As I attempted (pretty successfully) to take a break from all of the things that pull me in so many directions at the close of 2012, I caught up with a few close friends.
Discussions of what was in store for 2013 and what they hoped to accomplish in this new year seemed inevitable. I was asked a few times what my plan was for 2013.
People are used to me starting new things or evolving existing projects with each passing year. Although, the tail end of 2011 caused me to slow-down significantly, a trend that would carry over and become the theme for 2012.
Initially it was a workaholic socialite’s worst nightmare, but eventually I settled into a slightly less “go-go-go” way of life I still juggled more than what is typical of the average person, but much less than what’s become expected of me.
Also, although a new year is certainly a time that many discussions leading to new projects can occur, by now most of my friends and colleagues should realize that if the past is of any indication it is during Fall that I usually choose to put new things in motion (more on this tendency at some point).
From these conversations, three statements stand out.
1. How do you have the time to do all of this?
2. You’re so lucky that your family is so supportive of everything you do.
3. So what’s next?
All three come up with fairly frequent regularity. The first I’ll mention in this post. The second and third, (more…)
As a new year begins, I can’t help but wonder who we’ll see step up to roles of leadership to engage us all in something new. Sure, I wonder that on a global and political level, but not to the extent to which I do about the immediate communities that surround me artistically and professionally.
Recently, while driving I got caught in a thick blanket of fog.
Driving while blinded by a blanket of ghostly floating condensation is not completely unfamiliar to me. I grew up hoping for fog delays as a child and teenager. It wasn’t until I was able to drive that I completely realized that those fog delays really were necessary and not just a welcome excuse to sleep in an additional two to four hours on any given winter morning sent to kids by the universe. As you’ve read before, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this “gift” from mother nature.
That dreaded Tule fog was such a common occurrence in my hometown that the local Hockey team is called the Fog.
Anyhow, I was driving along making great time towards my destination when all of a sudden BOOM! Out of nowhere, a thick wall of fog appeared and with it came a significant decrease in the speed of all of the cars around me, including myself. For what seemed like an eternity we all paced along at a crawling pace, all lacking confidence in what might be encountered heading deeper into that abyss. Playing a serious game with the psyche of all of those drivers who had previously been driving at well over 70 MPH whose speedometers in mere moments dropped first to the residential speed limits and were now teetering on speeds reserved for school zones. All staying close together and afraid to leave the pack, some taking turns at leading the way only to find that they couldn’t cut it and falling back into the pack defeated with no intent of pushing forward to the front line again after appearing to have suffered some trauma from that initial attempt.
We were at a high elevation, so I didn’t blame them. None of us had any real desire to go careening off the side railing.
This continued for longer than I could tolerate. Eventually, leaving the outcome up to fate (more…)
Every Friday, we pick one of our favorite past write-ups to re-feature. This week, it was our August 2010 column on L.A. mainstay Michelle Marini (focusing on her history, turning her first bar The Lava Lounge into The Woods in PART I and the opening of her now established downtown nightlife hotspot, The Woods in this Part II)
(photo by Jessy Plume for TRAFFIK)
“If you’re going Downtown, I may as well be on your way“
– “Downtown” by Tegan and Sara
In Part One of our feature on nightlife proprietor Michelle Marini, we discussed a little bit of her personal history with “tinseltown” and the City of Angels (if you missed it you can click here to read it). In Part Two, we will be learning a little more about her influences, current project, and what she hopes to accomplish with this new venture.
In January of 2009 we asked Michelle Marini, what she would like to tackle next. She responded with, “I’m angling to open a small bar in Gallery Row Downtown. It’s a super artsy, fashion-minded community that’s in the making.”
Intrigued, our conversation continued.
Why Downtown? What made the idea of opening something up Downtown first pop into your head?
Marini enthusiastically replied, “During Artwalk. Fall ‘08 I believe. I felt like I was in Manhattan, and loved it!”
Ultimately, this decision and idea eventually (more…)
What picture does “Amercia” paint for you? After, I get past playing the sounds-like and word association games – side effects may include: dementia, inertia,… — I imagine it as a place where everyone gets a picket fence whether they want one or not, a steady ration of sunny days with clear blue skies, and a pony. Everyone definitely gets a pony. Don’t worry, if you happen to move to Amercia too late to get a pony I’ll give you mine. My family has seven horses and sadly I don’t get enough time with what we’ve already got. However, if it’s unicorns that Amercia is handing out, then I’m sorry I don’t have one of those yet, so I can’t give you mine if that’s the way things play out.
