Enlightened Conflict

torture by royal wedding

April 28th, 2011

So.

I thought I would jump on the royal wedding bandwagon … but with a twist.

The twist is the torture aspect.

Water boarding.

Bamboo shoots under the fingernails.

Chinese water torture.

Disco music.

The royal wedding.

All forms of torture that should be outlawed.

Look. All I want to talk about right now is:

-        “why would anyone take Cam Newton #1 ?”

-        “how can they have an NFL draft when they cannot trade any players during the draft?”

-        “can the Hawks win the series tonight (because if they don’t and go back to Orlando I am fairly sure they are gonna go home for the summer)?

-        “can Albert Pujols hit anything but a home run?

I pretty much want to talk about one of the greatest times in sports … the NFL draft is happening at the same time that the NBA first round is ending and the ice hockey playoffs are getting good and the European Cup soccer finals are here (and the semi finals are still being talked about) and major league baseball is getting into full swing and … well … all I am hearing is Royal Wedding watching parties and Kate’s dress and all this other royal wedding crap.

So.

This is going to be an honest talk to the ladies.

And I’m going to be honest because there’s something about this whole royal wedding thing that every man wants to say (so I will say it).

No guy gives a shit about the Royal Wedding.

Oh, he might say he does. He might be sitting on the couch with you right now watching it.

And he will absolutely deny anything and everything I am saying (or I am about to say) until he is blue in the face.

But. Bottom line.

He.

Doesn’t.

Care.

(period)

And I’ll tell you why. Because men don’t actually give a shit about any wedding (even their own I am sad to say).

Well. Not if they are honest.

Anyway. Ask your man and I will bet he will lie (assuming he is smart). He may say something about “gosh, it is beautiful” or if he isn’t that good a liar he will focus on the beauty of Westminster Abbey (a guy cannot really go wrong by suggesting a piece of architecture is beautiful) but in general if he says anything positive about watching the royal wedding … he is lying.

Ok.

Before I get to the actual Royal Wedding let me comment on weddings in general.

In general weddings have some wacky torturous traditions that have no relevance other than the fact they make someone feel uncomfortable or serve to remind us other than an open bar the wedding is torture to every man alive.

Here are the top most painful traditions (which the Royal Wedding reminds us are a royal pain in the ass):

diamond rings: Diamonds may be “forever” but they really only to forever be a pain in every guy’s ass (and wallet). De Beers created the engagement ring rush in the early twentieth century as a way to boost sales. Someone should bomb their frickin’ corporate headquarters. They should go down in the evil history hall of fame next to Hitler & Stalin. Every guy knows that they will be judged by their wife’s friends not by how they treat their wife or how nice a guy they are but by that frickin’ ring.

huge wedding: Huge parties? Awesome.  Huge weddings? OMG.  A guy’s nightmare. The only good part of a huge wedding is you get to have a best friend or two stand with you and feel your pain. You cannot even ogle the army of bridesmaids standing on the other side. Even the enormous open bar (and bar bill attached to it) doesn’t do you any good because to get to it you have to pass through a mass of unwanted guests all who feel obligated to say something to you (when all you want is the stiffest cocktail the bartender can give you). Huge weddings is simply mass torture. Give me solitary confinement versus a huge wedding.

the first dance (or dancing in general).

C’mon.  There isn’t a real man out there who likes to dance. And dance in a fully lit non-smoky bar without a juke box? Forget it.  It ain’t happening unless forced by “tradition.” Let’s couple the dislike of dancing with being the first one on the dance floor and having to dance the first frickin’ dance.  Yikes.  That honor is typically bestowed upon two girls who just cannot wait to shake their booty (and won’t ever be asked to dance by a guy anyway) or some guy who can lip sync Gloria Gaynor “I will survive.” The first dance is torture.  Fucking torture. Give me the bamboo shoots under my fingernails instead.

the garter thing: after some research I discovered that this tradition supposedly originated in a belief that it was lucky to grab a swatch of the bride’s clothes. Somehow it has shifted into the groom removing this garter thing (some unknown piece of lingerie) and throwing it at all the single men of which is supposed to bestow nuptial luck (as if that is luck) on the catcher of the garter. Ok. This is just one extremely uncomfortable tradition. What single man in his right mind wants to stand around with other men and act like it’s a loose ball in a Celtics-Lakers game and dive without thought as if the win hinges upon actually catching the stupid garter? (none is the answer if you didn’t know). Now.  If it were panties?  And the bride were lifting up her dress and having her panties pulled down? Yowza. Bring on this tradition.

the whole smashing cake in each other’s face thing:

ok.  Let me recap this Animal House food fight type tradition.

It’s your wedding day.

She is all in white in a dress that costs a shitload of money (and will never wear again).

You are in probably the best tux you will ever wear.

She is wearing make up that she started putting on some time two days before so it looks perfect.

She has been fixing her hair for over a month to make sure it looked right.

You are being watched by everyone you know.

Perfect time for a food fight. Right?

Well.  I am kind of unclear how any guy is gonna win in this scenario (unless he is trying to remind his wife she needs to lose some weight so “please let me shove this in your face and not in your mouth to remind you to cut back on calories”). Gosh.  Even then I cannot see how a guy wins.

Go ahead. Mess up my hair.  Or. Go ahead. Mess up my make up.

It is a quaint tradition that unless you are the next reincarnation of John Belushi I cannot fathom being a positive way to begin a longstanding relationship.

Lastly? From a guy’s perspective?

What a waste of good food.

Anyway.

Back to the Royal Wedding.

