Tuesday 4 June 2024

run for the border (11. 606)

Via Waxy, we are directed to a most unusual and developing art-heists and blackmarkets in recent history with underground network of collectors for pilfered Taco Bell wall-art. Back in 2002 (see also), the franchise commissioned veteran graphic designer Mark Smith to create a trio of paintings, high-quality prints to be distributed to every restaurant as a counterpoint to the usual corporate branding. During subsequent image overhauls, many of these masterpieces, inspired by the work of Basquiat and Maxfield Parrish and offering patrons to discover new details and elements with each visit, were discarded but a few were salvaged and sold, leading to active acts of burglary of prints in franchises not yet remodelled, fetching prices of ten-thousand dollars or more.

Saturday 2 September 2023

let’s call the whole thing off (10. 978)

With possibly the winningest URL of all time, Waxy directs our attention to a collaborative contribution project that has been running for seventeen plus years which has somehow missed our notice until now—vis a vis another recent post.
Artist and enterprise originator Clara Bahlsen solicits for anthropomorphised images of mascots, food eager to be cannibalised or collaborate it the act and other offerings collected and indexed in a huge searchable images that can be sorted by category and kind. Browse (the cursor is a potato) though and share the oddities that you find or add your own.


one year ago: more spurious quotations,  Madonna’s Music (2000) plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: your daily demon: Gaap plus the Second Triumvirate forms (31 BC)

three years ago: more links to enjoy, the global race for a vaccine, the Stuttgarter Metro Map plus Wikipedia as an agent of cultural vandalism

four years ago: improvised campers,  a visit to the Cap d’Erquy, a new presentation of Euclid’s Elements, the abbey of Beauport plus the stop-motion short Matrioska

five years ago: a ban on pesticides that harm pollinators, the fight to save coral reefs, some special weeds plus an AI tries to name shopping malls

Wednesday 5 July 2023

church key (10. 862)

From the shifting onus of mass-delivered single-use that incentivised disposing of one’s beverage container properly to the technological innovations that allowed beer from a can to be palatable and not compromised in the filling and distribution process while being easily and readily accessible, to follow-on safety concerns about the opening mechanism and wide-spread pull-tabs, which led to engineering that we are familiar with today, we are directed towards the design history of the aluminium can. Learn more from Tedium at the link above—with plenty of top-popping detail.

Sunday 5 February 2023

9x9 (10. 527)

famous one hundred twenty-three metre spire of salisbury cathedral: Polish coast guard rescues divers near critical infrastructure who were searching for amber 

macroagression: some GOP members in the US congress have switched their American flag lapels for tiny assault rifles—see also  

backbox: watch composer and sound designer Suzanne Ciani, Diva of the Diode, create a soundscape for a pinball game  

donks: a new animated short from Felix Colgrave explores lost cargo, avatars and adaptive bottom feeders  

mastodon flock: find your following—via Waxy  

cel-ray: a peppery, celery soda that one can still find for sale  

rosetta stone: two trilingual ancient clay tablets rediscovered help scholars decipher a lost Canaanite script  

brought down by the left-wing economic establishment: Liz Truss attempts to revive her political career with a long screed in the Sunday Telegraph  

sรฆstrengur: Iceland developing contingency plans in case the undersea cables connecting it to the rest of the world are severed

Sunday 31 July 2022

8x8 (10. 027)

รฒgรณgรณrรณ: decolonising a West African palm sap spirit that unfairly unearned the reputation of a cheap gin substitute  

new delay for dover-calais tunnel likely: fleshing out the NYT headlines Stanley Kubrick had mocked up for 2001—via Waxy  

smaller footprint: updates on NEOM—the planned vertical skyscaper of Saudi Arabia  

hysterical urbanism: a counterpoint to the above—with several historical antecedents  

brominated vegetable oil: EU and Japan bans Mountain Dew and Fresca for ingredients that contribute to memory loss  

we intend to cause havoc: Andrew McGranahan’s psychedelic posters for Paul McCartney’s 2022 gigs and tours  

odonymy: an ongoing project revealing the origin of street names in Los Angeles—via Web Curios

mensascran: comparative studies of university and business cafeterias and canteens around the world—see also—via ibฤซdem

