The massive oil spill makes landfall today in the Gulf of Mexico, oozing towards the marshlands of Louisiana that threaten bird breeding areas, oyster beds, otter playgrounds, tuna spawning grounds, and President Obama’s plan for expanded offshore drilling.
The oil rig explosion and ensuing spillage remind us that despite our awareness that the earth is a fragile planet, we are still very careless with it, like an 8-year-old playing and then breaking his father’s expensive watch.
Frank Viva’s cover, “Earth Day,” for the April 26, 2010 issue of The New Yorker, reveals a planet that is busy and humming with activity. Oil is not spilling and exhaust fumes are not being discharged from Viva’s oddly-shaped cars.
Nonetheless, we are all aware of the damage that our inventions can cause. Despite the stylized shapes and smiling faces, Viva has created a cover filled with very timely significance and meaning.
His cover is dominated by power line towers. They crowd out and outnumber his trees. The power line towers extend confidently and aggressively across the landscape and skyline. In the distance, the horizon consists of a long cityscape. Cars whiz across the cover, moving almost as if in formation towards the east, where a few trees bereft of leaves can be found.
Viva’s cover is dominated by the color green, but it is a green that is reduced and lacerated by white shapes and lines that symbolize the intrusion of technology over nature.
Frantic efforts to contain the Gulf of Mexico spill to prevent an ecological and financial crisis cannot erase the initial carelessness that caused it. Like the figures on Viva’s New Yorker cover, we put up towers and drive our cars but don’t stop to think about how much less green our world is, despite the coming and going of “Earth Day.”
Hello! I’m Emily Gordon, an editor, critic, copywriter, and pre-web internet nut. Emdashes, born in 2004, spent many years as a New Yorker fan blog. The project garnered some nice compliments and press.
The blog’s now treading the territories of punctuation, publications, movies, design, and other things that stir me.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a brilliant brigade of culture writers, editors, and artists. You can read all about the people who've helped build Emdashes here at “Who We?” (That’s a New Yorker joke. Old habits die hard.)
I welcome submissions, questions, corrections, and ardent, obsessive contributors. I also host occasional book-related contests and giveaways. Questioners and publishers, just email me.
Jennifer Hadley designed the original Emdashes pencil logo, based on a 1943 Dorothy Gray ad.