What a day. There were so many images and messages out there — though by now so many have become familiar. There is no doubt that folks think Bush is a liar.
It probably goes without saying, but the most striking image was the sheer number of bodies.
That, and the fact that there were not many arrests before 8pm put coverage on the evening news into a favorable light.
On a smaller scale, I was struck the most by one man with a sign that read simply: “MY BROTHER IS ON HIS THIRD TOUR OF COMBAT IN IRAQ. BUSH IS A LIAR.” He stared down the cops and security reps at Madison Square Garden with such a look of intensity. It was an emotional moment.
My favorite part, though, had to be when we reached 34th street. Rather than the usual ads for Lancôme or Nike Sport, the big screen on the side of Macy’s was showing Fox News. Just then, the coverage turned to the preparations for the convention inside the Garden and at Ellis Island where Cheney and friends were speaking. Having just passed the Garden, everyone was already riled up, but when Cheney came on the screen folks really got into it — booing, hollering, chanting, and waving their signs at the giant TV screen.
- The coffins. You’ve seen the photos. There were just so many of them. When I first heard the idea, it sounded a little goofy to me. But I think they pulled it off well. It was not a very somber mood on the ground, but in photos the impact is clear.
- When a marching band started playing “Crazy in Love” it was a real energy boost for folks who had been on their feet for 4 hours or so.
- So many people wearing and selling political T-shirts.
- The puppet head of Bush with the tongue/speech that continually rolled out of his mouth in a big fabric loop. It was pretty clever.
- The counter-protestor holding the sign that read “Support Bush. Trust Jesus”... interspersed with silhouettes of military vehicles of various kinds.
I’m increasingly realizing the importance of designers taking the initiative to put their messages out. I recognized several posters printed off of various Web sites. People had made their own posters with these, pinned the images to their shirts, their bags, etc. Folks were eager to use images and signs created by others. United for Peace and Justice had printed up a bunch of signs and flags available for people to pick up and use. People were happy to have something to hold up. I experienced this last March when I brought a few extra signs and folks snapped them up enthusiasitically.
The day ended for many with a picnic in Central Park — defying the Mayor’s refusal to permit a rally there, but also a nice, leisurely action against the politically motivated “elevated” terror alert.
“A protestor lowers herself to a waiting police officer after she helped unfurl a banner on the facade of the Plaza Hotel in New York on August 26, 2004. The 60-foot banner reads ‘Truth’ and ‘Bush’ with arrows pointing in opposite directions. Two members of a protest group called Operation Sibyl rappelled down the facade to unfurl the banner.” (Peter Morgan/Reuters) The story behind the banner. More pictures.
“Ten nude AIDS activists led by ACT UP New York stopped traffic on 33rd Street and 8th Avenue by Madison Square Garden at noon today, shedding their clothes to reveal ‘STOP AIDS’ and ‘DROP THE DEBT’ stenciled across their backs. As a crowd of hundreds gathered and news cameras rolled, the six women and four men chanted, ‘Bush, Stop AIDS — Drop the Debt Now!’ and were arrested in all their glory after standing their ground for ten minutes.” (Indymedia)
From Associated Press, August 24, 2004:
“A state Democratic Party A state Democratic Party effort to sign up new voters mixes images of a military draft notice with a voter registration form, calling on people to make a choice between the two.
The first page of the mailing shows a draft notice with orders to report to a military induction center. The next shows a helicopter with troops in the foreground beneath a headline that says ‘Officials in Washington are calling for more troops in Iraq.’ Below, the mailing asks ‘Which form would you rather fill out?’”
On August 18, 2004, a group of New Yorkers launched a 15-foot banner suspended by helium balloons in the main concourse of New York’s Grand Central Terminal. The banner read:
They walked away unhassled, amid cheers.
The banner hung from the Vanderbilt Avenue end of the Terminal’s vaulted ceiling for an entire day, across from the large American Flag hanging above the eastern end of the concourse.
Host Country Bribes
Stadium Built with Slave Labor
Drowing in Advertising
One of the best, and funniest, critiques of the Olympics I’ve seen this season is in the form of a font. The font is a collection of ‘real’ pictograms, lampooning the icons used by Olympics organizers to indicate sporting events without language.
