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.

A girl’s 1940s ledger of her Cat’s Whiskers

cat whiskers 1941

These pictures show us a handmade book by Janet Gnosspelius. The book contains her cats’ whiskers. Janet collected the whiskers she found in her home from 1940 to 1942. She then wove each and every whisker into the pages of her book and catalogued them, noting when, where and how they were found.

Janet Gnosspelius had artistic pedigree. Her mother was Barbara Collingwood, granddaughter of W.G. Collingwood, John Ruskin’s secretary. She was one of the first women to attend the Liverpool School of Architecture. Archivists say the meticulous nature Gnosspelius exhibited in creating her book remained throughout her life as she worked in “local history and building conservation, regularly posting samples of masonry to Liverpool City Planning Office, neatly labelled with their provenance and date, demanding their restoration.”

Gnosspelius continued her love of cats. At age 40 she wrote a diary. “The diary is no ordinary one,” says her archivists. “It is written from the perspective of her beloved ginger cat Butterball, recording the dates of his fights, illnesses, and stays with friends: ‘9 March 1965: wrapped my mouse in the mat outside kitchen door.’”

cat whiskers 1941
cat whiskers 1941

Spotter: Colossal, Flashbak, The Collingwood Archive of the Cardiff University Special Collections 

Posted: 7th, January 2020 | In: Books, Key Posts, Strange But True | Comment


Read decades of scanned books for free at The Pulp Magazine Archive

pulp archive

Fill your boots with pulp fiction at the Internet Archive, who along with The Pulp Magazines Project and The Pulp have been scanning a vast amount of Pulp Magazines for The Pulp Magazine Archive.

You can read crcaking stuff from Amazing Stories Volume 01 Number 01 (April 1926), featuring: Off on a Comet (Jules Verne; 1/2), The New Accelerator (H. G. Wells), The Man From the Atom (G. Peyton Wertenbaker), The Thing From—”Outside” (George Allan England), The Man Who Saved the Earth (Austin Hall), and The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar (Edgar Allan Poe).

And there’s a load of racier stuff, too.

Spotter: Laughing Squid, Flashbak

Posted: 5th, January 2020 | In: Books, The Consumer | Comment


All Good Things : buy Stephen Ellcock prints

Stephen Ellcock prints All Good Things Flashbak

The new shop at Flashbak features prints curated by Stephen Ellcock. Curated is an overused word – up there on the list of hackneyed tosh with ‘holistic’, a word used to describe anything from a therapy suite’s range of revolving-door services to finger painting at primary school, and ‘edited’, which is a bit like curated but can be used to describe the starters in restaurant menus. But curating is what Stephen does. His new book, All Good Things, is a delight. And many of the prints in that lovely bestseller are available to buy in the Flashbak Shop.

The prints are on gorgeous, archival paper. And worldwide shipping is free. Buy your gorgeous prints here.

Posted: 23rd, December 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Frida Kahlo in Lego

Frida Kahlo in Lego

 Karen Cantú Q has created a portrait of artist Frida Kahlo from Lego.

See more of her work on her site.

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 13th, December 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


‘Harbinger Customers’ back failed politicians and buy bad products – identifying the postcode losers

harbinger customers

Is it peer pressure, rebellion, a herd mentality or something else? The Dace Mirror introduces us to “harbinger customers” who live in “harbinger zip codes”. They buy unpopular products and back losers in elections. They do this often enough to suggest a pattern of behaviour.

First, the findings document the existence of “harbinger zip codes.” If households in these zip codes adopt a new product, this is a signal that the new product will fail. Second, a series of comparisons reveal that households in harbinger zip codes make other decisions that differ from other households. The first comparison identifies harbinger zip codes using purchases from one retailer and then evaluates purchases at a different retailer. Households in harbinger zip codes purchase products from the second retailer that other households are less likely to purchase. The analysis next compares donations to congressional election candidates; households in harbinger zip codes donate to different candidates than households in neighboring zip codes, and they donate to candidates who are less likely to win. House prices in harbinger zip codes also increase at slower rates than in neighboring zip codes.history

Are these people the outsiders, societal outliers? Are they the ones who think outside the box?

