Blog Archives

Sunrise at Echo Mountain

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Transitions and difficult decisions kept me up all night and I knew the day ahead was going to be a big challenge. So around 5am I decided to do a couple of things that I’d never tried before. The first was to eat a sandwich while taking a shower. It was half of a left over subway sandwich and it was a pseudo success. The second however was witnessing a fantastic sunrise hike to the top of Altadena’s Echo Mountain.

I left my new home in San Marino (south of CalTech and Pasadena) around 5:30am and headed straight up Lake Ave. After a while, just as the road reaches the base of the mountain, it curves sharply to the left. You can park anywhere near there to access the trailhead, which is through the gate on the right. As I ascended the mountain the sky slowly became lighter and just as I reached the peak about an hour later, the sun was coming up over the neighboring mountains. The sunlight also illuminated various piles of rubble from the old hotel that used to sit on top of the mountain. Around the turn of the century (1900, not 2000) a wealthy man called Mr. Lowe (after whom the neighboring mountain was named) had built a hotel / sanatorium here, and even commissioned the construction of a railroad to take well to do folks up and down. The property had event contained a zoo and observatory before being destroyed (twice) by strong winds and fires.

Before heading back down the mountain, I did some stretching and considered all the options that I was facing and large swath of feedback that I’d received. In a moment of smog free clarity, I saw exactly what I needed to do and gleefully skipped down the hill towards a meeting that would impact my life greatly, as well as the lives of the community around me, in unquantifiable ways.

Exciting times 😉

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Moving Out of the Brewery Arts District

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This was the view from the balcony at my loft near downtown LA. I sat on that rickety metal balcony innumerable times having countless discussions on infinitely diverse topics. I moved there in 2006 and in the last five years it has been a great part of my life. After all, it is where the first Mindshare LA took place, creating the seed for almost all of my Los Angeles existence. The building itself occupies a very special location – in the SW corner of the Brewery Arts Distict – a 500 strong community of creative and colorful characters that have coexisted there since the ’70s. On the west side is the 5 freeway, with hundreds of thousands of people zipping by each day. To the south, tons of cargo being unloaded from trucks and loaded on to trains and vice versa. Night and day these giant behemoths would clank together and rev their engines – like a tumultuous sea of industry. The the east is the central Los Angeles UPS shipping depot, routing who knows how many packages every day. And to the north, main street, which takes you right down to downtown.   
As if all the surrounding energy isn’t enough, I occupied the top floor of the Edison #3 Electrical Company Building from 1880. (pictured below -my loft has the arched balcony windows). So if it wasn’t already enough to feel the energy flowing all around you, and through this historic building, then just ask yourself: “So Edison walked these floors? Just what the hell have I done today?!
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A Walk in the Huntington Gardens

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One of my favorite places in LA is the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino. For the last few years I’ve been a member which gives you access (plus a guest) to the fantastically well kept grounds. It’s an unbelievable place to come and forget about the smoggy city that sprawls across more than 100 sq miles just south west from here.

Occasionally, when I have a bunch of phone calls to make, I’ll take the 15 minute drive from my downtown LA loft and instead choose to take the calls from any one of the various thematic gardens. The picturesque Japanese Garden (see above) and the Dr. Seussian Desert Garden (pictures below) are two of my favorites.

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Interview with Bunker Hill Magazine

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It’s always fun to be interviewed – no not for jobs of course, but for magazines! It always feels like a therapy session for me – when someone sits there, pen in hand making notes, while you offload the tumultuous but rewarding path that has brought you to this point. Jen Hadley of Bunker Hill Magazine wrote a delightfully complimentary article on me for the mag – THANKS JEN (now if only you could prescribe Xanax! 😉

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Hexayurt Construction + Plush Day

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The Orlando house in Pasadena is abuzz with Phagers (members of the Burning Man Phage Camp) deep in preparation for the annual Burn which takes place 100mi north of Reno in late August / Early September.

Some of the days activities include creating numerous “giant microbe” pillows to be used in our 30ft dome. All sorts of cute viruses and bacteria are being assembled! There was also Playa Tech to be cut (plywood furniture that slots together) and a few of us had pooled our resources to make the upgrade from mere tent to pimptastic hexayurt!

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Tuxedo Tyrants / Santa Monica

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Tuxedo Travels was a project that I undertook in April 2007. It was the journey of two men, over the course of 6 months, as they journey from Asia to London wearing nothing but tuxedos. More than just a bizarre adventure, it was a mission to raise money for charitable causes that we executed along the route when we came into contact with needy communities or individuals.

If Tuxedo Travels is the altruistic, more responsible sibling – then Tuxedo Tyrants is the hedonistic younger sibling, who enjoys the intersection of bar crawls and public improv. It started in early 2008 when Dan Busby got a new tuxedo and knowing that I had one, he had asked if I wanted to join him for a drink, in tuxedos. Of course, it was so much fun, that we decided to to do it again – this time inviting our friends.

The idea quickly spread around our posse – ‘Tuxedo Tyrants: lets all get dressed up in tuxedos and ballgowns and go on a bar crawl!’. It was more than just a drunk night out, it was in no uncertain terms, a stroke of unexpected genius. Girls, as it turns out, have a slew of fancy outfits that they love to wear, but never get the opportunity – and so in the week preceding, they chit chatted about what they’d wear and flock to the event! Every month or two, a new location was chosen and the Tyrants gathered. This already would have been enough, however, never wanting to be labeled as anything ordinary, we began making up elaborate stories before hitting the bars, to tell people when they inevitably asked:

“So are you guys all coming from a wedding.” Was the obvious question.

