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The Consumer Category

We bring you the chic and unique, the best and most bizarre shopping offers both online and offline. We offer you tips on where to buy, and some of the less mainstream and crazy, individual and offbeat items on the internet. Anything that can be bought and sold can be featured here. And we love showcasing the best and worst art and design.

Joan Didion : ‘Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it’

The new Joan Didion film on Netflix, The Centre Will Not Hold, got me reding her essays. In The Year of Magical Thinking (public library), the American essayist writes of the pain that followed he death of her husband John Gregory Dunne (May 25, 1932 – December 30, 2003).

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect the shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be “healing.” A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to “get through it,” rise to the occasion, exhibit the “strength” that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves the for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.

Spotter: BrainPickings

Posted: 17th, September 2019 | In: Books | Comment


Wobble Wedges : capitalism solves every problem

Wobble Wedges

“The power of capitalism is that there’s a product for every problem,” tweets Jim Overholt. “Just spied this at the hostess station of the bar we’re in.” I see your folded napkin and rise you a Wobble Wedge.

Posted: 12th, September 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


Exhibiting nature: artist plants 300 trees on a football pitch

For Forest — The Unending Attraction of Nature

Klauss Littman planted 300 trees on the pitch at Klagenfurt, Austria as part of his For Forest — The Unending Attraction of Nature.

Using 300 trees, some of which weigh up to six tonnes, landscape architect Enzo Enea will cover the entire playing field with a mixed forest characteristic of Central Europe.

From the grandstands, visitors can admire the spectacle of the trees day and night (from 10am until 10pm). Admission is free. A sight that is as unfamiliar as it is fascinating and bound to stir up a range of emotions and reactions! Depending on the time of day (or night), the trees will constitute a constantly changing landscape that is shaped by the weather as well as the autumnal turning of the leaves. The installation is a clever play on our emotions when faced with what should be a familiar sight, placed in an entirely different context. With this monumental work of art, Littmann challenges our perception of nature and sharpens our awareness of the future relation between nature and humankind.

The project also sees itself as a warning: One day, we might have to admire the remnants of nature in specially assigned spaces, as is already the case with zoo animals.

Looks out for Wolves.

Littmann shaped his project on a 1970 drawing by Austrian architect and painter Max Peintner:

For Forest 02

What if nature becomes an exhibit?

Spotter: Flashbak, Kottke

Posted: 11th, September 2019 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


Islington bans sale of fur – Hackney furriers rejoice

Islington fur advert

Islington Council has banned the sale of fur products – jackets, coats, merkins. Leather remains on sale – as do animals as food. The council says the fur industry is “cruel and awful”. Hard to argue with that.

Councillor Asima Shaikh tells us: “We also understand that it can be hard for consumers to be sure about the origins and production methods used in clothes and goods containing real fur.”

Can you have ethical real fur?

When Wearing Fur Was De Rigueur in London (1900 – 1950)

Posted: 10th, September 2019 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


Former Blackburn Rovers striker Matt Jansen’s autobiography is a tale of anxiety, loss and love

MAtt Jansen

In 2002, Blackburn Rovers striker Matt Jansen was on holiday in Rome. He could have been with England’s World Cup squad in Japan and South Korea. He’d narrowly missed out on selection – a 16-goal season had not been enough. So a trip to Italy with his girlfriend Lucy was booked. One sunny day they hired a moped to explore the city. What happened next changed everything. In his autobiography What Was, What Is and What Might Have BeenJansen tells the story of life changed in a flash.


I was told I was going to the World Cup’ To win the League Cup and get called up by England, my ego was as big as it has ever been. I was at the top of my game, getting more and more confident. I was told I was going to the World Cup. The team was going to be announced the day after the penultimate game of the season.


We were playing Liverpool and Sven [Goran Eriksson] told Graeme Souness, who was Blackburn manager, not to tell me but say “don’t get injured” because I was going to be named in the World Cup squad.

