Roadside Americana, Metropolitan Etiquette

For 30 years John Margolies has been documenting the diners, drive-ins and motor lodges that remain along our highways as box stores and strip malls slowly erase the quirk and character of consumerism. His book Roadside America collects nearly 400 photographs of this vanishing vision of over-the-top architecture, automotive freedom and the American dream.
The Metropolitan Etiquette Authority
Artist Jason Shelowitz has created a series of subtle posters that explain common courtesy to New York City subway riders. Using the format of MTA announcement signs, Shelowitz’s “Metropolitan Etiquette Authority” posters spell out the finer points of not being a rude public transportation passenger.
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Statistics: World Warms to USA, Lowest Tax in 60 Years but Teabaggers Don’t Get It

Views of the US around the world have improved sharply over the past year, a BBC World Service poll suggests. For the first time since the annual poll began in 2005, America’s influence in the world is now seen as more positive than negative. The improved scores for the US coincided with Barack Obama becoming president, a BBC correspondent notes. As in 2009, Germany is viewed most favourably while Iran and Pakistan are seen as the most negative influences.

Taxes at lowest level in 60 years… so why are Tea Partiers angry?
Almost all Tea Party activists have seen their federal income taxes drop over the past few decades, thus Tea Party anger focused on the federal government is misplaced. The financial sector bailouts are also poorly understood by most (not just Tea Partiers). The bailouts imposed stringent requirements on recipients of government funds. The funds were also conditioned upon payment to the government of warrants or senior equity or debt securities (designed to help recoup government losses).

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People: Steven Grasse

Steven Grasse Does His Own Thing, or at least that’s what Piers thinks. At the recent PSFK New York Conference, (self described) “maverick creator-entrepreneur” Steven Grasse closed out the day’s discussions with a spirited talk about his journey from “disgruntled ad man to revolutionary businessman”. He spoke candidly about his inspirations, trials and tribulations, and his passion for living a life driven by art, authenticity, and conscience.

I have been an admirer of Mr Grasse’s work for some time, since seeing him and his team (from Giro as it used to be called) present credentials to my then-client Virgin Mobile. I had been particularly impressed with their Camel Lounges and work with Sailor Jerry. I later learned he invented one of my favorite drinks (Hendricks Gin). Such is the esteem in which I hold Mr Grasse I can (almost) forgive his rather strange views on English people…

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China: Leader in Labor Abuse, Solar Power

Underage, underpaid workers working 15-hour shifts, sexually predatory security guards, hourly pay of just 52 cents per hour after deductions for the canteen food. No talking during work hours, no listening to music, no bathroom breaks. These are just some of the conditions that workers at China’s KYE Systems Corp. plant in Dongguan City have to endure. The factory produces hardware for U.S. companies, including Microsoft, and its work practices have been documented in a report by the National Labor Committee. What would the directors of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation say to all this?
China currently owns 50% of solar energy production capacity. Solar energy is popular because it is clean and abundant. The problem is that it remains expensive. According to recent calculations by the International Energy Agency, power from photovoltaic systems (solar cells) costs $200-600 a megawatt-hour, depending on the efficiency of the installation and the discount rate applied to future output. That compares with $50-70 per MWh for onshore wind power in America, by the IEA’s reckoning, and even lower prices for power from fossil fuels, unless taxes on greenhouse-gas emissions are included. The costs of solar are dropping; in some sunny places it may, in a few years, be possible to get solar electricity as cheaply from a set of panels as from the grid, and later on for solar to compete with conventional ways of putting electricity into the grid. But for the moment there would be no significant market for solar cells were it not for government subsidies.
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People: Piers Fawkes, James Fox, Sly Grice

David Weiner, the New York editor of Huffington Post, recently interviewed the purple one about living and working in New York City – a city he has lived for seven years. The hirsute high-brow waxed lyrical about the change effecting the creative industries they work in; public art; and my plans for the ‘Alleyway of Ideas’. Hopefully Piers’ thatch of hair will prevent his head from becoming too swollen!
Jay Lenstrom, CEO of global marketing services company The Red Peak Group, announced today the appointment of James Fox as Chief Strategic Officer. Based in New York, Fox will lead strategic planning across the company’s client roster. He reports to Lenstrom.

