You might have noticed that our friends at Knockaround have put together some creative and entertaining special package options for the holidays, making shopping this season just a little easier for the rest of us. The high-flying Helicopter Bundle, includes gold Mile Highs, an army green Knockaround Belt, and your very own Chinook RC Helicopter. The heavy hitting Marshmallow Blaster Bundle includes a pair of matte white / smoke Fort Knocks, a pair of matte black / smoke Fort Knocks, and your very own Marshmallow Blaster. But the best part about these special additions for the holidays might just be the videos Knockaround made to accompany them. They really illustrate the amazing atmosphere at their HQ, and the fun, creative vibe of the team there.
I got to meet SLVDR founder and creative director Rob Myers several years ago. They’d recently launched the brand, and thanks to the SLVDR [...]
- 8 Questions with: Rob Myers
- Foaming at the mouth…
- Concept Cars Debut at the Shanghai Auto Show
- Riding carousels with2
- Riding carousels with3
- Riding carousels with4
- Riding carousels with5
- Riding carousels with6
- Riding carousels with7
- Riding carousels with7
- Riding carousels with8
- Riding carousels with211
- Riding carousels with212
- Riding carousels with213
- Riding carousels with214
- Riding carousels with215
- Riding carousels with216
- Riding carousels with217
- Riding carousels with217
- Riding carousels with218
What is time? The textbook definition: the system of those sequential relations that any event has to any other, as past, present, or future; indefinite and continuous duration regarded as that in which events succeed one another.
What is time? My definition: an arbitrary measurement that should have no bearing on what we do in our lives. We do what we love, when we want and how we want. No ifs, ands, or buts.
We’ve all seen the rappers that have their “Jesus Piece” and custom jewelry that are big and loud and make a statement. Women have their quaint nameplates and diamonds. So what kind of jewelry would a skater wear? You could just do the obvious and do a skateboard, but El Senor jewelry thinks outside of the box and takes on the skateboarder jewelry to another level. Spencer Fujimoto the creator of El Senor New York has taken on the creating a line of jewelry that speaks to the skater heart. Some pieces are designed based on the layouts of iconic skate spots of NY where others take on the obstacles that the face on the daily. Check out this brief interview Network A does with Fujimoto, then check out El Senor for more designs.
Over the holiday weekend I didn’t do anything worth exploring or sharing, so I’m going to take this opportunity to answer the 8 Questions questionnaire. After all, how can I ask my peers to participate unless I am willing to do so myself? Hopefully this won’t come across as too desperate or egomaniacal…
How would you describe your job?
After graduating from college in 1990, I immediately began writing about stuff I liked: music, comics, movies. Even when I was holding down “real” jobs, I contributed to DIY fanzines as well as glossier publications. Eventually, I co-founded Giant Robot magazine in 1994 and was able to write for a living after its first retail shop opened in 2000. Editing and writing expanded into layout, photography, and blogging. It was a great ride with great friends.
After the print incarnation of Giant Robot ran its course in 2010 (I still contribute to the online version) I was invited to join interTrend and Imprint. I am honored and very appreciative of still being able to write about topics that I care about: Architecture, the arts, entrepreneurs, subcultures, everything and anything pertaining to Long Beach. It’s also meaningful to continue working with friends.
What are you currently working on?
One of my regular tasks is writing the Psychic Temple blog. Not only does the second-oldest commercial building in Long Beach have a sordid past (cult headquarters, flophouse, bordello) and bright future (the next headquarters of Imprint and interTrend) but it is couched in a resurgent neighborhood with cool businesses and culture. I try to touch upon and celebrate all of those subjects.
I also write a weekly blog for Imprint that you are now reading, report on agency-related topics, and handle special projects and presentations.
What does your average work day look like?
Because I am able to work at home, I spend every morning volunteering at my five-year-old daughter’s elementary school. I make work-related meetings and outings or squeeze in a few hours of writing before kindergarten gets out, but also try to go out for a cheap lunch at least once a week. As much as I love spending time with Eloise, it’s important to hang out with adults, too. Skateboarders, musicians, photographers, artists, writers, designers, entrepreneurs–my friends are all creative and they all inspire me.
