Monthly Archives: February 2011
I didn’t plan to post this, I didn’t even ask for his permission, therefore I really hope he will forgive me. It’s not an interview, but it highlightens some important media issues and it can certainly make you reconsider your own answers and questions; that’s why I’ve decided to share it with you. Meet Nigel and his observations concerning the media industry and the teaching system:
[...] I spent most of my early career in advertising and media [...]
My observations of the media industry are these.
A. The industry has amtured into a sweatbox… some would say it always was.
B. It is a team sport played by individuals with oversized egos (Note: I did not say talent!)
C. It is an industry awash with the problem children of the meddling and the mediocre class. Young adults who would have been packed off to work in the Catholic Church during the renaissance or the enlightenment. The reason I walked away in the end was simply the banality of the people and the ideas I had to work with.
D. The people who own and operate media companies know that everybody wants to be in the industry and pay and treat their employees accordingly
E. To be successful in the Media Industry you need a sponsor. A champion who will open the doors for you. In the beginning your talent isn’t going to be enough – simply because to be honest talent is no longer a factor for success in media (Think Reality TV). Your success will be down to your political ability rather than your creative ability. It isn’t so much who you know but how you position yourself when the breakthrough opportunity arises. This means you need to learn how to simple an congradulate people enthusiatically even when you know what they have presented is utter dross. [My note: I don't want to believe that's the only way. I mean, I've always worked for/with talented and smart people and they never needed this kind of "treatment" in order to give someone a chance. They were people who stood their ground and the people working for them were people who stood their ground, too. They have thaught me to keep my spine straight and that's what I will always do, no matter the consequences. For every atom of matter there's also an atom of anti-matter. And for every person who needs to be congratulated, there's also a person who will love the way you don't bend down your spine.You just have to be lucky enough to find him/her. True, they are very rare and 'cause of that maybe they can't make the difference. But they do exist. And the moment you find one of them is certainly worth all the struggling.]
F. Today real talent in the media game is as rare as hen’s teeth. Why? because today real talent chases the money rather than the kudos. The became bankers rather than artists. Consequently the quality talent pool in the media industry is getting old… very old. So old I suspect that the real reason the newspapers, magazines and the TV stations are struggling to reinvent themselves is simply because the real talent of your generation is busy elsewhere. Genetic engineering perhaps?
G. If you are going to do this think new media not old. Yes, study how the greats rode the wave of each new media (Think: Chaplin, DW Griffiths, Eisenstein and Orsan Wells for Film, Gore Vidal for TV, Hearst for Newspapers) but forget the past and embrace and lead what your generation is doing with media today. If you chase the future while the problem children of the meddling and the mediocre class are chasing the past you’ll find the experience a lot more enjoyable and no doubt far more financially rewarding in the long run.
So my message is yes its all very nice to dream about yesterday but it is much better to own tomorrow.
Moving on to Teaching.
I left TV production to start my very own media course. The Government gave my team $5 Million and we built “state of the art” TV studios, photo studios and classrooms full of computer graphics workstations.
It was my chance to set right all the things I believed to be wrong with what I studied at University. It took me 3 years to write the course and build the complex and I lasted 2 years in the job as course controller. In reality I was bored after the first 12 months. The kids just didn’t challenge me with their ideas. Most where simply killing time dreaming about making it rather than driving hard to make sure they would make it. Having said that some went on to great things. But I can’t help but feel in the end the winners make it despite the system rather than because of the system.
Put simply if you can do it. Just do it. Don’t waste your creative energy on teaching others. Inspire them by what you do rather than what you have to say. If you are good enough your talent will be a big enough call to action to rouse the next generation to be like you.
This is not to say there isn’t a role for great teachers but it isn’t about nuturing genius. Genius finds its own way.
Teaching is there to help the mediocre to become more than the sum total of their (sometimes meager) talents. The very best teachers love people before they love media. They provide the inspiration that enchants their students to begin looking at new ways of seeing the world. They delight in seeing the world through the eyes of others.
