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October 3, 2009

Gandhi x Montblanc Pen — Episode 2: 'Most... buyers... have been Bollywood stars and government officials'

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Emily Wax's story in today's Washington Post explores the fallout from Montblanc's new $23,000 limited-edition pen (featured above on a billboard in New Delhi), noting that "In India, the pens adorn the pockets of suits worn by business executives and political leaders as a sign of status. Some Montblanc store managers have said that most of the buyers so far have been Bollywood stars and government officials."

FunFact: "Montblanc is issuing 241 of the commemorative Gandhi pens, a number that highlights the amount of miles Gandhi walked in his famous 1930 'salt march' to the Arabian Sea, a successful act of civil disobedience against salt taxes levied by the British."

Here's the article.

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Montblanc's Gandhi Pen Prompts Howls in India

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Images of Mohandas K. Gandhi, father of modern India and icon of asceticism and nonviolence, have ended up in some unlikely places before, from ads selling Apple computers to counter-culture T-shirts.

But it's fair to say that the latest incarnation may be the most ironic: Gandhi, in his signature loincloth, hawking a $23,000 fountain pen [above] named in his honor.

The Montblanc pen, unveiled for the celebration of what would have been Gandhi's 140th birthday on Friday, has prompted howls from Hindu groups and Gandhists who say the sticker price is the lifetime income of many of India's poor. The limited-edition fountain pen in 18-carat solid gold is engraved with Gandhi's image and tricked out with a saffron-colored mandarin garnet on the clip and a rhodium-plated nib.

"This pen is really funny. Gandhi would say it should be tossed in the trash or, better, sold off to pay for water and power for the poor," said Amit Modi, secretary of Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram, using the honorific Gandhi-ji. "Gandhi would have been ashamed."

Perhaps aware of the potential for a backlash, Montblanc made a $145,666 donation to the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation even before selling a single pen, said Tushar Gandhi, Gandhi's great-grandson [below],

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from Amsterdam, where he visited a Mont Blanc boutique that had already sold three pens. The funds are to be used to build a school and home for rescued child workers. The foundation also gets as much as $1,000 for each pen sold.

A billboard put up this week over Mumbai's teeming slums shows a gaunt Gandhi next to next to an image of the swanky pen, with golden threads woven around it to represent Gandhi's spinning wheel. The pen honors the independence leader, known as Bapu or father, who fought against unbridled materialism and even eschewed imported luxuries as harmful to India's mostly agrarian economy.

But today's India sees itself as a rising economic power, anxious to replace its old images of crowded slums and legions of beggars with shiny call centers, glitzy software campuses, and young cosmopolitan professionals with fake American accents.

"I consider the Montblanc pen their acknowledgment of the greatness of Gandhi. They are doing it the only way they know how," Tushar Gandhi said. "His writing implement was his greatest tool."

Montblanc is issuing only 241 commemorative Gandhi pens, a number that highlights the amount of miles Gandhi walked in his famous 1930 "salt march" to the Arabian Sea, a successful act of civil disobedience against salt taxes levied by the British.

Neeraj Singh, a Montblanc representative for India, said many Indian clients had already preordered the pen.

"We had a pen on Alexander the Great. We had a pen on Winston Churchill," he said. "If you want to do something on an Indian personality, then nobody is greater than Mahatma."

In India, the pens with their distinctive white-and-black star logo adorn the pockets of suits worn by business executives and political leaders as a sign of status, like a watch or tie. Some Montblanc store managers have said that most of those buyers so far are Bollywood stars and government officials. Although some Gandhi loyalists say India's founding father would have questioned why a public servant would spend $23,000 on a pen in a country with a third of the world's malnourished children.

"Gandhi would have wanted to share such a pen with the entire country," said Lydia Powell, an Indian economics fellow with the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation. "But today in India affluence is not negative, at all. Today India's youth are more likely to look up to Bill Gates rather than Gandhi."

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An article in Mid-day.com reported that "The Mahatma Gandhi Limited Edition 241 fountain pen and the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Edition 3000, that will be available at the brand's 360 outlets across the world, are crafted so that each component carries a message associated with India's freedom. The number 241 denotes the distance travelled by Gandhi on the Salt March from Ahmedabad to the coast. The texture of the fine cotton that Gandhi spun is reflected in the lacquered surface, and the 925 sterling silver mountings on the cap and cone are shaped to resemble the yarn on a spindle."

