of YOUTUBE episodes and other expletives for the month of JAN....

Ok, so, here we are nearing the end of the first month of 2015, a wild month politically, and certainly, personally.

One thing that I promised myself, and I've made that socially clear as well is that I am going to commit to consistent communication. And Youtube is one of those streams I want to cultivate.

The only challenge now, is that while we at ANIMALS have been developing super material for the web, we have not figured out how to engage on a more simplistic, communicative level on channels like YOUTUBE

So, here and now, I keep to my word, while at the same time searching for ways to build the puzzle. Bear with me for awhile, since its not going to be pretty, but, soon enough we'll get into a flow .

For now, if you haven't, please subscribe. Do it. SUBSCRIBE NOW, not later. See, I'm not putting it off, and neither should you.

Enjoy this train wreck of a first attempt while it lasts.

the rebirth of audio storytelling.....

Who would have guest that in 2015, audio storytelling would be one of the hottest things in media. Of course, the popularity of PODCAST'ING has been growing for awhile now.

But, there was a substantial lull as well for a few years. It seems like an archaic medium if you compare it to terrestrial radio, but of course, it bares very little resemblance to traditional radio.

Podcast is about technology, and the viral effects of distribution. The platform was created by these advancements, and talented "entrepreneurs" took the leap to venture where others would not. And of course, the leaders take the cake.

That doesn't mean there isn't any room left. So, maybe its time for you to take that leap as well?

It's exciting to be alive at a time where some forms of distribution are essentially free. The gift of communicating is an option and not just reserved for a tiny select few. That's something remarkable and not to be taken for granted.

Been revisiting architecture (googie edition)....

I recently read an article in CURBED about the possible demolishing of a NORMS restaurant on LA CINEGA and Rosewood. First, i've probably been to NORMS under 5 times in my life, and every single time it was after a night of drinking, when other options did not exist. Needless to say, I don't really have an opinion on the food they serve, and in all honesty, I don't remember too much. It probably wasn't that great, but that's just assuming shit.

But, the article was not about NORMS itself, but the building that housed it. The architecture of the GOOGIE STYLE, (50's-60's) and one of the real identity markers of Southern California. The style is so fantastic and timeless, by the shear dated quality of it. Yes, it's a contradiction, but the wholly unique attributes make it a style that stands apart. It also was a staple of some of our favorite cartoon designs.

And it's being erased from the landscape as more and more of these cafe's, bowling alleys and motels get demolished. So, maybe it's a good thing to save this little NORMS, but maybe not for the coffee.

Take a second of your day and enjoy our creative human endeavors with a little click of the mouse.

look at how remarkable this is.

look at how remarkable this is.

a lesson from Peter Thiel....

In Peter Thiels wonderful book, ZERO TO ONE, he describes a counterintuitive point about entrepreneurship and economics, one that vastly differentiates itself from the mainstream point of view.

In it, he makes the case for monopolies. Although, a caveat is in place to describe a certain type of monopoly different than the industrial age style of say, STANDARD OIL. The good types of monopolies he describes are ones like GOOGLE, or PAYPAL. Companies that created a whole new category, and are the best at what they do.

His point is that competition is bad, or more apply, misunderstood. Google hasn't had any competition in what it's best at, "search" for many years. 

This point can be applied to other endeavors aside from business. On a personal level, competition often works against our goals. It places us in a situation where we cannot think creatively because we are striving for incremental advantages of doing things that are already visible.

But when you stop looking at your work as competition, new ideas can appear because those borders are loosened. You create new categories, when you go from 0 to 1.

It's an interesting idea to contemplate.

In Peter Thiel world, technology and innovation is our savior, with an emphasis on financial rewards. A possible counterpoint to some of his idea's is Jaron Lanier, the father of virtual reality, who describes the tech monopolies as the possible end of the middle class in his book, WHO OWNS THE FUTURE

Both have interesting books to look into.

the curious case of the James Francos.....

Whether you like it or not, JAMES FRANCO is the character of the future. He is constant, consistent & working in PRESENT TENSE. Franco is the stream. And that stream is not going away because the stream demands stuff now.

Gone are the days where you could sit and toil on a concept for years, or turn a MALICK and show up 15 years later. Gone are the days where you could do or be ONE THING (however, if you  love that one thing, more power too you).  Because the world is turning so fast, if you don't pivot when you are required too, the media you are on top of will turn into OPERA, and then you'll be bitter. And pivoting becomes increasingly difficult as time goes by. It's as skill you must learn to survive. 

Franco and his cohorts are also the few characters around who are almost completely immune to criticism. This is not unprecedented. Woody Allan has already mastered that art, by the only effective method. By not giving a shit and immediately moving to something else. The new school just does it faster.