Imagine being stuck in front of the television watching the procession (more like an endless train of graffiti covered boxcars as you sit at the crossing with the red lights blinking endlessly), the dress (more hats than the Kentucky Derby but even more horses … although they don’t run as fast), the ceremony (some people call it ‘the pomp’ I just call it poop), the vows (even they have to do it although they don’t have the ability to “write my own vows”) and wondering who the hell is sitting next to the torturer from Bahrain or the grand poohbah of the Duchy of Delphonics.

Imagine.

Torture.

Fucking torture.

I had to chuckle.

ICM Research conducted a poll in the UK and one of the statements was: ‘I am genuinely interested and excited by the royal wedding.”

-        46 per cent disagreed

-        37 per cent agreed

-        17 per cent were ambivalent

My conclusion? UK is a country of liars.

Sure. There will be one guy everyone knows who will be into it.

One who calls figure skating a sport. One who enjoys listening to Enya and probably knows every scene of March of the Penguins by heart.

But it’s not a huge demographic and certainly not enough to make those numbers look the way they look.

The fact is we men don’t give a shit about the Royal Wedding not because we are incapable of expressing love (or some kind of sappy emotion) but because it incorporates all the things we don’t give a shit about … big hats, big churches, big hair, big british teeth, big dresses, big parades (without big blowup animals which would have helped) and big carriages (and there are no big explosions or big fights).

Its just a big boring pain in the ass.

Anyway.

It’s your day so enjoy it.

But. Please (please).

Don’t torture us with it.

story of 2 americas part 1 – the haves

April 26th, 2011

So.

This is a story about 2 Americas and the recession.

This is a story about the haves and the have nots.

PewResearch calls this the story of the “One Recession, 2 Americas.”

And this article focuses on the ‘haves.’

Ok.

Let me begin with the fact that a lot of people are making a lot of money writing points of view on the effect of the recession on people’s behavior.  And while I am not making any money on the topic I surely have written my point of view on the ongoing behavioral effect the recession will have on consumer shopping.

What I do know for sure is that there have been a lot of sweeping generalizations.

And I also know for sure that the media hasn’t helped in forging a quasi-untrue belief that the recession has affected everyone’s behavior and crippled the economy.

But.

It hasn’t.

A little less then ½ of American households are holding their own (and behavior wise aren’t doing a whole lot different than they were before).  I have research to support that statement (although I believe it without research).

Ok.

I am going to try and make two points here. First is on current behavior. And second will be what current behavior means to ongoing (future) behavior.

First.

Current behavior. Let’s try this factoid out to maybe reset everyone’s thinking a little.

45% of Americans said they have “held their own” during the recession (PewResearchCenter 9/10).

This 45% of Americans have made some different fiscal decisions but the majority has done nothing differently (per the research).

Look.  I am not suggesting that 55% saying they were affected should be ignored (and in fact my next post will be about them) but I am suggesting that there are a boatload of people who are just humming along like they have always been doing (and many are hiding their behavior out of guilt in front of the other 55%). And I do recognize that this study didn’t deeply measure all the attitudinal things that come along with a recession so I imagine even the 45% of America thought some ‘fear’ things and probably were more cautious about expenditures. But the research shows some interesting things about this group that represents almost half of America:

-        Only 4% of this group say they have increased debt to pay bills

-        Only about 30% said they have cut back on the amount they are saving

-        About 50% of this group said the single biggest adjustment they have on their lives is changing some spending patterns (“we cut back on some luxuries & vacations”  – me: didn’t eliminate – “we eat out less often”- me: didn’t eliminate)

Note: Pew calls this a minor adjustment

-        As for ‘major adjustments?

NO (that’s zero to all my readers) members of this group say the recession has “caused them to make any major changes in the way they live” (yikes). Yes. 45% of Americans made no major adjustments to their behavior.

-        Halfway into the 3rd year of a recession 50% of this group report they are “living quite comfortably” (thank you very much)

Just some interesting things before I move on (just some factoids).

This 45% is more likely to live in suburbs & rural areas and on the east coast, be older, higher educated and more affluent.

Ok. Basically “the haves” (the upper & upper middle income) pretty much was sheltered and lower middle class and lower income got screwed (but that is a different post about the increasing split between the haves and the have nots).

Next.

Ongoing behavior.

Let’s think about some of the implications from the current behavior research information.

Basically 45% of America hasn’t changed current behavior.

So common sense would tell you that their ongoing and future behavior won’t change.

The haves will continue to “feed” the American “can do” spirit and “bigger/more is better” attitude. And, oh by the way, they will continue to grow and increase the gap between themselves and the have nots.  At an increasing speed. Yes.  This 45% will foster whatever positive growth arises from the recession but they will benefit more so (and foster a very healthy luxury segment to the dismay of the have nots).

Let me finish this thought by saying 45% of America is a boatload of people.

Mucho people and mucho money.

Not to say 55% isn’t a bigger number but 45% ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at (and they represent a disproportionate percentage of the overall American wealth).

So before you say “the recession has changed the way the business will be conducted forever” just take a moment and remember … 45% of America doesn’t seem to have changed a bit.

Looking ahead.

My next post is about the “have nots” or what the PewResearch calls “Lost Ground” (the 55% of those who seem to be truly affected by the recession).

the story of 2 americas part 2 – the “have nots”

April 26th, 2011

Ok.

Back to the story of the 2 Americas.  This is chapter two.

As a reminder. The Pew Research Center released survey results titled “Two Recessions, Two Americas.” The Pew pollsters asked people about their economic wellbeing during the recession. Interestingly Pew found that America fell into two distinct groups — one that had multiple financial setbacks since December 2007 (“Lost Ground”) and another that reported they had held their own (“Held Their Owns”).

