Fantabulous Friday

Gorgeous day…and its Friday. Looking forward to the weekend. Helping a friend move on Saturday morning, and then hopefully washing away the ensuing pain at the Raleigh Beer Festival downtown. That will likely be apocalyptic, just as the Durham was in the fall. $25 all you can consume, as long as you are breathing on your own. I think I might bring the camera for that one.

So…songs of the day

1) Hobex – Am I Losing My Mind?

2) The Police – Invisible Sun

3) Nirvana – Verse Chorus Verse

4) Jimi Hendrix Experience – Little Miss Lover (off the greatest album of all time Axis:Bold as Love)

5) Thursday – Standing on the Edge of Summer (didn't like it, likely to be nudged off the ipod)

6) Stephen Malkmus – Water and a Seat

7) Ryan Adams – Rescue Blues

8) The Futureheads – Carnival Kids

So i got some tunes in me, and some coffee…i am ready to get some work done. 


Blame it on Gas Prices

man…all this retarded crap about how Oil companies are making enormous profits really irritates the piss out of me. First off, while the media loves to spit out the fact that Exxon made like $8B in profits last quarter, they intentionally ignore that their profit margin is only 8%. Is that outrageous? I don’t think so. I mean it is a friggin business right? They are supposed to create stockholder wealth right?

I’t just ridiculous how the media and the ignorant people of this country are up in arms about all this. First off, for every gallon you pay over 40 cents of tax, that to me is insane. So while Exxon made like $8B, the Government made like $16B. And then you got all the hyprocrite politicians on both sides of the aisles up in arms about the greedy oil companies. Just pathetic.

What really is causing the high prices? Or perceived high prices? One major reason is there is this silly little thing called Supply and Demand. In the last few years a couple of big customers have entered the global oil store, namely China and India. Everyday in Beijing, something like 6,000 new cars enter the roads. Incidentally, cars use gasoline. You multiple that across all the growing cities in these hugely populated countries and your supply starts to get stretched. And honestly as this happens, the US market becomes less and less important in being able to affect the price, since we’ll be 3rd in line. Compared to other places in the world, gas is still dirt cheap. In fact, gas is cheaper than water in this country, and i don’t hear people bitching about that.

In the meantime, I like to use high gas prices as my excuse for everything, it seems to be the “in” thing to do.

“I didn’t go to work today, gas prices are just too high to drive there”

” I didn’t mow my grass this month, too expensive, what with high gas prices and whatnot”

“I’m not taking vacation this year, I mean that extra $4 at the pump is killing me”

“Honey, I can’t talk the trash out today…high gas prices”

and so forth…feel free to add your own hardship story…

The Search Continues

Do you think State fans knew how hard it was going to be to get a new coach? So Lavin and Beilein have said no to coaching the wolfpack. And the N&O was talking about how Phil Ford was a possibility. Phil Ford??? Phil Ford of friggin 70's era UNC? How can that make Wolfpack nation happy? Seriously, how is anybody they choose at this point any better than Herb Sendek? And with Ced Simmons looking at the first round of the NBA, things aren't looking too rosey at the RBC next year. 

On a different tangent. Josh McRobert of Duke has said he's coming back for his sophomore year. This is fantastic news, not just for Duke fans, but for my fantasy basketball team. And that is really the most important thing right?  Guess all my letters to McRob, talkin about how rough the NBA is, paid off in the end. If only that would have worked when I had Chris Bosh on my squad a few years back. should have tried a horse head instead. 

Monday’s tunes and Drive-By Truckers album review

1) REM – Feeling Gravity's Pull

2) Travis – Coming Around

3) Smashing Pumpkins – Blue

4) Damien Rice – Older Cheats

5) Beck – Tropicala

Not a stellar mix by the Ipod this particular morning. No killer tracks really and I had a long day ahead of me. Could have used some Zep.

Anywho…so on Monday I finally got around to purchasing the new Drive-By Trucker's album "A Blessing and a Curse".

As a disclaimer, I am a huge DBT fan, with a few of their albums ranking amongst my favorites. This album fits just slightly under some of their previous efforts. Probably close to the quality of last album, "The Dirty South", but not as badass as "Southern Rock Opera" or "Decoration Day". That being said, it is a fine record

I think the key ingredient of DBT is the fact they have 3 great singer/songwriters with different styles and voices. All of the songs are invariably about some SOUTHERN character who is hard on his luck and ain't going to take anymore shit from the world. How each singer goes about telling their story is usually pretty unique. My favorite of the three is Jason Isbell, and his 2 songs "Easy on Yourself" and "Daylight". Isbell's songs always seem to be the ones with the most heart and the characters that seem to have some hope, while Mike Cooley's songs always seem to be focused on dispair, where there is no hope. Patterson Hood, the frontman, has the majority of the songs including the standouts "Feb. 14" and "Goodbye".

Eventhough DBT's songs focus on downtrodden Southerners, they possess the uncanny ability to create some sort of connection with their audience and the plight of the characters they speak of. After listening to any of their albums I actually come away being proud to be from this part of the country, though Raleigh is obviously llightyears different than rural Alabama. Constantly they are referred to as the new Skynyrd, and in some respects that is not totally offbase, though i'd argue DBT puts a lot more intelligence and wit behind their songs.

Besides their story-telling prowess, one thing you can always count on….Drive-By Truckers can friggin rock out. With the 3 guitar attack, they sound like the best southern bar band you'll ever find. So…if you like hard rock with a Southern twang and stories about hard drinking and hard living…check out DBT's latest, you won't be disappointed.