In a world where media is completely ubiquitous and a million paths of communication exist, dealing with a bad review is akin to wiping your mouth after eating a bowl of spaghetti. Who gives a shit. And if you do, well, you're fucked.

the shiny new, and the rugged old....

How many times do you hear the phrase, "they don't make em like they used too"? We like what we become accustomed too.

Back in prehistoric times (everything before 1999), our cultural cycles tended to move a bit slower and our economy was largely top down. Everything sat around a bit longer on the shelf. And the farther back you go, the longer these movements sat around.

A musical movement like GRUNGE had time to birth itself, and kill itself within a relatively stable time frame. People on the fringes sowed the seeds, and as it grew larger, the corps swooped in and made it readily available to all. And in those top down days, ALL really meant ALL.

These days, cycles don't work the same way. They have two distinct patterns. One is the giant explosion (VIRAL) and the other is the STATIC but constant feed. Things tend to move extremely quickly, or, they stay extremely stable as long as the feed is consistently updated.

Viral is like a big bang moment. Out of nothing, everything.  A huge burning moment of glory, but just as quickly, fading away, burdened by its inability to scale. Novelty is incredibly difficult to manufacture to a fickle audience always wanting something new. But some people learn to turn this situation into the second situation.

The STATIC feed is the other cultural movement. This one is based on confirmation bias and preferences built over time. Much of these where probably built many years ago. And sometimes, with consistency, you can turn viral into this.

The STATIC feed doesn't have to worry about capturing the entire market share. If you got a podcast, and people listen, you can keep a good portion of your audience for the long term, as long as you never neglect it. However, if you step off the throttle, the audience lost will probably never return. 

STATIC is all about comfort. STATIC is the same reason people get stuck into the "they don't make em like they used too" motif.  Most people just grown out of cultural items unfortunately, and are stuck with what they know. 

The interesting thing is that these days, STATIC can be beneficial for a creative. If your an aging rockstar, or a TV actor long behind your sticom glory, you can actually reconnect with that same group that loved you then.. People are looking back, just as much as they are enthralled with the shiny new toy.

 

Hollywood Movies; a commodity?...and other sidetracked thoughts...

The distinction of movies as art, commerce or technology is not an easy one to make, once you extinguish the emotional commitment to one or a combination of the others. The filmic language is probably easier to differentiate itself from photography, whose had a historically more contentious relationship with itself as art work (see here for just a glimpse and one sided take on the subject) . Films just have more moving parts.

But the other argument to make is that most filmmaking, most of the time in it's largest scale is really closer to being a commodity than it is an art. Hollywood churns out a product, a seemingly efficient one, although still messy that resembles a factory process. Now, we all know that this is not true in the same way you produce a cereal product, but, it's main goals is too redo whats worked as sound business practice. However, we all know that repeating a historic process doesn't guarantee a future. And that is precisely where we are now.

My biggest question on the matter of the filmic language is whether or not the form itself demands a need for universality. The means of production and execution have historically been massive. One Hollywood blockbuster could get at at least 100 hundred startups up and running. But that's not the point. To make the money back, you basically need not offend a large group of people, but at the same time, give them a very mediocre experience that's worked in the past. That's top down, middle of the road commoditization. That's what you get at the grocery store. And since, at that huge level of production costs, Hollywood thrives as a monopoly, minimizing risk is the top priority. But, as we all know, a monopoly who doesn't innovate, implodes eventually. 

The real issue is whether movies in the way they are created and marketed could continue to sustain itself in the longer run in a world where media elsewhere keeps downsizing and splitting of into smaller, but more dedicated niches. Even in entrepreneurship, the shift is too micro.

But micro was historically never intended for narrative movies, which had for years depended on a large segment of a population, mildly agreeing with it's storytelling because of habit, to recoup the large costs of production. Of course, Hollywood also created some(a large percentage) of the most memorable movies in the history of the media. 

I believe for now, that the move to niche is only possible, if niches for these new stories exist. And even if they do, is it economically viable for creators to keep producing, or, are we not doing the work necessary, to create another language with similar tools? Or do need to spend the energy on new tools and platforms?

Because supply is everywhere you look. The other part of the equation is undoubtably lessening.

nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain (and other metaphors)

Yesterday, a sort of funny little thing happened. I was MYSPACE's "Artist of the Day" for my music project MIRS

This would have been the absolute pinnacle of web dominance for a music act if it took place in 2006, but just short of a decade later, it's a cute footnote, and a stark reminder that absolutely NOTHING LAST'S FOREVER.

So, you might currently be having the worst days of your life, but if you stick it out, make some changes and proceed with action, it can all change. That also dictates the scary, but real fact that the reverse is also just as true. 

