Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Dicky Davies Burning Man fiasco

For Christian "Dicky" Davies, Burning Man, isn't exactly his cup of tea. The annual, "hippy fest," in Nevada has the reserved 27-year-old feeling like he is not really part of the group. And when he is...it's a little fake.

"Dicky doesn't like to dance to electronica. Dicky doesn't like glo-sticks or pink cowboy hats. Dicky doesn't trust touchie-feelie strangers who want to be his best friend," says Meredith May in a San Francisco Chronicle article.

But Dicky doesn't want to call it quits just yet. So he created a plan. His roommate built him "Dicky Box," a see-through room decorated with white Ikea furniture, complete with a mail slot for accepting food, notes and presents from anybody who is willing to give them up.

"Inside Dickey Box, Dicky can do things he likes to do: write in his journal, observe and contemplate. He can be his reserved self while still enjoying the art spectacle that is Burning Man, without getting called the worst slur possible on the playa: "spectator," says May.

He anticipates staying inside his box for the entire weeklong event.

"The idea of letting go and immersing myself in the community is uncomfortable for me," he told the Chronicle. "I'm more standoffish. In a lot of ways the box is pretty great manifestation of how I feel about Burning Man. I guess the irony is that I'm in smack middle of everything."

I think it’s just about time for Dicky to --get a life.


Monday, August 29, 2005

trapped in the closet

Uh, is it me or is R. Kelly completely insane? Yes, the man is facing charges of child pornography, but his five-part song, "Trapped in the Closet," is proof of an unraveling mind. The song is just plain crazy, with R. Kelly acting and singing out all the parts (both male and female) in this five-song soap opera.

Or perhaps it's the mark of some post-modern genius?

- Jean Chen

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Importance of Being Viral

Advertisers know that us Generation X-Y-Z folks are way too smart to fall for celebrity endorsements or catchy jingles. Let us play with a subservient chicken or a cheerful digital stripper, though, and we're all yours!

For the un-infected, viral advertising refers to sneaky word-of-mouth marketing that unleashes a catchy website or video on the unsuspecting online public, and lets it spread through word of mouth. That bizzare-o website featuring a man in tacky chicken suit obeying your every typed command? Burger King ad. That pseudo-comedic video clip of a cat being decapitated by a car sunroof? (Ill-advisedly) a Ford ad.

Here's the latest article on viral promotion, spurred by a Gap website that lets you dress up--and then dress down--exhibitionist little Sim-like characters.

San Francisco Chronicle: A Different Way of Selling Clothes

My favorite viral marketing site is undoubtedly the Subservient Chicken. Sure, I know it's a vain attempt on Burger King's part to make me choke down their emetic burgers. But damn it, I love asking Subervient Chicken to Go-Go Dance! Get down!

Friday, August 26, 2005

A Friday in DC

Sitting in DC on a Friday afternoon in August, kinda missing my village idiot, wondering if the carnage will stop...

(image snatched from Michael Moore's site, I believe, on election day 2004: a composite of fallen soldiers to that date-- R.I.P.)

Thursday, August 25, 2005


I don't know what's worse:

1. Fox News wrongly identifying a couple's home as belonging to Islamic radicals or

2. That someone graffitied their house and misspelled "terrorist."

"A couple whose home was wrongly identified on national television as belonging to an Islamic radical has faced harassment, and police are providing special protection.

After the report ran on Fox News on Aug. 7, people have shouted profanities at Randy and Ronnell Vorick and spray-painted "terrorist" (spelling it "terrist") on their property."

Click here for the article

- Jean Chen

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Dang Ditty...Get Over Yourself! (And make up your mind too)

Is it just me, or is anyone else getting a little perterbed by Puff Daddys/P. Diddy's, Diddy's constant name changes?

Last week, the rapper/ producer/two stepper annonced that he will be dropping the "P" and will be soley known as-- Diddy.

"I feel like the "P" is getting in the way of me and the public. From now on I will simply go by "Diddy," he told papers.

Well Diddy, I feel like NOBODY CARES, and there are more imprtant things going on then the P, the Puff, or the Daddy in your P...athetic name.

I mean, did you really have to have a press release on the "issue?" Maybe it's time you focus your energy on a new season of Making the Band.


This is Fler, one of many German rappers spreading neo-Nazi ideals.

Somehow, I don't think this is what the pioneers of hip hop had in mind. An expressive artform that began as a means for blacks to speak out against oppression in America, is now being embraced by neo-Nazis in Germany.

Click here for the article, plus reader comments.

