Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Product Placement from Old School

Hooters... Skittles from TheShermanFoundation on Vimeo.

30 second spot: Midas Touch

Science Machine

I am simply blown away. This is amazing.

Science Machine from Chad Pugh on Vimeo.

Big Sherman Foundation Nation shout out to me lout Nixta! Thanks for the parole present.


NikeFootball film by Guy Ritchie


Monday, April 28, 2008

And Some Skittles!

I posted a few old tv spots over the weekend. The Classic Chuck Wagon and a old creepy Jolly Green Giant commercial. I love the surrealist component of both, something you don't see so often these days. An exception is the spots for Skittles. (I'm not a sweets or desert kind of guy generally but I have a sick, sick Skittles addiction.)

One reason for my addiction my be the high frequency of product placements in movies. Here's one from Bad Boys, there are several others that I recall that I'm in the process of tracking down.)

And Some Skittles! from TheShermanFoundation on Vimeo.

Sherman Foundation Walking Tours

I believe that I could hold a series of completely improvised, walking tours along Madison Avenue that would be spectacular feats of cultural and intellectual mix-masterism.

It might make for a great program online. Get a couple of pseudo-intellectual windbags from a few different backgrounds and see what each can tease out and tie together along the walk.

My 3 part series a year ago last fall was essentially that. A virtual window walk with cultural commentary.

Life's Sweet Revenge. Decadence, Pop-Decadence and the Candy Macabre.
Lifes' Sweet Revenge. Part 1.
Life's Sweet Revenge. Part 2: Decadence.
Life's Sweet Revenge.
Part 3: Pop Decadence, The Candy Macabre and Bourgeois Estate Sale

I really need to do another series like this. Was out over the weekend and took a few shots.

When I first the handbag below and the collection of charms I couldn't quite make out what it was, it was just looked like a gnarled mess of shiny silver, dangling there like a talisman, like some bit of postmodern voodoo, like a nasty hoo-doo chicken foot.

Looking closer at the assembled carms I'm reminded of the Mexican altars that people build in their homes. Those too are odd assemblages. Religious items and pop culture brikabrak are mixed together. Statures of the Virgin Mary, crucifixions and candles as well as a Coca-Cola bottle, pictures torn from magazines might all appear together. These are built as expressions of ones spirituality that link the physical and the spiritual worlds.

What does it say when your dangling altar includes a silver razor blade and a safety pin? (That I'm a coke-head and a cutter? That the blood of Christ comes forth from my nose and forearm?)

I just like this one because the little girl on the right looks like she's picking her ass. (I have a lot to say about the "street huster" poses that Ralph Lauren employs but I will save that for another time.)

My post The Aesthetic Narrative of Ralph Lauren for Women is a must read.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

That beautiful, numbed-out, melancholy malaise

I finally had a chance to watch "Control", Anton Corbijn's film about Ian Curtis and Joy Division. It's filled with rock 'n roll film biography cliches but a beautiful film nonetheless. The b&w style it was shot it is breathtakingly gorgeous.

The official trailer.

The late great Ian Curtis

I've also been listening to Hot Cip, particulary the track "No Fit State". It has a similar bleakness to it.

Sunday School at The Sherman Foundation: Stay Golden Pony Boy

But tell me: how did gold get to be the highest value? Because it is uncommon and useless and gleaming and gentle in its brilliance; it always gives itself. Only as an image of the highest virtue did gold get to be the highest value. The giver’s glance gleams like gold. A golden brilliance concludes peace between the moon and the sun. Uncommon is the highest virtue and useless, it is gleaming and gentle in its brilliance: a gift- giving virtue is the highest virtue.

- Friedrich Nietzsche

Visualizing Greenhouse Gases

Saturday, April 26, 2008

On Memes

A few things have got me thinking about memes this weekend. The term "meme" was coined by Richard Dawkins to describe:

any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that gets transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. Examples include thoughts, ideas, theories, practices, habits, songs, dances and moods and terms such as race, culture, and ethnicity. Memes propagate themselves and can move through a "culture" in a manner similar to the behavior of a virus. As a unit of cultural evolution, a meme in some ways resembles a gene. Richard Dawkins, in his book, The Selfish Gene,[1] recounts how and why he coined the term meme to describe how one might extend Darwinian principles to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. He gave as examples tunes, catch-phrases, beliefs, clothing-fashions, and the technology of building arches. (Wikipedia)

You can get a much better understanding of the concept by reading Harold Bloom's Lucifer Principle

ROLFcon, a gathering devoted to memes is happening right now.
"Mix up a bunch of super famous internet memes, some brainy academics, a big audience, dump them in Cambridge, MA and you've got ROFLCon."

One of the gems from the conference, Tron Guy.

One of my theories is that humans go through a development stage that shifts from "meme spreading" to "seed spreading". The role of biologically mature humans is to reproduce progeny. The role of children, teens and young adults it to be efficient, rapid exchangers of memes. They perform a cultural refresh in the same manner that having offspring refreshes the body count.

At the point of having children people go from being meme spreaders to seed spreaders. The increased responsibilities of "child rearing" usually result in a decreased ability to participate in cultural exchange. The is also physiological changes and stages of imprint vulnerability that lessen "meme spreading" ability. (Most great mathematicians created their contributions before the age of 27).

The other thing that has me thinking about memes is the story about the man who received a suicides victims heart, met the donors wife, fell in love with and marries her and years later committed suicide in tha same manner as her previous husband. Could there be a biological embedding of memes, a sort of assembly language code for memes that gets passed on via organ transplants?

Man who receives suicide victims heart takes his own life

What is even weirder is that the donor recipient met and ten married the donors wife.

Via The Daily Mail

The couple met after Mr Graham started writing to her after being told her husband was his heart donor.

Twelve years after the successful transplant operation, Mr Graham shot himself dead, leaving his wife a widow for the second time in strikingly similar circumstances.

