Re: ‘Kitsch Breeds’

Why does Dean Allen insist on repeatedly ripping into James Lileks? Is the writing that abominable? Is there an unspoken personal vendetta?

Perhaps this continues the longstanding tradition of public literary jabs thrown by authors with no love lost, but the tone of these posts can make a reader cringe. One cannot help but focus on the highly personal undercurrent of Allen’s posts, which turn his criticism into the equivalent of poking an index finger into his target’s chest. Each new post makes Textism that much less enticing, which is a shame, because he is usually an enjoyable and entertaining writer.

Doesn’t Allen know his little corner of the Internet can’t stand caustic, self-impressed blowhards?


Newly launched: Gawker, a weblog finely tuned to the pace of New York City, covering art, commerce, shopping, trends, and that most important city standard, gossip. With a Corcoran ad banner, no less. Best of luck to Nick Denton and co. on their new venture (which looks like it will become a daily stop for me).

Disappointing interface trends

An increasing number of design and IA sites are designing pages without any visual heft. The current move toward minimalist page design is prudent in the world of RSS and PDA feeds but makes for a rather lifeless browsing experience.

Gray text instead of black is the biggest offense. My eyes are feeling the strain of too many #666666 references on sites like IA/ and Xblog. On an LCD screen, the text is more difficult to read, not more pleasing to the eye. Note that Boxes and Arrows, an early adopter of the so-light-it’s-going-to-drift-away color scheme, has wisely pulled its body text designation back to black. The rest would be wise to follow suit.

Similarly, visual minimalism in page layout is pleasant enough, but please, give your pages some weight. The current weblog trend is gray text, pale non-underlined links, two spartan columns, and not much else. Yawn. A very fine line exists between basic and boring. C’mon, insert a third color or fill that open space a bit. Go ahead. I dare you.

What innovation can there be if leading-edge Web thinkers are publishing pages that look like glorified .txt files?

New York moment

The buses on Madison Avenue at 5 o’clock on Friday afternoon were all running Limited service, which meant none of them were stopping at 61st Street, where I was waiting for one.

When a taxicab stopped in front of me, I decided to take it. I was not the only one: a man approached from behind me to take the cab for himself and a friend. In my best New Yorker mode, I shot him a look, and said, “Excuse me, but I was here first.”

“We’re just going up Madison,” he said, and inspiration struck: “Share a cab?” I said. The three climbed in and rode to 79th Street, where I got out. The meter read $3.50; my traveling companion said, “A dollar from you is fine.”

Instead, I gave a $5 bill to the driver, instructing him to use the difference on the remaining fare. “Have a good trip uptown,” I said to the man in the back seat.

“Thanks,” he said, then added with a grin: “Next time, it’s on me.”