I had a bunch of people get together for my birthday three years ago and we all played a few rounds of my favorite board-game, Hoopla (seriously, I’ve played this game with the same set of cards for about 6 years and I still love it; and yes, I understand it’s technically *not* a board-game). For people who gave a unique performance during the game, I let them draw from a hat a description on a strip of paper of a fake prize that they had won. Examples include free slumber-parties at a mutual acquaintance’s that we barely knew (who had no idea he was involved in the prize) to a dance-off between two friends of the winner’s choice.
Hidden amongst all these fake prizes was a slip that looked just as made-up as the rest of them, but I actually had prearranged to make it into a reality. Some of my friends own a documentary company (Open Road Media, makers of fine films such as Pun Smoke and the Human Hambone) down in LA and I contacted them earlier in the day: Someone at the party would draw a prize of “A Free Documentary Of Your Choice By Open Road Media.” A choice would be made by the winner and I would discretely txt my friend, who would have a team of folks ready to take the chosen topic and turn it into a “documentary” as quickly as possible. They would then send me the result over the internet and I would play the video on the living room television for the winner and the rest of the party at the end of the evening.
Well, the winner of the documentary prize chose the topic of “Friendship” and the wheels were set in motion. About two hours later, I presented the documentary and had a very confused party, who were struggling to figure out what just happened.
Here is the 2min. 40sec. documentary on “Friendship”:
Around the age of 10, I started discovering music that I felt that was meant for me for the first time. The first band that I ever latched onto was Faith No More, but that quickly turned into a strong connection to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. My friend Kaley and I were drawn to their high-energy aggressiveness in songs like Stone Cold Bush and Get Up And Jump1. Being from a little town of 3,000 people limits one’s exposure at that age to what you can get on the MTV; the Chili Peppers was IT for us.
One late night around this time, I turned the channel to PBS and caught this:
I was blown away and I called Kaley the next day to tell him about what I saw. At the time, I wasn’t resourceful enough to be able to find out who they even were. That added to their intrigue, but I soon discovered that it was Sly and the Family Stone and I was an instant fan. I wanted to know as much as I could about the man and his group.
Strange thing is, for Sly Stone (who led the group) being such an interesting story – stealing the show at what may be the most legendary concert of all time to hitting rock bottom while being on the run from the FBI – only little bits of info has come out about him in the last 35 years.2 In 2007, Vanity Fair did a seven-page article regarding his sabbatical and potential emergence; This last September was the first complete biography3, “I Want To Take You Higher“, of the man and the band was released. The book reveals a little, but upon my reading felt incomplete. UPDATE: I just learned of another bio that came out in Feb. of ’08 that I haven’t yet read.
BUT, what I’ve discovered after reading Higher is that the Dutch are NUTS for the man. I found that in 1992, two Dutch film students set out to document their search for Sly in “Let Me Have It All” (their results are below); Another Dutch documentary about Sly, “Dance To The Music” just finished completion and was aired on Dutch television. AND, another biography written by two Dutch twins that has been in the works since 2002 is set to be released in early 2010.
Back in ’97, when the web was still in its infancy, a Sly and the Fam fan-site webmaster4 was flown to LA by Sly specifically to teach him how to browse the web on a computer. During this time, he was allowed to hear Sly’s 15-year backlog of unreleased material. Since hearing this account5, I’ve fantasized of Sly coming back and releasing a huge backlog of unheard material.
These days, Sly is slowly making more public appearances; if only a few over the course of the last three years. While I’m sure that it’ll be tough to reach the level of his heyday, I feel that if I just am able to catch a glimpse of the man, however satisfactory, it’ll feel like I’ve completed something; regardless of whether it has any actual merit or not.
PS: The only site that I’ve found that publishes Sly & the Fam news is this one, but they don’t have an RSS feed. I used Feed43 to scrape the news off of this page into this feed: Sly & the Fam News Feed
Let Me Have It All (1994, 48 min)
Preview for the just released Dance To The Music (2008, 2 min)
The Skin I’m In (2000, 60 min)
Because jumping is okay in a jumping kind of way (hey-hey).?
