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Saturday, 10 March 2012


Blogspot has outlived its usefulness. Please report to the new link.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

I Want You To Know 

that there exists, on Flickr, whole groups dedicated solely to the fetishisation of women with badly bitten fingernails.


So I've got that going for me.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Ballad Of Wigmore & Hollister Co. PART FOUR: Meta Data

The Ballad Concludes.
Part One --- Part Two --- Part Three

John & Meta Hollister sailed to Los Angeles in 1919, and in the late fall they were married. their son, John M. Hollister, Jr., was born in the spring of 1920. John Sr. spent the next two years discovering California and himself. His lust for the sea and the South Pacific not diminished; he decided to turn that love into a business venture.

It is easy to discover yourself in a changing room.
It is a place for reflection.

Know that because of the vigilance of beautiful teenage boys in cuffed jeans, you have failed to get the money shot of many salesgirls in hotpants.

Consider your own pale legs in aforementioned hotpants. The white billow of your stomach.

Please evoke lust for the sea. 

Perhaps employ Dutch angles to make yourself look thinner.

Wikihow's How To Look Like A Hollister Girl (for girls)
Point #6 
Be happy. Smile and talk to everyone. Don't hold grudges and don't judge people by their appearance. I know sometimes the Hollister workers do but those workers are not liked by everyone. Remember to be confident in what you wear and make sure it's comfortable. Most of the models wear their clothes by comfort, but it always looks stylish.

His lust for the sea and the South Pacific is undiminished.

Eu haere ia oe by Paul Gaugin (1893)
Paul Gaugin introduced syphilis to Tahiti, but this is not your concern.

In 1922 John Sr. founded Hollister Co. in Laguna Beach. Hollister Co. began as a small trading company that sold imported goods from the South Pacific: hand-crafted furniture, jewelry, linens, and artifacts from all the islands.

Consider: the now familiar colonial wallpaper. Observe the parrots mocking you.

In 1953 John Jr. took the helm and the business has evolved as each new family member has taken control. an avid and
now legendary surfer, John Jr. expanded the company to include surf apparel and equipment.

Hollister Co. is a story of passion, youth and love of the sea. it carries the harmony of romance, beauty, adventure and today is the lifestyle brand for those with an insatiable lust for adventure – both on land and off.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Ballad Of Wigmore & Hollister Co. PART THREE: There ain't nothin' like a dame

The story of John Hollister continues...
Part One --- Part Two --- Part Four

ohn sold the rubber plantation and used part of the money to purchase a 50-foot schooner. the young couple spent the next two years sailing the South Pacific. John treasured the entire South Pacific and the works of the artisans that lived there.

For something that swears that it's bathed in California sunshine, Hollister keeps its stores oaken and dark. It is as though you've stumbled into your wealthy father's smoking parlour and for reasons inexplicable to your young mind, has decided to build himself a small fort out of terrycloth.

Though it must take something from you, to treasure an entire nation so completely. How can Meta, your beautiful Dutch plantation wife, compete with their intricately crafted surfer beads?

The most beautiful woman in the Netherlands was constructed in 2009 in a co-production of Psychologie magazine and the University Of Aberdeen:

Her face is assembled of the top-6 of the most beautiful women from The Netherlands, all of whom are creamy of skin and excessive of vowel:
1 Doutzen Kroes
2 Carice van Houten
3 Touriya Haoud
4 Daphne Bunskoek
5 Hanna Verboom 
6 Tara Elders

All the shop assistants in the Norwich Hollister seem to have the same lovely sheet of brown hair. They have been instructed to wear little make-up, to keep their toes minimal. Without exception their uniform consists of a tight Hollister logo tshirt paired with denim hotpants and the aforementioned fun! flipflops. Of course we'd all be doomed if there was a fire - there's too much alcohol and parfum in the air for the whole place not to ignite instantly, our polycotton blends melting into sharp hard discs spackled with hair and bone. This is inevitable. But if somehow the flames could be contained just for a little while, I wonder if these girls would be allowed to kick off their sandals and run or whether they'd be expected to go down with their ship. The Dutch have great discipline, even if they are shit with beads.

These girls are shit with beads too. They are none the less delightful: nervy and beaming - DELIGHTED to help, albeit in a non-specific fashion. They are at their peak of adolescent beauty and it is difficult not to abandon your dreams of a high waisted floral beach dress immediately and run home to hide under a pile of coats.

 Hollister's darkness is augmented by rigs of exposed theatrical lighting that cast intense beams of light over available merchandise and the cheekbones of its teen workforce. Of course it's all make believe, and Hollister wants us to know this. It is natural that beautiful people should roam the stage or a film set. It's equally natural that we should watch in the darkness. The absence of light means it's more or less impossible to get a good photo. It is also surprising difficult for a 27 year old woman to ask a line of checkout girls if she can take a panoramic of their hotpants for semiotic online purposes. The words don't form themselves easily, something feels awry. You don't take pictures of another man's wife. So I did what any pervert in my position would do. 