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"The hand-crafted rhodium-plated 18k gold nib of the series shows the engraved image of Gandhi. The pen clip carries a saffron-hued fire opal."

According to the BBC, "For those who find the pen a little out of their price range, there is a more affordable version [below] —

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there are 3,000 roller ball and fountain pens on sale for about $3,000 each."

A story in The Hindu noted, "There is also the ‘Mahatma Gandhi Limited Edition 3000’ pen available, both as a fountain pen and a roller ball. Three thousand pieces each will be available worldwide."

"The pen which is available for about Rs.1.7 lakh (fountain pen) and Rs.1.5 lakh (roller ball) comes with sterling silver mountings on the cap and the cone. The nib is identical to its elite counterpart, the only difference being that in this pen, the engraved image of Gandhiji holding his lathi is in the same colour as the nib."

October 3, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jelly Wallet

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From the website:

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Jelly Wallet

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Flexible silicone wallet neatly stores up to ten bills and ten credit cards.

The stylish design paired with its ease of use makes it ideal for both kids and adults.

Features clear window for ID or to use thumb to easily slide out money.

No-slip grip prevents it from falling out of pant pockets.

3-1/2" x 2-1/2" x 1/2".

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Bubble Gum Pink, Tangerine, Lime Green or Clear.

$11.98 (driver's license not included*).

*If you are Suzie Storus of 1 Smarter Way in Brighton, California, we have your driver's license — as anyone can plainly see in the photos above and below.

Simply contact us with proof of identity (a copy of your driver's license will be fine) and we'll speed it to you overnight.

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Wait a minute....

October 3, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Rescuing the Doughnut People

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"Brewster Rockit: Space Guy!" by Tim Rickard.

My kind of humor.

October 3, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What is it?

Answer here this time tomorrow.

October 3, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Murakami x Dunst x McG — 'Akihabara Majokko Princess'

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Above, Takashi Murakami and Kirsten Dunst.

Gia Manry, in a post yesterday in AnimeVice.com wrote, "Remember a while back when some really wacky pictures of Kirsten Dunst shooting some kind of project in Akihabara surfaced? Word on exactly what that project is has just surfaced at the Wall Street Journal. Apparently it's a four-minute music video in which Dunst covers the song 'Turning Japanese,' although the video is titled 'Akihabara Majokko Princess' (where 'majokko' means little witch or perhaps 'witchy girl')."

Wrote Lauren A. E. Schuker in her WSJ story, "Shot over two and a half days at the end of August, the video features all non-actors save for Ms. Dunst. Young people dressed up as anime characters surround Ms. Dunst, who is also in costume, singing against a backdrop that at times include plush toys manufactured by Mr. Murakami's KaiKai KiKi production house. McG also dressed Ms. Dunst as a 'majokko,' a magical princess character from Japanese anime."

For now it would appear the only place you can see the video is at London's Tate Modern Museum, where it's playing in the final room of the new show "Pop Life: Art in a Material World."

The exhibition opened this past Thursday and will be up through January 17, 2010.

Screen grabs from the video shoot here.

October 3, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

USB LED Message Board

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Word.

"Plug this LED message board into your computer’s USB port and send electronic messages to your workmates: "cigarette break?", "out to lunch"....

$49.64.

October 3, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MorphWorld: Iggy Pop into Scott Hicks

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If Iggy (above) decided to bulk up a bit he'd be a dead ringer for the acclaimed Australian director (below)

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of "Shine," "Snow Falling on Cedars," "Hearts in Atlantis" and "No Reservations," among other films.

FunFacts: Iggy Pop turned 62 this year and is now eligible for Social Security.  Hicks is 56.

October 3, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Magic Lantern Soap — Make a wish

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OK: I wish you'd wash your hands.

Ha.

Yo, joe, you're the only one laughing.

Never mind.

"A sweet-smelling glycerin soap is shaped like a magic lantern; scrub-a-dub-dub a wish and see what comes out in the wash. It's good clean fun."

I won't argue.

7" long.

$14.95.

October 3, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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