After spending the afternoon with Eloise and having dinner as a family, I’ll clock in a few more hours of work many evenings.
Where else do you find inspiration?
When I was editing Giant Robot, my interests expanded from punk rock, kung fu movies, Asian candy, and Japanese robot toys to include art, history, and, well, toys. These days, I’ve dialed everything back to music. I rarely purchase art or art books anymore, and only collect records with any regularity. I’ve been looking for gently beat-up, affordable old L.A. punk released on Posh Boy, Slash, Dangerhouse, Frontier, and other such labels that came out just before I started going to shows and buying records. I love everything about that era of music, from the raw energy of the bands to the awesome album covers to the description and documentation of my hometown’s underbelly. I still go to as many shows as I can, and often take my daughter.
Are you reading anything at the moment?
As a writer and an English major, I don’t read nearly enough. But my most recent conquests include the translated works of martial arts novelist Louis Cha and the London trilogy by Colin MacInnes. On my desk are the collected new Love & Rockets stories by Los Bros Herndandez and some David Foster Wallace books that I never finished.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My parents say that I wanted to be a “Santa’s Helper” when I was in kindergarten, but by second or third grade I decided that I’d be a cartoonist. I still enjoy drawing and will give it a shot one day.
What’s your favorite post-work destination?
After working at night, I like to sleep! But I’ve been spending more time in Chinatown since Eloise started going to school there. After volunteering in the morning, my wife and I like to visit Philippe The Original for 45-cent coffees and a pastry before she goes to work. That place is timeless.
Before picking up Eloise from school, I rather enjoy meeting friends for lunch at Chego. The eatery is as trendy as it is flavorful and Roy Choi is a total rock star, but he single-handedly leveled L.A.’s food landscape with his Kogi truck and deserves all the run he gets. I’m glad he opened Chego in Chinatown, too. The turning point of a dying neighborhood used to be gay bars or art galleries, but now it’s cool restaurants.
I think it’s interesting that my immigrant grandfather was super involved in the area’s benevolent association scene, and then my parents moved away from L.A. to raise my siblings and me behind the Orange Curtain. Now they’ve moved back to the city to be near me, my sister, and our families, and we’re dragging them back to Chinatown!
How often do you try something new?
All the time, but not on purpose. It just happens. Last year, I became involved in indie cinema by packaging some of my friends’ skateboard video shorts and getting them shown at film festivals in Chicago, Hawaii, San Diego, and New York City where I had connections. Now I’m helping out with the local Asian American film festival as part of the programming committee.
And just about a month ago, my wife and I began planning a series of benefit concerts. We’re bringing together Chinatown’s punk rock heritage and art gallery scene to rescue the defunded music program at our daughter’s elementary school. The first one takes place this weekend! How cool is it to take subjects that I used to write about and bring them together in real life to help kids and the community?
I was introduced to Maggie Vail by our mutual friend Lance Hahn when he was staying at my house and her band The Bangs was playing down the street at Spaceland. It was probably 1999 or 2000. Later on, I would correspond with Maggie as she was doing press for the Kill Rock Stars record label and I was editing Giant Robot magazine. Loved her band, loved her label, and loved her PMA, but we both moved on.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw Maggie for the first time in years. She was hosting a talk for CASH Music, a nonprofit partnership she co-founded with fellow KRS contributor Jesse Von Doom. They empower artists through free technology and learning, providing an open-source platform for sharing music that can never be bought or sold away from them. Guest speakers at the summit included big-time technologists Tara Tiger Brown, Tatiana Simonian, and Pascal Finette, as well as some of my favorite musicians Allison Wolfe and Mike Watt, and I was blown away by their discussion.
It is a really cool and important thing that Maggie and Jesse are doing and 8 Questions seemed like a good way to find out more about their mission and what my friend has been up to.
How would you describe your job?
