I have a a love-hate-despise relationship with the brand known as Sex & the City. In that progression. It has been an evolution, a slow realization that what was an innocent TV show diversion has snowballed into something far more hideous and damaging to other far more important brands. Namely Greenwich Village and NYC. Let me explain.
I'm like a lot of people. I enjoyed tuning in ten years ago to the simple little stories while ordering my Blockhead burritos on Kozmo.com and waiting for the Internet bubble to burst. But there are people who really bought into this particular myth tied to the trend in "neo-urbanism". It has been the hook that has made city living cool again for so many people. I've lived in Greenwich Village for about 25 years and it seems slightly paranoid to say - but unfortunately true - that many people who are now living an existence embodied by Carrie Bradshaw. Fifteen years ago, conversation about shopping and getting your nails done would be an odd fit for the brand of Greenwich Village - but now it seems to have gobbled up a lot of that original meaning. The Village was the creative refuge from the commercialization and commodization of post-war fifties conformity. It is the birthplace of the modern bohemian. Economics and the price of real estate has now made the neighborhood the new badge-du-jour to show off - and the show and now movie gives amplification to this unfortunate development. A direct correlation can be made to the rise in property values and the perception that has driven up that value. It is fueled by a fantasy cooked up on HBO.
Why care? Because the brand of Greenwich Village is infinitely more important than a TV show. To let the original meaning of the Greenwich Village brand migrate based on property values to the Lower East Side, then to Brooklyn and then possibly even Philadelphia. Perhaps it is a challenge for New York to reclaim that meaning. When I see recent ads for NYC it seems that the branding has become a view from the outside in. The recent Just Ask the Locals campaign speaks to this re contextualized/prettied-up view. Yes, these are people who live here (partly) - but are they what define the real DNA of the city? Or are they just telling us what they think we want to hear. NYC is a city that needs to brand from the inside out. We are telling stories that we think people want to hear - rather than making people come to terms with our own complex truth.
The dream years in New York City for me was when I first came here in the early eighties - because I felt part of a small group of people who new how to decode New York's true meaning beyond the decay. It challenged me. I look at some of the current challenges that New Orleans faces as it rebuilds. Should development and commercial narrative trump the inherent narrative of that city? We need to think more deeply about the idea of sustainability and bring this to what we do with brands. Sometimes it is too easy to write stories that fail to challenge - to package and put a bow on things too quickly. The Sex & the City myth has been that convenient packaging device.
However, perhaps the fact that I am writing this shows that we are a a point that we are finally cycling out of this empty approach. Perhaps the myth birthed in late nineties optimism has finally run out of steam. Like the SUVs that now sit in the car dealer lots with no buyers - maybe we are at that point that we can cycle into a new more interesting context of what it means to live in New York City, Greenwich Village and cities in general. I'm an optimist - I do live in Greenwich Village after all.
Last season, Frontline/World ran a story from the Middle East that introduced viewers to the fastest selling comic book in the Arab world, The 99. The comic features characters with super powers based on the concept of Allah's 99 attributes, including wisdom and generosity, as taught in the Koran. Its creator, Naif al-Mutawa, is a 36-year-old from Kuwait who was educated in the United States and who, as a boy, devoured Marvel comics and the Hardy Boys mysteries.
Reporter Isaac Solotaroff followed al-Mutawa as he marketed his comics throughout the Middle East, hoping to spread a moderate, modern image of Islam to the world. In this update, Solotaroff catches up with al-Mutawa in Jakarta, Indonesia, where the comic creator is trying to sell his work to the largest Islamic country in the world, a country that accounts for one in six of all Muslims worldwide. An ensuing documentary, Wham! Bam! Islam!, is in the works. Go, Isaac!
Even more compelling will be to see how the Islamic comic fans evolve. Will the cosplayers take it to the next level? Spirituality already underlies many a Manga. And, apparently, you can even see lotsa hijabi girls in Malaysia attending cosplay events. Could cosplay become the common ground the world needs? Can kids who think change the world? In our own research we've found the cosplay kids to be some of the most open-minded serious global thinkers. It belies the initial impression often viewed simply as kids in costume. These are not the Star Trekkies of past generations.
We here at scenarioDNA love the roller derby. It’s an amazing source of girl power. Not just in the sport itself but in its underpinnings. It takes extraordinary team effort to sustain the operation. That said, there’s been some chatter of late talking about junior league roller derby. The first brat league was formed in Tucson by a group of kids who had been following the Tucson Roller Derby adult league. The girls are from 10 to 18 and they play by modified rules.
What’s interesting is that the girls enjoy the same solidarity as their elder counterparts. Yet, one thing has come up for discussion during our own visits with New York’s Gotham Girls: the emotional impact of injuries.