Unless you were under a rock, you couldn’t have missed the “with Romney, A Better AMERCIA” mobile app. You might’ve missed the initial roll-out, but more than likely not the backlash and hilarity (thank you Stephen Colbert) that ensued. Truth be told, by day two I was a little tired of hearing about it. Ok. A lot tired of it. So, I apologize for extending the life of this topic further for the length of this entry.
Very rarely do I discuss politics with anyone. I’m not afraid to express what I believe in, and can usually see anyone’s point in anything including politics, but I also feel that politics is one of those areas like religion where it’s ok if we all don’t feel the same way. In fact, we’re all different people with different upbringings and life experiences. What’s right for you may not be right for everyone else. I respect that, but in all honesty I don’t want to listen to you rant about it for three hours. Even civilized conversations on this subject last about 1.5 hours minimum.
I myself am not one-hundred percent supportive of any one party as I support the right person for the job or the right proposed solutions for the current dilemmas/crisis being faced at the time. With that said, I have until this point identified most with the democratic and liberal systems and don’t foresee myself falling in line with the overall somewhat dated Republican point-of-view anytime soon.
In this country, we are all lucky enough to have the ability to choose what party we affiliate ourselves with. Not only that, but also have the choice of switching to a different party a week later should we experience any vacillation, or should you find out that there aren’t enough perks with being associated with that party in this “what’s in it for me?” day in age, without experiencing any repercussions.
In addition, another perk of living in this country is that our fore-father’s votes and political orientations no longer (if they ever did) bear any weight on what our vote must be. For the most part we are free to make our own political choice. Although, I am aware that even to this day there are still certain parts of the country where families stand united in their, at times backwards and head-scratch inducing, political beliefs. However, we can only hope that those pockets of uninformed citizens will one day choose something other than the “Deliverance” banjos as their soundtrack of choice.
When all is said and done we are all born with and to our dying day have the option of being influenced.
And influenced we are. By friends, by colleagues, by public figure, in short we’re influenced primarily by people we respect . Many a time those people we respect have also shown us, even if it’s in a general non-personal way, that they respect us as well.
Which is why I was actually really annoyed by this typo from the Romney camp, I understand that to him a mobile app is just another way– perhaps not so significant—to reach additional potential voters. I also understand that it could’ve been an intern or a low-level clerk running on fumes responsible for the deployment of this app.
Regardless, what it showed was a lack of detail and lack of quality control and if that’s the example that this camp wanted to set or the way it wants to represent a country that already has much reputation to re-gain then I can’t get behind that. Not that they really had a shot, but there went their chance at having any sort of influence over me.
Actually, that typo didn’t bother me half as much as the fact that they didn’t think a Mobile App was important enough to spell check or to put through a series of approvals prior to going live. I could plug in a multitude of statistics and case study findings as to why mobile platforms are becoming increasingly more and more important than their online counterparts. However, you don’t need me to put you through that. Throughout your day, just take a look around and you’ll easily spot exhibits A- Z that support this statement as we all walk around playing with our phones for the majority of our day. Bottom line, the fact that this happened was more troubling than amusing as it clearly shows that once again those in power or potential power are missing the mark and not at all connected with reality and what’s happening in the world around them.
A world they’re trying to influence and capture the attention of. A world they say they want to better or fix, but how does regressing to cave drawings as forms of communication show progress. They need to learn to speak the language before they can communicate. If this would’ve happened with the Obama camp I would still feel the same way.
It used to be long ago that a person came into the presidential office by really knowing what the country needed and by proving themselves for years and years. They had to lead troops in battle and were to a certain degree in the line of fire with the other ordinary citizens facing many of the same issues. That hasn’t been a pre-requisite for a long long time. I know a disconnect has happened from that position of authority to the rest of the world, but with that being said those who go after the not-so-coveted position of President also have, to put it mildly, all of the tools in the world to re-create the current state of a country they want to serve, what they choose to extract as important from that re-creation and what they let fall by the wayside is perhaps what we should be paying attention to, unless we lived in AMERCIA. There such things wouldn’t worry us, we’d be too busy enjoying our blue skies and unicorns.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about all of the personal attention given to me (and I would imagine most everyone at that time) around my birthday. Not just the standard friends and family members that you expect well-wishes from, but from store managers or corporate offices of actual businesses.
Sure, there are the deals that we’ve all come to expect. A free car wash at most car washes, free dessert (and probably a song and dance) at restaurants. Also, usually those who provide a service to you on a regular or semi-regular basis might also send you birthday cards (i.e. your accountant, hairdresser, esthetician, car dealership, etc.).
