Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Zip it, Clamp it, and Haul Ass

let's go
motors fire exhaust pipes chant potato-potato-potato

shouts: followin' you
how far can you go before you gotta fill that thing up
don't know
what ya mean ya don't know
no speedo no odometer
followin' me then

15 miles out of town they pass a tractor-trailer at 85 mph

how ya feel
great man
hows 75-80 suit ya
i prefer 70
yeah that's what we're goin'
ya'll were hittin' 85 passin' that truck
well we had to pass 'em
cool man
next stop roswell and the aliens
there's a dealership there
need parts for that old thing
my exhaust clamp snapped
the pipe's shakin' off the front head
better zip up tight dark clouds up the road
leather jackets zipped and belted, motors fire, exhaust pipes chant potato-potato-potato

20 minutes outside roswell new mexico the clouds open up and soak the heros
a rooster-tail streams water into one of their faces

where's my front fender when i need it
looks cool though
feels cold

at the service counter at the dealership

what year you say it is
83 shovel
well it looks like we don't carry parts that old
you got anything else that'll work
i can sell ya this one for $10 but i can't garuantee it'll work
let's go with it

in the parking lot full of leather clad dentists and new machines

he didn't try to sell ya a shirt with that did he
nah man
let's bust out the tools and get this rigged up

brake lever detached, old clamp removed, new being pounde like a horseshoe, leather jackets thrown on the wet asphalt as workbenches

you guys know there's a repair shop in the back of the dealership
yes sir we do but we'd rather save the extra $100 for beer and smokes
alright good luck then

30 minutes later the repair is finished, brake lever reattached

looks good man
better than stock
that shit anin't comin' off again
hell yeah man little roadside maintnance
let's go
motors fire, exhaust pipes chant potato-potato-potato

25 minutes outside ruidoso the heavy clouds dump a large late-afternoon mountain rain

damn front fender
-shouts-ya look cold man
damn water's runnin' down my back

after 30 minutes of looking for the lodge in the wet crowded streets the heros find it

turn on tha heater
throw me a beer
that was the shittiest ride i've ever done
hell yeah

there is nothing at the rally worthy of an adult male's attention

two days later they fire up the machines and ride home under a brilliant sky
a falcon attacks a bird in flight
antelope look up from their grazing and gaze at the machines hurling by them, chanting potato-potato-potato at high tempo

everything holdin' together
taillights rattlin'
one thing or another
hell yeah

safely back at home, under lone star's special spell, the heros conjure memories of heavy rains, busted exhuast clamps, and falcons preying
little is said of the rally, just as it is written here

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Judge a Book by Its Cover

There's an old maxim which goes "Never judge a book by its cover," and this maxim, unfortunately, applies to more than just books, but also to people; again, unfortunately. But we do judge books and people by their covers. And while there is a bead of truth to the saying, one cannot deny that reading a book with a cool cover feels cooler, just as kissing a stunning woman is all the more compelling. With this idea in mind, I present the five coolest book covers in my collection (in no particular order) with a brief note on why I like each of them.

Critical Terms for Religious Studies, by Mark C. Taylor, University of Chicago Press, 1998.

This postmodern dictionary isn't what you'd expect from its title. A gripping cover wraps this edgy volume. I don't even know what painting this is but I like it. One of my favorite features of the cover is how the painting is so oddly framed by angled black borders. Another pleasing aspect of the cover is the use of different fonts --an interesting touch, and one we'll see more of as this list continues-- which keeps the eye bouncing and the orangish dot containing the "for" lends the cover a vintage detail, as does the dominant typeset.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Penguin Books UK, 1998.

This cover is real gem which is only out shined by the magical story inside. I came across this edition while in Japan. The Japanese tend to import books from British publishing houses more than from American ones. The green, leafy swaths on the blackish background gives the cover a vegetative, cool, and junglish feel.
The messy, typed over fonts spelling out the Marquez's name and the book's title gives the cover a dangerous and somewhat schizophrenic feel, as if someone kept typing the letters with a dirty typewriter. The praise blurb by The Times isn't thrilling in itself, but the fact that it's printed in a different font, akin to Garamond (the classiest of all fonts), lends a classic touch to the disjointed design. And what would a Penguin book be without the little oval-celled penguin, this time appearing in light blue.
Pure Immanence: Essays on A Life, Gilles Deleuze, Zone Books, 2001.
Here's a short but extremely deep French, postmodern philosophical text. More than the text though, the book cover captures the viewer with its graceful eeriness. It almost looks like a face there in the middle, but who knows. The book is published by Zone, an extremely stylish publisher of modern intellectual pieces.
In keeping with all the covers designed by Zone, the cover utilizes a different font and color for each of the lines of texts. The burgundy, yellow, and white go well together and contrast perfectly with the cool green smoke of the background image. The black blocked publishers mark in the bottom left smacks some solid boldness into this ephemeral, wafting design.

The Rum Diary, Hunter S. Thompson, Scribner: Simon and Schuster, 1998.

Here's an eclectic cover chocked full of everything that makes a great cover. Designers should take notice of this cover. Thompson's drunken tale of his Puerto Rican nights is wonderfully represented by this colorful pallet. So what's great about this cover?
To start with, the colors are all bright and vivid. The solid red title bar syncs up perfectly with the bright, kinda light blue author type. The tart green negative picture clashes in just the right way with the other colors (and it doesn't really matter that the photo wasn't taken in Puerto Rico).

Not only are the colors spot on in their oddness, but the fonts alternate, with the title and author in a tough, military looking font, and the praise blurb in a stylish Garmond. Brilliant!
The Glass Bead Game, Hermann Hesse, Picador USA, 2002.
The Picador cover of this epic novel which helped Hesse win the Nobel Prize is soft, subtle, and dreamy. Blurry marbles, glass beads, what is that a picture of anyway? It fits the book's personality and more than that, the cover stands on its own as a beautiful piece of tranquil photography.

Though the font is consistent throughout, even in its use of all upper-case letters, the lines are cleverly arranged around the space and in different sizes. The shifting location and size of the text lines makes the eye bounce around, just like a glass bead might in a Master Ludi's hand (if that's how the game is played).

The bright white text contrasts cleanly with the rainbow of smudged colors at work in the background. This is a fresh, clean cover that bids the reader a curious welcome. A must read for sure, but be sure to read this edition so you get the fresh cover art.

So there you have it, five amazing book covers that will make you want to read these books whether you have any idea at all what they're about. That's what a good book cover does: it compels you to read the damn book, if only for the reason you'll look cool reading such a cool looking book. And just to further prove my point about how a great cover will make you want to read a book, how would you like to read this thrilling volume:

Ethics: Treatise on The Emendation of the Intellect, Baruch Spinoza, Hacket Pub. Co., 1992.

Do you want to read this book? I think not. Even if you like Spinoza you'll dread reading his philosophy out of this boringly covered book. Hell, the only interesting thing this cover has going for it is the line separating the author's name from the title.

This book cover is like being in Delaware, "Hi, we're in Delaware."