-zoneil maharaj

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sean Penn's in Iran, and You're Not

Right then, I'm only chucking this up here because I don't wanna be the last person to write about it. Monday, actor Sean Penn starts reporting (again?) from inside Iran for the San Francisco Chronicle.

SFGATE: Sean Penn in Iran, Day One

Now, there's two knee-jerk reactions that us "media types" are supposed to have to something like this:

1) This is a travesty of reporting. Sean Penn is not trained in the secret ninja arts of the journalist.
2) While most other actors are busy fornicatin' and over-dosin', Sean Penn has visited Iran and undertaken the grueling hardship of temporarily foregoing cell phone service. Truly, a giant amongst men.

Here's my real reaction: Eh. Why the hell not? Sure, just 'cause Sean Penn makes slow-moving films about stuff that means stuff doesn't make him qualified to offer unevenly written "deep thoughts" on anything. But a unique, non-journalist perspective on Iran can't be a bad thing. Sean Penn can knock himself out.

Heck, if the nice lady down at the post office decided to visit Iran I'd read that too. Actually, if the Chronicle really wants to use celebrity to sell newspapers they oughta ship that Owen Wilson over to the Gaza Strip next week. I'm not sure if Owen knows Ariel Sharon from Ariel the Little Mermaid, but readership amongst 12-18 year-old girls and people named Giselle Velazquez would skyrocket.

Owen Wilson is HOT.
Send him somewhere dangerous too!


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Nobody Died, So It's OK To Laugh...I Hope

The AP headline says it all—“Virginia Laptop Sale Turns Into Stampede.” Man, do I love non-fatal mayhem. Especially the kind that blossoms when a school sale of 1,000 cut-rate used iBooks turns into a riot of epic proportions...

"This is total, total chaos," said Latoya Jones, 19, who lost one of her flip-flops in the ordeal...

Right, I know it's not technically funny. Somebody could have been seriously hurt. But...but...but...I just can't stop giggling. And the reporter includes so many lovingly ludicrous details in her story, it's hard to believe that she wasn't trying smother her laughter over the woeful tale of a small town driven mad by $50 iBook fever.

Witnesses said...someone in a car tried to drive his way through the crowd.

People, I know those iBooks are hot, but attempting to drive your car through a crowd full of cops and school teachers = BAD IDEA. I can relate to these folks—I can barely afford to keep myself in gasoline, let alone buy a pricy laptop I’ll only end up sitting on. I'd probably join the people who were lining up at 4 a.m. -- but I'm not sure if I'd go as far as Mr. Jesse Sandler, who's not a guy you want to cut in line:

"Jesse Sandler said he was one of the people pushing forward, using a folding chair he had brought with him to beat back people who tried to cut in front of him.

"I took my chair here and I threw it over my shoulder and I went, 'Bam,'" the 20-year-old said nonchalantly, his eyes glued to the screen of his new iBook…

Bam indeed.

Hillary: the new Tipper

I'm probably dating myself, but does anyone else remember Tipper Gore's morality juggernaut, the Parental Music Resource Center (P.M.R.C.)?

You know the "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" stickers? Those are a result of the PMRC.

Well, it appears Hillary "Seize any and all opportunities for political advancement" Clinton is the new Tipper.

Clinton grabbed a hold of the censorship reigns recently by criticizing “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” for its portrayals of sex and violence. She's calling for federal prosecution.

Hey, I think the game is ridiculous, myself, but I can't help but think that playing the morality card is one of many more rungs Hillary's planning to climb between now and the 2008 presidential election. Stay tuned, and

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

the popstar or pornstar game

Female popstars aren't really in the spotlight for their talent, unless you consider getting a boobjob, paying someone to write your songs, and smiling and flashing your goodies for the camera talents. It's safe to say that if you're a female popstar, the less clothes you wear, the more attention you get. I'm not saying that they dress slutty, but they sure do look like porn stars.

Guess which bodies belong to popstars and which belong to pornstars.

I didn't do too good and was told to watch more porn.

-zoneil maharaj.

this is the future?

It's 2005 and we still don't have flying cars. I still don't have a jetpack or jetboots. I thought I'd be living like George and Elroy but we're still stuck with the internal combustion gas-guzzling engine. "Hybrid" cars are making their way into the car market but are often overlooked by most consumers who'd rather have that flashy SUV so they can look good while complaining about gas prices.