Quite possibly by Sly’s own design. He apparently gets excited about the idea of being the Howard Hughes of the music world.?
In ’98, there was a book by Joel Selvin called “Sly & the Family Stone: An Oral History”; in 2000, there was a documentary called “The Skin I’m In” that aired on Showtime. But these were relatively incomplete accounts compared to “I Want To Take You Highter.” For some reason, Jeff Kaliss, author of the latter book, decided to talk shit about these former projects; commenting on their negative tone about the subject matter, which seemed to give the impression to the reader that his book wouldn’t stoop to such lows. I’ve taken in all three, and I’d say that all of them regard the subject matter with much the same tone.?
So, once again, I am a free agent. It’s now official: FOR HIRE.
I’ve recently been laid off by CultureMob.com. I was an employee of a company where a weak economy shows it’s head much sooner than I expected. The company’s current revenue source is from investors; and the market suddenly became a tougher place for investment (which is too bad, because we were beating all our projections).
For those confused on how I could be laid off from a company that I co-created, I never invested in the company financially as some of the other members had; and therefore never had “co-founder” status. With my primary role in the company being the designer, my position wasn’t as necessary as some of the others (which makes sense to me).
Now, that being said, I’ve been enjoying my time off so far. I’ve taken the time to get my portfolio in working order. I’ve taken in a couple freelance gigs and will start to evaluate what offers are out there. I still wish the best to the folks at CultureMob and am rooting for them to make a great product even better. In under a year on the market, we were able to come close to feature parity while giving the competition a 5 year head start.
So, if you’ve got a great lead for me, by all means, toss it my way. I’d appreciate it.
About three years ago, I had no idea that I would be anywhere close to where I am today. Around that time, my roommate came up with an idea to solve a problem: Music in an open space (Coffee shops, shared offices, etc.). Collaborative filtering of the collective collections from the open space could potentially be a better disc jockey than any single human with his singular collection.
About 4 of us would get together about once a week and kick around ideas for how to pull this off and generate a revenue model. We eventually drifted away from that when we got more excited about another idea: As the world becomes more and more digital, the tracking of the data that people pay attention to will be easier and easier to analyze. We could use attention data to notify people about events that they might be interested in.
At this point, it was a fun side project and I was always curious as to where it might lead to. It started off slowly and we got more serious about it, eventually convincing other people to join us. Soon enough, I would realize that we could really turn this into a viable business and eventually CultureMob was born.
But I still had no idea that today, I could walk around Seattle and overhear people I’ve never met recommending the service I helped start with 4 guys to other people I’ve never met. 2 weeks ago, we held our first event at Neumos with ?uestlove of the Roots. I never would have imagined that dorking out about attention data with friends in a coffee shop would lead to working with one of my longtime idols.
It’s not as if CultureMob has been instantly successful, but its really starting to come into it’s own. We’ve only been live for 7 months, and I’m already surprised at where it’s taking me. I have no idea where I’ll be in another 3 years, but here’s to hoping it’s just as surprising.
5 years ago, when preparing for the release of our first album, I was convinced that building the biggest website possible was the perfect idea. I could convince Felicia to blog regularly and the boards would be filled with more than just spam.
Last weekend, I decided to do something about the reality of the situation and design a more practical page than the Xanadoo that I originally envisioned. Post our dates, a few samples, post the necessary stuff for the press, and let MySpace handle the rest.
We’re going to spend the next few months in the studio working on an entire new set of material to pull out for the summer.
Greg and I had 10 hours to kill in Taipei on our flight. To kill the time, we decided to go visit the current tallest building in the world, the Taipei 101.
Finding an incredibly tall building turned out to be too much for our cabbie. Greg and I became curious as we got farther and farther away from the Taipei 101. Turns out that our cabbie loves his GPS system a little too much. We were well beyond the entire (massive) city before he realized that he was in the middle of the woods and began to apologize to us. He got off on the next ramp and then preceded to get right back on the same exact road because his GPS told him to.
By the time we got back into town, he had already doubled our trip’s necessary distance. He then felt that the advice he got from his GPS had served him better than we did and decided to drive into town in the opposite direction of the most obvious landmark in the world.