“I was going into a slump during Ironman. I found out I was a diabetic around that time, and I was just stressed out. My mind wasn’t all the way there. Certain joints I couldn’t really catch. Like the one I had Masta Killa and Deck and RZA and them on, ‘Assassination Day.’ I couldn’t catch it. I let it live, but like, ‘Fuck it, I’ll back out of that one,’ and kept it moving.
“To me, Ironman is dark. ‘After The Smoke Is Clear,’ and the last couple songs at the end. Even the Mary joint. It’s down. Even ‘Assassination Day.’ They’re dark. And I was mad as a motherfucker, but I couldn’t do nothing about it after it was wrapped up. They were like, ‘Yo put it out there.’ Then Nas came with I Am… after that, and he had nice, colorful joints. But it was what it was.”
On Supreme Clientele: “I went to jail. But before that, it was just one of those times. I was still Ghost, even though Ironman wasn’t really to where I wanted it to be lyrically. Like I said, to me, Ironman is kinda dark. I had went with RZA to Ohio to work on the album, we had some land over there. There was really nothing on that land. I felt like I fucked up on that one.
“But when you hear Supreme, it’s more colorful. It’s like a box of crayons, or a nice fruit bowl. It just looks colorful. When I did Supreme, I was like, ‘I’m coming back,’ especially with beats first. So I went to Juju [from The Beatnuts], my man Haas from Staten Island, RZA, you know, different motherfuckers. I had ‘Nutmeg’ from my barber. That’s my man. My old barber made ‘Nutmeg.’
“‘Mighty Healthy’ was crazy. ‘We Made It’ was crazy. Even ‘Stay True.’ ‘We in the fields with heat.’ That’s my most colorful album, and it’s up there with my favorites. I don’t listen to my albums no more. I just do it, then I let it go.”
“I was doing that Hip-Hop Squares shit, and Fat Joe and Khaled were up there, and they were telling me how them niggas had used my voice and the beat from ‘Mighty Healthy’ and how Kanye had put it on ‘New God Flow.’ They said the shit was crazy, shit was bangin’. So I’m like, ‘Word?’ And they’re like, ‘You gotta hear this shit.’
“So after a while, I heard the shit, and you know, it was aiight. I didn’t really go crazy for it and stuff like that, though, probably because I heard the beat so many times. But they flipped it, though. Sometimes, when you hear a song the first time, you gotta hear it more and more before you be like, ‘Oh shit.’ Especially on the radio.
“So I fucked around and just took the initiative to do it myself, ‘cause my voice was on it. So I took it and was like, ‘You know what? Let me just get some of that real quick.’ So I tackled that shit, and did it.
“When it came out, I been did that, like two, three months ago. ‘Cause Kanye was busy doing whatever he was doing. I could’ve put it out myself, but something said, ‘Nah, just give it to him.’ Because more than likely, he’d make it like a remix, which he did. And it would be more powerful, instead of me just putting it out myself.
“So yeah, I did it myself, and just sent it to Kanye. And two or three months later, it was out, like, ‘Aiight, cool.’ And that was it, though. I never even spoke to him when I sent it or after it was released. But I appreciate it. He fucked around and made a movie out of it, and got it out there. It was cool”
… “I still ain’t back. I ain’t never go nowhere, but I’m not back to where I’m comfortable and in there like that. A lot of these rappers that niggas look up to, I’ll dart ‘em out. Early. And get the belt back overnight. When you’re not getting that play on radio, and you’re not around, they forget. Until they be like, ‘That was that nigga that brought the eagles out and the robes and the Wallabees and all that other shit.’ Watch what happens in the next couple weeks. It’s on.”
Neil Irwin’s The Alchemists gives us a time and a place at which the major advanced countries abruptly pivoted from stimulus to austerity. The time was early February 2010; the place, somewhat bizarrely, was the remote Canadian Arctic settlement of Iqaluit, where the Group of Seven finance ministers held one of their regularly scheduled summits. Sometimes (often) such summits are little more than ceremonial occasions, and there was plenty of ceremony at this one too, including raw seal meat served at the last dinner (the foreign visitors all declined). But this time something substantive happened. “In the isolation of the Canadian wilderness,” Irwin writes, “the leaders of the world economy collectively agreed that their great challenge had shifted. The economy seemed to be healing; it was time for them to turn their attention away from boosting growth. No more stimulus.”