Saturday 23 April 2022

project kansas

Lingering until the summer of 2002 (see next) and suspected by some as a marketing ploy to boost sagging sales of its flagship beverage—reintroduced and rebranded as Coca-Cola Classic, the reformulated version, New Coke, was introduced on this day in 1985 to much derision—with production of the original production halted later the same week. Under the titular code name (having polled the demographic considered Middle America but failing to take into account nostalgia and the attachment to tradition), the secret project to launch a new flavour of soft-drink was in response to test marketing that suggested that palettes preferred sweeter tastes and Pepsi (see also) faring better in new markets. Despite the sustained backlash, the corporation continued with aggressive commercial campaigns, including bringing on spokesman Max Headroom (previously—caution, flashing images) in 1986.

Sunday 26 September 2021

unknown foods

Also growing up with grocery store chains named Piggly Wiggly, Food Lion, Safeway and Skaggs Alpha-Beta (wherein items were originally stocked and arranged in alphabetical order for ease of location and retrieval), we could appreciate this exercise from AI Weirdness (previously) that trained various neural networks on generating suggestions for naming supermarkets. We especially enjoyed how quickly it picked up on real world marketing conventions and served them back to us. Some of our favourites in addition to the entitled included: See How Much! Jumbo Boost Built in Juice, Fair-Oil Edible Foods and Little More Large Brook. Discover more about the methodology behind machine learning and be sure to subscribe to Janelle Shane at the links above.

Sunday 25 July 2021

never an after-thirst with squirt

First broadcast on this day in 1967 during a commercial break from the WWII drama television series, the network aired a minute-long advertisement for the citrus-flavour soft drink called Squirt—which for ten-seconds appeared as muted but in living colour, even for the vast majority of households at the time who owned black-and-white TV sets.

With no general forewarning, I suspect a good number of viewers thought that they were losing their minds—or at least sense of sight and were hallucinating the flashes of colour. Those bursts were in fact the result of clever and carefully calibrated optical illusions developed by inventor James F. Butterfield the year prior, having found that working with optometrists and visual neuroscientists that the brain could be coaxed into processing colours that were not there by modulating the pulses of white light and could encode for a set of basic colours filtering a black-and-white camera field with a rotating device.
Butterfield called this outcome subjective colour. Because of the mechanical and physiological limitations—it was not a universal experience and the range of colours were limited and not very vibrant—and actual colour models were being introduced and becoming more affordable just as this technology was emerging, nothing more unfortunately came from this innovation and line of invesigation.

Sunday 30 May 2021

music for grocery stores

We really enjoyed this ambient soundtrack, via r/ Obscure Media, to accompany one’s shopping list in this 1975 muzak selection Sounds for the Supermarket. The track titles that I suppose match the arc of the hunter-gatherer quest and could be suited to some independent gaming adventure are a bit strange and evocative: Mister Satisfied, Mister Lucky, To a Dark Lady, A Touch of Class, Harvey Wallbanger, Delicate Treasures, Departure, etc.

Sunday 1 December 2019

ะฟะธั†ั†ะฐ ั…ะฐั‚

Nearly as strange and forgotten as the time when Pepsi Cola had the second largest naval fleet in the world, Miss Cellania reminds us of the time in 1997 when Mikhail Gorbachev was promoting an international pizza franchise (see also).
It can be a bit treacherous for leaders to outlive their countries or for celebrities or politicians to otherwise survive beyond their careers when there’s little prospect for a next chapter and every time a moment like this appears in a collection of clips of embarrassing star endorsements, it does leave a bit of a breadcrumb of clickbait behind, yet there’s a truly complex narrative and history encapsulated in this sixty-second spot that’s more respectful than most advertising to geopolitics and recent history and one worth exploring in detail.

