2 names for my new imaginary band:
– Empires on the Edge of Chaos
– Cybergoth Fashion Show
2 names for my new imaginary band:
Ideas for my next 3 posts:
– Assumption of Zen
– New Myths and the Slow-mo Magnetism Boil
– Not Post-Mo: Dispartion, Post-Dispartion, & the Era of the New Multiplex
Anthony Bourdain is a hero of mine. An anti-hero who through transparency, honest opinion, and self-effacing truths, points out a plan for the road less traveled. Bourdain’s irreverent, vice-laden history, sudden plucking from the kitchen bowels of NYC, and gradual shift towards international enlightenment, is gut-punching inspirational.
Growing up outside of New York City I was enamored with the old-school lower east side musician-artist-poets who scraped by through odd jobs, wits, and selling everything they owned. Every chance I had I’d scramble downtown (or to Hells Kitchen), to seek them out, to soak up their vibe, and to learn there were many more paths in life than the straight and narrow one.
Bourdain is one of these folks all grown up, and not only did he survive, he’s thriving. I don’t think he’s an anomaly, he made an effort and chose a good turn in the road. There are bunches of these old-school NYC underground peeps, doing their thing, sticking it to the man, and flying under the radar. Their turns have been less fortunate, but no less enthralling or insightful.
Bourdain mentioned in his live performance at the Chicago Theatre this past Saturday that his success was both a mix of luck (for which he is extremely grateful) and determination (he worked hard to publish the book that opened the door to all else), but his plan is mostly accidental. He knows his current situation is magical, and he’s milking it for all its worth; without pretense, and with ample glee.
During the show Bourdain told a great deal of behind the scenes stories that were funny and expectedly harsh of his fellow TV foodies, but there were a few aspects that struck me solid. What set with me the most was his yearn to share his own experiences with the hope to influence the greater good. It’s micro-buddhism in a way, maybe a distant cousin. Here’s a person that walked a path, made a decision to alter the path, and from the alteration found a new appreciation for the people of the world AND a need to share that appreciation so that we too can learn to do so as well. That’s profound. He’s my hero.
Here are a few pearls I gleaned from his show:
Keeping It Real
Always on the mind of the underground folk, the pain in life is finding the balance between passion and success. Nobody from the underground wants to be a sellout. But what does that mean? Should we all look to the Dischord house as the beacon of truth? Bourdain seems to have had this internal twist and awoke with a new objectivity. “Was smoking crack keeping it real? Was selling books on the street for dope keeping it real?” He’s doing the best he can to keep a good thing rolling, and within it he’s found a concerted balance between his personal goals for the show and finding the angles to help pay to reach them. “Yes, we have product integration, you’ve all seen that, that’s how we can keep making the show…but I also have total creative freedom.”
Discussing his role as a father to a 3 year old Bourdain suggests there is no beating the ubiquity of McDonald’s through rationalization. He cynically suggest we wean our children from Ronald’s grasp by injecting fear into the experience. To speak of Ronald is hushed tones just within earshot of our children as an evil character who kidnaps children. To take an old and grime-laden scrubby, dip it in chocolate, wrap it in a McDonalds’ wrapper, and leave it on the counter for our kids to find. “That’ll stop their craving.” Though he’s being incite-ful, he’s not wrong. If parents are going to fight to keep their kids away from fast food they need to find clever ways to counter the fast-food impulses that weed their way into the minds of babes.
Steps For Peace
Bourdain ran through a list of behaviors he wishes more Americans followed when traveling abroad. He carefully noted that before he was hired to do his first show he barely traveled at all. That at the start of his travel career he looked at the catalog-type tourists with disdain, and that now he wishes to rescue them from the bull-horn tour-guide, to set them free into the hearts of cities where tourists fear to tread. Here’s his list:
– Be grateful. Having an American passport is a gift, our ability to travel is extremely fortunate.
– Be polite. We are representatives of our country when we travel, show your best face.
– Dress appropriately. When visiting holy sites, make sure you dress accordingly, no bikinis.
– Show a little respect. Don’t demean the citizens of the country you are visiting, they’re more like you than you think.
– Get the customs right. Learn what’s appropriate and do it.
– Accept meat and liquor from strangers. Be open to meeting people, don’t shut yourself off from the culture. The best experiences will happen through the graciousness of people.
– The Grandma rule: accept the food and no matter what, eat the meal and tell the host that the food was delicious.
And finally, not a wisdom, but a great presentation technique…
Turn On The Lights, Open The Floor
At the end of his monologue, Bourdain turned on the house lights and opened the floor to questions. He spent the last 20 minutes of his stage time fielding and answering questions from all over the theatre. Some were about Zamir, others about favorite foods and places for the best street food. My favorite was when someone asked how often he become sick from eating all the new foods. He honestly answered, “About 75% of the time I’m a little sick, but not always sure if its the food or because of my alcohol intake. If anything I spend a little more time on the [toilet]…but nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Thanks Anthony for keeping it real.
