CJ Saraceno 1989-2013

b.1989 d.2013

b.1989
d.2013

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Stepping into the Gen-Y Article Factory

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The Gen-Y Article Trend in Real Time

I just searched Google for news articles on “Generation Y.” Everyone has a really exciting opinion! There’s Sam Mattera of the Motley Fool detailing how parents are really ripping off their kids with How the Parents of Generation Y Have Robbed Their Children BlindGood one Sam! And look Sonya Sorich of the Columbus Ledger Enquirer telling old people what’s up from a Millennial’s perspective with Is Gen Y Really that Bad. Tell em Sonya. And here’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown of Bustle with a neat article aimed at helping us to decode the Gen-Y Article that went viral last week (that illustrated guide to “Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy“).

That’s just the beginning of it 🙂 Gen-Y commentary is all over the internet! More great stuff from my Google Search over the past 24 hours includes: 

Millennial Managers Seen as Entitled (Such a good read!)

Tactics to Increase Millennial Productivity in the Workplace (Good call on Tip #7 Forbes, interpersonal skills are the #1 keys to success).

How Malaysia can attract more Millennial Tourism Dollars (Spoiler: It’s to learn from Australia)

So many good ones! This has been a great article.

Sin Wav of Understanding What Trickle Down Economics Entails

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Sin Wav of Understanding What Trickle Down Economics Entails

Trickle down economics. It’s an ugly word used in supply-side debates.

At Intro to Econ we’re taught, yes, tax increases are villains. They curb spending. And spending is what drives industry. Spending employs the poor. Spending is good. Gold stars for job creators who help lift everyone out of poverty.

By freshmen year of college, we understand ‘trickle down economics’ as the pejorative term. Not something insulting. Not offensive. Mostly accepted as a farce. As in, a caricature critique, a shorthand term used by those arguing against it, those who know full well that government stimulus rather than tax cuts for the wealthy is the way out of a recession.

I know my college was populated by what are generally referred to as “smart” kids (out here in California) but even the dumbest balked at the idea of “Trickle Down Economics” – this was some easy-to-spot FOX news hogwash.

Now in my mid-20s…

This is where it got counterintuitive. This is where I see myself as kind of a jackass. Follow the sin wav (see chart). Now I’m coming back down the y-axis, meaning I’m coming to terms with the real-life application of Trickle Down Economics. Outside of college, I’m brought back to a world where this concept (in practice) feels ubiquitous, obvious, and undeniable.

Trickle Down Economics  isn’t anything to write home about. I’m not using it to defend tax cuts on the wealthy. Moreover, I would argue that trickle down’s associated fiscal policy is destructive if the end goal is to help the middle class.

However, I think the idea that wealth flows from people at the top (people who own things) to the people who want to do things to serve the needs of owners. Those with income/wealth control constantly flowing streams of money to those in close proximity to them. Yes these streams flow at different rates, but there’s always a trickle.

Admittedly, my take is a bit narrow. But still it’s one I’m finding to be more and more a truism…one that comes with getting some perspective on the current job market.

So Trickle Down Economics- once a pejorative term used to describe outdated economic theory from the 50s. Now, I’m seeing it more as a short-hand truth that simply points out that wealth has to flow. Whether or not it’s flowing to the right/wrong outlets is another issue, one that must take into account social factors dealing with privilege, race, gender, and connections.

Framing economic debates on whether or not the wealthy are taxed enough is the lazy way out and the term trickle down is a manifestation of that laziness. We shouldn’t have a problem that capitalists’ money “trickles downwards” (as much as labor and manpower flows upwards) but the fact of the matter is, that’s not the problem. The problem is that it’s a trickle. And the second problem might be that it’s a trickle to the same few people.

To further extend the metaphor: the real issue is in tackling the flow of this stream so that every blade of grass gets hydrated. Because everyone wants a good lawn, whether you’re Kentucky Bluegrass or a patch of crabgrass. We need to ensure that we’re a well-hydrated whole because that benefits everyone, where capital can potentially work to everyone’s advantage, rather than watching technological sophisticates reap benefits for themselves and their cohorts.

The idea that wealth trickles or moves to other sources is not a dig, insult, or mirage. Sure it connotes outdated thinking, but it also hinders valuable conversations about what we can accomplish if we learn to accept it and make rules that account for it. 

Think about it…

“A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”

– William James

Working in advertisements & content, where there’s this din of noise. A self-perpetuated humming of a waterwheel that churns out listicles, must-sees, and watercooler conversation. For those of us following it, in whatever niche that may be (sports, entertainment, fashion), it feels like we’re now in the know for real. And constantly.

It’s a churning, a cycle. It’s pushed by issues like Syria. Or Miley Cyrus. It’s hoisted begrudgingly along by little hubs, henchmen blogs, who then manage to get it passed up and up to little people networks, until it comes back to us the consumer as a caricature of a real issue. I know Syria through The Atlantic Wire and friends’ Facebook feeds and Miley through post-VMA Jezebel debates. Once we ingest the topic du jour, we (as supposed thinkers, mind you) are interpreting what is actually being communicated, and then trying to sift through it all until finally, obtaining the solution/conclusion.

I for one like having endless info at my fingertips. I see Internet connectivity as a good thing. It’s really cool, perhaps even a great democratizer, perhaps even an expediter of a more connected human population.

The Internet has brought us more information for sure. However, is it possible for us to speed up our independently derived conclusions. Does more stimuli automatically lead more reasonably understood, independently derived conclusions on issues that are complex?

Or, on the other hand, is our population plasticity less responsive to the gains in technology. Does reasoning take a guaranteed and set amount of time?  Is the quest for more/better/faster as a delivery method a lifelong pursuit or is there ever excess information? At what point are we thinking and after that, are “merely rearranging [our] prejudices” so often.

Free Writing Exercise

I.

The sound of the “th” in lethargy. That effort. That means putting your tongue down and burying it deep for a second. You press down against the bottom of your mouth and then you apply air and you’ve achieved it. But mine comes down like a glacier: Slowly. Like at the end of the Ice Age. Ready to settle down and set up shop at a final resting place. We need to find our own path, yet a glacier simply trudges on. As if movement is more essential than direction. Because when we go back to glaciers, we don’t look down on them for the path they took. We admire them for their movement- not speedy, yet consistent. It says a lot about us. It’s not the brevity of our pace, its the idea that we have one. A pulse. A living breathing human momentum. Then there’s the whole point of finishing the word “lethargy”. It’s an argh. but it’s easy, because your mouth is already spread eagle from the tongue pushing your bottom down. So you can just supply air. It’s the laziest section of a word that tries to represent exactly that. And yet there it is. A word that requires a bit of effort, that you need to go out of your way for if you’re trying to use it in common English. 

II.

scarf. Scarf down. Swallow. Finish your plate. A plate of spaghetti and mashed potatoes. And meatballs. I meant meatballs. Then there’s clumps of tomato sauce at the end. unaccompanied. street corner with silhouettes of snowflake. getting the scarf to cover up your bright white neck that’s untattered under and exposed. But no longer with the scarf. Neck for the gloves. Correction: A Glove for the neck. But what is necking. Necking by the woods. Two people connected and using words like swoon. Exposure stains the woman. But she stays there because without a scarf she can be herself. She can be exposed. She can let the world scar her and do its worst. But she can be open to connect. So then there’s an end all be all. A tunnel or with walls that convert life into a game of 3D Pong where the blank corridor is assumed to go on 5 or 10 or 15 feet, but she doesn’t know because it’s impossible to measure. Time.

