Project Healing Waters in The New York Times

project healing waters in the new york times
A scan from The New York Times’ November 11th 2013 edition featuring Project Healing Waters

 

It was very exciting to see an organization I do some volunteer work with profiled by Helen Coster in The New York Times this year on Veterans Day. I would have never guessed the modifier that arrived along with my first appearance in the old grey lady would be “fly fishing guide,” but I’ll take it. I guess it’s a good impetus to finally get my casting instructor certification in order.

Please give the article a read to learn more about the sort of work we’re doing, and do get in touch if you’re interested.

We’ve had a huge outpouring of support since, including a bunch of people donating vintage fishing gear, which we resell to collectors to fund trips for vets.

There’s currently a great auction of vintage fiberglass and bamboo rods happening on eBay, from the collection of a man named Ed Travers. Ed’s rods, all in great condition, would make a wonderful holiday gift for the angler in your life, and a great way to give back to a worthy cause, so why not check them out? I’m helping administer the auction, and will be posting new rods every Tuesday for the next few weeks, with five sets in all available.

The case for Mad Man Mike Bloomberg

I was chatting the other day with a city employee from the public health department. Her job is to help do research to create messaging raising awareness around unhealthy things like soda and smoking. We got to talking about the uncertainties of her job once the mayor hits his term limit. There’s no question Mayor Bloomberg has been pushing a very progressive public health agenda, and his successor might not want to follow in these footsteps in the allocation of public dollars.

So what’s going to happen to these folks who’re doing this important work? Well, they might have to find new jobs. And it’d be the end of what has been a pretty good run of behavioral economics in action

But that got me to thinking: what if Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment to public health messaging doesn’t have to end, and Mike Bloomberg can keep it up? How can he keep it up?

I think he should open an ad agency.

Here’s how it would work.

Start a company, let’s call it Bloom & Partners. Hire a small permanent staff from NYC’s vibrant creative community. Use it to create all the Bloomberg marketing and advertising.

Then, work on public health briefs, special projects and more pro-social agenda items. Bring in freelancers who’re willing to cut their day rates for the ethical laundering they’re about to receive. Send those ads around the country, or the world, and stop ridiculous Ad Council afterthought creative, which is barely above student work in quality, by making a source of communications that hits the entire spectrum of the national public health conversation.

One of the most interesting aspects of Bloomberg’s post-mayorship is how fluently all the staff he sucks out of government will speak government, enabling all sorts of innovative public-private partnerships. So, if anyone can make this cost-effective, it’s those guys.

Posted in NYC

Sebastian Junger on Writing

This weekend I had the good fortune to attend a writing workshop at the Bronx Documentary Center hosted by bestselling author Sebastian Junger.1

Junger started by telling the 30 or so attendees it was his first time teaching, but he was a natural. The class flowed through the broad topics and touched on standout passages most recent work, WAR, as well as some of his favorite work from other authors.

I’ve never been to a writing workshop before, and have a real aversion to Big J Journalism’s self-important hand wringing, but I didn’t encounter that here. Junger had a lot of practical, simple advice, the sort of stuff a self-taught craftsman can relay after some successes and failures.

For the most part, these are direct quotes. Sebastian’s delivery and my typing speed made for easy transcription. I skipped a lot of the stuff where he read specific passages to illustrate a point, or used anecdotes to underline certain elements. The session was videotaped, and the BDC guys said they’ll post it, so I’ll surely link to it, or embed it, once it’s up, so you can get the whole feel. In the meantime, head up and check the BDC out, they’ve got loads of screenings and exhibitions on tap. So, without further ado: Sebastian Junger on Writing.

 

On Accuracy

Write it down, don’t just record it.
Your intuition is an incredibly valuable tool. In the process of taking notes you’re already filtering out stuff that’s going to be less important to you.

Memoir is journalism.
Our society is filled with a leeway for misrepresenting the truth and getting away with it, and I think that’s infected writing. There’s fiction, there’s nonfiction, and there’s a very bright line.

That bright line is doing you a favor
You have to get that interesting stuff out of reality and into words. That’s the craft of writing. If a writer fictionalizes a little bit in memoir, it’s a petty crime. You steal a ten-dollar watch from the store, and you have a ten dollar watch, but it could cost something a lot more than ten dollars. It’s a bad bargain. It does this thing that jeopardizes the power and veracity of every word, it’s cast into doubt. It’s not worth it.