Friends said Mrs Graham, a nurse, is stunned by the bizarre turn of events.

Officials in Vidalia, Georgia, said Mr Graham, 69, died after shooting himself in the throat with a shotgun.

Friends of Mr Graham said he had not shown any signs of being depressed.

Apparently there are many documented cases of personality change after receiving an organ transplant.

Another from The Daily Mail:
My personality changed after my kidney transplant - and I started to read Jane Austen and Dostoevsky instead of celebrity trash

Would you accept produce from this man?

Chuck Wagon Dog Food TV Commericals

I was mesmerized by the Chuck Wagon dog food commercials as a child. (I've been waiting for years for someone to post one of these.)

The surrealistic shifting of scale and the enigmatic , drive-by, wormhole rupturing of reality by "alien craft" are as captivating as they are needless to the selling of the product, but it certainly burned an impression on my young mind.

They definitely took a page out of the playbook of classic children's cereal advertising by leveraging the psychological drama of "pursuit" and "frustrated desire". The dog wants the Chuck Wagon but is told that "sorry charlie, tricks are for kids". (I know, I mashed two commercial on that.)

Further Reading on Cereal Advertising:

Cereal Brand/Box Design

Celebrity culture destroyed cereal advertising

Classic Jungian Archetype: "Picked on loser."

Characters and the Cult of Personality

Transatlantic Cable

Angela Jolie's veiny arms, Via The Daily Mail: She's So Vein

For Children

Via NPR: My Beautiful Mommy an illustrated storybook you can use to explain your rhinoplasty or breast augmentation to your children.

But Dr. Michael Alexander Salzhauer, a plastic surgeon from Florida, is a fan of honesty. He has written a children's book, My Beautiful Mommy, that bluntly explains it all.

What are children to think when their mother's nose suddenly gets smaller, her breasts bigger, or her belly flatter? How should parents explain the changes?

Some prefer fantasy — "it was a mysterious gift from Santa Claus" — or lies — "Mommy needed a smaller nose in order to breathe better, Honey."

But Dr. Michael Alexander Salzhauer, a plastic surgeon from Florida, is a fan of honesty. He has written a children's book, My Beautiful Mommy, that bluntly explains it all.

Westchester Ordered to Pay $2,500 to Pedophile Clown
That seems like a lot to pay for a clown to molest your children no matter what zip code you live in.

The above painting "Pogo and Clown Skull" is by serial killer John Wayne Gacey. In addition to painting clowns he enjoyed performing as one.

All clowns "register" their unique clown face. If your going to hire one and let them into your home it may be in your best interest to note unique features for future identification.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pulling for Apocalypse

I have a decision making tool that I fastened from an old board game. It's a spinning arrow attached to a piece of cardboard that that you flick with your finger. It's bisected by a thin line. Printed on the left are the words "destroy the world" on the right "save the world". Every morning I face off against my optimism that life can be a beautiful, magical experience and a giddy, impish desire to push it into the red and see the whole thing go super nova. It's like Nietzsche says "that which falls should be pushed".

If you have to choose sides, isn't wise to back the clear winner. Hence the Foundation's motto "Our side is winning".

I've been championing the cause of entropy and destruction ever since I first learned how fun it was to smash things. That said, it seems like these days everyone is an advocate to chaos. Just yesterday Hilly Clinton was was sounding like a trigger happy republican or an amphetamine addled despot:

"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," Clinton said. "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."

The foundations position has been seriously trespassed on by the mainstream. I see skulls on dog sweaters and children's cloths.

This week Slate magazine did a piece on secular envirnomental visions of apocalypse: Envirogeddon! Is it time to start wishing for the end of the world?

The polical left and right use apocalyptic fear mongering as a means of control. The right says that the threat is from evil doers and terrorists. The left using climate change and environmnetal disaster.

The BBC did an excellent documentary on this subject: The Power of Nightmares
The films compare the rise of the American Neo-Conservative movement and the radical Islamist movement, making comparisons on their origins and noting strong similarities between the two. More controversially, it argues that the threat of radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organised force of destruction, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is in fact a myth perpetrated by politicians in many countries—and particularly American Neo-Conservatives—in an attempt to unite and inspire their people following the failure of earlier, more utopian ideologies. (Wikipedia)

We gotta billion Eddie Barzoons!

F is for Friday

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hillary Obama Splice.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Apple sucks at Sharing

Apple Computer, as a brand, sucks at sharing.

I've been biting my lip about this for a long time. There are the obvious things, like iTunes tracks being playable only on iTunes and iPods, but it goes much deeper than that. It seems to be a genetic part fo the brand DNA. ts amazing that they don't get criticized for this more often considering so much of the current milieu is about sharing and portable content.

As a heavy podcast listener I often want to share with others podcasts that would be interesting to them. There is no share or email function associated with them. Not only that you have to go back the the iTunes store source of the podcast and "ctrl" click the title to copy the iTunes url. Pain in the ass.

Why can't you embed podcasts directly into sites and blog posts? Where is the embeddable Quicktime player?

Podcasts and Podcasting were developing independently of iPods and Apple did a HUGE disservice to the world when it added it as part of iTunes. They should have let someone else develope and become the defacto platform. Someone who understands he sharing part of social media culture.

iPhoto was way ahead of its time, as was the ability to purchase photo albums directly from it. Why didn't they come up with a Flcikr like app?

.Mac accounts have been around for a long time but have floundered, listlessly because as innovative at design as they are they simply don't have the sharing gene.

They're great at selling movies and songs, products produced by the old model of media. They're participation in the new model isn't so hot.

Demien Hirst Jumps The Shark

My first response to the Yale student that turned "self insemination and abortion" into art was shock and disgust. This morning, I'm taking a step back. I can't remember the last time "art" illicited a hostile reaction and a sense of outrage from me. Maybe never the way this "piece" did.

I think about moments in history, like the screening of "Un chien andalou" by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, in which the audiece threw bottles of ink at the projection screen, and wonder why art doesn't have that kind of power anymore. Could this be our moment? Is this where we are?