Tipping Point Lessons – Volume 1

So I said I was going to start writing about the Tipping Point, and so it begins…first of all Malcolm Gladwell (the author) looks a lot like Mitch Mitchell the drummer for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. That alone gives him street cred in my book. The fro rocks.

There are a few things I took away from reading the book but one aspect in particular stuck out. Gladwell goes into great detail about the kinds of people needed to create an epidemic. Epidemic in this case is not a bad thing, but rather like a momentum shift involving a change in behavior whether its economic or social change. He mentions three types of people needed for an epidemic: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. While Salemen are crucial when talking about epidemics I really only want to focus on the first two groups.

A lot of time in marketing, especially when doing things on tv or print, and to a lesser extent web, it seems a lot of times we try to get our messages out to the masses. We are enamored with number of impressions, hits, and visits. If we get our message out enough and constantly hammer it home, then we might expect less than 1% of that audience to have some sort of name recognition next time they are in the market for that product. This to me is a wasted effort. As documented in "The Tipping Point" it is more important to market to the right audience.

Gladwell mentions a story on how an author used book clubs in San Fran to get her book noticed by the right folks to start a word of mouth marketing campaign, and ended up selling tons of books. Instead of a huge marketing campaign where she spends crazy cash to get her name out and get on Oprah's book club, she went after the fanatical readers in San Fran's book club scene. To me this is to be the right approach where you market to a select few, well connected folks or groups. If their experience is positive it builds from there. There are examples of this going on right now, like on MySpace with bands such as Arctic Monkeys, where they went from not having a record label, to selling the most albums in a week, all through word of mouth. 

The idea of Connectors is that there is a certain population of folks in the universe that know a lot of people in a lot of different groups. The important part is not that these people know a lot of people, but they have a lot of affliations with different types of people from all kinds of different social spheres. This allows the message to potentially reach a much larger audience spectrum.

In addition, there is the idea of Mavens, where these are the groundbreakers. These are the guys that are wanting to try something new, to be the first adopters. They like to be in the know. Not only to they want to try something new, but they want to tell you all about it and recommend it to other folks. The concept of sharing information is a key component to a good Maven.

I can't help but think there is something to be learned by this…and I gotta believe it involves bringing the marketing message to those connectors and mavens through things like blogs and forums. To me this is where the mavens and connectors of tomorrow are hiding out today. The question is how to reach them? And which ones? How do you find those mavens and connectors through the millions of different blogs, etc in the blogoshere (aka blogistan, thanks Churbuck). Atually I suppose, I already I know the answer, and the answer is the same as everything else…metrics.

More to come… 

Catching Up – Hazen takes Manhatten

So I havent written in a long time…its not by design, just got a lot going on. And the last few days I haven't been able to put things into blog form. Got blogger's block, i guess.

Anywho…I managed to make it up to Manhatten last week to meet with our ad agency, Ogivly. I've only been to Manhatten a handful of times so everytime I go its like entering the part in Wizard of Oz when it goes from monochrome to full color. I am constantly amazed that the place exists. So different from Raleigh, and really anywhere.

As soon as you get off the plane at LaGuardia a sense of hyperkenetic energy comes barreling over you. Its like a shot of adrenaline. Maybe its just from being an outsider, but I feel it. And maybe people who live there feel it too, why else would they continue to live among 8 million other people looking for that energy?

The cab ride to Manhatten was fun to watch as the cabbie had no regard for actually getting me there in one piece. Went screaching through rush hour traffic and I watched all the comings and goings of an average day in the city.  Its fun for me to just see the chaos.

My initial plan was to hang out with Ogilvy for a few hours and then kick it in Central Park, as I've never wandered around there. But my meeting went a few hours over, and I really never got a chance to do anything while I was there. My one thrill was trying to figure out how to flag a taxi on 8th ave. I had never actually done that before, and stood around waiting and waiting. Occassionally, i'd wander down the street thinking there would be a fleet of them around the corner only to see them whiz by me with other passengers. I probably looked like I was from another planet as it took me about 10 minutes to finally get one, and that guy couldn't have been too thrilled with driving me to the airport since his shift was going to end in like 20 min.

So essentially I came to NYC for about 8 hours and sat in a meeting and at LaGuardia, and got to experience the rest looking out the window of a cab. Still, you can feel the energy. I need to make it back soon, and stay longer.  

Rockin out on Wednesday

So, i friggin lied. I said I was going to write something about Tipping Point. Instead I went to the gym and got diesel. I actually have a lot of posts in queue, so soon will be an avalanche of entertaining stories.

But in the meantime, the jams that made Wednesday's drive into RTP

1) Arcade Fire – "Crown of Love"

2) Radiohead – Subterranean Homesick Alien

3) U2 – New Year's Day (live version)

4) Marjorie Fair – Empty Room

good, good start on the jams, though I am really beat down physically and mentally. Insomnia is a bitch. Woke up at 2:30 am, after going to bed only like 3 hours earlier. Hung out on the couch with Pebbles (the chihuahua, whom desrves a post) for a few hours, and then slept for an hour and headed to the gym to get more diesel. The concept of exercise is to wear myself out physically so I can sleep, but doesn't seem to work as well anymore. My mind doesn't shut off and therefore doesn't allow for sleep.

In other news, I am going to NYC tomorrow morning to meet with our ad agency. Should be interesting, gives me a chance to think about what we should be measuring from an interactive marketing standpoint.

I do hate to fly though. Not cuz I am scared of flying, but cuz i hate recycled air and the fact I am not in control irks me. The recycled air kills me, guarantee i get sick sometime next week cuz i pick up some cold or ebola from some guy on the plane. Also, I need to find a book to read on the flight.

anywho…more to come.