Designed by Jonathan Barnbook and Marcus McCallion, the pictograms follow the style of the hugely influential sign system developed by Otl Aicher for the 1972 Munich Olympics.
View the complete font or download a copy here.
Via a comment at Design Observer
Several grassroots groups are publishing maps of the New York City to guide visitors and residents who want to participate in the protests and events around the Republican National Convention next week.
Cited in The New York Times on August 9, 2004:
“Included is information of the sort that could be of use to any traveler: a street map of Manhattan south of 59th Street and addresses of restaurants, bookstores, libraries and places to rent bicycles.
Other elements are specific to the convention: hotels where various state delegations will be staying, sites of official convention events, and times and locations of planned demonstrations. There are also the words of the First Amendment, phone numbers for the New York Civil Liberties Union and information about bail bondsmen.
The three creators said they spent $6,000 of their own money to print the guides, but are distributing them free.
‘The main reason we made the guide is so that people have enough information to get in the way or out of the way,’ Mr. Chan said.
On Thursday, he and his friends began distributing 25,000 copies to bookstores, community groups, churches and other places.”
You can order or download the map here.
The 2004 RNC Protesters Map is more up-to-date, and features a large list of protest, art, and RNC related events, convergence spaces, and trainings. Icons on the map indicate hotels, police stations, navigation landmarks, parks (both active and passive), and the march route and rallying points. Updated on August 20, the map can be download here (792 Kb PDF).
First published in March 2003, the Map of War Profiteers in New York City showed the beneficiaries in our midst, plotting the locations of government and military agencies, corporations, media profiting from the war. At the meeting of the M27 Coalition, the map helped locate the discussion determining a place for the March 27, 2003 action. Rockefeller Center ultimately was chosen for its proximity to several points on the map.
Unlike the other two color multi-page maps, the War Profiteers map has a distinctly low-tech, underground, DIY aesthetic. It is designed to be reproduced in black-and-white on the front and back of an 11"x17" piece of paper. The icons are composed of cut paper, arranged on a found map. The map was available at progressive bookstores around town, and was distributed at organizing meetings for various protest events.
The Center for the Study of Political Graphics has posted three new online exhibitions of posters from their archives. The collections are organized thematically, around a dozen posters per theme, spanning several decades, countries, and struggles.
Notice the tiny “next” links at the bottom of some of the pages. They’re very easy to miss.
Earth, Wind & Solar
International Ecology Posters
From the site:
“Global Warming. Arsenic in drinking water. Pesticide Poisoning. Environmental Racism. Nuclear Waste Disposal. Irradiated and Genetically Modified Food. The list is endless. Where pollution is concerned, the world is a global village where no continent, country, or neighborhood is safe. Multinational corporations’ insatiable need for new markets and greater profits consistently overrides environmental concerns, and few governments oppose them. But these posters convey an increasing sense of urgency, as international artists continue to use the power of graphics to organize a frontline of defense against rapidly escalating pollution.”
The posters are organized as follows:
We Shall Not Be Moved
International Graphics on Gentrification and Homelessness
From the site:
“A missed paycheck, a health crisis, or an unpaid bill are all that separate many people from homelessness. As America’s income gap widens, renters worry if they can ever buy homes of their own—or keep their rentals through retirement. The lack of affordable housing is not just a U.S. problem. We Shall Not Be Moved uses domestic and international posters to show that homelessness and gentrification are major issues throughout the world—and from the U.S. to Europe to Australia, posters remain the resisters’ tools of choice. Posters announce demonstrations to oppose demolitions, support squatters’ rights to move into abandoned buildings, and organize tenants’ unions. They document victories, defeats, and ongoing confrontations. Posters both record these struggles, and are central to them. They show that victory does not happen overnight—it can take years—but it is possible to fight city hall and the developers and win.”
