September 5, 2009


i’m coining two new acronyms to introduce into our common lexicon: CMU and CMAU, which stand for “crack/ed me up” and “crack/ed my ass up,” respectively.

frankly, the time has come for us to retire LOL, LMAO, ROFL, etc. i’m convinced that you, like me, are striving for something new, and i’m here to provide it.

i have to let you know that i’ve tried to create innovations in language in the past. for example, i created the term “karmal,” meaning bad karma. here is the urban dictionary entry:

1. karmal 9 thumbs up
bad karma
hitting on his boyfriend is total karmal

unfortunately, this term has yet to see mainstream acceptance, as a recent google search indicates. resources were tight when i launched the word, and i wasn’t able to put the marketing behind it that i wanted to. i also blame xenophobic tendencies in our society that cause some to automatically reject things that sound, like, foreign and stuff.

but times have changed, the recession is turning a corner (we hope), and people are striving for the type of change that barack obama hasn’t delivered for them. i feel CMU and CMAU are exactly the type of change we need.

why am i doing this? i have a passion for words and innovation. and madonna’s daughter lourdes.

Note 1: ha, haha, hahaha, je, jeje, jejeje, ja, jaja, jajajaja are all still acceptable. they represent slightly less extreme versions of laughing…more chuckles than the chortles or guffaws of CMU, CMAU, and the now defunct LOL, LMAO and ROFL. they are perfect linguistic complements of CMU and CMAU. please continue to use those expressions if you’re trying to look cool in front of your social network or paramour.

Note 2: feel free to use CMAU exclusively when the country music awards are running to avoid any confusion.



August 30, 2009


i moved recently and uncovered a book i read when i was a 20 year-old college student. when re-reading rumi, a 13th-century persian poet, i can see why so much of his writing resonated with me back then. below are some of the more beautiful passages i rediscovered and which continue to touch that black piece of coal in my chest i call a heart.

(i took these passages from The Essential Rumi, translations by coleman barks with john moyne, copyright 1995. apologies for not citing each passage by name.)


Be patient.

Respond to every call 
that excites your spirit.

Ignore those that make you fearful

and sad, that degrade you

back toward disease and death.

All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I’ll be completely sober.  Meanwhile,
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.


We have a huge barrel of wine, but no cups.
That’s fine with us. Every morning
we glow and in the evening we glow again.
They say there’s no future for us. They’re right.
Which is fine with us.


The wakened lover speaks directly to the beloved,

You are the sky my spirit circles in,
the love inside of love, the resurrection-place.

Let this window be your ear.
I have lost consciousness many times

with longing for your listening silence,
and your life-quickening smile.

You give attention to the smallest matters,

my suspicious doubts, and to the greatest.

You know my coins are counterfeit,

but you accept them anyway,

my impudence and my pretending!

I have five things to say,

five fingers to give
into your grace.

First, when I was apart from you,

this world did not exist,

nor any other.

Second, whatever I was looking for

was always you.

Third, why did I ever learn to count to three?

Fourth, my cornfield is burning!

Fifth, this finger stands for Rabia,

and this is for someone else.

Is there a difference?

Are these words or tears?

Is weeping speech?

What shall I do, my love?

So he speaks, and everyone around
begins to cry with him, laughing crazily,

moaning in the spreading union
of lover and beloved.

This is the true religion. All others
are thrown-away bandages beside it.

This is the sema of slavery and mastery
dancing together. This is not-being.

Neither words, nor any natural fact
can express this.

I know these dancers.

Day and night I sing their songs

in this phenomenal cage.

My soul, don’t try to answer now!
Find a friend, and hide.

But what can stay hidden?
Love’s secret is always lifting its head
out from under the covers,
”Here I am!”

Outside: the freezing desert night.
Another night inside gets warmer, illuminating me.
Though the earth be covered with

impenetrable thorns 
In here there is a green and gentle meadow.

When the continents are devastated -
cities, towns and everything between
scorched and blackened –

the only news is future full of grief -
while inside me there is no news at all.

This is our intimacy, my beloved friend:
anywhere you put your foot,
feel me in the firmness under it.

How is it, soul-mate, that
I see your world and don’t see you?