TOMORROW: Hiding in the Changing Rooms

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Ballad Of Wigmore & Hollister Co. PART TWO

Hollister Co. is a story of passion, youth and love of the sea. it carries the harmony of romance, beauty, adventure and todayis the lifestyle brand for those with an insatiable lust for adventure – both on land and off.

As with slaughterhouses, the first thing that hits you is the smell.
No, it's the noise, no it's the darkness.

It's all of these things. It will be better for you to understand at once that Hollister wishes to control every step of your experience, to enter every orifice it can. The smell that engulfs you on arrival is an expertly blended version of SoCal, their premiere male cologne, intensified by a reduction in the water ratio. It is heady and woodchippy, with notes of patchouli, or something vaguely redolent of freedom. Perhaps there are lemons also.

John took a succession of steamer ships and finally settled in the Dutch East Indies in 1917. John used his trust fund to finance a rubber plantation bought from dutch businessman, Gregory Van Gilder.

The Hollister Spray Bottle remains elusive, at least in Norwich. The STORE SMELL which can, with patience and a small amount of Googling be purchased in clandestine vats over Ebay, is intense and is partnered with a deafening highly curated series of poppy pseudo-surf rock with titles like 'Something Good Can Work' and 'I Like The Girls.' The music is so loud that you must lean close to the face of the beautiful 18 year old whose job it is to greet you. She stands sentry in the 'Bettys' section, just beyond the startlingly colonial seating area at the front of the store. Furious boyfriends can sit in comfort for hours, swathed in Navajo blankets, staring into the chandelier hung with cutesy homespun lampshades. 

Once it becomes clear that you are entering the most adorable plantation house, that the lampshades were probably made by freed East Indian slaves, buoyed by their love for the Dutch colonialists that freed them from (according to Wikipedia) slavery, widow burninghead-hunting, cannibalism, piracy, and internecine wars, everything becomes easier. We're the good guys, we're the aristocrats.

I make sure to lean right into my greeter's face as I shout my question over Maroon 5. I know she is grateful for this. Her skin is impeccable, even in the near darkness.


While working the plantation, John met and fell in love with the beautiful daughter of Van Gilder, named Meta.

Flip flops are mandatory but this is fine. They're fun! Who doesn't love flip flops? His girlfriend is called Meta. Meta. This is CANDY. It is like they want semiotics students crawling all over them. I feel giddy. Our dollar is as good as any given teenager and by god, we could all look good in a flippy floral cotton/jersey dresses. It doesn't matter that it is all too short. I just won't bend. I just won't bend.

TOMORROW: "But this is for the social sciences!" --Photographing hotpants for fun and profit

Monday, 18 April 2011

The Ballad Of Wigmore & Hollister Co. PART ONE

The thing is, right, there are stories everywhere.

This is a beautiful thing. As we move about the world, we furtively collect the little cues to the senses that give us what we need to become the star in our own, private narratives. Much of my own identity is a fevered patchwork of Very Special Episodes of 'America's Next Top Model.'

You alone know the songs, the shoes and the smells that take you away from all of this.

Credit: OhioGayCowboy 

The cocked hip and awkward shoulder stance, the manicured plants, lines, lines in every direction, and on the lady's red smock, the instructive 'sleep' sign in the top right.
There is literally nothing I don't like about this image.

If you have ever been an astronaut on your morning commute or a secret agent at a shit party, you know what I'm talking about, hombre.

But what about the places that enfold you into their narrative? I'm talking about the places who ape Disney,who art direct every aspect of your environment, who want to make your visit a "brand experience."
Who's reviewing their manicured lawns?
Me, that's who - in a series of daily posts for your popcorn pleasure.

Gather round dear ones and I'll tell you a story about a place that tells you a story.

Are you sitting comfortably?
Then I'll begin.
Are you of and among the key 14-18 demographic?

Don't answer that. It is not for me to question the lustre of your skin and hair.
Can you at least suck in your gut? Stand somewhere dimly lit?

Then I'll begin.

The Legend of Hollister Co.
[as defined by Abercrombie & Fitch Corp document: Brand History)

Hollister Advertising Still, circa 2010.

John M. Hollister lived life with an unquenchable thirst for adventure, travel and beauty. When he graduated from Yale in 1915 at the age of 21, he knew he wasn’t ready to give in to the Manhattan establishment his father had laid out before him. he began an adventure that would forever alter his path and the path of generations to follow.

John was drawn to the sport of the outdoors. he spent the summers of his youth in the waters off the southern coast of Maine. after graduation, it seemed natural when he packed up for an around the world journey.

Glamour Afforded by Public Lavatory #1d4
I am making sexualised eye-contact to your immediate left.
Position yourself accordingly.

Rebecca A. Wigmore lived her own life with an equally insatiable thirst for stories, secrets and lifestyle choices incongruous with the grey Norfolk sky. She had taken especial care never to graduate from university, less events should conspire to reveal her true age and wrest from her the pursuit of her true and glorious destiny. Rebecca was 27 and her father had no particular plans for her. However, somewhere deep within she knew her path to be clear. She had read its promise on too many chests to ignore the signs. It was a life redolent with sweatpants, the tang of synthetic watermelon, the giddy rush of non-specific adolescent sexuality.

