Apr 20, 2010

Hunter Thompson...still on game

"We are turning into a nation of whimpering slaves to Fear—fear of war, fear of poverty, fear of random terrorism, fear of getting down-sized or fired because of the plunging economy, fear of getting evicted for bad debts or suddenly getting locked up in a military detention camp on vague charges of being a Terrorist sympathizer."

"In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile—and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely. We owe that to ourselves and our crippled self-image as something better than a nation of panicked sheep."

Apr 19, 2010

Dow throws a party, mainly zombies show up

Underattended "Run for Water" plagued by death, zombies, and dozens of "Dow spokesmen"

Greenwashing effort hits a wall, Earth Day chaos ensues

Brooklyn, NY -- Bucolic Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY played host to a bizarre spectacle on Sunday, as a dramatically under-attended Dow-sponsored "Run for Water" was infiltrated and turned upside down by hundreds of furious activists, including a hundred dressed as Dow spokespeople.

New Yorkers who came to the park expecting a light run followed by a free concert found themselves unwitting extras in a macabre and chaotic scene as runners keeled over dead, Dow-branded grim reapers chased participants, and a hundred fake Dow representatives harangued other protesters and handed out literature that explained Dow's greenwashing program in frank detail.

The actions called attention to Dow's toxic legacy in places like India (the Bhopal Catastrophe), Vietnam (Agent Orange) and Midland Michigan (Dioxin Contamination), and to the absurdity of a company with serious water issues all over the world sponsoring the Live Earth Run For Water.

After race cancellations in London, Milan, Berlin, and Sweden, on-site Dow brand managers were in damage-control mode. But their job was made harder by the hundred fake "Dow" spokespeople who loudly but clumsily proclaimed Dow's position ("Our race! Our earth!" and "Run for water! Run for your life!"), spoke with many runners, screamed at the other protesters, passed out beautifully-produced literature, and all in all looked a whole lot better than the real Dow reps, who seemed eager to make themselves scarce.

"I don't know what's going on here," said Tracey Von Sloop, a Queens woman who attended the race. "All I know is these people are both crazy, and Dow is f*ing sick. I'm outta here."

The event was the latest blow to Dow's greenwashing efforts, the most visible element of which is the "Human Element" multi-media advertising campaign, one of the most expensive, and successful, marketing efforts in recent history. It even won an "Effie Award" for the most effective corporate advertising campaign in North America.

"Effective," perhaps -- but also completely misleading. To name just a few examples of Dow's water-related issues: Dow refuses to clean up the groundwater in Bhopal, India, site of the largest industrial disaster in human history, committed by Dow's fully-owned subsidiary, Union Carbide. As a result, children continue to be born there with debilitating birth defects. Dow has also dumped hundreds of millions of pounds of toxic chemical byproducts into wetlands of Louisiana, and has even poisoned its own backyard, leaving record levels of dioxins downriver from its global headquarters in Midland, Michigan.

"We thought it must be a joke when we first heard that Dow Chemical Company was sponsoring a run for clean water," said Yes Woman Whitney Black. "Sadly, it was not. One of the world's worst polluters trying to greenwash its image instead of taking responsibility for drinking water and ecosystems it has poisoned around the world? What an awfully unfunny way to start off Earth Week. We decided the event needed a little comic relief."

Irony was piled on irony throughout the race, which Dow absurdly claimed was going to be "the largest solutions-based initiative aimed at solving the global water crisis in history." At one point, organizers were caught on tape dramatically throwing out excess water left over because of an embarrassingly low turnout.


The YES MEN -- our favorite media pranksters and the nightmare of every corporate multinationals' PR department -- are at it again. We love these guys!

Apr 18, 2010

This revenge isn't so sweet

Idiot pukes on kid at ballgame ... on purpose

Picture this: you bring the kids to an early sesaon major league baseball game for a little family bonding and memories that will last a lifetime. You settle in to those expensive seats, and take in the sights of America's pasttime. Ah, yes, spring is definitely here now.

But things turn ugly, real fast. A bunch of drunkend sports bar / sports radio types sitting behind you are heavily into the suds. Shouted obscenities ensue, which is not what your two young daughters need to be hearing. You give them a frown as a polite way of letting them know of that fact.