To be continued…
I know I’m a die-hard rock fan, a mainstream/alternative addict and also a ’80s-’90s’ music rough lover, but that doesn’t make me a saint. I am not an old-fashioned freak who’s obsessively listening all day long only to Oasis, Pink Floyd, Guns N’ Roses, Beatles and Metallica. A different lover is not a sin, therefore I like to cross genres and I can easily switch from jazz to rock, from metal to soul, from Nirvana to Louis Armstrong, from Jimi Hendrix to Frank Sinatra, from Abba to Marilyn Manson. And sometimes I also like to take a chance with new artists. Of course, most of the times I feel very sorry after doing that, especially when I only run into garbage music, meaningless lyrics, talentless bimbos, price tags and video sluts with no voice whatsoever, screaming and yelling (not singing) from the top of their lungs about chains and whips, umbrellas, bikinis, martinis, california gurls, bad romances or disco sticks. I hold nothing against video hoes – after all, they gotta make a living, too – but, as I’ve already said somewhere, if you really want to sleep your way to the top, at least make sure before you’ve got a little talent whatsoever or make sure you can at least sing (a good voice can sometimes make the whole difference; translation: it can make your garbage songs bearable for the audience). Anyway, if a worst case scenario were on its way and I’d have to waste 5 minutes of my life on listening to garbage music and watching video hoes, then my hoe of choice would be - undoubtful – Adam Lambert. Just like everybody else in the music industry nowadays, he’s trashing it up for money; but the main difference is that at least he’s also got a great, real voice coming out of those goth-pop lungs: this dude was on American Idol and bullied with that great voice of his even the diabolic Mr. Simon Cowell, who took a bow in front of Lambert’s live interpretation (only those who know the hyper-critic and bitchy Simon Cowell I’m talking about can realize the GREAT thing Lambert achieved). Plus, if you put aside the commercial side of his music, this dude’s vocals are off the chart. It’s like a symphony every time he sings live. He could sing even the phonebook and it would still sound amazing. Oh… Ladies, just in case you were wondering: no, he doesn’t have a girlfriend. But he does have a boyfriend. Sorry.
Do you think you really love the person next to you? Do you, do you really? If the answer is “yes”, then you won’t mind to compare your kind of love with the kind of love you’re going to discover below. What I’m talking about? I’m talking about a british documentary film, “Daniel and our cats”, produced and directed by Julika Kennaway which tells the story of a married couple in Namibia who owned two leopards and a lion before they were cruelly taken away. The documentary originally aired in the UK on Animal Planet on 25 December, 2007 and – what a shame – it took me a few years to discover it.
This award-winning documentary film tells the fateful story of Catherine, a 30 year old French woman arrived in Namibia in search of Africa’s big cats. In the midst of the desert she married Daniel, known locally as ‘the lion man’. Fascinated by his extraordinary ways with animals, Catherine lived an unusual and idyllic life in the remote Namibian hills with two leopards, a black-maned lion and her new husband. But one fateful night everything she loved was snatched away. Daniel, Catherine and their cats were on their way to a film shoot when their cats were confiscated by the authorities at the Namibia/South Africa border. Without the right paperwork they stood no chance with the authorities. Daniel was imprisoned and the cats taken to a secret location. Following Daniel’s eventual release, viewers watch as he and Catherine are forced to start a new life in South Africa with a baby lion cub, whilst still battling for their other cats.
When Daniel is finally able to track his cats down in Namibia, incredible footage shows the reunion between him and cats, as all three cats remember Daniel, highlighting their unique bond. But as Daniel begins the long journey home to Catherine and his lawyers in a desperate attempt to reclaim his cats, yet another tragedy befalls them all: Daniel dies in a car crash. The car is being hit just when he tells Catherine – on the phone – he’s very optimistic about their cats’ future. The rest of the story is just incredible: Catherine continues the battle for their cats and, after 2 years, she gets them back and makes sure they will have a peaceful life in Amani, a wild reservation. In swahili, “amani” means “peace” and Catherine says, by the end of the movie, that a peaceful life is just what she wants for her and Daniel’s cats and the rest of their lives. After making sure her and Daniel’s cats will have a beautiful life, Catherine finally moves back to Namibia, the place Daniel loved the most and the place where they shared the happiest moments and their lives.
It’s a bitter-sweet story and it’s incredible to discover such a strong bond between humans and animals. The strangest fact is when Daniel visits his cats and – even after 2 years – they recognize them: their love (let’s call it love, cause that’s what it is) for the people that cared for them is un-altered. It’s a great story that highlightens the fact that sometimes animals are way better than humans: they don’t hurt unless they’re hungry or unless they’re provoked. And they never forget, no matter what. Ain’t that a bitch-slap lesson for humans? Secondly, it’s a great story that highlightens the fact that sometimes true love never dies: it survives everything, even the people that once shared it. Ain’t that a bitch-slap for those who don’t believe in it?
