Lions and foxes and brands

Oh my. Cannes Lions has added a Branded Content & Entertainment Lions category. Long overdue, but better late than never. Hope WINTR submits the rad video it created for Niki & The Dove….

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It’s only right and natural

Once upon a time in the nineties, I found a Folk Implosion guitar pick in my Doritos. The pick itself wasn’t just bright orange and Dorito-shaped: it was splattered with the same kaleidoscopic mix of psychedelic purples and greens found in the Natural One video (way to be on-brand, dudes). 

This alt-crackerjack prize stood for everything I hated about Lou Barlow’s Kids-fueled success in particular (damn you, Larry Clark) and the mainstreaming of indie rock in general. while I’d already begun ignoring Sebadoh long before opening that fateful bag of chips, it vacuum-packed my hate for sellouts.

It’s true: I was once an old-school music snob. Every time then-obscure bands like Sebadoh or even the Frogs got signed, my interest in them (especially in their post-hype output) began to wane. As a struggling writer-painter-musician-bartender-waiter-dabbler-jackass, I was convinced the value of art was born of struggle. No struggle, no value. Cut and dried.


Then I decided to make a career out of selling things for a living. Now, looking back, I tip my hat to Lou, Larry and Frito-Lay for their admirable co-branding efforts. Pretty much nothing about art is clear cut, and the struggle to create it — regardless of what inspires it — doesn’t end with a taste of success.

To that end, I see that old attitude of mine as a selfish one. Yes “authenticity” is important, but obsessing over it obscures the fact that artists without salaries or insurance need our support in order to succeed over the course of their (hopefully) long lives. It also gets in the way of discovering and enjoying good stuff. Plus, it’s no fun.

We all buy and sell things for a living. And if we enjoy the fruits of other people’s creative labor, we are their patrons. As such, we should invest in them — and we should do it over the long haul. It’s easier than ever for us to give the artists we believe in the support they deserve. Which, to paraphrase one of the best bands ever, is only what we should have done in the first place.

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No island is a man

First Sweden became a country curated by its inhabitants. Now Iceland has anthropomorphed intoan island who just wants to be your friend.

To me, people are people. Places are not (neither are companies). But as far as contrived social media campaigns go, Iceland as the weird-friend-you-never-see-but-can’t-get-out-of-your-mind is actually a pretty spot-on personification of the place. 

I can only speak from my own experience in Bjork’s homeland. My father, my brother and I spent ten strange and unforgettable days there in 2004. Every time we get together, we reminisce fondly and talk about returning someday. Request pending.

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Find the author who can lead you through the dark

Among the many pearls of wisdom Ray Bradbury shares in this excellent interview, this has got to be one of my favorites:

The things that you do should be things that you love, and things that you love should be things that you do.


S/O to Maria Popova for her curatorial skills, which are always on display at Brain Pickings. Her panel with Noah Brier, Max Linsky, Mia Quagliarello and David Carr served as a solid reminder of why a SXSWi badge is still worth every penny.

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Saturday rain at SXSWi

Sure, you could stay home and listen to the Clientele until it stops raining. Or you could just attend Everything Is a Remix, so Steal Like an Artist, then call it a day and still get your money’s worth.

But then you’d miss the Razorfish Happy Hour at Roial and all the other cool shit going on at SXSWi. And you don’t want to do that. So lace up your galoshes, grab your slicker and go splash around in some puddles.

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Message in the margins


On my way down yet another Saturday morning internet wormhole, I came across Casa Fernando Pessoa. Being the word nerd that I am, I immediately began reading about Pessoa’s annotations. One note in particular stood out to me:

One buys glory with misfortune.

If you asked me to describe saudade (or, to a certain extent, Portuguese culture) in five words or less, I might point you to this sentence. It reminded me of Bobulate’s great post about the social life of marginalia

Sometimes our notes reveal more about who we are and what we think than our polished thoughts ever could. Which is exactly why they’re worth sharing — and contemplating as part of a body of work as well as on their own merits.

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Life with Amalia

Life isn’t fair. Nothing lasts forever. Time heals all wounds. 

These clichés sound vapid and trite to anyone who suffered a devastating loss. And yet, they endure. Maybe because they contain a degree of truth. 

Of course, bromides like these aren’t always true. Once we become parents, for example, we are parents forever. Nothing can change that.

Three hundred eighty-two days ago, our daughter Amalia joined us. Seventeen days later, she died. Which makes today an anniversary (one of many for us). 

Time has taken on new meaning since Ama entered our lives. Every day brings a new milestone, each connected to Ama and what her life has revealed to us about the world.

Of all these revelations, the things we’ve discovered about Down Syndrome loom large. But while a diagnosis of DS is a sign of challenges to come, it’s also the beginning of something incredible. And thanks to the support of people who care, it’s becoming more and more possible for children with DS and their families to enjoy life to the fullest. 

Amalia was a beautiful and serene child. She exuded a sense of calm, and brought joy into the lives of everyone around her.


We have no choice but to accept and embrace our loss. We will always love Ama. She will always be our daughter and our first child. We will never forget her, and she will continue to teach us new things for the rest of our lives. 

If you’d like to help children like Amalia and parents like us face the challenges of DS, please donate to the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas.

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Au revoir mademoiselle


France has bid the word “mademoiselle” adieu. As Fillon points out, the honorific marries a woman’s identity to her “matrimonial situation” while her male counterpart suffers no such burden. And really, where’s the honor in that situation?

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Learn to draw

Sound advice for from Saul Bass:

Learn to draw. If you don’t, you’re gonna live your life getting around that and trying to compensate for that.” 

As true for writers, architects and anyone else who makes things as it is for designers.

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Some of my favorite albums of 2011

2011 was such a solid year for music that it was damn near impossible to whittle everything down to one gorgeously hand-crafted list. And yet, here it is. Feel free to grab it (the…