I did my best to replicate the content of my Pecha Kucha 9 presentation. The loose theme of the evening was focused on book & public libraries. In Indianapolis there is current debate to cut library funding. My presentation pointed out two ways which could help boost the profile and revenues of the local public library system. Please let me know your comments and questions by posting them in the comments section below this post. Thanks!
In my Social Capital system everything starts with time; it’s the fundamental currency that I trade on. As example: It can take an author fifteen-years to write a book about a four-hundred-year-era that a reader ingests over a three-day-weekend. The author, rooted in time, produces the magic of encapsulating value into a pod (the book). The reader frees it, galloping through history, shredding time, getting lost in time, losing track of time.
If we root ourselves within time, Social Capital is produced. If we free ourselves from time, Social Capital can be shared. This is the trick! I work hard, using my time and labor to create something; writing a post like this one, helping a friend move, or baking a cake. I then bring it to my audience to share. By sharing it I free it to transcend time, to become energy that can be re-utilized. This post you’re reading now might give fuel to Tac’s (or your) Social Media fire, helping my friend move will strengthen our bond, sharing cake makes everyone happy. The goal is to infuse the Social Capital with longevity, allowing this initial energy to be transferred. The joy of eating cake is then infused within the next engagement (the cake-eater smiles a little bit brighter at their friends).
The “energy-power” is amplified through the craft and sincerity of the creation. The “energy-longevity” is then embedded through the resonation and engagement with the audience.
There are two main types of Social Capital:
- Produced Resonance (which makes up 90% of the Social Capital I witness, the one we can make ourselves through our efforts –writing posts, baking cakes).
- Spectacular Magnetism (which relies on serendipity and a relinquishing of control. We can foster and harness it, but not create it).
When Produced Resonance is injected into a market it’s energy-power is transferred into states such as joy, insight, satisfaction, and nourishment. When successful, this power spreads across the widest path and touches many people. In comparison, Spectacular Magnetism isn’t injected into the market; it attracts the market. The results are similar (joy, insight, satisfaction, etc.) but the production is less about the effort. The creation of Spectacular Magnetism is more about imbibing and channeling the intangibles that match the zeitgeist of the era, or a unique tune-in to the tenets of a culture, or an ability to represent ones own world in a way that everyone feels like they own a piece of it. There is a relinquishing of the self, or a part of a persona, to open up your heart for the audience to find what they desire within it.
A good way to illustrate these two types of Social Capital is through food. Produced Resonance is exemplified within the produce section of the supermarket. We (those who have regular access to stocked supermarkets) take the plenty provided for us for granted. It’s hard not to. The trucks arrive during the night; the first shift stocks the cases before dawn. The electricity invisibly channels through the grid to keep the produce cold. There are the farmers, the pickers, the shippers, the distributors; all are involved in the process. It’s a complexity of unseen heroics so we can eat bananas every day of the year.
Time is inherent within the supermarket produce. There are so many people’s actions rooted in time to get the produce to the place where we can purchase it. The supermarket then presents the produce in its most vulnerable state: near ripeness. It’s the exact perfect time to free all the produces’ stored up capital into satisfaction, nourishment, and joy. Supermarkets have done such a good job at separating the food from time that most of us rarely consider the crazy supply chain that shipped that bunch of bananas to that particular case. At this stage it’s our goal to free the capital, to free time from the pages of the book, to become free from time.
Spectacular Magnetism is found within special, less obviously manufactured paths. Imagine I offered you a peach at full ripeness, just plucked from the tree in my backyard. Could you reject it? I didn’t create the tree; I planted and nurtured it. I didn’t make the peach ripe, the sun did, but I picked it, washed it, and offered it to you. If our histories and cultures align just enough, we’ll have a shared mythology about giving, friendship, food, and life. My giving you a peach from my own tree is more powerful than buying you a case of peaches from the supermarket. The time element is obvious. There’s the tree, which is growing in the present, I can touch it. Here’s the peach, in our shared time together, not in the magical display case at the supermarket.
Your acceptance and enjoyment of the peach, which is chock full of energy-power, infuses you with energy-longevity. This transference of energy through Social Capital will spread beyond your being and influence those in your proximity.
These Social Capital currencies are as old as eating. These currencies are stronger than any artificially manufactured market-capitalization. Social Capital has the potential to satisfy the human yearn for genuine concern, an honesty in message, and the selflessness of gift giving.
The transference of joy is one of the many paths that enable good Social Capital.
Build more joy!