Cheer up broke dreamers. Although automakers insist that it will still be years before we break away from using foreign oil and cutting down and pollution, some are taking matters into their own hands. While guys are tricking out their "choppers" on the Discovery channel, there's a guy hot-rodding his Toyota Prius with extra batteries so he can get more mileage. A UC Davis engineering professor has been building hybrids since the 70s, including one that gets 250 miles per gallon. So why won't the auto industry take some notes and start producing efficient vehicles that will get the job done?

Read article: 250 Miles Per Gallon Stuck in Garage

Monday, August 15, 2005

10 Percent of Doctors Agree....Money Talks!

Could your family doc go the way of Martha Stewart? 'Cording to this article in the latest New York Times, pharmaceutical investors are scrambling to be matched up with doctors for "consulting"--and 10 percent of America's 700,00 physicians have been happy to oblige.

Sounds alright--except that doctors might be divulging "insider information" to their investor buddies, which in turn leads to insider trading, which in turn leads to "Wall Street," the hit 1987 film about stock markets and shoulder pads.

New York Times: Doctor's Links With Investors Causes Concern

The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently looking into things. Take 'em down!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Fun with riddles

Ok, here’s a little P and P riddle for ya:

Basically, I’ve been around since the 60s. I’m pretty big and I can carry heavy loads. I can travel really far but often it’s incredibly difficult for me to get off the ground on schedule. There’s been several versions of me.

People who ride with me like to float around in my belly while I do the navigating.

Unfortunately, pieces of me like to randomly fall off during travel, potentially causing my passengers great harm. I always require absolutely perfect weather to land at the end of my journeys. And, when I return, I sometimes need a piggy back ride back home.

I’m incredibly outdated and people don’t seem to be all that interested in me anymore. I’m thinking about retiring so I can hang around Lockheed Martin factories and talk smack about the good old days.

What am I?

click here to find out!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Big day ahead for Gaza Strip

Shooting. Killing. Cease-fire. Peace talks. Tense waiting. Repeat.
Why do reports on the Isreal/Palestine conflict continue to follow this vicious cycle over and over again?

On Aug. 17, Israel will allegedly remove itself from the Gaza Strip as part of a "land-for-peace" initiative between Israel and Palestine. This unilateral decision will force a lot of folks away from their homes. Violence has already erupted among some Palestinian militant groups.

Whenever I read about the Gaza Strip, I think back to a Political Science professor I once had who referred to the area as "a small strip of land made up of dirt and rocks."

here's one recent Q and A

and check this out

Banning American Indian Mascots


"The NCAA banned the use of American Indian mascots by sports teams during its postseason tournaments, but will not prohibit them otherwise."

Click here for full article

Well, at least it's a start.

- Jean Chen

Space Shuttle

Ok, I'm just gonna say what everyone is thinking, "Who cares about the space shuttle?" For the past couple of weeks, it's been in headlines every single day, and quite frankly, I just don't care. Yes, I hope the crew returns safely, but I don't feel like I need to hear all about repairing a panel on the shuttle.


- Jean Chen

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Getting blackballed....

Dear fellow 9 to 5ers,

“You’ll get run out the industry for this!”

That’s what a colleague told me recently. Until then it’d never crossed my mind that KNOCK THE HUSTLE: How to save Your Job and Your Life from Corporate America (August 31, 2005) would get me blackballed from my industry. But over the last few weeks, I’ve gotten hate e-mails from companies telling me that I’d never work there again and from industry professionals containing phrases like, “shut-up” and “you have no right to say this stuff” and “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

I’ve spent 13 years on the corporate grind building brands for everyone from AT&T to Cingular Wireless to Mercedes Benz to Sprite and others. I was a respected and in-demand ad professional, consistently turning down more jobs than I ever took—that is, until a few months ago. That’s when the excerpts, press releases, and op-ed columns went out. That’s when my phone stopped ringing and my calls stopped being returned.

I guess that’s what happens when you write a book that challenges corporate diversity (it’s a scam—the marketing industry remains, by design, as lily-white as ever), corporate ethics (Madison Ave. has plenty of ethics, just no morals), agency/client relationships (pimps up/hos down), focus groups/timesheets (too much CYA’ing for them to be effective), corporate hierarchies (too many bosses, not enough leaders), consumer culture (marketers are pied pipers—we can’t criticize pop culture without looking in the mirror first)…

But it’s okay. Besides hate mail and threats, KNOCK THE HUSTLE is starting to get some solid buzz. Pre-orders are slowly but steadily rolling in. Media outlets are calling for interviews and review copies. (I’m even starting to get speaking engagements.)