III.

This just in. A new study shows that man was actually descended from a rare bacteria. This bacteria is one that eats its others around it, enveloping them and then re-appropriating their best characteristics, the best things about them, and then putting its own DNA into them and re-purposing them for its own benefit. The bacteria, rumored to be 1-2 billion years old, is said to be one of the first of its kind. And yet studies show a direct link to a certain part of a man’s inner workings. And here Dr. Welx is just beginning to make the announcement: “Erhgs yes it seems here we have found man to be a Class A developer, a phenotype that produces exhibitory or self-beneficial means of approaching any behavioral path.” Doctor Doctor can you clarify…Yes, well essentially man is the operator of a candy machine, and this bacteria is the coin. When nature inserts its coin and presses B6 or C24, we rotate into its open nest of reward circuitry and dopamine cushions our fall. 

You often get asked, “So, who do you listen to?”

Well, I listen to a lot of people. 

It depends.

The truck driver backing up.

The doe-eyed pixie in a floral knit. 

The eager peer setting up the grid. 

The retired wrestler gripping the mic. 

The concerned citizen making 3AM calls. 

The bearded man in comfortable footwear. 

The inquisitive reporter looking for a way in. 

The clean-cut patrolman hovering above me. 

The ex-pat LA transplant pitching his buddy’s wrap party. 

The patient parking attendant wanting what’s owed to him. 

The persistent Pizza maker claiming he can do an 8″ small in 10 minutes. 

 

 

Electric Zoo: A Manifestation of the East Coast version of EDM

Electric Zoo. Cancelled due to two deaths, most likely due to MDMA usage.

Thoughts and condolences go out to family and friends of course.

This blog post isn’t really about that. It’s more about trying to track how different regions in America deal with this “EDM movement.”

First a little background. America has passed the saturation point. Electronic Dance music exploded over the course of a couple years at some point 3-4 years ago depending on who you talk to. Now we’re in this awkward phase where most normal, fully-functioning, social people between the ages of 18-24 will attend an electronic music festival. It’s no longer a statement on your love for EDM. It’s more indicative that you are pretty mainstream person growing up in 2008 – 2018 period. Great.

Is there anything good that can come out of it? Well, not when kids die at shows. But, other than that, yes. For one, massive conglomerates like SFX Entertainment can be formed and they can then issue an IPO and make millions of dollars. I know a lot of business type people and parents would say that’s good, I mean if it’s making money for people and paying taxes it can’t be bad. New Yorkers would also say it’s good (more on this later).

I think a lot of people in Electronic Dance Music think there’s also something deeper to their movement. Like how 70s counterculture hippies believed in free love and Hip-Hop had authenticity and being about the streets. EDM people including myself might harbor this naive notion I have that maybe there’s some other benefit. Maybe this “movement” can cause value shifts. Maybe this genre of music and its accompanying events will somehow create a generation that feels more connected, more generous, more charitable, and more inclined to doing things that lead to real progress that benefits millions of Americans hundreds of years from now. Gallup polls report that we’re already the most concerned for others around the world. Maybe EDM can help crystallize and encapsulate this paradigm. Who knows? What’s important is that there are a lot of people who would dismiss this as pure bullshit. Even now re-reading this paragraph, I’m tempted to remove it because some corporate recruiter will likely flag it and my record will be stained for good (please don’t).

What I’m saying is that we’re in the midst of an evolution. And yes on the surface, it’s just a lot of suburban white kids appropriating little aspects of 90s brit raver warehouse past into today’s mainstream world of pop culture and mega music festivals. Then there’s the neon clothes and the glowsticks and the sweatiness. But deep down, is there something more? Is there some rave culture value shifting going on? Will it be a lost a decade from now much like how the Baby Boomers ditched their hippy past and went decadent in the 1980s, the worst decade ever…

I say it depends on where you’re living.

The East Coast has always been more traditional and structured then the West Coast. Yes, New York has all these different types of people and its the cultural hub of America, the center of the universe, but it’s also the purveyor of cultural ideals that stand in direct conflict with rave culture’s ideals. New York is about getting things done with a purpose. New York is not about nonchalantly stumbling upon someone or something to help or assist. It’s about me, me, me (and my money, my job, my things).

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For proof, imagine presenting the idea of there being some greater rave-type edm-culture forming in today’s youth generations to a New Yorker. “Do you think today’s youth are becoming more connected, more concerned with one another’s well being, and do you think it has something to do with EDM culture?” The idea would be dismissed as “hippy-dippy shit” as they’d exit the conversation to check their email or grab a delicious bagel.

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For the East Coast, EDM events like EZoo are not cultural harbingers of a changing tide in post Millenium culture. Rather, they are little white suburban meccas for frat boys to take lethal doses of MDMA. They can’t be anything more because the dominant culture prevents it. It doesn’t play well with the current mindset.

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For the West Coast, it’s normal to be a little weird, a little out there, a little lackadaisical. It’s definitely not immune from the shallow trappings of this new EDM movement. However it has this cultural legacy that makes it fertile for deep-seated generational changes in values that play nicely with the ideals of rave culture.

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Seeing events like EZoo where you have 23 Syracuse frat bros getting bussed in to do “molly” and finance guys getting together to ditch the suit & go pound bears and “grind up on sluts,” while girls from Providence, RI with thick accents talking about Aveeeecheee, pulling out their camera phones so they can capture moments on theirdevices. These are the worst parts of EDM. And Electric Zoo is the mecca for it. And the worst part: the greater puritanical, capitalist, traditionalist vibes prevent any of the good parts from being experienced/reached/acquired.

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My Response to Skyler White

Anna Gunn is the phenomenal actress on AMC’s hit TV show Breaking Bad

Today, the New York Times published her article, which happens to examine fans’ extreme reactions to the woman she plays, Skyler White. 

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The article is thought-provoking and revealing. She talks about what it was like to land the character. The show’s writers “wanted Skyler to be a woman with a backbone of steel;” a woman that “wouldn’t just collapse in the corner or wring her hands in despair.” That’s really what Skyler is known for. 

But Anna Gunn’s attempts to explore fans’ hatred for Skyler missed the big picture idea. That idea is simple. Firstly, Breaking Bad is a show that could only exist in today’s current economic situation. It’s a show about what a man must do when the system has failed. It’s a show where the idea of right and wrong is never left up to the law. It’s the perfect show for its fanbase: the millions of Americans who have been duped by their government, by Wall St., by military leaders, by lobbyists, by politicians, by baseball players, and by priests (representatives of a pre-existing institutions) and who are now ready to take matters into their own hands by employing an “any means necessary” approach, whether that’s living vicariously through Brian Cranston’s character, or joining a movement like the Tea Party/Occupy Wall St. 

Skyler White’s dogmatic reaction to Walt’s criminal behavior epitomizes fans’ perceived flaws in our current societal structure. Laws that fail to take into account circumstances. Corrupt politicians who play along and then suddenly go back on their words. An outdated approach to drug policy, foreign policy, criminal sentencing, etc. Walter White is only a panacea, yet in the real world it’s the Skyler White forces that dominate. And that incongruency…the fact that in the real world, it’s the Skyler Whites that are winning, that’s what drives the hate behind her. 