 Rebecca was drawn to the palatial splendor of the Norwich Hollister store. Rebecca was going to the mall.

This seemed natural.

TOMORROW: "...with concept stores, as with slaughter houses the first thing that hits you is the smell."
Click here for part two.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Hello, my name is Transmedia - Part One

Re: Transmedia & Little Girls (infinite cruelty of)

Hello, my name is Rebecca. 
Rebecca was the most popular girls' name of 1983.
This meant that as I grew, there were at least two other Rebeccas in any given class at school.
Without exception, they sucked.
Still, there is strength in taxonomy and we waged bitter war against the equally multifarious Rachels, a war that continues to this day.

Being named and self-definition are two psychologically distinct things.
Academics were the ones who named 'Transmedia.'
We should say sorry.
It was a bad call.

In the same way that when all the Rebeccas in my class hit 11years old and became variously Becky, Becki, Bexx, Reb and Becca, Transmedia has hit its adolescence and decided it doesn't want to be 'Transmedia 'any more. However, the trouble with being a complex storytelling methodology means it hasn't got the option of dotting the i in its name with a little heart to excise the problem. 

Not that Transmedia has to worry about an excess of femininity anyway. But that's another post altogether.

Re: Transmedia & Your Mom
Countless blogs have sprung up over the past few weeks alternately rejecting and defending (or at least accepting) 'Transmedia'. This was in part due to Transmedia being the buzzword at South By Southwest this year. By all tweeted accounts, people were defining Transmedia wildly and even eating your lunch became a kind of transmedia. Well, it is the way I do it.

The problem is simple, the term itself: "Transmedia" has no poetry. It has no implications of human experience. It is cold. Consider the etymology of the two media platforms that defined most of the 20th century:


From wikipedia:
The prefix radio- in the sense of wireless transmission, was first recorded in the word radioconductor, a description provided by the French physicist Édouard Branly in 1897. It is based on the verb to radiate (in Latin "radius" means "spoke of a wheel, beam of light, ray"). The noun "broadcasting" itself came from an agricultural term, meaning "scattering seeds widely".

"Beam of light, spoke of a wheel..scattering seeds widely' This is imagery that speaks to the very heart of early human endeavour. We don't have to know this when we speak radio's name but the reverberations of its etymology affect us. "Radio" feels 'right' on a gut level and this gut feeling is partially because time has enshrined it and partially because the very grain of the word is derived from a collective human experience of agriculture, transposed to the industrial. 


The etymology of the word is derived from mixed Latin and Greek origin, meaning "far sight": Greek tele (τῆλε), far, and Latin visio, sight (fromvideo, vis- to see, or to view in the first person.

The lost potential of Far Sight
And now we have TV. 'Far sight' with its implication 'Seeing in the first person' which speaks to the lovely paradox of television where when we are watching we are one but we are also one of many. In the golden age of television in particular, TV allowed for a private 1st person experience while at the same time providing an invisible community bound by the laws of space, time, camera angles and the iron-clad law that Cheers aired on Thursdays at 8pm EST, 7pm CEN. There is but one bar in the world of Cheers, and we were given the same visual experience that sits in the collective imagination, as immovable and resplendent as Ted Danson's toupee. This experience is deeply fractured now technology allows viewers to view their shows out of schedule and on demand, but in its beginnings at least, television offered something vast and bound by time.

Transmedia literally means 'across media.' Just that. No intervention of the eye or the hand, the individual or the collective. There's nothing in the word that hints of the particular exhilaration of the 'jump' between media. 
Isn't that moment of transition and its little shifts in perception the best, most thrilling part? Where is the word for that?

The Professionals
Despite all my breathless prosthetysing, Transmedia as a term is fairly enshrined within the practice. The Transmedia Producer credit as ratified by The Producers Guild Of America just under a year ago and the recent formation of the Transmedia Artist Guild speak to an attempt to legitimise not so much the term but the practice it implies. However, vast swathes of the Transmedia community are still unsure as to what Transmedia does imply. The issue becomes that although there's a figurehead term, there's little sense of a language. This is where academia can help.

 Henry Jenkins has done a lot of good in this area of research, but when he chose transmedia's name, he denied it the important human trace that makes a term feel 'right' in the gut of culture. Christy Dena has done some incredible work in her phd 'Transmedia Practices' on teasing out the particularities of what 'across' actually means. It is no coincidence that Dena is also a Transmedia writer and producer and that her company is called Universe Creation 101. The kost effective analysis will always be by the academic who able to both immerse themselves in a practice and step outside it to break it down. The creation of an storyworld is so fundamental to Transmedia, the language people who make the work are instinctively using is all about locating their stories within  time and crucially space - both geographic and imagined.

I am so close to hauling out Foucault right now
But  that's my job, or at least part of it. It's incumbent for academics, to bring out the theory, to evaluate the conversation. There is much virtue in the 'gettin' out and just making stuff' school of creativity but there is equal virtue in stepping out and working with the grain of language. The better Transmedia understands itself,the stronger the critical and evaluation discourse and yes, the better the work that evolves.

The important thing is not to step back too much. To keep it human. 
I am all for cutting the trans fat out of the conversation.