Chapter one was on the “haves.” The 45% of Americans that clearly stated they were doing just fine (thank you very much) despite the recession. (PewResearch 2010)

Chapter 2 is about the other 55% of America. The group that Pew refers to as the “lost ground” group. (same research source)

Let’s call them the “have nots.”

Look. I fully understand that nobody was untouched by the recession that began in December 2007, but this 55% has been hit hard.

Very hard.

The have nots, this 55 percent, well, this is a tough one in the US because this has been coming for awhile in US (as well as most developed countries).

“This” is the increasing gap between the haves and the have nots.  The recession has simply exacerbated the situation.

Exponentially speeding up the size of the gap.

It’s a fact.

According to the statistics of the US government, over 32 million people (12.7 percent of total US population) live under the poverty line.

Just to make a point. This incidence of poverty is higher than in the 1970s and higher than in most other industrialized countries.

So. The “lost ground” 55 percent has not only lost ground but in losing ground has started the slide into a hole. A deep hole.

A poverty lined hole (a hole that has very slippery sides and no hand grips).

In other words. An incredibly difficult hole to climb back out of as the economy and their situation improves.

And (even worse) beyond the recession there several things that are going to keep them in the hole (versus say when we came out of the great depression).

Oh.

And it won’t be the increased gas prices (I wanted to take on the economic media darling first).  Because we do have transit.  Cars are a choice.  Gas simply creates a change in behavior and choice (no matter how much that may kill us).

So what’s gonna keep the majority of the current ‘have not’s in the hole?

Basic living will cost more.

The biggest culprit (keeping them in ‘have not’ land)?

Rising food prices.

It’s the basics that will hold them down. The basics are going to cost more.  Over the next 10 years food costs are expected to increase 4% annually outstripping the expected consumer growth (real GDP only 3%).

Seems small difference … but has big repercussions.

It may be surprising to many people but a great number of Americans suffer from poverty and hunger. An investigation by the US Department of Agriculture in March 2000 showed that 9.7 percent of American families did not have enough food. At least 10 percent of families in 18 states and Washington D.C. often suffered from hunger and malnutrition. In 1998, 37 million American families did not have enough food.

Ok.

Next (that will attack the basics of living).

Inflation.  It’s on the way.  Not extraordinary levels but enough combined with rising food costs to continue to chip away at the basic cost of living.

Will the inflation be crippling? Nope. But it’s like basic living is dying a death of a thousand small cuts.

Next?

Unemployment will remain higher than during the boom.

We will have to learn to accept the fact that while 10% unemployment (kind of like the Mendoza line of unemployment) will not be the norm, 6-8% could certainly be here to stay.

Anyway.

All of these things will not only maintain this big gap between the haves and have-nots but will exacerbate the situation.

The gap between the rich and poor has widened and the living standards of the labor force have gone from bad to worse. The ongoing issues of poverty (and poverty level living), hunger, medical services and homelessness continue to prove difficult to solve.

Some have and have-not gap factoids:

-        The gap between the rich and poor in the United States grew at the same pace as the economic growth. Statistics show that the richest 1 percent of the US citizens own 40 percent of the total property of the country, while 80 percent of US citizens own just 16 percent.

-        Since the 1990s, 40 percent of the increased wealth went into the pockets of the rich minority, while only 1 percent went to the poor majority.

-        From 1977 to 1999, the after-tax income of the richest 20 percent of American families increased by 43 percent, while that of the poorest 20 percent decreased 9 percent, allowing for inflation. The actual income of those living on the lowest salaries was even less than 30 years ago.

The bottom line is that the gap between the wealthiest Americans and the poorest is bigger than at any time since just before the 1920’s Depression. According to an analysis this year by Edward Wolff of NYU, the top 20 percent of wealthy individuals own about 85 percent of the wealth. And the bottom 40 percent own very near 0 percent.

Many in that bottom 40 percent not only have no assets … they have negative net wealth.

Just think about that 40% number for one second.

Now.  While the numbers are not exactly apples-to-apples all of what I have typed so far suggests that 55% of America clearly is falling into the “have not” group and almost 2/3rds of that 55% have NEGATIVE net wealth.

Nada.

Nothin’.

That’s a big fat less than zero (just to be clear).

Ok.

Let me continue the downer story for this 55%.

This group of households is scary to look at for a variety of reasons.

  1. They are truly struggling financially now.
  2. They are truly struggling emotionally now (let’s call this the “hope factor”)
  3. They are truly increasingly struggling financially (they are on the financial slippery slope and slipping at an increasing speed which means reversal is increasingly difficult)
  4. Their emotional future “hope factor” looks dismal thru their eyes.

Ok.

What is something that could help the have-nots get out of have-not land and get going toward the have land?

Education (because education and income is tightly intertwined).

Unfortunately the education situation in the United States is surprisingly bad. According to a report in USA Today (11/29/00) illiteracy is still a serious problem (despite the fact America is a highly developed country). Some factoids:

-        One in five high school graduates cannot read his or her diploma.

-        85 percent of unwed mothers are illiterate.

-        70 percent of Americans arrested are illiterate.

-        21 million Americans cannot read.

-        According to a child protection foundation, 71 percent of fourth graders are not at the education level they ought to be.

-        The dropout rate among college students has risen to 37 percent

-        College tuition has grown faster than the increase of middle class families’ income.

Statistics from the US Census Bureau show that the income of middle class families increased only 10 percent from 1989 to 1999, while the college tuition increased 51 percent during the same period.

The average college tuition in 1999 was 8,086 US dollars, accounting for 62 percent of the income of low-income families.