And who knows, maybe even MYSPACE, under the best circumstances & leadership, could flip that website around to it's glory days again. Anything is possible. I mean, did you just see the updated PILLARS OF CREATION photo. Seriously, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

Make plans, and just as vital, roll with those waves.

The LEAP towards Youtube in 2007 or scared shitless of bad comments....

It's hard to believe that Youtube is not even a decade old. It seems to have been with us from the beginning.

What is more astonishing is that Youtube stars are more popular with teens than even the biggest top down celebrities as this Variety Survey documents. Poor ol Leo sitting in last place.

Now, these are the biggest of the big, but Youtube works in more lateral ways, and in smaller and smaller tribes, who remain vibrant and relevant. But this relevancy is different than what we were conditioned to understand. As Kevin Kelley described in his now famous (and in internet terms, dated) manifesto, "1,000 True Fans", relevancy is really only important to the people who care.

And you don't need too many people to care about what you bring to the table, as long as you're bringing something to that proverbial table in the first place. As Seth Godin would state, something REMARKABLE. Now, remember, remarkable is a shifting phrase. Pewdiepie is not remarkable to baby boomers, but he sure is too millions of teens. And that's the damn point.

So, this gets to my original thought. Back in 2007, while I was going through the ringer of an MFA program at this place, me and my pals (pretty much the whole class of fairly bright kids), all kind of shrugged our collective shoulders about using this new platform to reach out.

In the world of the higher arts, it was prestige less, a self publishing platform for people who couldn't find support in the business. A bunch of self absorbed people talking about non-important things, or terribly produced home videos with nothing to offer.   

What a fucking absolutely rubbish thought that was! And that's the difference between leaping fearlessly forward, or sticking to the status quo. You rather jump, watch somebody else jump, or sit on the sidelines watching other people take initiative and change the world.

So, here is a lesson for anybody reading this. Nothing is sacred in the arts or business, and all empires fall sooner or later (much sooner now). So, when an opportunity(really an obligation) presents itself, jump of that cliff and maybe it will work. Maybe it won't. But it's much cooler to be an explorer than a hesitant wimp. And Youtube won't last forever either. In fact, on the internet clock, it's running out of time, while a host of new platforms are springing up left and right. Are you experimenting, or rolling your eyes again? It's a choice.

So, cheers to a great 2015!




The Amateurs vs learning about Picasso

"In my opinion, though, it's more important that someone learn to make music, draw, photograph, write, or create in any form, regardless of the quality, than it is for them to understand and appreciate Picasso, Warhol, or Bill Shakespeare..." 

David Byrne writes the above quote in the fantastic thought piece, HOW MUSIC WORKS. Here, he talks about the need of amateurs to keep the arts vibrant, and more importantly, to bond a self healing glue for societies, with an emphasis on the disadvantaged.

At a certain point in the American industrialized education system, we abandoned the active creative arts, for art history.

The powers that be thought it more wise (and certainly less expensive) to teach an understanding of mostly Western Classical Art, than to let children create. Funding for arts programs plummeted all through the country in the last decade. 

But the creative act itself is the most vital. Art history and criticism is more the perpetuation of an elitist system created to worship monuments, over intuition.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've worshipped some of those masters works myself, but I would advocate for less worship, and more encouragement to the youth, who are seeking ways to figure out problems.

One of the best vehicles human beings "created" for problem solving, is art. And the evidence is clear that problem solving skills is an extremely desirable trait in industry now. So, if you want to give a gift to a child and an advantage, a nice pat on the back and a Beat Machine can go a long way.

 

How to read multiple books at the same time....

For several years, after college, I was on a regime of "one book" at a time. In those days, it was mostly classical literature or a book on film/writing craft. 

I was in the habit of reading before bed, or occasionally, in the afternoon when I had some free time, over coffee.

I'd often wonder how we collectively (students) went through several books at the same time in college, and the answer now, so obvious, was because of necessity. 

Jump to about two years ago, when I had a sudden revelation that my reading frequency had dipped to an all time low, and was consumed with a year of MOBY DICK (the year before, WAR AND PEACE). One book, a whole year.

At this time, I came to a reading breakpoint (yes, this is not so dramatic). Rather I can wallow in the dead poetics society, or, get the fuck out of this habit, and open the mind to new ideas. 

I picked up a non-fiction business book. Something I had never done in my life. Why? I was pulled in that direction but that's another story.

But since then, I upped my reading to an average of around 40-50 books per year in the last few. I understand that this is below some overachievers, but the mean of the average American Adult's book count, according to this 2013 PEW study is 12. With a median at a paltry 5 (still more than my MOBY DICK year).

So, what's my method? It's all in a system based on formats, and multiple books at the same time.

