Author: Thomas

Innovations in Autocorrect

Idea of the day: a virus that infects the iPhone iOS, detects whether someone is speaking on the phone in a public place (geolocate+ambient sound) an has Siri interrupt the conversation, “excuse me, but you’re being an asshole”. Forget spelling, we need auto correct for manners and social graces”.

Tiffany Blue and Shoes with Red Soles (Paternalistic Pampering & Infringement Litigation)

I’ve spotted many recent instances of what looks like “Tiffany Blue” in fashion/luxury/refinement contexts. The most egregious of which is its use by Jessica Simpson branded products: handbags, shoes and very noticeably, the shoe boxes. This is surprising given how frequently you see mention of the fact that “Tiffany Blue” is a trademarked color, especially formulated by Pantone but unavailable in their library. I’m not aware of Tiffany ever suing anyone for infringing on this trademark but recently the company did weigh in on Christian Louboutin’s lawsuit against YSL for copying the way they color the bottom of their shoe’s soles red. (Tiffany’s filed a legal brief in support of Louboutin’s position.) (Link: Tiffany & Co. Takes Christian Louboutin’s Side in Red Sole Lawsuit) Whether or not these are instances of infringement is debatable. It was the sighting of a “robins egg blue” Jessica Simpson shoebox that first caught my attention and sensitivity to subsequent sightings of the color. Certainly, any designer working in fashion or luxury would be aware of the strong association of …

Participation = Destruction
(1 Billion Internet Users, The Tyranny of the Masses and the Death of Digital Culture)

This week the internet surpassed 1 billion users worldwide. The passing of that milestone is a good place to mark something that has been on my mind. We can no longer think about digital culture as being something outside and apart from the mainstream. It has ceased to be an alternate to mainstream modes. Worse, it’s culture is no longer defined by the quirky personalities of entrepreneurs, early adopters, geeks and tech enthusiasts. Even a year ago, it was still somewhat useful to think of people that lived a digital lifestyle. People that, through technology absorbed content differently and connected with others in different ways. The content and the conversations there were also very different. With smart mobile devices, laptops and connectivity becoming widespread and commonplace parts of our daily live those differences have dissolved. Traditional media channels, mainstream brands and popular culture are now eagerly embracing digital technology and social media. Some, like the NYTimes have done a great job of integrating it with their traditional offering (although they continue to bleed cash) while …

Tears of a Crocodile Clown.
Early Ambitions: Science vs Art

My father’s parents had a very powerful impact on the shaping of my personality. My grandfather, an aeronautical engineer instilled in me a scientific, intellectual curiosity. My grandmother gave me a love for the arts and taught me to paint. My earliest recollected ambition was to become an inventor, like Thomas Edison. His Menlo Park laboratory is on display at the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village in Michigan. I visited it many times as a child on school field trips. I remember talks with my grandfather in the car during the long drives to our cottage in Northern Michigan about Edison and his many inventions. Sitting in the back seat I would focus my mind on trying to come up with an invention, waiting for something to come to me in one of those fabled “eureka!” moments. And they would, but they were things like “tape recorder”… “camera”… “flashlight”. All things that had already been invented. This was a very frustrating process for a six year old but I did zero in on what what was …

Tears of a Crocodile Clown: Sick Days (Early Bouts with Megalomania)

When I was about 7 years old my grandfather gave me what I believed was a burgundy smoking jacket. In retrospect I have no idea what it really was. It could have been a maroon bathrobe… or maybe even a dog blanket. My imagination at the time had no bounds. During those elementary school years, when I was home sick from school, I had a very specific routine. On the small black and white television set in the bedroom that I shared with my younger brother I would tune into “Bill Kennedy at the Movies”. Bill Kennedy was a former actor that in his later years would host an afternoon show that featured vintage movies. At commercial breaks, Bill would take calls from fans and throw out bits of trivia about the actors and film. I would sit, perched on the top bunk of our bunk bed, wearing my burgundy smoking jacket at watching Bill Kennedy at the movies. I would have my mother prepare and bring up to me tea, with milk and sugar …

The Outsider’s Advantage: Why Blacks and Gays are Funnier and Brits Make Great Rock ‘N Roll

When I first moved to New York (millions of years ago) I worked out at a neighborhood gym and got to know a lot of the guys that worked out there. Two of the guys I got to know quite well were very gay and very funny. They had a way of phrasing things that always cracked me up. One day they were talking about another guy, a very beefy, very straight guy, that used to work out there but switched to another gym in the neighborhood. The gym he switched to was called AMERICAN FITNESS. However, what came out of one of the guys’s mouths was “oh, she switched to Miss America Fitness”. I laughed for all the obvious reasons but something else went through my head at that moment. I’ve had many gay friends through the years so I’m accustomed to the “creative” use of pronouns, coded language and the funny shit that comes out of their mouths (Jose’s superpower: “I know what people are going to wear next”), but it was that …

Culture, Cruelty & Contradiction

A story on NPR today covered a controversial, proposed ban on the slaughter of horses for food. As a creative, I embrace the idea that humans are emotional and irrational decision makers. Many people would like to believe that humans are rational and logical, but this simply isn’t true. It’s just another example of our constantly playing “pretend”. This is true, of course, to varying degrees from individual to individual. I’ve always believed that the most interesting part of being human is all the things we can’t control, the things that control us, the dark recesses, the emotional underbelly. Hunger, pain, the things we desire, lust after, fear and humiliate us, put us on a trajectory in life that we ride atop, pretending all the while that we’re steering. These are the truths I hold to be self-evident. To hear our legislative leaders say things like horses “are cherished companions, they are sporting animals, they are not food”, is wacky entertainment. Despite the support of veterinarians and The American Quarter Horse Association in the method …