The average tuition fee of private colleges was 21,339 US dollars in 1999, up 34 percent over 1989 (while middle class family income only increased 10% over the same period), accounting for 162 percent of the income of poor families, but only making up for four percent of the income of rich families.

Here is the kicker conclusion to this point.

More than 30 million low-income families could not afford to send their children to community colleges (US Census Bureau).

(ouch)

The have-not affect (tighter family budgets) is also appearing in shopping behavior within this 55% of “lost ground. There has been a boom in budget-priced goods. Manufacturers are bundling items such as toilet paper and garbage bags in sizes that can sell for a dollar. And instead of going to Wal-Mart to find bargains, Americans are heading to dollar stores.

The budget mindset has gone to such levels that dollar stores are actually “stealing heavy shoppers” from Wal-Mart (according to one research firm … and I think it’s true). Visits to dollar stores increased 2.6% from June 2009 to June 2010 while during the same period visits to big box stores such as Wal-Mart declined 7%.

Look. 55% of any group changing their overall behavior (shopping or whatever) affects the economy and its components (stores, service providers, etc.)

Oh.

And this isn’t just poverty or lower income people. The 55% is made up of all income levels (below wealthy that, as noted in the first part of this write up, aren’t really changing any behavior). Keeping with the dollar store example. They are no longer just a shopping alternative for low income Americans. Some upper income people are also going to Family Dollar in search of bargains. And LOTS of middle income people are shopping at dollar stores.

In conclusion.

The term “have-not” is far reaching.  And deep reaching.  ‘Not having’ is going to have repercussions to this group of people to the extent it will affect future generations.

Hunger affects brain power.

Lack of education affects productivity and increases ignorance.

Ignorance leads to increased conflict.

The depth of the have-not is like dominos.

Once the first falls they start going.  Oh.  And the start going faster and faster because they are placed on a downward incline.

So.

That is my post on the have-nots.

Dismal, wasn’t it? (yes)

Let’s move on to my last chapter of this story.

recession impact the final chapter

April 26th, 2011

Ok. All of these recession impact articles I have been creating.

Part one focused on the haves.

Part two focused on the have nots.

Where does this all take us?

Part 3.  My final chapter.

And just some musings on what this all means for the future (or possibilities).

First.

This huge increasing gap between haves and have-nots makes you begin thinking about wealth redistribution. I am NOT a wealth redistribution believer.  But I am also a huge believer that when things are really out of whack you need to do something about it.  Or maybe better said ‘perpetuate the change that needs to take place to enable it not being out of whack.’

(just one more reason I couldn’t work in government because they would never say something as simple as that)

Look.

This gap is an issue. Ok.  Not an issue … a problem.

There was actually a recent American study (sampling young and old, men and women, rich and poor, liberal and conservative) to answer two questions.

They first were asked to estimate the current level of wealth inequality in the United States, and then they were asked about what they saw as an ideal level of wealth inequality.

Results:

-        Americans drastically underestimated the current gap between the very rich and the poor.

The typical respondent believed that the top 20 percent of Americans owned 60 percent of the wealth, and the bottom 40 percent owned 10 percent. They knew, in other words, that wealth in the United States was not distributed equally, but were unaware of just how unequal that distribution was.

-        Americans definition of desired state is significantly different than reality.

Respondents identified their ideal distribution of wealth as the top 20 percent to own just over 30 percent of the wealth, and the bottom 40 percent to own about 25 percent. They still wanted the rich to be richer than the poor, but they wanted the disparity to be much less extreme.

So why did I decide to include this additional factoid?

Well. Because misperceptions like this create social tension.

And social tension leads to inefficient society (at its least damaging). And leads to conflict (at its most damaging).

Tension? Yup. Not only is the gap very very real. But people underestimate the real gap (and are still unhappy). And they believe the real gap should be significantly different than the current truth.

So when reality becomes a common truth the proverbial shit is gonna hit the fan.

(because 55% of America is a shitload of people … some may even suggest it is a majority).

You can hear the rumblings even now.

I do know some things for sure.

A minority can make a difference in the way things are shaped.

A passionate majority WILL make a difference in the way things are shaped.

Am I suggesting an Egypt like revolt? Geez.  I don’t think so.  But. Hunger and “have envy” can create some true unruliness when it incorporates the masses (and not a minority).

With that said I will leave this particular musing on my part with a thought pulled directly from the May/June Foreign Affairs magazine:

“ … deteriorating ability to provide basic services and the government’s indifference to widespread unemployment and poverty alienated tens of millions of …”

Yes.

That is headline on page one of the new Foreign Affairs magazine. Is it about America? Nope.  Its about Egypt. But quite scarily the phrase could certainly embody the America situation if we are not careful.

Ok.

Back to that wealth redistribution and recognizing things are out of whack and the fact we should (need) to do something about it.

Can I offer a real solution? Nope.

Well. (Maybe I have a point of view type thought solution)

I do believe we can learn from the past.

America pulled itself out of the 1920’s depression though a variety of actions but let me focus on internal infrastructure development.

Face it. FDR was a crafty guy. First. He recognized the idle hands do no mean idle minds so he kept people busy ‘doing things.’  Second. He realized if they were going to ‘do something’ it may as well benefit the entire USofA.

He made  a boatload of people go ‘do’ building dams and bridges and roads and highways and … well … infrastructure type stuff.

The result?

A shitload of people were not idle.

A shitload of people were being productive.

And a shitload of things were created that reshaped that world and enabled the life we live these days.  It kinda seems the perfect opportunity to do exactly the same thing now.

Build. Create. Do.

On a personal note (about what t actually ‘do’ in this case) … I will suggest that a hi-speed rail system is the most obvious infrastructure project America focus on.

