Sunday, February 16, 2014

Is GIRLS Right About Advertorials Sucking?

I was conflicted in last week's episode of GIRLS. Not about Marnie and Ray's hookup fest but about Hannah Horvath's disdain for advertorials. I mean are advertorials that bad? I guess I don't even notice them when I read print magazines, so I can't fairly judge their journalistic quality (they're usually lists with tiny photos or a collage of products right?), but when it comes to digital brand content, the line between editorial and advertising blur much much more. 
Credit: HBO/Craig Blankenhorn

In the last two years, there has been an exodus of Fashion Magazine Editors migrating to retailers like J.Crew, Artizia and Kate Spade to develop their brand content offering, which typically includes a blog or digital magazine and an active social media presence. I recently downloaded ASOS's Fashion Up app, which is a monthly interactive magazine filled with fashion editorial spreads, trend spotting, interviews and how-to tutorials. 

If ASOS's Fashion Up app is the direction brand content is heading, then Hannah shouldn't be so down on herself for writing on behalf of brands. I mean her "stories" could fit so well for the handful of hipster brands targeting the Brooklyn-dwelling 20-something year old. I'm hoping in tonight's episode, Hannah gets herself together.

Do It With A Smile

There are people who are good at what they do.
And then, there are people who are good at what they do and do it with a smile.

Watching Team USA Ice Hockey player T.J. Oshie kill it in the USA vs. Russia shootout was nerve-wracking and exhilarating all at once. His slow shootout style was different but that wasn't the only thing that was unique about the 27 year-old Oshie; before each of his six shootout shots, knowing that each shot was potentially a game winner or loss, he would flash a smile. Watching the game on my home TV, Oshie's smile made all the difference. In comparison to the serious-faced Russian legends Kovalchuk and Datsyuk (I don't blame them with Putin in the audience), Oshie just seemed damn excited to be on the ice and given the chance to shoot. If he was nervous, he channeled that nervous energy through his stick and released it with every shot that made it to the net.

Oshie's epic game-winning shot, poise and humility makes me think that society needs to recognize people who perform at the highest level with a smile on their face. In all fields of work, it is not just about talent anymore, it is also about attitude.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What Ever Happened to the New MySpace?

Remember eight months ago when MySpace relaunched with a brand new look, user experience and TV campaign? The commercial featured a hipster party that included Erin Wasson, Pharrell, Mac Miller, Ciara and other "it" celebrities trapped in what looks like an American Apparel explosion. A spray painted "Welcome to the neighborhood" tagline ends the TV spot, but how many people actually joined? Is the neighborhood barren or hopping like a Saturday night in Williamsburg?
To be honest, I'm not sure. I have not seen one headline in the last eight months about MySpace or the usage of the new MySpace. What happened? To answer this question fairly, I'm tasking myself to use the platform for the next week. Will keep you posted...
In the meantime, find me on MySpace here.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

New Orleans Reminded Me That Magic Still Exists

Having lived in New York City for so long, I've trained myself to be small--to squeeze into that 5-inch gap on the jam-packed L train, to slide pass strolling tourists on the sidewalks and to hold back my applause after "showtime". We go through our days with an invisible force field, a sliver of precious personal space that we protect from the millions of strangers around us. Last weekend, I temporarily escaped that oppressive bubble when I visited New Orleans.

I had little idea of what to expect... jazz, jambalaya and Mardi Gras? I was there for a quick 48 hours to celebrate my close friend's bachelorette. Between our costume shopping trip at Fifi Mahony's, a burlesque class and back-to-back 4am mornings on Bourbon Street--New Orleans is indeed a magical city.

For one, you can drink on the street. MAAGIC. Two, the people are friendly and genuinely talented. They have interests and passions, like our cab driver knew the entire history of the city as if he were Google, our petite Burlesque instructor could start a fire with her eyes, our waiter Judas was an expert group photo-taker (down-angle only) and a hot, mysterious girl jumped on-stage at Cats Meow karaoke bar dancing crazy hard like So You Think You Can Dance hard to "Wrecking Ball".  But my favorite and most memorable New Orleans personality was a street magician named Nico, who referred to himself as a Magician on a Motorcycle.
After browsing an antique lighting shop on Royal St, my friends and I stepped onto the street in front of a magician just about to begin his show. My love for magic is on abnormally high nerd levels so the barrier of me stopping to watch was pretty low. He invited the three of us, matching in our light pink bachelorette shirts, to step forward and help him create an "illusion of an audience". The rest is history. 

Charming and untraditional with his wrench, buzzed head and red sharpie, Nico had me convinced that magic still exists. He pulled a wine bottle out of his hat but the line that did it for me was: "this show brought you all together in this moment. You are all sharing this unique memory. And there is no app for that.

MAGIC. It took a street performer who travels across America on his motorcycle to remind me that there is so much more than the everyday digital grind. We are living in a ever-so-connected world that for me to spend 20 minutes of undivided attention with complete strangers in a completely strange city and enjoy the humor, beauty and energy of that moment cannot be replaced with a like, share, comment, tweet, post, email or text.

New Orleans felt liberating. The live music, street performers, big ass beers... it was a much needed reminder that the most important thing is to be present in the moment and every moment is precious. If I want to slow walk in New York City or get into a subway performance, then I should. I don't want to live in a bubble no more.

Some photos from the magical city of NOLA: