As part of her mission to provide comprehensive care to her patients, Dr. Elizabeth Caughey has taken extensive continuing education to learn to recognize and perform treatment for her patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea.
I designed the layout and messaging for a branded microsite to educate patients about this serious medical condition – and the available treatment by dentists – in layman’s terms.
Brands that have demonstrated generational staying power are born out of need. That phrase “necessity is the mother of invention,” is commonly ascribed to Plato–and in our post-Republic world, the phrase is pay dirt. I want to related my personal experience as a young person with the Moncler brand.
First a bit of background.
The name Moncler is a contraction of Monastier de Clermont, a peak in the Alps near Grenoble in France where the company was born (think Bed-Stuy, but nowhere near and nothing like it). The firm first made quilted sleeping bags and tents. The tents caught on, and moved the manufacturing concern to profitability. Then, around the late 1950’s (and here’s where the Mama’o-invention comes in) the factory workers started to wear the sleeping bags to keep warm during the winter months. The founder, René Ramillion, (later a patent holder for manufacturing these feather stuffed pouches) saw that his workers were onto something. Add some star power in the form of a famous Alpine mountaineer and an Olympic French ski team endorsement in 1968 and a successful franchise was born.
My first brush with the Moncler brand happened in 1978 in Stockholm, Sweden. All the cool kids I knew at the International School, many Scandinavian and Eastern Europeans, all wore these shiny, puffy coats. And all had this conspicuous logo with the rooster on it.
Like James Dean’s red bomber from Rebel Without a Cause, I was drawn to these coats. Or maybe like Dean, I was drawn to the people wearing the coats. And as any teen or pre-teen WON’T tell you, fitting in with the cool kids is supremely important. Unfortunately, I could only convince my mother to buy me an sleeveless vest made by Moncler. NOT designed for cold, dark Swedish winters. But I wore it anyway. And I was very, very cold. That’s how “cool” I thought this brand was/is.
50 years have passed and the goose-down filled jackets are still shiny and puffy (some even still look like you’re wearing a sleeping bag) and the company rings the cash register to the tune of €396,000,000 annually. That’s a brand with staying power.
I shot this image many years ago and I share it now because as the days shorten, I have an uncontrolled fit of remembering.
Today my choice is to focus on the positive–to embrace change, to remember the good and the bad and to make the most of each day, even as the days seem shorter.
One of the jobs you won’t see on my LinkedIn profile is that of bicycle messenger in NYC. This experience gave me a better understanding of why women are entrusted with continuing the species, because young men for some reason believe they are bullet-proof. And shouldn’t be trusted to breed Sea Monkeys, but I digress.
Now I admit that I missed the big money heyday of the late seventies, when hardened bike messengers were clearing $700 a week (or so they claimed) and I was a post-FAX machine rider, BUT, you could still get an amazing workout, make some scratch and see New York City in all its grime and glory aboard your beat up messenger bike.
That was, until it got stolen. Which it always did. And brings me to the point of this post.
I imagine the sting operations that might have happened on the downtown NYC black market for hot bicycles (it was known that you could go to 14th and Ave. A to scout for your stolen ride) had the technology backbone existed and this nifty locator been around. Kudos to the writers at Urban Daddy for writing up BikeSpike:
“Imagine you’ve pulled over for a hamburger somewhere along the Beltline. Maybe a nice glass of iced tea. Then imagine you getting a notification on your phone that your bike is being tampered with. That’s when you run outside and yell, “Hey, rapscallion. That’s mine.” And if you’re too late: it’ll automatically track its whereabouts so you can follow it and alert the authorities.”
After my messenger bike was pinched, (I arrived at the spot where my bike had been locked up to find only the broken U-lock [silly me] where my steel framed Peugot 12 speed had been tethered. I started working in the dispatch office at the messenger agency, mainly because I could type (and speak the King’s English with clients) so my daily death-defying adventures were behind me.
I still love to ride and hit Critical Mass whenever my schedule allows.
Be safe out there!
