Fashion Statement: Normcore

normcoreIf you work at home or in a casual environment, you’ll be pleased to learn that there’s no need to keep up with the latest fashions. Simply because the latest fashions are probably already in your closet (and have been for some time). And, if they are not, just head to the local thrift shop with about $20 in your wallet and you will walk out with a bag of “normcore.”

New York Magazine describes this un-fashion trend alternatively as “fashion for those who realize they are one in 7 billion” people on this planet and, “dad-brand non-style you might have once associated with Jerry Seinfeld.”

The trendless-setters, mind you, were mostly babies when “Seinfeld” first aired in the 1990s, but those of who us dressed like Jerry then and now can play “normcore”, too. In fact, some of the best examples of normcore were not sourced from teens and twenty-somethings on the streets of Brooklyn, Oakland or [insert name of place people live because they can’t afford Manhattan, San Francisco, etc.]. A tech-savvy fashion stylist took to using the Google Map’s Street View app to compile a series of screenshots of the plainly dressed in a small town in Middle America, upping the game for street photography at the same time.

Need some inspiration get your normcore look up to speed? Check out this slideshow by Amy Lombard.

Source:  New York Magazine 

Photo by Amy Lombard

Curbside Classics

mercurymarquisSince we’ve all been armed with smartphones a number of items have become among the “most photographed” – including feet, food and ourselves (“selfies”). In a tier just below that would be pets, sunsets and old cars (in no particular order or based on any type of survey or algorithm). It’s no surprise then that a blog like Curbside Classics has come about that features some exhaustive vintage and collector car photography.

While some of the posts are indeed exhaustive, and for the motorhead or classic car enthusiast with their detailed descriptions of makes, models and history, there are actually quite a few that fit the street shot mode that will attract the more artistic or photohead inclined, like the one shown with this post.

If you want to submit your car photos, I recommend reading Curbside Classic’s submission guidelines carefully, as you’ll have to do a little research about the vehicle you’ve snapped. There’s no such requirement just to surf. A little car porn every now and then is a good thing.

Photo by Jason Shafer.

Death of Moviefone

moviephoneRemember when you had to dial up (on a telephone) 777-FILM to find out what was playing at what time at the local multiplex? Surely, you can be forgiven if you thought Moviefone was already dead given we’ve been using the Web for more than a decade and apps for half of that to organize an evening away from the couch and our ability to view just about anything on demand.

Yet, Moviefone is still with us, until sometime next month according to The Verge, when it will shut down permanently after a 25-year run. If you thought Moviefone was around longer, like me, well, I guess the demise of this service you haven’t used in many years is somehow even harder to take. (Its app for iPad is available here.)

You can read more about the death of Moviefone over at The Verge, where it is definitely worth scrolling to the end of the piece to see a vintage “Seinfeld” clip of Kramer impersonating Moviefone. Once upon a time, this was really funny. Maybe it still is.

Source: The Verge


Dead and Dying Retail

Closed mallI’ve long been a fan of Dead and Dying Retail, a website devoted to images of shuttered suburban relics to retail and accompanying local history. The site is curated by Nicholas Eckhart and Mike Kalasnik, who have painstakingly visited and documented the demise of what looks to be nearly 100 malls and defunct Kmart stores. Every time one of these behemoths to buying goes belly up, and Dead and Dying Retail shows up, the local angle is played out by reposting. You’ll see links to Dead and Dying Malls everywhere from BuzzFeed and a local Chamber of Commerce website to your friends’ Facebook feeds usually with a “R.I.P. – got my first pair of [insert horrible ‘70s or ‘80s fashion trend] here.”

That’s probably part of my fascination with Dead and Dying Retail – a connection to growing up in the suburbs and what a big deal “the mall” was when it came to town (or a nearby town). The family would pile in the car for an hour (ok, it was 20 minutes, but it seemed longer!) drive to a newer, sleeker, better-array-of-stores mall than the one in our own town, which was “anchored” by a Pathmark. Were we snobs for seeking out Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and J.C. Penney’s? Not to mention bayberry-scented Hallmark stores, Pottery Barns, Foot Lockers and food courts with their super-sized reheated Sbarro pizza slices?

No, I don’t think so. Or, you certainly wouldn’t think so by looking at the remnants of Dead and Dying Retail.

I also look at the site – and was so excited when it made the rounds again last week  that I now follow it on Facebook – because I also study online trends.

The brick and mortar mall, of course, is simply a victim of changing times. In a what-comes-around-goes-around karmic justice, you’ll recall that the suburban mall wiped out our friendly little local downtowns. Online retail (i.e., “You can get anything on the Internet”) has led to the demise of the mall. I am not so sure what the rise of Walmart could have to do with the demise of Kmart, other than it is probably linked to paying hourly employees badly and the shrinking middle class. For all the jokes we made about Kmart as kids – it was truly a middle class kind of shopping mecca. There is no such nostalgia (on my part yet … or probably ever) for Walmart.

Visit the Dead and Dying Retail site here.