To make it short, “Daniel and our Cats” is a personal, true story of love, loss and healing, told in Catherine’s own and charming words. And here it goes a little spoiling, I can’t help but sharing this, sorry: after a few years, Catherine married another man and eventually had a baby girl named Tara. So it’s a happy ending… in the end. Photo Credits: Animal Planet
“Now a photo of a rather shabby looking phone booth is not really what most people would consider a nice, or good photo. But in the context of how we used to have really nice photogenic red phone boxes, yet in most towns and cities we now have open, unattractive metal and glass booths, then it starts to become a documentary type photo, and starts to tell a story of how we’re losing things we took for granted.
When i walk down a street i’m often looking at the mundane, those everyday things that most people take for granted. Sometimes i’ll take photographs. At some point i hope to bring them together and perhaps tell a story of what we have around us, and how it changes. But it’s also possible to take a single image and use it to show what we see around us, yet take for granted, such as an ice cream price list that’s not in use, and so generally ignored by those attending the event.
To me this all a part of the art of photography. The boring, mundane, and ugly, are there around us, and there is an art to trying to make them appear at least interesting, and sometimes maybe even attractive.” Source: here. Photo Credits: Fox News.
You all know that I can’t help but fall in love with creative people and with their sparky, unique, unexpected, funny, interesting, different, amazing, original, smart, incredible, colourful ideas. What you’re going to read below is a story about a very creative family. If you love unexpected, funny and original ideas, you’ll love these guys. And if you love to travel, too, then you have to keep in mind one important thing: next time you tour Europe or take a cross-country trip through the heart of Africa, watch out for the sheep!
So: you’re wondering how would a sheep get to the top of the Eiffel Tower or the wilds of the Serengeti? Well, the answer is pretty simple: it’s a real life “Where’s Waldo,” and it’s James Hartman’s personal obsession. Now let’s rewind a little bit: years ago, Hartman and his family and friends began placing hand-painted miniature plaster sheep in amazing spots all around the world. The family of six, led by their artist dad, James Hartman, began this wacky international sheep phenomenon in 1995. That November, James traveled to Missouri to visit his 84-year-old mother. He helped sort through her boxes of collectable antiques and found one piece that immediately caught his eye: a thumb-sized, finely painted sheep. He was struck by it because it had such detail, said James, 49. His 10 siblings also admired it and they wanted James to make a mold of the sheep and give one to each family member. He complied, but didn’t stop there.
Eager to find a millennium-themed art project, James truly broke the mold when he declared his goal: Make 2,000 sheep — and hand-paint them all — by 2000. The Hartman family had sheep-painting parties for their friends, forming assembly lines with one person painting the white fleece, another the green grass, another the peach face and legs and another the eyes and smile. They became proficient enough to spend only 10 minutes per sheep.
But the effort wasn’t just a local one. They sent kits of 100 sheep and travel-sized shampoo bottles of paint to relatives around the country. They spent their Thanksgivings painting sheep and their Christmases, too. And they surpassed their goal — they painted more than 2,600 sheep. But the really weird part began when the family started taking small groups of sheep on day trips with them. They photographed herds in Carmel, at the base of Lombard Street in San Francisco and in puddles of water in Mendocino.
In 1998, their daughter, Genevieve, took a batch with her on a high school trip to Paris. She and her classmates photographed themselves hiding sheep at the top of the Eiffel Tower, behind a painting at Versailles and in the Louvre (Their teacher hid a sheep in her cleavage, and yes, there’s a picture to prove it.) Soon, friends, friends of friends and even complete strangers wanted to take sheep with them on their vacations. Photos they took of themselves hiding the teeny sheep in various global locations now fill a giant scrapbook at the Hartmans’ house. A friend would say, “Oh, I’m going to Croatia” and the Hartman family would say, “Take a sheep to Croatia!” The sheep can now be found on every continent — even Antarctica.
They’re in a tree in Boca Raton, in a sarcophagus in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, at a fly fishing spot in New Zealand, inside Placido Domingo’s dressing room, at the top of G2 in the Himalayas, at a church in Hawaii, at Albert Einstein’s home in Princeton, N. J., in the bedroom of Christopher Columbus’ son in the Dominican Republic, in a castle in Wales, in a garden in Luxemburg, at Sydney Harbor in Australia and in the Duomo in Florence.
More sheep can be found in South Africa, Cuba, Vietnam, Fiji, Hong Kong and Brazil. One lucky sheep was even blessed by the Pope. Matthew Siorek, James’ nephew, planted 50 sheep around his hometown of Chicago. They can be found in the city’s Picasso Art Institute, behind the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, behind the bar at “The Green Mill,” a jazz house once owned by Al Capone, and on a plot of farmland where Hartman ancestors settled after moving from Wales.