Tuesday 12 November 2019

technicolor refreshment trailer № 1

Our gratitude once again to friend of the blog Everlasting Blรถrt for directing our attention to this 1970s Pepsi Cola sponsored appeal to head out to the concession stands. This psychedelic ad (see also) was meant for audiences of drive-in venues and even has a brief reference to the original “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” cast of anthropomorphic treats.

Tuesday 2 July 2019

cola wars

The always engaging Messy Nessy Chic reminds us of the time that soft drink giant Pepsi held temporarily the distinction of being one of the world’s largest naval powers, taking ownership of seventeen obsolete diesel-powered submarines, a decommissioned crusier, destroyer and frigate and a fleet of oil tankers from the quickly disintegrating Soviet Union in 1990.
The relationship of the rival cola company vying for market dominance and the Eastern Bloc goes back to the cultural, domestic-science exchanges held between Nikita Khrushchev and Richard Nixon back in July of 1959, these kitchen debates netting among other things a photograph of the Soviet Premier enjoying a cold, refreshing beverage. Pepsi executives recognised a monumental opportunity to break into new markets. Straightforward expansion, however, was hindered by US sanctions and a Soviet restriction on the export of rubles abroad but worked out a deal to trade syrup for Stolichnaya vodka. The monopoly was negotiated in 1972 and would expire unless renegotiated in 1989. The USSR was a very different place when the terms of the trade deal were coming to an end and with little else of value to barter with, the Soviets offered part of its navy. Sweden and Norway bought the tankers while the tactical vessels were scrapped and sold as salvage, the president of the company quipping to then US president George HW Bush that they had managed to disarm the USSR at a faster pace than the American administration.

Tuesday 21 May 2019

a carbonated “beverage”

I have no memory of this phenomenal marketing misreading and miscalculation and suppose our town or high school wasn’t in the test market, so am grateful and a little bit baffled that a soft drink giant, eager to appeal to the demographic of Generation X was willing to exploit what we’d now recognise arguably as potentially problematic tendencies and male toxicity. Leaning deeply into the ironic and blatantly pandering with an anti-commercial campaign, Ok Soda trialled in 1993 specially targeted at a “generation of male teens and young men tired of hype and pretension.” Cans were even printed with a rather lengthy ten-point manifesto.
Ultimately, consumers didn’t care for the drink and the whole advertising campaign proved too relentlessly bleak and nihilistic for consumers, even their target audience. The line was discontinued in 1995 and never went into broader distribution.  Be sure to visit Messy Nessy Chic at the link above to see more artefacts of this failed attempt at reverse-psychology and branding disaffection.

Saturday 8 October 2016

soda derby

A new front has opened in the Cola Wars, as Boing Boing reports, in the form of rewarding dieticians to endorse the benefits of drinking sugary concoctions—or at least disparage the notion of taxing soda as sort of a gateway sin-tax for controlling all sorts of behaviour and choice. While this practise is undoubtedly revolting and ought to be brought to light (for shame, disreputable nutritionists), I think being subversive on social media pales in comparison to the way that soft-drinks are marketed almost as sacramental wine in Central and South America. What do you think? Most peddlers of patent-medicines were run out of town long ago, yet the biggest ones remain.

Saturday 6 February 2016


Der Spiegel (liederlich nur auf Deutsch) has an interesting article on the evolution of corporate logos, refined from esoteric and filigreed mastheads to more simplified icons that we recognise today. One can appreciate the images and comparisons in any language and one does not need the captions to wonder how the one computing giant originally was to invoke Sir Isaac Newton’s eureka-moment under the apple tree for its blazon or how an internet browser initially employed the Phล“nix rather than the cunning fox or how, until 1949, one German automotive manufacturer betrayed in its ornate design its Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy) roots.