The Facebook Questions

We’re “Always On” as a society. We know the next meme. We know the latest Gawker article. We know there’s millions of other young adults leaving college and entering the real world, eventually buying a home and joining the workforce. Yet now we have our social networks remaining entirely intact as we pass through each life stage, trailing them behind us like those cans they attach to a car after a cheap wedding ceremoy. We’re a society connected and its due to Facebook.

We Take Facebook for Granted 

We take the ubiquity of Facebook connectivity for granted nowadays. Even people who don’t want a Facebook HAVE to get a Facebook. Yet social networks that permeate entire populations are a relatively novel invention. Their long term effects are undocumented… For all we know, it could be the ubiquitously connected society that puts the final nail in the coffin of what was once a world of physical human interaction. We don’t know.

We Should Take Facebook For Granted

Around the Internet, you hear a great deal of chatter over Facebook doing this or Facebook doing that. It’s violatin’ peoples’ privacy and stuff…the Facebook haters.

Facebook is not this predetermined self-controlling monolith like Apple or Google defining its own business practices. Facebook happened to be at the right place at the right time. Internet-ready Smartphones and WiFi exploded in the past 10 years. That’s when Facebook rose to power. It could have been MySpace but people got sick of its overall UI experience so Facebook got the nod.

This makes sense. The cultural pendulum in post 9/11 America was gravitating towards security, unanimity, and consent. The market soon delivered us our replacement social network which adhered to tighter design sensibilities and ultimately offered the ideal simulation of a non-physical world community feeling (whether it was better sense of simulated real world, or improved connectivity with the news feed, who knows..). Facebook was at the right place at the right time. Great!

The point here is that we too often confuse the platform with the technology. The platform, is meh, it’s basically like MySpace, it’s like AIM with Email whatever…who cares. Facebook just happens to be the first one that’s in the spotlight when long-awaited advances in Internet connectivity have kicked in. We see their power to rally digital communities en masse during protests (although this is more Twitter’s game).

These are tools in their infancy, yet still able to organize complex human ecosystems in the form of social networks, bridging humans to one another in a way that is new. Social networks will come and go…Whichever has the design specs and cool factor will be the new one to flock to. As of now it’s Facebook.

Back to this social network stuff: It’s the stuff behind Facebook that really means something. There’s a huge number of people using smartphones with Internet access. We have Internet everywhere. We have disposable income and access to cheap service providers that can enable connections amongst these devices. We have content capturing technology and media technology to feed the system, as well as the ongoing ability for humans to continually participate in it.

We live in the “Always On” world. And we’re just now getting kind of used to it, but were not…we’re like the nerdy girl at her college prom. We know what’s up but we’re still awkward with the guy who’s taking us out there into this new world. Yes, Facebook is the company that has to put on our corsage and take pictures with our parents. But don’t expect Mark Zuckerberg to be around when we’re delivering the fruits of this awkward first encounter. Sure we can luck out and get a higher level of human connectedness. On the other hand, ubiquitous connectivity might be the start of the end, harboring in a newly-made dysfunctional society void of any real human contact. One thing’s for sure, it’ll be too late to abort!

Questions for Review

– In the Always On society, your network stays your network, despite your physical location shifting. You now keep your networks intact through Facebook/LinkedIn. We hear a lot about the declining value of a college degree, especially from high-priced fancypants colleges. If this whole network thing turns out to be a thing, does that salvage some of the college’s value?

– If people are more connected nowadays, do real life communities get even more neglected. Put another way, do digital communities grow richer at the expense of their physical counterparts? What happens to places with vibrant digital communities? Do our declining civil society participation rates (a la Bowling Alone) have any relationship to digital communities (i.e. synergistic or antagonistic)?

Remembering My 2 Dead Grandfathers

Angelo Saraceno

I’ve never blogged about my family. But I think it’s a good thing to do.

My grandfathers were two overarching, borderline-mythical figures who played huge roles in my parents’ lives and so necessarily occupied a big place in my own.

My dad’s dad (above) died when I was in high school. He was a father of 3, a war veteran, an accomplished painter, and cat-lover. I was in 5th grade and he mentioned how the neighbor’s son got into Tufts. “Good school, that Tufts, good school…” I wrote my college essay about him and his right-of-center views and ended up getting into Tufts. After 4 years there, he probably would have hated where I ended up politically, but still would have been proud of the pedigree I acquired. He came from Stanford, CT and loved the old-money Connecticut prestige thing, though our family had little of it. He was a smoker, a diabetic, and he loved little cats. Later on in life I would describe him as a mixture of Rush Limbaugh and the dad from Big Fish. I think if he were alive now, we’d be butting heads nonstop over politics: Me with my newly informed political views stemming from a Political Science major; Him, with his booming voice and disregard for current social milieus, yet ability to put together cohesive arguments on his political enemies. We’d tackle “politics” and “culture” and then science (he had huge stacks of NatGeo all over his house) and then movies (he loved movies, he once got me out of class early to see Gladiator in theaters. I was 11 years old;)

Antonio Orsini

My other grandfather died when I was 6 or 7 or 8. Antonio Orsini was an Italian immigrant who came over in the mid-1950s. Avid Tomato grower, hunter, and wrestling fan, my favorite memories of “Poppy” were when we sat together in front of the TV cheering on WCW stars, stealing cable using the box my uncle would install for every big Pay-per-view match. Or, when I’d run across the street to his house, because I knew he’d feed me cookies before dinner, which was something my parents were firmly against. Poppy was a tough guy. The first time he took my dad hunting, my dad was convinced Poppy was going to kill him. Then there’s the home video of him finding a squirrel in his squirrel trap and making my dad kill it with an old BB-gun pistol. Graphic stuff. I remember the day he passed away, I saw my mom tearing up in the parking lot from a distance. Then on the drive home, I was sitting in the passenger seat of my dad’s pickup. I asked my Dad about Mom and he started tearing up. He was trying to explain something like “Poppy passed away.” The memory is hazy but I’m positive this was the first and only time in my life I saw my Dad shed tears. I of course didn’t have a clue what was going on. I specifically remember fake-crying as we walked into our house, and then upon entering while fake crying, asking “Can I have a Pop-Tart?” Looking back now, this was probably the first and only time my dad had to explain a death in the family to his kid. It was clear though that even though he was a son-in-law, he loved this man, my mother’s father. Something about his stringent, old-world sensibilities struck a nerve with him.

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Living in LA now, working in branding for a digital agency, it’s hard to say what my two grandfathers would make of my own life. They definitely loved me back when they were alive (being their first-born grandson living in proximity). However, they also both died of smoking-related illnesses so they would probably tell me to stop smoking. I suppose we all like to romanticize about our past and our ancestors. Yet I can shake the feeling that these were men who were inherently inclined to either laugh at or ignore a lot of the bullshit that in life. These men were on a mission for the good life, and they were willing to fight to get their share of it, not simply for their own salvation but also for that of their family’s. And sometimes, smoking on that cigarette, even though it’s bad and everyone knows it will kill you, and those Truth advertisements, etc., there’s this momentary feeling that we’re still somehow connected, that they remain a part of me, no matter how distant they are from my day-to-day life.

