Saturday, August 09, 2003

Caught Napping

Jesus Mother of Murphy. Holy Catfish. Sufferin’ Succotash. Adbusters raised US$43,000 and bought a full page ad in the July 3, 2003 edition of the New York Fucking Times.

This blows my mind. Check out the photo on the above link. It looks like photoshop trickery, but it is real, baby. I went to the Toronto Reference Library on Thursday to confirm and yes, Adbusters did actually place an "unbrand America" advertisement in the newspaper of record (as it was known as until the Jayson Blair era, anyway). There it is, on page A9, flanked on the top left and right by the warning: ADVERTISEMENT. Man oh man. That is so cool.

By way of partial explanation, I used to work at Adbusters (spring of 96 until summer 98), and we definitely did not have the ability to raise US$43,000 for a one-shot culture jam. Try $4,300 Canadian, maybe.

But the financial angle only explains half of my decision to resort to sailor talk. The rest of my astonish-fucking-ment concerns the fact that I cannot believe I didn’t read about the big black dot at the time it happened. I admit I no longer subscribe to Adbusters (my free subscription was cancelled after I poked a bit of fun at the activist shack that Kalle Lasn built) although I do flip through it at the newsstands religiously. And I bought the May / June 2003 issue (well, a friend of mine Graeme bought it for me as a bribe, a long story that doesn’t bear repeating), mainly for the CD that came included within. But there was no hint of what was to come only a few short months later in said issue.

As a quick tangent, it’s interesting how Adbusters won a number of design awards in the late 1990s during the Chris Dixon era (a very talented graphic designer and art director who went on to work at the New York Times Magazine and now runs Studio Plural with someone named Andrea Fella) for its clean, sharp, shock-through-juxtaposition style, and is now winning still more design awards for its filthy, chaotic, zine-like appearance. (Follow your visual bliss, Adbusters, since it’s clearly working, but please, no more John Ralston Saul quotes in the mag. I beg you.)

Anyway, as I was saying, neither the Globe and Mail, nor the National Post, nor any number of other news sources I am exposed to on a daily basis via the Internet reported the New York Times coup. Or if they did, I missed it. In any case, belated congrats on the big black dot.

On a related topic, I bought the new issue of res magazine, a film, music, art, design and culture glossy based in New York. The July/August issue is devoted to the topic of resistance, and includes bits about KAWS, Shawn Wolfe and Adbusters, among many others. It’s been a while since I dropped $8 on a magazine I’ve never heard of, but it was cash well spent.