Monday, April 28, 2008

Reach Up

Mariah Carey Fights Eddie Vedder, Stinky Al D'Amato is Chop-blocked & Bills Win as Smoking is Banned Everywhere

Slack No. 6, The Buffalo Issue
February 1994 (publish date 01.26.94)

I was asked by Nancy to watch her things-- this 80 year old grandmother had struck up a conversation with me after her third beer (she told me)-- and I thought about how often people will tell me things. Anything, all the time. People I don't even know will just spill their guts. I am waiting for the murder confession one of these days...

I always thought this was kinda weird... I mean, my friends will tell you I am destined to be the cranky old man on your block. I am not always the friendliest guy (but I was not Bitter Boy, honest... ). I have to admit years of living downtown and many late nights on Buffalo streets has hardened me somewhat.

Despite my general disposition, people will just start talking to me. They will tell me things, often in bars. Like Nancy, who was telling me all about her grandkids and CSI, and what is wrong with Buffalo. I have heard a lot about what people think about Buffalo. Everyday this city and it's fans and foes pen journalistic-- and some not-- criticism and advice for Buffalo. Well looking back at Buffalo on January 26, 1994 I can tell you a little/a lot (<--take your pick) has changed in this Queen City.

I give you yet another early issues of "Buffalo's Hippest Monthly Mag" (it says so on page 5!), Slack magazine number 6, the Buffalo Issue.

This particular PDF copy features an actual returned issue-- someone mailed it back to me with typos circled on the cover (for the record: the 'prose' was a play on words, the 'bufflo' was indeed a typo). This number six issue was haunted by some early bad printing with too dark sludgy gradient tones, heavy photos and bad Kinkos trimming. Still a great snapshot of Buffalo in 1994.

Highlights Include:

> 1st Slacker in Space- legendary cyber-comic by Don Keller.

> A usual snarky Slacker of the Month- starring party DJs that took off P-Funk's Flashlight (IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SONG) and put on Spin Doctors, I still say 'yeck.'

> Dave Koch's Pros and Cons of Buffalo- A deja vu read, 14 years later. Everything in the city was "only 20 minutes away..."

> Top Slackers of the Year: 1993, winners include the:

  • short-lived Mark Supples Show (3 TV episodes)
  • the 1st season of Off Beat Cinema
  • the infamous UB T-Hip concert (flying shoe = show over)
  • and a bad prediction (by me) on the future career of Conan O' Brian (can't call them all, I guess)...
> Anticipation for Bills 4th Superbowl appearance in 1994 (this issue went to photocopier prior to the game, owwwww.......), we were deep in the pain of previous 3 losses...

> Horrorscope writer Brad's Predictions for 1994 which include:
"Mayor Tony Masiello inviting 10,000 stone sober fans to Ray Flynn's for kimmelweck and sponge candy."
Now there's some 90's regionalism for ya, eh?

>> Click here to read the PDF of Slack Magazine n. 6, The Buffalo Issue (4.1 mgs)

And don't forget... so far (we also have):
Slack Magazine n. 9, The Dead Rock Stars Issue
Slack Magazine n. 8, The Beer Issue

Thursday, April 24, 2008

March Into the Sea

Our 1st DJ gig of the year! This Saturday, April 26th, 2008
Deja Blu entertains the auction folks as they get all lubed up to spend money.

9th Annual Photo Art Auction to benefit CEPA Gallery
Market Arcade Atrium, 617 Main Street, Buffalo, NY
Reception with Open Bar: 5:30 pm, Live Auction: 7:00 pm
Admission: $50 per person (includes auction catalogue, paddle and reception)

Great cause, cool grooves >> Click for more info and to see the photos to be auctioned online

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Started Something I Couldn't Finish

The slackest of 'em all: Issue No. 8 THE SLACK BEER ISSUE
aka read this issue and find out how beer makes you smart!
aka aka Slack goes online 14 years later!

As I watched the Philly goons clobber their way into a goal and into the Stanley Cup semi-finals, I yelled.... it seemed so bad, so mean, so playoff hockey. Now Philly is playing the Habs (and you know how I feel about the les habenaeros!?!) So now do I have to switch and root for Philly? Will my hockey conscious let me? Marty?

