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…)
That’s the way I heard it when I got in my car and NPR was in the middle of re-capping the days news-worthy events.
Not something I wanted to hear after a long day at work.
Only, thankfully it was actually the country Syria and not me that had landed on that list of shame.
This is nothing new. You’ve read about my name woes before. Also, Ever since my Geography classes in elementary school during the Cold War, Syria seems to have been causing nothing but trouble and this Siria has had to hear all about it. Have I ever mentioned that one of my best friends in elementary school through jr. high was named Iran? No joke. Go check my Facebook friends. She’s there, only now spells her name with two n’s. I wonder if she feels the same about the country Iran?
Our teacher at the time used to like to say, “Pay attention everyone, this is probably the only time in our lifetimes that you will see Iran and Syria/Siria getting along without causing any trouble.”
You might’ve been led to believe that it was the “US courtship of Syria” might’ve driven “a wedge between Syria and Iran”, but in reality it’s because she was a year older and we ended up going to different high schools and just never really saw each other anymore after that.
Thank goodness, I have never taken myself very seriously– not even as a little kid.
Anyhow, about once a year I offer an apology to all of my friends via Facebook (or Myspace prior to fb) apologizing for how much they have had to hear my name. As I said, ever since the Cold War, Syria sure has managed to spend a lot of time in the news leading this Siria who doesn’t really like attention, to get sick of hearing her own name. I can only imagine how the rest of the world must feel.
I’m thinking it’s about time that maybe I went over there and had a talk with them, you know Syria to Siria. Has anyone tried that yet? Sending a Siria to speak with Syria?
It has been said that “The problems of Syria mainly include the water scarcity and their political affairs.”
But really the real issues aren’t quite dehydration, but seems to be that they behave more like a cranky toddler with daddy issues, whose parents never really enforced the rules, being disrespectful and throwing temper tantrums all over the place when it doesn’t get a new toy. It also missed that day in Kindergarten where they taught you how to share, or even pre-school altogether where some kids learn to play with others. Such antics should’ve been put a stop to a long time ago.
However, its antics do sometimes amuse me when I automatically hear it as something “Siria” did and not “Syria”
Some of the more amusing sound bites that I’ve caught have been:
The ones concerning the Middle East.
“Syria is at the heart of any plan to resolve the current conflict in the Middle East. … Will Syria Help Ease Mideast Turmoil?”
- I’m totally up for helping, but Middle East, you’ve been helped so many times. When will you help yourself? I’m pretty sure you know how to fish by now.
“Peace with Syria, Will Bring Peace to the Middle East”
- If this is true. I’m pretty at peace, Middle East will you follow suit already?
Then the one’s I’ve awakened to at 5/6am:
“Syria will fix everything”
- This one was from a few years ago, and I honestly think I heard it while still half asleep. I was more than a little confused when I fully woke up and was wondering what on earth I needed to fix now.
And the most recent one from just a day or two ago.
“Kremlin confirms, Syria will receive attack helicopters from Russia” and just in case doubts about the helicopters actually being delivered existed, they added from a Russian Millitary Sr. Ranking Official “Syria is our friend, and we fulfill all our obligations to our friends,” (I do have a history of having been nice to any Russians I have encountered along my lifespan)
Thanks Russia you must have heard that my office is right next to the helipad and that I’d recently jokingly requested helicopter sponsorship, but really I couldn’t, I mean it’s not even my birthday! Well, if you insist…I guess I couldn’t really refuse a friends gift right? I wonder if they have classes for helicopters to train them not to attack? Maybe something like the dog obedience classes at Petsco? If you know of any, please let me know. I’m going to have to domesticate my new helicopters stat, before they attack someone.
Obviously, I’m well aware of the actual Syrian issues. You can’t really miss them with as much as they’re in the news. In spite of making light of them within this entry, I genuinely do hope a solution is found in our lifetime as I have much compassion for the residents of Syria, and hate the fact that generations of people have had to and continue to grow up in those kinds of conditions under such turmoil and such a tumultuous political climate. In the end we are all human and the ability to feel for one another is something that links us all. Here’s to hoping that those that have created such unrest and brought about such brutality will be losing wind in their sails in the very near future.
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.