Listen to the whispers inside poems,
follow their intimate suggestions

and never leave their premises.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


“I am not a criminal. I am new to Cairo. I live in Baghdad.” He told the story of his dream and the buried treasure, and he was so believable in telling that the night patrolman began to cry. Always, the fragrance of truth has that effect. Passion can restore healing power, and prune the weary boughs to new life. The energy of passion is everything!

trip to NYC

June 23, 2009

i went to NY this past week to celebrate a friend’s 40th. he and another good friend of ours do this trip every year, mainly to see a handful of broadway shows. i’m not much of a theater queen, but used my friend’s 40th this year as an excuse to make it out.

each show i saw was great! hair, fuerzabruta and broadway bares. so much fun.

but what i also love to do when in a city that isn’t my own is walk around to see the people, public spaces, buildings and art, and NY is one of the best places to do it. below are some of my favorite scenes from the week.


taken from high line. a little hard to see, but great street art on the wall.

taken from the high line. a little hard to see, but great street art on the wall.


also from high line, chelsea/meat packing district

also from the high line, chelsea/meatpacking district


japanese restaurant in chelsea

japanese restaurant in chelsea


sweet building in midtown, next to the chrysler building (also a favorite)

sweet building in midtown, next to the chrysler building (also a favorite)


LOVE the art deco detailing

LOVE the art deco detailing





facade of comme des garcons in chelsea; love the juxtaposition of the street art with the futuristic, egg-shaped silver entrance

facade of comme des garcons in chelsea; love the juxtaposition of the street art with the futuristic, egg-shaped silver entrance


cool amphitheater/aquarium-type lookout space at the high line

cool amphitheater/aquarium-type lookout space at the high line

blocks away from history

February 14, 2009

le barcito

le barcito

a hop, skip and a tumble down the street from where I live is a crusty little bar called le barcito, nestled between a laundromat and rough trade, which is a seller of…um…er…adult leather goods? i think. at least that’s what i heard somewhere. anyway, i’ve been in le barcito a couple of times for a drink on my way to akbar or the eagle or church or wherever and have always thought it was a perfectly okay place to start or end an evening.

the bar itself is a typical hole-in-the-wall gay latino bar — flat screens showing news, soccer or telenovelas, really bad techno, pop and tejano music, and semi-scary drag performances. oh, and cheap drinks. pretty standard stuff. nothing to write home about.

so i was surprised when i read this article from the LA times last november reporting that the los angeles city council had designated le barcito a historic-cultural landmark. whaaaa? pero, por qué?

amazingly, the bar, which was formerly called the black cat, was the center of major protests in silver lake in february 1967. in the 60s and 70s, life as a gay american was a lot different than today. there were no legal protections for gays and people could be fired from work if they were outed, or arrested if they were caught holding hands or kissing someone of the same sex. so in that environment on new year’s eve of 1966/1967, plainclothes cops went into the black cat, beat up and arrested 14 patrons and bartenders. two of the men arrested were later found guilty of lewd conduct, just for kissing each other as auld lang syne played, and were registered as sex offenders. these events happened two years before the stonewall riots (which are widely seen as the birth of the gay rights movement in america), and the resulting protests drew hundreds of LA residents demanding equal protections for homosexuals under the law.

Protests Outside of The Black Cat. Photo Courtesy of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives

Protests outside of The Black Cat. Photo courtesy of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives

in addition to a handful of my friends who live in the neighborood, the event commemorating this landmark drew superstar LA city council president eric garcetti, lillian faderman – a scholar, author and historian of GLBTQ history and alexei romanoff, who was the owner of the new faces bar (now circus of books bookstore) down the street from the black cat. (rami kashou of project runway fame was also there, and we chatted for like eight seconds. he seems really nice!)

the event made me well up with such a Snuggie™ feeling of pride and gratitude for everything that GLBTQ’s of a previous generation have done for me and the friends i love. it also gives me courage and hope for the future, and brings added meaning to the hours of protesting we did following the passage of prop 8 in november.

even though i was closeted growing up in my little hometown in florida and constantly received signals from all around me that it wasn’t okay to be gay, i knew that there were other places in the world where it was. and it’s because of the amazing sacrifices that people like alexei made to just be the person they were born to be that made that possible.

horses in hollywood

January 17, 2009


LA is always challenging your view of her. the minute you think she’s a bastion of liberal thinking, you meet a conservative from the valley already wistful for the last eight years of republican rule.  as soon as you think mother nature couldn’t have smiled more brightly over eden, a fire sweeps through the hills and destroys that one patch of green you could just make out through the concrete jungle.  because of this, i wasn’t a bit surprised to come upon this sight in the middle of my morning hike up griffith park today — cowboys…cowboys within spitting distance of the hollywood sign.  i had no idea what they were doing there, and i didn’t really care.  instead, i smiled a little and thanked LA for keeping me on my toes.

best concerts of 2008 (IMHO)

January 3, 2009

CSS at echoplex, dec. 11, 2008

here’s a list of my top 12* favorite concerts from 2008.  let me know in the comments section who, if anyone, should be added to the list.

starting from number 12!