In Internet World, Superheroes Exist

Wake up. Walk down the street. Notice the readily accessible real world. Schools, religious institutions governmental agencies, and brick-and-mortar businesses: the hair salons, the diners, the Shake Shacks, the H & R Blocks, the wedding rental agencies, the sports cards vendors, the car rental agencies, the pharmacies, the liquor stores, the dollar stores, the craft stores, the big box retailers, and the movies. We know these places are forever safe from any lasting damage. We go to the movies to watch them face real destruction and we construct superheroes to protect them from made-up threats.

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Now that we have invented Internet world, we also have the Facebook pages, Twitter Profiles, Instagrams, and Gawkers standing as half-fledged institutions and serving as cloud-based representation of the brick-and-mortar businesses that line Main St., USA’s everywhere.

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In quasi-fictional Internet world, we don’t need to go to the movies to see superheroes square off against one another. That’s because in Internet World, we have actual superheroes fighting massive battles everyday. Their day-to-day toils are epic. They involve sweeping and controversial opinions regarding basic civil liberties. They affect a global audience. Their actions set the course for the traditional media conglomerates (Viacom, Disney), up-and-coming tech behemoths (Apple, Google, Facebook), and major world Governments alike.

So who are these Internet superheroes/supervillains? For starters, we might want to say Kim Dotcom, Julian Assange (wikileaks), Anonymous (admittedly not a person but 100s of people), and Hunter Moore. Of course there are definitely others. What’s interesting is that all of them are using the Internet as a battlefield against tradition. Kim Dotcom frames his war as one against Hollywood and copyright autocrats. Assange seeks to bring transparency back to government. Anonymous appeals to a higher sense of morality in waging a war against the unjust.  Hunter Moore is redefining privacy norms. They’re all waging war on a cloud-based battlefield, whose soft terrain affords them advantages that will likely shape the technological climate for years to come.

And even though they sometimes clash against one another (see Anonymous’ recent targeting of Hunter Moore), they do it all out of a deeper-seated sense of what’s right in the Age of the Internet, while disregarding norms and laws. And they do it so nimbly and revolutionarily: Kim Dotcom lives in a 63 acre New Zealand compound. He was once armed with a remote kill-switch that could wipe out the entirety of his 50 petabyte database if he ever needed to delete evidence. Julian Assange routinely pissed off the most powerful nations in the world by releasing millions of documents that proved its leaders were being less than truthful. Hunter Moore creates sites where users can post illicit images of their ex-significant others.

The massive institutions are the perfect targets for Internet World’s superheroes. They are slow and lumbering and guilty of corruption. They most likely will have trouble defending themselves. Traditional media institutions stand the most to lose. In this war, they are the POWs locked in bamboo river jails, crying for help from their governments, while their outdated business models sit beside them in their cages, gasping with their final breaths to be put out of their misery. Governments on the other hand, are not losing much in this war, besides their purpose and their perceived legitimacy/effectiveness. If they can’t help massive media conglomerates defend against Internet villains, then how can they help Mom & Pop defend against robbers and vandals? All the while, third-party enforcement agencies like Anonymous (which is starting to feel vaguely reminiscent to Robert Nozick’s dominant protection agencies, a precursor for the Anarcho-Capitalist state) gain legitimacy in the eyes of the internet savvy Generation Y crowd, getting involved in Geopolitical disputes, corporate scandals, and preventing rapes (again see Anonymous’ recent targeting of Hunter Moore).

Twenty years from now, movie studios will be out making The Avengers 18 and Spiderman 4.5 Reboot 2. Small town Americans will go to the movies and watch them and admire the protagonists as they save the banks and the schools and the town water supply again and again. However, we might be able to also reflect on the Golden Days of Internet, when certain individuals waged wars across the clouds around us. These were the first  superheroes of the Internet world, mavericks who woke up everyday, ready to piss excellence and square off with conglomerates, tech-giants and Western democracies all at once. These were the superheroes of our day.

 

 

Erection Day

Voting v. \ˈvōt·ing\ (vot·ed, vote, votes)

1. the self-important, self-righteous act of ignoring the fact that special interests run the United States, they have a lot more invested in the status quo; they have significantly more money and power to control the voting process;

2. the act of endorsing one out of two big government, pro-corporate, pro-military, anti-civil rights candidates with one being slightly more into legislating Christian morality than the other;

Example: “The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting.”

Example 2: “I have never voted in my life…I have always known and understood that the idiots are in a majority so it’s certain they will win.”

As America follows Europe down the drain of waning Western dominance, and the crazies circle in from all sides to greet us with catchy slogans and jingoistic mantras that play into our greatest fantasies of glory and empire that somehow might save us from peril, and we put in our childish faith in these absolutes and their unaltered platforms and systems, time and time again expecting sweeping change…

Millennials are smarter than the Baby Boomers, even smarter than the Greatest Generation. We might not have saved the world from Nazis. But we’re the least racist, least religious group of Americans. We’re also the most tech savvy. Armed with the Internet, we have the ability to connect to a global audience. One day , we might even pause and say “No,” we will not stand for this bullshit country you gave us with its ever-increasing police state, the civil rights abuses, the war on Terror, the global interventionism, the drone strikes, the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, the NDAA, the Patriot Act, the massive inequality, the subtle yet undeniable racism, etc.)

The Last Hardfest: A Day of the Dead

Last night I attended Hard Haunted: Day of the Dead. It was fun. I enjoyed myself at both Justice and Knife Party. However, a couple things I noticed:

  • EDM has managed to attract mass numbers of 18-32 year olds spanning race, class, ethnicity, & religion
  • EDM events are hindered by ridiculous fees, armed police, red tape, and restrictions 

Lots of people + a common dilemma is a good ingredient for eventual political change. In this case, these two conditions might lead to a lot more civil libertarians. After all, they’ve been propelled into the world’s worst economy since the Great Depression, they’ve witnessed the fizzling out of their symbol of Change & Hope (drone strikes, FBI dispensary raids, etc.), and they’ve seen their only escape get co-opted by large business monopolies. that have the financial were-withal to successfully navigate around excessive police & state interventions. 

Once the baby boomers die out and this subculture-spanning EDM movement crowd that’s unique to this current millennial generation matures, its leaders will start to occupy positions of power, and soon it will inject remedies to the problems that existed when they were forming their identities. Here’s hoping this generation maintains its unified distaste for the Man and that it will regulate corporations, shrink the size of the state, and empower individuals to do as they wish.

