photo by Charles O’Reardon
Lower Manhattan 1880-1932
I had some fun lining up the sequence Dan posted earlier…
What font(s) do you use for drafts? If you’re sending work to journals, do you change it when submitting?
Errol Morris finds that of six common fonts—Baskerville, Computer Modern, Georgia, Helvetica, Comic Sans and Trebuchet—Baskerville
promotes, engenders a belief that a sentence is true[.] Or at least nudges us in that direction
He was particularly struck by its advantage over Georgia, perhaps, Cornell University’s David Dunning suggests, due to its sense of formality.
I recently switched to Baskerville from Caslon—with a year and a half on one manuscript, I needed to see it afresh, and I liked Baskerville’s legibility, the neutrality of its proportions; Garamond I think prettiest, but the horizontals on its ‘e’s are pushed too far up for my eyes and long editing sessions.
Times New Roman always strikes me as somehow off, its shapes tweaked just enough from older forms to look like someone’s stretched them without attention to aspect ratio (the bane of anyone who’s ever worked with other people’s PowerPoints).
Bodoni is marvelous, the fashion font—and forever fixed for me as the typeface of The Year of Magical Thinking.
The shapes of letters for me unavoidably evoke time: the time they might have been composed in, the time they expect of me, and the authority that implies. Georgia artfully has something of the typewriter about it, and so seems potentially still in progress. At small sizes, it puts me into the kinds of offices—furnished with bank chairs, wood-trimmed, pre-air conditioning—where I imagine clacking Olivettis. Garamond’s Empire waist insists on grace. Baskerville and Caslon seem polished but not overly so; not precious, and least evocative of any one era.
Which typeface—and era—seems to best fit the sentences above? (Source after the jump).Read on →
Ads of The New Yorker, May 25, 1929
Maud Newton pointed to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Short Autobiography” (in drinks) from this issue, and leafing through its subsequent pages—frothy compared with today’s—I was struck by the number of ads for then-new apartments in buildings that are now “pre-war,” by the opulent assurance, and the copy that was thought to sell:
The Kelvinator is connected to the building supply pipes. The wire is plugged into a nearby electric outlet, and there is nothing more to do.
"Smart" was the adjective du jour—smart occasions, smart summer complexions, the new Central Park Casino "quite the smartest place to dine and dance in all New York." The ads were agog with summer, proclaiming nights on the St. Regis Roof—"now in the full swing of its second brilliant season"—in diction only a few degrees removed from a New York summer preview; in the same pages as “Packard men” and, in a typewriter ad, “secretaries [who’ve] learned that quiet is one of the most willing aids to health and charm.”
“I wish publishing was advanced enough to use colored ink … I’ll just have to save the idea until publishing grows up.”
—William Faulkner had hoped to use different colors of ink to mark the sometimes-confusing chronological shifts in The Sound and the Fury. Now his dream will come true, in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the author’s death.
(Source: The Guardian)
I think I’d still want to read it first in standard print, but I love this, and I suspect I’d read—or dissect—it in the way Alice Munro (in the intro to her Selected Stories) says she reads, starting in the middle and reading around rather than straight through. It also seems made for the iPad (remember ‘hypertext novels’ in the ’90s? Maybe they didn’t need hrefs, just CSS).
It befits Faulkner and Hemingway’s rivalry that 14 Colors of Sound and the Fury is announced the same week as 37 Endings of A Farewell to Arms—the order behind what seems bewildering, the complications behind what seems lucid.
This week, after two years and three issues, I handed off UMass’s Route 9 to to new editors. We started in 2009 on WordPress, but after two issues I decided we were best not just having a Tumblr but being a Tumblr. The potential for pieces to be reblogged or featured was appealing, of course, but my main reasons were practical: run entirely by MFA candidates, the journal, if it continues to thrive, will be handed off every several years. Tumblr frees future editors from also having to be server admins, while allowing customization that would otherwise require managing (and paying for hosting) our own CMS.Read on →
The Tallest Building in New York City (1 WTC)
As of 2 pm today, according to the Daily News.
I’d be sorry to see this locked in its Instagram filter, except that pseudo-1913 strikes me as a gracious nod to the Woolworth Building, once again in its original glory after thirty years overshadowed and a decade marking that terrible gap.
Olympic arrives in New York, June 21, 1911, Lusitania outbound
Bain News Service | Library of Congress (color-corrected and cleaned)
In his excellent New Yorker look at Titanic’s enduring fascination, Daniel Mendelsohn points out that:
It uncannily replicates the structure and the themes of our most fundamental myths and oldest tragedies. Like Iphigenia, the Titanic is a beautiful “maiden” sacrificed to the agendas of greedy men eager to set sail; the forty-six-thousand-ton liner is just the latest in a long line of lovely girl victims, an archetype of vulnerable femininity that stands at the core of the Western literary tradition.
I think, even more than its unabashedly un-Edwardian dialogue, James Cameron’s assumption that we wouldn’t ‘get it’ without a literal maiden is what I’ve always resisted in his Titanic, though I tap my foot along with the dances in steerage and tense at the terrible creaks and groans as the lower decks bend beneath the weight of water.
How would the story stick were the ship less beautiful? The narratives of class, technology, hubris, fall from grace, and irretrievable past, all ride on the ship itself, in plain sight all along, the lifeboats as vestigial at the successful end of Olympic’s first voyage as when on Titanic, as Mendelsohn cites, J.J. Astor declared, “We are safer here than in that little boat.”
For an era still styling public buildings after Roman forums, and skyscrapers after Tuscan campaniles and Gothic cathedrals, Titanic and its kin were astonishingly abstract on their exteriors, Parthenon-like in symmetry (its designers were well aware, adding a non-functioning fourth funnel); no ornamented bow or curves, all lines and angles. No wonder Le Corbusier waxed rhapsodic about liners in Towards an Architecture:
Architects live within the narrow confines of what they learned in school, in ignorance of the new rules of building, and they readily let their conceptions stop at kissing doves. But the builders of liners, bold and masterful, realize palaces beside which cathedrals are tiny things, and they cast them in the waters!
The “styles”—for one must do something—intervene as the great contribution of the architect […] they are a respectful and servile call to “Attention!” before the past… A lie, for in the great days facades were smooth, pierced at regular intervals, and of fine human proportions….
… The value of a long promenade, a volume that’s satisfying and interesting: unity of materials, beautiful arrangement of the structural elements, soundly set out and combined into a unity.