INTERLUDE: 344 ON NYTIMES.COM
Good afternoon. I realize this is not a monster thing, but I thought I’d share it anyway. The amazing Steven Heller asked me (as part of a group of designers) to contribute an illustration to his New York Times campaign blog.
Specifically, he wanted me to create a campaign memento.
Needless to say, I dropped everything and went donkey shopping.
Simple is best, don’t you think? The original title was “An ass divided cannot stand!” That turned out to be a bit too direct (and juvenile) for the occasion, so we changed it to “The Democratic Party: Unite or Die!” I hope you like it.
I had a night to do this, so after some spirited jamming with my friends Natalia and Jona, I had to procure a donkey. The toy stores in Pasadena close at 6. Too late for that. But then I thought… STATS. Stats is a local institution, an industrial strength arts and crafts store with a year-round Christmas decorations department. You need yourself a nice Nativity Scene in July? You call Stats. Allow me to reenact the phone call from last Thursday night at 8PM:
Good evening. Stats.
Yeah. Hi. I’m looking for a plastic donkey.
Let me put you through.
[Let. Me. Put. You. Through! Not “You want what?!,”
but “Let me put you through.” Genius!]
This is Jennifer.
Jennifer. Hi. I need a plastic donkey.
OK. Let me see. — I have four different kinds.
Brilliant! I’ll be right there.
You need the donkey tonight?
You want me to leave them at the cash register for you?
See? That’s customer service! The donkey I picked is actually “Mary’s Donkey,” handcrafted by Italian artisans. Not cheap, either. A 2.5 ounce donkey cost $27 (incl. tax), which means it’s almost $173 for a pound of ass! You’ll have to forgive me for this, but… I’m sitting on a gold mine.
The people at the register did flinch a bit when I asked what they’d recommend to saw it in half, but then helpfully offered the store hacksaw. No need. I have my own. And if you think sawing through an inch and a half of plastic donkey is a trivial task, think again. Took me 20 minutes of concentrated effort, and a serious hand cramp. This tells me three things: Plastic donkeys are tough. I’m not. And breaking out of prison by sawing through the bars is probably much, much harder than it looks in the movies.
I thought I’d adapt one of the many keychains I own to make the divided donkey into two mementos. Turns out that I don’t own any keychains. Which meant a trip to the gas station. They had two kinds of keychain: gas-lighter poker chips, and miniature hash pipes. I bought both, because one had nicer rings, the other a nicer clasp. When you get into a serious art direction habit, nothing is too trivial to escape notic.
But all that’s beside the point. The point is two-fold:
A. Look Ma! I’m on nytimes.com! Yay!