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LAST 10 MINUTES print heading

LAST 10 MINUTES

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Why I Love Atlanta

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Over three years ago, I did a grueling three day shoot in Atlanta.   I set up a couple of appointments for the day after the shoot – but was wasted.   So I met my friend Matt Rollins at his favorite lunch spot, Star Provisions, for an early lunch and decided just to roam around and cancel meeting anyone afterwards.

I walked by a men’s shop in the same complex as Star, pressed my face against the front window, and saw a bunch of very well turned out salesmen throwing a football around the shop.  I had to walk in.  There was good vinyl playing.  A beautiful mix of well curated menswear – and a fine collection of shirts and suits they had designed for the shop.  The shirts were extra special – beautifully cut, great buttons, great fabrics.  I met the owner, Sid Mashburn who asked what I was doing in town (I think he knows everyone in Atlanta!).   I told him what I had shot, explained I was just wanting to wander – and had cancelled a meeting with the designer,  Stefan Kjartansson at Armchair Media. Sid did not approve.   He insisted, “Creatives do not skip meeting other creatives!”.   He explained, “I am friends with Stefan – you have to meet him.  I will drive you over to Armchair.”    So Sid drove me over, brought me in, introduced me, and I had my meeting. Everyone there was great. Loved sharing each other’s work.  Sid took off.  I flew home.

Last week, I was back in  Atlanta again for a big shoot I will show here in the next week or two (or for a sneak peek, come to my talk next week in Boulder at Caffeinated Mornings.)   Tuesday, the morning after my shoot, I was having coffee at Octane with Mason Poe.  Mason and I worked on a big healthcare shoot for Microsoft awhile back and have remained friends.  During our coffee (and the most insane doughnuts from Sublime Bakery that Mason insisted I try – under little protest), my other morning meetings got postponed.  I randomly asked Mason if he knew Stefan at Armchair.  Mason explained that Stephan was a good friend of his, and that Armchair was only a couple of blocks away.  I said I should call first.  Mason said, “Don’t call.  They will not have time for you. Just go.  I will show you the way.”  So I followed Mason and he dropped me in Armchair’s parking lot.

Are you still with me?   This was the hardest part.   Walking into a design firm UNANNOUNCED!  Just opening that door and walking in.  That was the key to all the good things that unfolded.  First thing I hear is Thelonius Monk playing – which instantly made me very happy I was there.   It was playing from the speakers on Stefan’s desk.  I said hello.  Probably stuttered a bit – but  was greeted with such a warm welcome, I was instantly so happy I had come by.   We caught up a bit, I went out to the car and brought in some new work to show.   I built an app from scratch to showcase the work live.  The app works like an origami unfolding – which was the perfect metaphor for the day.  After showing a bunch of videos to Stefan, Kenny Ferguson and some others, we were all craving Jeni’s Cherry Lambic.   I then mentioned another new design firm, Son and Son’s, to Stefan.  I had been there a month before to see my friend Rick Anwyl, but everyone else was gone.   Stefan said his fiancee worked there and we should drive over.   So I piled into Stefan’s sweet little mini – and we were off to Son & Son’s.

Son and Son’s was started by Wade Thompson, whom I have also worked with.  It is housed in a store front on Peachtree.   Again I walk in unannounced, but this time with Stefan.  That first 60 seconds at Son and Son’s is everything I love about Atlanta…and indeed my work life as a whole.   First you just feel this hotbed of creative juices bubbling under the sun pouring in.  All the walls peppered with ideas.   Leather handballs flying.  Products waiting to be led further down the road by, “visionary leaders and unreasonable people who are hell-bent on leading change.” Then, with the first moment of recognition – all hugs and great cheer.   Rick is there and you definitely want to poke around wherever Rick is digging in – from re-branding small towns in Alabama to hunting birds in my backyard. Wade is sporting his white streak and leading the charge – blowing out his dream of design.    The fashion designer Megan Huntz is deep into working on something I try not to disturb.  And again, totally spontaneously, I break out the new work and we all laugh and dream of Jeni’s ice cream sandwiches together.