I was going to post an early issue of Slack #3, with Jimmy Griffin waving goodbye on the cover, but after reading through it, I decided it wasn't the best issue. I mean, it was only the 3rd issue-- out there trying to get into it's own format. A lot of my favorite regular columns and 'ists' weren't in it yet. So like an East Coast hockey fan, I am switching gears and posted the creme de la creme (I have been in a dessert mood lately!) the first Slack Beer Issue (issue no. 8). Besides I only have ONE copy of this issue, so preserving it digitally seemed like a good idea.

You can tell your grandkids about this issue.

This issue has always been one of my all time favorites and it was always a popular back issue. The layout is tighter (eight under our belt), the cover shot was actually photographed by a professional photog-- Donnie downstairs-- and not just a stolen scan from a magazine, the editing was tighter and the DJ lists top in at 13. The record reviews are better (Dre pens six in one issue), the regular columnists are freaks like you and I, the photoshop filters are being used like I knew I could, and this issue sticks with a popular theme for Slack readers, drinking!

The Beer issue plays out like a long night out with feature stories, surveys, a detailed cheap beer taste test, charts and graphics (the winner at $2.99 a six pack) and drinking games, notes and guidelines. My early obsession with lists really took off back in the '90s, it seems. And this issues has a great Slacker in Space (Mr. Don Keller).

But best of all is this issue's Editor's Desktop. It is the story about my experiences with a call from a producer from the Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah were doing a show about the "Slacker Generation" (not officially Gen X, as of yet...), they had heard about Slack magazine and they wanted us to be on the show.... until she found out Andre and I both had jobs-- we were not slack enough!! This is a true story! I coulda been famous!

Classic columns like the Bitter Boy anti-smoking rant for The Virtually Lungless, Strick's expose on green beer bottles, and a Horrorscope featuring a beer of the month are awesome to read in perspective. This all adds up to a great example of slack in Buffalo 1994 stylee.

Quoutables include:

For God sakes. I am not Ethan Hawkes in Reality Bites!!

Drinking this beer make reminds me of...
> Being in Goodbar's on 25¢ draft night,
> Grateful Dead 3-23-91, Knickerbocker Arena, Set 2
> My aunt that liked to make knit crafts, and
> Seventh Grade Wood Shop.

Dear Molson, I am goddamn pissed off!

>> Click here to read the PDF of Slack Magazine n. 8, The Beer Issue (7.5 mgs)

And don't forget... so far (we also have):
Slack issue #9: The Dead Rock Stars Issue

follow up: rockin' Donny Shaft comments on The Artvoice blog about rememberin' SLACK- click here!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sightsee MC!

The 1/1 Anniversary Contest deadline has been extended to May 1st!

Since many folks seem to be hard at work trying to decipher the song title/blog titles, I thought I would give you all so more time. So on Thursday, May 1st I will announce the winner. Bonus points for the folks to get the additional 3 posts that have been added since the contest began this week.

Good Luck. Rock on. Decode.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Electric Relaxation

Slack magazine Goes Online- sort of...

Well I threatened, and it finally happened: I create a PDF of issue number 9 of Slack magazine to introduce the world to one of Buffalo's greatest Zines! Hopefully in the next many months, I will try and get all 20 issues up!

Slack magazine ran from July 1993 to the March 1996. It totaled 20 issues, each with a theme. The original Slack was dreamed up by my then-substance-influenced roommate (Duds!) at the time and myself. Teaming with beats-influenced DJ Andre (Megadose!!), the plan was to create a truly alternative publication that catered to like minded individuals with a sarcastic sense of humor that skewered all that was around us. "All The News That's Fit To Be Tied," the Slack claimed to be the "greatest alternative publication to unearth from the streets of Buffalo" and included original comix by Mack, Hump and Don Keller's serial Slacker in Space, record reviews (Cool Like Dat) , DJ lists, the original Horrorscope by Brad M., band interviews (808 State, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Lance Diamond), and boatloads of snarky sarcasm! Themed issues included: Sex in the '90s, TV, Buffalo (with Jimmy Griffin on the cover), Dead Rock Stars, Cartoons, Radio, Sci-Fi and two hugely successful Beer issues.

