The Blob

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Bored on the 4th of July

Throughout the day, I've been asked, "So what'll you be doing over the 4th?" Frankly, not much. Instead of sitting in the sun and working on my melanoma, drowning myself in too much food and beer, I'll be doing none of that. The reason: my wife is in crunch time at her small business and needs a hand. So I'll join my wife and her partners at the office. In my case, I'll spend the day ironing prototype fabrics and carefully scanning them, so that my wife and her partners can drop the textiles into swimwear designs.

It won't be that bad. They're a great bunch of people. And the stuff they design is first rate. It will be fun to see someone wearing the clothes I helped to work on. But tomorrow will be a Friday not unlike most others. And I won't have a hangover to worry about.

Have a happy and safe one.

For a fun waste of time, try this

Here's a fun waste of time: On the Web, go to the Google search engine site. Once you get there, enter the following text in the box:

weapons of mass destruction

Then click on the I'm Feeling Lucky button. You should be taken to this site. Regardless of your political views, it's pretty clever. Thank God there are people with just a little too much time on their hands.

A little breathing room

If you like free speech, you'll love this. Wired News has published a story titled Bloggers gain libel protection. The story explains that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Tuesday that Web loggers, website operators and e-mail list editors can't be held responsible for libel for information they republish, extending crucial First Amendment protections to do-it-yourself online publishers.

I've been cautioned to watch what I say here. And certainly, everything I say could be used against me. So it's comforting that that I have at least some breathing room to do it.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003


I'm not given to indulgences or impulse purchases. I usually hold back and think twice before opening my wallet. But I have my moments. While on a long overdue vacation last week, my wife and I drove to San Diego and visited the famous Hotel Del Coronado to have lunch and to walk the grounds. It's a place rich in history, a destination for many famous celebrities. Among them was one Norma Jeane Baker, who we know today as the movie icon Marilyn Monroe.

I know people who are obsessed with this famous screen icon. I'm not particularly, but I always found it interesting that she stood out from the crowd, and why people found her so compelling. Now I understand why. While browsing through the shops inside the hotel, I came across a book that simply floored me: Marilyn, a stunning collection of photos and narrative by the late photographer Andre de Diennes.

As a published work and example of graphic design, it is absolutely stunning. As an intimate look into the soul of an innocent young woman yet to be discovered, used and later destroyed by the Hollywood star machine, it is amazing. As a personal memento to someone he deeply loved, the work of Andre de Diennes captures Norma Jeane in a way never shown before.

After his death in 1985, the notebook of photos and memoirs of Andre de Diennes were discovered and faithfully reproduced in this remarkable three part book. Bound in a slipcase that is a faithful reproduction of a Kodak film box containing the original negatives, the set contains a copy of the original notebook of his memoirs, complete with the thin paper containing typed notes (including cross-outs, corrections and pasted in proofs of Norma Jeane), a stunningly designed coffee table book of color images (exactly reproducing the color film quality of the day), and a smaller companion piece of early magazine covers of Norma Jeane as an aspiring young model.

The design and production value of this very expensive bound volume ($200, available from either Taschen, the publisher or Amazon) is simply incredible. For the money, I considered it a steal. Only 20,000 copies were printed, each carefully numbered. But what I found so compelling was the chance to see what made Norma Jeane Baker so extraordinary. She was pretty, to be sure. Hollywood is full of beautiful, hopeful young women. But there is something about people who become celebrities, or in the case of Marilyn, icons. They can't help but to be famous. The few who are chosen by fate and the starmaking machine have something about them that make them stand out. It's an undeniable radiance that sets them apart from everyone else.

While Hollywood made Marilyn glamorous, it was this innocent radiance inside Norma Jeane that the photos of Andre de Diennes so lovingly capture. Here she is in a state of joy and purity that existed only then and would be lost when Hollywood transformed her into Marilyn.

Take the time to look at the photos. Admire the work of Steve Crist and the editorial team of Taschen, who clearly understood what they had, and lovingly preserved the work in such a unique manner. It is a look into the soul of someone at once precious and alive. As a piece of design and publishing, it is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.

For me, buying Marilyn was a considerable indulgence. It's a bit scary to spend money like that. But someday, years from now, I will look back with no regrets.