My job is incredible–by far the most all-consuming, challenging thing I’ve ever done. Jesse and I exist in this strange land all by ourselves at the intersection between music, technology, and industry. It’s kind of lonely at times but it’s a pretty amazing feeling knowing you’re doing the exact thing that needs to be done to help the people you care about most. Sometimes it’s grown slower then we’d like it to and sometimes it’s harder than we expect. It’s always worth it.
This is stupid but I’ve looked everywhere and this is driving me crazy. Is CASH Music an acronym?
It is! Kristin (Hersh, from Throwing Muses) named it. CASH stands for Coalition of Artists and Stakeholders.
At the recent CASH Music summit in Los Angeles, you emphasized the similarities between music and tech. Can you describe your outlook?
I think there’s this basic assumption that musicians aren’t businesspeople and that developers aren’t creative. Rarely do I think that’s actually true in either case. The best of both have to incorporate the two. There’s more common ground than the current dialogue would leave anyone to believe. I’m interested in exploring that.
Was it challenging to go from growing a very focused, almost family-like label to working for musicians of all kinds?
No, that part really isn’t too different. Kill Rock Stars had bands of all kinds and from all corners of the world.
One of the more challenging aspects of CASH to me in the beginning was learning tech and start-up language. I didn’t speak it and definitely felt alienated by it.
Being a musical artist yourself, does that make it more gratifying or difficult to spend your hours enabling other bands instead of working on your own music?
I’ve always found it gratifying. I have definitely spent way more of my life–like 95 percent of it–working on other people’s music and careers rather than my own. I keep thinking once we find our stride that I’ll go back to working on my solo album in the evenings. We’ll see!
What are some things that inspire you outside of music or tech? Books? Artists?
Lots and lots of things. English detective novels–usually written by ladies–are a big weakness of mine. I’m really obsessed with my dog and going to the dog park. Honestly, it’s the best way for me to take a break and let go of some of the stress. He’s so completely happy there and seems to make all the other dogs moreso as well. It’s a real joy to watch.
Also earning languages, making collages. Huge trees are important to me (as a NW native) and swimming. Maybe I love swimming more than anything. My family refers to me as a fish.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a marine biologist. For a few years, all I talked was whales. Then I wanted to direct movies. I never really did anything to make either happen.
Also, I was placed a year ahead in math in 8th grade and just got lost. Never got it back again. Sometimes I think I’d like to get into math for fun and prove to childhood me that I can actually do it.
You haven’t totally stopped your label work. Can you tell me about Bikini Kill records?
This is true. Bikini Kill got their rights back to their back catalog and wanted to release it themselves, so I’m managing their label for them. I oversee the reissues, do publicity, accounting, etc. We released the 20th anniversary of their first EP last year and are working right now on the second EP (now LP, with seven new songs) as well as the CD/digital version of both. Those will both be out in early February.
It’s an honor to continue to work with a band that has meant so much to me personally as well as to the culture at large.
Remote-controlled paper airplane. Yes, you read that right. Genius engineer Shain Goitein developed a small device that can be easily attached to any standard sized paper airplane to propel and control while in flight. The device communicates via bluetooth to a free app that you download to your phone. Power up the “engine” through the app, launch your plane, and control the direction of flight by tilting the app in either direction to control the attached rudder.
Simple idea, but AMAZING product. How amazing? The funding goal was met in less than 8 hours and has since more than doubled its goal in just two days.
With holidays coming every so quickly it’s a time when you think about buying new things. Patagonia has decided to give Black Friday a twist this year and is telling customers to “Celebrate the stuff you already own”. They’ve teamed up with iFixit.com and will be hosting repair clinics to teach people how to fix their existing jackets and things.
To push the idea they’ve created an amazing film, Worn Wear: a Film About the Stories We Wear, about peoples stories about their patagonia products. The background stories are really interesting and kickstart that curiosity for items that have been passed down to myself.
Be sure to check out the Worn Wear site where they push the initiative further into Instagram and other outlets.