Then it is off with Stefan to Sid Mashburn’s shop.  All the men are wearing beautiful leather shoes with no socks.   Matt Lambert is sporting what I would call “casual perfection.”   You cannot put your finger on it, you are not even sure if you can pull it off.  There is very low sales pressure at Sid’s because you want to own everything.   I try on the blue suede desert boots.  Ask about socks with those.   They want me to check out their new audio room with the peacock.

Stefan suggests his favorite canteen, Star Provisions.   We walk over through Ann Mashburn’s bright white shop, and Stefan orders the Prosciutto, Sweet Butter & Parmesan on Baguette.  I go for the shrimp sandwich.  We are right at that place where all the dreams of what our work can be is meeting our creative souls.   It is pouring out.  Sid was right three years ago.  You never skip an opportunity to meet another creative.

Then out of nowhere, Sid Mashburn appears and sits down with us.  It has all come full circle.  This day.  In Atlanta.  We talk like we have known each other forever.   We are all inspired in careers that feel like they are converging right in the middle of the picnic table we are sitting at.  All pushing as hard as we can effortlessly.   All talking in a language of discovery we all speak.

Soundtrack for this post:

Madcon – Beggin

and Thelonious Monk at Newport 1959

Video from Atlanta features Dan Cavey and Karen Smith

11.27.12 Posted in Something I Heard, Something I Saw, Something I Took

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Getting alot out of Goodbye

After moving into a new home – packing to leave on a trip (which I do often) is a new experience. Lately I have been forgetting one essential thing each time. Last time my dopp kit (almost killed myself with the cheap razor from the front desk of a fancy hotel), this trip, forgot to pack pants (although I did bring three pairs of shoes for a one day shoot).

Flying to Atlanta – slept halfway, then got my hands dirty with some newsprint…

“Learning to Love Volitility” in WSJ.   Nassim Nicholas Taleb comes in through the financial door, which is not the door I generally swing open. He explains “we must learn to benefit from disorder in a world that constantly throws big, unexpected events our way.”  He writes of “black swans: large events that are both unexpected and highly consequential. We never see black swans coming, but when they do arrive, they profoundly shape our world.”

We come to expect everything to work 24/7.   Utilities that never blink.  An internet that is constantly pinging.  Fuel that is always there with a swipe of a card.  Aisles and aisles filled with bounty that spoils us with it’s riches.   Try going to Whole Foods just as they are opening in the morning when it is deserted, and walk the aisles alone. The biggest decision when you are there this week seems to be whether to get the organic or heritage turkey. All the shopping madness and the side dishes. Hands digging deep inside the cavities with stuffing.  The frozen turkeys are fine.

Then Jane Brody’s piece on JUNK .   Our move this last summer allowed us to let go of  volumes of stuff with little time to consider anything. The realtor said we did in 3 weeks what takes most people six months. It felt liberating, though a bit foolish looking at all the things we bought and didn’t use.  We have a smaller kitchen now where there is no room for excess. One bathroom. All those CD’s had to go. Their only purpose had became remembering music I liked – not serving it up.  My father used to have a horribly messy office in the back of the house in Pittsburgh. He couldn’t throw anything out. He always told us to just pull a dumpster under the window his second story window when he is gone and TOSS!

In Atlanta for a shoot I can’t discuss for a couple of weeks.  It is a big shoot, lots of moving parts. Not to compare at all – but listening to this interview on NPR with Mick Jagger about getting ready to perform rang bells. And at the end of the interview….Jagger says “goodbye” in a way that you instantly appreciate how seductive he is.  Earlier in the interview, he talks about all the music you can get out of two notes on the harmonica – and then, he gets even more said with two syllables, “goodbye.”

Wrote all of this before landing and getting another update from my friend Jonny Daniels in Tel Aviv.  Another friend wrote, “we are a world gone mad.”   The rockets in Israel are not “black swans” because though being highly consequential, they are not unexpected.   Hope seems moot when they are trying to negotiate life and death with missiles and iron domes.   We send prayers to the holy land – for peace and understanding.   Although I was told too many times when I was over there last year  that peace is not an option.   I can’t imagine a way forward without a path to peace.

and yet….music still gets us through….

listening to a British musician, Ben Howard sing the title to his new EP, “Burgh Island.”

listening to “Gimme Shelter” after the NPR clip above

and listening to all these full concerts on You Tube – which is rich with music.   Like this one from Bon Iver at Cochella last summer – and it IS magnificent.