‘What People Are Talking About Online’ Goes Gold

KazzaDrask Media’s online culture Scoop.It! curation site ‘What People Are Talking About Online’ has just earned the site’s gold medal. We are now “incredibly highly recommended” for our Communications content roundup.

Since 2011, KazzaDrask Media has been selecting online news and stories that pertain to the changing way we communicate via our “online culture”. This extends beyond using Facebook and Twitter (although they are highly responsible for the changes we have seen over the past half decade). Video, streaming and binge viewing, email and voicemail, memes, pinning, pinging and of course, images (Instagram, Snapchat and our fascination with the “selfie”) are all a part of this latest digital and mobile revolution.

Curating the overwhelming oceans of information at our fingertips in any one category is no longer a hobby (i.e., Pinterest), it is a necessity. We are thrilled to be recognized for our early endeavors in the next wave – be it Web 3.0, or whatever it will eventually be called.

Start making sense of the Internet. Visit “What People Are Talking About Online” now.

The Sochi Project

Albert Petrovich (57) & Sergey Ivanovich (53)If you’re having a little trouble getting into the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia (like I am), here’s an entertaining and educational documentary diversion for you: this 5-year visual and historical study by photographer Rob Hornstra and writer Arnold van BruggenThe Sochi Project.

The Sochi Project is a comprehensive look at this “subtropical” region of Russia, an exhausting 37-hour train ride from Moscow, a place “where no snow falls in the winter.”

Lack of snowfall at sea level, of course, is the least of Sochi’s problems. The most expensive Olympics ever (winter or summer), in the face of tragic poverty, the ongoing heinous terrorism in the region and the human rights abuses and anti-gay sentiment have been well-publicized turn offs to winter sports fans in the lead up to the games.

Realizing the U.S. TV coverage, in particular, will do its best to glamorize the games (in due fairness to our athletes), you probably won’t see much of what Hornstra and Bruggen have witnessed and shared. For that reason alone, click here. Terrific photos supplementing an exhaustive history of the region (accompanied with video) are another reason to check this out. And finally, if you’re a sucker for relevant captions (translated from Honrstra and van Bruggen’s native Dutch), I can assure you that “Meatballs with cream three times a day” and “Seniors refuse to be banned from the dance floor” will not disappoint.

Source and photo credit: The Sochi Project.


The Rebirth of Italics…Maybe

italicsIf you’re like me, and have spent the better part of your work life looking up stylistic rights and wrongs in the Chicago Manual of Style, then the diminished use of italics over the years has been hard to take. To stay relevant in the world of words, you, like me, have had to accept a lot more diminished “rules” than just the near extinction of italicization. And that’s been a bummer, particularly after we’ve mastered basic HTML and could italicize from the back end anything and everything the Chicago Manual dictated.

A minor news item this week in Fast Company Design, notes that the New York Times, the English major’s favorite paper of record, has tweaked its design to import italicized headlines (a mainstay in its print version) to its online version. While the Times has never dropped the proper use of italics in its story copy (unlike many online pubs), it avoided their use in headlines because of “readability.” Early-day online reader surveys led graphic designers away from italics in main and sub-headings because readers found them distracting. And, if you’re familiar with some of the older desktop publishing tools – or even some more modern content marketing systems, you probably agree. The font quality (and available choice) typically makes you re-think the use of italics in favor of bold, a color, or just a bigger roman-style type.

In addition to using italics to set off names of newspapers, magazines and books (distinguishing them from websites, article titles and short stories), their primary function has been emphasis. In print, italics work in this capacity much better than bold or color – which is where online publishing has taken us. The New York Times has chosen to restore italicizing headlines on its homepage because of a switch from the Georgia font to Cheltenham in overall design.

“We didn’t have a weight of Chelt that felt like it could carry that lead story spot, so we tried the italics,” said Ian Adelman, the Times Director of Design. “The italics, they get a little heavier in terms of the density, and there’s a bit of urgency to them as a result.”

While the old argument that italics are distracting, a newer one supports Adelman’s argument of a “bit of urgency”. With so much information consumed on a daily basis online, how much of it can we possibly retain? Speaking personally, not much. But early studies on this “rebirth” of italics (or sites that never let them go in the first place) indicate that while the old argument that italics interfere with site usability still holds true, they also might boost reading performance. They force us to stop and take that extra nanosecond to think.

In the (near) future, should the web become more about keeping us on sites once we get there, rather than just the clicks that simply get us there in the first place, and as more sophisticated desktop publishing tools and high-res screens on all our devices support more readable italicized fonts – italics could be back. In a big way.

Source: Fast Company Design.

Not the Brazilian Soap Opera Star

HelenaPriceFile this under “You can’t buy this kind of publicity”, even if photographer Helena Price was doing quite well in the social media realm prior to being mistaken for a Brazilian soap opera star.

According to an interview with the New York Times Bit Blog, Price, who currently describes herself as “Tall, pale, and half-Norwegian. Full-time photographer who occasionally dabbles in tech. Not the actress, DJ, Brazilian soap opera star, or state capital,” was minding her own business last week when her Twitter feed mysteriously imploded with retweets and DMs to her handle @helena that were meant for a Brazilian soap opera star by the same name. The tip-off? The tweets were in Portuguese.