“It’s all about participation,” said Hartman’s wife, Catherine. “Everybody can help. There’s a certain type of person who’s drawn to creative, fun, adventurous things like this. Each sheep began to take on its own personality, with slightly different facial expressions and slightly different colors. One lamb wears sunglasses and a couple are the “Black sheep of the family.” They also have different phrases written on the bottom, including “Meryl Sheep,” “Fleece Navidad,” “Sheepless in Seattle,” “Sheep Car Named Desire,” “Ewe Ought To Be In Pictures” and “Nothing Spells Lovin’ Like Mutton In The Oven.”
Thanks to this family’s strange hobby, these sheep are true citizens of the world! And, believe it or not, even the White House has its own little sheep: you can find it in Abe Lincoln statue’s lap. Source: here.
“I love books! I fucking love the ever-loving shite out of them! I would do things to books that would cause most decent societies to frown upon me and never return my calls again. Alas, I do have restraint so I stick to the age old tradition of reading them. For now.”
That’s what Andrew says in his latest post. Haha, I totally subscribe: I don’t love books, I capital F-U-C-K-I-N-G L-O-V-E B-O-O-K-S. And, just like Andrew, I’m appalled at people who don’t read books. Even people who don’t at least read a newspaper or two, or even a magazine, surprise me (gossip mags don’t count and are a bane on modern civilisation; to quote Mr. Hunter S. Thompson, only dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity can successfully play Jesus and turn not water into wine, but bullshit into articles. And, of course, the vice versa works brilliantly, too: only dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity can successfully read the above mentioned holy metamorphosis… you’re not one of this God Squad’s dudes, are you?)
What’s not to love about reading? And what better item to read than a motherfucking book? There are trillions of the bastards out there, each one suitable for every taste and niche. And there are trillions of capital TALENTED writers out there, one for every stomach and each one suitable for a stomach-safari, for hunting down all of your butterflies. (For stalker reference) I’m going to write down just a few of those capital blow-minding Misters (and one fine Lady): Miller, Clarke, Bulgakov, Hesse, Hassel, Mann, Kerouac, Faulkner, Keyes, Rice, Auster, Forster, Martel, Barnes, Asimov, Vargas Llosa, Marquez, Whitman, Byatt, Palahniuk, Fitzgerald, Ellis, Bukowski, Ginsberg, Sontag, Carr, Christensen, Hemingway, Dickens, Davies, Spark, Patterson, Bassani, Anaïs Nin, Makepeace Thackeray… there’s an infinite world of delicious possibilities, you name it, you choose it!
Even if it’s a book about a lonely little puddle of sick called Hitler that has a magic tax exemption from which feeds on babies and car exhausts, even if it’s a book about an orange water buffalo who licks lamp shades, even if it’s a book about an hi-class lady who’s always matching pink roto-hammers to pink forklifts, there will still be someone out there who will read it and think: “Christ, I throughly enjoyed reading that from my hovel on the moon!” Books are awesome! To quote again Andrew, if a book was sex, it would be that merrymaking scene in Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes wide shut”… in slow motion.
If a book was alive, it would have very perfumed, blazing, white fangs (yes, like a baby vampire) and it would suck your mind and soul the hell out of you and then would spit it into a rollercoaster made out of a whole galaxy of multi-coloured uppers, downers, scremers, laughers. It would be an appasionate fan(g)tasia or a super-solar blitz krieg, it would be be an explosive and highly pissed off terrorist with unlimited ammo and a licence to kill mediocrity… always in slow motion.
UPDATE: Another thing that I love: libraries (book houses essentially). To quote once again Andrew, libraries aren’t just places where hobos can go for a little cry and a come down. Oh no, good Sir. They are much more than that. They are buildings where you can gorge yourself on pure beauty, they are buildings of great warmth, great knowledge and great stories, as well as a place to remain dry and escape everyday chaos outside. If magic was to exist, then it would certainly live in a library. How can a library fail to bring even a slight degree of inspiration to the mind? The incredible beautiful fact is that it can’t fail, it’s impossible! I know I love listening to rock and metal, and I know I love violent games and sports, and yes, I’m even partial to playing a trombone naked on the street. But in a place such as a library I think: “Fuck that noise! I’m staying here and running my eyes over page after page of printed word!” Then I’ll promptly high-five the nearest homeless person to me.