Truth is when you’re not distorting things intentionally.
Acknowledging that is important. Another truth is people see you in a certain way. No person can actually understand that clearly. It’s too distorted by your own fears. The most important thing is your striving towards truth. It should be the thing you try and head towards.

Style is what gets people to keep reading.
It doesn’t have any inherent value. It’s like clothes. Ultimately it’s not the person, and not the point. It betrays a lack of interesting in the world. Your writing is not more beautiful than the world is. One of the dangers of being a really good writer is you’re more at risk of becoming enamored of what you can do with the words. You don’t want the facts of the world to serve as a platform for your skill. It’s the other way around. Your skill serves the world.

Adopt a mindset of humility.
Say ‘Look, I’m bewildered by this topic, but I’ll spend some time learning about it, and will report back to you what I found out about it.’ Communicate ‘I don’t have an inherent advantage over you, but I want to report back what I found out about. I want to talk to people you didn’t have time to talk to, and I’m going to come back and tell you what I found out.’ You want to look the readers in the eye. You’re discovering secrets of the world that are available to anyone, you just spent the time to talk to the experts. You’re not in a position of special knowledge.

Be open.
The conversation with readers about how subjectivity works is interesting, more so than unobtainable objectivity. Once you’re into first person nonfiction, just go for it. You can kind of do anything as long as you tell the reader about it.

Your intuitions about writing will be really, really accurate.
The first reaction you have is probably the right one.

Reality is your best friend.
It’s not an adversary. You’re never going to outdo it.

Do more research, whatever that research might be.
For me, writer’s block means I don’t have enough information. I don’t have the goods, and I’m trying to make up in words what I don’t have in facts.

You will not get everything right.
You should go back and check with the people you interviewed if it’s anything personal, or political, or charged. Once you go back, ask them, you don’t have to read the quote back, ask if you’re still good with that. Do the decent thing to do and save incredible hassles and hurt feelings later. You’re way better taking it out then living with their anger and your guilt. Public officials don’t matter. But you don’t want to ruin an old lady’s day with an unflattering description of her. People’s feelings are important, particularly people who are the victims of circumstances, not the perpetrators of circumstances.

Deeper truth is often the pretext people use to fictionalize.
There is none. The story is truthful only to the extent that the details are truthful. The story’s not true if the details aren’t.

If you’re going to put someone in a poor light, you’re honor-bound to investigate further.
You’ll know when you’re being unfair.

You are a lens that serves to focus the image for the reader.
You’re not supposed to tell them what to think. You’re supposed to tell them what to think about.

The things that you want to conceal are probably the most interesting things you’ve got.
Figure out how to talk about it in a way that feels beneficial, and illuminates the world.

 

On Content

You can’t describe everything.
What you want to do is pick revealing details to give an illusion of completeness. The weather. The street address. Small details. It doesn’t matter, but it means you were there. Go back as soon as possible and write it down so you can remember. If you’re not sure, you can say you’re not sure. You can say that. That means when you don’t hedge you’re absolutely true and they can trust that. They get a sense that you’re a real human being. You’re not god, and not a robot. Use details in an emblematic way. Pick things out that are revealing in some way. In the essence of things, things get more intuitive and artful. What is the essence of it?

Don’t overload it with poetic essence.
For a sentence or two. More than that it gets cloying.

Edit in every state of mind.
Writing is a weird intuitive act. Editing is a lot more rational. That’s its strength, but it’s also its weakness. Lets say I go running. I’ll run and come back and read the chapter I just wrote. You’re upset? Go edit something. The stuff you don’t like, it comes right out. If you’re reading something, and your mind starts to wander, pull it out. That section is in doubt; it’s in question.

 

On Style

Words are really precise.
You can’t be sloppy with the words. There’s one for everything you need, it’s like a set of wrenches. There will be a perfect word for what you’re saying. Just think about it. The pleasure of reading is when someone uses a word in a unique way. You want to surprise the reader a little bit.

It’s pleasurable to see things differently, in a non-rational way.
It’s why people take drugs.

Write in a visual style.
You’re setting a visual scene. You can write to some loftier part of the brain that’s not visual, but it will probably engage people less. We go through the world with our eyes open, and you have to write to that.

When you describe characters, think of one thing that describes their face, or body language.

Cinemagraphic writing style appears to our visual understanding.
If this was a film, how would I start the film? What would I want to see?