Harald Damsleth’s Depiction of America

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Some motifs contained in this poster (via Reddit):

  • The decadence of beauty pageants (scantily-clad “Miss America” and “Miss Victory”, “The World’s Most Beautiful Leg”) — or more generally, the putative sexual laxness of American women, a theme which strongly resonates with extremists today.
  • Gangsterism and gun violence (the arm of an escaped convict holding a submachine gun). Anti-black violence (a lynching noose, a Ku Klux Klan hood).
  • General violence of American society, in addition to the above (boxing-glove which grasps the money-bag).
  • Mistreatment of Native Americans (“Miss America” wears plains-Indian head-dress).
  • The pure materialism or commercialism of America, to the detriment of any spirit or soul (moneybag with “$” symbol).
  • The presence of blacks in U.S. population, contributing to its “mongrelization”, adding undesirably “primitive” elements to American popular culture, and constituting a potential danger to the white race (strongly muscular arms of a black male, a stereotypically-caricatured black couple dancing the “JITTERBUG – Triumph of Civilization” in birdcage, which is portrayed as a degraded animalistic ritual).
  • Decadence of American popular culture, and its pernicious influence on the rest of the world (dancing of jitterbug, hand holds phonograph record, figure of a European gullible “all-ears” dupe in lower foreground).
  • Indiscriminate U.S. military violence (bloodied bomb for foot, metal legs, military aircraft wings), threatening the European cultural landmarks at lower right. Hence the falsity of American claims to be “Liberators”. (The word “Liberators” was also the name of a U.S. bomber plane.)
  • American jingoism and war fervor (a business-suited arm literally “beating the drum” of militarism, “Miss Victory” and her drum-majorette cap and boots).
  • Malevolent influence of Jews and Freemasons (Star of David on Masonic apron descending from drum, caricatured Jewish figure holding on to money-bag).
  • Demonization of national symbols of the United States (“Miss Victory” waves the reverse side of 48-star U.S. flag, and the WW2-era Army Air Corps roundel — of small red disk within white star on large blue disk — is shown on one of the wings).

Hitchens On Race, Discrimination

In Letters to a Young Contrarian, Christopher Hitchens writes:

“We still inhabit the prehistory of our race, and have not caught up with the immense discoveries about our own nature and about the nature of the universe. The unspooling of the skein of the genome has effectively abolished racism and creationism, and the amazing findings of Hubble and Hawking have allowed us to guess at the origins of the cosmos. But how much more addictive is the familiar old garbage about tribe and nation and faith.

[…]

In some ways I feel sorry for racists and for religious fanatics, because they so much miss the point of being human, and deserve a sort of pity. But then I harden my heart, and decide to hate them all the more, because of the misery they inflict and because of the contemptible excuses they advance for doing so. It especially annoys me when racists are accused of ‘discrimination.’ The ability to discriminate is a precious faculty; by judging all members of one “race” to be the same, the racist precisely shows himself incapable of discrimination.”

Android Homme Launches West Coast Store

The following article was published to on EliteDaily.com on Friday September 7, 2012 and can be read here

Chain link fences with barbed wire. Vacant parking lots. Strip clubs. I’m standing on 922 S. Olive St. and there’s hardly an indication that a fashion showroom is opening here. But if it’s hosting labels like THE: ODDS and Android Homme, then typicality is not really a consideration. 

We’re nearly a mile away from LA’s fashion district, not to mention miles from the showrooms of Melrose and Hollywood. Yet as it turns out, IX II II, whose name makes note of its own address, has some commonalities with the premiere showrooms of the world.

Set within the base of an inconspicuous brick building downtown, early 2000s hip-hop and trap spun by Chuck Inglish of Cool Kids echoes through the vaulted windows and out to the vacant lots surrounding it. Inside is packed with people standing around bright high-tops that lay perched atop square white orbs arranged neatly enough to counteract the dazzling nature of the footwear itself.

Whether it was the pre-announced DJ Sets of Chuck Inglish and M83′s Anthony Gonzalez, or the always-enticing promise of a Hennessy open-bar, attendees flocked to the back entrance of IX II II  to experience the designs of labels B;SCOTT, sarah scott, THE:ODDS, and Android Homme.

The downtown crowd was mostly posh. Models and designers mingled amidst urban hipsters clad in the now ubiquitous snapback and tattoo uniform. For those who chose to go vintage, floral dominated while gold was the go-to accessory. As for footwear, high-tops and heels were the norm. The only notable absence was ladies’ spiked and studded footwear.

Javier Laval was on-hand to discuss the event’s arguable headliner, Android Homme, and how it all got started. “I self-financed everything when I first started three and half years ago,” Laval explained. It got big. Really big. “Everyone from Swiss Beatz to Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, Usher” was seen rocking them. Since 2008, Mr. Laval has been on a quest to reinvent the sneaker genre, marrying textures to materials in an uncanny matrimonial harmony that seeks to reprogram the typical consumer, allowing him to transcend the rigors of the life routine.

It’s obvious upon viewing the apparel that Javier has done something special. He explained that with Android Homme, “it’s never too late to reprogram. This is a reminder of that.”

Android Homme apparel is currently available in stores at IX II II (922 S. Olive St., Los Angeles, CA) and Kith NYC (233 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY).

CJ Saraceno | Elite

Miracle Whip Trolls Stephen Colbert; Proves that Advertisers can get ROI from the little things;

Back in 2009, Miracle Whip apparently responded to Stephen Colbert’s criticisms:

 

 

 

 

This letter was penned by a good marketing team. They’re playing a longterm game with lots of cohesiveness. They probably like their jobs. And in terms of ROI, Miracle Whip uses this lil letter to not only get its ads into a proto-narrative feud with the content creator, but it also manages to attain potency (virality) years after most CEOs will consider. That’s because as of now, it’s adorn’s the #1. spot on Reddit despite it being 2012.

Here’s the thing…your viral hits that you pitch to execs and ceos…they’re usually based on they’re ability to crack through and into the zeitgeist and achieve major short term penetration. Your video is a success if you get a million hits. Or a thousand hits. Or even 100 (Think about music videos for this stereotype doing this opposite stereotype). Crazy.  But when you see incidents online getting recycled and passed around years after their original unveil, we’re thinking, hey maybe we as a society are evolving in terms of reaching some sort of online cohesiveness. We’ve developed a “meme” consciousness, which is a colloquial way of saying a unified and cohesive cultural consciousness. We’ve grown accustomed to little gems like Miracle Whip letters and Keyboard Cats and Bro Rape references not because we’ve grown more fickle. But because we’ve connected with references told over the Internet using multimedia.  

Whatever your politics, marketing has become a very lucrative opportunity for those willing to do everything (including the little things like sending a letter) if their companies gonna succeed in convincing consumers to buy product. Globalization has of course given us an infinite array of choices with oddly similar prices so now … your brand is everything. And brand credibility is built not through flashy spokesmen, or 30 second advertisements or banner ads. It’s done through little things like Miracle Whip’s letter.

tl;dr: Authenticity is basically gonna be more and more key as we develop a common societal lens to evaluate social media. 

 

The Hipster Subculture and Mass Consumption

This article by Dave Schilling popped up in twitter feed today (yes, I’m a Thought Catalog follower). It’s mostly about “Girls” and the recent LA times article about its inherent “Hipster racism.” Luckily, Schilling opts to take the high road and go beyond the kind of one-sided analysis that’s dominated this recent spat over Dunham’s work in an effort to situate readers in the current state of culture in this post 2000s-postmodernity era. He writes about the internet, the outdated usage of the term “hipster,” subcultures, zeitgeists, and my personal favorite, the reaction to the ‘Abercromie-ification’ of America. Below is an excerpt: 

Subcultures are supposed to stand apart from the mass consciousness, at least until they are commodified by corporate entities. Girls is a show made for and about people in their 20s living urban lives who are free to fret about trivial problems. It’s not so different from SeinfeldFriendsHow I Met Your Mother or other popular sitcoms because it revolves around neurotic people who live relatively comfortable lives. If stories about relative privilege were racist, Whit Stillman and Woody Allen would be damned to hell for eternity. Unfortunately, consumer culture tries to say this is normal because that’s how everything we buy has to be marketed. “You need this product in your life because everyone else has it too!” People started wearing old man sweaters and fake glasses because it was, in part, a reaction to the Abercromie-ification of youth culture in the early to mid-2000s. Now, that aesthetic has permeated the zeitgeist, and Lebron James wears giant, black frames and bow ties to press conferences.

