Sunday, August 26, 2012

Google guilt in KC

Help me Google. I’m slow. I have three data plans right now and yet your primary colored bunny looks really cute and I almost clicked it when I read the editorial about your cool mystical service. One hundred times faster. Will you sell your data by the gallon or will this be a deep reservoir from which we can drink anytime, as much as we want?

I have this glowing pride, Google. Pride that you chose us. You must have looked at a Google map and noticed how we’re in the middle of America. Perhaps you read some history about the area and received inspiration from this geographical junction of two big rivers.

I’m feeling guilt about you, Google. I just can’t hop over to you right now. For one thing, there’s no there there. What is it? Somehow a bunny isn’t going to grab $1,440 a year plus tax just by being cute. Life’s pretty complicated right now. Have you heard all the talk about the streetcar we desperately desire in downtown Kansas City? We need to connect people with Lego-land. People need their greeting cards. So much we need. I’m feeling the longing and the need for your speed, but like I said, life’s pretty complicated right now.

It’s so comforting to feel your love for us. We need whatever it is to be faster. It’s really cool to have such a smart company here looking over our needs. You’re so smart few folk from here could pass your entrance exam. You’re clever too. So clever that Google is now a verb and a noun. Google is a place. Googled is a funny adjective. Wow.

Have you considered spelling fiber with an “re”? Fibre. That looks really smart.

Forgive me, Google. I’ve been a loyal user of your software fare for a long time. I use your chrome browser to browse. Your email service rocks. For right now though, since my building downtown can barely handle Time Warner, and AT&T spews their digits into my living space over rickety copper wires, and since I need to petition the UN Security Council to modify my Verizon sentence, I mean contract, you won’t hear from me for a while.

I’m glad you’re in Kansas City to save us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Maria Creyts' Trans-Atlantic runway

I’ve heard fashion design compared with architecture. Fashion as personal architecture. Architects enjoy discussing the context of space. Many architects believe a building should be of its place. But fashion embraces your personal space. Fashion is personal.

Maria Creyts designed pieces made of more than fabric. These creations came from her personal fabric of experience. She fashioned a postcard from a land far away, and rather than posting it, gave it life and placed it on people who gave it further life on a runway in June this year as the sun set on 18th Street in the Crossroads of Kansas City. A long way from Nigeria. Out of context? Hardly.

The runway seemed to reach for another continent. The patterns evoked smiles.

Clothes can establish a personal mood and project a message. What we wear says something about us, so they say. Consider Maria’s designs for a moment. The fabric patterns tell a story.

Fashion is serious, and contemporary fashion often possesses a severity. Power projections via suits and dramatic spiked heels. Severity sells.

We know exotic when we see it. Maria saw it in the exotic place and brought it here, then projected it east on 18th Street, and stretched her arms across an ocean to a place she learned to love. It may be a stretch to wear these designs in certain contexts and yet fashion is transportable and the transporter can alter the context of a place by simply walking by. Personal, transportable architecture that transforms.

MARIA CREYTS ✴ ✴ 347.687.5247 / 1600 Genessee, # 516 Kansas City, Missouri 64102

Monday, August 20, 2012

Todd aching with the rest of us

There is ample time before November for more statements and phrases of recorded sound suitable for broadcast and analysis. Mr. Akin’s blush has probably faded. Retractions forthcoming. He made Obama’s appointment book, and gave a presidential speechwriter a writing assignment. Todd made many slap their foreheads. And on we go with the campaign, right?

Are people as disenchanted as Steve Kraske and Dave Helling assert in their piece in Sunday’s Kansas City Star? Editorial insight on the front page, “The End of the Middle”. Gloomy stuff. Opinion overshadows the news.

The Federal elections have their relevance but the media is more than the message today. The media orchestrates the election, selling their advertising time and space. It’s business. Candidates court for exposure time. They have money to spend.