Shortcuts bleed the power out of words.
People will put your work down and not even know why. Mortars are always ‘slamming’, but after reading that word 20 times you don’t want to hear about mortars slamming ever again.

 

On Rhythm

Give people periods of work and rest when they’re reading.
When you stop a reader, you’re stopping them to think. There’s other sentences where you don’t want to do that.

Rhythm in prose is the primary thing that keeps people reading.
It’s this essential thing that probably shouldn’t call too much attention to itself.

There is no good writing without good rhythm.
Pick those moments where you stop them, but don’t do that too much. You want a rolling, long-distance pace.

Things said with rhythm seem true.
There’s a power to them that seems unassailable, and that you tapped into a higher truth, and that’s coming out in words. IT is flowing through you, and you’re not impeding it.

No one writes in perfect rhythm, but you have to be attuned to it.

In a long sentence you can get into a filmic feeling.
You’re asking the reader not to stop and think, but to go with it. You’re in a situation that’s flowing past you. Long sentences are less about ideas and more about experiences and perception.


On Structure

Expand and contract the pace, but you have to keep with the flow of reality.

At my desk is where I put words together, not ideas.
The conceptual leaps a piece requires will come to me in the oddest places. Places where I’m lightly engaged with something else.

Fictional devices in nonfiction…
…are not an excuse to invent, they’re strictly structural.

End sections on unstable moments, where there’s a lot of unexpressed potential.

If it’s too complicated to remember verbatim, you really should say to the reader how it happened.
‘Even if the words aren’t exact, that’s what he was saying.’ There’s a very specific value to recorded information, and you don’t want to muddy the waters.

Free to use fictional tricks, as long as that trick isn’t invention.

You have a relationship with the reader, you can tell them whatever you want.
As long as you’re honest. You can tell the reader the thing that you’re trying to protect them from.

 

On Beginnings & Endings

Beginnings…
…should be really easy to get into. It should be an easy can to open. But also set you up for something important. You have to give a signpost that says it’s coming.

Start in a way where the person doesn’t want to leave you.

Endings partly feel like endings because of rhythm.
You can tell when a movie’s getting ready to end.

You want a feeling of eminent change, that you’re revealing the truth.
Endings should be a big book, thump it down on the table, there, that’s the end, thunk. It’s a little bit like the end of a relationship. You’re having coffee and you can talk about the details, but you know it’s ended. You know it’s over.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Junger’s friend Mike Kamber opened the BDC after a highly-awarded career as a photojournalist. One of the writing assignments was to create the lede paragraph of a profile on Mike and the BDC. I won’t share it, but it’s easy to say after a gnarly career around the globe Mike’s doing important work helping transitioning community tell its most interesting stories. []

Gigs & Appearances: Advertising Week 2012 and Now / Next / Why New York

Ahh, Advertising Week. Because the day-to-day celebration of ad culture just isn’t enough.

I’m going to be speaking on two panels. I will plug them thusly:

 

GIVE TO GET: BUILDING BRAND THROUGH SERVICE INNOVATION

Mon Oct 1 2012 – 9:00 AM
B.B. King Blues Club

Putting service at the center of your brand may be the next evolution of your marketing; innovation through service design is what will attract customers, turn them into advocates, create buzz about your product, and save customers with whom you #fail.

 
PRODUCTS, PROCESS AND PROGRESS

Tue Oct 2 2012 – 12:30 PM
B.B. King Blues Club

“Brand-led development”, it’s a subject that’s currently on the tip of every marketer’s tongue. This lively discussion, hosted by The Barbarian Group’s President, Sophie Kelly, will explore the new imperatives that larger brand marketers need to adapt in order to effectively build, refine and optimize longstanding products.

 

Of course, if you’re in NYC October 9, you should be at Contagious’ bi-annual look at what’s important, Now / Next / Why. I’m heading over to London next week to speak at that installment, then back again to talk at the Stateside version. My topic? Sponsorship Activation & Amplified Live.

Sponsorship Activation & Amplified Live /
The time we spend interacting with entertainment is often precious and pure. Distractions are not necessary, nor appreciated. Finally, a new generation of brands is beginning to reimagine the art of sponsorship activation, justifying their ticket to the game not just with a bulging wallet, but with a genuine offering to enhance, improve and augment the experiences for fans.
Contagious will showcase how and why brands are adding value for fans, not noise. From Coca-Cola turning an exclusive corporate box at a football ground into a dormitory for cash-strapped fans, to Kopparberg’s music festival playlist app on Facebook, brands are making their sponsorship dollars work harder to become an indispensable part of the events they support.

