Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince

So I never saw him.

I've seen almost everyone it feels like but I never saw Prince. Missed all the tours, missed the small shows in New York, missed the four-hour barnburner when he tore down La Zona Rosa at SXSW '13.

But from an early age, I loved him. I didn't have a choice in the matter. None of us did. I mean, who didn't like Prince? You might not like INXS or U2 or even the Beatles, but everyone loved Prince.

I had the tapes, later the CD's and then ultimately playlists. But as time passed, he never lost relevance or felt like a throwback. You could throw on "Raspberry beret" at a party in 2005 and get the same reaction you'd have got in 1985: a bunch of people dancing and enjoying the hell out of themselves.

In August of 2012, I went with some friends to see My Morning Jacket play Williamsburg Park in Brooklyn. They used to hold those summer concerts down at the waterfront but by then they were held in what amounted to a big outdoor parking lot a few blocks inland. Around the edges were food vendors, beers, the usual. But this was one of those beautiful late summer Sunday evenings in the city where everyone seemed to be either just getting home from vacation or getting ready to leave on one. At least it felt that way. The sun had just set behind the stage and was casting a beautiful light up over it, the Manhattan skyline spiking behind it in the distance. After an incredible knock-out punch of a show, they'd already covered Galaxie 500's cover of George Harrison's "Isn't it a pity?" in the encore. But then for the second to last song of the show they dropped in a wildcard cover: Prince's "I could never take the place of your man."

It brought down the house.

We all remember it as a great single. But like most people, I'd forgotten the album version of that song is a full six and a half minutes. The song didn't have one guitar solo, it had two. Back to back. At the end of the song. The first is him just ripping it, the second is a slow grooved-out blues solo. Three minutes of an amazing pop song (give it another listen) and then three minutes of guitar solos. Solos. With an "s."

So I never saw Prince.

But in the same way I've never seen god. But you still see them in things like sunsets and Sunday afternoon summer concerts overlooking New York City. And in a band reminding you of the genius of a twenty five year-old song you'd forgotten about.

Did I just compare Prince to god?

Maybe I did. Maybe I did.

Monday, June 08, 2015

One-star TripAdvisor reviews of the inn where the Netflix series “Bloodline” takes place



"Innkeeper died the day we got there."

"The family that runs the place never leaves."

"They ran out of bottled beer. Pretty sure the Rayburns drank it all. Those bastards."

"Boat captain seemed distracted, smoked a lot."

"Rained constantly."

"Told there was no room for my luggage in the shuttle van until they 'made a stop.'"

"The same guy runs the restaurant and the boat charters and what looks like a pretty healthy cocaine trafficking operation."

"Pretty sure the sheriff son killed his brother while we were there."

"Never again."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dispatches from El Segundo



Greetings from El Segundo, California. A land that, frankly, time has forgotten. How is it possible for a place that sits 15 miles from downtown Los Angeles to not absorb any of its current culture, you ask?


Dear reader, I assure you I have no idea. 

But they’re doing it down here. Somehow. It’s like a Biodome situation only its hapless inhabitants are free to leave anytime they want. This is a place where Crocs are still cool. A place where it’s not uncommon to see a PT Cruiser drive past blasting Smash Mouth. It’s a place where you’d likely be welcomed with open arms should you show up at a neighbor’s house with a VHS copy of Adam Sandler’s “Click” and a sixer of Zima.

El Segundo is like Los Angeles’s Cuba: so close, yet so far behind. It makes Marina Del Rey look like Manhattan.


I’ve seen things down here that would make Mark McGrath blush. I saw a guy at lunch wearing Duck Head brand khakis. Where would you even buy those? Stein Mart? I’ve seen seemingly mentally fit young men wearing Sketchers. An old woman at my office smokes like she doesn’t know it’s dangerous. Square-toed men’s shoes and black pleated slacks are alive and well. I feel like there’s still time to warn them about 9/11.


I can't wait 'til they discover the Gangnam Style video though. They're gonna freak.  

*Editor's note: I know a few people who live down here, I've driven by a few cute neighborhoods and the downtown area is precious. But the office parks, aerospace offices and chain stores though...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Going for Average

American Airlines and their agency partners, McCann Worldwide, debuted their new ad campaign today. Below is an imagined presentation of the campaign. It should be noted that all of the lines fictitiously presented here were actually written and approved by professional creatives and are now actually running in national placements. For real. 

AGENCY: First, we want to thank you for letting us take a crack at this exciting opportunity to build awareness and excitement around American’s new lie-flat seats and premium offerings in the ultra-competitive markets of Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Our new tagline? Going for Great.

CLIENT: I'd rather just be great, but OK. 