Without their large print front page editorial, I wonder what we could have read for $2.00 on Sunday. Journalists bask in their media-driven aura of national division. I don’t think the American people share the linear model of left and right. Few can articulate the yardstick and explain the landscape end to end. Labels are easy to apply. But the labels have little meaning. I ached reading this simplistic article with its 11x7 inch cartoon of an elephant and mule on a broken see-saw.

What’s missing from our newspaper, the only one we have right now within a 50 mile radius, is the authenticity of this complex locale. Writers ache to write stupendous pieces that will get national attention and affirmation. Readers ache for news rather than therapy for disenchanted journalists. I’m sorry that Dave and Steve are aching. I really don’t care about Todd’s aches and pains.

I ache for some younger voices in our local political media.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wesley Clark’s fun with guns

He’s selling it well. The former US Army general hosts a television show, classified as reality. Hardly. Real bullets, but strangely surreal. Action-packed missions that remind me of my days “playing army” in the back fields, junkyards, and urban landscapes of my West-End of Chester Pa. neighborhood. We used air rifles with dirt clump grenades. We watched episodes of Combat starring Vic Morrow. Rat Patrol. Our Fathers’ war.

This reality stuff is way cooler, but kids can’t play army outside anymore to practice squad tactics. Fun to watch this in your living room, though. Clark throws in a bit of patriotic heart into the meaty stew. Is this show giving honor to our women and men in uniform? Clark’s selling it. America appears to be buying it from the recent ratings. Clark makes the show serious.

Seriously. This show produced a few swirls of vomit in the back of my throat. I swallowed hard but couldn’t swallow Wes’ narration. Had to laugh when Mr. Palin got a little teary-eyed after his army play.

This bit of television entertains and surely sustains the romance of armed conflict, the thrill of victory, but cannot show the agony of a stomach wound, or a shrapnel sliced limb. The cardboard targets do not shoot back. Hollywood technicians rig the bombs for effect, careful not to deflect debris that could wound the stars.

The Gold Star Family members in America probably won’t watch Wes and his gang having fun with guns. Some veterans may be jealous of the veterans with lucrative contracts as technical advisors and trainers in this show. I cannot fathom seeing any of my Ranger Instructors, who trained Class 501-73, as ringmasters in this contemporary combat circus. Those sergeants were competent beyond measure. Clark would recognize their names. They served together in Viet Nam...Roy, Littlejohn, Burnell, Stuckey.............

But it doesn’t matter what the old folks think. Former soldiers may dream of past glories, tell stories, and try to remember names of comrades and places. Young people make the choices.

And this summer, in various training areas, soldiers train hard to earn their Ranger Tab. Gold Star Families take it a day at a time. Wounded warriors heal. New warriors deploy. Memories come at the oddest unannounced times. A fragrance, a sound, a flavor, a color evoke and provoke, dig on the soul. The temporal thrill of the hunt, the pre-mission jitters, the vomit swallows, all pale in comparison with the sweetness of home, the post-operation rest periods, the pre-op rehearsals, the reconnaissance, the arrival-home-embrace, the slow march to graveside and the slower walk as the years go on to those Vermont marble white blossoms. I remember walking with my son through Arlington Cemetery down a long lush grass row to visit the spot where his Uncle Dave, who wasn’t really his uncle but was because that’s what my son called him, rested and rests still.

I’m glad I watched an episode, just one, of Wes Clark’s American Grandstand. Are you buying it?

Friday, July 27, 2012

handwriting test

5" x 6.5" on legal pad paper

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

political fricassée

The Kansas City Star's editorial team has a series of columns with the preface phrase "Political Fracas"... to this I offered an alternative dish... I have broken my promise to myself to stop writing at the Star's editorial blog discussion table... no intervention required...yet

Mom made fricassée often with leftovers and served it up on toast. In New Orleans I tasted a few Fricassée recipes with that delicious dark chocolate colored roux. One was really spicy.Battle rhetoric can be fun. I’m seeing the word fracas here often as a hook. My Dad used to mispronounce the word, saying instead “frucus”. Wrong vowel, Dad. Reminds me of a fun English word, as in a word one hears often in England – kerfuffle. Kerfuffle suggests more confusion than conflict although a lot of conflicts start with confusion. It’s odd that on one hand we read pieces here extolling the virtues of peace, gun control, responsibility, and a Batman-less summer amid the recurring fracases…fracasi? fracasum? I think the plural is fracases although that sounds a lot like rhinoceroses. Is there more than one at the zoo? The collection of fracases thus far have much in common with fricassée. A slow-cooked stew, with gravy. There’s plenty of recipes out there. I’m unable to recommend a link. Don’t fight it. Eat it.