We’re also debuting our take on Marketing as Service Design, something we haven’t talked about yet over here. Some of the elements we’ll be discussing at Now / Next / Why in New York on October 9 will come into play during the panels.

We do a special edition publication for Now Next Why, and we just put that to bed last week. It’s looking great. Give me a shout if you can come out, so we can say hi.

Having a bad day at work?

Compare it to Rob. He was the winner of our annual Worst Day in Advertising StorySLAM we do with Organic and amazing storytelling group The Moth. We’ve done it during Advertising Week in New York the last few years; we’re hoping to do it more frequently.

Stay tuned and I’ll let you know when the next one’s coming along.

So yeah, it couldn’t have been that bad, right?

Dust in the Wind: A Playlist

Reading Sam McPheeters’ ode to the cripplingly depressing ‘Dust in the Wind’ by Kansas I was reminded of the list he mentions near the end of the article, a do-not-playlist compiled by the management of Clear Channel, which owns over a thousand radio stations reaching over a hundred million Americans, in the days after 9/11. It was a sly bit of corporate self-censorship of songs that might push the nation over the brink.

There are a lot of different kinds of music on the list, but it’s all affecting. Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ joins the entire Rage Against the Machine catalog, and USMC favorite ‘Bodies’ by Drowning Pool sits on equal footing with Nena’s ’99 Luftballons’.

The songs declared forbidden by the bigwigs at Clear Channel, deemed unfit for consumption, define an emotional range that completely saturated everything after the attacks. It was chaotic and sloppy and raw, and seemed to fill every place you could fit an interpretation. A story from The New York Times published September 19th says the list’s “intended aim is to ensure national mental health, though First Amendment supporters may point to it as the first shadowy blacklist in what President Bush says will be a war against terrorism.”

I arrived in New York City, pulling a U-Haul onto Lorillard Place in the Bronx, four weeks before September 11. Afterwards, I spent the next three months in a big, new place wandering in a strange trance. Our landlord, who was in the Coast Guard, was never around, and the house quickly turned into a haven for our confused weirdo friends to pad about like mental patients as we all tried to get our heads back together.

I’d like to think that if we had Spotify, and the ability to have access to a playlist containing the most-affecting songs from the last century of American popular music, it might have been a bit easier to snap out of it. Instead we listened to a lot of Can and G.G. Allin, which may have worked just as well.

At any rate, here’s that Spotify playlist. Enjoy the songs of sorrow and elation.

Clear Channel’s 9/11 ‘Lyrically Questionable” songs by Nick Parish

SXSW Screenprinting

Contagious will be representing next week in Austin for SXSW Interactive1 and we decided to print up some T-shirts to give out to friends and allies.

We thought about just sending our logo and specs off to a printer, but what about making our own awesome shirts? And checking on colors and things? My awesome girlfriend gifted me time in a screenprinting workshop last year, so I already knew a thing or two about making your own shirts. So how about hire a studio and try to do it ourselves? Turns out that was much easier (and more fun) than we thought. We got in touch with Peter from Polluted Eyeball and arranged to visit him in his studio, in a loft building of artists’ studios, in Bushwick. We set up an evening session, so after work on Friday we could roll up and do some printing.

There’s a populist connoisseurship in T-shirts. Fine fit, fabric and a nice design can make a cheap item into a lifelong favorite. So we wanted to do these right. We stopped off on the way at Uniqlo to pick up around 70 of their Dry Pack Men’s T’s. I think they’re among the best going.

Once Peter had taken us through the process (and burned an extra screen for a white ink layer to sit below the fluorescent pink) we got to work, a three-person team, fitting the blank shirts on the platens2, then rotating them to the white and pink screens, through each ink phase, then under a heater, then off to be rolled and taped and sorted by size.

By the time we’d gotten our process right and picked up steam, we were out of blanks and had a whole load of handmade T-shirts to give away. Take a look at the photos below, and if you’re going to be in Austin, track down either me or Noelle for a shirt. Thanks again to Peter at Polluted Eyeball for all his expert guidance.

Here’s where the footnotes go.

