on parade : throw who under the float?

Guest blog from graphic designer Art Chantry….

Art Chantry ( art@artchantry.com):

I hate Parade magazine. What a piece of utter drek. Real crapola. It has no merit of value beyond that of an advertising circular. In fact, that’s where my hometown paper buries the thing every sunday – in the massive pile of ad circulars.

It seems to exist as a way of promoting PR for a few starving celebrities desperate for attention. The color stories are usually about people trying to start up a comeback that might appeal to the aging baby boom generation. But before the boomer fogies took ove the main demographic, Parade catered to the Sinatra generation. It’s like this thing exists as a gossip rag for old people who are too unhip to care. Terrible terrible stuff.

AC:the rocket was maybe the SINGLE thing that did more to create the 'seattle scene' than anybody - more than sub pop (who started at the rocket), more than nirvana (who formed out of the free musician classifieds in the back of the rocket), more than any billionaire in seattle (who just wanted to buy the rocket and turn it into a house organ). it was bunch of nerdy stupid loser kids getting together and just trying to make something work - anything. just get some attention going, maybe give kids a chance to have a start, just stopped complaining and actually DO soemthing. that fact that it really DID work? well, everybody still hates the rocket. that mythologize the financial winners and the hate the folks who empowered them. it's our legacy.

So, imagine my surprise, when a few weeks back, the Parade magazine slips out of the stack of ad flyers i’m about to recycle and LO AND BEHOLD!, there’s a GREAT snap of Cher on the cover. Being a big cher fan, I had to read it (it’s a weakness).

I immediately noticed that it was a vintage spot of cher in her 70’s prime. The headline and typogaphy work was finely executed and he entire design absolutely Rreeked of quality. What gives?

Then I flip inside and find that the cover actually does an echo inside with a contemporary shot – virtually the same pose as the cover image. It was really smart and extremely fine. To top it off, it was a really greta interview, too. Cher is always a great interview, but the stuff she talked about in the pages of Parade was about 180 degrees opposite of what you’d expect. As an old Parade hater, I was frankly shocked.

---Parade:"Both my grandmothers were from the South. They were very prejudiced. They learned it growing up. They used all the bad words, like the 'n' word. One day my mom said to my grandmother, 'My children don't know these words and they don't need to hear them. I don't want you to talk like that in my house or you can't come over.' "When my mom took me to Little Rock, Ark., I got to see one of my relatives. I was so excited. She and I drove to the liquor store to get something and there were three black girls going down the street. She said, 'Let's scare them! 'And she drove close to them. I said, 'Are you out of your damn mind? We could've hurt them!' It was the first time I noticed that it wasn't enough to love your family if you don't have the same values. Without those, you couldn't really relate to them or be around them." click image for more...

So, I started paying attention to Parade after that. There seems to have been a change in editorial direction and the lousy thing is actually starting to have some appeal. Look at this recent cover. Queen Latifah? On the cover of Parade? Still safe, but I mean, she was a rapper, a street smart tough chick. On Parade? Aren’t the old ladies feeling dizzy at this point?

But, I want you to notice the new approach to cover design – epecially the typography – that Parade is doing. It makes all those endlessly homogenous cover payouts on the news stand pale in comparison. I mean, this is really nice stuff. It actually looks DESIGNED rather

n TYPED. Ya know? There is keen thinking designer in this mag somewhere dying to emerge.

The thing that caught my eye, though, is that this thing looks just exactly like an old cover of THE ROCKET from over 20 years ago. It’s so funny to see those ideas and that cool old way of thinking finally filter through the entire design and markeing industry and fall out the bottom in the pages of (of all things) Parade! What a crack up.

The almost mirror-like symmetry of this cover to an old Rocket cover will be lost on virtually all of the people reading this essay – 90% of you never saw a copy of the the Rocket. In fact, i’ll bet the art director/designer of this cover has no idea what the Rocket was. But, the ideas live on and still float around in the ozone of popular thought. It’s reach is out there where ever people want a taste of something better and newer and smarter. It’s insidious. It’s still monkey wrenching the design industry, influencing invisibly and derisively.


Art Chantry:all those rocket folks got sqat out of the deal. a few got rich because the worked some angles and hard-hustled up some deals. but the bulk of those rocket people didn’t even get respect for what they did. it was a bad hard job working with nasty competitive neurotic people for an arrogant smug community who hated you and wanted to put you out of business.

you old whiners really crack me up: “but what about MY BAND!!! we could have been famous and rich if only the rocket had written a story about us!”

…sub pop became a sort of pop culture vulture, scouting our regional scenes and signing a band or two and then threw it against the wall to see if it stuck. they’d pretty much get two lp’s out of the arrangement and then get dumped. that’s how they worked for years. they became a sort of grim reaper of scenes just passed their prime. they began getting there too late to sign the hot bands and usually got the third stringers. such is fate.

a lot of their bands hooked up with the european relation – glitterhaus. that meant hey sold much better in eirpoe. the walkablouts did well with their european releases, but not so good stateside. this is business we’re talking about. sub pop was a business. never forget that. not a very smart business, either. just damn lucky.

and the sub pop people had a vendetta with the rocket. they really hated us especially when we started to give bad reviews to their ‘latest product’ is it was a bad record. we at the rocket ended up getting blacklisted (sub pop always worked with a black list. i’ve been on it more times than i can count). so, the only time we heard from sub pop was to call us names or to get us to sell their records for them. …

…even more important are all the other major magazines, publications, books and television shows (indeed, entire pop culture scenes) that ex=rocket people went on to literally DESIGN. it almost reads as a ‘who’s who’ of amercian pop culture of the last 30 years. astonishing. way too much to actually list here….


This entry was posted in Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Modern Arts/Craft and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>