In the age of the internet, nothing is normal anymore. There is no true mass culture because the online experience gives us the ability to find the exact subculture we’re looking for without having to do more than type the word ‘dubstep’ into a search box. This is the real source of the comedy in Lena Dunham’s character’s “voice of a generation” line. There can never be a person to speak for all of our anxieties and foibles. I can be a 27 year-old mixed race Jewish person from Los Angeles who listens to Beach House and loves Star Trek and I can find someone with those exact details to date if I search hard enough. They’re probably an insufferable narcissist who loves the sound of their own voice, but that’s not my point.

Marketing 101

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Edit 3:44PM 4/15 : I re-read this and it sounds a little repetitive and disorganized. I had a lot of thoughts and I wanted to get them all down. Still I’m going to leave it up because I need an excuse to keep the Banksy quote.

Marketing 101

This is a quote by Banksy. It’s about how comanies suck. It brings up a sort of hypothetical and eternal war that’s people v. companies. It’s been passed around the internet alongside other Neoanarchist tech-based populism graphics, only in this case it’s a quote by the 21st century veneer of pop-art notoriety.

When I wrote about sports at Tufts, I inspired a lot of anger amongst athletes. When Banksy writes about corporations, marketers should get pumped up. They should want to hang this up on their lockerroom wall and slam it with their fist en route to every home game like the sports team that did it to my piece.

To be a good company, you need to fight the notion that you’re representing an inhuman money-making machine. You’re not filling a need by offering a product that we pay for because you have a comparative advantage in its production due to economies of scale. You’re doing a social deed whereby others exchange value for in other ways to show their appreciation.

It seems like a successful company is one with a strong brand. Apple, Starbucks, CocaCola, and Patagonia are a few examples. They have strong identities that incorporate retail product sales into a larger picture. Apple is a one of a kind innovator that tells us the future. Starbucks practices fair trade policies. Patagonia uses green tech in manufacturing to make its products. The marketers here have it easy. Get a job at one of these places and you’re set.

Marketing is becoming holistic. Companies need to adapt to the fact that Americans not only have a lot more choices, they also have a lot more time to decide which item to buy. Today’s marketer needs to make his product stand out amongst competitors and to do that, they needed to become multidimensional mirrors of ourselves. We’ve gotten more selective and therefore marketers need to get better at determining what things they can do to bond with their customer in the exchange of goods. But to do so they must move beyond the binarial database algorithms meant to quantify consumer preferences and reduce us to mere statistics (though the ability to track an individual’s viewing habbits with relative ease makes for great data sets).

On Home Ownership

Over the past 60 years, we’ve been spoon-fed the notion that home-ownership is an essential part of achieving the American Dream. It’s as necessary to the dream as the golden retriever, the blonde housewife, and the shiny, red convertible. 

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To drive that point home, Congress has offered Americans generous subsidies to encourage home-ownership. This desire culminated with the recent economic meltdown, which was partly caused by President Bush’s misguided belief in the “Ownership Society” ideal. He wanted to broaden the base of homeowners for some reason and he used Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the means to this end. These institutions thrived from the get-go. There was no bottom line. When people started scrutinizing them, they spent over $170 million to get lawmakers to keep them from closing (rather than let penny-pinchers limit their ability to give out shitty loans). Maxine Waters (D-CT), Barney Frank (D-MA) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) were among the many representatives who balked at these initial attempts to reign them in. 

Post-bubble and we’re still fucked (I just listened to NPR on the way home and this is what I’ve gathered). Basically Congress still subsidizes homeownership and that’s not going to change for years to come. What’s more, Morgan Stanley released a report saying 2012 is the year of the landlord, i.e. the United States is now switching from a home-owning society to a rent-based one. People, especially our generation, want to be flexible and follow the jobs.  There’s been a sharp dip in home-buying amongst 30-34 year olds in the past year and that’s the critical age when most people choose to settle down and actually purchase a home. Not anymore. Thank the Boomers for that. 

The best part is that hedge funds, investment banks, and private-equity firms are buying up foreclosed homes by the bushel at rates 10-20% below market value. It’s not that regular average Joe’s are not interested in the homes. It’s that 1.) Borrowing money is super-tough now and 2.) Wall St. can offer cold hard cash right away. Fortunately, I have friends who work at these kinds of financial institutions. The downside is many of us do not. Many of us are still hooked on the idea that owning a home is intrinsically good and right and American. At least that’s what the government has taught us to believe. 

As an on-again-off-again conspiracy theory lover, I’m inclined to believe that home-ownership is promoted by the government because it makes Americans a lot easier to manipulate. Think about it. Home-owners take on massive amounts of debt to buy a home. They can’t go on strike or take risks with their career because they need to pay off their mortgage. They can’t riot or protest because a. they live outside the cities (the hubs of life) and b. their homes tie them to the community at-large rather than the abstract ideas they read about in books. Pftt Freedom? Equality? Gosh, what would the Smith’s say? These people are more likely to work some shitty dead-end corporate schtick job because it’s stable and close to the home and the kids won’t have to change schools. People that stay in one spot are perfect prey for corrupt politicians and greedy Wall St. businessmen. Those ingrained with this outdated idea of what SHOULD be are the crutch of the powerful and truly evil. 

Millenials on the other hand will be the first generation forced to get over this artificial pipe dream instilled in our collective psyche by those who continue to fuck our society. Renting an apartment might not be what we had in mind. But hey, it has its benefits: 

  • We’re super mobile. Every month might be a new adventure, a new job, a new life. 
  • Renting usually means living in a city where you’re close to the ideas, the action, the culture. It’s greener and more exciting. Suburbs on the other hand isolate us, drain us of life, rob us of our true dreams, and turn us into consumerist drones. 
  • Your landlord might actually be some Wall St. firm. In that case, punching holes in walls might become the new way to protest the 1%’s hoarding of wealth. 
  • Your forced to think of yourself as a member of a society rather an island. Civility, Courtesy, and Love might return to America. And you won’t have to be a hippie to embrace such values. 

I’m a little apathetic over America’s recent economic collapse. With the Internet, with Wikipedia, with Reddit, with all these tools, people under the age of 30 should be able to see themselves as members of a global society unburdened by the racial and geopolitical dividers that older generations have used in the past. I am frustrated that people continue to support a government that promotes values of this type. Live and let live. You want to own a house? Good, go buy one. You want to ride a bike. Good, go do it. What got us into this mess was elitists using their power to create false incentives that tricked the masses into making decisions they should not have made. Maybe now instead of trying to re-achieve some former ideal, we can embrace the new direction these colossal fuck-ups have taken us? 

Public Mandate

The Supreme Court is deciding whether or not it’s constitutional. The people around me keep supporting it, but their arguments have to do more with “Tea Partiers this…” and “Obama that…” While I don’t expect them to point out intricacies of the many uses and intentions of the interstate commerce clause, I would expect them to be pissed off that yet again our generation is forced to pick up the tab for older generations. 

