Apr 28

Photo-a-Day 2013: Week 16

As my friend JY likes to call my alter ego, “Event Guy” came out this week: trips to Dodger Stadium, Staples Center and the Empire Polo Club in Indio for the second weekend of Coachella 2013 played a big part in the days between April 15-21. Here are the week’s images!

15-APR-2013: Dodger Blue in full effect on the loge level during Jackie Robinson Night.

15-APR-2013: Dodger Blue in full effect on the loge level during Jackie Robinson Night.

16-APR-2013: Sprouts of cilantro from a small pot I'm tending on our apartment's window ledge.

16-APR-2013: Sprouts of cilantro from a small pot I’m tending on our apartment’s window ledge.

17-APR-2013: Not sure what was more surprising - how close we were sitting or that Dwight Howard made this free throw?

17-APR-2013: Not sure what was more surprising – how close we were sitting or that Dwight Howard made this free throw?

18-APR-2013: The best dive bar in the desert. It had been too long.

18-APR-2013: The best dive bar in the desert. It had been too long.

19-APR-2013: Mechanical snail Helix Poeticus joined a big crowd at the Outdoor Stage for the Divine Fits' set at Coachella.

19-APR-2013: Mechanical snail Helix Poeticus joined a big crowd at the Outdoor Stage for the Divine Fits’ set at Coachella.

20-APR-2013: The Dropkick Murphys' Al Barr leads a rapt crowd during the Boston stalwarts' emotional post-Marathon attack set at Coachella.

20-APR-2013: The Dropkick Murphys’ Al Barr leads a rapt crowd during the band’s emotional post-Boston-Marathon-attack set at Coachella.

21-APR-2013: Hazy sun, dusty winds and big crowds. Must be late afternoon at the Coachella main stage, at this point manned by Social Distortion.

21-APR-2013: Hazy sun, dusty winds and big crowds. Must be late afternoon at the Coachella main stage, at this point manned by Social Distortion.

Mar 03

A Smattering of Unrelated Mini-Rants

For all the media’s predictable hype, at 11:30 p.m. on Friday, March 2, the Lakers (who, if you are to believe the tenor of the local media since the NBA blew up the Chris Paul trade in December, are old, poorly coached, boring and barely hanging on to relevance) and the Clippers (who, if you believe the tenor of the local media since the NBA allowed their clearly inferior deal for the same Paul to go through, are young, hip, exciting and a clearly elite threat to win the NBA title) are in a virtual tie for first place in the Pacific Division more than halfway through the season. This is proof of one of two (or maybe both) things: the canyon between these two franchises was so incredibly vast prior to December 2011 that the Clippers having an almost identical record to the Lakers (and a 1-1 split in the season series to this point) is reason enough for Clipper-based orgasms of BS; or that the sports media, both locally and nationally, are more prone to bogus hype than the bastard child of TMZ.com and the National Enquirer
CP3 as a Laker

"Basketball reasons."

Speaking of sports hype: Jeremy Lin. Nice story. Impressive run. Plenty of intrigue to it, from the Harvard angle, to the Asian-American angle, to the out-of-the-blue angle. Fortunate to be in the center of a New York media maelstrom that glorifies the Knicks as if their history is comparable to the the Lakers or Celtics, rather than that of the Rockets or Pistons. Here’s hoping the kid keeps it up and becomes a long-term NBA star, rather than simply another reason for ESPN to run more Tim Tebow stories …

Hey, Rush Limbaugh: Way to steal the spotlight from Andrew Breitbart. For once, thanks, big guy …

New Springsteen: Big thumbs up. April 27 can’t come soon enough …

The First Amendment is just as much about the freedom from religion as it is the freedom of religion. Read it. In essence, the idea is no law should restrict a person’s ability to practice his or her religion, but at the same time, no law should be based on the beliefs of a specific religion. Make of this what you will …

“The Artist” as Best Picture at the Oscars seemed foregone for a while now. Excellent film. But, as an L.A. guy, I still think it’s victory was a West Coast example of the N.Y./D.C. East Coast navelgazing media winning out. Hollywood’s a company town. I found “The Descendants” a much more relevant film for our time …

RE: the UCLA basketball story in Sports Illustrated. Of course, as an SC guy, I get some mild amusement from it. But, really, what’s going on there that isn’t going on with a ton of other college students or not-very-successful athletic teams? Kids in college going to a rave? Getting high? Showing up somewhere hung over? Struggling teams featuring bad seeds? Dissension? Poor coaching and leadership? None of this is really massive news, is it? To give UCLA due credit, the reason SI makes this a story is because UCLA has the greatest winning tradition in college basketball. So, in the end, I find this story a different kind of hype than the ones above … but hype nonetheless …

Oregon Recruiting Issues

You'd be smiling too.

RE: the recent Oregon/NCAA news (which was expertly dumped late on a Friday; good work Oregon athletic department taking cues from the U.S. government’s way of keeping bad news quiet by releasing it when the pundits are well into a weekend-beginning Happy Hour): Here are two links that fit my thoughts as an observer of the NCAA’s growing impotence (at best) or crookedness (at worst) and where my amusement comes in as a USC fan.