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the harbinger customer effect is that the signal extends across CPG categories. Customers who purchase new oral care products that flop also tend to purchase new haircare products that flop. Anderson et al. (2015) interpret their findings as evidence that customers who have unusual preferences in one product category also tend to have unusual preferences in other categories. In other words, the customers who liked Diet Crystal Pepsi also tended to like Colgate Kitchen Entrees (which also flopped).

Fortune does not always favour the brave.

Spotter: bb

Posted: 12th, December 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


How to open a book – a vintage primer

William Matthews Bookseller instructs us ho to open a lovely book for the first time.

how to open a book

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 6th, December 2019 | In: Books, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment


The True Blue Cookery Book – cookies with Tories

The Truth Blue Cookery Book is is “an assembly of recipes contributed by the Conservative Members of Parliament and their wives”. No husbands can cook, or at least no husbands are prepared to share their recipes.

Published in 1977 in association with the Ruislip-Northwood Conservative Association, the people and recipes are a blast from a different age. In the same series, titles include: “Right Way To Make James”; “Deep Freeze Secret”; “Easy Wine And Country Drinks”; and “Choose A Wine”. Any wine. They all get you there, dear boy:

The True Blue Cookery Book
The True Blue Cookery Book
The True Blue Cookery Book
The True Blue Cookery Book

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 22nd, November 2019 | In: Books, Key Posts, Politicians, The Consumer | Comment


Art Nouveau and the path to psychedelic 1960s music posters

Art Nouveau posters

All great art contains a degree of copying. Those psychedelic 1960s music posters borrow much from Art Nouveau, which borrowed from the Arts & Crafts Movement. In his 1920 work The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism, T. S. Eliot looks at how imitation is one form of flattery:

One of the surest of tests is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

Martin Hohn, president of the Rock Poster Society, has a word:

“You can draw a straight line between Art Nouveau and psychedelic rock posters,” Martin Hohn, president of the Rock Poster Society, says. “Mucha, Jules Chéret, Aubrey Beardsley. Borrow from everything. The world is your palette. It was all meant to be populist art. It was always meant to be disposable.” He later adds: “What the artists were saying graphically was the same thing the rock bands were saying musically.”

Norman Orr, who did about a dozen posters for Bill Graham from 1970 to ’71, says he was influenced by was the Moravian artist Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939). “It was the sensuality of the graceful, flowing lines of the Mucha work, and the way that the female form was combined with the sensuality of the line work that I found to be most appealing.”

Buy gorgeous Art Nouveau posters here.

Spotter: Kottke

Posted: 20th, November 2019 | In: Music, News, The Consumer | Comment


How to buy drugs on the Dark Web

drugs

Jason Kottke directs us to an article on the London Review of Books by Misha Glenny (DarkMarket: How Hackers Became the New Mafia) and Callum Lang called How to Buy Drugs. If you need to ask, right? It gets really interesting when they investigate customer service on the so-called Dark Web:

The internet has dramatically improved the experience of drug buyers. The market share of a dark web outlet depends almost entirely on its online reputation. Just as on Amazon or eBay, customer reviews will describe the quality of purchased products as well as reporting on shipping time and the responsiveness of vendors to queries or complaints. If drugs that a buyer has paid for don’t turn up — as once happened to Liam, the Manchester student — a savvy vendor will reship the items without asking for further payment, in the hope of securing the five-star customer reviews they depend on.

As a consequence, the drugs available to the informed buyer are of a higher quality than ever before. They are also safer. The administrators of DNStars.vip — a site on the open web which you don’t need Tor to visit — pose as ordinary users in order to buy samples of popular drugs from major vendors. They then have the drugs chemically tested to see whether they match the seller’s description.

Kottke points to how technology means cheaper and ‘better’ drugs for the buyers but a lot of unpleasantness making it happen that goes unseen. I;d argue that it depends what you’re buying: a bag of marijuana from a small, domestic grower or a pound of cocaine?

Posted: 13th, November 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Salvador Dali Tarot cards

dali tarot cards

Salvador Dalí designed a full deck of tarot cards for the James Bond film Live and Let Die. But the production team were reluctant to pay Dalí’s fee, so they never appeared in the movie. But the artist liked the work and completed the set in 1984. Now art book publisher Taschen (they make those massive coffee table books so big they could double as coffee table) is releasing the deck.

dali tarot cards
dali tarot cards
dali tarot cards
dali tarot cards
dali tarot cards

Spotter:  Hyperallergic

Posted: 11th, November 2019 | In: Books, The Consumer | Comment


Kurt Cobain’s cherry-burned sweater sells for $334,000

Someone just paid $334,000 for a cardigan with stains and a cherry burn hole in it. The green cardi was worn by Kurt Cobain for Nirvana’s 1993 MTV Unplugged performance.