We’re amidst an economic “Devolution.” It’s not an easy era to define, to find solutions for, or to provide the path towards positive progress. The answers are here. They are burgeoning. Some are obvious within the movements of companies; others are simmering at the grass roots. History could look upon the next decade as a “greatest generation” putting us within the pantheon of our wartime heroes. Or they could see it, as economist Umair Haque believes, as “a lost decade.” I say let’s go for greatness!
I’m talking about a Devolution, yeah, you know…
The recession has aggressively splintered “our national economy” into multitudes of micro-economies. Within this Devolution we are each our own economy. Like ships torn from their moorings by a hurricane and floating adrift in the harbor, the ties that bind us are frayed and need replacing. The umbrella corporate economy, which had been the mainstay and the glue of sustained economic prosperity, is badly damaged and slow to find remedy. The markets are desperately mercurial and the employment horizon is reminiscent of the dust-bowl era. Is this the rebound? The experts disagree on where to pinpoint the indicators, and the media is so confused by all the facets they have chosen to simplify the polygon of these issues by tossing us gossip and tragedy. Let us eat cake!
Mayor James M. Baker of Wilmington, Delaware, a small city in major duress, calls our current era, “A Great Reset.” Dov Seiman of FastComany argues it’s a “Rethink.” It’s like we’re going to try the past 10 years all over again! This time, these employees and job-candidates are throwing out the idea of the corporation (or job) as their safe-keeper. They’re all on our own, gathered loosely within fluid confederations to get tasks completed and to bring home the bacon. A nation of freelancers stands at the ready to get to work, but what will this work be?
Maybe the Devolution has put us even farther back? The stories I hear, read and witness are closer in tone to the time at the end of the great depression. Livelihoods were insecure while everything was seemingly up for grabs. You had to make your own way, sink or swim, and take what you could get while eyeing the next step up. Reset, rethink, re-do.
This Great Devolution is giving birth to a new type of worker and trailblazer. I call them the Free Radicals. The Free Radicals are represented within all strata of economics and culture. They are working with their hands and smarts, laboring to pull the economy up by its bootstraps. The Free Radicals are seeking the path forward without subsidies, without pension security, and operate outside the corporate economic culture. It’s not because they’ve shunned these footholds, it’s because these levers and lifts are no longer available.
Julie Meyers, CEO of Ariadne Capital, is witnessing this Devolution and the rise of Free Radicals at the investment level:
“I don’t know a single person under 30 [years old] who feels they work for anyone, anymore. And I include the people who work for me at Ariadne Capital who are under 30, they don’t really believe that they work for me…I think the under-30s really view themselves as their own P-n-L, as their own brand…this trend has arisen from what I call an Individual Capitalism…The recession has created many individual capitalists in the form of freelance consultants, solo deal makers and some by design others by chance.”
The Devolution is influencing the C-Level to act as Free Radicals, too. GE’s CEO Jeffrey Immelt is shifting their core away from “old-school” and possibly dried-up profit centers. They’re moving on from TV/Cable (selling NBC/Universal) and Finance (selling units or divesting from GE Capital) and investing $20Billion over the next two years in R&D to invent NEW products for a NEW economy. They’re banking their future on risk-taking.
The Free Radicals are all over the grass roots. How much longer will large-scale agri-businesses be able to keep the status quo while research keeps pointing to the unhealthy and uncompetitive model of their arena? We all know the economy of subsidized corn syrup can’t be the only way to feed our nation. There is a burgeoning food trend to grow and buy local and organic foods. Whole Foods has recently announced they will be growing produce in shared-space community gardens! There is a heroic wave of small-scale agriculturalists that are grabbing the tiller and making it happen; growing new economies that support us all. Show them some love!
Who, What, When
I can point to cities and investments in light rail, urban cores, and small/local business. I can point to business accelerators such as start-up spaces and co-work spaces. I can point to dozens of folks working hard to figure it out under enormous pressures: out of work, in debt, and without support networks. It’s heartbreakingly awful. I personally can’t stand it.
The Recession caused the Devolution. The Devolution is birthing Free Radicals. Support the Free Radicals! Seek them out within your communities and see how you can amplify their efforts. Maybe it’s through buying their products, maybe it’s through micro or angel investments. We need to boost their efforts and harness their energies. They are leading us out of the Recession. Find them, empower them, and show them some love.
Umair Haque’s “Lost Decade”
Political Devolution definition:
Dov Seidman’s Great Rethink
Unemployment extension fails:
Julie Meyer, Individual Capitalism
Immelt Stakes GE’s Growth on Higher R&D Spending
Whole Foods to Grow Own Produce
Why are we propping up corn production, again?
“James Drain” Hits Cleveland
List of Light Rail Systems by Rider-ship: