Robert L. Peters

30 May 2008

More stencil graffiti…



Buenos Aires, Argentina

I heard today from the Argentinian stencil-artist who created these great pieces—he’s also a talented book designer and artist working in various media (and he wishes to remain anonymous because, as he puts it, “…stenciling is illegal in my country.”) I’ve shown his work before here, and you can see more on his blog here.

29 May 2008

Everest first summited on this day…


Mount Everest, Nepal/Tibet

55 years ago today, Mount Everest (also called Chomolungma, Qomolangma, Zhumulangma, or Sagarmatha) saw its first successful summit by the inimitable kiwi Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. The highest mountain on earth, Everest looms 8,848 metres (29,029 feet) above sea level. Read more here, or here

Everest’s north face as seen from Tibet (photo by Luca Galuzzi).

27 May 2008

Gray Matter Graffitti…




Vancouver, British Columbia

Well, the long-promised book I’ve been working on for the past years with downtown-Eastside Vancouver gem-of-a poet Sam W. Reimer, (published by and designed at Circle), had its unofficial launch here in Lotusland this weekend—replete with readings at the Ivanhoe Pub (where many of the works were penned over the past few decades) and memory-enriched visits to some of the significant Vancouver sites cited in the book’s 200+ poems (parks, beaches, crime scenes, and edgy slum addresses). The weather cooperated, (as did the poet’s rheumatoid arthritis, for the most part) and we were blessed with magnificent sunshine.

Thanks to my dear cousins Sam (with whom I also shared a birthday yesterday) and Lois (also a Reimer) for welcoming me to her west-side home. If you’re interested in an advance copy of the book ($16 Cdn. plus postage) contact me here. (Active marketing of the book will commence within the next few weeks, and I’ll share further information on that as it rolls out…).

Sam W. and Lois at the Granville Island Market; “bard in bar” at the lower Ivanhoe; the book’s cover (thanks, Adrian).

24 May 2008

Adrian Frutiger at 80… forever young.


Zürich, Switzerland

Born on this day in 1928 near Interlaken, Switzerland, the extraordinary type designer Adrian Frutiger is one of the predominant figures in twentieth century European design. His career has taken him to many countries, and his work has touched designers around the world, inspiring generations of newcomers since the 1950s. Read a Linotype tribute to Frutiger’s life’s work and view the typefaces he gave birth to here.

20 May 2008

Levis… riveted jeans turn 125.


San Francisco, California

On this day in 1873, clothing manufacturer Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis were granted a patent for using copper rivets to strengthen the pockets of denim overalls, paving the way for their business Levi Strauss & Co. to start manufacturing their first line of blue jeans.

In 1971, while art director at Young & Rubicam International in Brussels, Antwerp-born designer Van Bladel created this directly clever, cheeky, succinct poster-statement for the European market… stating that “slipping into a pair of Levis was as good as slithering into a very tight second skin.” Across the pond, the Levi’s poster featuring the (now) famous bare-butt with the Levis pocket stitching painted on was aborted, deemed unacceptable for the (more puritanical) US market at the time.

Russian posters…



Winnipeg, Canada

I’m obviously not the only one who enjoys Russian posters… and though I’m drawn to the stark pictorial modernism many of these works exemplified, I also relate to them on a historical level (my father was born in Russia in 1920 amidst the turmoil of the Bolshevik revolution). El Lissitzky is one of my favorite Constructivists (I posted about a poster of his in my collection for which I found some interesting background last month). See more Soviet-era and Russian posters here, and here.

Images: ‘Help!’ by was designed by Dmitri Stakhievich Moor (aka Orlov, 1883-1946) during the drought and famine of 1921 (this dramatic poster has graced our washroom at Circle for nearly two decades); ‘Freed Woman! Build Socialism!’ was designed in 1926 by Adolf Strakhov (1896-1979).

19 May 2008

Ampersand, et al…


From H&FJ

“Though it feels like a modern appendix to our ancient alphabet, the ampersand is considerably older than many of the letters that we use today. By the time the letter W entered the Latin alphabet in the seventh century, ampersands had enjoyed six hundred years of continuous use; one appears in Pompeiian graffiti, establishing the symbol at least as far back as A.D. 79. One tidy historical account credits Marcus Tullius Tiro, Cicero’s secretary, with the invention of the ampersand, and while this is likely a simplified retelling, it’s certainly true that Tiro was a tireless user of scribal abbreviations. One surviving construction of the ampersand bears his name, and keen typophiles can occasionally find the ‘Tironian and’ out in the world today.”

“As both its function and form suggest, the ampersand is a written contraction of “et,” the Latin word for “and.” Its shape has evolved continuously since its introduction, and while some ampersands are still manifestly e-t ligatures, others merely hint at this origin, sometimes in very oblique ways. The many forms that a font’s ampersand can follow are generally informed by its historical context, the whims of its designer, and the demands of the type family that contains it: (see a tour of some ampersands and the thinking behind them, along with an explanation of the storied history of the word “ampersand” itself on the Hoefler & Frere-Jones site here).