And the costs & returns & usability analysis that are slowing it down are so crazy wrong that … well … its crazy.  We are currently a car driven society. Of course all analysis would make hi speed rail look bad. True sweeping behavioral shifts are next to impossible to forecast.

That said.

Build the frickin’ hi speed rail.

Build living infrastructure to support it (cities and towns).

Drive gas prices up to European levels.

Build less cars.

And we will solve a shitload of problems.

Ok.

Back to the post.

Wealth redistribution probably isn’t the answer.  But the problem needs to be resolved somehow.

Next.

Moral fiber of America.

Sound silly to bring up when discussing haves and have-nots and income gaps and crap like that? Shit.  I don’t know.  But it does seem like this whole thing is a test of our moral fiber.

Even a capitalistic society has to have some morals (it cannot just be about survival of the capitalistic fittest and all that stuff).

And can we truly sit back and watch that 55% have-not group slip lower & lower?

And watch them try to claw their way out of the hole they are in as the economy improves (recognizing it is next to impossible to get out of that hole within their lifetime)?

And watch 55% of America mired in despair when they should be invested in hope (because isn’t that what America is supposed to offer)?

I don’t know.

I think it would be tough to sleep at night if we didn’t do something.  And I don’t mean token ‘somethings’ but real significant game changing ‘somethings.’

PewResearch called this “2 Americas.”

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I guess the real point of me writing so much on this and saying some of the things I said is …

aren’t we 1 America?

find your beach with corona

April 22nd, 2011

Ok.

I just saw (heard) the Corona television campaign again this weekend.  Haven’t seen it in a while and I had almost forgotten how much i like it.

First.  Let me say that I have always liked the Corona advertising.  Simple.  Charming.  Always a little smile. And always perfectly captured the essence of all ‘senses’ which you would want associated with drinking a Corona (bring the beach, sunset, warmth, comfortable love/companionship to wherever you are).

They have never been slapstick.  They have been steadfastly Corona in character. And they have always done it with style.

Second.

The best part of the new Corona commercial (to me the music lover) is the song it features:   A song called ‘Secret Sun’ by Jesse Harris and the Ferdinandos (I had never heard of him or the Ferdinandos butthis song comes from their 2003 album ‘The Secret Sun.’)

Of course the commercial features stunningly photographed seasons and beautiful settings, young couples and friends sharing the view all the while, of course, sharing their beer. (side note: you can always count on a Corona commercial to always be impeccably shot with glaringly clean unfiltered lenses which capture every natural hue at its richest)

Find Your Beach: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQoRmy9G864&feature=related

Anyway.

All the beautiful footage sweeps over the screen to the light music with the following words:

“Meet me by the sea again. Past the point where the shoreline bends. Where the sand is soft and warm. And hangs upon your golden arm. And time won’t move at all.”

(awesome)

This (debut but now old) TV spot (called “Moments”) is a little different than what we have seen in the past from Corona in that it features a montage of scenes at slightly unexpected places for a typical Corona spot – from a mountain vista to a Big Sur cliff to a New York City rooftop.  Luckily (just so no one gets confused) the commercial ends with a couple on an iconic beach with a new tagline “Find Your Beach.”

The other thing I like about this campaign is the point of view. You never see anyone’s face full on. You are always looking at the view and the people from behind. It is always about the experience and the environment and the feeling that is captured when you have a Corona in your hand.  Awesome subtle thinking.  Managed well.

Hey.

I admit.

I like it (and I like a nice cold Corona too).

And, for once, I actually thought the quotes I could find from the advertising/marketing people associated with the commercials to make sense and articulate the thinking very well:

“What we want ‘Find Your Beach’ to do is literally show that the beach is where you make it,” said the chief creative officer of Cramer-Krasselt (Corona’s ad agency).  “We want to give literal, visual permission for people to take the Corona mindset with them.  Even to the ski slopes or the big city.  ‘Find Your Beach’ is a kind of how-to guide for the Corona way.”

“White beaches, gentle waves, a guy and a girl relaxing seaside … these have long been symbols of the escape mindset associated with Corona,” said the EVP Marketing, Crown Imports/Corona.  “Our new ‘Find Your Beach’ ads encourage fans to find their beach, wherever it may be expanding that Corona state of mind beyond the ‘sun, sand and surf.’”

Well said gentlemen.

And well done.

Well.

Time for a Corona.

Find your beach.

the mad ones, mad to live, made to be saved

April 20th, 2011


“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”

Jack Kerouac – On the Road

Look. I am pretty sure jack kerouac was a certifiable loon (but not a British type loon).

He was most certainly an alcoholic.  Probably suffered from depression.  And was a very bitter guy. And I find almost everything he wrote unreadable <except this quote … which is awesome>.

Some critics called his writing style poor stream of conscious typewriting (I do know Truman Capote wasn’t a huge fan of his writing style and actually said about Kerouac’s writing  … “That’s not writing, it’s typing.”)

I know I call most of his writing “diary of a free wheelin’ guy’s life”.

Maybe we could just think of it maybe as a 50s version of MTV’s Road Rules.

Regardless.  The guy was a quotable machine. And the quote I began this post with is maybe his best.

Think about it.

“The only people for me are the mad ones …”.

Awesome.

People who ‘burn burn burn’.  Desirous of everything at the same time.

Think about that.

We meet so few of these people in our lifetimes.

And the ones you meet scare you.

Fascinate you.

Awe you.

Puzzle you.

Confuse you.

Inspire you.

But in the end they dare you.

Dare you to burn.

Burn without flaming out.  Just burn.

These people set the standard for life.

They aren’t immature but infectiously young at their soul.

