The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

March 26, 2015
by Dan
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Mad Men: The Shock of the Pretty

Another overdue link from my ‘longreads’ bookmarks, The Hollywood Reporter talks to the cast and crew of Mad Men about the early days of the show now that it is about to come an end: Christina Wayne (former senior vp scripted programming, … Continue reading

February 26, 2014
by Dan
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Eve Babitz: Muse and Writer

Lili Anolik on the stranger-than-fiction life of Eve Babitz, “an irresistible hybrid of boho intellectual and L.A. party girl”, for Vanity Fair: Eve Babitz’s claims to fame rest, in large measure, on her claims on the famous. She’s the goddaughter, of … Continue reading

February 14, 2014
by Dan
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James Wood On Not Going Home

In an essay for the London Review of Books, critic James Wood considers what is to be an immigrant and the desire to return home even though one can’t: When I left this country 18 years ago, I didn’t know how … Continue reading

July 16, 2013
by Dan
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The Photo Man

Mark Kologi collects  found photos. In this weirdly fascinating short film he discusses buying and selling the personal pictures of complete strangers: (Does he remind anyone of Steve Buscemi? Is that just me?)

June 14, 2013
by Dan
1 Comment

Found: Photographs from the National Geographic Archive

If you’re not following the National Geographic‘s Tumblr Found, you really should be — it’s terrific. More than a few of the photographs, especially those of 1950’s and 60’s America, have a quietly Ballardian, drinking at the edge-of-darkness, Cold War … Continue reading

June 12, 2013
by Dan
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Art Shay: The Sporting Life and Times

A short film about writer and photographer Art Shay, who shot pictures regularly for Sports Illustrated, Time, Life, Fortune, the Saturday Evening Post, Forbes, Business Week, Parade and the New York Times Magazine: An exhibition of Shay’s photographs, ‘Art Shay: … Continue reading

June 11, 2013
by Dan
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Boards of Canada: Electronica By Hand

The New York Times interviews Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin of the Boards of Canada: I think the digital world suffers from being just so literal, so deliberate and sober. As with digital photography, people have gotten used to applying … Continue reading

May 10, 2013
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Arresting Charm — Writer and artist Howard Chaykin on the late Carmine Infantino who died April 4th: My best friend Michael Abramowitz was a huge fan of Carmine’s, and I held and hold his tenure on The Flash from 1956 … Continue reading

May 3, 2013
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Excitingly Wrong — An interview with Peter Mendelsund at Porter Square Books: I am always interested by anything graphical that strikes me as (this is difficult to put into words) excitingly wrong. There is a cool-factor to certain images that … Continue reading

May 1, 2013
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany

I was locked a conference room last week looking at books coming out in the fall, so tI have a lot of catching up to do… At the Financial Times, Andrew O’Hagan on the influence of other art forms on … Continue reading

April 25, 2013
by Dan
3 Comments

Midweek Miscellany

Keeping it Simple — Gilbert Hernandez who has two new books out, Julio’s Day and Marble Season, talks about his work at the LA Times Hero Complex blog: “What I’m really trying to do is streamline my work, to make … Continue reading

April 19, 2013
by Dan
1 Comment

Last Shop Standing

Saturday is Record Store Day and the 2012 documentary Last Shop Standing, the official film of the year’s celebration, will finally be available on DVD in the US and Canada. Inspired by the book of the same name by Graham Jones, the film … Continue reading

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