Finally, I just spent a week at an industry conference in Miami. Thoughts:

  • Our people still know how to use their expense accounts to treat each other to amazing meals and drinks at incredible bars, lounges and clubs. I’ll never rant about that; it’s the way business gets done AND it’s a helluva perk …
  • That said, those hefty expense accounts are one of many things that seem to give a level of self-importance to people with no real right to it. Just be you, and I’ll be me, and if it makes sense for us to work together, let’s do it …
  • DR is an industry of optimists. If a product deserves a chance to work, the people in this business really will give it a fair shot …
  • I’m always amazed by the ability of four people around a table discussing direct response advertising (myself included) to make said conversation appear to outsiders as important as a discussion between world leaders on nuclear disarmament. I’m telling you, we’ve all got that “interested/concerned/piqued/amused” rotation of faces down pat …
  • I don’t think I’ve ever spent five days in a hotel at a networking show and never once seen a single employee of the organization hosting that event … until this week (that’s especially surprising when the organization has something along the lines of two-dozen staffers). As someone who co-founded and co-hosts an industry event that draws 3,000 people, it seems that it’s kind of hard to know what your constituents want or need from the event if your staff is locked up in board rooms or “working” an essentially non-existent “show floor” while the massive bulk of your attendees are doing business across the many bars, restaurants and public spaces at the fantastic property you’ve booked. For me, understanding the full experience of everyone at the event is always crucial to improving it the next time around. That’s why I always spend time on the floor, in the conference rooms, with our sponsors, around the hotel’s bars and restaurants, and at the parties that other companies throw in conjunction with our event …
  • Smartphones are great. I love my iPhone. But they’ve become the bane of the scheduled meeting at events like this. “Hold on, I need to take this call,” is rarely a sufficient excuse to put a 10-minute hold on the one face-to-face meeting we’re likely to have in the next 3-5 months …
  • “I have a hard stop.” Yea, I have a meeting at 2:30, also. But I don’t need to use a dumb corporatized catch-phrase to tell you that (and make you feel like this meeting doesn’t remotely compare to your 2:30) …

With that, this blogging effort has reached a hard stop … for bed.


Apr 24

Confusing Gay Double-Standard in L.A. Sports …

A little over a week ago, we were treated to a go-round of moralizing from sports columnists and sports talk radio hosts (something I always find amusing on its face) regarding the gay slur mouthed by Laker Kobe Bryant at an NBA official. (Disclosure: while a lifelong Laker fan, I am not a fan of Kobe Bryant, the person, which has lessened my passion for the Lakers in recent years) Certainly, while Bryant’s use of the word was unacceptable, it’s absolutely hilarious for anyone who has played or been around competitive basketball at just about any level (from high school to the NBA; from local rec league to pick-up games at 24-Hour Fitness) to act “aghast” that Bryant would say such a thing.

That word, among others, has been a staple of trash talk and angry outbursts for years — unfortunately. I am not defending Bryant for saying it — it is a word that people clearly need to remove from their vocabularies — but to act as if it was absolutely unheard of is asinine. Hence, Bryant’s inital response to requests for an apology. His initial “non-apology” was — more than the tone-deaf denial it was portrayed as by many sports journalists and commentators — merely part and parcel of the environment he’s been part of for decades. This is the same environment fomented by the screaming sports talk host or “all or nothing” sports columnist that makes the game bigger than it is.

Just this past weekend, though, I came across a more cloaked — and therefore, perhaps more disturbing — shot at homosexuals. During a Red Sox-Angels game at Anaheim, a between-innings break brought the wholly predictable appearance of the “Kiss Cam.” If you’ve been to any pro or major college sporting event in the past 10 years, you’ve seen it. The stadium video board jumps from one camera shot to another of a couple and the crowd roars until (or after) the pair kisses on camera. While it’s become part of the sports entertainment landscape, it can be funny at times when the camera focuses on a first date, or sweet when it comes up on an elderly couple. However, apparently the folks running the kiss cam in Los Angeles of Anaheim (or whatever city the Angels represent, since there’s no mention of any city anywhere in that stadium in reference to the Angels — just an omnipresent hal0ed “A”), also find humor in the idea of two men kissing. Not only that, based on the reaction of what sounded like a majority of the crowd, so too — unapologetically — do the fans. The Kiss Cam, you see, wrapped with a shot of two Boston relief pitchers sitting next to each other in the bullpen, to the hoots and hollers of more than 30,000 people.

While I personally am not offended by what, truly, is juvenile humor that would likely draw a laugh from a nervous 12-year-old, and usually I wouldn’t think twice about it, this time it struck me — mainly thanks to the recent media coverage of the Kobe situation.  How many of those 30,000 people verbalized concern about or disapproval of Bryant’s comments? How many didn’t? Where did the hypocrisy start and finish? And where, pray tell, is the media this time around? Is it not convenient to their storyline of a “greater family atmosphere” in Anaheim than at the recently ridiculed Dodger Stadium? Can you imagine the outcry from the media if they could tack “homophobic” onto that hype? Is homophobia part of a “family environment”? How would a gay Angel fan feel about it?

So, Kobe Bryant mouthing a gay slur: worthy of harsh condemnation. The Angel organization and the operators of Angel Stadium of Anaheim making a lame, but clearly homophobic, joke at least twice in three days in clear view of 30,000-plus people: oh, it’s just a joke. Hmmm.

It’s not the PC thing that gets me — either way, whether overly PC or not PC at all. It’s the sad double standard and lazy hypocrisy.