Branding wasn’t enough and it was more than OK

You pay a lot of attention to what you drink when you’re a kid. Sure, what tastes good is key. But so is who says what’s good. What do the cool kids think? What’s the drink of choice and how can you get some? Soda, juice, milk. But I could never do milk, as hard as I tried. Not even with the help of the ’84 Chicago Bears and all those milk mustache ads. I always thought it was gross. A tall glass of ice cold milk? No thank you. Sorry Bears.

Similarly, the late ’90s at my high school saw the vending machine invasion of OK Soda. And it sure looked good. Long before I really grasped what graphic design was, I wanted it. All those cans inside that vending machine, just wanting to be held. To be used as a status symbol for the next generation of cool kids. Something about that can said it was for me. And I tried like hell to make it so. Except, the soda tasted awful. As much as I choked it down, time after time, with a week or so break in between chokings, I eventually bowed out. I was defeated. Despite the best efforts of the branding, OK Soda was not for me. And I moved on.

I’m glad I did. Because I learned that when it comes to soda, how it tastes is far more important than how it makes you feel. As with so many things in life. Just don’t get sold and you’ll be better off. This applies to cars, clothes, haircuts, beer, music, and pretty much everything else. Learn this lessen: don’t let the advertisers give you shit, live a happy life.

Done and done.

What are you doing here really?

Answer: I prefer to speak in a voice focused in on poetry and beauty but because there are forces out there that have set out to destroy poetry and beauty, I must fight back.

A Social Rebellion

The ferocious, full-on backlash against social media has taken hold. Meaning, I don’t want you assholes to know anything about me I don’t want you to know. Capeesh? I don’t want you to know where I am at all times, to know what I love, or know how I’m feeling. I’m a human. Thus, complicated and multi-layered like all other humans. Get over it. We’re done giving into to your rules of the game. Now, you play by ours.

On the Internet

The over-loading feeling of it all. The over-dramatized, over-marketized, over-simplified nature of everything online. It’s everywhere, all over us in all aspects of our lives—communicating, banking, traveling, managing, shopping, organizing—but when will we before over it?

There’s an app for this, an app for that, but I’m wondering more and more if there’s an answer out there for the shine having worn off. Not only are we tired of constant connection, but we’re afraid of it. Afraid of being misled, deceived, robbed, or ruined, whatever our fear is in the world of the digital, the real-world consequences are just that: real.

I used to not be able to imagine a future without the Internet. Now I wish I could. All the ease of access has now given way to an unease of the self:

  • Who’s watching?

  • Who’s plotting?

  • Who’s manipulating?

  • Who’s after us?

Am I paranoid? You bet your ass I am. You should be, too. The implications for the Internet have been “loading” in our collective conscious for awhile now. The question is, once loaded, will we be able to recognize the true costs in order to implement a true response. If we don’t, there’s a feeling that we’ll just keeping spinning, on and on, in fear and suspicion, forever.

Political Correctness

Maybe we the people of America should not be such jerks. Maybe we should understand that language is power and how that power is used matters. Maybe we should put ourselves in the shoes of other people and try to live our lives that way. Maybe we need to get a grip when it comes to the culture wars and understand we do not have any right to put down anyone for being female, black, Muslim, gay, disabled, or whoever else is typically verbally stomped on by white men who have traditionally held all the power in America. Because what I know for sure, as soon as you criticize white men for anything having to do with their identity they get all bent-out-of-shape real fast. What I’ve seen so many times is that “powerful” white men can’t take any criticism whatsoever.

Now, who wants to talk about identity politics?

The transition to Paul’s Boutique

I still chuckle when I think about listening to Licensed To Ill as a youngster. I certainly wanted to fight for my right to party and was way into girls. But my goodness, that album is ridiculous. Check Your Head and Ill Communication are more my wheelhouse, although I was never a huge Beastie Boys fan. I liked knowing they were out there doing their thing and I appreciated their music when it came on the radio, but I didn’t own their albums.

I recently bought Paul’s Boutique. Probably the most unfamiliar of all their albums for me. But I had heard so many amazing things about it. It was important. It was groundbreaking. It was epic. And after many listens, I certainly agree.

Even funnier to me is thinking about how that album was received at the time. Imagine, you have all the nonsense, riffs, and silliness of one album, embraced by the types of fans and record execs who love such things and the success that comes with. Imagine all that and then the next album to drop is not that at all. While silly at times, Paul’s Boutique is in a different universe altogether. It’s great hip hop that has stood the test of time. It’s exactly the type of thing people who loved the nonsense, riffs, and silliness would not at all love. Whoops. And it’s awesome, just awesome.