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The Beat #17

Topics: NYC Subway Graphic Design, the Mohawk, Lucha Libre and Ramen

Illustrations by Greg Chinn of The Local Brand Co.

NYC Subway Graphic Identity

Have you ever noticed that it doesn’t really matter that you can’t understand a word that comes out of the speakers on a New York subway? You already know the next stop, and you already know which line you’re on — probably even if it’s your first time. That’s because of good design. Massimo Vignelli, design maestro and the king of New York design for decades, brought elegance, simplicity and clarity to the subway system’s signage and maps in the early 1970s. His graphic standards manual has become a design classic and is still in use. His signage and subway map, with its simple dot-to-dot navigation, clear Helvetica type and color coding makes it as easy to navigate the City underground as it is to follow its above-ground grids.

The Mohawk

Although the name comes from the Indigenous American Mohawk people of the Iroquois Confederacy, that is (like most colonist monikers) inaccurate. The Mohawk people don’t wear their hair quite that way, and the hairstyle has origins with the Pawnee, the Irish, Cossacks and more around the world. American GIs picked up the style in WWII, but it was the 1970s punk explosion that made the modern mohawk what it is today. Punks in London’s Sloane Square strutted around with it, Joe Strummer briefly sported one. In America, Mr. T popularized it in the suburbs. Whether it’s on a punk or a poodle, it’s a hairstyle that stands out.

Lucha Libre

Somewhere between superheroes and Las Vegas magicians, masked luchadores bring heritage, athleticism and melodrama together for some of the most thrilling professional wrestling around. With its complex storylines, dramatic face reveals and high-flying athletes, North American wrestling sometimes pales in comparison. From El Santo in the 1940s to today’s WWE superstar Rey Mysterio, the luchador tradition is a proud one. Although the iconic mask is what we most identify with the sport, not all luchadores wear them. Wrestling runs in the family, with many multi-generational luchador enmascarado dynasties.


It’s the ultimate comfort food. The chewy noodles, the rich broth, that perfect, perfect egg… すごい!For too long, Americans identified ramen with those desiccated bricks that came from the bottom shelf at the supermarket. Traditional ramen is a thing of culinary beauty. It originated in China before migrating to Japan and becoming a popular food at stalls and shops throughout the country. The ingredients are simple — wheat noodles, a basic broth, some vegetables and protein. The magic is in the mixing. Whether you prefer a bone broth tonkatsu or a miso broth from Hokkaido, whether your favorite toppings are squid, pork, green onions or all of the above, there’s a ramen to warm your bones on a chilly, damp evening.

PS: Greg’s current favorite is the Flying Vegan Harvest from Jinya Ramen in Los Angeles, while Clay’s digging the Yosai Shoyu (with an egg and chili oil) at Two Ten Jack in Nashville.


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