Charlie Dennard – 5 O’Clock Charlie
Following up on his debut album, From Brazil to New Orleans, that critics have called “magical,” pianist and composer Charlie Dennard has created quite a different itinerary with his new album, 5 O’Clock Charlie, an elemental, concentrated offering of his superb jazz organ trio.
Here, Charlie draws on the longstanding organ-group style of the Gospel tradition, walks it through countryside of rhythm and blues by way of urban funk and soul jazz, and arrives at an unexpected destination.
In the late 1990s Charlie’s organ trio began a long-standing gig at the revered Funky Butt in New Orleans. After years performing and recording around the world, Charlie has reassembled and revitalized the trio.
Dennard is a master of the B3, utilizing every nuance of its texture, tone, depth and feel, walking the left hand bass to support the trio’s rhythm, and driving the melodies home with enthusiasm and heart.
Seven of the ten compositions on the album are by Dennard, four of them co-written with longtime New Orleans colleague, guitarist Brian Seeger.
On Hunch, Dennard sits at the Fender Rhodes and coaxes its trademark funky tone, evoking the style of another hero, Herbie Hancock. The B3 seems to take a backseat on this number, setting a mellow tone ambience for a thoughtful guitar solo by Duke until Charlie pulls out some drawbars and sends the Hammond soaring through the changes.
For the aptly named French Lick, the fabled New Orleans line drumming opens the track and drives the funky groove in support of punctuated organ comping, back pocket guitar and chromatic lifts reminiscent of Steely Dan. The album closes with Johnny Mercer and Mike Altman’s Suicide is Painless, a clever jazzy interpretation with a walking bass in 4/4 time. Whereas the M*A*S*H episode 5 O’Clock Charlie was a vignette about an enemy bomber pilot’s totally inept 5pm sorties, this 5 O’Clock Charlie hits its target from start to finish.
The first time I heard of Anthony Bourdain was many years ago on a public radio show. The interviewer asked Tony, “what do you make of recent celebrity chefs, like say,oh, Rachel Ray.
“Rachel Ray is doing to food what Hitler did to Europe,” Tony said.
We need more guys who call it like they see it. Personally, I have an axe to grind with celebrity chefs. True artists create work that endures – buildings that stand for centuries, paintings that exist through the ages and bear adulation and criticism, music that massages the ethers around the ears and inside the mind. An amazing meal stays with you for roughly 24 – 36 hours, depending on your diet.
Now, you might have a fond RECOLLECTION of the meal, likely due to the presence of friends or a special occasion, but that memory is likely due to the experience surrounding the food, not the “artwork” itself.
But, before this post turns into a rant that will ultimately end up biting its tail, let me just cut to the dessert. Most “celebrity” chefs can go suck it.
Tony is the anti-celebrity chef. A guy who came up through the filth, the muck and the drugs to EARN HIS PLACE as a commentator. I choose that word because “critic” has connotation, as does “pundit,” and I believe Bourdain is more of a color commentator. Very colorful.
So, I was pleased that he visited my current town of residence, Atlanta. Even more so that he made time for such a venerable landmark of the ATL, that (I won’t say in his wheelhouse), is so in his prep station that to miss it would have been to do his show an injustice and make the episode irrelevant.
Here’s an “essay” I wrote about the place, if you need a little more context that will give Tony’s visit more gravity. Don’t wear your best shoes.
If you know the set up for this joke, you are of my tribe. Funny how what is deemed “politically correct” changes over time.
Full Disclosure: I LOVE BEN & JERRY’S ICE CREAM.
I’ve been percolating this post for quite some time, until synchronicity forced my hand. As a stark, raving fan, I am on B & J’s email newsletter, ChunkMail, and receive their thoughtful and thoughtfully infrequent emails. Frequency of content publishing is a delicate matter: too much and it joins the noise, too little and we forget about it.
ChunkMail today told me of the reinCONEation(!) of a certain flavor. But not just any flavor. It’s the first flavor that tickled my tongue, made me throw hands up and SHOUT and changed the way I viewed ice cream forever. Better than my first kiss, better than my first concert and WAY better than the grainy, sugary crap that Baskin-Robbins had been serving.
