Thoughts, comments, images and reflections from the people who bring you BeansAboutIt [dot] com


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Friday, December 12, 2003
12:21 PM      

Jake Stigers & The Velvet Roots
Played last night. Jake has a feature on






Nunzio's got a lot of nice toys

The irrepressible

He says he goes “straight from first gear to fifth” when he performs. There's no in-between, and the audience goes with him and the band when he zooms.

Saw this sign on the way home. It seemed to fit perfectly.


There's a clothing store on Fulton Street mall with a paper sign on the door that reads “Students are not allowed in the store during school hours.” That sounds like a very good idea.


A BP (“Beyond Petroleum,” as they like to say) ad is a little amusing and a bit typical. Apparently concerned that they didn't say enough by pointing out their involvement in alternative energy sources, they blab on about how they're a major supplier of natural gas. Ehem... natural gas is a by-product of oil exploration – it's more of the same.

This commercial strikes me as more lame than the one showing the woman “environmentalist” who works for the big oil company. At least “She is the Company” has a single clearly-articulated message. The BP ad just seems to prove that they don't get it.


A Joy to Work With?

“I can only photograph out of anger, to make me focused. I need to be in a bad mood to keep my concentration going.”


Help With the Girl

Hmmm... wonder if this sells well with the Field & Stream crowd. It's the perfect take-home gift for stag parties! And check out those claims – who needs Viagra or Levitra?

Elk extract, eh? Well, Chinese medicine stores make a killing on rhinoceros horn...

[ link | e-me ]

Thursday, December 11, 2003
1:07 PM      

Are you listening, FCC?

...57 journalists from 26 countries, after meeting for a week in Salzburg, Austria, "concluded that market pressures are undermining the quality of journalism, specifically as companies that oversee news organizations seek to preserve high profit levels by reducing news gathering resources and neglecting journalism in the public interest. It is this fundamental role of the press to inform and empower citizens that is being endangered."

- From “Fear Brings Out The Fools” by Greg Smith

This is a detailed and sobering article about the devaluing of professionals that is rampant in the news industry. Now, I have a little more sympathy for the folks out there trying to get the story, and even less for the money crunchers and bean counters. I've repeatedly heard people say “making a profit is not a bad thing,” but that argument conveniently skirts the issue of how the profits are obtained.


What would it have been like to be a Fly on the wall on Bush's recent secret trip to Baghdad? Here's one interesting account. Particularly interesting is the timeline from 8:45 PM to 10:00 PM, showing how carefully orchestrated these photo-ops are. Only industry insiders spend much time thinking about the distinction between “stills,” “cameras,” and “pens.”


2004 like 1984?
A central theme in Orwell's book is the rewriting of history. It's easy to think of that phenomenon in terms of revising the history books after they're printed. But the way news is framed in the present can have a profound shaping effect on how history is reported in the future. Neil turner has some interesting thoughts on hijacked news.

Tears for Fears had a good hook and a good point with “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” Given that, “Everyone wants to control the news” sounds like a means to an end.


“I worry about four years of a second term of the Bush administration with no accountability - no election waiting at the end... extreme legislation [is] waiting in the wings if the president gets re-elected. There will be a move to turn the courts into an adjunct of the Republican Party and their extreme ideology and agenda.”

Think about it. You can't vote appointed judges out of office.

I was thinking that instead of “conservative” or even “neocon,” the more fitting term might be retroversive.


Taken vs Made
At a lecture on photography at New School recently, I noticed that the speaker repeatedly used the phrase “make a photograph,” rather than “take a photograph.” In many ways, I thought that this was an empowering semantic choice – much as many women in film and television refer to themselves as “actors” – acknowledging the photographer's active role in creating the image, simply by choosing what to frame and when to squeeze the trigger.

Photojournalist Neil Turner has an interesting opinion on the distinction, and indicates that he takes some photographs, and makes others.

On the same site, Neil shares some of his heroes.


When we attend a lecture, we generally go to see the speaker, not hear what they have to say. We know what they have to say. That's why we go to see them.

:-) Cool thought. I didn't know the speaker at the New School lecture, so that's one of the rare cases where I went to hear what the guy had to say. Certainly, when I saw Bill Maher on Broadway, I had a good idea of what he was going to say!