Birth, School, Work, Death:
My man, Andre took care of the ads and was the music editor, I did all the editor work: assigning stories, bugging the writers at deadline, picking up the floppy disks (no email really as of yet) and sometimes typesetting the stories (Mr. Jeff Strickland!). I would spend hours mapping out the content and ads, cramming it all into the pages set up in Pagemaker. And I wrote stories and music reviews!

Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe:
The Slack aesthetics was cut and paste, yet the 'zine was created using my Mac Se30. So it was early computer graphics, scans from vintage, rock and skateboard magazines (again, no real internet or Google Images yet, kids), semi-grunge design, a multitude of typefaces and lots of content packed tightly within 16-20 pages. I used to print out the page spreads on Stat Paper after-hours at my pre-press job, and get the 500-800 issues printed at Kinkos, all on my newly minted Kinko's Credit Card (boy, that was a mistake). They would take a few days to print and I would pick up the stacks of legal pages, go back to the North Buffalo, Woodward Street apartment and have a beer drinking/ folding and stapling party. Then Andre and I would spend a few days driving around the city dropping off stacks of Slack at shops, restaurants and bars.

Renegade Soundwave:
Instead of starting at issue 1, I thought I would jump right into the meat of it with issue number 9, the Dead Rock Stars issue which featured: recently suicided Kurt as "slacker of the month", the Slack Complete Listing of Dead Rock Stars, Rock Gods Who Should be Dead, a list of all the drugs in Elvis's medicine chest, Dre's After Dark club column, a Bitter Boy (was not me, honest...) pen about bad driving habits and, of course, the legendary (and often copied) Horrorscope. From May 1994 the issue is soaked in mid '90s rock with many references to Cobain, ads for the Grand Opening of The Atomic on Chippewa and the rock club ICON (75¢ Rolling Rocks), and notes about then-prez Clinton, the death of Dick Nixon and Bosnia.

Enjoy- click here to download PDF (3.1 Mb) of Slack #9- print it out and read it, do not read it on the computer (this is a print publication)! Let 'em R.I.P.

Raisin Blowme where are you?

Hard Luck Woman

Another freebie. Hurry, only 2 more days!!

J. has informed me that one of her posts (way back in the beginning) is a song by a local artist and could be a really hard one to guess. Apparently the song "Harmonica Virgins" was written by Dave Meinzer (Nimrod Wildfire, Davy and the Crockets, Beatmongers, Dry Bones, Outlyers and more....) after j. and Dave came up with this amusing play on words. The song was born in Dave's Buff. State graphics office back in the mid-'90s.

So to remove the hardest one from the competition, here is another answer for you:

Harmonica Virgins by Dave Myles Meinzer from post #2

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sing a Simple Song- The RoamBuffalo 1/1 Anniversary

The contest: you could be a winner, Mr. DJ know-it-all.

Well there ain't nothing like playoff hockey. Though everytime I leave the room some team scores 2-3 goals in a matter of minutes. There are a lot of teams I don't like, so I just root for the team playing against them.
Boo Ottawa!

Hockey in spring has reminded me that it was last year at this time that this RoamBuffalo blog was borne. So on April 17th, we are going celebrate our:
>> 1 Year, 1 Month Anniversary!!

As I write this, there have been 121 posts- not bad. This also means there have been 121 songs referenced as the titles for these post- each post title has been a song title-- or a very clever play on a song title.

So for our 1/1 Anniversary Contest, the 1st person to identify the artists for all these song titles/blog posts will be a winner! Oh yeah! The first person to identity all 121 artist matched with song title by the 21st of this month will win a Where to Roam Tee (your pick). If nobody gets them all, the person who gets the most right (by the 21st) will win. Good luck to you all.

There has been a lot said in these electronic pages about design, art, graphics, fonts, the b-lo, the weather, artists, and, of course, music. Without the music, none of this may have happened. Music and me go way back.

Here is a freebie: Inspiration Information is by Shuggie Otis
Song on YouTube (no video, just CD cover): Shuggie!- click here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Act We Act

Speaking to my daughter's class during Career Week about Graphic design.

I just finished speaking to a group of kindergarten to 2nd graders at my daughter's schools about being a "graphic artist." It was a lot of fun.

I started by explaining that graphic arts is around us everyday: at home, at school outside. Then I told them about graphics being on posters, labels, TV, newspapers, books, magazines and computers. A few hands were raised to tell me about relatives that were artists. Cool.