They aren’t undisciplined yet rules mean nothing to them.

They aren’t cocky yet have the ultimate confidence … to speak in silence … stand when others sit … stay when others go … go where others fear to step … step forward when others stand still … stand still when others stand back … be mad to live yet mad to be saved.

These people burn.  Constantly.

And we cannot all be like them.  In fact most of us will never even come close to being mad for anything or even come close to burning.

Is that bad?  For some … no. Burning is dangerous. And unwieldy.  And difficult to control.

For others?  Their fear of a life of burning will drive them mad.  Not mad to live. But a madness of wasted opportunities. A madness of regrets.  A madness of never desiring everything at the same time for fear of ending with nothing.

Oh.

“To explode like spiders across the stars.”  In my mind one would have to be mad not to desire that.

Next.

So topping that quote and that thought is tough.

So I won’t try. I will simply use another Kerouac sound bite that takes that first quote to the next level of the same thought.

“I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted.”
Jack Kerouac

So to burn in life maybe takes this belief.  A belief that you can do anything you want.  That every day is a vast empty page.  And that Life is there for you to fill the pages with anything you want.

There is not much more to say then that after reading that quote.

To end this post I will use a Kerouac life quote. Just one last quote pulled from thousands of hours of incessant ramblings often drunk with friends and strangers.

“Maybe that’s what life is…a wink of the eye and winking stars.” – jack kerouac

This may be one of the most reasonable and most poetic quotes you may find from that wackjob. From anyone for that matter. And it is an awesome thought. An incredible thought.

Think about him and think about this quote.

Even through the bitterness.  And the depression.  And the madness. He recognized that life had a little wink in its eye.  Maybe that is what Jack Kerouac saw through the haze of bitterness and alcohol and depression.  Hope.

Hope for a wink from a star.

And maybe that is what all of us want.

sometimes life gets personal with you

April 20th, 2011

So.

I have always said I thought life had a warped sense of humor. It certainly can play tricks on you.

And just when you are certain of something, well,  uncertainty enters the room.

And, of course, as soon as uncertainty settles in something certain happens.

But.

Sometimes life gets personal.

Sometimes it goes beyond being violated.  Its just … well … personal.

And that happened to me last Friday.

Look.

I have faced physical crap, emotional crap, friend and family crisis and pretty much the tyical year-to-year crap & angst & challenges & issues that a normal non-boring life throws at you.

And then it got personal.

In a big sweeping way.

At work of all places.

Last Friday.

On Friday at lunch while I had stepped out for one of my rare out-of-office lunches someone snuck into our offices, and mine specifically, and stole my work laptop.

Oh.  And my personal laptop (sitting on the desk beside it).

Oh.  And had the balls to gather up all the power cords.

Oh.  And stuff them both into my backpack and steal my backpack.

From the office.

(a moment of silence)

Ok.

So do I back stuff up? Sure.  So many ways its scary.

The laptops? A pain to lose.  Quasi-expensive (as I wrangle whether home insurance covers work loss).

But.

Work has a replacement laptop in my hands. Most work stuff is back up and running (by the way … if you keep stuff only on your desktop as you work-in-progress things it is trickier but you don’t lose them).

The personal laptop?  A little more painful.  But not to the deep personal gut punch level yet.

And I got lucky here (in a warped – but slightly expensive – lucky sort of way).

My hard drive on my old ibm thinkpad started dying 2 weeks ago and I had decided to just go ahead and replace the entire PC.

That’s lucky? (you think).

Well.  Yeah.  While I had a ‘less than one week old awesome 5g laptop’ stolen I still had the old thinkpad dying hard drive to re-access the old files and emails.   With one numb trip to BestBuy late on Friday afternoon after filling out a police report and I had a new laptop (of which I am typing on even as you read) and the old hard drive and 98% of what I had on that nifty new laptop is back up again.

The personal side of the stolen PC? Yeah.  It got a little deeper. It had a lot of personal emails and files on it that even though nothing embarrassing or stupidly high security risk it still represented a glimpse into my personal life should someone invest the energy scanning through everything.

I just didn’t like it.

Everyone at the office talks about “feeling violated.” Well. Maybe.  Having my personal laptop is probably the closest.  But violated doesn’t seem right.  Pissed? Yeah.  Really aggravated? Yup. For stealing my personal laptop I would simply punch the motherfucker in the face without hesitation and probably be over it.

But.

Then there is the personal gut punch.

The one that kind of numbs you.

The backpack.

And from the workplace (so it seems to rock you a little more because of all places it seems like you could relax on a personal security level).

Ah.  The backpack.

Here is where “backing up things” goes awry.

Passport. Gone.

I-pod. Gone.

Notebook with all my handwritten business notes from the past 2 months. Gone.

Journal which I keep with me at all times ¾ full of notes to myself on things to write and words I like and quotes and … well … just random thoughts that a writer writes down because you never know when they will be handy.

And then all the random little stuff you figure out that you need as you wander around day-to-day so you stash in little pockets of your backpack. Gone.

The backpack itself (worn enough so it melds to your shoulder perfectly).  Gone.

And the gut punch.

The big one.

The 8 thumb drives in their nice little padded case.

“Aw (you say), thumbdrives are 20 bucks each to replace, who cares.”

Well.

There was my true back up.

One never really thinks that their laptop, backpack and thumbdrives will all be in the same place at the same time. (one should rethink that)

Everything I have ever written. Gone.

2 years of writing. Gone.

Everything that I had written in draft form. Gone.

The two magazine articles being considered for publishing. Gone.

The book chapters I had already written. Gone.

The blog articles (about 50 or so) queued up to be tightened up and be published.  Gone.