I have often tried here on Language Log, in playful or polemical ways, to critique naive lexical strong Whorfianism, which seems to take up most of the discussion of language that you find among the general public…
Naive lexical global Whorfianism comes in two flavors. One, the world-to-word flavor, says that when a nation or tribe becomes enormously interested in some new activity or concept they feel impelled to make a new word to denote it. The other, the word-to-world flavor, says that we can’t form a concept if we don’t have a word to serve as the name for it. For real enthusiasts of the word-to-world flavor, the world as we perceive it is just a patchwork of concepts created by the network of words that we have.
Either way, it is alleged, you can tell what interests the members of a culture simply by examining the dictionary of their language. Nonlinguists are just entranced by this idea, as you can learn from magazine articles just about every week. Here’s an absolutely typical recent example: a page devoted to a map of 19 emotions that English allegedly has no words for.
Let’s take the tired old example of Schadenfreude. The idea is either (world to word) that (i) the feeling of experiencing joy at the misfortune of another person is so important for Germans that they made sure they developed a special word to name it, or (word to world) that (ii) German speakers only see Schadenfreude because they have that word, and English speakers in exactly the same contexts don’t see it because they don’t have the word for it (unless they manage to borrow the word Schadenfreude for it, of course, which seems to drive a coach and horses through the notion we’re talking about).
Bottle designed by Sergej Pavlin.
In the early 1950s, the father of Cockta, Mr. Emerik Zelinka, working for the Slovenijavino beverage company, created a refreshing drink made of excellent natural ingredients. He combined rosehip, vitamin C with its pleasantly tart taste, various herbs, pure spring water, and caramelized sugar. The first public promotion of Cockta took place on 8 March 1953 at the Planica ski jumping events, where visitors were greeted in every comer by a poster of a little girl drinking Cockta. The rounded quarter liter bottle, filled with a brown fizzy liquid alluded to the western lifestyle. In the same year, the first million liters of Cockta were produced, the equivalent of 4.5 million bottles.
Shirley Clarke screened Portrait of Jason for perhaps the most impressive and illustrious focus group ever assembled. Among the names on the RSVP list for the private 3:00 PM enagement on July 9, 1967 at the Museum of Modern Art:
Elia Kazan, Terry Southern, Virgil Thompson, Willard Van Dyke, Bill Greaves, Norman Mailer, David Amram, Rip Torn and Geraldine Page, George Plimpton, Eddie Jaffee, Amos Vogel, Stanley Kaufman, Allen Ginsberg, The Fugs, Richard Foreman, Larry Kardish, Thomas Hoving, Mike and George Kuchar, Arthur Miller, Henry Geldzahler, Barney Rosset, D.A. Pennebaker, Storm de Hirsch, Robert Frank, Jason Holliday, Andy Warhol, Robert Lowell, Paul Morrissey, Michael Snow, Tennessee Williams, Lionel Ziprin, Harry Smith.
Towards the end of The Great Gatsby, Gatsby’s father shows Nick Carraway a book Jimmy Gatz had ‘when he was a boy’, a copy of Hopalong Cassidy with a handwritten ‘schedule’ on the last fly-leaf, mapping out his day: ‘rise from bed’ at 6 a.m., followed by ‘Dumbbell exercise and wall-scaling’, ‘Study electricity, etc’, ‘Work’, ‘Baseball and sports’, ‘Practise elocution, poise and how to attain it’ and ‘Study needed inventions’. There’s also a list of ‘general resolves’:
No wasting time at Shafters or [a name, indecipherable]
No more smoking or chewing
Bath every other day
Read one improving book or magazine per week
Save $5.00 [crossed out] $3.00 per week
Be better to parents
Henry C. Gatz ‘was reluctant to close the book’, Nick says, ‘reading each item aloud and then looking eagerly at me. I think he rather expected me to copy down the list for my own use.’ It’s a mean thought, and a funny one. But Fitzgerald may have been mocking himself as much as Gatsby’s father. The University of South Carolina has made freely available online a fully searchable digital facsimile of a ledger that Fitzgerald kept between 1919 and 1938. In it he kept a ‘Record of Published Fiction’, details of ‘Money Earned by Writing since Leaving Army’, ‘Published Miscelani (including movies) for which I was Paid’, ‘Zelda’s Earnings’ and an ‘Outline Chart of my Life’, one page per year.
