Charlie (CharBee) Koenen
born in Shorewood a half century ago when the surface of American Society was in a cloudy late-nite fuzz drunk—that hoping to make it home without being pulled over or crashing dad's car drunk—at time when our culture reached its self-awareness—that giddy, often pleasurable moment when one realizes their abilities are quite boundless— To some this moment was celebrated with an awakened understanding of the interconnectedness everything around us- to each other, to our planet and its ecosystems and to the cosmos... Unfortunately, in Shorewood, and in most of America at that time, not everyone took to this self-awareness with the same enlightenment... most were quite unaware of how they had been succumbing to a culture glorifying conspicuous consumption and materialism of the unrestrained proceeds extracted from a productive planet... So I had the "ideal" childhood of catholic schooling, church on Sundays, a sandbox and playhouse in the backyard and a family that appeared as all others did... to be the model of American Exceptionalism... Cept behind the glass-windowed front room, kept picture-perfect and only used for entertaining guests though still called a "living room" ... the veneer curled back to show the real world of workoholics and disfunctional relationships, of well-meaning people caught-up raising a family in a culture that ever-so-subtilely dettached them from that interconnectedness our species was experiencing... Talking heads manufactured our perceptions of the world… MacNeil and Lehrer, Archie Bunker, Columbo, Cronkite… through the glowing box formed our needs, wants and desires…. and made it uncool to question… think critically of our society's actions… in fact if was quite effective at lulling us into a complacency that made us never want to question authority. That was my first typographic assignment in Design School…. hand-lettering a caslon typeface, paying close attention to the thick ascenders transitioning into subtle thin serifs, the kerning of letters-pairing them up to each other in just the right spacing to not crowd or decrease legibility. The consistency of the graphite pencil mark— pressure and stroke all constant to hide the means used to arrive at the lesson …. my choice for words… Question Authority.
...people listen and respond to me. Respected in that I'm able to engage people in critical analysis of their experiences... challenging their beliefs... as I try to challenge mine. I feel respected when I am able to change my position on a subject because of the enlightened dialog I have with another. I respect myself for bee-ing able to refine my resolve.