Read more here:

united consumers

America is divided in many ways. But in a basic way, Americans are all consumers. Use the word customer if that suits you better. Or buyer. In America, we have choices in the marketplaces and choices in labels.

It’s natural for sellers to work to draw customers. Advertising seeks to convince the buyer that the buyer has a need, a desire. Competing sellers seek to divide the throng of buyers. Sellers create custom items to appeal to perceived customer groups. Size matters, for example. Colors attract.

The divisions are temporary. The customers walk away from the marketplace, satisfied.

Conflicts occur when the marketplace contains limited items. Consumers worry. Will there be enough? As long as there’s enough, the buyers remain calm, but hopeful.

As consumers, Americans are united. And consider that over the course of a week, for instance, Americans spend most of their time consuming, or in activities related to purchasing. Now the marketplace is virtual and screens deliver our goods.

Americans drift to religion and politics but the driftings are short.

Sports and pastimes can be passionately consuming but in the end most activities require a fee for entry.

I think many issues deserve more examination from a market perspective. Creating a peaceful plentiful marketplace is what most of us want. It’s primordial stuff.

I broke my silence and posted this at the Kansas City Star's MidWest Voices page.

Monday, July 23, 2012

the myth of the american citizen

The American citizen is a myth. America is populated by consumers. Consumers sometimes try to think like the mythical citizen. When consumers do this they become frustrated. If consumers desire change, they can research their consumption choices: where to shop, how to shop, varieties, sizes, color. Some consumers vote in elections. Most consumers do not vote. Not all consumers are eligible to vote. Governments call consumers citizens but consumers consume.

consumer control

Consumers can control their consumption choices and habits. The media speaks for the market as they should since companies pay for media time with their advertising money. The media sells even when they sincerely try to be objective. People sell. People buy. When buyers, after they’ve bought, forget that they’ve bought, and turn on their media to hear and see selling, and think that they’re watching and listening as citizens, the citizen part of them gets frustrated and angry with the sellers. In America, there are no citizens. America is populated by consumers who buy things. The citizen part of America is now a myth we continue to retell.

companies that make firearms

The word firearm is interesting...suggests a flaming human arm in my mind.

With the recent (recurring) debate about gun control, I was thinking about the companies who make guns. Gun manufacturing is lucrative business. How profitable is the gun business in America? I found this list of gun manufacturers in America.

follow the brush

A phrase that makes me think about writing. I read an essay called In Praise of Shadows by Jun'ichirō Tanizaki. He wrote the meandering piece in 1933. In 48 pages he shifts from architecture to lacquer bowls and discusses light and darkness. The places of shadow in between. His thoughts took me back to my time in Japan. To ideas and insights I forgot. Thomas Harper wrote an afterward. I’m happy he didn’t write a usual preface. Harper discussed the Japanese way of writing that has no structure. I’m used to a beginning, a middle and an end. Harper explains the Japanese way of “following the brush”, what we often call a stream of consciousness. Stream of consciousness is a general term. I know one when I read one. I follow the brush often without having named it. I allow myself to write. But there’s place for structure. People need structural writing that reads with a purpose when purpose is appropriate. Yet, I don’t want to write in a wandering way just to wander. Perhaps this is defeating the purpose of writing if writing is too self-conscious. In other words, if I’m aware of the method or style, does that detract from the act of writing. I want to write with an outcome. I want to make things. I’m learning to balance the process and the longing for a good product. Following the brush makes sense today. But I want to file that away into what I know I don’t realize I already know and just dip the brush in dark black ink and start moving.