  1. I’m on a panel called ‘Client Knows Best’ with some brainiacs from Droga5, McCann, Co:Collective and Verizon, it’s here, on Saturday at 5pm. Come if you’re around, it should be a fun chat. Noelle, meanwhile, will be raising heckfire in boots. []
  2. this was a new term for me, from Wikipedia: ‘In textile screen printing, a platen is a flat board onto which the operator slides the garment. It is generally made of either a plywood laminate or aluminum with a rubber laminate. Often the platen will be pretreated with a spray adhesive. This allows the garment to effectively become a rigid immobile substrate, especially important when printing multiple colors or utilizing an on-press infrared dryer. The screen is brought parallel and close to the garment (often within 1/32″) and the squeegee pressure then brings the screen into contact with the garment so that the ink transfer may occur. There are many special platen types, such as those for printing sleeves or pockets, vacuum platens, platens with clamps to hold bulky materials such as jackets, and even curved platens for printing on hats.’ []

JWT Interview

The fine people of advertising agency J. Walter Thompson, who recently hosted a week of panels and presentations for Social Media Week, asked me a few questions in anticipation of a chat we did about social games on Monday.1 Here they are; there’s more from others over at their AdGeek blog. That penultimate answer is a little tongue-in-cheek, but there’s something weird in the air I haven’t quite figured out yet.

What was your social media eureka moment?
I think everyone has a path of social media eureka moments which revolve around making real connections with other people. Everyone feels the magic when they meet someone in real life that they’ve come to know over the internet, and compares their concept of that person and their actions online with the living breathing talking version. That can be online dating or buying a dresser on Craigslist. Same goes with arguments; the first time you get into a blood-boiling argument on the Internet you pass a sort of barrier. To me, those are the most interesting bits, coming to understand the powerful connections we can create with people who share our interests and goals.

What do you use on a daily basis and how?
Whew, big question…currently running applications include: Mail, Chrome, Firefox, DevonThink, Pomodoro, Dropbox, Spaces, ManyCam, Skype, iChat, Word, TextEdit, Tweetdeck. Frequently accessed webservices/social bits/communities include Facebook (begrudgingly) & Twitter and Google’s suite of stuff, without which I’d be truly lost. Metafilter and Reddit are my favorite community sites. Google Reader tells me ‘from your 300 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 9,359 items, clicked 33 items, starred 10 items, shared 0 items, and emailed 61 items.’ I’ve developed an arcane and possibly foolish system to basically archive anything I touch on Twitter to a bookmarking site, and I spend a lot of time watching Contagious’ output and cataloging all that stuff for further analysis.

What is hot and what is just hype?
I think this question is becoming less and less relevant, but I can’t quite explain why. I’ll try, though. In the last year or so we’ve seen enterprising groups take things that are in the hype cycle’s trough and make fun new things out of them. I hope the cycles created by our anemic attention span and relentless economic machine continue to pump up and churn through emerging technologies—it leaves more room for the inquisitive tinkerers to come through and say ‘oh, what’s this, how does this work.’ It’s like the kid who always had the most fun, newest toys—you knew a few days later their attention would be elsewhere, but that fun toy probably still had some life in it for something. I’m currently obsessed with the Kinect, Minecraft, quadcopters and autonomous flight sequences, Mechanical Turk and whatever a rotating cadre of members of the present-day Invisible College of technology is doing.

What do you see as being the next big thing at next year’s conference?

Definitely jetpacks. Seriously though—with the speed at which companies seem to be earning venture capital money, I would look for topic ideas from this article on SXSW 2001: “Is there still an Internet economy?”, “Internet Industry Trends 2001: Is Anyone Making Money?”, How to Survive Takeovers, Acquisitions, Layoffs, Mergers and Other Supposed Career Setbacks”. Etc. Mad-Libs the blanks where appropriate, change “million” to “billion”, there you go.

What is the one takeaway you hope everyone gets from your panel?

I hope people leave the panel understanding the difficult lines games makers have to walk, between manipulating game mechanics to maximize profit and making genuinely fun games people want to play.

  1. I actually moderated a pair of panels, on social gaming on Monday and storytelling on Thursday. They’re archived here (after 16m of David Eastman) and here if you’re interested. []

Steve Goodman aka Kode9 on Sonic Warfare: Well Weapon

goodman_sonic_talk

With a flyer boasting quotes from both J.G. Ballard and Colonel Kilgore of Apocalypse Now, by the time my chum Luis and I arrived at NYU a few weeks back for a special lecture we knew we’d be in for an interesting discussion.

