Monday, October 27

10E2400: Miller High Life goes back to the archives

Miller have pulled a "go back to the archives" trick and are recreating/re-imagining older labels based on old packaging, wooden crates, and other secondary materials. Soulsight from Chicago did the heavy lifting here. MillerCoors recently did a similar trick with Coors Banquet - they took the extra step of celebrating their in-house archivist Melanie Keerins in a few videos of the process. Good stuff. This is also a great use-case for the value of archives and re-using assets generally.

Have not visited this subject in a while - but collected some info in 2010 that might amuse, as below.

If I can't drive that 16-penny nail in three strokes I'll quit right now, or
The idiosyncrasies that made Miller Brewing Company's High Life Man campaign stand out

You know them, you may be over them, hell you may even hate them. I'm frankly still in awe of the Miller High Life ads directed by Errol Morris (art direction by Portland OR's Wieden & Kennedy). I am not a paid expert on the matter but will reveal that my 1995 M.A. thesis was titled "Enlightened Working Class Images in American Film" and I enjoy looking at these things academically. When I told my ma-in-law the thesis title she said, "Now it all makes sense," -the obsessing over new and vintage workwear or photo archives, quoting from the Dictionary of American Regional English, hunting through thrift stores in rural areas... etc.

Have only ever found a few articles that dealt w/ the Morris/MHL ads in any meaningful way; from the filmmaking decisions to voiceover to copy, The Boat has alot going on. Found some great background info as below;

Better reacquaint yourself with the High Life, soldier, before someone tries to take away your Miller Time. This last line, in particular, spoken in the register of a military commander, invokes the sense of discipline required to restore an appropriate masculinity. While that discipline must be a self-discipline, its urgency is underscored by the panoptic gaze of the neighbor whose perspective dominates the spot. That choice of perspective was deliberate...
-via Lair 2007

Morris originally conceived of close-ups of tires scraping the curb and the trailer hitch jackknifing. "But then I looked across the street," Morris said, "and thought we should just show the whole thing from the other guy's point of view." This view included a mock gaslight lamppost, which filled about a third of the frame as a quintessential suburban symbol. Finally, three cameras, each with different film (35-mm, 16-mm, and Super 8), shot the spot. Wieden & Kennedy decided to use the Super 8 footage, filmed by Morris himself, because it captured the vintage "1950s John Birch Society" atmosphere that the agency wanted, according to Williams [Wieden & Kennedy art director Jeff Williams, who also stood in as the man on the lawn].

...The entire campaign was "appealing to that masculine sensibility, the way men are always imparting undue significance to whatever it is we're doing, like a guy saying if I can't drive that 16-penny nail in three strokes I'll quit right now," Kling [Wieden & Kennedy copywriter Jeff Kling, btw great stuff. -ed] explained. He added, "It's like it's a matter of pride, as if the very fabric of our democracy is being woven here with the shifting gears of backing up a trailer."
- via JiffyNotes
Sure, but aren't these ads simply ironic homages to a defunct sort of masculinity? The better ads of the (absurdly prolific) series don't rely on explicit maleness [or xenophobia -ed.] and the copy verges on poetry.

In the final analysis it is still the High Life MAN though. Daniel Lair (in Leisure, Work, and Manliness: Masculinity-in-Decline and the Miller “High Life Man”) has some pithy observations about the challenges to masculinity (and the way those challenges are framed) in the campaign;
Together with voiceover man Doug Jeffers – whose deep, hyper-masculine voice is almost certainly the singly most important element contributing to the success of the campaign (Quigley, 1999) – this team [Wieden & Kennedy team of art director Jeff Williams, copywriter Jeff Kling, and producer Jeff Selis] maintained a stylistic consistency which allowed the ads to hang together in what Morris described as a “mini-movie” (in Middlekauff, 2000, para. 9). Several stylistic elements combine to provide this consistency. First, all of the spots are shot from visually-jarring camera angles not typically seen in mainstream media: shots almost never depict a whole man, only parts, leaving audiences with an incomplete sense of who the men are and depicted in a manner that suggests that the High Life Men of the commercials could be any man.

...The implication of leisure, however, is cemented in the themes addressed by the advertisements: barbequing, yard work, recreational equipment, and fishing, to name just a few. These leisure time pursuits are frequently framed as challenges, from repairing a refrigerator with duct tape to finding ways to maximize free time... Here, the leisure time challenges highlighted may be more mundane than the often extreme challenges faced by the men of more “traditional” beer commercials, but they are challenges nonetheless. In addressing issues of leisure, the campaign implicitly addresses issues of work, as well. Here again, the cultural legacy of Miller’s once-prominent status plays a prominent role: “Miller Time” was (and is) undeniably after work, but is also framed in many respects as a reward for work.

...Here, the High Life ads transform the generic convention of challenges at work and leisure by framing the challenge that men face not as a specific obstacle to overcome – such as a raging stream or an attractive woman – but rather as a more general cultural malaise that must be resisted. The second way that the High Life ads transform the convention of challenge is through their suggestion as to how such challenges should be managed. The challenge posed by the campaign is not one to be won or lost through skill or brawn. Instead, such challenges can only be met with an inner strength that can be found in re-asserting a more traditional masculinity through living the High Life.