For short non-fiction, I use ebooks. For things on the more motivational front, audiobooks is my preferred format. For tougher, more esoteric material, a good ol fashion analog book. For longer non-fiction, or any books on craft or technique or where you need to write information down, analog. For fiction, again, analog mostly, unless it's the size of a novella or shorter, and then it would be read in the ebook format.

So, I read a hardcover in the AM, listen to an audiobook in the car and on a jog. On an afternoon break, or at night, I'm on the Ipad with an ebook. I average about 3 books simultaneously, and can push to a max of 4.

Personally for me, at this moment, I could not read 3 books at the same time in the same format. This switch in format is both contextual, and tacit, and lets my brain welcome new content throughout the day.

One last thing: I love owning books. While I've come to love ebooks and find them superior on many levels especially for it's ease in annotation, I find myself having to buy the analog version as well if I really enjoyed the work, just to make this situation feel real. This is a problem financially. 

 

 

The "BEST OF" lie....

A NEW YEAR comes, and with that a faux clean plate. But just before the dial switch, we were all inundated by a seemingly never ending orgy of "best of" lists.

Chalked with hyperbole and irreverence; blogs, twitter, magazines and online media outlets who endow themselves with "tastemaker" monikers espoused the loves of the year. 

Most of these lists where "best of" lists, and not the more truthful, "favorites" list. A big difference in meaning. 

Now, a best of list of athletes is probably measurable. And so is a host of other things in which quantifying makes sense. But in the arts, the only true purpose these lists  holds is consumerism or elitism.

Because, "best" is nonsensical in arts. Unless you specify it, and in that specification, it is quantifiable it is meaningless.

If best meant theatrical sales, than you have a measure. If best is "rotten tomatoes" ratings, then you have a measure.

If best is personal, than its favorite. And that's what it all comes down to. Of course, none of us has the time to view 30,000 productions, so, we watch the most accessible or ones that have been picked out. 

Best in the arts does serve a purpose. Award shows, to bring in more business. Or, helping individual careers to obtain more opportunities because of a certain popularity that comes with providing more value than the average. That's it. Nothing more. You cannot quantify the ephemeral, until you actually can.

The New Year

Is it important to add a parentheses to the year? Wrapping it up in time, as if the next day starts something completely unconnected to the string that follows. Perhaps.

It is true that the shadow is nothing but ephemeral. But so is every new day. The same opportunity to pick your battered body of the ground exist immediately, as it does in a new year. it's only a concept, and a concept is only good with massive action behind it.

So get going; flip this damn world upside down! 

Recent reads with accompanying ramblings, (or HE BOUGHT A BOOK, I CAN'T BELIEVE WHAT HE DID NEXT)

These are the last few non-fiction books I've read:

Now, I'm not going to review them nor rate them. They all have some very useful information, and by doing a quick search, you can see if you want to add any of them to your library. All three come highly rated over at Derek Sivers site, which was actually how I found 2/3. 

His estimation is higher than mine on average when it comes to these three, but they are all worthwhile reads. The most practical one being THE TIME PARADOX. This has to do with the fact that Phil Zimbardo is a very well respected psychologist in the field. I first learned about him during my time at UCLA. 

A couple observations in the last month. I prefer to read non-fiction on my IPAD AIR as opposed to fiction in analog. The highlighting and notes function in the ibooks app are incredibly practical and useful tools. I send these notes to my evernote and have access to them at all times. Second, most non-fiction "motivational" (in quotes since this is not technically the genre of these books, but really, it is) books are very closely tied to their specific zeitgeist of cultural thinking;  meaning, they share ideas freely from each other. These books start to bleed the same names, the same studies and the same stories. It's like one continuous TED TALK, with the same people feeding of one another. 

This is not a bad thing, just the nature of the game. It's what's in, and ultimately, it's whats working. Or, to put it more bluntly, it's whats in their blogs in the first place. 

The same situation arises in true motivation style books written by lets say, Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn or Zig Ziglar. And for the most part, you are better of reading them, then before. The greatest value might just be in releasing a cynic from his/her own self imposed prison. To give hope to the idea that we can all change, at the moment we decide to. And it's greatest fault might be the dependency they create, much in the same way therapist keep clients for years. It becomes a feel good drug. Hardly a negative but you have to move away from just the good feeling these books give off..

So, get the information, and move forward. Take the knowledge, and then, take action. Don't just buy another book.

 

 

  

 

Mirs - Take Away (Official Visuals)

Took a long while to finish this out for a host of reasons, but, the video is now live. I collaborated with my friend Tom Flynn on the concept, and we where both so busy with other projects that it never finalized. The footage, sitting all alone, for many months, deep in the throes of a mechanical hard drive in Burbank. The song itself was released in 2012.