Most millenials are optimistic. These 18-30 year old types see the world that was handed to them as a fun little challenge. Yay! Awesome! Rather than view it as a steaming pile of bad mortgages, consumer debt, corrupt politicians, and greedy businessmen, they’ve chosen to see it as fixer-upper. The only problem with this is that we’re too lazy to identify what the actual root causes of the problem. 

The truth is that this public mandate screws over young people. Think about it. We’re supposed to not have to buy insurance until we’re like 30. We’re invincible. Or at least we think we are. Now, we’ll end up paying and hopefully not end up getting sick and relying on it. Best case scenario: Our premiums will be used to pay for old people who need costly medical care.

That’s nice and all. But old people still hold most of the resources in the economy. College grads are burdened with debt. We’ve been handed an economy that sucks and the public mandate is passed to give us yet another obligation to the people who’ve already hurt us badly. 

For further reading on how old people screwed up our society read Stephane Marche’s article, The War Against Youth

“The youth vote still supports Obama, but in a chastened, conditional way. In hindsight, Obama’s 2008 campaign looks like an indulgent fantasy in which the major conflicts in life simply don’t exist. There may be no white America and no black America, no blue-state America and no red-state America, but one thing is clear: There is a young America and there is an old America, and they don’t form a community of interest. One takes from the other. The federal government spends $480 billion on Medicare and $68 billion on education. Prescription drugs: $62 billion. Head Start: $8 billion. Across the board, the money flows not to helping the young grow up, but helping the old die comfortably.”

Edit: For those lumping this in with tea partier critiques of “ObamaCare,” I apologize. I admit I’m personally coming around to the idea of a single payer system similar to ones used by most of the modern Western world, Germany being one of the best examples. Still I think it’s a very nuanced issue with a lot of ins and outs. Criticism of the president should however be permissible when policies that do not benefit millenials are passed. I love watching people get involved in politics, especially my fellow wide-eyed 20 somethings who are eager to re-inject this comforting message of hope into paley-blues for yet another election. This time I refuse to sit by idly and watch as they unknowingly vote for more of the same. Real change is never going to be voted into office. (4/2/12)

Flashroots

While scanning the commentary on a Rush Limbaugh boycott thread, I caught this comment from mshiltonj. Not only does the comment use a series simplified, repetitive, and oddly poetic sentences to describe a phenomena that has become more and more prevalent over the past couple of years, but it also adds the term “flashroots” to our lexicon. It is a term that accurately captures this sort of instant civilian action where regular people come together using social media to do big things.

“Flashroots” activism was not limited to the Sandra Fluke incident, which has left the popular right-wing radio show with 141 less advertisers in the span of a couple weeks. How about last week’s KONY 2012 documentary? It went viral in less than 2 days and yet its subject matter deals with an obscure Ugandan rebel leader. If we want to go back even further, we can draw attention to the SOPA Blackouts, the Occupy Wall St. movement, Arab Spring, even the Tea Party (when it was in its Ron-Paul-esque infancy). Yes people, “flashroots” activism is the future.

P.S. – Don’t bother checking to see if the domain name Flashroots.com is available. I just purchased it.

Two New Political Parties

The worst thing I could do for my nascent career in entertainment is write about politics. I’m learning that I’m at odds with some of Hollywood’s key (albeit dying) tenets, especially after this whole SOPA thing. Think open source vs. proprietary, think sharing vs. possessive, think grassroots vs. top-down…

Still, I need to vent about the current status of American politics. Our corporatist system has grown defunct. We’ve got a party of “Yes” and a party of “No.” They can only be differentiated by their members’ stances on minor social issues that directly affect only a small minority of people.

Social wedges eventually dull. We as a society are starting to grow tired of them. We hunger for discussions regarding more substantive issues. Technological advances have given us a 24/7 stream of large-scale current events, as they occur….LIVE! The internet has not only expanded our accessibility to the marketplace of ideas, but has also elevated our ability to voice our own facts and opinions to millions of everyday Americans. Websites like Reddit, Facebook, and Wikipedia now thrive as humans seek to piece together these collective narratives, rather than retreat to their own thought bubble’s echo chamber. This has hurt the ability for singular authorities with a disproportionate amount of income to dominate conversations. 

Rather than copy Thomas L. Friedman in calling for a “third voice,” I will instead propose something more realistic. After Barack Obama wins the election in 2012, we will get a lot of pissed off constituencies fed up with their current party. The best-case scenario would yield a political realignment — one in which we have Statist Christians and Progressive Libertarians. 

Statist Christians

These are the people of the past. They are mostly old. They want more of the status quo. They fear revolution. They might even claim to value bipartisanship. Their heroes are FDR, Reagan, and maybe even Obama. Socially, they are religious and therefore they are anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage. They unabashedly support Israel. They favor intervention abroad. They support the Patriot Act. They support the Global War on Terror. They don’t mind certain aspects of the Bush Doctrine (in which we support democratic institutions throughout the globe). They believe in subsidies for dying industries, be it big farm, big energy, and big manufacturing/labor. Yes the statist Christians will be extremely well-organized and well funded. They will dominate the next couple of election cycles. They will represent the best aspects of the Elderly, Christians, Moderates, Southerners, Christian Latinos, Christian African-Americans, Neo-Cons, government Paternalists, statists, those who believe in the power of Federal government to mend itself. 

Libertarian-Progressives

The alternative party will be one of vibrance, energy, and radical change. It will correct for the fact that older generations have fucked over the current rising crop of young working Americans. It will end the disproportionate influence of special interest groups within the political process. It will end all US wars, including the drug war and the global war on terror. It will also scale down the US military budget and cease to station troops in bases worldwide. It will abolish the prison-industrial complex and the military-industrial complex. It will limit the power of local police forces while reinforcing individual civil liberties (the right to free speech, the right to privacy). It will do away with corporate loopholes and increase the tax on capital gains. It will seek out all individuals responsible for the recent economic collapse and put them in jail as a symbolic representation of the party’s zero-tolerance stance on backdoor dealings, corruption, and foul play by financial and political elites. Upon the completion of these initiatives, the party can then splinter into liberal and libertarian factions in deciding how to spend the country’s newly-established surplus (i.e. should it be spent on state-sponsored health care, better teachers for inner-city schools, lower taxes, improved social safety net, internal infrastructure investment, Social Security reform and other things that libertarians and progressives will have to have healthy debates about once the Statist Christians have been purged from our society. This will happen in twenty years or so, when religion will have less of an influence on politics and the racist/socially backwards elderly have died off. At this point, reason and logic will have the chance to re-enter the political arena and democracy will once again have the chance to flourish.

 

Quick Question

Random but necessary: If you were to born in Afghanistan sometime in the last 50 years, would it better to be male or female? Third world existences are never pretty but I think the hypothetical raises some interesting points.

Male: You are born. You do some school. You get handed an AK-47 and fight the superpower who’s occupying your homeland. If you somehow survive these years of combat against much more technologically advanced nations, you might be able to join the community patriarchy: an easy life of telling others what to do, taking on multiple wives, and so on.

Female: You are born into a state of proto-slavery. Cook. Clean. Work. Eat. Get married at age 12 to some 30 year old creeper. Avoid the mother-in-law who may or may not torture you. Life is grim.