The reaction is not what you were hoping for: a giant phleghm ball is directed your way, and lands in the hood of Daughter A's sweatshirt. This calls for action, and you take the proper course and proceed to have stadium security escort the hooligans out. Problem solved.

Well, not quite. One of the gang soon returns, plants himself behind Daughter B and then pukes all over her. Yes, pukes -- as in vomits.

Accidents will happen, of course. But this was not an accident. No, the offender here, one Matthew Clemmens, performed this act deliberate act of vengeance, as reported here.

I would assume that fact somehow explains the black eye.

The framing of what really matters

Imagination appears in many forms. Take the example of Life magazine photographer Ralph Morse in 1955, when he was given the assignment of snapping some pix related to the funeral of Albert Einstein, who had just died of heart failure.

Whereas the standard course of action is to proceed with shots of the gloomy cemetary, the weepy relatives or the undertaker's (that's what they were called back then) hearse, Morse envisioned a more dramatic and endearing image.

He proceeded to make (bribe) his way into Einstein's office, and thereupon was faced with the departed one's work desk, if full disarray and untouched since he last sat it days before. Here it is:

Apr 17, 2010

MashUp culture, Tiger style

The advertsing world, like many old-school industries, is slow to adapt to the new digital realities. I mean, didn't anyone think this kind of stuff below) would be the logical reaction to Tiger's Ghost of Earl campaign, and that such a mockery can't really do much good for the Nike brand?

Not much sunshine at NYCOTB today

New York City OTB invites us to tune into its webcast of its Board meetings, to shed an open light on its decision making. With the pending closure of its operations due to occur tomorrow --- and the subsequent cascading effect such an event would have on the state's horse racing industry in general --- I took them up on that offer. 11AM sharp.

Make that not so sharp. The festivities began closer to noon, with the chairman telling listeners that the bankrupt organization had been in executive session all morning -- and then proceeding to read a statement on the decision that came from that closed door pow wow. Statment read, motion accepted; this meeting's done.

I guess board meeting is the new corp-speak for press announcement, while executive session is the new one for board meeting.

Apr 16, 2010

Let's get this summer party started!

Tix (with NO service fee) HERE


Apr 14, 2010

How to generate customer goodwill --- NOT

The People's Court is now in Session

Cast your Vote on the Trial of the Century

OK: I'm letting all my loyal readers into a minor whizzing contest I just went through with a local hospitality / entertainment venue.

The background: I pre-purchased 3 tix to a live music concerrt at this facility for a show staged this past Thursday. An accounting error on their end (which they admit) caused some problems at their Will Call window.

Below is the bread trail of my followup with them. No sense ID'ing them -- it's not that big a deal.

But I would like some third-party input on this matter, from those of you without a dog in this fight.

So here you go: Who's Right & Who's Wrong on this? Here's your chance to play jury.



Dear Sir/Madam,

As confirmed below, I pre-purchased three (3) tix to last nite's Carrie Rodriguez show. (under the PayPal ID of: XXXX@yahoo.com)

Upon arrival, you only had me down for two (2). Refund?


Our records also indicate that your purchased three tickets and three tickets were reserved for you. We typically do not issue ticket refunds.

Hope you enjoyed the show.


Although $15 is certainly not worth arguing over: the young lady had me down on her list for two; handed me a small brown envelope with two inside; and double-checked after I said: "I'm pretty certain I bought three."

I'll see if I somehow still have that brown envelope with the "2" written on it. Just for your benefit


Three tickets were reserved for you, unfortunately, only two were generated for our "will call" system.

Did they make your purchase a third that night, or did only two of your party make it to the show?


i was there ahead of the others, and picked them up

2 of us ended up attending......the third called me to say "running late"....I told him that "there's an issue with the pre-paids; so buy a ticket downstairs, meet us upstairs and and we'll figure it all out after."
his reply: "screw it"

however you want to handle it...


Our policy is to not issue refunds for our concerts unless, of course the artist cancels. You did purchase three tickets. If your friend had purchased his ticket separately we would have given you back your $15 as you had already bought his ticket.

I apologize for the confusion.


OK, fine:

A few take-aways, from my POV:

Point 1: as a live-concert producer/promoter, musicians' manager and occasional music critic/reviewer for various local media outlets, guys like myself usually try to "comp" their ways into others' shows. I, on the other hand, think this to be inappropriate. Hence my "paying my own freight" on this show, as a sign of support to the local music scene.