He wasn’t picked. But Manchester United and Arsenal wanted him. Juventus had show a keen interest. Things would only get better. So to Rome…

We had got a taxi from the airport to the Hotel Eden at the top of the Spanish Steps and it was the worst journey I have ever had.
The way they drive in Rome, you toot the horn and have right of way I think. It is just chaotic.

So we hired this little scooter, a couple of helmets and we were pottering around Rome. We went to the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and here and there. It was the best way for us to travel.

On the second day we went out again and Lucy was on the back and her helmet flew off. We were on our way back to the hotel, and were only about 600 metres from it.

We couldn’t find her helmet anywhere but there were some police parked on the side of the road and Lucy spoke to them and said: “OK if we go back to the hotel and then look for the helmet or get another helmet tomorrow?” And they said: “Yes, as long as you go straight back to the hotel” as they knew it was only 600 metres up the road.
I said “do you want my helmet?” and took it off and handed it to Lucy. She said: “No, no. You are driving; you had better keep it on.” Fortunately I did.

We were coming around a corner, maybe 50 metres from the hotel at a crossroads. So I am edging out at this crossroads and as I am edging out there is a flash across me. A taxi smacks me on the side of the head and I take the full brunt. Lucy was thrown off the bike apparently and I was unconscious on the ground. That was me in a coma for six days.

Jansen has been stricken by crippling anxiety. But with help and hard work he’s improved. And – yep – he married Lucy.

Read: Matt Jansen: The Autobiography: What Was, What Is and What Might Have Been

Posted: 7th, September 2019 | In: Books, Sports, The Consumer | Comment


Designer makes pigeon shoes to attract birds

pigeon shoes japan

Japanese designer Kyoto Ohata attracts birds with her pigeon shoes. Ohata transforms her plain black pumps into wearable felt pigeons. She hopes birds will approach her to check out her pigeon feet as she strolls throughTokyo’s Ueno Park. As she says:

(translated) I like high heels as pigeons and I want to become popular with a group of pigeons.

pigeon shoes Japan
pigeon shoes Japan
pigeon shoes Japan
pigeon shoes Japan

Spotter: Neatorama

Posted: 6th, September 2019 | In: Fashion, News, The Consumer | Comment


Banned: Dairylea ad is too dangerous for kids

Like most of you, I’ve got Tango-induced tinnitus. But I won’t be getting DailyLea eye because the advert in which a woman is hit in the face by the cheese has been banned. The BBC says: ‘Parents of children with dairy allergies said it was “dangerous”, “disgraceful” and “insensitive”.’

On parent is Rina Cheema. Her son Karanbir “died after cheese was thrown at him at school in London in June 2017”.

A food fight can result in a fight for life. Why didn’t anyone tell the milkshakers? “Milkshaking’s power lies in the sheer ridiculousness of the situation,” said Vice, which featured instruction on how to make a milkshake to throw at someone with whom you disagree. “Someone’s thrown a milkshake at you! A milkshake! That’s silly as hell!”

DairyFree, naturally…

Posted: 4th, September 2019 | In: News, The Consumer | Comment


Haddon Salt was the king of fish and chips from Skegness to California

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yorkshireman Haddon Salt run a fish and chips empire that in the 1960s exceeded 500 stores. Kentucky Fried Chicken noticed the immigrant’s success. In 1969 the chicken mongers bought all of the H. Salt, Esq. Authentic English Fish and Chips outlets. The NY Times:

An initial Google search revealed that this shop was the last gasp of a once-sprawling fish-and-chips empire with hundreds of locations that started with an immigrant’s secret family recipe, flourished into an eight-figure deal with Colonel Sanders and ended in collapse.

It took several years and the research help of friends to track down Mr. Salt. We found him in a remote retirement community in Southern California’s desert. The rest you can see in the film before you.

For every icon there are those who were almost famous. And perhaps they, even more than their conqueror, have the lessons we need to hear.

Image: H. Salt Fish and Chips restaurant on Vineland Ave. in North Hollywood.