#12 hot chip – coachella, indio, CA/april 26 – fun british electro-pop that got the coachella crowd UP.  


#11 prince – coachella,  indio, CA/april 26 – unbelieveable. the set included guest performers morris day, sheila e. and chak-chak-chak-chaka kahn.


#10 CSS – echoplex, LA/dec. 11 – “CSS” stands for “cansei de ser sexy,” or “i got tired of being sexy.” ha. this becomes clear whenever the head singer appears onstage in one of her unitards with crazy prints.


#9 brazilian girls – wiltern, LA/sept. 24 – it’s hard to categorize this group, and don’t try by looking at the name. they’re not brazilian, and there’s only one girl.  they sing in several different languages and range in style from circus music to house to tango. head singer sabina sciubba was pregnant at our show so it probably limited her usual theatrics a bit, but it was still a great performance.


#8 portishead – coachella, indio, CA/april 26 – haunting performance. i only caught a couple songs, unfortunately, but their album “third” is one i listen to all the time.


#7 ting tings – el rey theater, LA/aug. 6 – these guys made it big here with an ipod commercial (“shut up and let me go!”) that always gives me flashbacks to a tradeshow i went to in vegas for work.  they ran the ad incessantly on the huge digital billboards outside our convention center.  anyway, the ting tings show was great, but the white wannabe rapper that opened up for them…not so much.


#6  M.I.A. – coachella, indio, CA/april 26 – i probably would have ranked this higher if i hadn’t already seen her show in ’07 at the echoplex. that was hands down the best show of ’07 for me.  her performance at coachella was great, too.


#5 los amigos invisibles — hollywood bowl, LA/june 22 – LA must be the second home for venezuela-based los amigos invisibles because we see these guys a couple times a year, but i’m not complaining.  they never disappoint, and should have headlined this performance at the bowl instead of thievery corporation.


#4 natalie portman’s shaved head – echoplex, LA/dec. 11 – i’m probably being too generous here, but what these guys lack in songwriting ability (“they do curtis mayfield covers, makes the kids want to dip under the covers”), they completely make up for with in-your-face youthfulness and danceable synth pop and disco beats.


#3 bajofondo — roxy, LA/oct. 11 – this south american band fuses tango with electronica, and is headed up by gustavo santaolalla, academy award winning composer whose scores include babel, brokeback mountain and motorcycle diaries.  there are eight band members so it feels like you’re watching a mini-orchestra, only the music is actually really fun.


#2 robyn – troubadour, LA/feb. 9 – robyn was a pretty big pop star in the 90s (“show me love,” “what it takes”) and has recently made a big comeback with her eponymous album that pulls together some of the freshest lyrics and beats in pop.


#1 bonde do role – coachella, indio, CA/april 26 – high energy brazilian funk “carioca.”  stole the show at coachella, and i still have their cd “with lazers” in heavy rotation on my ipod.  never mind I don’t speak portuguese.

so there they are — my top 12 concerts from ’08.  below is a short list of shows i’m sorry i missed. again, please let me know in the comments if there are any missing that you think i should have included.

·         santogold – missed two opportunities:  she opened for the ting tings’ second LA show, and she was at coachella

·         radiohead – inrainbows is my no.1 or 2 favorite album from ‘07

·         donna summer – apparently this show at the hollywood bowl was really fun

·         madonna — sorry, but her confessions tour a few years ago was amazing, and i was bummed i missed justin and britney come out on stage in for the show in LA.  i know that seems to belie my top 12 but give me a break. 

*”top 5” or “top 10” is arbitrary anyway.

adverts from across the pond

December 30, 2008


last week i visited my older bro, petey (apparently i’m the only person on the planet that still calls him this instead of “pete,” which probably makes sense since he’s creeping up on 40 years old, but already, i digress), and his wife, ann, in minnetrista, MN — a town of about 4,000 people outside of minneapolis. although i was hoping for some cultural nourishment in minneapolis, i didn’t plan anything ahead of time. and besides, i was coming off a busy year in LA and the only thing on my agenda was sleeping and eating…and what culture would I ever find in minneapolis of all places?*

lucky for me and thanks to petey and ann, there was plenty, and at the top of the list was our trip to the walker art center, the contemporary art museum downtown. petey and ann have been attending the annual british television advertising awards shown there around new year’s every year for some time now, and got tickets for us this year. the awards are just what the name implies (and a little more) — it’s an hour-and-a-half  screening of the top TV, online video and in-theater spots to come out of britain for the year.