Kurt Cobain's cherry-burned sweater sells for $334,000
For the imitators

“This cardigan, it’s the holy grail of any article of clothing that he ever wore,” says Darren Julien, CEO and president of Julien’s Auctions. “Kurt created the grunge look; he didn’t wear show clothes,”


Posted: 29th, October 2019 | In: Celebrities, Music, News, The Consumer | Comment


A little kitchen painting sells for $26.8million

'Christ Mocked' by Florentine artist Cimabue

‘Christ Mocked’ by Florentine artist Cimabue (Giotto’s teacher) was created around 1280. It’s been in someone’s kitchen in France was ages. And now it’s sold at auction for $26.8.

From Smithsonian Mag:

[Auctioneer Philomène] Wolf spotted the painting, titled “Christ Mocked,” on display between the woman’s open-plan kitchen and living room. While she immediately suspected it was a work of Italian primitivism, she “didn’t imagine it was a Cimabue.”

Wolf turned to Eric Turquin, a Paris-based art historian who had previously identified a painting unearthed in a French attic as a long-lost Caravaggio. According to Benjamin Dodman of France 24, Turquin and his colleagues concluded with “certitude” that the new find was a genuine Cimabue.

How certain can you be that it’s the real deal?

Posted: 28th, October 2019 | In: Money, The Consumer | Comment


What fool buys this revolting Captain Beefheart shirt for $1000?

CAptain beefheart
‘Crepe and Black Lamp,’ by Don Van Vliet, 1986 oil on canvas, 148 x 122 cm / 58.25 x 48 inches

Stuck for a gift this Christmas? (And how can you be when Flashbak’s new Prints Shop offers such great deals on wonderful art.) But if you stuck, then do not panic and at the last minute invest $1285 in a silk shirt struck by a painting by Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart. As Richard Metzger rightly says, it is revolting.

CAptain beefheart shirt
CAptain beefheart shirt

It’s made by Enfants Riches Deprimes (“Depressed Rich Kids”). At least they know their target market. This is impulse shopping for the daddy-fed rich, entitled and inflicted. Expect to see some berk wearing it on the streets of Notting Hill soon…

Posted: 27th, October 2019 | In: Celebrities, Fashion, Key Posts, Music, The Consumer | Comment


Shot In Soho

William Klein Men hidden their faces : 69 Sauna & Massage © William Klein
William Klein Men hidden their faces : 69 Sauna & Massage © William Klein

A new exhibition at The Photographer’s Gallery looks are Soho, London’s most vibrant square mile. William Klein is just one of the photographers featured in the show.

soho
William Klein Shoes polisher, Rocky II, etc, Piccadilly, 1980 © William Klein

Via: Flashbak

Posted: 22nd, October 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


The cheapest pint in London as a Tube Map

The Cheapest pint in London Tube Map
Click to enlarge

Looking for a cheap pint in a new London manor, Adam Stead called the nearest pub to every London Underground Tube station and got their prices. All pubs surveyed feature in this map.

The Oyster Rooms over Fulham Broadway station wins. It’s a Wetherspoon’s boozer. The dearest pint is yours for £5.55, available at the Frontier at the Union Tavern, Westbourne Park.

There are some oddities. Apparently, the Three Wishes is the closet pub to Stanmore, Canon’s Park and Edgware stations.

The nearest pub to a Tube station is on average only 0.18 miles away. The closest pub to a Tube statin is The Famous Cock, 10 ft from Highbury and Islington station.

Posted: 15th, October 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


Nasa’s hard shell space suits

Nasa's hard shell space suits

From 1966 through the 1990s, NASA crested hard space suits for space travellers. These suits would offer greater mobility than soft suits. The leader in space fashioned was Hubert “Vic” Vykukal. As the principal designer and investigator of the AX space suit series, he was also happy to model them.

You can see lots more of Vik in his creations on Flashbak.