Demien Hirst like to talk about how all art is about death but one of his latest peices, a skull covered in diamonds, is so decorative and trite within the context of the contempory cultural landscape. Skulls are the new happy face, I seem them on dog sweaters on the upper east side of Manhattan and "Bling" is such a tediously middle-class cliche.

Demien Hirst has jumped the Shark and, like it or not, this twisted chick from Yale is the new bleeding edge.

Ka Kaw

Logorange (Logo Design Resource)

Logorange is a design agency whose website houses some good resources including a section on Logo Design History and 2008 Trends.

Like all things you need to evaluate the merits for yourself. One of the trends "The New Crest" should have been on the list last year, the crest thing has been playing itself out over the past 2 years.

The site is well worth a look.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Amy Sedaris for Microsoft Office

Amy Sedaris. In the bedroom with the fake limbs.

Bitchin in the kitchen.

And now shilling for Microsoft Office (with bunnies.)
I saw this on Slate Magazine's site yesterday.

Body Hair Type from Old Spice

Currently runing print piece for Old Spice.
There should be a site to create and name your own "type". That's a no brainer extension, I'd be rippin on all my boys.

Doh! There is one. "FACE!" this is you!!!

Link: Old Spice Profiler

Yale Student Turns Self-Insemination and Abortion into Art

There are still a lot of uncertainties surround this story... but wow.
Her parents are probably very proud but Yale has a public relations nightmare on their hands.

She may later say, "sorry, I wasn't really ever pregnant". I hear that happens a lot actually. "No harm no foul."

For senior, abortion a medium for art, political discourse

Beginning next Tuesday, Shvarts will be displaying her senior art project, a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself “as often as possible” while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process.

The goal in creating the art exhibition, Shvarts said, was to spark conversation and debate on the relationship between art and the human body. But her project has already provoked more than just debate, inciting, for instance, outcry at a forum for fellow senior art majors held last week. And when told about Shvarts’ project, students on both ends of the abortion debate have expressed shock — saying the project does everything from violate moral code to trivialize abortion.

But Shvarts insists her concept was not designed for “shock value.”

“I hope it inspires some sort of discourse,” Shvarts said. “Sure, some people will be upset with the message and will not agree with it, but it’s not the intention of the piece to scandalize anyone.”

The “fabricators,” or donors, of the sperm were not paid for their services, but Shvarts required them to periodically take tests for sexually transmitted diseases. She said she was not concerned about any medical effects the forced miscarriages may have had on her body. The abortifacient drugs she took were legal and herbal, she said, and she did not feel the need to consult a doctor about her repeated miscarriages.

Read the orginal story in its entirety: Yale Daily News: For senior, abortion a medium for art, political discourse

Yale is obviously reeling from the PR and may be trying to quell the controversy by claing it's a hoax. Uncertainty ubounds at this point.

NYTimes: Sticking to the Bit? Yale’s Abortion Artist

Yale Daly News: University calls art project a fiction; Shvarts '08 disputes Yale's claim

Monday, April 21, 2008

(Un)Sustainablity 2.0

In recent months issues of sustainability have proven to be larger than oil dependence and climate change (As if that weren't enought). It seems that the adverse effects of those challenges combined with one of our solutions to them, biofuels has pushed the world further into crisis.

I've given a name to the networked-nature of this confluence of crises (demand for resources, economic slowdown and the credit crises, climate change, food shortages, and the adverse impact of biofuels): (Un)Sustainablity 2.0

Didn't you see it coming? The Horror Genre, Health Care Industry and Global Food Riots.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Your (Un)Sustainablity 2.0 Reading List

Wired News: Food Riots Begin: Will You Go Vegetarian?

The Economist: (December 6 2007)Cheap No More: Rising incomes in Asia and ethanol subsidies in America have put an end to a long era of falling food prices

The Gaurdian: (November 3 2007)Global food crisis looms as climate change and fuel shortages bite. Soaring crop prices and demand for biofuels raise fears of political instability.

Love and Rocket, Ball of Confusion

Meek FM Typographic Synthesizer Demo

The Horror Genre, Health Care Industry and Global Food Riots.

I always try and think of popular culture on a larger scale as being "stories we make and tell to one another" and then ask questions based on that vantage point. For instance, I think it's much more interesting to think about "why do we tell each other so many stories about killing each other?" than to argue about the effects of violent films on society.

One of the questions that has been one my mind and I hadn't been able to form sufficient answers for is "why all the stories about infection and zombies?"

The horror movie genre has a long history of creating films that are subtle, masked metaphors for societal issues. For instance, Godzilla is a metaphor for nuclear annihilation (and the United States). Slasher films of the Texas Chainsaw era were about the horrors of the Vietnam War (children going off and being slaughtered).

It would be over simplistic to think that the spate of zombie films in recent years, "28 Days Later", "28 Weeks later", "Legend" are simply metaphors for Aids. That feels like if falls way short of fully explaining the trend.

The presence of "rage" is interesting in recent zombie films. Zombies in the past stumbled around, they shuffled, they were slow. Contemporary zombies are fast, strong and really, really, pissed off. They're not laying around waiting to die. They WANT something and they think you (the protagonist) have it.

One of the growing crises "eating away" America over the past 2 decades has been the dysfunction in the health care industry. On a societal level, our collective systems for maintaining the heath of each other and human life has is failing. On an individual level, you're out there on your own and you're damned if you get sick.

Even more alarming is the rise in global food prices in the last 6 months resulting recently in outbreaks of food riots all over the globe.

Global food crisis looms as climate change and fuel shortages bite
Soaring crop prices and demand for bio fuels raise fears of political instability

In a very real sense the most fundamental needs of humans (the ones way down at the bottom of Maslow's Pyramid) are being threatened. The most basic survival instincts are under duress and triggering flight/flight responses. It's starting to feel like it every man for himself and God, and the earth and its climate... nature herself, against them all.

