HYPOCRITE IDLER 1Q2016
March 30, 2016
To idle is to work on meaningful and varied projects — and also to take it easy. (Like Nas, “I used to hustle/Now all I do is relax and strive.”) If you’re interested in my 1Q2016 projects, please keep reading; otherwise, don’t! The title of this series of posts refers to this self-proclaimed idler’s hypocritical inability to take it easy.
TAKING IT EASY
I’m a cultural and brand semiotician, and co-founder of the Boston- and New York-based branding and strategy agency SEMIOVOX. During 1Q2016, our team worked across a number of product categories, including craft beer, super-premium rum, chewing gum, pet food, coffee, and fast casual dining; as well as across cultural territories such as “Cuban-ness.” We also continued to develop the SEMIODEX — a database of 75,000+ brand communications and pop culture phenomena, each meta-tagged according to its product category, cultural territory, and psychographics.
During 1Q2016, I contributed the following posts to HiLobrow:
- An essay I’d recently written for the Winter 2016 issue of the British journal New Escapologist. It’s a brief look at Baudelaire’s vision of the “perfect flâneur” (not to be confused with an ordinary flâneur), a high-lowbrow urban wanderer attuned to the subtle interplays of the abstract and the everyday.
- An installment in HILOBROW’s new GROK MY ENTHUSIASM series, in which I enthused about a 1984 cassette-tape compilation of British and Australian alt-rock and synth-pop singles.
- Thirty installments in the RADIUM AGE 100 series, via which I’ve slowly been working towards identifying my favorite 100 science fiction novels published during the genre’s Radium Age (1904–33). 1Q2016 posts in this series include: G.K. Chesterton’s The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904), William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land (1912), Sax Rohmer’s espionage/science fiction adventure The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu (1913), Homer Eon Flint’s The Devolutionist (1921), George Allan England’s The Vacant World (1912), George Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah: A Metabiological Pentateuch (1921), Edwin Balmer and Philip Gordon Wylie’s When Worlds Collide (1932), Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique (1932-on), Edgar Rice Burroughs’s A Princess of Mars (1912), Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague (1912), and Karel Čapek’s Krakatit (1922).
- Several installments in the BEST ADVENTURES series, via which I aim to identify my 10 favorite adventure novels published each year from 1904–1983. These include: Best 1916 Adventures, Best 1921 Adventures, Best 1926 Adventures, and Best 1941 Adventures. Plus: Best Older Kids Lit of 1966, which was republished by Boing Boing.
- Several installments in the CODE-X series, via which I’m surfacing and dimensionalizing a few of the cultural and advertising “codes” that make up the a priori network of classifications, categories, and concepts through which each of us intuitively makes sense of the brand messaging and cultural broadcasting with which we are bombarded at every moment. Posts from 1Q2016 include: MOTHER’S TOUCH, CLASSY CAPSULE, WHY SETTLE?, ANTI-DIET, FIDEL-TONES, FLOATING PACK, and CUBAN PEACOCK.
- A couple of installments in the JOSHENILIA series, which provides me with the excuse I need to sift through old files and throw stuff away. Installments include: BARBERS I HAVE KNOWN, D&D ART, HERMENAUT PHOTO SHOOT, and BUS TERMINAL PHOTOBOOTH.
- The seventh (and final) RONDEL FOR HILO HEROES, an acrostic poem celebrating the previous year’s HILO HEROES series.
I’m the editor and publisher, here at HILOBROW. To see everything we’ve been doing since January 1, please check out our HILOBROW 1Q2016 post. Here, I’ll just mention two HiLobrow series that I edited during 1Q2016:
- We finished up the HERMENAUTIC TAROT series, a comic-book rorschach creative writing experiment in symbol-making and oracular speechifying. 1Q2016 installments included:
Luc Sante on THE OLD DARK HOUSE | Erik Davis on FORBIDDEN FRUIT | Devin McKinney on THE ATOMS | Dan Fox on THE OBFUSCATOR | Patrick Cates on THE MASKED ASSESSOR | Chris Spurgeon on OVERWHELMING TEMPTATION | Jenny Davidson on THE ALL-SEEING EYE | Lauren Oliver on THE HERO COMPLEX | Brian Berger on THE WHITE VISITATION | Tim Spencer on DISILLUSIONMENT | Chelsey Johnson on THE BEARD OF SHADOWS | Alix Lambert on THE EYE FLOATER | Ed Park on THE TWINS | James Parker on THE NO-NO-NOBOT | Amy Thielen on VELOCITY.
- We launched a new weekly series, GROK MY ENTHUSIASM, which features a rotating cast of contributors. 1Q2016 installments included:
Rob Wringham on THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | Gordon Dahlquist on WEEKEND | Joe Alterio on MILLION YEAR PICNIC | Adrienne Crew on LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | Josh Glenn on THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | Alix Lambert on THE SKIES BELONG TO US | Adam McGovern on PENELOPE and CHAVEZ RAVINE | Rob Wringham on THE LYKE WAKE WALK | Mark Kingwell on NORTH STAR SNEAKERS & GWG JEANS | Gordon Dahlquist on FELLINI SATYRICON | Erik Davis on AH! | Devin McKinney on WHISPERING AFRAID.
- We announced this summer’s ENTHUSIASM series. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM will feature 25 posts, by 25 writers, on their favorite New Wave songs from c. 1977–1982.
What’s coming next? Check out this post: HILOBROW 2Q2016 SNEAK PEEK.
I’m not at liberty to discuss the Hermenautic Circle, a secretive community of exactly 100 “wide-awakes” whose discussions I may or may not moderate. However, you can read what may or may not be a parodic version of the group’s history here.
In the taking it easy department…
In January, I went to see HiLobrow friend and contributor Charlie Jane Anders read from her terrific new book, All the Birds in the Sky. HiLobrow friend Kelly Webster was there, too.
In February, Sam turned 18! (In March, he voted in the Democratic primary.) Here he is, in a recent promo video for his high school, demonstrating some Good Will Hunting-esque advanced math stuff.
In February, Max competed in his first half-marathon, in Hyannis. He came in third in his age group. My sons are really strong and fast — thanks to their mother, not me.
In February, Sam and Max played bass with their respective school jazz bands, at Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge.
This book, by Matthew Goodman, came out in February 2016. It features the two excellent cover designs that my friend Jacob Covey did for Significant Objects, a book I co-edited with Rob Walker a few years back.
In March, Susan and Sam and Max and I celebrated Easter with my mother, and my brother’s family. I love spending time with my nieces (one of whom is shown here) and nephew.
On to 2Q2016!