Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Can Marketing Be Punk? Brave New 2.0

I noticed a book called "Punk Marketing" in the library. I try to inform myself about marketing since that is Nova Avon's profession; usually my eyes glaze over after reading one sentence, unless the book is in a "Twitter" format with bits of information not much longer than a text message, and broken up into boxes and other visual compartments. I thought a book called "Punk Marketing" might be easier to focus on.

But isn't the term an oxymoron? Isn't punk all about anarchy and non-consumerism?

Language, language! Punk marketing; Google a silly word for one of the most powerful organisms on the planet; the Cloud is a mass of concrete and wires and is only like a cloud in its actual weight (clouds way tons and tons--they're made of water); Yahoo--a "yahoo" used to be an unsophisticated yokel; Facebook is another massively powerful entity whose name still brings to my mind the image of the little yearbook from my junior high school.

Facebook, the Town Square

Facebook fascinates me. It reminds me of being in school, or a small village where you know or recognize almost everyone.You overhear conversations or notice goings-on with the people around you, whether you are close to them or not. You see their flyers on the bulletin boards, announcements in the local paper.

Yeah yeah yeah privacy, surveillance, and all that. Just remember not to publish your sensitive info just like you'd shred documents with your social security, birthdate, and account numbers on them. Hell, my identity was stolen off tax forms that went missing from the US mail.


Where are you right now? On the internet or in your skin or both?

Can Marketing Help Homeless Teens?

One March morning on the train to work I chatted with a man who, it turns out, is the manager a San Francisco facility that helps homeless teens. He told me that at last count there were over 5,600 homeless youth on our streets, and the number is growing. He pointed out the disparity between the money spent on the upcoming Americas Cup Yacht race and that spent on helping the homeless. It is the type of issue that my character Morton Veritas would take up, but he lives in Reno, not San Francisco. So I have to figure a way to do it here. I think Morton has a friend here who will do it. He will have an MBA and/or law degree, and use social media marketing strategies to spread the word.

Statistics are a good tool to efficiently convey information to people; with all the information inundating us these days, items have to pop out and into the consciousness of the reader. Information has to elbow its way in front of Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Elizabeth Taylor (RIP), and the same footage of the Japanese tsunami over and over and over again. Yes, the earthquake and devastation in Japan is important, but in general, attention needs to focus here at home a little bit more. Like the pressure of the earth's tectonic plates quietly building under our ground, things are happening under the crust of our media.

Take the Americas Cup Yacht race, for example. I don't read much news, but the last thing I saw was the fellow running the event smiling gleefully in a photo accompanying an article in the SF Examiner about how some businesses along the pier will have to close for [a year or more?]. I couldn't help but wonder how that helps the economy. It seems like you couldn't get more blatant or make it any clearer where the priorities lay, even if you built a giant sculpture of a king with a golden money sign standing upon a platform held up by us lowly commoners.

Can we use the 5th Estate to topple the ruling cla$$ takeover? We are so sheep-led, it's too easy! We bail out banks without an argument while railing against public workers for having retirement plans.

Meet Quince Morgan

I had a request from my friend and ex-therapist to create a man for her. She described physical characteristics, personality traits, and other aspects that she would like; I proposed a few ideas, too. Below are some preliminary pictures of him; I am having trouble getting him to look masculine. (I think perhaps I get better results from making a video clip of me acting, and then pulling stills from it.)

This sequence goes in reverse order to show the process of taking and then altering the photos to form the character.

This is a funny thing my printer did. I will draw over it to masculinize the image.

Links to Quince's photos on Facebook--public--no need to sign up for Facebook:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Meet Jerzey Becker

Facebook screen grab of Jerzey Becker, poetry analyst, friend of Morton Veritas, boyfriend of 3rd wave feminist Shelley Gray. Lots of processing and rephotography is needed to change the age, texture, and gender of the character.

He looks a lot like Morton Veritas, which may be ok, for they are friends. As Donna Reese says, longtime friends begin to resemble one another. She also made me laugh by writing that he has worked as Poetry Analyst for Bechtel Corp. (I actually worked there in 1984 as a Cost Engineer..)