i love TV spots. there. i said it. when done right, TV ads, or any video advertising, can make us feel the gamut of emotions, and i’m not speaking in hyperbole when i say that. (full disclosure: i work for an advertising technology company. i’m not sure if that helps or hurts the point i’m trying to make, but do with it what you will.)  the great thing about british spots is that they can also be a little edgier, a little sexier, a little vulgarer than the ones here, and those shown at the walker were no exception.

i’ll only include a few of the ads i particularly liked below, because i just found out that LACMA is going to run these awards here in LA on Jan. 23 (which makes me happy as a clam, btw), and i don’t want to spoil it for anyone that plans on going.  some of the spots were from brands unfamiliar to most americans or they focused on UK-specific issues, so i missed the point on those, and there were a few that I didn’t like (DESPISED the viagra ads), but i was surprised at just how translatable the majority of spots seemed for our market and wondered why brands don’t repurpose some of this content for us.  i guess the web and people like me are doing it for them!

let me know if you’ve seen any standout ads from other countries recently.  i lived in Japan for a couple years after college, and while their programming came straight outta wackyworld, i found the majority of ads a little staid (and chock-full of Western celebs). i’d be interested to know what the advertising is like in other countries, especially non-western ones, so if you have any insight, share it here!

*i don’t really think like this.

(warning: there may be material unsuitable for the kiddies.)

toyota yaris, “tag” — one of several winning ads from yaris along the same “treat it with respect” theme.


VW, “cuckoo” — like yaris, volkswagen had several winning spots. (the car companies were well represented…wonder if they’ll be able to afford such high-quality creative in ’09.) this was my favorite.

maltesers, “nipples” — so, maltesers’ ad titled “nipples” was their winning spot, but i couldn’t find it online. this one has the same actresses and basically the same message with a slightly different punchline.

adidas international, “david beckham—workshop”. i never even knew he could speak, and this is such a poignant story.

levi’s, “dangerous liason” – does such a great job at capturing levi’s brand heritage.

street museums

December 26, 2008


street art is by far one of my favorite parts of life in LA. we’re really lucky to live in a place where in so many areas of town you get the chance to see some really beautiful work without having to pay entry into a museum. my hood (the los feliz-silver lake-echo park area) is a major repository of this art, and whenever i get a chance i take pics of it.  i’ve finally started to put some of those pics on flickr here, but i still have a lot more to upload.

social media showdown: facebook vs. linkedin vs. twitter (an unofficial test)

December 24, 2008

i recently had the opportunity to do a (highly unscientific) study around the business efficacy of three popular social networking sites, namely facebook, linkedin and twitter.  most people have at least heard of these sites, but here’s a run-down of how i use each:

facebook — i mainly use this for extracurricular activity, that is, communicating with friends and family about my personal, non-work, non-professional interests. i do have a lot of current and former co-workers in my “friends” list here and belong to several professional groups, but my primary reason for logging onto the site is to interact and communicate with friends about personal topics and goings on.

number of facebook contacts: approx. 270

linkedin — i use this site exclusively for professional networking. my resume (“CV” for the non-american or snooty reader) is on the site, and the majority of my contacts are people with whom i’ve worked. i don’t share anything about my non-work life on this site, and use it to keep updated on the work-lives of friends and coworkers.

number of linkedin contacts: approx. 200

twitter — i use this site to communicate from both a professional and personal perspective. there are a lot of journalists on twitter, and as a PR practitioner, it helps a lot to know what they like and dislike to make sure you’re providing them with news and information that’s of interest to them and their readers.  following their “tweets” gives you insight you can’t get from just reading what they’ve published or meeting them at briefings, tradeshows or other events. more importantly, it provides an opportunity to build a stronger relationship around shared interests. i follow other “thought leaders” on twitter to get smarter about fun topics as varied as PR/mktg/advertising, media, t-shirts, space exploration, music and more. i also follow the few real-life friends i have that are actually on the site to see what they’re doing. 

number of twitter contacts (that are “following” me): approx. 70


so, here’s the chance i was afforded by a friend to test the three networking sites, and see once and for all, which was really the best for business.   below is the message i posted on the three sites.  with linkedin, i sent an email to approx. 50 of my contacts in advertising and PR. on facebook, i updated the “status” section and left it there for three days (so the message was at least visible to all 270+ contacts). on twitter, my next tweet came about an hour later but obviously remained in my feed for as long as anyone wanted to go back to see. also, i don’t lock my tweets, so they’re visible to anyone.  note that since i posted the message a few weeks ago, the number of contacts was a little less on each site than it is today, and on twitter, i was only around 40 “followers” at the time. 

here’s the email i sent through linkedin:

hi pr and advertising colleagues — a friend of mine that works for a company that throws house parties around the country for big brands launching new products asked me a question and i wanted to get your input.

