Gross, ink drawing of an ad from The New York Times, about 6 x 9 inches.


I’ve been doing these drawings of ads and obstinately not explaining anything. But then I get annoyed when other people do that. So here goes.

The drawings seem like parodies which is kind of the point because they are are in fact word-for-word captures of real ads from the front section of the New York Times. I’ll skip the speech about ads for $40,ooo-lapel pins and watches that cost more than I’ll spend my whole life appearing right next to stories of the starving, homeless, and otherwise destroyed people of the world—I’m far from the first to comment on all that.

What strikes me about the ads is the text, how creatively (or uncreatively) they go about justifying such useless purchases. I think about the designers and copy writers and I wonder if they believe in the value of the jewelry or if they know the only reason it has any value at all is because enough people agree that it does. I also wonder if they think about the company their work is going to keep—their hard day’s toil clouded with the torture, terrorism, corruption . . .  In any case, basically their job is to sell pretty things to people with money to burn, which has to get tedious just like everything else, and I feel as though once in awhile they must stop caring WHAT the ads say and they figure who even reads them anyway.

And who does? Beyond a headline or two. They’re mostly predictable and boring, follow the format and the rules. But then once in awhile it’s like someone went to sleep:

Make Mom Smile . . . For Eternity.

Special nod to the campy use of ellipses. . . . Wait, am I being trolled? You have to admit it’s a mite closer to the Saw series than your traditional Mother’s Day. Do these guys wish they were making movie posters instead, and they’re having a little fun here?

Let’s say yes. The movie, Gross, is a thriller about people exiled to an alternate reality, out of touch with what it is to be a human being, buying buying buying and never getting happy. Prisoners of shallowdom, of the perpetual black psyche, and equipped with an awareness too vague to do any more than suffer wanly about it. In the style of Tommy or A Clockwork Orange. Look, there’s even a 666 for the hint of a sinister twist.

It’s a small thing, jewelry, in the bag of egregiousness that is our polarized world economy, but it just offends me so much. Truly, it is gross. What are my little drawings supposed to do about it? I don’t pretend to think they can do a thing. But I have to put them out there just in case.

Here’s another take—me playing around with the “Effects.” Yes, I used filters. But I did it ironically:


Gross, camped out as a movie poster for a horror flick called Gross.


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