Then the fun began. I explained the use of symbols, color, shapes, letters, numbers, and words to 'tell a story without speaking'. I held up some examples of symbols and got a rousing reaction. I held up a heart and asked them what it was and what it meant. I held up smiley face, a house (home, comfort, safety- very good!!), and other symbols like scissors cutting and a snowflake. They seem to understand that the snowflake meant cold, yet a sun symbol meant hot. Very cool.

Now the fun really began. I explained I was going to hold up some famous symbols or logos as they shouted out the correct answer, getting them all right away (I tried to stay away from fast food, though I mentioned the McDonald's 'M' during my talk):

  • Walt Disney logo w/ castle
  • Girl Scout logo
  • PBS kids (they all knew, smarty-pants kids) logo
  • Superman logo
  • Batman logo
  • and the last one that erupted the class in cheers and chaos, the old Sabres logo!
We talked about a few in details. For example how the superman logo is just a letter 's' in a shape, but everyone know what it was.

I talked about what subjects in school helped me to be a good artist: art (obviously), math, science, history, reading, writing and more. "Pay attention in school kids," the teacher really liked that!

"Keep on drawing and save your drawings!," I exclaimed.

Then the (even more) fun part, the Q and A. Many of the kids wanted to know the easiest and hardest part of my job (easiest- getting to draw a lot, hardest part; keeping the people I work for happy), they wanted to know what was the best part of my job- and I said that was getting to learn about different people and different types of companies and jobs everyday. As a graphic artist, you often have to become an expert in something that you knew nothing about the day before!

I got a lot of rambling comments about the Lego logo, Star Wars Legos and Bionicles- they wanted to know how much I knew about those symbols... and a lot of kids told me they love to draw, which I, in turn kept exclaiming "Great! Keep it up."

I was great and I had them laughing and shouting in joy! I think they got it, they like to hear that drawing is good and to 'keep on drawing.' By keeping it brief and showing a lot of pictures, I managed to keep it from getting too rowdy, but 30 or so 5-7 year olds can get kinda nutty on a Friday afternoon at 1:00.

Hey, I often do as well.... it has been along week (as usual).

Monday, April 7, 2008

Twice Inna Lifetime

A Card Carrying Member... the history of my business cards.

I found my first business card the other day. I had designed it when I went into the freelance graphic arts business. So this all started as Wizard Graphics way back in 1987. Since I have a copy of all my biz cards, I thought I would review them...

My 1st Biz card: Nobody beats the Wiz!
The name Wizard Graphics seems really dumb 20 years later. I was not a Dungeons & Dragons dude and I never particularly like medieval stuff. A lot of people in high school called me 'wiz' as a nickname, though I am almost convinced it had nothing to do with Michael Jackson or Diane Ross. Sporting the tag-line "designs that work magic" and an illustration of a mean looking wizard.... I was ready to take on the world. This card was produced by hand kids, using a typewriter, press type (rub on lettering) and hand-drawn art. The outline border was line/rule tape applied by hand and a ruler... really, nice corners, eh?

My 2nd Biz card: Purple Rain...
My second card dropped the wizard character, but kept the non de plume. This card was done in the early '90s as I was working in the pre-press business. It was a step up design-wise and featured a 2 color design on good, paper company paper with a smooth-ass gradient-- which I had paid to get made by a printer.... no, I didn't just fade from one color to another in Illustrator, this custom screen was made using film. The cards cost me a lot and features bad kerning, which for the life of me, I can't figure out why.

My 3rd Biz card: Smooth Gradient Operator...
My third card was produced all digital and I matched up my own screen gradients in Freehand. It carries my early love of purple from the last card but has a format changed to a risky new layout- vertical! Again including some bizarre kerning decisions, this card was glossy. Ick, there was a time when glossy equaled 'spend some money on these babies!'

My 4th Biz card: Minimalism for You and Me...
The fourth card was for the official start-up business with the name change to OtherWisz. A play off my last name, Wisz, the card was run for free with a batch of something like 8-9 other cards, mostly photographers I had convinced to all get new cards at the same time! This card was apparently when I finally learned to kern type. The OW card had a simple design and matched a website with the same layout having a thin purple line running across the page. This card circa. 1990 signaled a new era in Wisz-fueled design.

