The American Experience in Living Color

AmericanExperience

When I’m asked, “if you weren’t a designer, what would you do?” I answer, “I would work on the Disneyland Railroad, or I’d study American history.” The Disneyland Railroad obsession is another post, this one is about the title sequence for the WGBH program, American Experience. For me, American history is a remarkable subject. Don’t worry; I won’t turn this into a “Salute to America” blog, yet. Perhaps because so many members of my family were involved in this history since Jamestown and Plymouth, it is alive to me.

The title sequence for American Experience, designed by Alison Kennedy and Chris Pullman, tells a rich history with success, failure, justice, and injustice. It does this poignantly and smoothly. There is a clear subtext that this is all of our history, whether you come from a family that arrived on the Mayflower or arrived at LAX yesterday. So much could have gone wrong with this title sequence. It could have been a sequence of images cataloguing each racial and socio-economic group. It could have fallen into the sappy and nostalgic. However, it doesn’t.  The montage shows us a rich and diverse nation made stronger by our differences, and our shared idea and vision. It does this beautifully, and is about our feelings, not just events.

How to Rebound after a Really Bad Day

I'll be honest. This last week has been one hell of a bad week. Like everyone, we're feeling the economic issues. I went home Friday night feeling a little beaten, but I remind myself, to quote from Oscar Hammerstein II, "The world belongs to you as much as the next fella. Don't give it up." So wallowing in self pity isn't an option. And I try to remember that I've got it easy compared to my forefathers who colonized Jamestown and Plymouth, fought a revolution, lost fortunes after the civil war, but just kept going. So, having low cash flow really isn't life threatening. But I'm human, so I felt pretty crummy. Then I came across the title sequence to To Kill a Mockingbird designed by Stephen Frankfurt, and this made everything ok, in addition to the rum and Fresca (Rumescas) and anti-anxiety pill.