[ link | e-me ]

Tuesday, December 09, 2003
4:17 PM      

What a Wild News Day.
In the same day, we have stories about Gore endorsing Dean, Bush opposing Taiwanese independence, and George Clinton being arrested in Florida for possession of cocaine and a crack pipe.

The Dean story keeps getting more interesting. Lieberman looks like more and more of a dork. His interview on NBC this morning was lame.

Another story tells how record company executives are seeing dollar signs again with the success of pay services like Apple's iTunes Music Store, and so they've suddenly seen the light: “I don't think we can look at the old models of how we made money in the past and say we can duplicate them in the new world, that's not going to work.”

Yeah, neither is bringing lawsuits against teen-age fans.

Then, too, there's the toothless spam bill: “What Congress is effectively doing is ignoring [the fact that] these laws... haven't worked [anywhere] else they've [been] tried. This bill fails the most basic tests for anti-spam legislation; it doesn't tell anybody not to spam.”


F-dup Over Using the Word F*** (Fuckin' A!)
Politics is changing. Bill Clinton won a lot of support by appearing on MTV and the Arsenio Hall show, even playing saxophone in a number of his appearances. Now, John Kerry has used a “swear word” in an interview with Rolling Stone. Some accounts described the phrase as “X-rated!” The old guard is saying that he shouldn't have done it. Here's what he said:

“I voted for what I thought was best for the country. Did I expect Howard Dean to go off to the left and say, 'I'm against everything'? Sure. Did I expect George Bush to fuck it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did.”

Kerry wouldn't be taking as much flak if he had said “screw it up,” but in some connotations, fuck and screw are the same thing! The word is still loaded, but it's losing some of its punch. French Connection UK is having a dyslexic field day printing a scrambled version the perennial favorite curse word on pricey t-shirts, and charging for the thrill of cheekily breaking a taboo in public.

My bet: Kerry was the first to utter the word on the record, but he won't be the last.


More Sex
I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about how nobody's saying much about sex in advertising. She pointed out that Victoria's Secret has come under fire for their advertising. I'd forgotten that their television extravaganzas have met with organized resistance. They're an obvious target though, and it even makes a certain amount of sense to sell sexy underwear with, well, sex. (Why people seem to want to have sex with angels is a topic I'll have to explore some other time...)

Bashing VS for their advertising still doesn't address the cases where sexual imagery is being (ab)used in more subtle ways to sell everything from silverware to shampoo (have you had a totally organic experience lately?). In some ways, coupling sexual innuendo with products or services that have no inherent sexiness is equivalent to hunters spraying themselves with pheromones to lure bucks into killing range.

When approached on the subject of fetishizing the subtext in many ads, I can imagine the typical response of advertising execs would be something like a line used by John Candy in “Splash:” “Hey, if something works, I stick with it.”

[ link | e-me ]

Monday, December 08, 2003
1:11 PM      

Neither rain, nor snow, nor... whoops!

Clean yo' steps, or ya gits no mail. I don't ever remember getting a notice like this. Perfect timing, too: this landed in my mailbox at the start of the first snow storm of the season.


Thinking About Sex
Magic Johnson was on the Today Show last Monday, as part of International AIDS Day. One of the things he pointed out, is that teens are having more sex earlier, and one side effect of that is a significant population of teens with AIDS or HIV. It occurs to me that there have been waves of furor over sex in movies and television, but I can't ever recall any effort to engage the advertising industry in any kind of dialog.

Sexual imagery and metaphors (some of it operating at the subliminal level) are pervasive in advertising, and advertising's biggest hook is undermining the viewer's self-esteem. It doesn't seem like a far stretch to think that maybe teenagers who are exposed to these ads are being coaxed into thinking that being sexual is a way of gaining a higher level of esteem. If someone bothered to study this more closely, we might even find out that the posters and TV spots that we're bombarded with every day could be having a more profound effect on teenage sexuality and attitudes about sex than TV shows or movies.



There is little demand in the commercial world for excellence. There is a much, much bigger demand for mediocrity...

- From “It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want to Be” by Paul Arden.

[ link | e-me ]
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