“As for the word “ampersand,” folk etymologies abound. The likeliest account, offered by the OED, is explained by early alphabet primers in which the symbol was listed after X, Y, Z as “&: per se, and.” Meaning “&: in itself, ‘and’”, and inevitably pronounced as “and per se and,” it’s a quick corruption to “ampersand,” and the rest is history. Though I do like one competing explanation offered by a retired signpainter I once met, who insisted that the symbol got its name from its inventor, and was henceforth known to the trade as Amper’s And. This Mr. Amper has never surfaced, nor have any of his contemporaries who lent their names to competing models; I would have liked to see Quick’s And, on which this tale is surely built.”—JH


15 May 2008

Olbermann To Bush…


From the Huffington Post (thanks Nancy Wynn)

“Last night, Keith Olbermann unleashed what may well have been his angriest, most blistering Special Comment yet, aimed squarely at his favorite target: President Bush. Olbermann was responding to Bush’s claim that he had given up golf in honor of the Iraq war—and his assertion that a Democratic president withdrawing from Iraq would “eventually lead to another attack on the United States”—a statement Olbermann called “ludicrous, infuriating, holier-than-thou and most importantly bone-headedly wrong.” Olbermann continued in that vein for a full 12 minutes (or 2,000 words), frequently raising his voice and spitting out his words in disgust…

Olbermann turned Bush’s reference to “cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives” around and threw it back at him, saying that such killers were “those in—or formerly in—your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes.” It didn’t get any milder—saying that, to Bush, “freedom is just a brand name,” and pointing out that al Qaeda in Iraq was a result of the invasion: “Terrorism inside Iraq is your creation, Mr. Bush!” Olbermann also criticized Bush’s statement that he was “told by people” that there were WMDs in Iraq: “People? What people?… Mr. Bush, you destroyed the evidence that contradicted the resolution you jammed down the Congress’s throat, the way you jammed it down the nation’s throat.”

A cathartic rant worth taking in… and perhaps(!?) a sign that the U.S.’s cowed media might eventually find its voice again? The concerned world watches, hopes, and prays…

10 May 2008

On sojourning and growing up TCK…



Frankfurt, Germany

Having grown up multi-lingually on several continents, I’ve never really been “at home” in any particular place, and have often felt a bit like a chameleon. I’ve also eschewed (mostly unconsciously) being woven into a single community or cultural fabric. This likely explains why I live in the woods (without neighbors or a local community), yet have spent my life heavily involved in professional and global peer networks, and seem to have an ongoing “restlessness to move” and travel on a continual basis. I’ve often used the ironic quip: “If you don’t care where you are, you’re never lost.” as a truism I can really relate to. While being rootless does have its advantages (one tends to be more tolerant of others; adapting to new environs is easier) this identity struggle also brings a raft of other social and psychological issues along with it in its sojourns, including reverse culture shock and a sense of disengaged melancholia.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I discovered this phenomena has a taxonomy and name of its own—Third Culture Kids, often abbreviated “TCKs” or “3CKs” or “Global Nomads,” referring to “someone who, (as a child) has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture.” By definition, “the TCK tends to build relationships to all cultures, while not having full ownership of any,” and “develops a sense of belonging everywhere and nowhere.”

The concept of Third Culture Kids was introduced in the 1960s by Ruth Hill Useem (1915-2003), a sociologist who used the term to describe children who spent part of their developmental years in a foreign culture due to their parents’ working abroad.” Her work was the first to “identify common themes among various TCKs that affect them throughout their lives.” TCKs tend to have more in common with one another, regardless of nationality, than they do with non-TCKs from their own country—over the past decades, TCKs have become a heavily studied global subculture. (My cousin Faith, also a TCK, authored/edited the book Unrooted Childhoods: Memoirs of Growing up Global, documenting “a life of growing up in multiple nations, cultures, and language regions.”)

“Not All Who Wander Are Lost.” —JRR Tolkien (a TCK himself)

Old photos: I always had this thing for small cars (perhaps in reaction to the hulking ‘Strassenkreuzer’ Studebaker my parents shipped over to Germany); on our Stettenstrasse front stoop, my first day of school in Frankfurt.

9 May 2008

Reflections on Nationalism…






Brooklyn, New York

“At an age when social, sexual, and educational explorations are at their highest point, the life of an eighteen-year-old Israeli girl is interrupted. She is plucked from her home surroundings and placed in a rigorous institution where her individuality is temporarily forced aside in the name of nationalism. During the next two years, immersed in a regimented and masculine environment, she will be transformed from a girl to a woman, within the framework of an army that is engaged in daily war and conflict. She is now a soldier serving her country, in a military camp amidst hundreds like her, yet beneath the uniform there is someone wishing to be noticed, listened to, and understood.” From an insightful and poignant documentary perspective, and the recollections of Rachel Papo, 15 years after she herself served in the Israeli army, here.

Thanks for the link, Gregor, who wrote to me… “I recall you saying that Israeli army girls (women) were among the scariest and most beautiful women you have seen in your travels :-). Here is a site about those women…” Thanks for the reminder, Gregor—having been to Israel and experiencing first-hand the reality of a narrow nation precariously pushed up against the sea by (mostly) hostile neighbors, I feel empathy with their collective, defensive stance… on the other hand, I deplore the militantly combative (and almost-fascist) position the Israeli state has taken vis-a-vis the Palestinian people who were robbed of their own homeland by Israel’s nascent nationhood, 60 years ago this week.

Next Page »

© 2002-