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1946 was a good time to take the subway in New York City. You could buy a printed horoscope from a vending machine right on the platform, and if you posed just right in front of a sleeping guy at 81st Street, Stanley Kubrick might take your photo. Kubrick's series, originally commissioned by LOOK Magazine with the very un-Kubrickian title, "Life and Love on the New York City Subway," is available in full from the Museum of the City of New York. [MCNY via Gothamist]

Photo by: Andrei Tarkovsky

Like Andy Warhol, Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky (director of the cerebral sci-fi movies Solaris and Stalker, among others) had a fondness for the instant results and effects of images produced from Polaroid cameras. He took photos at home and in Italy. A Russian photography blog has digitized the entire collection. Many of the images (we've selected a few below) tend to evoke an emotional state, a kind of magical nostalgia, that Tarkovsky never tired of exploring in his films.

See more at diphotos.net.

We've seen some interesting African poster art for imported Western movies, ranging from the simply amazing to the hilariously absurd. But this is the first time we've seen a great collection of Ghanaian posters for African movies—which likely includes films coming out of Nollywood, Nigeria's film industry—brought together in one place. If the films are 1/10th as gory and bizzarre as the posters, we're obviously missing out on some serious midnight movie entertainment.

For more Ghanaian film posters, head over to Mondoexploito.


By the end of the 1970s, after about a decade of releasing music, Syl Johnson hadn't had much commercial success. A few years later, after he had left the music industry and started a chain of seafood restaurants, he discovered that his soul records were the source of a huge number of uncleared samples on early 1990s hip-hop records. While Johnson eventually made a living from licensing fees, he still has roughly 85 pending lawsuits against labels, rappers, and producers for uncleared samples.

Filmmakers Robert Hatch-Miller, Puloma Basu, and Michael Slaboch just launched a Kickstarter campaign to finish a new documentary about Syl Johnson's odd trajectory from music to seafood and back featuring awesome archival performance footage from his appearances on Soul Train, interviews with Ken Shipley from Johnson's new label Numero Group, and Syl's family and former bandmates.

Nothing Major Editor John Dugan emailed co-producer of the doc Michael Slaboch for more intel.

For those not familiar, who is Syl Johnson? Where would we know his music from? 
Syl's biggest hit was in 1975 when he went to #7 on the R&B chart with "Take Me To The River."  But as of late you've probably heard his music being sampled by artists such as Jay-Z and Kanye West, Wu-Tang Clan, Kid Rock, and hundreds of other artists.

What inspired you and Rob to make the doc and how long has it taken?
I've been working/collaborating with Syl since 2008 due to my affiliation with The Numero Group. We started shooting footage here in Chicago leading up to the very first Eccentric Soul Revue we produced in April 2009 at the Park West in Chicago. The rehearsals for that particular show where we made Syl learn all of these tunes he had never performed on stage before was when I first really noticed how fun, charming, and crazy Syl is in person and on camera. Since the show was such a success we took it on the road later that year, and I invited Rob to join Syl and I as we did a interviews at WFMU and WNYC. It was Rob that really planted the proverbial seed with Syl about making a film about him and his remarkable life, and we've been shooting on and off ever since.  

What kind of footage are you getting?
We've got about 50 hours of verité-style footage of everything from Syl gardening, to him talking to The New York Times, to life on the road, to just hanging out and being Syl.

Do you have much vintage period stuff to work with? Was that hard to find?
There's not much, unfortunately. We had to pay for the Soul Train footage, and he was on another episode as well which they can't seem to find in their archive. Beyond that, there's some amazing footage from 1975 and a few other odds and ends. But all in all, not much was filmed.

How does gardening figure in to the Syl Johnson story?
Syl has an amazing garden and he really seems to enjoy gardening all day in the summer. He shares organic vegetables with everyone in the neighborhood and really takes care of himself by eating healthy, juicing, and staying fit at 77 years old!

Where do you see this documentary going? Being viewed?
Our goal is to get into film festivals next year and hopefully get some distribution for theatrical, VOD, streaming, downloads, etc.

