I believe I'm typing this in Arial. It's relevant because this afternoon I watched Helvetica, a documentary about yes, Helvetica the font. I liked it. The film, which was pretty short, interviewed a bunch of graphic designers who either loved it, hated it, or were around when in was invented in Switzerland in 1957. Most of the documentary was comprised of scenes of business logos or storefronts that use Helvetica. (I had no idea it was so endemic...it really is everywhere!)
According to the documentary, apparently Helvetica is loved because it is so simple and modernist and easy on the eyes, and hated because it is too plain and corporate and boring. It depends on your outlook on life and the world, and graphics designers have very strong feelings about Helvetica. In one of the most hilarious interviews, an American graphics designer equates use of Helvetica with endorsement of the Vietnam War. Then there were the artistes who lovedlovedloved Helvetica because it invited polysemic experiences, and waxed philosophic about the role of typeface in the postmodern world.
It was a very insightful documentary, with some great interviews of people who don't normally get interviewed or asked their opinion.
Shortly after watching it, I met up with Lady Grace, and her housemate suggested this Mexican restaurant nearby in East Boston (closest west coast association: East LA or not, haha). Turns out it was a very authentic place where only like two waitstaff spoke English. And there was a troubador who went from table to table making guests sing along with him. (Again, my main problem being confidence, I was able to perfectly understand what he was saying -- and he was asking if we'd been there before, if we'd sing with him, and what songs we knew. I just didn't trust that I'd conjugate my responses properly, so I answered in English and got the usual "You clearly understand me, you snob, why won't you speak Spanish?" look.)
Suffice to say, we lived in fear that he'd make us sing Mexican ballads like he made every other guest. But he didn't. He just told announced into the microphone that everyone should say hello and wave to the senoritas in the corner. (Yes, we waved back to the other patrons... or at least I did.) I loved the place and the vibe, though -- it was awesome. (Though I think I was the only one in our party who really enjoyed the atmosphere, as opposed to just the food... but oh well.)
Lady Grace was driving and made me finish her half of the sangria carafe. So we stayed and watched the place switch to a dance club at 10pm, and of course we had to people watch and comment on how we were the most underdressed, and I'm blogging this while slightly tipsy after finishing almost an entire carafe on my own.
On the drive back to my place, I noticed all the road signs and store signs that used Helvetica... there were a lot!