Point 2: It was your (legitimate and un-intentional) logistics screw-up that resulted in the third member of our party not attending. Yes, he could have "fronted" the $15, but he was somewhat perturbed over needing to do so; after being promised (by myself) of a gifted/free entry. In his words" "F-that, I'll need to find an ATM over there and that'll cost me another $3." So much for our long-planned show-nite together.

Point 3: The bottom line is that I bought 3 tix and you delivered 2 tix. To me, the rest of the unpleasantries are irrelevant.

Point 4: The math reads like this: Early drinks at the bar x 2 = $10.....Pre-show Meal @ 2= $35.........upstairs drinks @ 2 = $ 20.... Show tix @ 3 = $45. Total = $ 110 blown at the XXXX on a Thursday evening in XXXXXXXX. A course in Guest/Community Relations 101 would disagree with your handling of this specific instance.

Case closed--but best of wishes to you and your fine establishment.
(A further reply on this matter is not needed)


Cast your vote via the COMMENTS feature.


Apr 13, 2010

Guido Boy vs Mr Interesting (Who Ya Got?)

Demographics & Pyschographics: they're different

Watch who you invite over --- the image lingers

Promotions are a key aspect of the hospitality business. Two local businesses are currently using the 'meet & greet' variety of such in hopes of drawing attention and traffic to their facilities. But while having that common denominator, the actual celebrity chosen by each one highlights not only a different target market but also a different perspective on what exactly the concept of celebrity is all about in this age of disjointed and scattered media.

Take the upcoming grand (re) opening of Mare DiscoTeca in Saratoga Springs. Here, at the site of the semi-legendary 80's hangout The Metro, lies what has since become the proverbial white elephant; a piece of real estate that can't seem to find its groove and sustain a successful business model. Most of that blame lies in the fact that succeeding owners have tried to shoehorn an upscale/urban lifestyle vibe into the scene; generally a poor choice for tourist traps like the Spa with tried and true track records of drunken mayhem, bad food and Top 40 cover bands.

Apparently, the new management of Mare didn't get that memo and are set on again trying the same old doomed-to-fail formula. The early advertising reads like a cliché, with all the buzzwords out of a SoBe – wannabe setting, such as “dress to impress” and “respect the “neighborhood” --- complete with a lineup of DJ's with their hats on backwards spinning someone else's creative output, of course.

Then we have Mare's upcoming grand opening special attraction; the single individual designed to immediately stamp this establishment with a brand image that will carry it forward into an era of continuing and long term glory. That person is known as Ronnie Magro, set to appear live and in-person.

For the (thankfully) uninitiated, Mr Magro has a starring role on a TV reality show called Jersey Shore. The basic premise of this gem is to follow around a bunch of young Italian Americans as they spend their daytime doing not much more than hanging out, lifting weights, swearing and arguing with each other, followed by nighttime theatrics of going to nightclubs, drinking too much and getting in fights – sometimes with members of the opposite sex. I guess it's time to bring that party to Saratoga!

At least that's what Mare seems to think. They've identified their target market (young 20-something culture drones) and are plucking an 'of the moment' individual that they hope has enough buzz to drag a good number of them down to Maple Avenue to be in the Mighty One's presence for an evening. The guess here is that they might be right, although the (well-deserved) “I think I'm gonna puke” reaction from the neighbors certainly doesn't bode well for Mare's long term hopes, as it has suddenly become the symbol for all things gone wrong in the community. Oh, well.

Contrast that with the mysterious gentleman known as The Most Interesting Man in the World. You've seen him pop up in Dos Equis beer commercials; a sophisticated, worldly gentleman with a bevy of gorgeous women at hand and a slew of personal triumphs that would put Seinfeld's Mr Peterman to shame. In one word, this guy is simply suave. Wouldn't we all like to be just like him? Yes; yes we would. In his words, “I rarely drink, but when I do it's Dos Equis.” Wouldn't we now like to do the same? Yes; yes we would.

Here lies a spoof – or better yet: a goof – of the very concept of a media-driven hero for the masses. Those who get it are those one-step removed from the LCD (lowest common denominator) drivel that is the normal course of action from the broadcast television world. You know, the shit like Jersey Shore! I have no doubt that this campaign is a successful one, with sales of what should be considered nothing more than your usual piss-poor Mexican beer likely going right through the roof. Bravo to whatever creative agency came up with this guy.