AGENCY: Without further adieu, here is our first ad targeting the New York market called “start spreading the news.”
CLIENT: Really? The most overused line in New York advertising? Just out of curiosity, what was your second idea? 

AGENCY: Well, we thought it not only announced our news but also harkens back to the Sinatra song which everyone loves. 

CLIENT: So you admit you didn’t even write it?

AGENCY: Well, we…

CLIENT: I mean, Sinatra didn’t even write it. Frank Ebb did. Hell, Liza Minelli sang it in the movie. Not exactly an original idea. What else you got?

AGENCY: This one is targeted at the LA market, “Spoiler alert: this is gonna be great.”
CLIENT: Reminds me those old Bernbach VW ads where he just used the cheap language of the moment, the kind of language that will feel dated next month. 

AGENCY: Yeah, we thought it was young and hip and shows we’re tapped into the vernacular.

CLIENT: I was kidding. It's lazy and already overused. Did anyone try a second round of creative or did you all just take the first ideas your junior team spit out? I’m genuinely curious because we’re literally spending millions of dollars on this effort.

AGENCY: Maybe after you see our Chicago one you’ll see where this is going. We present to you “From Second City to almost any city.”

CLIENT: Do you employ any writers on your staff? 

AGENCY: We also have “L.A.'s newest star makes its debut in the sky,”

CLIENT: Has anyone from your agency ever been to any of these cities? Ever been on a plane? 

AGENCY: How about “Relax your New York state of mind?”

CLIENT: Billy Joel called...

AGENCY: “Take a flight outta the Big Apple?" 

CLIENT: A pun? What else you got?

AGENCY: We also have “Catch a flight every 10 New York minutes.” Get it?

CLIENT: I get that you didn’t try very hard. 

AGENCY: We also made a video. Can someone hit the lights? Here's the first one called "Numbers and Stock Photos": 

CLIENT: That's about as exciting as looking at a calendar my great aunt would buy me from a Hallmark Store in Omaha. I fell asleep halfway through it. 

AGENCY: Well for this video, we decided to take a more humorous approach. Enjoy "Side Effects":  
CLIENT: So we're clear, you thought those lists of side effects for prescription drugs that have been on TV for like 15 years and have been spoofed by just about everyone were still funny? And then you put it over an image of a woman sitting in a chair that could be on a plane but could literally be anywhere in the world and then we had type awkwardly rise up out of the top of her head at the end? Interesting choices. 

AGENCY: Oh, almost forgot! We also have a hashtag. Sure, right now it’s just being used sarcastically by complaining flyers' but when you think about it, how often do people complain on Twitter about air travel? Hardly ever. 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Let’s Heavy Up On Interstitials

Thanks everyone for getting together on such short notice but I want to let everyone in on an exciting new initiative here at OmniMedia that I think you’re really going to like. We’re going to take our clients’ budgets and we’re going to heavy up on interstitials. You heard right, interstitials. The wave of the future, in case you haven’t heard. Sure, last year’s decision to go all-in on banner ads may not have panned out the way we would have liked but we got a few click-throughs. Not a lot of sales but who among you will deny that case study video with the indie rock track over it wasn't pretty snazzy? But that's behind us now. This year we're all about interstitials.

Show of hands, how many of you are on the social media? Your Facebooks, your Twitters, your SnapPics? I see a few hands out there, good. Well, picture this, you click on a link in your MySpace feed or whatever to read an article about cats or skateboarders or whatever you kids are into now and before you get there one of our interstitials pops up and you’re all like “what’s this, a message from a respected brand that I recognize?” It's like a magazine page you can't turn. Sure, you could click on the “skip ad” button but—and I think I speak for all of us here—you just got hit with some serious disruptive advertising so you stick around because this looks cool. Eventually you abandon the article you were going to read and you click through to make a purchase of our clients’ product or service. We’ve all been there. Happens every day.

Now I know some of you have some PTO coming up but let me just say this: no vacation is going to give you the satisfaction that will come from the nights and weekends you’ll spend waiting for your creative director's approval on your concepts while chomping down on some take out pizza and cold Koo-Koo-Roo. This is 21st century stuff, guys. The cutting edge of “digital.” Where my digital ninjas at? Where my pixel pushers at? I see a few of you out there. Be sure to make room on your books and on your bookshelves because I hear the south of France is lovely in June.

So don’t hold back, guys. I really want you all to see this as an opportunity to stop those web surfers in their tracks with pithy headlines and bold imagery. So think big, think of ideas that really “pop”, think different as Steve Jobs would say. We’re going to show readers of Business Insider and Forbes something they’ve never seen. Have they never seen them because interstitials are routinely cited as one of the most loathed of all digital placements and people can't click past them fast enough? Or is it because they just haven’t seen one of ours yet? I think you know the answer to that.