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 28th, August 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


The Making of a Steinway Piano – A Steinway & Sons Factory Tour Narrated by John Steinway

Posted: 21st, August 2019 | In: The Consumer, TV & Radio | Comment


The Beatus Facundus: beautifying good and evil

Beatus Facundus


We’ve not witnessed the end of the world. So the rich industry in predicting it continues. One day it really will be all over, the huge whimper triggering the race in the afterlife to scream ‘first!’. Beatus was not the first to peer into the future and see a decisive battle between God and the Devil. The Spanish monk created his Beatus Of Liébana in the 8th Century, a chronicle of the biblical book of Revelations. In the 11th Century King Ferdinand I of León, Castile, and Galicia wanted an updated version of Beatus’s work. So he shipped in a monk called Facundus to copy it. You can see lots more of the Beatus Facundus on Flashbak.

Posted: 19th, August 2019 | In: Books, Key Posts | Comment


Mike Tyson : marijuana marketing and short-term memory loss

mike tyson weed

Mike Tyson smokes a lot of marijuana. When former boxer told listeners to his Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson podcast that he and co-host, former NFL player Eben Britton, burn about 10 tons of weed every month at his ranch and resort.

At Tyson Ranch, Tyson sells nine strains of weed, tincture and edibles. There are plans for “glamping” campgrounds. Would you stay at ‘Iron Mike’s’ place?

No idea. But the reporting on what looks a lot like a PR exercise makes no mention – not one – of the fact that Tyson served three years of a six-year sentence imposed in 1992 for raping a teenage beauty-pageant contestant. Not CNN, the Sun or the Mirror mention that. None of them mention that Tyson has convictions for assault and cocaine possession. Maybe it’s down to smoking too much and getting short-term memory loss?

As advocates for weed go, we can get better ones that Mike Tyson.

Posted: 15th, August 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Still I Rise : Maya Angelou resurrected to sell helicopters to billionaires

Maya Angelu
‘A private chopper is a human right’

How do you celebrate the life and thoughts of Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014), the American poet and civil rights activist? Well, if you’re running the twitter account for Billionaire Magazine – “the Official Account for Billionaire Magazine. World’s Finest Marketplace. Buy & Sell Jet•Yacht•Supercar•Estates Non-Political” – you see her words as a tool with which to flog ridiculously expensive stuff.

“You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise!” says Maya Angelou in Still I Rise – her words now stripped of context and placed in the mouth of a private helicopter.

Still I Rise
Maya Angelou – 1928-2014

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise

Posted: 8th, August 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


To the amusement park with Fernando Livschitz

Roller coaster

In Beautiful Chaos, by Fernando Livschitz of Black Sheep Films, a trip to the amusement park takes an unexpected twist.

Spotter: Livschitz on Vimeo and Instagram.

Posted: 8th, August 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


UK Government profits from Canadian cannabis smokers

cannabis uk

At what point does the Government accept defeat in the war on cannabis? Glasgow food safety business R-Biopharm Rhône (RBR), a subsidiary of German parent company R-Biopharm, will supply test kits to a Canadian cannabis producer. The weed grower wants to rid their products of carcinogenic toxins. RBR makes kits that test for toxins in milk, spices, cereals and animal feeds. So why not put its skills to profit from the booming marijuana industry? Cannabis is legal in Canada. In the UK the law allows some medical use of the drug.

So here’s a renowned business based in the UK making money from weed. R-Biopharm Rhône product manager Claire Milligan tells the Herald: “Just like any other ingestible item, strict consumer protection legislation requires that cannabis products, including oils, cookies and cannabis plants themselves, should be tested for the presence of dangerous toxins. While the legality of cannabis products in the UK is currently the subject of wide-ranging debate, in those jurisdictions, such as Canada, certain states in the US, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands where consumption of cannabis products is permitted, testing for toxins remains of great importance. In the wake of the sale to our Canadian customer we anticipate further demand for our test kits in other regions where consumption of cannabis is legal as well as perhaps, at some stage, here in the UK.”