Truth is, no amount of venom can stop the truth. KNOCK THE HUSTLE: How to save Your Job and Your Life from Corporate America by Hadji Williams is about to change the corporate game for good. It’s packed with everything you’re afraid to say, strategies and solutions to actually do it, and enough insight and inspiration to keep fighting until the victory is yours. (Plus it’s just a hot, hilariously entertaining read.)

So I invite you to visit: www.knockthehustle.com now. Get the excerpts. Get the truth. Get out from under. And remember:

The Hustle ends when we begin.

Adidas builds with Reebok? So what...

A colleague recently asked me what I thought about Adidas merging with Reebok meant for Nike and the shoe world. Here’s my response.

Hmmm…. Adidas and Reebok? To be real with you, I’m not impressed. And to not pull any punches lemme just say that this merger is the culmination of a lot of missteps over the years on the part of Nike, Reebok and the entire athletic gear industry.

Back in the day, (mid-late ‘70s) Nike was just a running shoe--mostly distance runners in the northwest wore them. Adidas was a European brand--rugby and soccer guys wore them almost exclusively. Reebok was a tennis brand and aerobic shoe, mainly. Converse used to be the big dog as far as basketball went.

But there was this huge vacuum in the fashion industry. There were no black designers--save for WiliWear, by Toukie Smith's brother (a new york brother who was big in the mid ‘80s fashion world); and most of Willi Wear was upscale, euro-inspired stuff with an urban new Yorker vibe.

But for the average brother and sister on the block and from around the way, you had nothing, no choices at all. There were no real black clothing lines or major black designers putting it down for us and repping our sensibilities. And our black models, what few there were outside of Iman, Beverly Johnson and couple others, were light-skinned, skinny and very Anglo-centric looking; and even they weren’t getting any love from the still lily-white industry. Consequently, as a black fashion consumer you were stuck chasing mainstream beauty standards and buying Levis, Lees, Girbaud's, etc. It wasn't until Cross Colours and Kani gear showed up that you had any choices fashion wise.

To rebel, a lot of black folks turned to Nike almost out of desperation. Athletic gear was the only clothing out that had any sense of flavor at all. Heads rocked athletic gear because a) it had flavor that mainstream designers didn't have b) it was aspirational--the jerseys represented athletes which represented the few black folks who were making any money and living large c) athletic gear had a much better fit than most clothes which were made off of a eurocentric view of the body (skinny, straight, etc.)

(And to be fair, a certain baldhead slick skywalker from North Carolina had a lot to do with Nike’s international appeal, too.)

But the fashion and athletic clothing industries were too lazy (and prejudiced) to really see the big picture. They just looked at it as "look at all these niggas buying our overpriced gym shows and gear. Let’s jack the prices up and gouge ‘em.” They totally slept on the fact that black consumers were really hungry for clothing and styles reflective and celebratory of their culture and way of life and that Nike and crew were just hors douvre for a meal that hadn’t been cooked yet. If they'd been smart Nike would've started a black clothing line 20 years ago instead of just milking individual black athletes for endorsement deals.

What's killing the Nike, Reebok and Adidas monopoly now is the fact that they're no longer the de facto black fashion lines... Brothers and sisters are making their own clothes and shoes. If Nike drops something hot, they may cop it, but nobody's checking for Phil Knight like we did back in the day because we can make our own styles. They're playing catch-up.

In the end, I say his Adidas-Reebok deal is gonna be a disaster much like the AOL Time Warner merger from a few years back because they don't see the big picture either. Kids around the world, particularly kids of colour don't have to sit around waiting for Reebok to tell them what's hot anymore, which is how athletic gear companies made their money for years. These days, kids, especially these ethnic kids are making their own clothing lines, which will cut into the Athletic gear category even further.

Reebok and Nike and Adidas are dead men walking; they just don't know it yet.

Truth be told, they'd be better off investing in hot developing designers from around the world... Find that hot kid in Japan with a clothing line, find that hot kids in Brazil and nigera and Germany, etc. and get in on the ground floor of something like that... Make the brand international and different in every country.

No matter how big they get, Reebok and Adidas will never be leaders again. Cheerleaders and bandwagon riders, maybe. But market leaders? Nah, their days are numbered on that tip. And if Nike, Reebok and Adidas, etc. are smart, they'll fall back and learn to be good humble soldiers. And leave urban clothing to urban folks. After all, we invented it.

Friday, August 05, 2005

safety first

Kids, look both ways before crossing the street and girls, rub gel on your vagina before sex...