It's looking more like the 28th day every minute.

Cartoons Drawn on the Back of Business Cards

From the endlessly amusing GapingVoid: Cartoons Drawn on the Back of Business Cards.

Nathan Barley

Discovering new (to me) shows from me mates in the U.K. is like being a kid and sneaking into your older brothers room, rifling through his shit and finding a bong and a switchblade... it's a magical, magical day.

Here is the latest discovery, thanks to my brother in arms, Nixta.

The show is called Nathan Barley. Happy Monday y'all.

Part 2 of Episode 1

Part 3 of Episode 1

Musical Chairs at the Roundabout

My friends at Continuity recently launched a fundraising site for the Roundabout Theater company. Take Your Seat at Studio 54 allows donors to have a seat names after themselves through a full-screen panoramic vr interface.

Rolling over the seats allows you to see the required donation, or if the seat has been purchased, the name of the donor. A very cool digital era take on of the age old, offline tradition of patronage and seat naming.

n a related note, an interesting article on the "wealthy wired" and the online chanel. 'Wired Wealthy' Donors Seek Inspiration, Engagement from Non-Profit Websites

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Unmet Needs Sunday: On Being Filated

Sunday School: Papal Security

With God giving you air cover you'd think that you wouldn't need excessive ground forces but NYC wasn't taking any chances. I guess its like John Dillinger observed, "you can get more with a simple prayer and a Thompson Submachine Gun than you can with a simple prayer alone".

Reconnaissance submarines, radiation detection trucks and a fleet of well-equipped helicopters: From land, water and sky, the New York City Police Department is taking extraordinary security measures for Pope Benedict XVI's historic visit to the city.

From ABC News: NYC Ramps Up Security for Pope's Visit

Ka Kaw

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Standard Operating Procedure

The latest film by one of my favorite directors Errol Morris is called Standard Operating Procedure. The film which Morris describes as a "non-fiction horror movie", "examines the incidents of abuse and torture of suspected terrorists at the hands of U.S. forces at the Abu Ghraib prison." .

Morris's films, are always beautifully shot, art directed and designed. Judging from the trailer this is exceptionally so.

The site for Standard Operating Procedure is great, well designed with a simple and interesting interface. Odd however, is that I don't see a trailer for the film on the site.

I have other issues with the marketing of the film as well. I learned of the film when I saw posters for it on the streets of Manhattan. It doesn't read as a film poster necessarily, it could just as easily be a poster for a new camera model. The film is about all of the amazing (now iconic) images that broke the Abu Ghraib prison story. Why not show one of those?

I thought the film was called "Weapons of Mass Distortion", that being the most prominent headline on the poster. Googling "Weapons of Mass Distortion" didn't help me find the site for the film. Neither did typing in the actual name of the film "Standard Operating Procedure". You Don't see a link for Errol Morris's site until 3 pages in on Google. I don't know when or if the link to the site appears, I didn't bother going past 3 pages and found the link to it on the director's web site.

What gives? Is Sony under-promoting this film intentionally?


Hobosexuals are men that have a pathological blindspot for how to dress and groom. For all of Hollywod's glitz and glamor it was still home to some of the most dramatic examples of hobosexuaity alive today. That is, until recently. Former Hobosexuals Francis Ford Coppola and Peter Jackson seem to have gone through some remarkable neurological transformations.

Michael Moore continues to be comfortable with the way he is.

Our Side is Winning: Paradox and Entropy

Kathleen raised an interesting point in response to my post Unmet Needs: The Eligible-Bachelor Paradox. I claimed that my bachelorhood was a result of being more novelty oriented as opposed to stability oriented. She pointed out the failure rate and "other" uncertainties that make married life anything but stable. I suppose my life is rather stable compared to the lives of the "married with children". I can think of no better way to destroy my easy-going lifestyle and fully satiated needs than to strap myself to a bomb and have a few kids.

I was listening to a podcast on the news industry and the point was being made on how it is becoming increasing difficult, almost impossible, to remain profitable. It appears to me that there are economic changes happening beyond the threshold of perception, dynamics we do not have concepts for. We are not asking simple enough questions. Global food prices are skyrocketing and news is unprofitable. How is it with all of our wondrous science and technology we are increasing unable to feed ourselves and keep each other abreast of what is happening? These are basic physiological and social needs.

Isn't the story of progress we are taught supposed to make life easier, fulfill and meet basic needs and ladder up to increasing levels of efficiency and structure.

There is another enterprise that appears to be economically (and socially) infeasible, the American family.

I'm reminded of two songs for the brilliant first and second releases of TMBG.

Don't Don't Don't Let's Start, in which they gleefully sing "No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful. Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful."

And They'll Need a Crane
"They'll need a crane, they'll need a crane, to take the house he built for her apart,
to make it break ,it's gonna take, a metal ball hung from a chain".


10 years ago I came up with the idea of doing a documentary. I was dating a girl who's father had converted the family's standalone garage into what he called "The Clubhouse". It was a place to hide from the family, drink beer and watch television.

I realized that there appears to be a universal, hard-wired need among men to establish a space for themselves. It appears to span across cultures and well as socio-economic boundaries. In the last few years the term "mancave" has poped up in popular culture to describe this phenomenon. It's often just a space to drink and watch tv or play video games but sometimes it's a den, library, woodworking shop, watercolor studio, whatever.

One of the points of reference I had for the film was the shanty town in Murmansk (Russia). From BBC News: In pictures: Murmansk's gorgeous garages

The men of Russia's Arctic city of Murmansk have an unlikely passion - as a woman living there explains: "Many men in Murmansk love escaping to their garages, which are often built far away from the apartment blocks where they live."

"It is a tradition that the men build the garages themselves. Many of them were illegally built, though a few months ago there was an amnesty for unregistered garages."

"They call them sea shells. I don’t know why because they are so ugly and sea shells are so pretty."