The posters are organized as follows:
Graphics of the International Labor Movement
From the site:
“Organized labor has consistently produced more political graphics than any other domestic movement for social change. Labor posters are often produced in the midst of a strike or boycott and convey the urgency of the times. Others are commemoratives, marking the anniversary of a victory or a martyred labor leader. They remind viewers of a too often hidden history, rally against dangerous conditions in the workplace, and warn that such injustices still occur. Although many of the posters are historical, the issues are not. The eight-hour day is no longer sacrosanct. More and more children are entering the workforce. Pesticides threaten farm workers and consumers. Sweatshops are proliferating domestically and internationally. These graphic expressions of international solidarity are a powerful combination of art and politics, crossing borders of time and place.”
The posters are organized as follows:
On July 15, I attended a presentation by the four finalist teams at the Center for Architecture, and it was clear that the Diller, Scofidio + Renfro team had done their research. More than any of the other teams, they had examined the relationship between the Line and the City. They presented the most nuanced sense of the pedestrian traffic in the many neighborhoods crossed by the line, and of the different types and degrees of usage the park would host. See their design boards here. While grounded in usability, the design was also aesthetically interesting — with a recurring pattern of linear struts flowing through the length of the park, and a visual vocabulary of plants chosen for their seasonal colors and textures. It was also one of the most imaginative, incorporating an elevated urban beach and swimming pond, ramps and walkways rising above and below the trees, and an elevator lowering a living tree to street level when summoned.
I was also struck by how little Zaha Hadid actually had to say. Her presentation mostly consisted of slides of her past work. It was clear her High Line proposal had less to do with the City than with her own vocabulary of attenuated forms. Her computer-generated video flyby of her High Line design was rendered through a ghostly, transparent Manhattan, hammering home her message: “We invite the City to change around the line.”
Though the winning plan was my favorite, I was sure that Steven Holl Architects would win. Their plan seemed the cheapest, their design the most conservative, and, most significantly, they emphasized public-private partnerships — stating repeatedly how the project would eventually pay for itself. This mainly involved weaving the park through various shops and cafes, anchored at the ends by a Starbucks and a Barnes and Noble. I thought surely this would capture the heart of our businessman Mayor and his administration, otherwise busy selling off branding and naming rights to our public infrastructure to fill the gaps in the city budget.
I’m happy to say I got it wrong.
Graphic designer Wendy Brawer produced her first Green Map in 1991. The Green Apple Map of New York City charted 143 ecologically and culturally significant sites: community gardens, parks, greenmarkets, eco-centers, green businesses and buildings, transportation options, and toxic hot spots. It was well received and quickly inspired a second edition. Wendy writes:
“This Map encourages people to explore and understand out city — helping expand our community of environmental stewards who understand the interconnections between the natural and built environments. It can help build a network of links among people of different ages and backgrounds by highlighting places that are important to our common future. It promotes and fosters replication of successful projects. Moreover, it challenges the assumption that this intensely urban setting has little redeeming ecological value.”
Activists and designers in other cities, particularly colleagues in the o2 Global Network, were eager to make their own Green Maps.
Green Map Systems was born in 1995 and became a U.S. registered not-for-profit organization in 2000.
Wendy and her team produced a shared set of icons, and a Mapmakers’ Agreement which sets some parameters and includes small royalty based on the proceeds — 1% to 3% depending on if the project is all volunteers or has paid staff, and 1% of printed maps. Some “scholarships” are available where needed.
After that, the projects are fairly autonomous. Each Green Map is locally organized and designed, and independently produced. The maps may highlight parks and green spaces, bike paths, gay and lesbian resources, notes on wheelchair accessibility, recycling centers, or sites of energy production and consumption.
“Printed and digital Green Maps identify, promote and link eco and social resources. Each merges the ancient art of map making and new media in creating a fresh perspective that helps hometown residents discover great ways to get involved with the urban environment, and guides tourists (especially virtual ones) to special places and successful greening initiatives they can experience, and then replicate back home.
The maps are generated with a wide range of techniques, from GIS to Illustrator, to simple drawings by hand.
As of this writing, there are now there are now 241 Green Map projects, including 45 by youth. 151 different Green Maps have been completed in 39 countries. The maps are listed here.
