Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Former 1960s bondage-film actress is waging legal combat for ownership of the SeaMonkeys fortune

Yolanda Signorelli von Braunhut is a onetime heir to the considerable fortune still generated by her husband Harold’s iconic invention, Amazing Live Sea-Monkeys. As her lawyer told it, she was now isolated, cash-starved, often without electricity or running water on a palatial estate on the Potomac River in southern Maryland. Having retreated to a single room in the old mansion, she was prepping for her second freezing winter, barricaded by thick quilts, her bed next to a fireplace stocked with split wood. From this bunker, Signorelli von Braunhut has been waging legal combat against Sam Harwell, chief executive of a big-time toy company whose name seems straight out of a Chuck Jones cartoon: Big Time Toys. NY Times

I had SeaMonkeys as a kid in the 70s, but the pinnacle of my love for the brine shrimp was when I persuaded my then-employer, Another.com, to install a SeaMonkey cam on my desk in 2000. In 2000! What other wonders would this Internet future conceive?

Monday, 2 March 2015

Author of the Anarchist Cookbook has only made $35,000 in royalties after 2 million copies sold

In 1971, William Powell wrote the Anarchist Cookbook, the next 40 years are a tale of regret and IP sales.

In 1989—not the early 1980s, as Powell wrote—Lyle Stuart sold his publishing house to the Carol Management Corporation for $12 million. A man named Steve Schragis was in charge of the new imprint, which focused on controversial books; one title, Final Exit, instructed people on how to kill themselves. But Schragis objected to The Anarchist Cookbook, saying it had “no positive purpose,” and declined to reissue it. So Stuart bought the title back for $75,000 and published it under his new company, Barricade Books. At some point during this back and forth, Powell signed over rights to future royalties, telling me that Stuart sent him a check for $5,000.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Prague's 1990s ex-pat English language newspaper war

Two of my closest friends Heather Faulkner and Ginger Sendalova left Vancouver in the late 90s, jumping into the void that was post-Communist Czechoslovakia. Both had secured positions at the romantic sounding Prague Post.

After moving to London in 1999, and thanks to cheap flights by the now-defunct Go, I probably visited them a dozen times in two years, spending hours and hours in the Post‘s offices. It looked like every student newspaper office that I have every visited, and probably ran on the same budget, but the Post always punched far above its weight in news, photography and design, outclassing even the International Herald Tribune and The European.

But my friends were working for the winner in a newspaper war over the hearts and minds of a generation of Western 20-whatevers who had come seeking what Post editor-in-chief Alan Levy called “the Left Bank of the ’90s.”

“For some of us, Prague is Second Chance City; for others a new frontier where anything goes, everything goes, and, often enough, nothing works. Yesterday is long gone, today is nebulous, and who knows about tomorrow, but, somewhere within each of us, we all know that we are living in a historic place at a historic time.“—The Prague Post, October 1, 1991 (first issue)

Here, Jacques Poitras, talks about the paper that lost, Prognosis and what might have been.

“These American kids start the first English-language newspaper. … It can’t help but thrive, right?” Welch’s friend, Ken Layne, told me in an e-mail in 1995. “It sputters along for several years, getting a million dollars in free press, no business plan, no financial plan, no discipline, just bumbling along, just like all of Prague is doing. And just like the fucking Communists, Prognosis is living off subsidies,” a reference to the money from relatives and foundations in the United States. “Meanwhile, the Czechs figure it all out. They toss away a lifetime of anti-capitalist bullshit and turn Prague into a fucking money machine. Everybody figures out how to run a business, how to make cash, how to succeed — everybody but these American kids who refuse to even acknowledge the need for money, for success.

“If [Post publisher] Lisa Frankenberg is your villain,” Layne added, “you’ve bought into the biggest piece of fabricated history ever. If they had figured out how to use Lisa’s smarts … Prognosis would be a thriving media empire today instead of a dead newspaper fondly remembered by fifty people. The results speak for themselves. Lisa is no monster. A hundred other people have felt the same way about the half-ass manner in which Prognosis was run.”

Prague Reverb: Revisiting an American Newspaper War Abroad

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Predicted date of Uber in Vancouver

Here’s my prediction to the world: Uber will be permitted in Vancouver approximately 1 April, 2015.

How do I forecast with such accurate precision? Because that’s two weeks after thousands of Ted Conference attendees arrive, pull out their phones, and then look at the Provincial and City officials as if they were covered in hayseed.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Ultra rare interview with National Lampoon co-founder Henry Beard

Henry Beard co-founded the National Lampoon in 1970 then insisted on a buyout in 1975 and never contributed again. He has almost never spoken publicly about the NatLamp years – but here’s a great interview from Spltsider.

On advertisers:

The people who started the National Lampoon were very fortunate. We came along at a very particular time. All the restraints were coming loose, it was probably one of the last times when you could start a monthly magazine… For a long time we couldn’t get advertising. The advertisers would say, “I’m not going to advertise in that disgusting magazine.” But that soon changed. At 295,000 it was disgusting. At 305,000 it was an important audience that needed to be reached on its own terms.

Via Mark’s Very Large

Friday, 13 July 2012

Magazines from the news agents in Blade Runner

When the set designers of Blade Runner needed to stock a news agent in a background street scene they created their own range of magazines from the future. Look forward to subscribing to Kill, Moni, Zord, Horn, Creative Evolution, and Dorgon magazines.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Why do we wear trousers anyway?

Horses, of courses.
Via Next Draft

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Blackberry maker CEO is delusional


“There’s nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now,” Heins said on Canadian Broadcasting Corp’s Metro Morning radio show.

“I’m not talking about the company as I, kind of, took it over six months ago. I’m talking about the company (in the) state it’s in right now.”

H/T Amil

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Laying wreaths on Captain Vancouver's London grave on Canada Day

St. Peter’s in Petersham, London, could never be so full as it is on each 1 July, when the little building is full of displaced Canadians making a rare church visit to watch wreaths be laid upon Captain George Vancouver’s grave.

Vancouver didn’t discover his namesake city, the First Nations have lived there for thousands of years. He didn’t found the townsite—that occurred in 1862, 64 years after his death. He wasn’t even the first choice for the name, Hastings came first then Granville. But the Canadian Pacific Railway land speculators thought that was a hint of grandeur in the name Vancouver and that’s what they chose for their new end-of-the-line station in 1886.

We took the District Line to Richmond then, mostly, walked along the Thames to Petersham, and to St. Peter’s. Here is a short video I took of the memorial service for Vancouver’s Megaphone Magazine.

Afterwards, we walked up the back way from Petersham, up Richmond Hill to the terrace and found that we were looking at this scene from our seat at the Roebuck Pub.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The cruelest paper in Paris is also the funniest and most solvent

Der Speigel on Le Canard Enchaîné

Canard, on the other hand, France’s only satirical weekly newspaper, is doing well in this ailing country. Circulation went up by 32 percent in the first two years after Sarkozy’s inauguration, and thanks the country’s numerous scandals it now prints 700,000 copies per week. Net profit was roughly €5 million ($6.9 million) in 2009. For decades, the paper has covered France’s scandals with credible and reliable reporting, while at the same time publishing decidedly malicious cartoons, tongue-in-cheek opinion pieces and fictitious columns by politicians.

The paper is owned by its editors and has an incredible cash reserve and property holding of €110 million.