"Winters here are long and hard and they’ve got to keep their cars somewhere. They like to mend their cars in a warm place, and the fishermen can lock up their cars when they spend months at sea."

"The men spend a lot of time there, repairing their cars and talking politics or gossiping."

"When a car has been repaired they celebrate. It is a tradition to eat home-made pickles and drink vodka, so in most garages there is a good store of supplies."

"The garages are often furnished with old furniture, so after bad rows with their wives the men can come here to stay for a few days."

CNN just did a piece on mancaves: iReporters share a glimpse of their man caves

This was one of the responses to the CNN piece, from Tiki Bar TV

This is just stupid.

The man-cave is NOT shown around, it is NOT talked about, it is kept in the dark where only the owner can tread. The man-cave contains in its recesses stuff that only applies to the man in question. Mocking can result if shown to other men, and divorce if shown to women.

Showing a man-cave is like showing your gitch in public.

It's just not done.

Silly CNN. The man-cave's privacy is sancrosect.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Traks Boys, Starburst

Unmet Needs: The Eligible-Bachelor Paradox

It's good to be the king. It's even better to be a single guy in Manhattan. To be so is to be a hot commodity in a sellers market. The socal vacum created by our rarity is a constant source of discussion by everyone from pop pundits to behavioral economists.

Life is good, right? well, sort of.

The married guys I fraternize with look on with admiration and awe as women press thir numbers into my palm, and confused hostility because I almost never ever call them.

A guy finds himself single in his 30s because, on the novelty/certainty axis, he likes the slider all the way to the left. We value the "chutes and ladders" nature of life, the thrill, the hunt, the dance.

The paradox for men like me is that the end result is boredom. There is such a surplus of reletively interesting, beautful and eager women that they've become commoditized and dating has become an overly available, tedious and pedestrian. It's a lot harder to get my married firends to break off some time for me (3 guys I know had babies in the past 5 days) than it is to find a date or a little "sumpin sumpin"..

The end resut is more unmet needs all around. The end result for me is boredom and apathywhich makes me less receptive to single women, which decreasing their chances of meeting their unmet needs.

M, Q, I had a great time with you guys last night.

From Slate: The Eligible-Bachelor Paradox.

Here is an excerpt:

The problem of the eligible bachelor is one of the great riddles of social life. Shouldn't there be about as many highly eligible and appealing men as there are attractive, eligible women?

Actually, no—and here's why. Consider the classic version of the marriage proposal: A woman makes it known that she is open to a proposal, the man proposes, and the woman chooses to say yes or no. The structure of the proposal is not, "I choose you." It is, "Will you choose me?" A woman chooses to receive the question and chooses again once the question is asked.
The idea of the woman choosing expressed in the proposal is a resilient one. The woman picking among suitors is a rarely reversed archetype of romantic love that you'll find everywhere from Jane Austen to Desperate Housewives. Or take any comic wedding scene: Invariably, it'll have the man standing dazed at the altar, wondering just how it is he got there.
Obviously, this is simplified—in contemporary life, both sides get plenty of chances to be selective. But as a rough-and-ready model, it's not bad, and it contains a solution to the Eligible-Bachelor Paradox.

If a violinist falls in the forest?

The Washington Post conducted an interesting experiment recently. They had violinist Joshua Bell perform in a subway station during the morning rush hour, dressed in ordinary street clothes.

On that Friday in January, those private questions would be answered in an unusually public way. No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities -- as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?

The musician did not play popular tunes whose familiarity alone might have drawn interest. That was not the test. These were masterpieces that have endured for centuries on their brilliance alone, soaring music befitting the grandeur of cathedrals and concert halls.

A very amusing read. Pearls Before Breakfast

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Know Your Paraphilia: Frotteurism

Paraphilia, "in psychology and sexology, is a term that describes a family of persistent, intense fantasies, aberrant urges, or behaviors involving sexual arousal to nonhuman objects, pain or humiliation experienced by oneself or one's partner, children, or nonconsenting individuals or unsuitable partners." (Wikipedia) Or, in the parlance of the street "freaky shit".

Someone who performs Frotteurism is called a frotteur.

There is a particular Paraphilia known as Frotteurism.

Frotteurism the non-consensual rubbing against another person to achieve sexual arousal. The contact is usually with the hands or the genitals and may involve touching any part of the body including the genital area. The majority of frotteurs are male and the majority of victims are female[1], although female on male frotteurs exist. (Wikipedia)

The most colorful vernacular description of frotteurism I've heard is "Cock-Drag Driveby". A man that performs a "Cock-Drag Driveby" is know as a "Monkeydawg".

It's all about
Unmet Needs.

Shermanism: Inflection Point

For Andy Grove, as described in "Only the Paranoid Survive" an inflection point is a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change.

For the rest of us it is the year you really didn't want to go to your parent's friend's holiday party, but they made you. You were 12 and all the other kids were 8, trying to put the mousetrap together but fucking it up and never getting around to playing the game. Too old to sit through "The Grinch" again and too young to get high and hit on your dad's boss's wife.

That was year everything changed.

This post is dedicated to my dear friend BP who always seems to bring out the best (or at least the funniest) in me.
Meeting him was one fo my life's best inflection points.

Shermanism: Unmet Needs

There is a phrase I use that has become an running joke amongst my comrades. It usually comes out of my mouth when we enter a bar, "wow, there are a lot of unmet needs in this place".

Sunday is "Unmet Needs Day". For couples, it's date night or quiet time together day. For single guys, Sunday is the painful blur between Saturday night and Monday morning. For single girls it's a painful reminder that you are single.

Sunday is also the day that I receive friend requests from people that I have never met. People siting home alone, trolling to fulfill unmet needs.

As abundant as everything is here in New York it also seems to be overrunning with unmet needs. Look around with this in mind. It explains so much.

Life knows no joke but cruel ones. Have a great day.