“Actually, we’re celebrating the initial round of funding for an orbiting space casino…” Deadpan delivery.

“Haha, no, seriously!?”

“I am serious, of course, it’s no where near ready, but the planning for orbiting space casino’s takes time.” Invariably, the inquisitor would saunter off, only to approach a more timid looking Tyrant.

“So, what’s really going on here? Are you coming from a wedding?”

“Actually, we’re celebrating the initial round of funding for an orbiting space casino. But i’m only in the accounting department.” And that was the genius – a cohesive story and a role you felt comfortable in faking. Sales, legal, marketing, engineering, accounting – all were represented.

In the couple of years that the Tyrants had been crawling around the city and gaining in numbers, we’d hit about 15 neighborhoods, and each time, we’d come up with a different story. Some of my favorites:

  • “The successful (re)launch of the BuddyGuard™ 2.0 robotic system. BuddyGuard was a government subsidized program that offered poor and underprivileged children a robotic helper. It could help them with school work, engage them at play time as well as protect them from bullies with a built in tazer. The ill-fated launch of BuddyGuard 1.0 was doomed by a critical flaw that categorized almost everyone as a bully. But we have great faith in the new firmware, loading into almost all 2.0 systems…”
  • “ZyCorp is an Elton John Foundation sponsored company that focuses on genetic splicing. We’re excited to be celebrating the fist success at creating a healthy zygote (the pre-embyonic ball of splitting cells) derived from the genes of two sperm. We’re excited to pave the way for homosexual men to have offspring made up of their combined genes…”
  • “We’re a privately held research and development group, attempting to bring the new field of Perceptive Therapy into the mainstream. We’re excited for our first successful implant which is able to augment the perception of those suffering from schizophrenia and depression. Of course there are many other potential conditions that we could see treating in the future, as well as even spilling over from the world of therapy, into the world of consumer recreation… That of course, it a little way off!”

And so on and so forth! But tonight, amid the gleaming white patio of a Santa Monica hotel, we were representatives from Everyoung Labs, celebrating the healthy first birthday of ‘Tuck‘ – the companies eldest ‘permakitten‘. Thanks to isolation of the Greenberg gene, named after Leyah Greenberg who’s body had shown some unusual aging processes, Everyoung Labs has created a technology so that kittens, stay kittens, for life.

Happy Birthday, Tuck!

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Swimming with Sharks at the Standard Rooftop

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Few things say “summertime in LA” like the bi-weekly Swimming with Sharks on the rooftop of the Standard Hotel in downtown LA. Here’s how it feels to me: a bunch of kids were all at free swim, playing around and being care free. Then all of a sudden, everybody was transofrmed into a 20 or 30 year old adult. However, everyone is still acting like a kid, wearing funny hats and bathing suits, splashing each other and frolicking around. Only now, people are drinking champagne from bottles and everyone is feeling horny.

It’s really quite a fantastic way to spend the long summer Sundays. When the water fights get tiring, it’s fun to take a break on the astroturf lined sun bathing areas and order some more champagne. After all, we’re all just mischievous kids and Monday is but a distant concern 🙂

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Barn Raising at Smash Labs

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Back in LA it was exciting times and Syyn Labs was really beginning to gain momentum. Not only were we working on a fun project that was paying our large crew hourly, but there had been definite progress on finding a new space to call our own. Meeting at Barbara’s Bar at the Brewery had been fun, but as we grew this thing into an actual company – that just wasn’t going to continue to work 🙂

Smash Labs was a local creative space, and was made up of a few groups, including Mutaytor which practiced there and used it as a wood shop. They had found a new space, just a few blocks away from the Brewery artist community (where I was living). In an exciting twist, it seemed like one of the warehouses within this new space (called Big Art Labs) was up for grabs and Syyn had first dibs. In a effort of neighborly love, we helped them move all their crap out of their old space. Of course not without finding some cool props to pose with along the way. Syyners pictured: Dick Whitney, Dan Busby, Jenda Michl, Me, Cousin Gilles d’Amecourt, and Mat Heitel at the bottom.

So it turns we’re just a bunch of characters that enjoy each others company and getting together to work, or create things that don’t yet exist. And maybe along the way we just might get paid, maybe in big bucks, or maybe as in this case, a thick wad of Karma dollars.

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Possum in the Sink – A 4th of July Mystery!

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Don’t ask how it got in, but it was loving Adam’s unwashed dishes 🙂

As for me I was on the run for NorCal, to a little town called Belden for False Profit’s yearly July 4th celebration! FANTASTIC!

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A+D Syynterstitial Party

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The amazingly sustaining part of the Syyn Labs and OK Go RGM music video Collaboration is the continued mileage we are both getting out of it. The video has had over 15m views at this point and from the Syyn Labs angle, we continue to get gigs and have had multiple gallery shows. The most recent, Syynterstitial (Part 1), was a one night, packed Tour de Force, led by none other than my cousin Gilles d’Amecourt. The entire front half of the A+D museum was filled with all sorts of contraptions that were featured in the video, from tiny lego stages to the spinning to the paint blasted suits and even the water glass playing guitar. In the back area, behind a thick black curtain put in place but our tireless supporter Quin, was our interactive artwork showcase: David Guttman’s projection pieces and Eric Gradman’s glowing “Standard Gravity”

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The event attracted over 300 people throughout the evening paying $10 for an evening of live music, free drinks (served by wonderfully sexy bar tenders) and interactive fun. The quality of the people was fantastic, hammering home that between Mindshare and Syyn Labs, I am pretty damn good at creating social filters that attract awesome people – which is the entire reason that I started doing events in the first place, with the first Mindshare back in 2006.

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