The editing can be the really tough part of a doc, making a compelling story out of ton of material and having to cut out detours that don't contribute to the central themes. Has that been tough to do? Or has it come naturally? 
A huge portion of this Kickstarter is going towards hiring an editor who can put this all into a compelling story. The elements are there for the most part, we need to shoot some more interviews, but for the most part the bulk of it has been done and some fresh eyes and ears will really bring it together. That's been the hardest part. Rob has done most of the editing and we've had a couple of other people and awesome volunteers log all of the footage so that we can pass it off in the most professional way possible to whomever ends up editing this amazing story. 

Check out the Syl Johnson: Any Way The Wind Blows trailer below, and back the project for a digital download of the film, admission to a private rough-cut screening, or a T-shirt designed by Jess Rotter at the bottom of the post. 

Seville-based graphic designer Jesús Prudencio makes the car the star in his poster series "Cars and Films," which commemorates iconic vehicles in Ghostbusters, Roman Holiday, and Deathproof among other films.

The posters are just €21 from his online shop.


The 16mm films that Sabrina Gschwandtner uses as material for her quilts were originally part of the Fashion Institute of Technology's film library. After purchasing the lot of mostly instructional films about crocheting, sewing, knitting, and other textile work, Gschwandtner began the process of dyeing, painting, and bleaching the strips to color her geometric patterns. To complete the quilts, Gschwandtner includes segments from her personal films, and mounts each work on a surface illuminated by LEDs. [via Co.Design]

A collection of the film quilts are on display now at the Philadelphia Art Alliance until August 18.

Advertising’s ubiquitous nature makes it hard for a single message or image to break through the white noise in 2013. But there’s something eye-catching about handmade signs that manages to cut through the clutter.

Attracted to the craft behind traditional public advertisements and handmade signage, authors and filmmakers Faythe Levine and Sam Macon set out in 2010 to make Sign Painters, a documentary and book about the subject. A few years and 40-plus interviews from across the country later, they’re screening the movie and raising awareness of the art form, which was hurt by the introduction of cheaply made vinyl signs in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, but is now experiencing a resurgence due to a rising awareness about authentic craft and better design.

“Once you become aware of the basic elements of sign painting, it makes you walk down the street and ingest the information you’re seeing in a different way,” says Levine. “It makes you become conscious of your visual landscape in a very different way.” 

SIGN PAINTERS (OFFICIAL TRAILER) from samuel j macon on Vimeo.

Nothing Major spoke to Levine and Macon about covering the craft. 

Nothing Major: While traveling around the country and talking to people in different cities, did you discover that certain regions had their own styles of sign painting? 

Faythe Levine:
It was more attached to a person than a region. So-and-so worked at a shop with this guy or under this guy, this is Gary’s 'R' or so-and-so’s 'I'. You’d meet people who knew where that particular 'S' originated.  

Sam Macon: The main regional thing, and it’s not a perfect example, would be window splashes, the bright, often temporary window painting that’s done for a sale. It was very big in Southern California in a way that we didn’t see elsewhere, where the climate allowed you to be outdoors every day painting.

Levine: The easiest way to explain it to our generation is graffiti. There’s a lot of crossover for a certain style in a certain place. 

Nothing Major: How did sign painting and graphic art inspire one another? 

The influence [on graphic design] is more direct than most people realize. Sign painting was prevalent until we were kids. Vinyl signs really took over in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, within our lifetime. That’s why it’s such an important conversation to have. The amount of time a sign painter spends talking to people on the street versus sign painting is 50/50 sometimes. People keep asking, "What are you doing? Are you doing that?" What does it look like they’re doing, they have a paint brush in their hand? People are amazed to see people painting things on the street.

Macon: Sign painters were always tied into current trends and designs. Only recently have more people become aware. It’s more a product of a more aesthetically aware culture, especially among younger professionals. Everything needs to look cool.

Nothing Major: How would you qualify the health of the craft right now?

: People are excited about it. I feel like it’s a growing part of people’s general awareness of their surroundings.