So call your wives and kids and tell them goodnight because we’re going to hit the ground running. How’s a medium cheese pizza sound for dinner? Pretty good, right? Alright gang, let’s get started. And what do you say we look at the first round tomorrow around 9 AM.

I'll be on email tonight until 8 or so if you have any questions. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Meet us Halfway

Quick question for you, Chinese kids of the 80’s: where were you?

We were out there digging like hell to try to reach you and I think we have a right to know what the heck were you doing? Were y’all even digging? Did you even try to reach us? The more I think about it, the more burned I get.

How cool would it have been to tunnel through and see each other? Think about it. We’d have been super psyched! Now stop thinking about it because it’s too painful to think about, at least on this side of the world. Mainly because you didn’t hold up your end of the deal, Chinese kids of the 80’s. 

I won’t even get into the huge risks we were facing trying to dig down straight through the earth. Hot lava, caves, whatever the earth’s core is made of, the devil himself. We were facing unspeakable dangers, Chinese kids of the 80’s. And yet we still dug. Day in and day out, we dug. Maybe we were naïve. Maybe it was our American can-do attitude. Maybe it was severe boredom due to the Xbox still being 15 years away. Whatever it was, we never stopped digging to reach you.

Now, just for a second imagine if just one of you had taken it upon yourself to dig toward us. I don’t remember exactly how deep we got but a couple times the earth got pretty chilly so we had to have been pretty close. Sure, technically the earth would need to get really hot for us to actually be close but it felt like any minute we’d see one of you upside down in our hole. Man, we got close. But we’d have been a lot closer if one of the literally one billion of you had gotten off your duff and helped dig a little. Was that too much to ask? I mean, really.

Put away the shovels, guys. It’s too late now so don’t even bother. But there was a solid five-year window from like 82’-‘87 where we could have made it happen. Really would have been cool to have met you guys.

Bet we could have shared some cool stories.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

This is Going to be the Best Damn Kids Party Ever

Our little Tyler is turning four on Saturday so you know what that means: I’m getting ready to throw the best damn kids party that Pine Oaks has ever seen. Sure, the Harrisons threw one hell of whopper last year for that little bastard Kyle but this shindig is going to make that little get together look like a wake.

Will there be a bouncy house? You bet your sweet party favors there will be. And we’re not talking about some little rubber box here either. We’re talking a Great Castles of Europe-caliber bouncy house with parapets and flying buttresses and gargoyles. Better bring a spare mind ‘cause your kid’s gonna lose his up in that thing.

How will your kid get to the bouncy castle? Well how ‘bout they just hop aboard one of the hundreds of ponies that are gonna be roaming all over this piece. Black ones, brown ones, white ones, Shetlands, you name it. Hope you’re ready to saddle up ‘cause I’m not gonna stop procuring ponies until this thing is a full-on ponypalooza.

What’s that, you wanna pet something? Well then just hitch a pony ride over to the petting zoo where you can pet to your little four-year old heart’s content everything from a salamander to a shih tzu. You’re gonna feel like Steve Irwin up in that zoo.  Only when he was still alive, more alive than four year-old should ever feel. You're gonna wish you had an extra set of hands there's gonna be so much fur to be petted.

But what’s a birthday blowout without a balloon animal station? Not a soiree I’m throwing, I’ll tell you that much. Name an animal—real or fictional—and none other than the Michaelangelo of balloons, Miguel Espinosa, will make it for you. Welcome to the jungle, kids! Tell ya what, why don’t you go ahead and get your face painted too because we’re also gonna have the Picasso of Pine Oaks himself, Jeff Robertson, straight up transforming faces. Get you that tiger face you’ve been wanting, son.

And don’t think I’m gonna just book some little kids band to play this thing. Ah , hell no. You can keep the Wiggles ‘cause I’m straight up booking DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. That’s right, Will m-fin’ Smith. And Jazzy Jeff. Get ready to get jiggy with it, kids. Looks like parents do understand after all, huh?

Hope you’re ready to get that cake too ‘cause I got a Freedom Tower of a cake coming. Thing’s so tall I had to secure a building permit for it.

And you best bring your SUV because we’re gonna send you home with so many party favors it’s gonna be like the gifting room at the Oscars come Saturday afternoon at this place.
If you’re thinking this is just some little celebration of young Tyler’s life, think again. This is full on thermo-nuclear showmanship. Fact is, I’ve hit it big and you’re gonna know it when you get smacked in the face by decorations your little mind can't even process. You’re gonna feel so inadequate you won’t begin to know where your life went wrong.

Two quick notes: gifts are mandatory as hell and show up on time ‘cause this thing is costing me a bundle.