Unmet Needs Sunday: ON Being Filated

Unmet Needs: The Eligible-Bachelor Paradox

Know Your Paraphilia: Frotteurism

The Sherman Foundation. Working Hard to Fulfill Unmet Needs.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Zyrtek "Outdoor"

Cajun Boy spotted this. I'm ot sure yet what my take is.

Last seen while waiting for Claritin to start working. If found please call 1-800-ZYRTEC

My garden is coming along swimmingly

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

On Men. A Sherman Foundation Whitepaper

I have written many pieces on the "cultural discourse of masculinity" and the lack of narratives and structures of social interaction for men outside of major league sports.

Sports are the most efficient provider of a conversational and interactional platform for men. Stories and programs like "Fightclub" and "Entourage" are few compared to the numerous narratives for women: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Sex in the City, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Lifetime, Oxygen and soap operas in general.

This isn't anything new, but add to this contradictory, confusing and manufactured definitions of what it means to "be a man" and we have a new, compounded set of problems for individual men and society at large.

A symptom of the problem and a challenge created by it can be seen in the difficulty of marketing to men. The male, 18-34 year old demographic is the most difficult target to reach. It's not that reaching them is a big secret. In my opinion there are three Vs: Violence, Vulgarity and Vixens. The problem is the content within those three Vs have drifted further and further outside of the range that network television and advertisers can operate in. The "theatricized reality" of the media/marketing world is out of touch with what men are really interested in and can get through channels like the internet.

Spike has captured a chunk of the male audience with things like the "Ultimate Fighting Championship" and shows like "Bet You Will". This may not be the most civilized content but your male demographic has been deprived of anything that realistically meets its tastes halfway for so long that this, like it or not, is now the landscape.

An episode of "Bet You Will" called... "Pee Pee Dance".

Kimbo Slice, backyard, barefisted fighter was a big online phenomenon popular with young men long before he made the jump to broadcast mix martial arts fighting.

Another trend compounding the difficulties of the male cultural psyche is the feminization of male definitions, social practices and aesthetics. The contemporary salon experience (getting your hair cut) has more in common with my grandmothers beauty parlors than my grandfathers barber shops.

Metrosexuallity made pedicures, manicures and body hair grooming mandatory for cosmopolitan men before products and services were available that fulfilled against those needs. Norelco lead the charge for body hair grooming products for men but there are still few places for men, designed for men to get facials, "pedis" and "mannis", so you see them in pink storefronts penned in between rows of women.

Metrosexuallity recast the definition of "male" to be more in line with consumer culture. It did this by remaking them over in the image of more efficient consumers, women and homosexuals. What I mean by this is that past definitions of "masculinity" were attitudinal, "metrosexuality" is a means of evaluating men based on look and lifestyle, on what they buy.

I recently talked to a marketing manager that works for a sports related brand that described their companies take on the male bonding as "bromantic". They are obviously struggling with the same issues many other markers are, how to connect to men and how to talk about the comradere that men share with one another. The poverty of terms I describe above has lead them to reference male/female in their framing. Understandable, but not advisable.

Gentlemen, are you ready to don shortpants? photos below from: Men’s Suit Trends For Spring 2008. I think it's fair and accurate to describe this look as infantalizing, at best.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that the backlash to all of this is getting ugly. Take for example the recent feature in New York magazine, Revolt at Horace Mann:

The Web page for a Horace Mann Facebook group titled the “Men’s Issues Club” mocked a student organization on campus called the Women’s Issues Club. The 44 members of the parody club included children of both trustees and the legion of prominent names who send their children to Horace Mann, which sits in the top rung of private schools in New York. One club member referred to an English teacher as a “crazy ass bitch” and a French teacher as an “acid casualty.” Another boy boasted that he’s “the only person here who actually beats women when hes [sic] drunk. no joke,” while still another bragged that he had “banged” a teacher “in [the] music dept. bathroom” and “will get great college rec” for the accomplishment. The boys lamented Star Jones’s “fat and wrinkled ass,” “sex in the city,” and “feminism,” proclaiming, “WHERE DO THEY BELONG?!?!????!!! IN THE KITCHEN!! IN THE KITCHEN!!!” The club summed up its mission thus: “For too long men have not had a way to express themselves and their beliefs in society. Men need to have a voice, we aren’t meant to be seen and not heard. Let freedom ring, bitches.”

Axe deodorant became the most successful category takeover in marketing history by finding a clever way to talk to young men in a manner that mirrors the way they talk to each other, the use of ironic (or retro) sexism and by being a voice for the backlash.

In Zarathustra Nietzsche presents this parable: "Not a few who meant to cast
out their devil, went thereby into the swine themselves." What he means is, be careful about the parts of yourself your throw away, you may throw away the best part.

Yes. Some of the old definitions and sterotypes of masculinity were overly aggressive and brutish, but they're roted in evolution and history and perhaps serve a larger purpose. Historically, a fundamental role of men has been to destroy those things in the world that aren't working. In recent years we've witnesses treasonous scandals at Enron and WorldComm and now a credit crisis that will be bailed out by people who didn't participate in the profits that caused the crises. Where are the people, dare I say men, standing up for what is right and taking these things to task. People should be in the streets throwing rocks and bottles but they aren't.

I will close this one out with an excerpt from Lee Iacocca's recent book "Where Have All the Leaders Gone?"

"Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course".

John Stossel pwns Graphic Design

Belittled by a news anchor, that hurts (right in the feelings). He really sleights Jessica Helfand, hard.

My boy Sean tells me that Jessica and Bill just did a huge book project on Paul Rand so there may be a few levels and some very premediated dissing going on here.

The Beat on the Street

Does the manner in which I display my produce make you horney?

How do you keep your duvet so pristinely white when you sleep outside?

Teddy Ruxpin. Your Guide to Marital Infidelity

Don't take Teddy's word for it. From NPR News:
Web Site Makes Millions by Connecting Cheaters

Dating website: Ashley Madison. When Monogamy Become Monotany.

