Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering Craig Frazier's 'America: Open For Business'

Here we are with another anniversary of the 2001 September 11th tragedy.
Seven years ago is starting to feel like a long time.

I feel acutely aware that talking about 9/11 doesn't really fit in with the usual topics of discussion on this blog, so I hope you'll bear with me as I lamely struggle to focus on just the one related odd and tiny 'pop culture' nugget I'd been thinking about recently.

As usual, I'll leave it to others to discuss the broader 'important' subjects, while I tackle the 'essential ephemera'.

Thinking back on the first few days and weeks that followed that September 11th, I recall the collective shock and disbelief of when the attack first happened, the very odd lull that seemed to permeate everything in our daily lives for the first few days, and also the very heartfelt gestures and tributes that came from countries all over the world soon after (a.k.a. 'The Sympathy We Shredded').

I also remember that as days went on things began moving again, though it would be incorrect to say that things got back to normal.

On the home front it seemed that things just got progressively stranger as the American flag began popping up on every imaginable surface, and the notion that carrying on 'just like normal' could be equated with striking a blow against terrorism, i.e. "Keep shopping or the terrorists win".

Recalling that fall of 2001, I also remembered the 'America: Open For Business' poster. ►

Did you see this hanging in shop windows back then?
I sure did. It was all over the place in the SF bay area.

I'm not certain if nostalgia is the right word for what I felt recently when looking around the web trying to find commercial artist Craig Frazier's iconic design.
At this point it definitely feels to me like it's of a different era.

It spread to other cities across the U.S., but the poster originated in San Francisco that November as part of a particular campaign spearheaded by Mayor Willie Brown to stimulate the local economy following the 'paralysis' of 9/11.

- Follow link to Mayor Brown's original November, 2001 'San Francisco: Open For Business Week' message.

I confess that when I first saw the American flag-shopping bag image hanging in a window I thought it was a joke - - and at that time I was impressed by what I thought then was a pretty gutsy retort to what I'd felt was some oddly skewed patriotic fervor. But it wasn't a joke.

Time went on, the war began, and soon the sentiment of the poster began to get a bit jumbled up with the 'No Blood For Oil' images that were popping up too, and the 'Open For Business' message started to take on different shades of meaning than had been intended.

Soon that same poster began to look like a rather unfortunate, unintended joke.
Maybe that's part of why it feels like it's been a long while since I've seen it.

A few notes:

Looking back - -
- I was unable to visit these memories without recalling comedian David Cross talking about patriotism and the flag on his first CD, from 2002.
Follow that link to an audio only clip at YouTube - - one that is likely NSFW and (of course) may be offensive to some. (sorta kinda the point)

- That same flag mania also brought flashbacks of elementary school and summer camp back to me, when we were expected to know and abide by rules of flag etiquette, and could get into serious trouble if we didn't. Seems like maybe those rules haven't been so strictly enforced anymore.

- From December of 2001, 'All quiet on the homefront', an article at Salon.Com that compared the 'America: Open For Business' strategy with the call for homefront sacrifices during World War II.

Looking forward - -

- Meanwhile, graphic designer and illustrator Craig Frazier has done well since 2001, releasing several children's books, 3 stamp designs for the U.S. Postal Service, and 'The Illustrated Voice', a monograph on the creative and commercial process in art.

Frazier's recent credits also include the founding of Lookybook, a children's book review and sales website that allows parents to preview a wide variety of kid's books in their entirety.
(Gee, what a great idea, and gee, it's really cool!)

- Follow link to an April, '08 interview with Lookybook Founder Craig Frazier.

- Then there's 98 Pages, Frazier's online sketchbook, and, his experiment in online animation.

1 comment:

Thee Erin said...

I remember the shop for America signs. They were displayed in downtown Chicago, for a while anyway.

For me - the "everybody shop now!" message was one small part of the entire surreal experience of 2001-2003.

American flags were on everything! In December of 2001, my credit card issuers sent new cards emblazoned with red, white and blue.

There were some raised eyebrows and whispering, but outside of those few gestures of sanity, nobody really questioned the presidential demand that we fight terrorism by supporting luxury goods manufacturers and flaunt our national purchasing power.

I haven't seen that tasteless poster in a while, but I have seen its sentiment in action recently, what with the lines around the block for iPhones and the like.

Freshly-stirred links