Brain Pickings

Mad Men: The Illustrated World


Tips for the modern metrosexual from the 1960s, or what martinis have to do with Twitter.

Yes, we love Mad Men goodies, who doesn’t? Nearly two years ago, we featured NYC-based illustrator, designer and comedian Dyna Moe‘s absolutely wonderful Mad Men illustrations. The series eventually charmed AMC into launching the popular Mad Men Yourself app, which has since populated countless Twitter streams with Mad-Menified avatars.

This fall, Dyna Moe released her dynamite work in Mad Men: The Illustrated World — a truly, truly fantastic book that captures not only everything we love about Mad Men, but also the broader cultural landscape of the era, from fashion and style to office culture to lifehacks like hangover workarounds and secretary etiquette.

Mad Men Illustrated

Mad Men Illustrated

Mad Men Illustrated

With stunning, vibrant illustrations inspired by the aesthetic and artistic style of vintage ads from the 1960s, the book is a priceless and colorful timecapsule of an era few of us lived in but most of us romanticize.

Mad Men Illustrated

And, of course, effort to capture the spirit of the era would be complete without the spirits of the era.

Mad Men Illustrated

Conceptually playful and artistically ambitious, Mad Men: The Illustrated World is the perfect gift for the vintage revivalist, illustration aficionado or Mad-Men-holic in your life, and a fine addition to your own collection of paper-based design gems.

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The Complete Metropolis: Fritz Lang’s 1927 Gem, Remastered


A few months ago, we were thrilled to hear that a new restoration of Fritz Lang’s cult 1927 film, Metropolis — an iconic German Expressionist cornerstone of modern science fiction, whose influence is palpable in everything from Blade Runner to Avatar — was hitting the big screen.

Today, The Complete Metropolis is released on DVD and Blu-ray, a gorgeous restored version of the film featuring 25 glorious minutes of lost footage.

Where there once were flattened and murky prints, there are now crisp images and beautiful, three-dimensional lighting. To see a glistening bead of sweat roll down the cheek of a long-gone actor on 80-year-old film is so priceless it makes The Complete Metropolis a complete treat..

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Greatest of All Time: Remembering Muhammad Ali


To celebrate 30 years in publishing, luxury book purveyor Taschen (remember them?) is releasing a new edition of what’s easily their biggest hit to date: The 2004 volume GOAT: Greatest of All Time, celebrating the great Muhammad Ali. With thousands of photographs, art and visual memorability from over 100 artists, two gatefold sequences, the most compelling interviews with Ali culled from a half-century of archives, and original essays by some of today’s most exciting writers, the tome is fully deserving of Der Spiegel‘s description:

This is a monument on paper, the most megalomaniacal book in the history of civilization, the biggest, heaviest, most radiant thing ever printed — Ali’s last victory.” ~ Der Spiegel

With 800 pages weighing in at 75 lbs, GOAT is a heavyweight that will knock you out with its lush imagery, depth of perspective, creative point of view, and extraordinary energy.

Today, seven years after the publication of GOAT, we are proud to publish this affordable edition at last so that Ali’s genius can be shared with the widest possible audience. Smaller in size but not in impact, this new version brings the people’s champ to the people.” ~ Taschen

And, at $150, the new edition is a steal compared to the $4,500 (yes, you read that right) price tag of the original. Better yet, Amazon has knocked 37% off for a handsome $94.50. By our calculations that’s, oh let’s see, a 97.9% discount — which, in relative terms, makes the book almost free. And they say premium publishing was stubbornly snobbish.

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The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families


Why four in ten people are timetravelers from 1960.

From pop culture diversions like Modern Family to serious political and human rights issues like Proposition 8, there seems to be a palpable cultural shift in the concepts of marriage and the family. The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families, a new study by Pew Research in partnership with TIME, aims to qualify and quanitfy that shift.

Some of the most curioius findings — which, if we were cruder than we are, which we aren’t, we could summarize as “So, Americans are still sexist homophobes who believe money buys happiness and human beings are innately evil.” — can be found below:

The Class-Based Decline in Marriage

Much of the 20% drop in marriage rates since 1960 has happened along class lines. But contrary to our liberal conceit that more and more educated young adults are choosing domestic arrangements other than marriage, those with a high school diploma or less have been the ones dodging marriage the most. The reason? They place a higher premium on financial stability than college graduates as an important reason to marry, but lower education equals lower pay within that demographic, hence lower marriage rates.

Marriage en Route to Obsolescence

4 in 10 people believe marriage is becoming obsolete, up from 28% in 1978. Even so, more Americans (67%) remain optimistic about marriage than about the educational system (50%), the economy (46%) or human morality (41%). In other words, people think you’re more likely to get married than to get a good education, live comfortably or be a decent human being.

The Resilience of Families

Despite views on marriage, faith in the family as a social unit remains strong. 76% of people identify their family as the most important thing in their life and 80% say the family they live in now is as close or closer than the one they grew up in. Unsurprisingly, however, married couples gave far more positive responses than the unmarried.

In the past 50 years, women have reached near parity with men as a share of the workforce and have begun to outpace men in educational attainment.”

Changing Spousal Roles

While the survey cites the six-in-ten working wives, double the number from 1960, as a sign of social progress to be celebrated, we were actually surprised by how low that number is. What about the other four? Worse yet, only 62% of people believe the husband and wife should both work and share household and childrearing responsibilities — which means 38% don’t. Two thirds believe a man should be a breadwinner in order to be “ready” for marriage, yet only a third say so about a woman.

The Definition of Family

Most people don’t see marriage as the only route to having a family. However, while 86% say a single parent raising a child constitutes a family, nearly 20% fewer think a gay or lesbian couple raising a child does — a disheartening bit of bigotry as we ask ourselves how one parent could possibly be better for a child’s emotional, physical, mental and social well-being than two, regardless of what gender the two may come in.

Read the full study here and draw your own conclusions.

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