The “Falling Man” Ad: In Bad Taste or Creative Genius?

This is the poster promoting the fifth season of the popular American cable television series “Mad Men“:

Some call it a “teaser trailer.” Do you feel teased? Do you?

I used to watch the series religiously when it first debuted. It’s quite an intelligent commentary on the the social mores of 1960s America. Don Draper is the series protagonist. I thought he was quite dapper and the man about town until he got into trouble. (Just watch the series) Don works at an ad agency on Madison Avenue. I no longer own a TV and other interests have consumed me so I don’t watch Don on Madison Ave anymore, but I saw a mention of this poster in one of my news feeds tonight so I thought I’d give it some attention.

Artistically, I like it because it is different from a lot of other graphically saturated posters. It has a strong minimalist design. But the poster has been in the news lately because of its perceived message. Some have it called “offensive”, suggesting a visual reminder of 9/11. More specifically, reminiscent of The Falling Man photograph. Do you think the creator of the ad intentionally wanted to suggest such an association? After all, the networks are promoting the premier of a television series. The job of any advertiser is to ignite curiosity and interest. As in “I want to know more.” Do you think the maker(s) of this ad consciously created imagery suggestive of The Falling Man? If you knew they did, would you still be encouraged to tune in?

The Contemporary Man’s Thirty Minute Guide to Understanding Women

I had a fantastic long weekend. One of my friends had a birthday gathering in Hayes Valley and the occasion also turned into a nice reunion of sorts to catch up with folks who were out of town for the Holidays. The group was a lovely blend of men and women highlighted by animated conversation and hysterical laughter. Some sidebar discussions were peppered with terribly inappropriate, politically incorrect commentary. It was a hoot. Life would be quite dull if there was too much correctness, right?

Women talked with men. Men talked with other men. And women talked about men. I had several sidebars with a couple of friends updating me with their dating escapades. And it got me wondering if men talk about women with their manfriends as much as women talk about men with their womanfriends when it comes to getting advice about the behavior of the other sex.

The message I’d like to offer for men in the modern age is this:

If you would like to understand women better, just spend thirty minutes on Pinterest. Pinterest is the gathering place for the universal woman. And half an hour is all you’ll need. Really. And if you want to explore further and develop a deeper understanding, become a community member.

Sugar and Smiles: That’s How I Roll

The smiley face. The smiley emoticon. They’re all over my offline and online world. I spotted these cookies at a Noe Valley cafe this morning. I just had to capture them and share them with you. If you do a Search for  “happiness” or “instant gratification” or #American I think you may just find these. The sweetness and comfort of sugar and the warmth and power of a smile generates the Pollyanna state of mind that we need to keep us buoyant in this weird world.

These smiley cookies are labeled as “Holiday Cookies” and convention dictates that we should try to be kinder, gentler and happier during the Holiday Season. Shouldn’t we try to be that way all the time? Or at least project that? I’m trying. See, that’s me in the photo below during SantaCon San Francisco. I’m smiling. 🙂 SantaCon is an annual event inviting hundreds of people to dress up in Santa like costumes on a Saturday in December. In San Francisco, the masses first congregated at City Hall and then walked up to the Polk Gulch/ Russian Hill neighborhood for a pub crawl. It was a fun experience. Find out if it happens in your city. Or just start one.

 SantaCon San Francisco 2011

So that’s how I roll. Armed with a cookie and a smile. That’s my dual weapon of hope for the New Year. What’s in your arsenal of hope for Twenty Twelve? 2012 –> 🙂 🙂 :-] :-}

 

 

2012: The Art of Serendipity

There are no coincidences or accidents. Just serendipity. Serendipity is hard to define but I think you’ll know it when it happens. It’s when something pleasant or even magical happens to you when you least expect it. From the day I found a home in San Francisco to the very end of Twenty Eleven, I have been blessed by serendipitous events. I was led to my current residence by the kindness of a stranger in Huntington Park who has also become my neighbor, and I celebrated New Year’s Eve with absolutely no plans except a somewhat random decision to head to the Fillmore District near the Western Addition neighborhood. And after finding a parking spot in less than a couple of minutes (serendipitous parking karma on NYE!) and venturing not more than half of a block, we spotted a place that looked stylish and appropriate for the evening:

1300 on Fillmore

      ‘Happy New Year !’

The restaurant/lounge presented a good vibe and friendly staff. The atmosphere felt more like rat pack supper club or swanky jazz club, rather than the sleek San Francisco affair that one would envision with the trendy SOMA set.  After pleasant conversation with new friends and some dancing we rang in the new year with the proverbial champagne and sparkly disposable accessories. It was a good night. I would like to return to try out their dinner menu, or for drinks after a performance at Yoshi’s.

It was a beautiful celebration. Very serendipitous. How many times have you experienced that space in time when things just work for the best without trying? I look forward to many more moments of serendipity in 2012. Planning can be good but perhaps life can become more interesting when you stop figuring out the details. Try living differently in 2012. Stop being such a control freak.

Why Mentorship is Dangerous

I’ve been thinking of this concept of mentorship. Through my young adult and professional life I have always been encouraged to seek out a mentor. And we seem to read about it a lot in career advice columns, blog posts, self-improvement literature, etc. And yes, I have had a handful of more wise, experienced individuals guide me through challenging and uncertain times, both men and women. Not sure I would call them mentors though.