Price, who has been using @helena on Twitter since she was able to secure it in 2010 has gotten 8,000 new followers since the mix up and become the subject for a series of amusing memes that Photoshop her face onto the body of the Brazilian Helena, who we’re starting to feel a bit sorry for. Helena Price, maintaining a good sense of humor, was, for a few minutes last week, the Internet’s latest superstar.

Read more – and/or follow @helenadagmar on Instagram, which is where I discovered her – before the Brazilians did!

Source: “Interview with Helena Price, A Photographer Turned Brazilian Internet Meme”.

Photo credit: Helena Price


Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

I met Joyce Carol Oates at a book signing about 15 years ago. The prolific writer had just finished her tenth-hundredth book and was making the rounds. Everyone in line had her new book tucked under their arm or pressed against their chest. For some reason I think it was Blonde – the one that imagined the inner self of Marilyn Monroe. Whichever book it was I hadn’t bought it yet, much less read it. I carried in my hand a beat up paperback copy of stories of young America – the tagline for Oates’ mid-sixties collection of short stories Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

When I finally got front and center of Ms. Oates and handed her the paperback, she laughed. “Where did you get this from?” she asked.

Probably a used bookstore, or maybe a flea market. I didn’t know. I just had it in my possession since college, when I first discovered the short stories of Joyce Carol Oates. When I wrote short stories, too. When I was going to be just like her – only less prolific. She could keep the novels and biographies and dissertations on boxing. I just wanted to write short stories. And for a while, I did.

“What do you do?” was the next question Ms. Oates asked me. Because I’m not sure I ever answered the first.

“I’m a writer,” I replied – because I was (am) a writer, an editor, a marketer, a publicist. I work with words. I don’t write short stories (right now) but I’ve always done what we refer to now as producing “content”. Tons of it.

“Isn’t it fun?” Ms. Oates said to me. “Writing. It’s great.”

I nodded, smiled. I don’t remember what I did to tell you the truth. But I got my beat up copy of Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been signed to “K.T.” – my initials – the ones I used when I wrote (might still write) short stories. Because in addition to wanting to be just like Ms. Oates, when I was a teenager I also wanted to be just like J.D. Salinger (until I learned more about him). But Salinger is no more (I once saw Joyce Maynard in the Whole Foods parking lot in Marin, but that’s an entirely different story!). Joyce Carol Oates is on Twitter.

Which brings me semi-circle at least to some next steps for Kathy (K.T.) Drasky and KazzaDrask Media, because where you are going always depends on where you have been. There are a couple of posts on this site that elaborate on a few iterations of my 30-(yes, count ‘em!)-year career in the word and image business.  (Links are posted at the end of this entry.) But it’s safe to say that probably no career choices have been more changed since the mid-1980s than those that are related to the way we communicate.

I’ve spent the past 6 months taking a look back at the smaller picture – the past five years of blog posts I wrote that explored some of the work I was doing, but more precisely, the manner in which how I was doing that work was changing. I’ve also looked back at the bigger picture – the 30 years of work, first in the publishing industry, and then as a freelancer – a journalist, a copyeditor, a fact checker, a publicist and ultimately the all-encompassing “digital media specialist” and “content provider” – which means, generate, upload and get people to click.

The result of all-of-the-above, led to the selection of three words to sum up what I’ve come to find I am most passionate about, not just now – but for the past 30 years – which undoubtedly means I will hold them dear for at least 30 more.

Creative. Content. Curation.

That’s where I’m going. It’s where I’ve been.

Other posts:

Facebook Turns 10

In case you were offline the other day (which is the new euphemism for “being under a rock”), you could not have missed Facebook’s 10th birthday celebration. Yes, believe it or don’t (you probably don’t – with decent enough reason – which we’ll get to in a second), the world’s biggest social networking site has been on this planet since 2004.

But you probably didn’t join right away, unless you were at an Ivy League college, or maybe in high school. More likely you came on board in 2007, 2008 or 2009 – which makes Facebook somewhat newer to you.

But to plug up any FOMO gaps you might be experiencing, simply tap into one of those algorithm tools that have been going around the Interwebs the past few weeks to realize how many months of your life you’ve spent on Facebook. It’s not pretty – but then if you subtract the hours no longer spent talking on the phone, answering emails or listening to voicemails, it kind of evens out a bit.

Love it or like it (if you’ve read this far you probably don’t hate it), Facebook has changed the way we communicate and it’s been for the better. It has reconnected people, kept families in touch who are spread out around the world, and united like-minded individuals together to change laws, raise awareness and save whales (well…you get the gist).

Facebook’s birthday gift to us this week is a neat little widget called “Look Back” which instantly pulls together a 60-second video of your top photos and posts shared on the site since you joined.  Again, any service that can (arbitrarily) toss together your memories (good and bad) in a couple of seconds is a game changer.