preservation, a sort of record of the evolution of fashion, as it pertains to jeans.  This simple act elevates their product to new levels in the eyes of their fans. Where most brands are merely purveyors, Levi’s has evolved to become collectors and even protectors of their specialty. Well done.

Selectivism recently received a look at some of the collectibles.  Check it out here.

[Image via Selectivism]

This Is Water: DFW’s 2005 Commencement Speech Re-visited

 

A short film adaptation of David Foster Wallace’s famous 2005 commencement speech to the graduates of Kenyon College.

Simply put, DFW’s speech is about the mere fact that we have the ability to decide how we experience each moment of our lives, especially the mundane and aggravating ones. Our education is not about arming us with vast amounts of knowledge, it’s about instilling the awareness necessary to choose between a conscious and unconscious existence, what moments have meaning, and when we’re able to experience the infinite connectedness of life.

It’s an incredibly important message for all of us, especially those moving bit by bit into adulthood and the more permanent cognitive frameworks that accompany it.

An interview with The Glossary, the creators of this film, can be found on AdWeek.

The New American Superstar

Gone are the days of trying to Be Like Mike.  The connectivity brought forth by the digital age has removed the protective veil that once insulated and propped up the athletes of old to super-human status. But, with or without new media technologies the perceived level to which we vaulted athletes in our mind, was doomed to collapse.

And bit by bit, it did.  For years, we’ve witnessed downfall after downfall, from Ron Artest climbing into the stands to attack fans to Elin Nordgren chasing Tiger down with his own golf club, hilarity and irony so extreme they borderline on the poetic.  Over the years we’ve seen too many lapses in character that media and brands can no longer use sponsorships and commercial spots to sell us the primped, primed and overly-engineered identity of yesterday’s athlete.  It’s not new and it’s not believable anymore.

This progression reached an inflection point in 2010, when LeBron James announced that he was going to play for the Miami Heat on a live television special.  The event was so significant it is now known only as The Decision.  Nearly three years later, James is still working to regain his credibility among sports fans.

And, while I used to think the root of fan frustrations came from the fact that LeBron renounced the humble, hard-working city of Cleveland for the tan skinned, botox-injected fakeness of Miami, a dynamic that now occurs regularly in sports, I now realize it boiled down to something else.  What we hated was the seriousness and over-inflated air of importance that this event conveyed about LeBron.  So, important you need a TV special to tell the world who you’re going to play for next year?! Fans went berserk and everyone overlooked the fact that the ad dollars from the :30 minute program raised over $2 million for Boys and Girls Clubs.

Today’s athlete must be willing to explore another approach if he or she wants to reach the mountain top of endorsement dollars.  I’ll elaborate.  Thanks to the creative minds of Madison Avenue and the wild success of campaigns like Old Spice’s Man Your Man Could Smell Like, advertisers are heading in a new direction with their use of celebrity talent.  Instead of the super-serious, “you want to be like me” commercial spots of old, they’ve taken the athlete’s already over-inflated ego and boosted it further to the point of comedy.
 

 
Simply put, today’s athlete makes his fame through commercial spots that enhance or underscore his peculiarities and insecurities.  No one likes a person who takes themselves too seriously.  LeBron learned this the hard way. 
 

 
But, we do like people, and especially athletes, who have no problem laughing at themselves.  Remarkable commercial spots are now achieving this with some regularity.  Some going so far as to become popular culture in and of themselves as evidenced by the Cliff Paul Statefarm spots (below).
 

 
All of these commercials are fantastic. I light up each time a new one comes out that progresses the narrative forward. But, on the flip side, it’s also somewhat sad to think about the fact that athletes have fallen to a more human level in our lives. Once immortalized as hero’s, they’re now just entertainers.

We’re working on something special…

It’s called Bootleg Foods and the tagline might be “Food that makes other food better.”  The first batch of products (pictured below) included pickled peppers, a drunken fig jam and a pear ginger chutney…all made with organic, locally-sourced ingredients.

We’re thinking of producing sauces, aolis, jams, chutneys, spreads, toppings and any other additions that make your meals (burgers, brats, steaks, roasts, snack plates, salads, etc.) taste more better.  Finally, it’s all about seasonality and producing products that are available for short periods of time, i.e. fig jam for the holidays, increasing demand while reducing environmental impact.  Thoughts?

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MakerHaus

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Love love love this concept.  Further proof that indie capitalism is alive and well.  What is Maker Haus? I’ll let them explain…

Frustrated by the lack of access to tools and prototyping equipment in Seattle, we decided to establish a place that allowed our community of creative minds to learn, discover, create, and collaborate all under one roof. We are an incubator and facilitator for those creative minds who need access to professional tools and prototyping equipment to support their businesses and bring their own design ideas to life.

MakerHaus is a studio environment with a professional staff from diverse backgrounds in design, manufacturing, creative strategy, and business. Napkin sketches, Kickstarter dreams, and design challenges of all kinds welcome!

It’s basically a space that provides entrepreneurs with resources like a metal and wood shop, 3D printers, laser cutting, classrooms, conference rooms, and event space, a material library and more, all accessed through a membership-based system.  Here’s a video of two aspiring guitar makers talking about how Maker Haus is helping them to scale their business:

The Power of a Tweet

Still doubting the importance of Twitter? Last Tuesday the Associated Press’  account got hacked, leading to the creation of the false Tweet pictured below.  Even more startling is the fact that Wall Street investment firms who use algorithms that instantly buy and sell stocks based on scanning news feeds (including those on Twitter) went into a tailspin causing the Dow Jones to drop 145 points in an instant.  While the market quickly recovered, that one Tweet temporarily had a $200 billion impact on our economy.

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[via Wall Street Journal]

National Geographic’s Found Tumblr

As a celebration of National Geographic’s 125th anniversary of being “The Most Interesting Publication in the World” they have created an ever-expanding archive their most amazing photojournalism from around the world via Tumblr.  The photos are stunning.  I’ve compiled a nice smattering here, but definitely add their site to your feed.

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tumblr_mkqkv4UMtM1s7f3fyo1_1280[All images via National Geographic Found]

Patton Oswald’s Star Wars Filibuster


 
Television is becoming so much more interesting because it has the ability to comment and contribute to popular culture, allowing it to fit into the larger spectrum of our lives in a way that films cannot. This clip, aside from being an awesome performance by Oswald is a good example of that.

Movies these days suck for a lot of reasons, but to their credit, they’re challenged with transporting us to a separate reality that prohibits the acknowledgement of seemingly insignificant cultural blips like the much anticipated screenplay for Star Wars Episode VII.

Culture is speeding up.  The stories we tell are becoming relevant for shorter and shorter periods of time and while film will always have a place in our lives, it’s far less equipped to deal with this dynamic.

Thanks for the share Dave.

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches

 

The latest iteration of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is marketing at its best: honest, insightful and artfully delivered.

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