Macon: You have the first generation really tuned into graphic design and aesthetics. There are so many more branding executives or design specialists. One person we interviewed was saying, “I need to sell myself and sign painting to these people. I just need to go to them and say 'Listen, people are coming from the building from this side and that side, and we need to play off the sign on the next building, and it needs to stand out from the sign next door.'” If you don’t know that’s an option, the default is going to your corporate office, and getting a sign, the same image they send everywhere, regardless of local aesthetics and geography. 

Levine: You don’t need to go to a fast-and-easy sign shop where they crank out this ugly vinyl banner. You can actually go to this skilled person. There’s a lot to the trade, you don’t put certain colors together, for instance. To make a 45- to 60-minute film about the history and how things happen, that was probably our biggest challenge. We started off not knowing if we had enough content, and all of a sudden we could make a miniseries. Call Ken Burns.

Nothing Major: Were there any pieces or murals you saw that you thought were masterpieces of the craft?

Macon: Probably the coolest things were old ghost signs from unnamed people. I can’t believe that nobody knows, or has any information about, how this stuff was made. People will pay extra for a refurbished old loft apartment with a fraction of a ghost sign. And some of the most dynamic stuff I’ve seen goes uncredited. I think scale is always impressive. Anyone who does something big, it takes an incredible amount of work. The guys at Colossal, who often do something really big, do some amazing projects, painting 70-foot-plus sides of buildings in the middle of winter hanging over the streets of Manhattan. There’s really too much to name one. Gary Martin in Austin doing flash art design style in his work. A lot of his work has this really cool wild style. There’s someone in Chicago like Bob Behounek, or John Downer in Iowa, their knowledge of alphabet styles, and the ability to wield a brush on a small scale. When they’re done painting, it looks like it was printed out. They can just go through fonts, whole alphabets are learned and programmed in their brains.

Levine: They have the muscle memory. John Downer can paint out the perfect Helvetica alphabet. One of the guys we interviewed said sometimes the best hand-lettered signs are the ones you don’t notice. You just don’t realize it’s there, it’s doing its job so well. He took us to this black-paint-on-white-board "no parking" sign on a church and said this was the best sign in all of Cincinnati. “Look at the brushstrokes, you can see how quickly the sign painter knocked it out.” He picked apart the sign like a science. It was the plainest sign, but it had been there for 50 years doing its job. It was perfectly done.

Levine and Macon will be on hand for a reception and screening of the film May 17 at Chicago's Logan Theater. Future screening dates in San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis, and other cities in the U.S., Canada, and worldwide, can be found online

Lena Dunham recently paired up with Rachel Antonoff to create a fashion film for the designer’s fall 2013 line. Best Friends features Dunham’s sister and costar in Tiny Furniture, Grace Dunham, and writer Alice Gregory. The short, which is reminiscent of a Wes Anderson film, follows the lives of the best friends, through the narration of Adam Driver, while they share meals, interests, and deadpan humor. However, unlike the average pair of best friends, these girls also share an incredible wardrobe full of fun, vintage-inspired, Rachel Antonoff creations. 

Using the new video-clip-sharing app, Vine, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman collaborated to create a videogram about love for Nowness. The video is broken up into clips of the duo going back and forth as they ponder thoughts about relationships and love. Their quick wit is captured with the help of Graydon Sheppard, of Sh*t Girls Say, who filmed the project, and needless to say, the result is hilarious.

You can watch the video, and join Coppola and Schwartzman as they reflect on the meaning of love now. Look for our interview with Roman Coppola on the site later this week.

Busy designing for Louis Vuitton, his own Marc by Marc Jacobs and Marc Jacobs lines, as well as serving in his new role as the creative director of Diet Coke, who’d have thought the next step for Marc Jacobs would be acting? Jacobs makes his debut in the new dramatic thriller Disconnect, which follows the lives of individuals in trouble due to shady internet situations. Jacobs, surprisingly, plays the role of the ring leader behind a child pornography site. As strange as this may seem, as far as acting goes it appears as though Jacobs has found yet another thing he's tremendously talented at. 

Disconnect is now playing in select theaters; however, you can catch a preview of Jacobs' acting ability in the trailer now.