Archive for May, 2009

How the media works part 31


More from the feed my company gets from magazines looking for stories. This week – FHM

MEDIA OUTLET: FHM (spokesperson or expert request)

MEDIA TYPE: Consumer Press

JOURNALIST: Ben Wilson (staff)

DEADLINE: 28-May-2009 12:00 

QUERY: I’m very keen to interview experts on the following subjects:

1) How to eliminate stains from chino trousers

2) The science behind building a decent rope swing

3) How to build a homemade barbecue from an oil drum and a Sainsbury’s trolley

4) A legal expert to tell me five surprising summer laws

5) An agriculture expert to tell me the top 8 smelliest roads in Britain (to do with drainage, manure, etc)

6) A surfer to explain how to successfully surf a lilo

7) A hat tailor or stylist to describe how to wear the following hats correctly: a chef’s hat, a straw hat, a baseball cap, a Trilby, a fedora

8 ) A fashion expert or stylist to describe how to choose a beach towel that doesn’t clash/ flatter with your complexion or body composition.

 Thank you.


I’m sure that the readers of FHM do have to worry a lot about stained trousers, but I’m not sure about the rest.



At first sight, Zeichensaal is a photograph of an office. In this case, the office of Richard Verhölzer, an architect from Munich who was important in the post war reconstruction of Germany. It takes a few seconds and close examination to realise it is in fact a photograph of a model of the office, carefully and painstakingly reconstructed by the artist Thomas Demand from an original image. I saw it at Tate Liverpool yesterday.

It’s method is very post-modern. Like the work of Gursky it uses a trick to distance itself from reality. Whereas Gursky uses the digital manipulation of images, Demand reconstructs a real place to twist the perception of the viewer.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear. Squawk


We are all under pretty much constant surveillance nowadays. But while we may worry (unless you’re a NTHNTF parrot obv.) about the most obvious manifestations of The Great Eye such as CCTV, we face a world that never stops finding new ways to get inside our heads.

Here’s a new one. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Google has come up with an algorithm to work out which of its employees feel most ill at ease and are most likely to quit. The firm has been crunching data from appraisals, pay histories and so on to come up with a mathematical formula which can identify those of its 20,000 employees who feel most unhappy at work and are likely to leave.

Turkeys to debate Christmas


No comment. What can you say?

Fallen leaves

The Jewish memorials and museums in Berlin provide an effective antidote to the circus that Auschwitz has become. My friend Mick who had visited Auschwitz first, was particularly moved by Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum which uses architecture to disorientate people and several voids to remind them of the enormity of the crime. The displays are largely about people, intimate, focussing on the tragedy of individual lives rather than the horror.  

But there are moments of horror too, such as experiencing the Fallen Leaves installation by Menashe Kadishman.



Birkenau is a slightly different proposition to Auschwitz. It still has the coach parties and picture takers and school trips, but its size at least disperses all of that and also conveys at least one aspect of the Nazi genocide – its scale. The size and layout of the site give it the feel of a memorial in its own right as do the rows of brick chimneys, exposed by the decay of the wooden huts that once covered them.


Arbeit macht frei

I visited Krakow last week with some friends. Before we went there was some debate about whether we should visit Auschwitz or not. I was broadly against it, because I wasn’t sure what I would get out of it. But in the end I went with the consensus and because I thought I could at least explore how I felt about the place.

It was upsetting but not for the reasons I thought. It is now very much a tourist attraction, coach trips and postcards. I could accept this at some level if the people who visited it all reacted to it for what it is. But they don’t. We saw many people snapping smiling pictures of each other in front of the buildings. Most shameful was a guy of about 50 holding on to a barbed wire fence, pretending to be electrocuted and screaming at the top of his lungs to the ‘amusement’ of his friends. It is clearly time the whole place was closed to the public.

May 2009
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