Map makers can also develop local variations on global set of Green Map Icons (a shrine icon for Japan, a Capoira icon for Brazil.) After a global discussion on the Green Map email list, several of these have been incorporated into the global set. The set of 125 icons and 50 youth icons have been released as digital fonts for easy placement.
Launched on February 29, 2004, the Green Map Atlas highlights the ten map making projects in Asia and North America. With the goal of promoting sustainability and greener living worldwide, the Green Map Atlas showcases the work of diverse Mapmakers in Tokyo, Toronto, Jakarta, Pune (India), Kyoto, Hiroshima and Hakodate (Japan), Robeson County, NC, Milwaukee, and New York City.
Profile of Graphic Designer Tibor Kalman
by Thomas Frank, from ArtForum, February 1991:
“Tibor Kalman is a graphic designer, a crafter of corporate logos, a producer of presentation materials, a maker of menus and restaurant posters. But Tibor Kalman is so much mere than that.
According to most of those who judge such things (with whom I concur, by the way), he is accomplished, even brilliant at what he does. He may even be the greatest graphic designer of his generation. Certainly his output of the last twenty years, just collected in the three-and-a-half-pound book Perverse Optimist (Princeton Architectural Press), sparkles with witty solutions to the problems typical of corporate presentation. But why stop there? Kalman is, we are told, a radical — a breaker of rules, a dealer in astonishment, a deft questioner of the corporate order. In a manifesto co-authored in 1990, he insisted that graphic designers be ‘bad,’ ‘disobedient,’ ‘insubordinate,’ that they refuse to be ‘a cog in the machine,’ that they must make clients ‘think about design that’s dangerous and unpredictable.’ It’s no surprise that accounts of Kalman’s oeuvre take pains to note his SDS exploits in the late ’60s.
The question that inevitably arises, though, is why a corporation should be so keen to hire a ‘radical’ graphic designer. What makes Kalman’s radicalism, such as it is, a desirable quality in what is possibly the most constrained branch of creative endeavor? What does ‘radicalism’ even mean in such a field? It certainly isn’t readily apparent from his work. What impresses one first about Perverse Optimist is not Kalman’s radicalism but his weird omnipresence in the most modish precincts of corporate-sponsored culture of the last two decades.
In June, CNN and others aired video footage showing a Los Angeles police officer beating a suspect with a 2-pound metal flashlight.
Redesign the flashlight.
From the Los Angeles Daily News, Thursday, August 05, 2004:
“Two days after announcing that LAPD officers will stop carrying heavy metal flashlights that can inflict serious injuries, Chief William Bratton said Thursday that his officers will design their own rather than buy off-the-shelf models.
Bratton estimated that it would take a committee several months to design a device that’s lightweight, bright and virtually incapable of causing serious injury. He didn’t know how much it would cost to develop. ‘We’re not aware of any flashlight that meets the training and multiple needs of our officers,’ Bratton said.
Bratton announced Tuesday that the Los Angeles Police Department will phase out the use of 2-pound metal flashlights, such as the one an officer used June 23 to strike car-theft suspect Stanley Miller 11 times. The widely publicized incident underscored the perilous potential for using flashlights as weapons rather than light sources.
If the LAPD follows through on its plan, it would be the only U.S. police department with its own brand of flashlight. Bratton said the LAPD might be able to license the device and sell it to other agencies.
LAPD officers have had discretion to choose from a variety of flashlights -- from penlight models to the foot-long metal light.
Officers have used flashlights in 15 serious use-of-force incidents since 2001.
New York police officers are allowed to pick their own flashlights as long as the models don’t use more than three D-cell batteries. Chicago police are issued a standard flashlight that fits in the palm of the hand.
Police in San Diego are issued foot-long metal flashlights. In San Francisco, officers can choose between larger and smaller models.
Chicago and San Francisco officers buy their flashlights from Streamlight Inc., a Pennsylvania company that advertises its flashlights as bright, durable and versatile enough for police and firefighters. The most common Streamlight flashlights are rechargeable and cost $100 to $200 each.