Q: do large brands that have an AOR (either PR or ADV) usually work through them to target the gay community or do they hire boutique agencies?

i handled outreach to the gay media for golinharris when we managed Levi’s 150th anniversary, so i know that in many cases it’s through the AOR, but would love to hear your insight. if you know of agencies that target minorities and the gay community, please let me know who they are.

thanks. — keith

here’s the status update i posted on facebook (i added a comment to the status note below letting my friends know they could disregard it if they had seen the linkedin or twitter messages):

Q: for adv/pr peeps: when big brands target LGBT’s, do they use AOR or small boutiques? at GH we did this, but looking for other input.

and on twitter:

Q: for adv/pr peeps: when big brands target LGBT’s, do they use AOR or small boutiques? at golin we did this, but looking for other input.


measurement is always an important part of any test…even this one!  the “winning” site would be the one that delivered the most high-quality responses. by “high-quality,” i mean the ones that actually helped answer the question i posed and that helped my friend make new contacts in the industry.


drumroll, please.  the overwhelming winner in this (again, extremely unscientific) study was linkedin.  i received about a dozen really thoughtful emails from friends with experience working in PR and advertising agencies of all sizes.  on facebook, on the other hand, the only response i got was from a mexican friend of mine in guadalajara thanking me that he could disregard the message since it had so many acronyms.  on twitter? not one reply. not one DM (direct message). fail whale.


the reasons for these results seem pretty obvious, but maybe not, so here’s what i think.  

quantity of contacts — since i only had around 40 followers on twitter at the time — many of whom haven’t worked in the agency world — the number of responses was bound to be far fewer than the other two sites. i’m sure if i had hundreds or thousands of followers on twitter, the results would have been much different. on facebook i have a lot of PR/ad agency contacts (around 60 or 70), but the site didn’t yield results for other reasons.

quality of relationships — the majority of contacts on linkedin i sent the question to were people i’ve worked with in the past, who i know have been in agencies and where a mutual trust has been built. my relationships on twitter are younger and  based more on shared interests and less around working or personal relationships. (i’ve only been on twitter since april ’08.) on facebook, many of the relationships are high-quality (for the purpose of this “study,”) but again had other over-riding reasons for not being of benefit.

nature of the site  — i think other people use these sites for similar reasons i do. facebook = personal life, linkedin = professional life and twitter = a hybrid of the two. if you see a business question on facebook, you may be less inclined to answer it. the virtual world can be like the real one in this regard — some people don’t like to talk shop when hangin’ at the bar, unless they’re the type that likes to wine & whine.

how the message is communicated — on facebook and twitter, your friends or contacts may miss your update if it gets pushed out by their other friends’ updates and feeds, so it’s very possible a lot of people just missed this question. on linkedin, your email goes to someone’s inbox and waits there until it’s acted upon.  granted, on facebook you can send an email, but it’s not as easy to target the email to a particular industry as it is on linkedin.  twitter doesn’t have this functionality (from what i know).


none of this is really that shocking, but it was enlightening and confirmed what i thought going in: for me, linkedin is an extremely beneficial site for professional networking. my friend who works with the house party company has made a number of new business contacts and has been extremely thankful to me for putting him in touch (and i thanked him for giving me something to blog about on my xmas vacation). i’m curious to hear if your experience with these sites or the way you use them is much different, so let me know in the comments if so. PR/adv people who didn’t answer my original status update, tweet or email, here’s your chance to redeem yourself.

what a difference five months make

December 10, 2008

if anyone has any question about the state of the US economy, they need look no further than the price of gas. since the economy has been in the tank, factories are running at lower capacity, trucks are shipping less stuff and people aren’t going as many places.  so, demand for oil and gas is low, which is then reflected in the price. 

and to see how MUCH less demand there is, just take a look at the two pics below. i took the first one at the intersection of beverly and la brea, in LA obviously, just tonight, dec. 10.  i took the second one on july 11 of this year, when gas prices were probably at or near their peak.  if you can’t see the prices, they’re at 1.65 and 4.53, respectively. it’s scary to think how this is a reflection of where our economy is at right now.



11281721the other scary thing, though, is that there’s probably way less pressure for politicians now to ween our country off its oil habit, or for car buyers/makers to rally for more fuel efficient cars. i hope we’re at the point as a country where we know we need to decrease our dependence on (foreign) oil for both national security and environmental reasons,  but the cynical side of me is saying that’s just wishful thinking.