Steve Goodman, aka Kode9, dubstep producer and owner/chief curator of the massively great Hyperdub record label, was talking about his new book Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear. (MIT Press)

Introduced as a “rogue academic” and member of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit, it wasn’t immediately clear if the talk was going to be highly abstract or grounded, but it turned out the latter–lucid, well researched and informative. Here are some notes.
Continue reading “Steve Goodman aka Kode9 on Sonic Warfare: Well Weapon”

Guess What? I’m Contagious’ North American Editor

contagious logo

This went out to some folks over email but I wanted to post it here as well.

I’ve got big news I wanted to share: I’ve taken on the responsibilities of opening an office here in New York as Contagious Communications’ North American Editor.

The official press release is up, and I’ve done a quickie intro on contagiousmagazine.com.

If you don’t know Contagious, I’ll give you the quick primer. It’s a London-based marketing intelligence company founded in late 2004 and led by the flagship product, a quarterly magazine. It also produces FEED, a bespoke subscription service for specialized pulses of information, an events division offering custom conference programming and Contagious Insider, a consultancy that has helped think on a bevy of interesting challenges from a wide variety of top-notch clients.

Contagious started around the idea of chronicling and considering how non-traditional efforts were impacting marketing; it has grown to a robust clearinghouse of innovative approaches, unique insights and all manner of interesting ideas from around the world of marketing and beyond. (Download 2009’s Most Contagious report for a taste.)

It’s extremely exciting to be able to bolster such a robust and focused team. Contagious has a diverse and deep pool of talented writers, researchers and collaborators as well as a can-do startup mentality.

A while ago I was reading a blog post BSS&P’s Ed Cotton had written about the need for a creative-thinking version of McKinsey, about how stimulating ideas and creative revitalization can be more beneficial to growth than cost-cutting. I think Contagious has the potential to serve as that energy- and idea-giving entity for any of today’s companies interested in what’s next.

So in the next few months I’ll be building our presence on this side of the pond at conferences and events, paying visits to lots of companies and, most importantly, watching closely and taking observations and insights to the print magazine and website.

If you’re not already, get in touch. Sign up for our e-mail newsletter, follow us on Twitter (@contagiousmag) and submit your best work.

Contagious is well known in Europe, and has been very successful around the globe so far, but we’ve still got a challenge in helping it find a bigger audience in the Americas. I hope you’ll be able to play a part and contribute to what’s fast become a vibrant community of forward-thinkers.

Louis C.K. at the Comedy Cellar

No doubt saying something offensive and hilarious.

I galloped down to the West Village with my buddy Sam last night to see Louis C.K. tape a few bits for his upcoming FX show (March). It was brutally hilarious. I suspect some of the material might be too horrifying for the FX audience but if he puts out a DVD of the show it might have some of the crazier stuff from last night. Oh yeah, we got to sit right in the front, too.

Louis (@cklouis) gathered the audience via a tweet the day before. This was by far the most exciting thing to happen via Twitter.

This is Sam’s favorite C.K. video bit; his YouTube channel is pretty golden.

Dropping in to the 99% Conference

99% Conference Sneak Peek!, originally uploaded by jeffreyk.

I peeled myself out of the office briefly Thursday to stop over at Behance’s 99% Conference (“It’s not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen”) at the Times Center.

I was only able to see a few speakers, but I picked a good time to drop by. First, Seth Godin talked about squashing your lizard brain, the fearful primitive part of consciousness that’s forever impeding progress and preventing us from actually finishing projects with thoughts of fear.

After that, it was Jake Nickell and Jeff Kalmikoff from Threadless, who talked about implementation of ideas at various stages in their business (the slide above is one of their credos). Another laffer was a picture of a desktop PC set up in front of a door, monitor stacked on CPU with a desk chair in front. That was apparently Nickell’s setup to prevent himself from leaving the house in the early days of the site.

I especially enjoyed Scott Belsky of Behance, who spoke just before lunch. Belsky touched on the different types of creative personalities, how we can pair people to max our their effectiveness by combining traits, how competition and conflict can spur things, etc. It was interesting, in part because it was similar to Hyper Island’s philosophies of group dynamics, which they illustrated last month at South by Southwest.

I ran into a chum of mine, Jocelyn Glei, who informed me she’s working with Belsky on a book-length exposition of his findings, which will certainly provide a grounds for greater comparison of the two groups.

