Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Philly Typewriter

If you follow photography and YouTube, you might know of a fella by the name of Jared Polin, who has a popular channel about photography, and is known for his signature “Fro knows Photo” intro tag line.

It came as some surprise to me that he recently made an extended documentary video about Philly Typewriter ( and its proprietor, Bryan Kravitz.

While I personally am not attracted to Polin’s style of video, I really enjoyed this film, and appreciate his approach to documenting Bryan Kravitz’s life and work. The personal connection between Polin and Kravitz resulted from Jared having a family heirloom typewriter needing service.

There were some things I didn’t know about Mr. Kravitz, such as his former typewriter business, Just My Type, went out of business in the 1990s because of the computer revolution. It wasn’t until he started getting busy repairing machines at home, in the mid-2000s, that the idea of restarting the business came to him.

I really love Kravitz’s approach to the typewriter business. He says in the film that he may only have about ten years of productive life ahead of him (though we wish him many more). And therefore his mission is to spread his knowledge as much as possible, so there will be people in the future able to service these machines. He also has a typewriter lounge in the front of his shop where people are free to come in and use an assortment of typewriters.

This is such a refreshing change from what I see as an outdated mindset of harboring knowledge to oneself. Going forward, the typewriter community will grow, and typewriter businesses with it, as the overall knowledge base of enthusiasts grows. A rising tide floats all boats. Not a classic model of capitalism, for certain, but one that might be more sustainable.

It becomes evident in the film that Bryan Kravitz is motivated by a vision to keeping the world of typewriters sustainable into the future, and this vision directs his business model. What a fantastic role model he is to us typewriter aficionados.

I also enjoyed seeing YouTube vlogger Jared Polin get bit by the typewriter bug as a result of this encounter with Philly Typewriter. This was also reflected in some of the video’s comments.

The result of Polin’s photo-documentary work was also to enable Philly Typewriter to better market their service, with the quality of the images thus created.

I’m not certain exactly how, but I sense some inspiration bubbling under the surface as a result of watching this film, both as a YouTube creator and typewriter aficionado. How about you? What thoughts do you have after watching Polin’s film?

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Blogger Bill M said...

Thanks for the video Joe. If I ever get back to Philly I hope I can make a visit to the shop.

Your link does not work.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Ted said...

Ha! That's amazing, yet it's exactly the sort of thing that makes you realize that every typewriter repair shop is a special, magical place overseen by a friendly wise wizard. The fact that this same story has been well-captured multiple times now by people newly discovering it is awesome, and whatever you think of his style, this Fro guy does a great job of capturing the essence. Huzzah! (:

10:36 AM  
Blogger Words are Winged said...

A point you mention that I'm always aware of is the "outdated mindset of harboring knowledge to oneself". While I haven't thought to apply it to skill sets, I do apply it to historical documentation and information. It irritates me to no end sometimes when someone chooses to keep old information to him/herself because they see it as "theirs", because they found it (say an old paperwork file from a company or somesuch). They may possess the physical copy of the work, but at a point the knowledge belongs to the world, being a part of its history. And what if a fire destroys the work, having never been disseminated? It's gone forever at that point.

In regards to the service notion of it, I suppose I could link my "How To Build" series to that. As far as I'm aware, at least a few people have utilized my Oliver series to deal with their own machines, and I certainly made them to ensure anyone and everyone could feel comfortable doing mechanical work on the Oliver without fear of getting lost.

Thanks for sharing the video. It's very well done, and it's always interesting to see the increase in interest in typewriters.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Richard P said...

I enjoyed this! Thanks for the tip. I could do with less Polin and more Kravitz, but I understand that the video is not just about typewriters, but about photography. And the photos as well as the video itself are excellent. The whole story of Philly Typewriter is inspiring. I'll spread the word about the video.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Joe V said...

Bill: Google is somehow blocking embedded HTML links within Blogger if it doesn’t like the format of the target site. Grrrr....makes me want to move this blog to Wordpress.

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe- Wow, thanks for the link! I enjoyed the video, and Bryan's comments. As for the link snafu; I follow your blog via feedly. The link did not work on feedly, but it works fine directly from your website. As for Wordpress- I basically use it for all of my blogs at this point. I find it to be rock solid. As always, enjoying your blog. ~Tom Hitt~

11:20 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks Joe, very enjoyable film. Really illustrates how old and new tech can compliment each other. Typewriters are very photogenic and there are so many out here, waiting to come back to life. How wonderful for Bryan to return to the profession just when we needed him. I'm glad he is sharing his knowledge.

9:40 PM  

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