Beck Hansen has always been an artistic oddity as much a musical chameleon. He writes songs that are both critically acclaimed and loved by the music-loving masses and then changes styles on a dime. Popularizing sounds as quickly as he ditches them, Beck not only challenges his audience’s ears but his own creative limits–not to mention the patience of whatever label releases out his his newest record. The ever-changing, absorbing, and mutating songwriter is a real symbol of Los Angeles’ smorgasbord aesthetic, blending hip hop, low-rider culture, and Tropicalia along with an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture and firsthand experience with high art.
So his show on Sunday night at the Walt Disney Hall was not only a celebration of last year’s release of new music in sheet music form (thrashing the notion of vinyl as old school) but a study of Los Angeles and its relationship with song as well. As noted by Josh Kun, one of the evening’s many speakers invited to talk about music between songs, musicians don’t write songs to sell music but to sell the city.
Other readings included filmmakers Allison and Tiffany Anders discussing the role of music in movies and in life; food writer and ex-music journalist Jonathan Gold sharing about his departed friend, colleague, and local musical provocateur Jac Zinder; and comedian Tig Notaro telling a story about high school, the coolest kid in school, and The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
Entering the stage, taking off his jacket, and then dropping his trousers, Jack Black introduced the evening of music by describing Frank Gehry’s battle to make the venue. Too many curves, too hard to make, too expensive–just make a building! But the renowned architect persevered and made the crown jewel of L.A.’s architectural landscape. It was perfect place to host a special performance of the Song Reader by the L.A. Philharmonic (conducted by Beck’s dad, David Campbell) and friends.
In addition to Black, vocalists included big-time Brit rocker Jarvis Cocker, multifaceted rapper Childish Gambino, indie superstar Jenny Lewis paired with collaborator Anne Hathaway, rock en español superstar Juanes, and others. The roots trio of John C. Reilly, Becky Stark, and Tom Brosseau also took a turn. So did Beck. The star-studded evening could have easily become a glossy piece of showboating but the tone was always humble, humorous, and genuine.
In the artist’s statement, the composer admitted that the idea of new music being played and sung off sheet music has “inherent old-timeyness” and feared that it can be glossed over as a “gimmick.” But hearing the new music performed in a formal setting without effects, lights, and other trappings of modern pop sounded anything but dusty. The effect was pure, invigorating, and inspiring. At the end of the night, Beck said that the evening was not recorded. It was just one more night of the songbook being interpreted by musicians–although in a bigger room with handpicked players representing the best of his hometown–and the effect was ultimately more humanizing than glamorizing.
Stephen Greene has devoted his career to a multitude of social causes. In 2003, Stephen co-founded international pro-social media company, RockCorps, an organization that leverages the power of music to inspire young people across the world to give back to their communities through volunteering. People who donate four hours of time at a RockCorps organized volunteer event receives exclusive access to RockCorps concerts, which have included Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West, TI, Smashing Pumpkins, and Vampire Weekend. As CEO, Stephen initiates brand partnerships in each country to create a differentiated marketing and communications platform that connects youth consumers to both brands and local charity partners.
Stephen was also recently appointed by the British Prime Minister to serve as Executive Chairman of the National Citizen Service, he continues to serve on the Board of Directors of both the Fowler Centre (a Miami-based charity), IVO (which uses the internet to connect people involved in community causes), and is an advisor to War Child (a London charity that seeks to help children whose lives are torn apart by conflict).
I first met Stephen in grad school over a decade ago, and we were part of a small student group that traveled to Shanghai and Beijing to visit local and multinational companies in the area. It’s inspiring to hear how their team has been able to reach this generation and create a movement that has had such an impact across the world!
How did the concept of RockCorps become a reality and how did you become involved?
RockCorps was the idea of 2 friends of mine and the co-founders: Grady Lee and Toby Garrett. I come to the concept after 9 years working for a non profit organization, The Fowler Center in Michigan, where I had became frustrated with the funding model for non profits. I took myself off to business school and embarked on a career in Venture Capital. Following 9/11, a group of friends really loved the idea of Grady and Toby – as they had previously started a program that allowed people to earn tickets to concerts in Colorado and beyond. However, I wanted to avoid going back to non-profit, and what I saw as the unsustainable funding model. The lightbulb moment came when we realised that brands were beginning to communicate and market to youth around giving back, as they were with music, sports and fashion. If we could become a brand partnership vehicle for brands – an engagement platform, returning value for them, while empowering thousands of volunteers, then it was win-win. At that moment RockCorps was born and we haven’t looked back.
