Rufus Wainwright was born into folk royalty, the son of Loudon Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle. But he discovered his greatest influence in an unexpected place: Verdi’s Requiem. And now, as a veteran performer himself and a father, he’s learned a thing or two about surviving in the business. Plus, we hear from the man who designed some of the most arresting book covers on the shelf. And the art critic for The New Yorker explains why art may have gotten too popular for its own good.
There’s one item you can find in most restaurants from New York to California: a poster telling you how to save someone who’s choking. Though required by law in many states, those simple instructions tend to fade into the wallpaper. New York City’s official poster was designed by Steve Duenes, the graphics director of The New York Times. It clearly lists the steps of how to perform the Heimlich maneuver next to greyscale illustrations of a couple going through the motions.
But in the past few years, New York City restaurant owners have started replacing Duenes’ poster with new ones designed by local artists, illustrators, and graphic designers. “So many restaurants are so aesthetically focused,” says Sonja Sharp, a reporter who recently wrote about these new posters for the The Wall Street Journal. “When you have those posters from the Department of Health, it really sticks out."
The new posters run the gamut in theme and style. There’s Alex Holden’s Cuban cocktail lounge version in pen and ink and Lara Antal’s graphic novel-style romance. The posters are eye-catching, funny ways teach people what to do in an emergency. The catch: they’re not entirely legal.
And Bea Arthur giving the Heimlich to a unicorn? Justin O'Malley's crazy version may be a step too far. “Having worked in a restaurant, [the poster] is important to have because you panic,” says Lara Antal. “It would be nice if you look at something and it doesn’t induce more panic.”
Duenes isn’t sold on the more adventurous interpretations, either. “I haven’t conducted any research,” he admits, “but it seems unlikely that people would be so engaged by a comic-style choking poster that they will make their way through the whole thing and know what to do in an emergency.” Still, even Duenes’ official version features a little joke. That choking victim is a friend of his – just don’t ask him to reveal who it is.Alex Holden
Hunter S. Thompson pioneered Gonzo journalism — but there would be no Gonzo without the artist Ralph Steadman, Thompson’s longtime friend and co-conspirator. Steadman’s illustrations for stories like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas defined their freaked-out feel. Kurt Andersen also talks with author-illustrator Shaun Tan, whose beautiful picture books have a vaguely menacing undercurrent. Plus, the journalist Ron Suskind explains how Disney characters helped him communicate with his autistic son.