The Spitzer scandal, Enron, WorldComm, The Cerdit Crisis... none of this should surprise us. Every day it become more apparent that, as a society, we have no problem with cheating if its self serving and we aren't the patsy.

King of Kong

King Friday and I watched "King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters" last night. An outstanding "documentary that follows Steve Wiebe as he tries to take the world high score for the arcade game Donkey Kong from reigning champion Billy Mitchell." (Wikipedia)

The Movie Trailer

The personalities featured in this doc are unique to say the least.

Monday, April 14, 2008

TxTual Healing

Textual Healing, a series of public installation projects that utilizes SMS to video.

TXT of the Living Dead from paul notzold on Vimeo.

About the project:
TXTual Healing is an ongoing series of interactive performances that encourage the creation of dialog through text messaging from mobile phones. The project harnesses the SMS capabilities of the cell phone as a medium to interact with and explore our shared public and physical space, not as a means to escape it. TXTual Healing builds community through public story telling.

Using the speech bubble as a symbol for communication, participants send text messages to a provided phone number that automatically, anonymously, and in real time, displays these messages inside the bubbles projected onto the facade of a building. The result of projecting in shared public space give participants in the street a voice as loud as the corporate and government entities who financially predetermine the information in these spaces.

TXTual Healing encourages the public sharing of thoughts, experiences and ideas using networked mobile devices that typically support more private communications. Positioning the projections next to windows, or integrating the SMS interactivity with religious, political and socially charged graphics, invites people to share their own uncensored views of the information around them in the form of interactive theater.

Mad props to King Friday for "turning me on".

M post on courtship, sexuality and TXT: I give great txt (Courtship Revisited)

I love the reference to Marvin Gaye reference. Take us out Marvin...

Two sinking ships in the night

"Lets tie our failing business models together and see how fast the ocean floor rushes up at us". Or as Kobe like to put it: "two garbage trucks colliding in slow motion".

Blockbuster Offers to Buy Circuit City

The Breakup

The relationship metaphor provides endless opportunity to beat up on the old-world advertising model. Thanks for sending this along H!

Jornalism in the Digital Age

The NYTimes has done a great job with the online version of its paper. The multimedia features like this recent one showing exec pay, Executive Pay: The Bottom Line for Those at the Top, are great. Despit this the papers ad revenue contnues to drop: Newspaper Ad Revenue Down 7.9%

The political blog Talking Points Memo won a Polk Award earlier this year, a first for an online blog.

Here is an iTunes podcast link to an interview with TPM founder Joshua Micah Marshall. Are Bloggers Journalists? Great stuff on the hybrid journalism model that he is using.

I love the frank, cut-to-the-point editorial voice on TPM, like this recent comment on Hilary Clinton:
To see Hillary going absolutely over the top to smash Obama for making clearly more humanly sympathetic observations in this vein, is just amazing. Even more so to see her pretending to be a gun-toting non-elite. Give us a break!

Save the Internet

Lisa "Hot Pocket" posted this to my Facebook site. Thanks girl, god stuff.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Mick Collins is a god!

The Dirtbombs, last night at the Bowery Ballroom.

Mick Collins from TheShermanFoundation on Vimeo.

Great time with the Detroit constituency, thanks for a great night boys. God bless Dave for buying me a Dirtbombs t-shirt.

Friday, April 11, 2008

F is for Friday, F is for pork.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I give great txt (Courtship Revisited)

The conventional history, we are told to believe is that the automobile supplied a getaway and mobile love shack for teenage sexuality that allowed it to break free of parental constraint. It can be argued as well that what was lost in this process were rituals of courtship. No longer were the fires of young hormones forced to do a slow burn under the watchful eyes of parents on the porch swing.

Courtship is a slow dance, a way for people to size one another up and test out material in new and sometimes awkward situations. The automobile blasted through all those checkpoints and toll booths.

Some of what the automobile drove off with has been stolen back by digital technology, in particular SMS Texting and IM. The asynchronous (back and forth, but not immediate) and the short-form format give people another avenue of connection that saves them from the long awkward pause and the sweaty face-to-face. Forget about email, most people just aren't gifted or clever enough to mount an outbound email campaign to meet their base needs.

The easily misinterpreted text bites launched with the press of the send button are ideally suited for innuendo, flirting and fumbling your way into a relationship with legs.

It's no surprise that studies show that today's (hormonally fueled) teenagers have eschewed email in favor of TXT and IM. Why leave a pile of awkward conversational history in your wake when you can just hit and run?

What's ironic is that online dating, which is the intentionally engineered social crutch of digital technology seems to be a terrible way to meet people but a great way to do a lot of sport f******.

As is so often the case with technology, it fails to deliver against the intended purpose and the adopted uses and applications are completely unforeseen.

From The Foundation archives: Technology and Culture: The foreseen and the unforeseen

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Poetry of Destruction: Almost Safe

Almost Safe, a stunning series of images by photographer Anthony Goicolea. (I wish I had seen these when they showed in NY last year.)

Playing with Food (Mind Games)

There have been many recent stories in the media about rising food prices:
From The Economist: Cheap No More:
Slate Explainer Poscast: (iTunes Link)Why Are Global Food Prices Soaring?

One of the results is that food packaging/portions are shinking (the prces are staying the same)
General Mills: Smaller Cereal Boxes, Rising Prices
Wall Street worried General Mills's plan to pack its cereals in smaller boxes would annoy customers, but the breakfast crowd apparently hasn't noticed.

It seems that when it comes to food we don't notice a lot of things. Like how much we actually consume.
Science Poscast with the author of: Mindless Eating
An interesting example. People pour more into short wide glasses than tall thin ones. Even a professional bartender will pour 28% more into a tumbler.