I have it on good authority that TMIMITW will be coming to the area as well, set to appear at the Bomber Mexican-style restaurant in Albany +/or Schenectady in the first week of May to coincide with Cinco de Mayo.

So there's a pretty good contrast for you: two media personalities making local appearances, each appealing to a different psychographic audience and bound to set the tone for their respective sponsoring host's brand image.

Which one do you think will have been the better investment? An interesting question. Stay thirsty, my friends...

Apr 8, 2010

News Flash: $10 fee for 65mph on Thruway

Net Neutrality is back on the table

FCC's broadband authority is limited

Bipartisan stupidity: Dem judge goes Republican!

New York State highway officials today announced a two-tier pricing plan for users of the NYS Thruway. Starting Monday, drivers will be given the option of paying extra for being allowed to proceed at the legal speed limit.

For $10 per day (or $1,000 per year), drivers are given a sticker and RFID chip that allows a single vehicle to utilize the state's super highway at speeds up to 65mph. Those opting not to pay the surcharge – levied on top of the normal tools – are limited to 40 mph in a non-passing lane.

“It's all about choice, and that's what we are delivering,” said NYS DOT spokesman Neil Conway. “The faster you drive, the more you should pay because of a variety of reasons, including that fact that you are causing more wear and tear on the roadway and are using more gas. But not all drivers have a requirement to go at 65mph, so they are not being forced to bear this cost.”

Substantial discounts are available for truck fleets with a minimum of one hundred vehicles and for NYS government employees.

April Fools! Oh yeah, we're a week late on that, aren't we? But what's not so funny is that this scenario is just the type of standard that can now be applied to internet traffic.

Yes, folks, Net Neutrality is back in the news. Just when we thought that the new clear-thinking, business friendly, “we get it” regime at the Federal Communication Commission would retire this pay-to-play scheme to the dustbin of history, along comes a federal judge to say “uh-uh, not so fast here boys.”

A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the FCC does not have authority to regulate the treatment of content running through broadband network. So now the mega oligarchies (Time Warner, Comcast, etc) can get back to licking their chops over the prospect of setting pricing schedules that established two classes of internet speed: slow lane and fast lane. So, if you don't want to have visitors to your fancy new e-commerce portal wait three minutes for the home page to load, you need to pay the piper, partner – 'cus your deep pocketed competitor already has.

Now the arguments against this insanity could take up several pages, and all of a sudden I don't want to be doing anything that backs up the toilet here. But let's focus on one single point here; and that is to look at the major argument given by the net-networks on this issue:

Their Argument: Bandwidth is a limited commodity. The more traffic that is flowing through the pipes, the more congested those pipes become. It all comes down to certain interests “hogging” that bandwidth. Those hogs need to pay. Rather than resorting back to a metering method on the end-user (i.e., the consumer), we are prefer to charge on the supply side; to those that are distributing the content.

OK: on the face of it; it's not a bad argument. But here's the problem: we're talking VIDEO here. As the web advances deeper and deeper in to its full blown multimedia phase (hello iPad!), we have bandwidth hungry video files taking up large chunks of that aforementioned limited commodity. Yes, the web is suddenly a legitimate video distribution mechanism, which in turn makes it a a competitive alternative to the older distribution channels, namely over-the-air and cable television. And guess who's in the cable television distribution business? Yes Sir: Comcast and Time Warner.

What we have then, is the ability of a commercial entity to TAX its competitors. Comcast might determine that Hula is drawing eyeballs away from its cable channels, and react by sending Hula a bill for a few million dollars in return for guaranteeing reasonable access (speed) by visitors to its video streaming. Hula executives might say 'uncle' and pay it, or they'll arrange for lunch at the 21 Club and swing a merger deal with the enemy and retire to the French Riviera for the rest of their lives.

Tilted playing fields. Blackmail. Media consolidation. Private interests usurping the public interest. A past gov't investment rewarding a handful of corporate players. Less consumer choice. Diminished creative innovation. Just what we need at this stage of the game, isn't it?

As of this week, it's 2001 all over again!

Apr 5, 2010

The Dangers of Peer Pressure

Notice his two buddies, egging him on...