Original screen grab of stills from iPhone video of Jerzey Becker. I got in character mentally by feeling like the person I imagine him to be, and trying to be masculine, feeling what it is to be masculine, and adjusting my body so that my neck looks thicker--unfortunately this creates the double chin (which is ok for moslof Folsom but not for this guy). I used black masking tape to make the hair, eyebrows, mustache, and what was supposed to be a cleft in the chin (but looks like a second-chin duster), Adam's apple, and chest hair.

What I looked like one minute after the above (still wearing black masking tape sideburns)
The weird eyes are from me staring into the iPhone screen as I take the picture.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Introducing Morton Veritas

Morton Veritas is a writer and activist. I created him as a mouthpiece for a lot of social and political concerns I have. He will post links to information, books, etc., dealing with issues like big pharmaceutical power, human rights, and other social justice matters.

Morton was born in Dayton, Ohio and now lives in Reno, Nevada with his beloved, Kandy. He is a neighbor of Burn Richards and they sometimes visit at the nearby diner. Morton chooses to live in Reno at this time because it is the right combination of atmosphere, nature, particular/particulate culture, urban/rural, quiet/active. He lives at the edge of town, near a really nice park. He finds it conducive to writing. He is working on a novel about the timeless psychology of social interaction in American society.

For financial support he has published several mystery novels series under the pen name Dexter Michelin. Inspired by mystery series I see in the library, based on cooking, scrapbooking, tea, cats, dogs, fashion, and even yoga, with punny names, they are based on various themes. For example, his car series features a mechanic named Jason Hammer, who solves murder mysteries in such titles as Brake Failure, Jumpy Start, Axel Break, and Dead Battery. In his tree mysteries, (co-written by Kandy Livingston) arborist Judy Bentley finds out who dunnit in Out On a Limb, The Crotch of Doom, Roots of Evil, Autumn Leaves, Weeping Willow, and Cherry Blossom Special.

Morton really disdains this work, but needs the income.

He begins a series of mysteries based on a male nurse character, and while doing research begins to discover the reach of the pharmaceutical industry, and how entwined it is in our daily lives. He learns of how many health problems are caused by pharmaceuticals (liver damage caused by a pill taken for foot fungus, brain damage caused by drugs for mental illness, etc) and how the rights of people with mental illness are abused. He cannot go into depth on this topic in his mystery books because his publisher would never allow it: it wouldn't sell. So Morton assumes another pen name, "Terence Hatchett," and writes a science fiction thriller, in the vein of Brave New World and 1984, that goes into great detail on the subject.

* * * *

I took the photo to the right in color, converted to black and white, then increased the contrast. That made my hair turn black and all the whiskers, Adam's apple shading, etc. meld somehow to look real (to me). The mouth/teeth thing is what really gets me and makes me crack up so much because he looks so real. I didn't do anything cosmetic to my teeth but somehow the pose in the first picture, plus the manipulation of contrast created this heavy smoker look. In fact, I accidentally took the picture--it's from my built in computer camera and I was looking at the bottom of the screen, trying to navigate or something, so I wasn't even in character--the others are stills from video shot of me acting as Morton Veritas.

When I was getting into character, I couldn't find my makeup. So I wet my hair with water and used cocoa powder to create the eyebrows, furrow between eyebrows, mustache, stubble, and Adam's apple.

Morton and his beloved Kandy.
Kandy Livingston is another story altogether.

A screen grab of video footage showing me getting out of costume and character.

What Morton and I carry in our pocket 
(from Mao II by Don DeLillo):

What people are saying bout Morton (actually, my friends' comments when I e-mail them the picture, or they "friend" Morton on Facebook):

"I think everyone knows a Morton! Its a little scary--like the guy you dread leaving messages on your answering machine...he reminds me of an acquaintance of {my husband's]...poor soul."

"Actually, the upper part of the face (forehead to mid of nose, i.e. what I could see before scrolling down) looks a whole lot like [a friend] after 20 years of heroin abuse. What is Morton up to? Is he a detective? a poet? How was he born?"

"(but i'm a little frightened of Morton...does he have bad breath?"