The increasing use of corn as a fuel source has resulted in higher prices.
One result of this: tortila riots in Mexico

Ironic Racism and Culture's Conversational Backdoor

I ended my post The Outsider's Advantage: Why Blacks and Gays are Funnier and Brits Make Great Rock 'N Roll with a link to Stuff White People Like. A friend in publishing just told me that they are going to make a book based on the site.

My initial thought was "is that necessary?" Then I went ahead and started to think about what I would do with it if it was my project. Sidebar content with call-outs that highlighted "great moments in white history" and "white people of note" quickly came to mind... then I took pause. I can't remember EVER hearing a positive non-ironic celebration of "whiteness" and you certainly never hear phrases like "great moments in white history". The context such thoughts immediately thrust you into is that of "white supremacism".

Below: Whitey Whitney from that whitebread show "Leave it to Beaver".

Irony, like parody and satire, make possible the expression of thoughts and ideas that would otherwise be taboo. The most powerful example in recent years (and my favorite) is the use of ironic-sexism (or retro-sexism if you prefer) by the brand Axe. It allowed for a brand to take over a category by speaking to its audience the way that audience speaks among themselves under the guise of irony.

Works like "Stuff White People Like" (and a subsequent book) have the power, for better or for worse, to make possible cultural conversations, ironic and sincere, that may have been uncomfortable in the past. In a very real sense, irony is a way of sneaking things in.

Someone turned me on to Rent-A-Negro yesterday. After many reservations I posted it but then took it down later in the day. Within the context of this discussion it becomes a point of interest.

From The Sherman Foundation Archives: Retro-Sexism (The Ya Ya Brotherhood)

New Word Order: Generocicide

Generocicide: (Noun, Etymology: Shermanism)
Killing with kindness so effectively that the end result is the destruction, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.

Ringo Starr... Decapitated

VIA the UKs Daily Post

One of the life-size topiary figures of the Beatles at Liverpool South Parkway station has been vandalised only a few weeks after they were unveiled. Ringo Starr’s head was chopped off over the weekend by an unknown offender.
Merseytravel said CCTV footage was being analysed by both themselves and British Transport Police in a bid to identify who was responsible. A Merseytravel spokesman said last night: “This is a huge disappointment for us. Public art is important and the topiary was put there to bring a bit of life and soul to the public transport network.

Host (Irrational Half-Wit) in the Machine

The value of familiarity.

A study out of Princton shows that people perceive the value of paper bank note to be higher than that of a Susan B Anthony $1 coin. The experiement, conducted again with 2 $1 paper notes and a $2 bill bare the same results.

From The Economist: Look and Feel

After the volunteers had made their estimates, they were asked to indicate on a scale of one to seven how familiar they were with either the banknote or the coin. Dr Alter and Dr Oppenheimer were not surprised to find that all participants were less familiar with the coin than with the banknote. Nor were they that surprised to find a difference in how the participants valued coin and note (the expectation that there would be a difference was, after all, the point of doing the experiment). They were, however, flabbergasted by the size of the difference. People offered the banknote believed, on average, that they could use it to buy 83 paperclips, 72 napkins or 46 sweets. Those offered the coin thought 39 paperclips, 51 napkins or 27 sweets. In other words, the note was believed to be almost twice as valuable as the coin.

Interesting observation in the conclusion:

Whether this observation has wider significance is unclear, but it may. Familiarity takes time to build up. It may have been unfamiliarity with the currency itself, rather than with its face value, which caused price gouging (or, at least, allegations of price gouging) when the euro was introduced. With that in mind, it might be wise for America's Federal Reserve to watch retail prices carefully when it introduces a new series of banknotes in August. With money, it seems, it is not familiarity, but unfamiliarity that breeds contempt.

On a similar note.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Thoughts and predictions on Social Media/Video Culture Countertrends.

As terms like social media and consumer generated media were coming into use there used to erupt disagreements and debate over what the proper terminologies should be. The one I noticed most often was over "content" vs "media" in the case of "consumer generated content" (or "consumer generated media"). The term that I always had a problem with in these instances was "consumer". If nothing was being bought, sold or monetized (as is still often the case) who the hell were they calling consumer?

The term that always seemed to me to be totally appropriate was "media". Not as a reference to "mass media" but as a reference to events and moments being captured on some sort of media that made them sharable. This is the most fundamental and easily overlooked feature of the social media and video culture age. It is the oxygen of the milieu. It is this very aspect of our current culture that I am beginning to see and expect to see more and more counertrends respond to.

I use the word "countertrend" as opposed to "reaction" because I don't want to imply in any way the notion of a value judgment. The process really doesn't spring from a conscious appraisal, although proponents and champions of countertreads often adopt that type of stance as a way to validate their positions and consolidate identity.

Countertrends arise from a shifting of value in a general sense as a result of the widespread effect of the most pronounced and salient features of widespread trends. In this case, the process of recording and sharing just about everything and anything by everbody.

In an age where everything is captured what is more precious than an event that goes by without being recorded on video? In a time where everything is shared and promoted like a cheap liquidation sale what could be more cherished than a secret one or two people take to the grave? The one-off, the ephemeral, the unrecorded and undocumented will be sought after and valued for its increasing rareness and stark contrast to the norm.

Signs of this have already begun to appear in the form of speakeasies, underground dining clubs, and private events held with little notice beforehand of location to their attendants. I expect it to manifest in many other ways as well.

As I thought about the topic of this blogpost I began compiling a list of some of the new bars, restaurants and events that fit into this growing category but like Mickey Rourke says in Angel Heart... I think secret loves should stay secret.

My multi-post series on Participatory Media/User Generated from 2006.
(A bit dated but still relevant, particularly my idea that the relative value of content is dropping)

On Participatory Media and User Generated Content. A multi-post series.

Part 1. Talking to Ourselves

Part 2. What are We Talking About?

Part 3. It's Gotten Personal.

Part 4. The Relative Value of Content (is Dropping)

Part 5. Distortions in Truth & Reality and a Crisis of Credibility

Part 6. Amateur/Professional

Part 7. Who Needs Television?