The email from Jonny:

At 10am this morning a siren went off where I live, my 3 year old
daughter is at kinder-garden, there is nothing more frightening, the
fear is no longer what will happen to me, its pure fear for your
child’s safety. Thank G-d and the Iron dome no-one was hurt.

The situation here is crazy, its an unacceptable situation, we gave
away Gaza (Gush Katif) for peace, and got rockets.

These are not people we can make any kind of deal with, these people
want our destruction. (read their mandate) Hamas are Al Qaeda. When
the world agreed to go after the Al Qaeda they have to understand that
these are the same muslim fanatics.

While this is going on, we have arab members of Knesset saying -
“Israel is breaking international law in Gaza, all for the sake of
Netanyahu’s election campaign,” MK Zoabi charges. and other Members of
Knesset Jamal Zahalka and Haneen Zoabi who participated in a moment in
silence for the Gazan victims of Operation Pillar of Defense, at a
meeting of their party’s leadership in Nazareth on Saturday.

As a father to a beautiful little girl, there is nothing I want more
(and we all do) than peace. but its not going to come through talks ,
its going to come by being strong.

Please now stand for Israel. Stand for whats right.

Am Yisrael Chai – The People of Israel live.

11.19.12 Posted in Everything Is Connected, Something I Heard, Something I Saw

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This Must Be The Place

There is a promise you make when you move to Boulder. DO NOT TELL ANYONE ABOUT THIS PLACE. Shhhhhh…… “Oh, it is ok” “Yes….winter….” The truth is a secret.

It is early morning. Rode my scooter downtown through the crisp cold sun with the Flat Irons to my left. Jasmine Pearls. Nina Simone crooning, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” – but the real spirit of the week is Jorge Ben singing, “Take It Easy My Brother, Charlie.”

I have been meeting wonderful people in Boulder (and Denver) these past weeks. Alot of creatives. Alot of chefs (who are also creatives of course). Alot of people talking about how people communicate.

My office is right above the OZO coffee shop in Boulder where every meeting seems to converge. Bands of runners exhale in front. Bikes posses cruise in. Highly caffeinated. I have a balcony you can sit at right above, spread out your Muji notebook (and your portable screens), drink that hair sprouting brew, sit in the sun, look out at the mountains, do your work. I met Jay Ferracane on the balcony.   Jay rode in on the last wave that discovered Boulder. He is teaching me about introducing yourself to a new town. He’s organized a monthly talk, Caffeinated Mornings, for creatives that he has met. I am speaking there Dec. 7. So happy to become a part of this town.

Boulder is a community of people who make alot of good decisions. Who have figured out a way to work hard and live good, healthy, fun, creative lives. A place where you can get to the stuff you could never quite get to, which is saying alot. Where people let you in. Where people tell this stranger, “You are going to love Boulder, and Boulder is going to love you.” I know you bring your baggage everywhere you go. I also know there are certain evolutions in your life, almost like bridges you can go over and see things alittle more clearly.

A friend from LA asked me last night if I missed NY. I still work in NY, and have alot of friends and clients there. Enough people have told me how lucky I was to get out before the storm. That is not why I moved. What makes NY hard also makes it great. The promise of NY is there a thousand times a day – just before the curtain goes up, when the mortar and pestle hummus is served up at Balaboosta, that moment when the door swings open from the train station onto 7th avenue. All the hard edges. All the times your knees hit the seat in front of you. NY lives with you and without you. I just could not find in NY what I need right now. It is not NY’s fault. I just needed something I could not explain (even to myself).    Life in Boulder is not laid back – it is just organized differently.

I write this to say. I am here. I am happy. I am there, too. Only now, it is for visits.

I got a call from a design firm in Atlanta this week who were not sure where I was living.  “George, we have an assignment. Two days travel. Two days shooting.”  I asked the location. “Boulder.”

11.15.12 Posted in Everything Is Connected, Something I Heard, Something I Saw, Something I Took

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