He’s a raconteur. (NOW WITH UPDATE)

Didn’t he steal the show in Helvetica?

Bierut in close-up: with your mouth just caked with filthy dust

Wasn’t he adorable as the excitable host of the AIGA ⌘X competition (2007)? (Bierut does excitable shockingly well. That’s how he succeeds in a blue-chip firm. He really sold Kurt Andersen on rebranding Christmas as X.mas, cheerfully batting objections out of the way.)

Bierut eventually agreed to be interviewed in person by Debbie Millman in How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer, which, by virtue of being a book, thankfully silences her unlistenable yowl. Did you know he absolutely has to jog three miles in the morning?

You really want to know? I have a chart in my basement, and I have years and years of calendars on clipboards. They all have different markings on different days. There are markings I make when I do certain things, and certain marks I make when I do other things. Sometimes I give myself a special dispensation not to run, which is either one of three [“either,” Michael?] reasons: Either I have an 8:30 appointment, it’s raining pretty hard, or it’s below 10° – not including the wind chill…. If I sleep late, I draw a little sad face for that day on the calendar, a frown face…. It’s horrible all these really compulsive things. On the other hand, exercise is good for you.

Shortly thereafter, Bierut writes his own epitaph: AN ENTIRE WEEKEND-LONG METHODOLOGY FOR DOING THE LAUNDRY. (“What made me mad was that no one seemed to appreciate my efforts.”) Classic!

There is of course the failed enterprise of “graphic-design criticism” that is Design Observer – gassy, unwanted, and still without so much as a print stylesheet or real post titles. There Bierut sounds dull and overprepared and stilted and like he’s just trying too hard, which he is. He’s trying to put on some kind of voice. He already has a voice! It just doesn’t work well in writing.

The only thing Michael Bierut ever wrote there that actually sounds like himself is this single graf about Mad Men (buried miles deep in compost):

Jesus God in heaven! “Not until I know I’m not wasting my time”! From the minute Don launched his this-meeting-is-over bluff, I was on the edge of my seat, and my lovely wife Dorothy will tell you that I literally clapped my hands at that line. For me, this sequence is as close to pornography as I ever get to see on basic cable.

Get this man off the Interwebs and put him on television. Give him his own show. Give him a podcast. A video podcast. Something! Let him speak!

Hear Bierut live!

(UPDATE, 2009.03.24)    I’ve collected a few links to podcasts and other online videos where you can hear Bierut yourself (assuming you can hear – not always a fair assumption with my readership). All links open at iTunes.

  1. Typeradio: First, second

  2. Walker Art Center

  3. AIGA Command X competition (delicious!)

  4. Studio 360

  5. Design Matters (warning: prolonged exposure to Debbie Millman’s voice)

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2008.07.29 14:50. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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