Riches To More Riches

An old colleague of mine from the Post, Jim Rich, made his debut at Salon today with a dynamite story on his travails in the Manhattan poker scene. You should read it. Jim’s got a great voice that matches his acerbic personality (if I had a quarter for every time he told someone ‘Die’…)

I’ve only played with Jim once, in a “Friday-night nickel-and-dime game” (which was actually on a Sunday, in a basement in Howard Beach) but if I recall correctly I managed to mad-dog my way through the game longer than he did. Obviously he’s gotten quite a bit better. Jim’s on Twitter, as well. I’d stay tuned, as hopefully he’ll have some more of this good stuff soon.

Foursquare to make drinking more playful

Dodgeball’s reincarnated as Foursquare! Hit up the right nightspots and become the king of the town (at least as far as Internet cool points are concerned).

I’m reminded of Bright Lights, Big City:

… How did you get here? It was your friend, Tad Allagash, who powered you in here. You started out on the Upper East Side with champagne and unlimited prospects, strictly observing the Allagash rule of perpetual motion: one drink per stop. Tad’s mission in life is to have more fun than anyone else in New York City, and this involves a lot of moving around, since there is always the likelihood that where you aren’t is more fun than where you are.

Hopefully this’ll be available to test out while Austin-hopping at SXSW this year.1

I’m also hoping there’s an “achievement” called Alcoholic Loser for those who spend 4+ hours a day in only one bar, or “Cheapskate” for those who only get blotto at work-related gratis cocktail functions or “Fearless” for someone who drinks exclusively at bars in areas with really, really low average income and/or high crime rates. Perhaps integration with the iPhone breathalyzer to crown the real King Drunk?

  1. I’ll be down from Saturday-Wednesday and may update here if anything wild happens. []

The Transformative Power of Art, Pt. 239

the Glue Society's pigeon at Pulse
the Glue Society

Every once in a while you pop your head up from the daily slog and rise above the goblins of self-indulgence and negativity and fractiousness and see with crystal clarity, ‘Hey, this is pretty cool.’

Yesterday was one of those days.

I went to an early press preview of the Pulse art show with the express purpose of seeing a unique statue and writing a story about it.

Sure, the story’s just a humble few lines, but there was no need for me to do anything other than convey the facts: pigeon, man, statue, art fair, funny. An honest job, decently done. But it gives me pleasure to think of the time I spent putting this story together, and hopefully that’s conveyed. Briefly, this is something I struggled with: is it more accurate to say this is a statue of a man defecating on the head of a pigeon or of a pigeon with a man defecating on its head? Think about it.

I can say quite confidently that were fate to have brought me to the show this morning with a budget of $40k and a suitable foyer or other entranceway needing of adornment I could see no greater way to immediately communicate my worldview than this piece of contemporary art. Perhaps, one fine day, it could be mine.

McPheeters & Miscellany

photos by Billy Whitfield
photos by Billy Whitfield

It’s always interesting when punks get old. That’s why my emphatic finger-point this week is towards a story in Vice by former Born Against frontman Sam McPheeters. McPheeters ventures into one of the Midwest’s  strangest regions, the wealthy suburbs of Michigan’s capital, Lansing, to profile Doc Dart, former frontman for hardcore group Crucifucks. Dart, who calls himself “26,” appears to be suffering from several forms of mental illness, and has become a suburban pariah in the Mason-Okemos area.

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Interesting Evidence: Kombucha Talk Video Arrives


Nick Parish at Interesting New York from David Nottoli on Vimeo.

Here’s video from the Interesting New York conference of yours truly pushing that nasty-tasting drink kombucha. It’s a little tough get the whole story (and all those lame jokes) without slides, but download them from my main Kombucha page and play along at home. Of course, David Nottoli, the erstwhile organizer of that fine afternoon, has many more of the presentations lodged in his Vimeo.

Pick up this week’s NY Mag (not just for my ad spread)

nymag-parish-advertising

Over the last month or so I helped compile a list of the most memorable New York-styled ads for New York Magazine, and, at long last, here it is. We polled a whole host of past and present NYC ad luminaries to determine a big list of spots that had grabbed the city’s attention, then narrowed them down with a poll to find out which rated highest.

New York’s 40th Anniversary issue is fat, well worth the $4.95. Head over to NY Mag’s site to read my bit, but don’t forget to pick up the magazine–there’s a ton of good stuff inside.

