Archive for June, 2008

Power to the People

Posted in marketing with tags , , on June 30, 2008 by barryshapiro

My Morning Jacket, has a great video on their website. I’m not a huge Jacket fan but I’ve been hearing more about them lately and decided I wanted to see and hear more. I’m glad I did. The video did more than just give me a feeling for the band in concert; it again revealed to me the power of our new technology in the hands of the ‘average guy.’ If Karl Marx could only see today how the Internet is changing the world he’d have to completely rethink Das Kapital.

The video on the MMJ website was shot entirely by people in the audience at the Lollapaloza Festival in Chicago in 2007. Attendees were asked at the start of the set to take out their video cams and phones and shoot the performance and, I assume they were given a web address where they could send their clips. The whole thing is a mishmash of shots, of varying quality, of My Morning Jacket backed by an orchestra and was cut together by Current Fix. Names of those who shot the clips like Betsy from Glen Ellyn, IL, are supered on the screen with their home towns.

I watched this while working on a spot I am creating  for a company called True Healthy Products. My friend, Jan Hrkach, president of THP, asked for my help, as this would be his first foray into TV after creating an amazing start up primarily through the power of the Internet. The problem is that there is no budget for production so we are doing it down and dirty. When I say down and dirty, I mean we are bringing a new meaning to the term ‘guerrilla production.’ The problem I’ve been having is that I’ve been trying to put my ‘old school’ thinking into this and it’s not been working. This morning, after my third cup of Joe, I turned on the MMJ video and I realized that I hadn’t been reading my own words on my blog – I had to start thinking in a totally new way if I am to make this spot succeed.

So, now I’m pumped and it’s not the coffee (I only drink decaf). I got the message loud and clear and today I’m going to break down the spot and completely redo the edit till it makes sense and I know that it will want to make people check this product out.

By the way, here’s a plug for the product here and now: I’ve been using Stemulite for about 3 weeks and it definitely helps me get a better night’s sleep. I can’t stand by any of the other product claims but the sleep benefit is real. Stemulite, which is primarily taken by athletes to enhance their workouts, is all natural and, so far, hasn’t conflicted with my blood pressure meds or other supplements I take. So, if that’s not a ringing endorsement, I definitely would encourage anyone with sleep issues to check it out at www.truehealthyproducts.com.

But back to the point, which is simply that, once again, new technology and creative minds are changing the way in which we see the world. The MMJ video wasn’t brilliant art or even a great recording but it was fascinating to watch and it was stimulating to think that “the revolution” is upon us now.

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Big News From Loxahatchee

Posted in political with tags , , , on June 25, 2008 by barryshapiro

Patricia on the trailSome great news for a change.

Strike one for the human beings on the planet for a change. The State of Florida, known more for hanging chads and college football than for environmental sense, has announced that it is buying back 187,000 acres of the Everglades from the United States Sugar Company, a concern that has been, with State aid, polluting and choking off the world’s largest and one of its most important rivers for decades.

Note I said largest, not longest. The Everglades, long considered just a great big swamp, is actually a slow-moving river, 60 miles wide and over 100 miles long, flowing southward from Lake Okeechobee, across a limestone shelf, to Florida Bay at the southern end of the state. 60 miles covers a lot of area and “the Glades” is home to amazing wildlife, unique flora and spectacular natural vistas. Since the first time I visited in 1969 I have been fascinated by the beauty and the significance of the Everglades.

By significance I refer to the fact that this area affects things like migratory patterns of hundreds of species and also global weather patterns. It has been an issue for Florida politicians ever since Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward vowed to “drain that abominable pestilence-ridden swamp” to create a “Empire of the Everglades” and the government and business community have been screwing it up ever since.

The announcement from Republican Governor (and rumored potential McCain running mate) Charlie Crist is a welcome change in direction, not just for environmentalists but for anyone concerned with the quality of the air and water in the country. As a resident of this state I can tell you that I am doing cartwheels over this announcement. Finally, someone is doing something right.

I know that there is politics behind this move. I am sure it is not wholly altruistic and I am sure that someone is making out like a bandit somehow on this deal. They say that the state is overpaying United States Sugar and the employees are rightly concerned about what will happen to them when they close the mills. And though their concerns are valid, in the long run what is most important is that this will be the biggest ecological restoration in history. With the problems facing us in this state, namely clean potable water and breathable air starting to make a serious dent on the public’s consciousness, this move makes a wonderful statement to everyone that the big picture can and will be considered before political action.

I often drive back and forth across Route 60, past the Kissimmee River and on my way to and from Anna Maria Island. I love to take the occasional detour or just stop to observe the nature that is all around. I enjoy the trails and the endless miles of sawgrass. If you love the outdoors, the Everglades is a uniquely spiritual place.

There is a long way to go before the restoration begins but this is such a positive step it is amazing to think that it can happen at all. Kudos to Governor Crist. He can now go run for Vice President knowing that, unlike his predecessor, he left Florida in better shape than when he found it.