Our 5th Biz card: We have a Winner....
Now, with the fifth card, we really were on to something. J. had officially joined the team and we worked hard to build the OtherWisz brand, which consisted of the new logo (our cattle brand) embossed on some great yellow card stock. The card came in a sweet package including (printed for the 1st time of this story) letterhead and matching envelopes! You know we were now official and the collateral won an Addy that year. Flip the card and J. is on the deboss side, well she is 'de boss' ya know.... ha!

Our 6th Biz card: Leaving an Impression!
Which brings us to our 6th and current card. The fancy new OtherWisz card carries the same logo die on extra heavier, really white paper showing the beauty of the logo as it was meant to be: no color -on- no color. The subtle emboss didn't come out in these scans very well, but if you send me your address, I will mail you a card.

This card was also close enough to our last card that we could use the letterhead left over from the first run. The flip side is extra fancy with J. sporting the knockout from a bright yellow full bleed. This card highlights a new tagline "little firm, big solutions" and gets a lot of "ooohhs, embossed" from people... what will be next?

You can click on the cards for larger views >>

Video Bonus: Mike Jackson and Diane Ross in the movie,
The Wiz
, singing Ease on Down the road. Classic- click here.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Listed M.I.A.

As I crammed for a 'tomorrow meeting' I listened on the radio as the Sabres last gasped and missed the playoffs... owwwwww.... It is time to end this 11 hour workday, just about 10 hours too long if you ask me- it had highs, it had lows..

The Infamous Top 5
For Thursday (April 3, 2008):

5. Corner store (Lex General Store aka Mike's Place aka The Newspaper Store Where They Have The Ice Cream- as my one daughter calls it) and The Place still closed as Spring arrives.

4. Should have had the burger, not the chicken.

3. Nice weather = Johnny Liquor sightings in the neighborhood are on the rise.

2. Speeding Ticket handed out by the OPP.

1. Sabres bowing out of the race.

I couldn't resist talking more grainy office photos with this here laptop. The images all have a security camera aesthetic that is irresistible at 11:35 PM. This is how my eyes are seeing now! So without further adieu, more OW office shots (click for larger).

Only 6 months or so until hockey training camp.

The coffee corner (the OW water cooler).

More LPs (and 12"s) than your average design corporation!

Blue Monday: My Peter Hook autograph.

The hockey game listening radio (for music too).

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

We Got Our Own Thang

A clean desk is the sign of a sick mind.

At least that is the often quoted tip given to me by an old boss of mine, Dan Shuder. He is also the guy that told me, "If you are going to hoot with the night owls, you better be able to fly with the eagles in the morning".... or something like that (but that's another story).

Often a design studio is a cornucopia of things, posters, gadgets, clippings, artwork, ads, postcards and such. The walls and shelves are pilled with things- inspiration! Ever since I was little, I have always attached things to my walls, mostly posters (ah... Farrah in her red bathing suit....). But it advanced to drawings, magazine photos, snapshots, labels and anything flat that inspired me, or just things I liked, applied with scotch tape. I remember my dad coming home from work and flipping out when he found I had stapled an entire wall in my room (in his house) with things, meticulously (spent all day) arranged things. He made me meticulously take it all down the same night!

As a designer and an artist I always found inspiration in the walls of stuff vs. the blank wall. I love the DJ booth of the Old Pink covered in stickers. The last job I had (employed by someone else) had me in a small office with no windows and blank, light blue walls. Well the first think I did was bring some stuff from home: some photos, little toys, plastic characters and posters. My boss thought I was a little nuts, but I had to have things on the wall. The blank canvas cried for stuff!! My office was so boring!!

Our current office has quite a bit of stuff around and I find it fun and stimulating. Others may find it messy and distracting. The more wall space, the more stuff we need. Things to look at often inspires me, and it gets me thinking of other things. I often take snapshots of the office space to use for the stories I write here, so I thought I would add a few more to give you a good idea of the cornucopia of stuff that surrounds me. There is lots of room for more stuff.

Here is a link to an article on Behance magazine about designers and their workspaces- click here.

OtherWisz Office (click for larger):

Old Mac and books, samples, swatches...

The Bat Phone really works, kids!

The files aren't always in the cabinets.

Not the actual Stanley Cup.