Spark it up! We’re talking Facebook next week.

Next week is Advertising Week in New York, the week many in the industry gather for a celebration of selling things. It’s not all parades with mascots down Fifth Avenue (though I can’t find any info this year about the “Procession of the Great Icons”); there’s some jibber-jabber too, and an unhealthy amount of socializing.

I’m going to be moderating a panel Tuesday, talking with three very intelligent guys about the potentiality for big ideas on Facebook and other social media. If you’d like to come by, it’s free, all you have to do is RSVP. (Oops–I just looked, and it says it’s sold out on the Advertising Week site. Contact me if you’re interested in coming, or just show up early.)

Anyway, we’re going to be (hopefully!) talking about interesting stuff, including a pretty conceptual look at what some future hypothetical Facebook marketing efforts might look like. I’m joined by some great creatives/forward-looking digital guys, so expect some cool ideas to pop out.

The Facebook Spark Series: Spark The Big Idea

How do good ideas spread? What does it take to get people to share branded content or offers with their friends? Top creative thinkers discuss innovative work and the methods to developing big ideas worth sharing in today’s social media world.

Moderated by Nick Parish, Associate Editor, Creativity

Panelists:
Rei Inamoto, Co-Chief Creative Officer, AKQA
Richard Ting, VP & ECD, Mobile and Emerging Platforms Group, R/GA
Rick Webb, Co-Founder and COO, The Barbarian Group

Tuesday, September 23
9:00 AM to 09:45 AM
The Times Center
242 West 41st Street
New York, NY

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone for coming to what turned out to be an interesting session. Audio is here, and video may or may not be coming soon. Ad Week saw fit to dispatch a reporter, who summarized the event quite well.

Interesting New York was!

Big thanks to all attendees, presenters and organizers for helping make yesterday’s Interesting New York conference happen. It was time well spent; I particularly enjoyed hearing about database basics from Noah Brier, fan fiction from Amber Finlay (and special guest Bud Melman of that old school advertising drama), Charles Rosen talking about the Democratic Party and the upcoming presidential election’s role as a point-of-no-return, Colin Nagy talking techno, Dallas Penn extolling the virtues of quarter water in a sarcastic fantastic exploration of the Bodega Food Pyramid and James Cooper delivering his presentation on ping pong’s beneficence while volleying.

If you’re looking for information regarding my Kombucha presentation, thanks, I’m flattered. It’s here.

On Kombucha at Interesting New York

Interesting New York's website
Interesting New York

Next Saturday, the 13th, I’m going to be giving a quick talk on the history and preparation of kombucha, a fermented drink quickly becoming popular with the health-conscious Whole Foods crowd. While I don’t really count myself among them, I’ve been making the stuff for just over two years now and have the process pretty much down. If you’re a serious fan, you should really make it yourself–sixteen ounces costs $4 or $5 but produced at home it’s about the same per gallon.

Here’s all the info, if you’re interested in learning everything you ever wanted to know about kombucha. Tickets are only $35, and include 8 hours with a raft of exciting speakers. I’ll update this post with more details (like when, specifically I’ll be talking, and bar plans afterwards) when they arise. Eventually I’ll probably get an outline of the talk and any audiovisual stuff up here too. But first, to tinker with Keynote for a few hours and see if anything presentable comes out.

Date: Saturday, September 13, 2008
Time: 10:00AM to 6:00PM.
Venue: The Katie Murphy Amphitheater at FIT
Address: 7th Avenue at 27th Street (Building D), New York City, 10001-5992

UPDATE: I’m the last speaker, so I should be on about 5:30, but it’ll probably be after that as these things tend to go long. But come earlier than me anyway, cause there’s a load of good stuff all day. Afterparty’s at Black Door.

Going Yard

A small group of us stopped by The Yard Sunday for the Sunday Best series and caught King Britt (seen here concentrating) at the party’s second week. The lineup is stellar: Stefan Goldmann, Trusme, Bambaataa, Rick Wilhite & Jerome Derradji, Riton, Kevin Saunderson, Move D, the Wurst guys, Tejada, Pilooski, Joakim, Metro Area. Phew. And that’s only leaving one or two weeks off.

It looks like all Sundays are going to be $8, in which case I’ll be there every weekend I’m in town–the spot, on the banks of the murky Gowanus (which Luis describes as a “disgusting trickle”) is perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. Cross your fingers it stays off Euro-tourist radar, at least for this year.

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