Poetry and songs I had written (or work in process). Gone.

My pictures.  Gone.

Note the consistency here.

Gone.

I can replace a backpack.

I can replace even the passport.

Words and thoughts? Whew.  I get numb even thinking about how to do the replacing of that.

Well.

It reminds me of the Alanis Morrisette story where her purse gets snatched and it has all the songs from Jagged Little Pill in it. And she got the music back.  And you wonder what Jagged Little Pill would have been like if she had lost the music and the thinking and had to recreate.

Better? (hard to believe because that is an awesome cd).  Worse? Who knows.

Did I have a Jagged Little Pill sitting in my writings? Shit.  I doubt it. But it was my words and my thoughts.

Gone.

That was the part of all this that as time settled things down ended up punching me in the gut.

Life got personal with me.

It took words and thoughts I had invested a lot of time gathering and writing and rethinking and, well, took them away.

Can I replace them? Sure.  I guess so. Maybe not exactly but given enough time and effort I could probably remap out the truly important stuff.

Oh.

The time.

Ok.  I am not gonna go down that path.  That is a downward spiral in itself.

Anyway.

Maybe this is just a life test of character. Or maybe a test of resiliency.

Or possibly even a test Life is giving me with regard to resolve (re-writing something even better).

Or maybe this is just a time when Life reminds you that sometimes things suck and you move on.

I guess this is one of my rare posts where I don’t really have a lesson to share or a learning thought or even a life lesson.

There is no real lesson here.

There is just the jagged little pill to swallow.

And move on.

sex & byu

April 15th, 2011

yeah. I finally have felt compelled to comment on the whole BYU sex scandal.  Ok.  Just the fact their starting bball center got suspended at the most critical time and Jimmer got screwed (not really … just literally … which is the only kind you are allowed to have at BYU) made me want to write something but now something else has happened … Jim McMahon has become involved (no, not with Brandon Davies the suspended player … THAT would be very non-Mormon like and certainly be beyond the honor code).

First.

Let me say that while I was certainly no gigolo in college that sex and college is kind of like peanut butter & jelly, Oreos & milk or bread & water (they go together and you need them to survive in college).

Second.

BYU and the lack of sex (or sex prohibited).

Do I believe everyone who goes to BYU doesn’t have sex?

Nope.

Do I believe most don’t have sex?

Yup.

Do I believe most is over 90%?

Yup.

It’s the gig when you sign up to go to salt lake city.

Look. I write about all of this not because I want to write about sex in college (or BYU for that matter) but because of the Brandon Davies story and what Jim McMahon (that esteemed BYU grad) just said.

Just as a reminder (in case you were caught in some Chilean mine when this happened) but Davies violated the BYU honor code by having sex and impregnating a female and was suspended (possibly costing the BYU basketball team a trip to the 2011 Final Four if their tournament performance without him was any indication).

So.

After the suspension.  Good ole Jim gathered himself and some btrain cells and went on a radio talk show. Why? Becaue he knew someone was gonna ask him about sex and college.

Yup. It happened.

In an ESPN radio interview Jim McMahon shared his thoughts about the BYU honor code.

“You had to find girls who kept their mouths shut,” McMahon said when asked about how he managed to stay on the field while attending BYU.

Aw geez.

Jim, buddy, did you really have to say that?

C’mon.

The article recap said it the best … “We all know college kids are going to be college kids no matter what school they attend, but BYU’s president must have cringed when he found out such a high-profile alumnus had that to say about the honor code.”

McMahon was an awesome quarterback.  I loved him on the field.  Kinda struggle with him off the field. BYU has rules. I know i didn’t feel that badly for Davies because anyone who attends BYU knows what they’re getting themselves into. Did I feel bad for the team? Yeah.  But shit happens.  People will make mistakes.  And boys are … well … boys when surrounded by girls.

But McMahon was wrong.  Right about himself.  Wrong about BYU.  And that’s what makes him wrong to have said what he said.

And what he said makes it sound like there is a frickin’ Mormon orgy in some basement every week.

I have a lot of respect for BYU and their honor code.  And I have respect for how they uphold it. McMahon diminished the code and the commitment.  Someone will always try and break a rule. And not all of those ‘someones’ get caught.  Doesn’t mean it isn’t a good rule.  And doesn’t mean that “someones’ are the norm.

All that said.

Here is a BYU grad.  Couldn’t have said it better.

I went to BYU. The vast majority of us committed to, and lived the Honor Code. Those who didn’t were few and far between and definitely the exception. But then again, most of us are rational, emotionally stable, mature individuals. Then enter McMahon. Asking McMahon about the Honor Code is like asking Bernie Madoff if he thinks the IRS rules are fair. Or a child who runs around in the street in his diaper if he thinks its fair to have parenting rules.

McMahon hasn’t the credibility or character weight to discredit BYU, its honor code or its student body. Yawn.

(once again. couldn’t have said it any better … and I am not even a Mormon)

something old but new, new and old – music post

April 14th, 2011

So.  This is a nifty 3 part music post.  Mostly because I was too lazy to create three separate posts.

First.

Old but new …. “Old Man.” Yeah.  “Old Man” by Neil Young.  But not Neil this time.

Ok.

This first one is awesome. One of my favorite Neil Young songs of all time “old man” but made into a rap/hip hop song. And a great hip hop song.

The band is Redlight King.

I don’t really know shit about them (but I found out some stuff which I will share below).  What I do know is I love what they did with this Neil Young song.

As a bonus? The song reminds me of everything I love about Neil Young (he had to have given his permission to sample the song) and everything I love about great hip hop (sampling classics and showing how they are relevant and timeless).

