California Republic Stationers, the division of California Cedar responsible for the replica version of the Blackwing pencil, seems prepared to go to any lengths to promote its merchandise. The company’s page on the Blackwing and popular culture now claims John Lennon as among those
who were just rumored to have used the Blackwing (if you have proof one way or the other, let us know!). When there’s controversy and rumors surrounding what kind of pencil a person used, you know you’re dealing with something big.These assertions are — I’ll say it — bullshit: “stupid or untrue talk or writing; nonsense” (New Oxford American Dictionary). According to the same dictionary, to bullshit is to “talk nonsense to (someone), typically to be misleading or deceptive.”
The alleged rumor that John Lennon used Blackwing pencils seems to have its source in a comment on a Cal Cedar blog post, a comment naming Lennon as a Blackwing user. There is no evidence of a rumor about Lennon’s pencil use, and no evidence that John Lennon had a particular attachment to the Blackwing pencil. That Lennon’s pencil use is a matter of an alleged rumor hasn’t deterred Cal Cedar from giving a place of prominence to a photograph of Lennon (photographer uncredited) in its banner pantheon of Blackwing users. For a company to advertise its products by using the likeness of someone who could never have used those products — who was murdered before they were manufactured — is about as low as it gets.
The comment naming John Lennon as a Blackwing user names several other alleged users, including J. D. Salinger. Salinger’s name, I notice, is conspicuously absent from Palomino Blackwing publicity materials. No doubt the estate would pounce like a mad beast on anyone using Salinger’s name or likeness without permission for marketing purposes (not that such permission would ever be forthcoming).
In response to recent developments, Blackwing Pages has updated its Q. and A. page on the Palomino Blackwing: The Palomino “Blackwing Experience” as Cultural Vandalism.
California Cedar: please. Gimme some truth, as John Lennon might have said.
All Blackwing posts (via Pinboard)
[The funny thing is that the Blackwing isn’t even my favorite pencil. That would be the Mongol. But I care about facts, and I don’t like seeing people’s names used in a shoddy marketing effort. A post at Blackwing Pages prompted Cal Cedar to silently remove Frank Lloyd Wright’s name from its marketing materials. Several Orange Crate Art posts led to the silent removal of Duke Ellington’s name. It is time for Cal Cedar to remove John Lennon’s name as well.]