Art by request

Posted in art with tags , , , , on June 23, 2008 by barryshapiro

ScreamBigot With A CarnationThanks to everyone who commented on the blog or privately that they enjoyed my drawings. I’ve had a few requests to post more so I guess I will add a few new drawings every so often. Lately, I have been facinated by a photograph I had seen a few months ago of Jesse Helms. I have started a whole series of drawings of him that I hope will lead to a series of larger paintings. I call them the “Bigot Drawings.” I include one or two of them in this grouping with a few other pieces. There is also one I call the “Scream” in homage to Edvard Munch. Hope you enjoy these too.

Our Ram DasGeniusBigot in 3 colorsJohnny on the Beach

George Carlin – A Great American

Posted in personal with tags , , , , on June 23, 2008 by barryshapiro

He broke all the rules and he was funny. Very funny. His bit about baseball vs football is one of my favorite comedic riffs of all time. Right up there with “Who’s On First.” He’s the man who made us think while our sides were splitting. Who else could make ‘shit’ sound so damn hysterical.

 

More evidence that the world exists only on your iPod

Posted in marketing with tags , , on June 23, 2008 by barryshapiro

Seems Nokia, the Finish maker of sleek mobile phones, has decided to get into the entertainment business by making exclusive deals to deliver content on its phones. In fact, they are making phones specifically for music and video delivery with the phone part of the equation just a small part of the attraction. More and more, the blending of news, entertainment and technology takes us into new territory as big media companies struggle with emerging technology companies in an attempt to capture and dominate consumer interest. Nokia’s Tero Ojanpera is quoted in the NY Times predicting that in the next 5 years, mobile phone users will create 25% of the entertainment watched on the so-called smartphones, like iPhones and Blackberries. Janpera asks:”Are you willing to play by the new rules?” well, sure we are but the question really is:”What are the new rules and who makes these rules anyway?”

Well, today the rules change every couple of days. The only real rule is that there are no rules. Those making the rules are the consumers who do it solely with their purchasing power. The iPhone’s success is not attributable to Apples genius, Steve Jobs marketing prowess or the fact that the technology is so amazing. It is a hit because people decided it was cool and they wanted it and they went out and bought it. Believe me, corporate America is littered with the trash of products brought to the market that, no matter how well marketed or ingeniously innovative, people just didn’t choose to buy.

TV on your phone, nobody watches NBC or goes to the record store anymore (in fact, I can’t find a record store anywhere) and my buddy’s 9 year old has his own blog. It’s a new world. I remember the first time I heard the term ‘rotoscope’ and I was fascinated by the concept. It’s the same with me now; I’m fascinated by the movement, the energy and the dynamics of the marketplace.

I have a great Minolta camera but I haven’t picked it up in an age. Why? It’s easy to take pictures with my cell phone and it clips to the belt on my pants. My phone looks alot like the gizmo that Scotty used to beam up Kirk.

And the great part is that there are no limits – on technology, on availability, on imagination. From now on all, when I deal with clients, I will be thinking not of where they are today but where they want to be tomorrow and which technology will get them there sooner.

This is exciting stuff. We have to all start thinking in new ways. And then, we will have to start thinking in new ways again. And as soon as we think of that we’ll have to start thinking in new ways again… get it?

Faces

Posted in art with tags , , , on June 18, 2008 by barryshapiro

Man in blueJohnny in the 60sa face from Myanmar

I love to draw and everyday at some point I take out my pad and start to sketch. I love to draw faces and it’s great if I am on a bus or at the airport and I see an interesting face to just capture the image in a quick sketch. Sometimes I take a photo I see in the news and try to grab the thing I find most interesting, like the eyes of a politician. I try to capture a moment that allows me to imagine what they must be thinking in the moment.

Lately I’ve been getting into color. Oil pastels are my medium of choice. Here are a few faces i’ve seen lately.

Every day heroes

Posted in personal with tags , , on June 18, 2008 by barryshapiro

I am often reminded that no matter how bleak life can look to me at times, I really do have it good. I am blessed with a good woman, good friends, good family, good health and an overall damn good life. I may get stressed from time to time and my checkbook may not balance at the end of the month, but by and large I have few complaints. So, of course, as I was writing my last diatribe about my minor financial muddle, I was brought back to reality when I received an email from my dear, dear friend Heidi Gottlieb. Anyone interested in reading a story of true guts and everyday heroism, Heidi’s blog can be read at www.myedgewalkerblog.com.

Here’s a person who tells it like it is. Heidi has lived for years with a brain tumor the size of a golf ball. She is about to go for something called Proton Therapy up in Boston and when I read about her set up date at the hospital it sent chills down my spine. Heidi has two great kids, a devoted hubby and (at least until recently) a thriving business to run. She was one of the best production managers I ever worked with and always a delight to be around. Now she is in the battle of her life but has not lost her sense of humor or her sense of proportion. To me, she is truly a hero in the battle of everyday life.

There are all sorts of heroes out there battling brain tumors, cancer, and paralysis, and all sorts of scary stuff, not to mention battling the lame excuse for a health care system we have in this country. They are just people pitching in, doing what they can, trying to get by and not complaining about their lot in life. They persevere and in doing so they touch the lives of the people they come into contact with every day. They may not be rock stars but they are shining stars and I tip my hat to them all.

Heidi, if you are reading this, I send my love and good vibes your way every day. Thanks for being in my life.