I am of two minds on this ad (what else is new?). First and foremost, it is gorgeous. Contemplative, lyrical, inspiring. On the other hand, it is an advertisement for a pair of jeans that is appealing to patriotic roots of our pioneer culture, by a company that does not make jeans in this country.
The setting for the series is a downtrodden rust belt borough just down the river from Pittsburgh called Braddock. It has lost 90% of its population in the last 50 years. The ad makes it out to be a vision of a DIY utopia brought to you by Terrence Mallick. A place where Brooklyn hipsters, tired of the New York grind, can come and find a home for $5,000 and free studio space to pull artisanal taffy. This seems to be harder than many of the pioneers thought it would be. According to a New York Times article from earlier this year, despite and because of the efforts of Mayor John Fetterman, a young, DIY carpetbagger, the utopian dream is not quite the reality.
I am still intrigued by the concept. That there are still frontiers in America. Not natural frontiers that need to be conquered, but man-made frontiers that need to be reclaimed. Braddock seems to be an opportunity to live the post-apocalyptic life in Allegheny.
I have recently become nearly obsessed with the pinnacle of electro-mechanical technology. The sophistication of pre-digital technology continues to amaze me. This was the mechanical forbear to satellite navigation. You preloaded a map of the route you were going to take and it scrolled along the route at a rate commensurate with your landspeed. This is like the 1930’s equivalent of the self parking sedan. No data connection, no triangulated position, no theory of relativity; a SCROLL. Sign me up.