But Bratton said LAPD officials were unable to find a light that can be recharged in a police car, has extended battery life and can be easily used in one hand while the officer holds a gun in the other.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents officers, said the current metal flashlights meet officers’ needs.
‘Improvements are always welcome, but it is going to take a long time and a lot of money to make the chief’s new concept a reality,’ the union said in a statement. ‘Once the custom lights are designed, the league has questions regarding who is going to pay for this new required equipment.’”
Switching every flashlight on the force to a rechargeable model would eliminate an awful lot of disposable batteries.
However, the announcement is chilling. With officers riding around with a 2-pound metal club at their side, it seems the temptation to use it as a weapon is just too great. By redesigning the tool, the brass hope to remove this. A kind of “gun control” for people who carry guns.
A good thing to do, but it does seems like the flashlight design is being blamed for a lack of discipline on the force, and for a law enforcement environment in which beating suspects is suprisingly common. The redesign announcement seems to admit that the beatings are normal and will continue — though perhaps just a little less brutally.
Extrapolating a bit, this points to the huge potential for abuse of so-called “non-lethal” weapons. In such a law enforcement environment, I imagine the temptation will be just as great.
My own personal economic indicator is the number of vacant storefronts I pass on my way through New York City. Lately it seems worse than ever. Many of the stores that have been in my neighborhood since I moved here 13 years ago have closed in the last year or so.
But this turns out to have one unexpected benefit: vacant storefronts aplenty, available for short-term lease... to progressive groups during the Republican National Convention:
“The New York Civil Liberties Union today formally opens its Protecting Protest Storefront just two blocks from Madison Square Garden. The Storefront, at 520 Eighth Avenue (between 36th and 37th Streets) will serve as the NYCLU base of operations for monitoring protest activity during the Republican National Convention.
‘This location will be important for those who will witness democracy in action outside the Garden,’ said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. ‘As thousands of demonstrators take to the streets in peaceful protest, the NYCLU will be in constant negotiation with police to ensure that all problems are immediately resolved.’
In addition to housing the NYCLU Protecting Protest office, the Storefront will serve as a meeting place for our volunteers. The NYCLU will also host ‘Know Your Rights’ trainings and press briefings at the Storefront. Leaflets detailing the rights of protesters also will be distributed. The Storefront will also serve as the location for participants to submit information about policing tactics at the demonstrations.
‘We will be watching the NYPD night and day doing our very best to protect the right to protest,’ said Christopher Dunn, Associate Legal Director. ‘The NYCLU Storefront is the First Amendment’s beachhead to the Convention.’
During the week of the convention, the NYCLU will provide resources at the location for the media to file reports. The organization asks that those who are considering using the Storefront for this purpose contact the NYCLU at your earliest convenience. Overseeing all Storefront activities directly will be Steve Theberge, the NYCLU’s Protecting Protest Coordinator.
The NYCLU Protecting Protest Storefront is operated by the New York Civil Liberties Union, which is the New York State Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The Storefront will serve many purposes between now and the end of the Republican National Convention (RNC):
In the weeks leading up to the Convention, the NYCLU Protecting Protest Storefront generally will be open 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Starting on Thursday, August 26, the Storefront will be open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.”
The route for the big August 29th protest actually turns west on 34th Street so the Storefront is not directly on the march route, but two blocks from the Garden is pretty damn close. I just hope the NYPD doesn’t close off the street.
“[August 1] is the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising against the German occupation in World War II, during which more than 250,000 people were killed and the city was largely destroyed. Some posters made by the insurgents have survived, among them the famous “Call to Arms!” (Do Broni!) by Mieczyslaw Jurgielewicz. A year before, in 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which also failed, extinguished the lives of the jewish population of Warsaw, which was about 375,000 before the war.”
Also on August 1, 1944, four thousand Roma were gassed and incinerated at Auschwitz-Birkenau. By the end of the war, between 70% and 80% of the Romani population had been annihilated by Nazis. In Romani it is called “the Devouring.”
After the war, no Roma were called to testify at the Nuremberg Trials, and no one came forth to testify on their behalf. No war crimes reparations have been paid to the Roma as a people. And no posters of resistance are known. [source]