Anyhow, when I wrote that piece in 2010 we were completely immersed in what I would say was the real outset of the downward spiral of our economy. Businesses were struggling to stay alive, especially specialty shops and seemed at the time to be going the extra mile to retain their existing clientele as well as trying to re-invent themselves or at least adapt their at the time marketing and ad campaigns to fit the times a little better.
That year truly was a bit of an anomaly in the amount of attention I seemed to receive from businesses that I regularly frequented and even those that I had rarely frequented, if ever at all. As I mentioned, it wasn’t just your run of the mill email offering a discount or a standard post-card in the mail. It was further personalized attention in the form of phone calls from store managers, business owners, more gift cards than I think I’ve ever received before (or after).
It’s interesting that although the economy hasn’t gotten much better many of these efforts were quickly done away with. Sure marketing and advertising plans have continued to evolve and some businesses have shifted their identities to reflect the tone of our current fiscal state. One of the most public and noticeable overhauls has been the JC Penney make-over. Whether you shop there or not doesn’t really matter. You probably couldn’t miss the very “Red, White, and Blue,” “proud to be an American” “fair and square” campaign.
While I still got plenty of attention from various places around my birthday it did seem that 2010 and 2011 were bigger years in terms of the attention received around my birthday from businesses and corporations. The additional shift in string of continued improvements upon the customer experience is in that of customer service.
I’ve mentioned before that I almost always get very good customer service everywhere I go. This has been the case for most of the time that I’ve been old enough to be a customer. It has been a little interesting to see the growth in this area, especially in the frequency with which managers come up to me to make sure I’m doing ok or to make sure that I was given good service at their establishment. This seems to happen everywhere to me from stores to restaurants to music venues to even drive-thrus. Sometime in the near future I’ll write a post about customer service, as I hope I’m not an exception like some of my friends suggest I might be when it comes to the great customer service I get all of the time.
In closing, it’ll be interesting to see how the interaction between companies and their customers continues to evolve. While great customer service is timeless and should be the norm I hope it’s not a trend that will die out just like all of that added personalized birthday attention.
“…Reagan’s ‘kitchen cabinet,’ assured me during the convention [the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit} that their man did ‘not read books. He reads reports’ “ This line from Earl Shorris’ Memoir “American Vespers: The ebbing of the body politic” published in last year’s December issue of Harper’s (probably one of my top three favorite publications, if I could and you’d all guarantee me you’d read it I would gift you all a subscription.) kept going through my head as I wrote the last entry I posted regarding Twitter.
I remember reading this piece, which is equally about Shorris’, a renowned author and founder of the Clemente Course in the Humanities and winner of the 2000 National Humanities Medal, battle with Lymphoma and the political state of our country past and present as he’s seen it and thinking further of where our literary future keeps heading and how even “briefs” and “one sheets” are now too long in the 140 character limit world that we live in. The good thing is we’re now getting to the point much quicker, the bad things are is who exactly is this making the point and also that sometimes the answer is in the details.
Anyhow, also while writing the Twitter post, I was also reminded of two “excerpts” I’d read not so long ago that were formatted not unlike a Twitter feed. Granted, they didn’t exactly keep to the character limit rule, but nonetheless if both of these were actual Twitter feeds I would definitely subscribe as I would be intrigued to learn more about whomever was behind each of them.
The first was from a psychological evaluation released late last year on Anders Breivik . A name you may recognize as the man responsible for the murder of over seventy people, primarily teens at a Labor Party Youth Camp in Norway in July of last year. This was published in English via the arts and politics online magazine Guernica (another great magazine if you have an interest in art or politics). Here are a few of the released observations that would’ve kept me reading more even if I hadn’t been familiar with Breivik’s story.
“The observed uses number values and percentages more than is normal in common speech.”
My thoughts: Uh-oh, if this is the sign of some chemical imbalance I better watch out for our whole analytics departments while at work.
“The observed thinks he has the responsibility of deciding who should live and die in Norway. The responsibility is experienced as real but burdensome. He thinks he has an overdeveloped sense of love”
My thoughts: I’m slightly de-sensitized to the whole “martyr syndrome” as of late. In the past couple of years, I think most everyone I know has felt an “overdeveloped sense of love.” Thankfully none that I know of have yet to feel it is up to them who gets to carry on the human race and I hope none of them will.
After reading those two statements, I’ve decided that I would definitely follow a psychologist/psychotherapist if they peppered their tweets with anonymous observations of unidentified characters of the human specimens going about their everyday lives. In this day in age of sound bites, when short blips are taken out of context from our daily conversations it might be interesting and/or surprising/disturbing what underlying or implied meanings might exist within the statements that we innocently utter.