That flavor is White Russian. And with that first lick many years ago, I have been a B & J’s brand ambassador (and financial backer–one pint at a time) ever since.
With the approach of summer, ice cream becomes an experience-maker. Who could forget that childhood urgency of wanting that sweet, cold confection as a reward for a little league game or relief from those hang-dogs day of summer?
Ben and Jerry’s brand attributes are dead-on. The cartoon cows, the friendly font and the beautiful swirls of art on every carton jump out of any freezer case.
I am eating some right now, even though it is morning. I’m an adult, I can do what I want. Although I will admit to “straying” sometimes and eating another brand of ice cream, I always come back.
B & J’s community approach also endears the brand to me. We created a piece of content branding as a school project that exposes guerrilla gardening to a mostly ignorant public. You can view that piece here.
A day in the life of a cocksure studio session musician
with abnormally large hands. (short fiction)
Hands all Over
It’s not about being on time in this business; it’s about being early. I arrive at least 15 minutes before any recording session is scheduled to start. That way, I don’t have to rush or stress out when shit happens. Being early also gives me a chance to kick back, glance at a magazine, keep an eye on the competition, and see who might be checking me out. Today, it’s the thin blonde intern here at A List Music. She keeps glancing over at me, but turns away right when I look up. I decide to go in. As I stand up, I make sure to pull my shoulders back to make use of my six-foot-three frame. As I take my first step toward her, I imagine how it looks. It’s definitely in slow motion. She probably hears the firm thud of my boot heel on the thin carpet like a bass drum in short reverb as I approach, and I’m smiling as I arrive at her desk.
“Hi, I’m Joe,” I say.
The tone of my voice is rich, like the bowing of an upright bass.
“Hi, I’m Mindy,” she says. I reach out a hand to take hers, and that’s when I see her catch her breath.
You see, I have huge hands so when I shake with almost anyone, their hand is engulfed by mine. Mindy is taken aback by the way her petite little mitten disappears in my catcher’s glove.
I’m used to this with women.
“Mindy, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” I say.
I’m still smiling at her, although the smile is more pointed now, I’m thinking, you like that big, warm place, don’t you?
The size of my hands is a topic of dinner conversation across the restaurant. I am so used to people staring at them that I don’t notice anymore. Sometimes I feel like Michelangelo’s David, holding a stone in my perfectly chiseled hand. Who needs a slingshot? I could easily high five an entire school bus while it was moving and not feel a thing. My hands are also a huge asset to my career. I have long, nimble fingers, made more muscular by playing electric bass as a session musician for the past eight years. My fingers are incredibly long. Each phalange bone is about the same length as a newborn’s whole finger. There is a perfect diamond of hair follicles on the back of my fingers where each tiny hole is an absolute circle. My nail beds are almond shaped and I know for a fact that my manicurist gets horny working on them. He’s a nice guy, so I don’t say anything about it–cheap thrills. The backs of my hands are smooth and dark and I even shaved them once, thinking they looked dirty with even a few wisps of hair. Above all, I am super careful not to injure my hands. When I reach for a door handle, I’m conscious that it could swing open in my direction and cause a problem. At home, I’ve got huge oven mitts hanging over my stove, even though I haven’t cooked dinner in months. I have made a few breakfasts lately, and that’s when my attention turns back to Mindy. I wonder how she likes her eggs in the morning. I’m about to ask her, when I realize that it’s only 9:45AM and that the question might not make sense. Usually I drop that line around 11 or so at night when I feel like I’m being successful with my date. Since it’s so early, I have to revise tactics.
“So, Mindy, would you like to grab lunch sometime?” I ask.
Mindy is a high seven, low eight. Her straight blonde hair has a natural tone, hinting at authenticity, and the cut frames her shoulders nicely. This is a refreshing change from the all those platinum and white-blonde dye jobs with their schizoid-affected hair spray sculptures that only a bipolar stylist could conceive. Mindy has thin wrists, but an athletic frame, with a nice rack that makes her grey cable knit sweater curve majestically. Her face is fresh, unlined and bright, and she’s moving up the 8’s by decimal points toward nine as we talk.