At first glance, I’m thinking you’ll opt for the first choice. As a dude, you’ll at least gain some agency, and with that freedom a chance to roll the dice in favor of the good life. But most males in a war-torn Afghanistan are simply cannon fodder. They face insurmountable odds, brutal conditions, and limited successes, all while watching their fellow countrymen get killed. Females might live in squalor and slavery, but that’s because they are the protected crown jewels of the society. In most cases, they are treated solely as objects lacking any semblance of humanity, and in other cases, they’re farmers.

My question to you is what’s better? What is closest to your definition of a fulfilling life? Would being an objectified slave be worse than being a free man in a trench hiding from drones and snipers? Would the constant threat of rape, torture, and abuse be worse than facing actual bullets, missiles, and bombs. Both are bad but which is worse?

Ask A Marketer

Lately I’ve been considering marketers’ recent attempts to increase the viewership of their brand’s content stream. I tell these people that seeing anything social media related in straight numbers is problematic. Clearly, they’re looking for a short term fix for what amounts to a gaping wound in their outreach strategy. The strength of your brand is unintelligible by mere numbers. It’s the level of participation/dedication. Think Quality not Quantity. 

To decrease the quality of your audience: 

– Ignore them

– Talk down to them

– Broadcast rather than participate

– Only post links to your own content

– See them as passengers of a ship, rather than fellow members of the crew; 

 

Notes from Tufts Lectures

One was on film production, the other focused on Los Angeles. I don’t know how qualified I am to speak on either subject so I’ve also curated some quotes. That way the general public has something to read as well.

Certain things you shouldn’t forget.  

Get Your Story Going, Fast…

Act 1

– Show us a world right from the get-go

– Show us how it exists in real time before throwing in your variation 

– One tweak to the current world should lead to conflict that escalates

IT then escalates to: 

-A Climax! 

The outcome of which frames the rest of the story- 0m:30s – 1m:35s

– Juno (when we know she’s keeping the baby)

– Billy Madison (when Papa Madison announces that Eric will be taking over the company) Note: Critics might argue that it is when the deal is made for Billy to return to school and complete every grade before taking over the company. I see it as the beginning of an Act 2.

– That random short film when something random happens in the beginning and the protagonist responds 

Protagonists must have clear wills and intentions. 

– They can be forced 

Act 1 is a package deal:

inciting incident-> climax.

Act 2+3 work together. multiple turning points and often one peak climax with aftermath involved. 

What makes this day special? Why are you showing us this on film? How are you drawing us in to this new character? These are questions you must answer before shooting anything. 

Quote on Character: “A great movie idea sets up a character who will act and act drastically, either on her own desires or because she’s been forced to. There will be something unique and compelling about the character and/or the situation she finds herself in. The stakes have to be high, if not life or death in the physical sense, then in an emotional sense. The idea has to intrigue people, to make them want to learn more about the characters and/or the situation.

Script Breakdown Highlights

Details are key. Small means big when it comes to production.

Logistics, transportation, mass human coordination, these are the key components of a successful shoot. Forget about the beautiful steadi-cam shot, that can be done in five minutes. Getting 5 grips to move 20 C-Stands while 300 extras tap their feet requires some real preparation. In production, ‘art’ can feel like an afterthought. 

Amateur filmmaking is when have this amazing vision in your head. And then you shoot it. And it sucks. And this beautiful vision you had is completely compromised. Thankfully you have editing where you get to pick up the pieces, y’know…sorta salvage what you can. Eventually the Phoenix film is reborn anew, although significantly altered from its previous form. 

Production team must be separated into various departments. Heads of said departments should strive for perfection within their own field. They should also honor their director’s vision over their own. 

Conceptualizatize your project: Treatment. Script. Production Design.

– Think LookBooks! Get the Look and Feel down by using Google Images and Wikipedia

Cast, crew, equipment, etc: Be a general. But also be a party planner. 

Post-production 

 Design your world

  • Production was just like doing the coding for your video game.
  • Editing is when you get to actually play it and test it. 
  • Be as fake as you need to be to get the job done. Keep Coding While Playing.
  • Convince us that it’s REAL. 
    • Play to our subconscious 
  • Sound is Everything

Represent your world. Not what we’re shooting.

Play the sounds that get across the emotion of the event.

Think of the volume: It’s everything. And nothing. How can movies be so dynamic if all the same volume stays within a narrow range: Whispers match yells. Explosions can equal a light sneeze. It’s the quality of the sound that allows us to apply our own volume setting to it.

Amplify what you want us to focus on

Film sound is comprised of conventions and innovations. We have come to expect an acceleration of music during car chases and creaky doors in horror films. Yet, it is important to note as well that sound is often brilliantly conceived. The effects of sound are often largely subtle and often are noted by only our subconscious minds. Yet, it behooves us to foster an awareness of film sound as well as film space so as to truly appreciate a twentieth century art form, the modern film.”

Ambience and Walla require separate lectures entirely.

Breaking Into Hollywood:

You gotta be “charmingly persistent and persistently charming” to get a job in LA. Most of the time. Unless you know someone…who knows someone. 

If you don’t know something, ask. There Are NO Dumb questions.

“14-16 hours a day with bosses who wont give a fuck about you” (This from an unnamed coworker)

“Your job is to make your boss look good in front of his boss”  (This from that same coworker)

Tracks of entertainment industry:

Two Tiered: TV vs. Film 

Three Tiered: TV vs. Film vs. New Media 

Five Tiered: TV vs. Film vs. New Media vs. Branded Content vs. Reality TV

Or by career path / sector: 

Agency

Development

marketing, law, accounting, advertising, PR, other auxiliary roles.

Production

For Any: Get good on the phone: Know your tone. Be a real person. Be friendly.

 Connections are key. Your ability will determine whether or not you stay there.

“Making It in Hollywood” just ain’t what it used to be: Breaks were once rare. Now they’re daily. Gatekeepers are trolling youtube for up and coming stars. Get your friends together. Get a consistent following. Show you understand a demographic. 

There’s nothing like momentum: People like to see that you have momentum. Always be doing something. A new show idea. A recent newspaper article your trying to find the rights to. Have projects lined up but always be ready to pursue something out of the blue. Momentum is key. 

College: Don’t make a movie about college, yet. Use this time to develop your hard skills. Link up with kids your age who are moving to LA as well. Literally build your own satellite Tufts Alumni Network, I think the other one has been lost in space for some time now. 

Odds are, we’re entering a bifurcated economy. There’s going to be lots of low paying high skill intensive jobs. Multiple income streams only way to reach middle class. At least in terms of media production. Everyone’s got them DSLRS, y’know…

…We’re all independent contractors now. And those of you chasing those cushy office jobs sitting behind a desk, the mailroom has always been a fertile ground for our generation’s executives. 

Quote: “To succeed in this business, being smart, talented, creative and/orskilled in a particular craft (or two, or three) is not enough. Youhave to be special, to stand out, to be willing to sell yourself overand over again, to have the right attitude, temperament and per-sonality; to be willing to play the game and relentlessly do what it takes—not only to succeed, but to simply hang in there and survive”

In Production, basically, more or less: if you don’t shine like gold on the job you’re on, it’s doubtful you’ll be asked to work again.

passionate; prepared; patient; pleasant;