What they do with Old Man is the perfection of sampling.  And they even weave in some original Neil (whoda thunk we would ever hear Neil Young rapping?).

Old Man: http://redlightkingmusic.com

Ok. Redlight King. Redlight King is a white guitarist (the “white guitarist is from Ontario – I would tell you where specifically but most of us think of Canada as just the ‘great white north’ – and his name is Mark Kasperczyk, or “Kaz”).

His first song is “Old Man” based on a rocky patch he had endured with his father. It is a song “with a melodic strut intertwined with a hip hop groove sampling Neil Young’s iconic “I don’t want YOUR life” story in  “Old Man” creating a song with the same name but a completely different contemporary vibe.

As an FYI. Crusty ole Neil has rarely lent his music for sampling. So good for him I say.

Look.

I may not like another thing they (he?) do but they will always hold a nice spot in my listening heart for what they did here.  They took an awesome classic song and brought it to an entirely new generation of listeners.  The message of Old Man was good then.  It is good now. And that is all that really matters when you thing about crap like this.

Great music carries forward great messages.  If that is what Redlight King has done than let us give them credit where it is due.

Enjoy.

Next.

The new .. Scars on 45 “Give me Something.”

Whew.  This song is about everything I love in new music.  A great hook. Great melody.  Great refrain. Great listening song.

Scars on 45 are a new band.  Here is what I know. Scars on 45 are an acoustic indie-pop band from Leeds, England. They kind of have an alternative/acoustic indie-pop kind of thing. In their words … “I guess one could call it Fleetwood Mac meets Brit-Pop meets Ryan Adams.”
And beyond that here is what I know. “Give me Something” is a great radio song.

Give Me Something: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GNWH9ZmT2Y&feature=related

I have no clue whether they will ever do anything as good but … frankly … I don’t care.  In this age of buying individual songs off iTunes instead of buying entire cds who cares if they do anything else. It is a frickin’ good song.

And now the last.

The old.

Ok.

So I am throwing this in on the end because I heard this song on the radio the other night and it reminded me of how good old classic songs are good contemporary songs.

Good songs are timeless.

But this one may scare you at the beginning.

Cause its REO Speedwagon.

Ok.  Let’s remember (or let me remind you).

Before REO became this sappy Kevin Cronin driven schlock band they created some awesome rock music.

What reminded me was that I was driving home and I heard “Roll with the Changes.”  Awesome.

Roll with the Changes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGgLPriZUSA

Look.

Before all the sappy crap they were just “the Wagon” and they cranked out some good stuff.

“Keep Pushin.” Awesome.

“Riding the Storm Out” (which I believe they still end every concert with). Awesome.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPk4EX2GDc0&feature=related

“Time for me to Fly” (their original ballad song).  Awesome.

And “Roll with the Changes” which is a non stop riff rolling song.

Those songs defined “The Wagon” and should be remembered as the original band and the original sound.  And as I noted with “Old Man” upfront … they are timelessly good. You can listen to any of these songs today and you will still tap your toe and maybe drive an extra 5 miles an hour as you listen.  They just get your heart pumpin’ a little and they are just damn good to listen to.

Ok

That’s my three part music post for today.

Something old but new.

Something new.

Something old.

Something for everyone.

All good.

Enjoy.

ideas and finding them

April 14th, 2011

Ok. This is about ideas.

Not my ideas or even my thinking.

This is about other people’s ideas.  And the fun associated with rolling around in not only “what could be” but what some people are actually doing and trying.

Hey. We all have ideas.

But I have to tell you that it is a lot more fun exploring other people’s ideas … and ideas as they spring up anywhere globally at any time.  Before the internet we often had to wait for some of the big research companies to issue these reports on what they believed were the best of the best ideas.  Today?  You can track ideas daily.  Globally.  And assess the best of the best as they happen.  As with anything on the web tracking can be overwhelming.  So my following tip is a way of watching what is happening globally with little work on your own end (because they do all the work for you).

Springwise (http://www.springwise.com) is where you can find a wide variety of new business ideas (new ideas … not new business ideas) which are a smaller selection of ideas pulled from Springspotter Network (http://www.springspotters.com).

It is a great site for ideas where new topics are posted daily and are searchable by category:

•          Automotive (http://www.springwise.com/automotive)

•          Eco & Sustainability (http://www.springwise.com/eco_sustainability)

•          Education (http://www.springwise.com/education)

•          Entertainment (http://www.springwise.com/entertainment)

•          Fashion & Beauty (http://www.springwise.com/fashion_beauty)

•          Financial Services (http://www.springwise.com/financial_services)

•          Food & Beverage (http://www.springwise.com/food_beverage)

•          Gaming (http://www.springwise.com/gaming)

•          Government (http://www.springwise.com/government)

•          Homes & Housing (http://www.springwise.com/homes_housing)

•          Life Hacks (http://www.springwise.com/life_hacks)

•          Lifestyle & Leisure (http://www.springwise.com/lifestyle_leisure)

•          Marketing & Advertising (http://www.springwise.com/marketing_advertising)

•          Media & Publishing (http://www.springwise.com/media_publishing)

•          Non-profit, Social cause (http://www.springwise.com/nonprofit_social_cause)

•          Retail (http://www.springwise.com/retail)

•          Style & Design (http://www.springwise.com/style_design)

•          Telecom & Mobile (http://www.springwise.com/telecom_mobile)

•          Transportation (http://www.springwise.com/transportation)

I firmly believe you can never have enough ideas. And springwise is an awesome place to see the newest (and sometimes oddest) ideas from around the world.

Enjoy.

Enlightened Conflict