A new miracle gel to prevent HIV, unwanted pregnancies, and other sexually transmitted diseases (and infections) could be available in as soon as three years, since scientists still haven't developed a successful vaccine. The gel will be make birth control pills and condoms obsolete. It gives women more control over shady sexual partners who don't like wearing condoms because the women simply applies the gel on the area that requires treatment and voila, instant AIDS-be-gone!

The article doesn't mention whether it's a 100% successful combatant of diseases, but it is discussed as if it will be the end-all suckerpunch for spreading AIDS. The product is in the test phase already. Even if it works, will it be cheap and available for everyone? Will health insurance cover it? HIV/AIDS medicine is a multi-million or more likely, a multi-billion dollar industry; I doubt that they're going to let something that might dramatically decrease the spread of HIV go so easily.

Also, what social effects will it have? Will it just be an excuse to not use condoms? Will there be less unwanted kids? 3 out of 5 people reading this were an "accident" (I just made that statistic up, but I could be right). Or will there be more unwanted babies? (Girls lying to guys talkin' bout they're on the gel just to make him her baby daddy and get his money.)

I don't know about all these medical "breakthroughs." How bout scientists try devoloping "cures" instead? That might work better than gels.

-Zoneil Maharaj

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Why do Men have Nipples?

Ever found your self having questions that you feel are too stupid to ask...like why do men have nipples, or why do beans give you gas?

Ever woke up in the morning, got a whiff of you own breath, nearly passed out, then became curious about where that stench came from?

Have you ever been bit by a poisonous snake and simply not known what do? Or even took the time out to learn that the average office space has 400 times more disease causing bacteria then the average toilet seat.

Thanks to New York physician Billy Goldberg, we will have answers. His new book, entitled "Why Do Men Have Nipples: Hundreds of Questions you can only ask your Doctor After Your Third Martini," is a collection to answers to some of the most- well- embarrassing questions.

Check Out This Article

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Bush Supports Intelligent Design

I can't believe I live in a country where the President supports teaching intelligent design in our public schools. I was a biology major in college and this is an outrage.

From the Washington Post:

"Although he said that curriculum decisions should be made by school districts rather than the federal government, Bush told Texas newspaper reporters in a group interview at the White House on Monday that he believes that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution as competing theories.

"Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about," he said, according to an official transcript of the session. Bush added: "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . . You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.""

Click here for article

But let's get this straight: intelligent design is not a scientific theory!!

- Jean

Monday, August 01, 2005

Controversy Over--Cho Chang?!

Does the character of Cho Chang from the Harry Potter series rehash Asian stereotypes? Just read an interesting opinion piece from the Philippine News, courtesy of the Pacific New Servics. The opinion piece touches on controversy over casting the character, outrage over the name of the character, lack of varied portrayals of Asians in the media, etc...

Philippine News: Harry Potter Triggers Debate on the Asian Image in the Media

Jealous online teens write their thoughts in forums and ever-popular blogs...Some Asian teens complain that Leung is “ugly,” while non-Asian fans are “jealous” that Harry Potter is kissing an Asian (this is what happens in Harry Potter #5.)

I think this writer takes these sort of "message board" type posts too seriously. I honestly doubt that any Harry Potter fan cares about Cho's ethnicity. Of course lovesick fans are proclaiming that Leung is ugly; the actress will get to kiss Daniel Radcliffe, 16-year-old sweetheart of the rodeo and star of the film. Aishwarya Rai or Nicole Kidman could be playing Harry Potter's love interest and still get hisses of "that skank is naaaaaasty!"

Aside from that, I would completely and utterly agree that there are not nearly enough portrayals of Asians in the Western media. Actually, that's the one and only thing I would change about the Harry Potter books: more characters who just happen to be minorities. What I'm really not sure of is whether Cho Chang's character is a stereotype. She's generally nice, cries at the drop of a hat and is good at Quidditch. Any opinions?

PS: And if anybody has finished HBP and wants to hear my theories of why that "certain person" who murdered "another certain person" like totally didn't mean it and is STILL good/decent/disturbingly crush-worthy, just let me know!

Baby step for same-sex

The same-sex marriage debate took a baby step forward recently when the United Church of Christ (UCC) overwhelmingly approved a resolution to endorse marriages between people of the same sex.

However, the resolution is non-binding, which means individual churches can choose whether or not to support it. So in reality, how big of a step did the denomination take? How will individual church members respond? And who's paying attention?

FYI, the UCC was criticized last year for a TV ad campaign featuring a gay couple, among others, being excluded from a church. Two major networks rejected the ads.

here's one article

and listen to this