The second “excerpt” was from a memoir by Valérie Mréjen. It was a semi-chronological account of not only the author’s life, but even more interesting was that of her family/lineage. Just about every line made me want to know more. It was full of intimacies such as:
“Every year my grandfather made a trip to Italy, from where he would send a postcard addressed to our dog.”
My thoughts – Quirky characters such as that grandfather always intrigue me the most. I refer to them as the mad scientists of the world. My favorite kind of people to converse with.
“My grandfather’s sister is named Nicole, but her nickname is Ligou.”
My thoughts – I always wonder about people with nicknames that seem to have nothing to do with their name. I’m guessing this woman’s nickname stemmed from childhood. I have unfortunately, encountered less common stories involving nicknames. I remember having had people over once a few years back at which a guy introduced himself with his name, let’s call him “Eric.” However, he then said we could call him a totally different name, let’s say “Jerry.” I was expecting him to say something like “that’s my middle name” or something similar, but instead he told us that “Jerry” was his brother’s name. That was strange, but I thought maybe the brother had died, or maybe they’re like the George Foreman clan and all have the same name. According to “Eric”/”Jerry” his brother was still alive. We asked no further questions and the confusion was far from clarified, but I for one wanted no further information for once. The guy turned out to be okay and not a serial killer (as far as I know), and became the drummer for a band that I knew, but I could never quite forget that awkward exchange.
“At summer camp I met a girl whose parents left her with postcards they filled in before her departure. They scribbled a message on the back of each one, such as ‘Everything’s fine,’ along with their names and address. All she had to do was send it. They were pre-stamped.”
Thought #1 – The mailing things off is the part I am bad at. The extra trips to the post-office are rarely convenient. This is how I started my tradition of sending off New Year’s Cards in lieu of holiday cards. I could never get holiday cards off in time for the holidays. So I decided that I better identified w/the promise of a fresh start implied by a new year and instead adopted that as a time to send greetings and gave myself the whole month of January to send those out.
Thought #2 – Did the girl remember to send these out? I genuinely wanted to know. I should adopt this method. I am very bad at letting my parents know how I’m doing for the most part, except for recently. I’m pretty independent and have never really liked telling anyone what I’m doing, where I’m going, when I’ll be back, etc. I’m not doing anything bad/wrong, but that independent streak is a strong one. I know they worry about me, but it’s just not something I’ve ever been able to get in the habit of. The only exception seems to be when I’m in a relationship. So long as they aren’t trying to be controlling nor want to know what I’m doing every second of the day, I don’t mind willingly giving boyfriends all of this info.
“My mother remembered every poem she had ever memorized.”
My thoughts – What poems were her favorites?
I have a good memory, but it’s been a little while (aside from public speaking that I get coerced into every now and then) since I purposely worked at memorizing anything. Songs I learn by singing along, but I’m never purposely trying to learn them.
When I was in elementary school, for most of those years because I got good grades I somehow got wrangled into participating in a bunch of academic competitions against other schools. This started at about the age of 7 or 8 until I was about 14. Memorizing things was a big part of this world (how does that qualify you as smart?). I wonder if I’d still be able to remember all of that stuff. I’m glad that my parents never forced this stuff on me and let me balance it all with having fun and getting into my share of trouble.
“For my brother’s wedding, my father sent an invitation to Aunt Ligou. She read it distractedly and sent regrets that she would be unable to attend the bar mitzvah.”
My thoughts – One of my all time favorite shows was the B.B.C.’s “Keeping Up Appearances.” I’ve loved it since I was a pre-teen. I wonder why I’ve never picked up a dvd set of this? Anyhow, this line reminded me of Mrs. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet) and many of the situations that would arise and predicaments she’d get herself and those around her into in each episode.
While reading all of this in short order was greatly appealing, especially when I rarely seem to have the time to even sleep most of the time, and while Twitter feeds can be entertaining I hope that I will always make the time and have the interest to continue to read physical books as that’s something that I don’t think I could ever give up. To me there is nothing like being inside of an old library replete with stories on everything and anything, enough ghosts and dust to aggravate your allergies, and a who’s who of the literary set lining the walls. If any of you want to build me a library resembling any of the below I would run off with you immediately (actually maybe not immediately immediately as I’ve got lots of conference calls and meetings this week, but as soon as those let up I’ll run away with you immediately after). If you stock it full of first-editions, I’ll even name it after you.