Twenty years ago, Brian and I walked into a party in north Boston ~ a chili cook-off of all things ~ and met the likes of Marc English. As anyone who has ever encountered him can attest, Marc is not someone you easily forget. We began a friendship that evening that has traversed ~ not only a couple of decades ~ but the country itself, winding up here in Austin, Texas.
Marc is a highly talented graphic designer (among other things). At his south Austin studio (cleverly named Marc English Design), you will find an array of old license plates, vintage books, photographs from his travels and moleskin journals recounting his adventures. (Think: art gallery meets small town museum.) Austin Chronicle writer Marc Savlov described the office in his profile of Marc in February 2008:
Books, tattered, well-thumbed, and loved to the quick, are piled, stacked, strewn about: Gardener’s Art Through the Ages, H.H. Arnason’s History of Modern Art, Islamic art, American Indian art, and, on yet another wall, a faded but no less inciting agitprop poster announcing an “Artists’ Call Against U.S. Intervention in Central America” by the sculptor Claes Oldenburg. Apsaras vie for space on English’s desk with his shiny new Apple laptop, which sits adrift in a pulpwood sea of Post-it Notes, hastily scribbled half-formed ideas, DVDs emblazoned with Marc English Designs’ award-winning handiwork, the Beatles’ Revolver, and a hand-tooled leather gun belt bearing a pair of ivory-handled toy six-shooters.
This glorious, hypercreative cavalcade of all things Marc English – his lifetime essence, outlandish explanation, and never-ending quest to discover as much cool as his soul can hold – is as clear a glimpse into the soul of self-described “design shaman” Marc English as anyone with half a mind and a working knowledge of midnight fancies and south-of-the-border (any border) rambles could ever bear. Really, you might want to wear a welder’s visor and some chain mail just to be on the safe side; in his hands, “design theory” is a radical, insurrectionist weapon. Joe Strummer would’ve dug this cat, but good.
What’s on Page 56: The Rules
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note to your wall.
* Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.
Marc kicked it off with:
“To know the triumphs, we must know the past, which is told in many tongues, in many places; to know the past, we descend, like Odysseus, into the house of Hades and give the blood of our attention (as translators, historians, poets) so that the dead may speak.”
The Geography of the Imagination; Chapter IV: The House That Jack Built [jack joyce, father of james], Guy Davenport, 1981.
So right now ~ and for no particular reason other than “why not?” ~ you’re invited to play along. Post yours below and let’s see what shows up. With Marc involved, it’s guaranteed to be an eclectic blast!
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Check out the Austin Chronicle cover story, which includes: “5 Things You May Not Know About Marc English!”