Describe the evolution of RockCorps since its inception.
Kicking off with our first concert in 2005 in Radio City Music Hall, New York, we had a successful start in the US, in partnership with Boost Mobile. Soon we began to realise that the combination of youth, music and giving back was not just an American concept, but a global concept, and we needed to take RockCorps to other countries. We formed a partnership with Orange in the UK in 2008, from there we went to France, Israel, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Australia and we are about to have our first concert in South Africa. Over 500,000 volunteering hours, in 9 countries and 5 continents over 8 years, and we feel like we have only just begun.
Are there any insights or lessons to share as you have built this incredible community network/culture?
Believe in limitless power of youth. They have the power to change the world. Our experience at RockCorps with engaging youth has shown us that the only ingredient missing in society is respect for young people that they can make great change – and the tools and the opportunity to do so.
How would you describe your role at RockCorps (day-to-day basis and how this has changed with growth)?
RockCorps throws up something new every day. New countries and new cultures are a constant source of fascination for me. Every market we take RockCorps to has a different youth culture, a new set of amazing NGOs, and a new music scene, but the combination works every time. Young people are more the same than different around the world.
Where do you hope to take the organization in the near and long term future?
At RockCorps we are obsessed with scale. We want to go to new markets, inspiring youth around the world. If we can situate a RockCorps within every country in every continent, I would say our long-term goals would have been realised. Although, lets not restrict ourselves!
Describe some of the projects/initiatives you are most proud of and the impact achieved.
Taking RockCorps to Africa for the first time has been an important moment for my friends and me. We have been trying to find the right brand partner there for nearly 5 years. Coca-Cola has given us the opportunity to start RockCorps in a new country, and I hope it will be the beginning of many more RockCorps partnerships on the continent. There is a great energy in Africa that RockCorps is carried along with – it is addicting to do community work and the music is incredible. Here is a film about our latest platform Coca-Cola RockCorps in South Africa.
Can you talk about what your role at the National Citizen Service (NCS)?
As a result of RockCorps reputation in the UK and in other territories, I was approached by the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron and Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society to be Chair of the NCS Trust in 2011. NCS Trust is an independent management body that looks after NCS. NCS offers a once in a lifetime opportunity for 16 – 17 year olds to make new friends within their peer group, build in confidence and get involved with their communities, through outdoor activity and social action projects projects. As Chair of the Board of NCS Trust, I oversee and guide an ever-growingly talented and dedicated team of individuals. The programme has over 65,000 graduates so far! The UK needs to have a National youth engagement programme – and NCS is it!
Where do you personally find inspiration?
The music is everything. Music connects everyone. Young people have the power to change the world and I passionately believe in them. All of them. At RockCorps we equip them with tools and opportunities to take action. But it is the music that changes everything, that gets not hundreds but hundreds of thousands of teens engaged in their communities. Music is the inspiration.
As I mentioned in my blog post last week, Imprint’s very own founder, Julia Huang, was invited to speak at the Purina #BetterWithPets conference which took place in NYC earlier this week. She was invited to speak about Imprint’s Architecture for Dogs project, in conjunction with design guru Kenya Hara. It was a really incredible event – held in a beautiful venue (Florence Gould Hall) in midtown, featuring a ton of fascinating content from an eclectic panel of experts, each of whom presented a well-considered angle on the relationship between humans and our pets. The speakers included Purina CMO Steve Crimmins, Reddit founder Alex Ohanian, pet foster care giver Beth Stern, British cartoonist Simon Tofield, “America’s Veterinarian” Marty Becker, and many more pet luminaries. The event’s insightful host, journalist John Hockenberry, was incredibly good at introducing each speaker and tying all the content together nicely. Here are some snippet videos from the day’s talks, starting with the event preview video, followed by a snippet of Julia’s talk, along with several other interesting speakers!