It’s fabulous to see young girls enjoy the solidarity and empowerment that the older girls find in roller derby. They’re practicing at least twice a week, playing once and socializing in-between. They live and breathe the sport. Even at work or school, they txt and IM their derby friends.
The network is pretty intense, which is something hard to find today. But because of that intensity, the impact of an injury hits very hard. Suddenly, a girl is jolted out of her element. That in itself is difficult for women of age, and further complicated for girls in their teens and pre-teens who are in the formative stages of their identity. It singly steps the issue up for the big sisters who now play yet another role.
The trick is how to maintain the authenticity of the younger set without losing the essence. (Image: Arnicare waiting for derby girls at practice.)
The man who created the Sgt Pepper album cover has designed a beer bottle label to celebrate Liverpool's Capital of Culture year. The label by artist Sir Peter Blake features a Union Jack with his signature, and is featured on Cains' Best of British lager bottles. Cains Beer, based in Toxteth, Liverpool, plans to produce 250,000 bottles. The specially-labelled beer will be available until December. It is available in the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern galleries as well as supermarkets.
Read the whole story.
The caretakers of the Liberace legacy can't stomach the idea of the pianist becoming a footnote. (He died in 1987.) But if his devotees have learned anything from a man who branded himself Mr. Showmanship, it's how to fine-tune an image.
In aiming for Hip Hop’s high rollers, they've retooled Liberace as the originator of ostentation and trademarked him as the King -- and Queen -- of Bling.
Last summer, the foundation rolled out $99 sneakers named Liberace Kicks made by Kashi Kicks.
Our question: Will this work? Not so sure. The element of surprise and discovery is missing which is so critical nowadays.
Teens during the rally showcased how they plan to “recreate” entertainment, fashion, the arts, and the Internet by featuring original graffiti art, dance, art mosaic, and videos they created that send positive messages.
In addition to the mini-expo, teens also tried to change the culture by sending a list of their top eight concerns to all the presidential candidates after the rally.
Among the top concerns of Teen Mania teens are: youth exposure to Internet pornography; the AIDS pandemic; human trafficking, media glamorization of drugs, sex and alcohol; abortion; and freedom to practice Christianity.
Following the rally, more than 10,000 teens gathered at New Jersey’s Izod Center for a two-day Recreate ’08 event featuring New York Yankees’ pitcher Mariano Rivera, six-time Grammy Award winner Kirk Franklin, the David Crowder Band, Bishop T.D. Jakes, and Teen Mania founder Ron Luce.
Maila Nurmi, whose "Vampira" TV persona pioneered the spooky-yet-sexy Goth aesthetic, has died. She was 85. Friends plan to transport Nurmi's casket in the same hearse she rode in when she served as grand marshal in a procession of hearses sponsored by Los Angeles' Petersen Automotive Museum -- a vintage 1951 vehicle that appeared in a scene of "Ed Wood." (Read more from CNN.)
Vampira played with her pet tarantula, gave gruesome recipes for vampire cocktails and bathed in a boiling cauldron. With a knack for the double-entendre and the requisite blood-chilling scream, Vampira was a hit.
The character won Nurmi short-lived fame and a dedicated cult following. Nurmi claimed Vampira was also the uncredited inspiration for later ghoulish yet glamorous female characters in film and television, including Elvira.
The unconventional came calling in 1953, after Nurmi attended a Hollywood masquerade ball dressed as the ghoul of Charles Addams' New Yorker cartoons. In creating Vampira, Nurmi said she went beyond the Addams cartoon, developing an alter ego influenced by beatnik culture and her experiences as a child of the Depression.
"The times . . . were so conservative and so constrained," Nurmi said in a video interview that was posted on her website. "There was so much repression, and people needed to identify with something explosive, something outlandish and truthful."
Read more from the LA Times.
The Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato, born 18 years ago when Napoli last won the championship, is expected to make his feverishly anticipated debut for Milan. Beginning at the age of 3, “Pato” has already put 15 years into his career.
Nicknamed ‘The Duck’, the translation of his surname and place of birth, Pato is regarded as one of the most exciting young prospects in world football in recent years.
Pato, signed from Internacional di Porto Alegre for 14.5 million Euros (equivalent to $21.5 million today) after the under-20 World Cup, is the most highly regarded player to come out of Brazil since Kaka, his Milan teammate. But because of his age, he had to wait until January to be eligible to play for the senior team.
This is what he is: Cool, calm, collected, communicative, endearing. This is what he is not: Over-hyped. Most of the hype is coming from his fans themselves, including a few photo montages on YouTube by love-sick self-dubbed Patomaniacas.
The Green Holiday catalog from Barney's arrived in the mail yesterday filled with everything from Lanvin shopper bags to organic Levi's. But no sign of what color that fabulous lipstick is on the cover...
In my perfect little world even the Barney's billboard at Mulry Square would have a teeny Semapedia tag that would give me all the info I need--provided all colors were perfectly matched.