He wrote most of The Great Gatsby when he was 27, ‘the most miserable year since I was nineteen, full of terrible failures and accute miseries. Full of hard work fairly well rewarded in the latter half and attempts to do better’. September 1923: ‘High Hopes for the play. A new schedule & more work on the novel. Ball game (worlds series).’ April 1924: ‘Out of the woods at last & starting novel. Gloria Swanson’s party. Kauffman’s party. Decision on 15th to go to Europe.’ Twenty-eight years old was ‘The year of Zelda’s sickness and resulting depression. Drink, loafing & the Murphys.’ Among the lists of names of friends, places, drinks and fights with Zelda, he records for September 1924: ‘Hard work sets in.’ October: ‘Working at high pressure to finish.’ November: ‘Novel off at last.’
The entries for his childhood are more entertaining. For September 1900, the month he turned four, he wrote: ‘He had a party to celebrate his birthday. He wore a sailor suit about this time & told enormous lies to older people about being really the owner of a real yatch.’
“A classic,” suggested Anthony, “is a successful book that has survived the reaction to the next period or generation. Then it’s safe, like a style in architecture or furniture. It’s acquired a picturesque dignity to take the place of its fashion …”
from F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and the Damned (1922)
Around the time that I began to suspect that I might be a Marxist I became very depressed and spent a lot of time in bed watching television. One thing that I watched and which comforted me was the television series True Blood. I identified in particular with the character of Jessica, a young woman who is turned into a vampire against her will.
- Corn starch in a leather pouch makes the sound of snow crunching
- A pair of gloves sounds like bird wings flapping
- An arrow or thin stick makes a whoosh
- An old chair makes a controllable creaking sound
- A water soaked rusty hinge when placed against different surfaces makes a creaking sound. Different surfaces change the sound considerably
- A heavy staple gun combined with other small metal sounds make good gun noises
- A metal rake makes a fence sound (it can also make a metallic screech when dragged across a piece of metal)
- A heavy car door and fender can create most of the car sounds needed but having a whole car in the studio is better
- Burning plastic garbage bags cut into strips makes a cool sound when the bag melts and drips to the ground
- ¼” audio tape balled up sounds like grass or brush when walked on
- Gelatin and hand soap make squishing noises
- Frozen romaine lettuce makes bone or head injury noises
- Coconut shells cut in half and stuffed with padding makes horse hoof noises
- Cellophane creates crackling fire effects
- A selection of wooden and metal doors are needed to create all sorts of door noises but also can be used for creaking boat sounds
- A heavy phone book makes body-punching sounds
How can you ensure your product design never gets knocked off? By manufacturing it with proprietary production methods and materials no one else has access to. That’s always been the government approach to making currency, which is arguably the number one thing you don’t want people knocking off. But as manufacturing techiques trickle down, and now that digital imaging has become child’s play, the design of physical currency has to continually evolve. That creates a situation essentially the opposite of what industrial design is: Currency makers have to design something that’s as complicated as possible to manufacture.
This week the Federal Reserve announced that a new, redesigned $100 bill is coming out, and as you’d expect, the thing is a cornucopia of proprietary manufacturing techniques. It’s got embedded thread imprinted with “USA” and “100,” and when you hit it with a UV light the thread glows pink; it’s got the X-ray thing where a blank space on the bill reveals a hidden face (Benny Franklin) when it’s backlit; the copper-colored “100” turns green when you tilt the bill.
It’s also got a “3D Security Ribbon” (that blue stripe you see) containing images of a funky bell that turns into a “100.” So where’s the 3D part? The bell/100 appear to move and shift in a 3D, holographic way while you wave the money around, as we in the Core77 offices do during our weekly dice games in the hallway with the building superintendent and the FedEx guy. Then there’s the texture. Ben Franklin’s shoulder has been made to feel rough to the touch, like he’s wearing a Carhartt jacket, through an intaglio printing process. (“Intaglio” is basically the printmaker’s version of embossing.)