Oh. But don’t make the huge mistake to imagine that our libraries look like their libraries… Oh no, good Sir! Our libraries look NOTHING like their libraries: our libraries are modest in size and have massive empty gaps in the volume department shelves. In my experience, a library should NOT have massive empty gaps unless there was a serious plague spreading among the writers around the world. Our libraries are just a pale and poor shadow of English, American, Spanish, Italian or German libraries and you just can’t help but feel a slight pang of despondency when you compare our local establishments to some of their local establishments (go google the Real Gabinete Portugues de Leitura, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and then think of when you last saw smth like that in Romania…)
Whenever I will be able to find (once again) some spare time, I’ll share with you some great links listing a variey of stunning libraries around the world. Pitty I don’t have the time to show you right now some of those amazing cultural spaces (public libraries, university libraries, school libraries) created around the world by societies that know how to spend their money on wise cultural strategies and long-term projects. Those links are listing the kind of photos that are a middle finger up to our Education/Culture ministers. Those links are listing the kind of photos that are saying to Mrs. Andronescu, Mr. Athanasiu, Mr. Miclea, Mr. Hardau, Mr. Adomnitei, Mr. Anton, Mr. Funeriu and to the rest of the fucking retarded officials in this country: “Suck it, bitches!” Having said that (for hitmen/pimps/stalkers reference), this, this and this are the places where you can find the above mentioned ladies.
I promise I will continue this post as soon as I can. In the meanwhile turn off your computer and turn on your fantasy: kiss, read and tell! (;
The thing is, the specter of Hunter S. Thompson keeps blowing cigarette smoke in my face.
“So that’s how you’re starting, is it?” says Hunter, looking over my shoulder at my opening paragraph.
“Well, I guess that’s what they want you to say.”
He darts away to examine something happening outside my window.
“Get f–cked, Hunter.” I grumble, and continue to tweak the same godforsaken sentence that a bunch of other chumps are simultaneously tweaking.
“It really IS with great enthusiasm that I apply for this summer reporting position…” I say, defensively.
But Hunter is gone, and all I have left is the letter than he wrote to the Vancouver Sun, back in 1958.
The month was October. A “tart-tongued” columnist named Jack Scott had just been promoted to editorial director of the Vancouver Sun. On the other side of the continent, a pre-fame and pre-Gonzo Hunter S. Thompson read a story in Time magazine about Scott’s penchant for journalistic stunts. Broke and living in a Greenwich Village basement apartment, Thompson thought to himself, “Here’s a man I might like to work for.” What follows is the greatest cover letter ever written.
There’s no indication that Scott ever wrote back to Thompson. Then again, he might not have had the time: he was demoted a few months later.
I re-read it, and laugh, wishing that I had even half his chutzpah. In case you’ve never seen this classic, here is the greatest cover letter ever written:
TO JACK SCOTT, VANCOUVER SUN
October 1, 1958 57 Perry Street New York City
I got a hell of a kick reading the piece Time magazine did this week on The Sun. In addition to wishing you the best of luck, I’d also like to offer my services.
Since I haven’t seen a copy of the “new” Sun yet, I’ll have to make this a tentative offer. I stepped into a dung-hole the last time I took a job with a paper I didn’t know anything about (see enclosed clippings) and I’m not quite ready to go charging up another blind alley.
By the time you get this letter, I’ll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun. Unless it looks totally worthless, I’ll let my offer stand. And don’t think that my arrogance is unintentional: it’s just that I’d rather offend you now than after I started working for you.
I didn’t make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job. It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham. The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for. If you asked him, he’d tell you that I’m “not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person.” (That’s a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.)
Nothing beats having good references.
Of course if you asked some of the other people I’ve worked for, you’d get a different set of answers.
If you’re interested enough to answer this letter, I’ll be glad to furnish you with a list of references — including the lad I work for now.
The enclosed clippings should give you a rough idea of who I am. It’s a year old, however, and I’ve changed a bit since it was written. I’ve taken some writing courses from Columbia in my spare time, learned a hell of a lot about the newspaper business, and developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you’re trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I’d like to work for you.
Most of my experience has been in sports writing, but I can write everything from warmongering propaganda to learned book reviews.
I can work 25 hours a day if necessary, live on any reasonable salary, and don’t give a black damn for job security, office politics, or adverse public relations.
I would rather be on the dole than work for a paper I was ashamed of.
It’s a long way from here to British Columbia, but I think I’d enjoy the trip.
If you think you can use me, drop me a line.
If not, good luck anyway.
Sincerely, Hunter S. Thompson
My favourite part:
“… [I've] developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you’re trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I’d like to work for you.”
And, in the end, don’t forget what Mr. Hunter S. Thompson used to advocate:
(Post inspired by Fab Carletti)