Posted: 10th, October 2019 | In: Fashion, Key Posts, Technology | Comment


Ceramics by Sophie Woodrow

Bristol-based artist Sophie Woodrow makes the most beguiling ceramics of mythical creatures and otherworldly things – twists on the natural we think of as real.

Sophie Woodrow ceramics


ceramics sophie woodrow art

Via: Sophie Woodrow and Flashbak

Posted: 6th, October 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


The 2020 Sony World Photography Awards

Here are a few entries for the World Photography Organization.

Free to enter, the internationally acclaimed Sony World Photography Awards invites all levels of photographers from around the world the chance to be supported, celebrated and given the recognition they deserve. Embracing all genres, styles and points of view, judges will be looking for the talented, dedicated and creative photographers from the past year who continue to push their work to new territory.


World Photography Organization
Khanh Phan

The 2020 Sony World Photography Awards.

Spotter: Flashbak

Posted: 2nd, October 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


Artist Spenser Little makes great street sculptures from wire

I love these wire sculptures by Spenser Little.

Spenser Little is a self-taught artist who has been bending wire for the last 15 years… Some works contain moving components and multiple wires, but mostly the pieces are formed from one continuous piece of wire that is bent and molded to Little’s will. He has left the wire sculptures all over the world, in locations that range from the Eiffel Tower to bottom of caves, their location selected with little discernment only for the piece to be finally realized at the moment that someone discovers the surprise piece of art.

Spenser little

Spotter: Flashbak, ThisiscolosalThinkspace Gallery and the artist on Instagram . Images by Julie .

Posted: 1st, October 2019 | In: The Consumer | Comment


Captain Morgan bars Muslims from its US website?

Captain Morgan Muslim

Sorry, Muslims, no rum, sodomy and the lash for you. At least that’s the way it appeared. Last week Captain Morgan rum ran a verification check on its US website. It asked customers to tick the box to declare: “Yes, I am a non-Muslim and aged 21 years and above.”

Sir Henry Morgan (1635 – 25 August 1688), after whom the sickly sweet booze is named, was a Welsh-born privateer who encapsulated the raw energy of the birth of Jamaica. On his first official trip to the Caribbean island, he shipped with “hectors and knights of the plague, lewd person and thieves”. It’s not known if any of the lads were Muslim. But Morgan was just twenty on that trip to storm the Spanish in Jamaica – so no rum for him.

Alerted to the oddity, a spokesperson for Captain Morgan went on the record: “Over the weekend, a misconfiguration on our age-gating files for our US Captain Morgan website meant that people were shown our United Arab Emirates age gate window in error. In the United Arab Emirates it is commonplace for alcohol brands to request verification of this kind, in addition to age-gating, in line with UAE alcohol licensing requirements. We corrected this as quickly as possible.”

Captain Morgan and his shipmates would have lasted two minutes in such a dry state. But the UAE is not alone in censoring its booze. Visitors to the UK site are met with an age verification form:

“Live like a Captain,” says Captain Morgan tagline. “Unleash your inner captain.” But do so responsibly. It’s what genteel Morgan and his band of marauding cut-throats would have wanted.

Posted: 29th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


Stoned tuna: chef arrested for cannabis-infused fish

cannabis tuna

The Italian newspaper La Sicilia reports on a local chef arrested on suspicion of drugs dealing. The chef claimed he was testing out “new flavours”, and the two large marijuana plants and 1kg (35oz) of Indian hemp in his pantry were part of his dabbling in cannabis-infused wine, olives, coffee and tuna – all items also seized from his home near Catania.

The 50-year-old is a self-billed “agro-food consultant for third millennium cuisine”.

Meanwhile, you know ‘weed’ you bought from the guy who works in the kitchens, well, it’s oregano – probably.

Posted: 29th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True, The Consumer | Comment


The best print shop on the web

George Mayerle's Eye Test charts

Delighted to say that Flashbak has new print store. It promises to the be the best print shop on the web. The print shop is edited by me, Rob Baker and Stephen Ellcock.

We’re going to be adding lots more images to it in the coming week – including great prints, calendars and cards.

Shipping worldwide from the fine art printers in London carries no extra fee – so whether you’re in New York, Nairobi or Newcastle, postage is the same price.

Image: George Mayerle’s Eye Test charts. Buy it here.

Flashbakshop.com – The best print shop on the web

Posted: 25th, September 2019 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment


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


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