The ironic stance of the campaign distances itself from its overt message, instead functioning as a critique of the shallow nature of contemporary masculinity. The High Life Man thus opens a discursive space from which to critique the masculinity of most beer advertising: a masculinity which is vain, insecure, obsessed with demonstrating an extrinsically-oriented sense of superiority in overcoming challenges, and inevitably turns women into objects of sexual conquest. The High Life Man is able to subtly suggest that these manifestations of masculinity are themselves in part responsible for the crisis of masculinity; that the men of traditional beer advertising, by participating in a surface masculinity rather than a “true” manliness, are not “doing their part.”
* * * * * *
One more... we have an ongoing joke at home that someone always thinks up a chore to do that involves roofs/ladders/axes or even better all 3 -usually around cocktail hour. The response to that idea goes something like "better have a few more drinks first..."

Tuesday, October 21

10E2399: Thru-Hiker at SPL, | Thursday 23rd

Oct 23rd. 7pm. "Thru-Hiker" talk at the Somerville Public Library, 79 Highland Ave, Somerville MA.
From April to September of 2013, Wendy Johnston backpacked the entire 2,700 mile long Pacific Crest Trail from the US/Mexican Border to the US/Canadian border through California, Oregon, and Washington.

Join Wendy for a slideshow of photos, as well as a short talk focusing on the reasons that she hikes long trails and the lessons that she learned during her 5 months on the PCT. Q&A to follow. Leave inspired and encouraged to follow your own dreams!
Is this Wild minus the meltdowns? Dunno. Wear your Danners and meet me there and find out. No GORP though - Wendy is sick of that...

Monday, October 20

10E2398: In The Heart Of The Sea

File under "not your father's Moby Dick"

In The Heart of the Sea by Philbrick is his rigourously researched and detailed account of whaling in the 19thC. It elaborates and continues the true story that inspired and ends in Moby Dick. For those just joining, Herman Melville's Moby Dick was a re-imaging of an actual event, the loss of the whaleship Essex. -Reading a few pages

For more on the subject Philbrick has another book, Why Read Moby Dick? that not only details Melville and the creation of his most famous work but also posits that MD sits as a kind of American "bible". For EVEN MORE MD insight, read the site Power Moby Dick that goes through the text line by line. Pretty great.

Wednesday, October 15

10E2397: The Leaves Are Turning

And isn't it always a flatlander who says "yes and aren't they turning early this year?"...
I hate that. Cause if they were turning earlier and earlier like they always say
then pretty soon the leaves would be turning on Easter!
-The Logger.

Tuesday, October 14

10E2396: In Praise of LLBean Ducks 4

From the zamboni... don't jump the gun.

Easy on-off in airport security. Must.

New pair this year.

Fenway Park warning track.

Huge, massive, long-time fan of LLBean rubber mocs (or Noah's Ark deck shoes...). $79. Deal of the century. Wear these things year-round, great for gardening. Full, over-the-top set including these here.

Monday, October 13

10E2395: Eat Your Greens

Pulled out the garden and saved all these at the end. MUST do something with them... green chutney? Blend with chilis and coriander? Anyone?

Friday, October 10

10E2394: Friday Night Flights - Molasses and Rum

Tonight 6:30pm, join me at GrandTen Distilling in Boston for a special event; "Friday Night Flights".

Hear readings from 2 books detailing the historic 1919 molasses disaster in the North End of Boston ("Dark Tide" and "The Great Molasses Flood") plus a short lecture on the rum trade of the 19thC, and learn about the creation of GrandTen's "Medford Rum". All the while sampling GrandTen's light and dark rums too.

$20. Proceeds to our local Friends of the Somerville Public Library (MA). Reserve your place here.
GrandTen Distilling: 383 Dorchester Ave, Boston, MA 02127

Thursday, October 9

10E2393: Woolrich Yankee Boot

Woolrich ("America's original outdoor clothier") recently launched Woolrich Footwear, a collection of boots and shoes. A subset of that is a group of men's USA-made, including this Yankee Buck model. $300. Made of Horween leather, lined with red plaid Woolrich fabric. Come in Henry Ford too.

A true "Indy-boot" alternative for $200 less. The nerds will get that one...

10E2392: When Bjork Met David Attenborough

Looking at Bjork's singing from an anthropological standpoint. Great bonus clip.

Thursday, October 2

10E2390: Topo Wool Work Shirt

Lined wool shirt, w/ utility pocket and subtle western details via Topo Designs.

10E2389: Mato - Homework Dub

Every once in a while you have to go on an "unsubscribe" tear in your emails. Get off those lists you somehow signed up for were added to.  One email that never disappoints though is the update from Turntable Lab. New music, re-released classics, mixes, camo headphones... all that.

I know virtually nothing about reggea and dub, but did hang around a record shop in Notting Hill over 20 years ago and what they played was a million miles from the collegstudentfordexplorercargoshorts sounds of reggae I had heard commercially. Mato, for French label Stix does dub remixes and ground-up recreations of classic tunes; check out their re-do of the key-lassic Homework album (yes the whole thing).

No it is not too early.