“Well,” she said, glancing conspiratorially aside at no one, “I’m not supposed to fraternize with the musicians.”
“Hey, I was just talking about lunch, but we can see where it goes from there,” I say, taking her temperature for flirty humor, “seriously, aren’t you an intern here? It’s not like they can fire you.”
Mindy laughed, showing a dazzlingly set of upper teeth. Perfect teeth. I thought, rich parents.
Then I saw her eyes travel down my arm.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she said, smiling. “How about this afternoon, I get off at 1:30″
“Sounds great, I’ll meet you downstairs so nobody notices.” I say, smiling at her choice of words.
The session begins on time and the hands are all over it. We wrap the full jingle and the short version in about thirty minutes for which I am paid the sum of four hundred and fifty dollars. It’s such easy money that only a moron would show up late.
As I am standing in front of the door at A List at twenty minutes after one I realize my punctuality has gotten compulsive, but decide there are worse things to get bent about other than being habitually on time. I glance at my Tag Hauer watch every few minutes and, as always, I’m impressed by the girth of my left wrist.
“Hi,” she says, “sorry.”
Big smile, “no worries, is everything cool upstairs?”
“Yep, it’s just hard to get out on time.”
“I know the feeling. So where do you want go?”
“Well, I have class in a couple of hours, so can we go somewhere close to West End?
“Sure, I live in the West, so that’s close to home.” I say, “I know an awesome Asian place.” We arrive at Sumo, in minutes. Mindy and I make small talk over whole roasted shitake mushrooms and sesame oil. She is not only gorgeous, but also bright. She’s studying modern design theory and begins to tell me about one of her classes. I’m studying the design of her sweater, and make enough eye contact to show I’m listening. She pretends not to notice the dexterity of my right hand as I wind a thick noodle around one chopstick with the other. After a pretty comprehensive overview of modern design deconstructionism, and a healthy course of whole broccoli head and soba noodles in miso broth, I glance at my watch. I’m beginning to doubt I’ll get Mindy’s sweater off her before her class.
“Are you ready,” I ask, hoping not to rush her.
“Sure,” she says, “I need to hit the bank before my class.”
“There’s one right around the corner.” I say.
As we walk, I ask her more about school, and where she wants to work when she graduates. I am curious as to why she interns at a recording studio when she is a design student. She tells me that she wants to do concept and set design for music videos after school and wants to learn the music business from the ground up. This confirms what I first suspected. Mindy is a sharp gal, not another easy mark for mid-day hookup. I like this about her, and intend to ask her for another date. As we round the corner to the bank, I look back while reaching for the door.
“You know, Mindy, I…”
Cacophony erupts. The thief hit the inside of the door at a full sprint. The doorframe flew open with such force that the tempered glass shattered as designed. The handle slammed into the cinderblock wall taking my right had with it. I was jerked first to the left by the door then right as I was struck by the thief and landed with my legs askew, crumpled in a ball by the doorframe. There was a dull throb in my arm and sharp white flash in my temple.
I tried to focus. I could hear the clanging alarm bell and grating sound of feet and glass on the sidewalk. I felt a hand on my shoulder, and turned my head slightly to see a soft-focus grey-clad angel framed by fine straw hair and smelling of sesame.
“Jesus, Joe, are you alright?”
“Unggh.” was all I could manage.
“OH MY GOD, look at your hand!”
In sync with the pounding in my head was the throbbing pain in my right hand. I was not even aware that I was clutching my right wrist with my left hand. My right hand was unrecognizable to me. I was looking at a mangled mess of blood and flesh. On the back of my hand I could see three tarsal bones protruding through the skin. My long fingers were now knotted sticks forming obscene angles, glass shards having filleted muscle from bone. I looked into Mindy’s eyes and her look of disgust turned to compassion as we both realized the full force of this event. As I began to lose consciousness, I let go of my right wrist. The pain dulled for a moment and my head lolled back against the bank wall. I looked up at a lamppost overhead. Sitting there were three black crows. As surrounding colors faded to grey, I noticed the odd way they were perched along the metal crossbar and the position of their tails looked like the final quarter notes on a session lead sheet.