How do we feel about the UK doing business with companies whose produce is banned here? Any reputable British firm, which RBR certainly is, will pay taxes into the Treasury’s coffers. Some of that money will surely come from the Canada deal. Isn’t it a tad hypocritical of the UK Government to profit from the consumption of cannabis for non-medical use – the same drug it bans and arrests people for selling? How ethical is that?

Posted: 6th, August 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


CBD : the fight to regulate the new snake oil

marijuana art

Are all strains of CBD – cannabis extract cannabidiol – of equal worth? CBD is widely used in the UK to treat all manner of conditions, including: anxiety, pain and insomnia. The only US federally approved CBD-based medication is for epilepsy: Epidiolex is taken orally to help control seizures. The BBC says around 250,000 of us in the UK use CB regularly. It’s pretty clear more tests are needed. It’s pretty clear it helps some people.

A recent report by industry body the Centre for Medical Cannabis [CMC]blind-tested 30 products advertising themselves as CBD, bought on the High Street and online. It found almost half (45%) had measurable levels of THC, making them technically illegal in the UK.

Of course, the CMD’s research is intended to inform, campaign an enhance its position as “the UK’s first and only industry membership body for businesses and investors operating in cannabis based medicinal products (CBMPs) and cannabidiol (CBD) wellness markets”. With such a huge market on the horizon, CMD can expect some competition.


The researchers also found the presence in seven products of the solvent dichloromethane, which can cause wheezing and shortness of breath, at levels above food safety limits.

Some CBD products also contain very little of the advertised ingredient.

One sample, bought at a high street pharmacy chain, had no CBD in it at all and was selling for well over £50. Only 38% of the products tested had levels of CBD within 10% of the amount advertised on the bottle.


There is no legal requirement for these products to be tested, though some companies say they have rigorous testing regimes.

This is not about freedom. This is about regulation and profits:

CMC Confirms All its Members Products That Were Tested as Part of Their Groundbreaking UK CBD Market Study Had A CBD Content That Was Within 10% Of The Stated Content On The Label.

Or you could just, you know, buy some weed and smoke it…

Posted: 1st, August 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Annette Messager turned dead sparrows into art

Annette Messager sparrows

In 1971, Annette Messager was invited to participate in a show at Galerie Germain in Paris. She should come up with something to do with wool. She made a lamb’s wool jumper for a dead sparrow.

I found my voice as an artist when I stepped on a dead sparrow on a street in Paris in 1971. I didn’t know why, but I was sure this sparrow was important because it was something very fragile that was near me and my life. Like the people I love, these small birds were always around me, yet they remained strange and mysterious. So I picked up the sparrow, took it home and knit a wool wrap for it. Why? I can’t say. You want to do something and don’t know why – all you know is that you have no choice, that it’s a necessity.”

One dead sparrow in a hand-knitted jumper became part of a collection that the finder and artist Annette Messager in 1972 called ‘Les Pensionnaires’ (‘The Residents’).

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 17th, July 2019 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment


Animated green screen tattoos

Tattoo artist Lee Rowlett uses green screen tattoos that let you play videos on your skin. Look out for them on every celebrity and footballer who wants to secure a new branding deal…

Posted: 17th, July 2019 | In: Fashion, Technology, The Consumer | Comment


Passengers take a four-storey slide to the departure gate at Singapore’s Changi Airport

To Singapore’s Changi Airport, where passengers can zip down a four-storey tall slide to the departure gate. Everyone gets a go so long as they’ve spent S$10 (around £6) at the airport shops.

All airports should work like this. Or why don’t airlines try trapdoors to vacate the plane quickly and save more time? Call me RyanAir, I have ideas…

Image via Changi Airport

Posted: 8th, July 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


See every cover of the great MAD magazine – from 1952 to now

Mad magazine cover 1

On Doug Gilford’s Mad Cover Site – “a resource for collectors and fans of the world’s most important (ecch!) humor publication” – you can see every cover since the magazine’s 1952 debut. Alfred E. Neuman is, of course, ever present.

mad magazine vintage

Spotter: Flashbak


Posted: 5th, July 2019 | In: Books, The Consumer | Comment