Sly Bailey. Trinity Mirror chief’s pay rises to £1.7m
Sly Bailey (nee Grice), the chief executive of Trinity Mirror, pocketed an overall pay packet of £1.68m in 2009 despite the company reporting a 41% slump in pre-tax profits during the year. Bailey, the highest paid director at Trinity Mirror, netted a basic salary of £736,000 and a cash bonus of £671,000 in the year. Her overall remuneration, including a £248,000 pension contribution, rose to £1.68m, compared to £1.53m the previous year.

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Economy: Corporate America, Gen X, LA Real Estate

After hitting rock bottom during the height of greed, bailouts, and the economic crisis in 2008, the American public’s perceptions of the reputation of corporate America seem to be bouncing back, according to the findings of the 2009 Harris Interactive RQ Study. The percentage of respondents to the study, which measures the reputations of the 60 most visible companies in the US (as determined by Harris Interactive research), who see the state of reputation as “not good” or “terrible” decreased from 88% in 2008 to 81% in 2009. In addition, there was a 50% increase in the number of Americans who said that the state of reputation is “good,” moving from 12% to 18%. This is the first positive improvement in four years.
As a result of recession-shrunk Baby Boomer household wealth, Generations X and Y will fuel the shopping growth needed to spur an economic recovery, according to [pdf] a new study from PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Kantar Retail.GenX in Big Shopping Stage. Baby Boomers (ages 46-64) were largely responsible for the retail spending that fueled the recoveries from the economic recessions of the early 1990s and turn of the century. However, they have now matured to a point where they need to recoup wealth lost during the recession of the past few years in order to save and invest for the future. Therefore, even though Gen X (ages 29-45) is only about 75% the size of the Baby Boom generation, it is one of two demographic age groups that will increase retail spending in the near future. Seventy-one percent of Gen X members have children under the age of 18, and Gen Xers are entering their peak earning years.
Emi Fontana has filled vacant retail stores with art installations, and even used an empty modern house high in the hills above Pasadena to install a site-specific installation by Olafur Eliasson. In L.A.’s Chinatown, Wendy Yao sells a collection of zines, handmade jewelry and records out of a miniscule strip mall, which has led to a variety of unusual temporary venues. Nearby, Mark Allen uses his small storefront as a place for identifying (and eating) edible insects, holding welding classes and orchestrating temporary takeovers of entire museums.
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Icons: Pat Fallon, Ty Montague, Jesus

In recognition of Pat Fallon’s years of hard work helping to build and cultivate the advertising industry in Minnesota, and in honor of his induction into the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Hall of Fame, Mayor R.T. Rybak has proclaimed March 25, 2010 to be ‘Pat Fallon Day’ in the city of Minneapolis.
JWT’s top two North American executives are departing the WPP-owned network to start their own agency. Rosemarie Ryan, JWT’s co-president since 2004, and Ty Montague, its chief creative officer and co-president since 2005, have had both successes and setbacks in their tenure at the shop. They are credited with leading a resurgence of sorts in JWT’s large New York headquarters, which has seen its creative reputation improve and was bolstered by a major influx of Microsoft business beginning in 2008. But the pair also oversaw the virtual shuttering of JWT’s storied Chicago office and the folding of its standalone Detroit operation into WPP’s hybrid “Team Detroit.” In the past year it has also parted ways with key Kellogg’s business and saw its Jet Blue account go into review.
That Kit Kat Jesus fake e-mail in full…

JWT Management Changes (online.wsj.com)
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak Proclaims Today ‘Pat Fallon Day’ (eon.businesswire.com)
Crowdsourcery (farisyakob.typepad.com)

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