Here’s the observation that I’ve made. It becomes dangerous when the mentor is treated as a hero. Then the mentorship experience becomes hero worship. This creates limitations on your self development. You fail to develop to your fullest potential because you become so focused on BEING your mentor. Do you really want to be a second-rate copy of your Mentor or a first-rate you? So here lies another meaning of “bcc”: do you want to become a Blind Carbon Copy?

Here’s a simplified analogy regarding the above. Steve Jobs died this past year in case you didn’t hear. He is probably the first person associated with that brand called Apple. There was a lot of attention focused on him after he died. Lots of people were sad. There were a lot of tributes written about him. He was worshipped and he continues to be worshipped. He has been deified.  So the question I’ve heard is “Who is the next Steve Jobs?” And it continues with “Who is the next Mark Zuckerberg?” Or “Who is the next Arianna Huffington?” Or “Who is the next Angela Merkl?” Or “Who is the next Margaret Thatcher?” (Huh? That was a curve ball, right?) Yes, I look forward to watching Meryl Streep portray the Reagan era politician in “The Iron Lady” which is coming soon to a theater near you. These questions are silly. Seeking out “The Next” whatever creates limitations and ceilings on inventing something different that can change the world in even a greater capacity. Sure, the aforementioned people have made a major impact on the world but that does not mean that they represent the absolute potential. Mentorship and learning from great leaders has value but be careful not to diminish your own ability to do amazing things. Do something different.

How the World’s Most Powerful Blogger Masters Fear

Sometimes this is what I do on Friday afternoon before an evening out. I seek to entertain and educate myself by checking out YouTube. I had a recent discussion with a date about Arianna Huffington and why she is such a Big Deal in the media and blogosphere. So I decided to find out what Search results YouTube (Google) would produce for “Arianna Huffington”, the woman who has been called the “World’s Most Powerful Blogger.” And I found this piece from 2007 uploaded by GoogleTalks where a very pregnant Sheryl Sandberg then of Google, now the COO of Facebook interviews the New Media titan.

Aside from her explanation of how she transformed from a Conservative to a Liberal what I found interesting was Ms. Huffington’s insight about the concept of fear. Women and men handle the feeling of fear differently. Nothing too earth shattering there. But what kinds of things are women fearful of? Ms. Huffington illustrates her point with the concept of the “Evil Roommate” which lives in our brain and tells us mean or undermining things. The Evil Roommate exists in the minds of both men and women. But here again lies the difference. For example, women wake up in the morning and the Evil Roommate may whisper something like this to them, “Look in the mirror, is that another wrinkle?” or “Those jeans are tighter on you because you threw them in the dryer, right?” She goes on to posit that it’s not about the absence of fear which will move us forward, but of mastering it. I think this thought approach applies to human beings in general. Both men and women have different perceptions of what may cripple them mentally and/or emotionally but  perhaps it’s a matter of first identifying the nature of the fear and why it’s given permission to exist in our minds.

Ms. Huffington is an interesting personality to listen to. Her thoughts about the perception of the “outspoken woman” and what needs to change to move women forward are not revolutionary but she speaks to the themes of human dignity and the democratization of the Voice. Human beings feel valued when they have a Voice that is acknowledged and heard. So regardless of whether you agree or disagree with her political views or maybe just don’t like her, in the big picture she reminds us about the beauty and power of the blogosphere to deliver Truth from ordinary people. The emergence of New Media has granted a voice to ordinary people who can blog about things that matter to them up to a potentially institution-changing and revolutionary way.  I do understand that a double-edged sword exists where any non-Truth can also be broadcast by an ordinary person with evil intentions to destroy the World.  But the global activism that this form of communication  has spawned just in 2011 also amplifies the new era of individual self-fulfillment and attempting to “do good” in the world. So the next time the Evil Roommate rears itself, press the mute button. That Voice does not earn the right to be heard.

You can follow Arianna Huffington @ariannahuff and her Internet Newspaper the Huffington Post @HuffingtonPost

Celebrities in the Digital Age: Why James Bond Thinks the Kardashians are Idiots

In the upcoming January issue of British GQ magazine, Daniel Craig the latest James Bond incarnation will tell you why the Kardashians are lame. His Big Rant is about celebrities demanding privacy when they choose to sell out their privacy. (think back to Kim’s failed foray into marriage and her request for privacy.) To me it’s as simple as “If you don’t want the attention, then get off the stage.”

Regardless of whether you are a reality tv star or celebrity, is it possible to live privately in the digital age? Social networking sites are ubiquitous ~ Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and now Google+ permeate the Web. Technology is ubiquitous and I hardly know anyone who does not participate in online living. When was the last time you logged on? Can you imagine life without a smart phone and a computer? You can choose to remove yourself from participating in the online world but would that make you irrelevant?

The irony is that these non-private networks or online communities which can be built can also transform a nobody into somebody. Anybody can be somebody. Any human being can feel like they are a big deal. Let’s face it. People like recognition. Create a twitter profile, gain a massive following, become influential and you’re a star.

In the same vein that James Bond seems to perpetually be in his mid-thirties, creating an online persona presents an opportunity (and perhaps a danger) to create a fantasy. How do you distinguish a fact from an opinion, a self-labled journalist from an attention seeking fictional storyteller? Are opinions becoming construed as fact in the digital age? How many different truths are floating out there on the Internet?

I would add Daniel Craig’s Twitter handle here but I don’t know which one is real. There are also multiple James Bond Twitter handles.  In any case, the next James Bond movie “Skyfall” is scheduled for its United States release in November 2012.  Here are the worldwide release dates for globetrotters.