Tuesday, December 11, 2007

THE BEST WORK I'VE DONE IN MANILA







It wasn't anything that will look flashy in my book. It was a simple act of kindness for a small group of kids who have a life much harder than anyone reading this can imagine. BBDO-GO does work for a group called Childhope Asia, which is a non-profit organization that helps kids who are living on the street. Some have "families" of some sort, but most have nothing close to a stable existence. Last Saturday a group of BBDO employees met the kids and a few adult Childhope volunteers in Rizal Park, and we spent the afternoon doing arts & crafts. We took photos, gave them coloring books & crayons, and then we made these little paper angels. After they were done making the angels they were told to write a wish of something they'd like to have on the back of the angels, and the plan was to get these things for the kids as Christmas presents. Many of us thought they would write things like "I want a toy truck," or "I want a Barbie doll." It turns out many wrote about wanting to have their families back together for Christmas, or just wanting to HAVE a family. Things that we could not do. So that part was kind of heartbreaking, but the most important thing was that we did something that made the kids smile, even if it was just for a few hours. I can't think of a better memory to end my journey with.

This is my last post. The purpose of this blog was not to be a continuing, living entity, but a record of "a moment in time." These 10 weeks in Manila was my Temporary Autonomous Zone, and now it is over. If I continue to embrace the unknown and reject conventional thought there will be many others. To anyone reading this, I hope you enjoyed some of the thoughts and actions documented here. Don't live in fear.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Saturday, December 1, 2007

EVERYTHING IS INCOHERENT

Part 3 of 3

I know that you have come here today to hear explanations. Well, don't expect to hear any explanations about Dada. You explain to me why you exist. You haven't the faintest idea. You will say: I exist to make my children happy. But in your hearts you know that isn't so. You will say: I exist to guard my country, against barbarian invasions. That's a fine reason. You will say: I exist because God wills. That's a fairy tale for children. You will never be able to tell me why you exist but you will always be ready to maintain a serious attitude about life. You will never understand that life is a pun, for you will never be alone enough to reject hatred, judgments, all these things that require such an effort, in favor of a calm level state of mind that makes everything equal and without importance.

Dada is not at all modern. It is more in the nature of a return to an almost Buddhist religion of indifference. Dada covers things with an artificial gentleness, a snow of butterflies released from the head of a prestidigitator. Dada is immobility and does not comprehend the passions. You will call this a paradox, since Dada is manifested only in violent acts. Yes, the reactions of individuals contaminated by destruction are rather violent, but when these reactions are exhausted, annihilated by the Satanic insistence of a continuous and progressive "What for?" what remains, what dominates is indifference. But with the same note of conviction I might maintain the contrary.

Dada is here, there and a little everywhere, such as it is, with its faults, with its personal differences and distinctions which it accepts and views with indifference. We are often told that we are incoherent, but into this word people try to put an insult that it is rather hard for me to fathom. Everything is incoherent.

Dada is a state of mind. That is why it transforms itself according to races and events. Dada applies itself to everything, and yet it is nothing, it is the point where the yes and the no and all the opposites meet, not solemnly in the castles of human philosophies, but very simply at street corners, like dogs and grasshoppers.

Like everything in life, Dada is useless.

Dada is without pretension, as life should be.

Perhaps you will understand me better when I tell you that Dada is a virgin microbe that penetrates with the insistence of air into all the spaces that reason has not been able to fill with words or conventions.

FROM ALL THESE DISGUSTS IT DRAWS NO CONCLUSION

Part 2 of 3-

I say unto you: there is no beginning and we do not tremble, we are not sentimental. We are a furious Wind, tearing the dirty linen of clouds and prayers, preparing the great spectacle of disaster, fire, decomposition.* We will put an end to mourning and replace tears by sirens screeching from one continent to another. Pavilions of intense joy and widowers with the sadness of poison. Dada is the signboard of abstraction; advertising and business are also elements of poetry.

Science disgusts me as soon as it becomes a speculative system, loses its character of utility-that is so useless but is at least individual. I detest greasy objectivity, and harmony, the science that finds everything in order. Carry on, my children, humanity . . . Science says we are the servants of nature: everything is in order, make love and bash your brains in. Carry on, my children, humanity, kind bourgeois and journalist virgins . . . I am against systems, the most acceptable system is on principle to have none.

The beginnings of Dada were not the beginnings of an art, but of a disgust. Disgust with the magnificence of philosophers who for 3000 years have been explaining everything to us (what for? ), disgust with the pretensions of these artists-God's-representatives-on-earth, disgust with passion and with real pathological wickedness where it was not worth the bother; disgust with a false form of domination and restriction *en masse*, that accentuates rather than appeases man's instinct of domination, disgust with all the catalogued categories, with the false prophets who are nothing but a front for the interests of money, pride, disease, disgust with the lieutenants of a mercantile art made to order according to a few infantile laws, disgust with the divorce of good and evil, the beautiful and the ugly (for why is it more estimable to be red rather than green, to the left rather than the right, to be large or small?). Disgust finally with the Jesuitical dialectic which can explain everything and fill people's minds with oblique and obtuse ideas without any physiological basis or ethnic roots, all this by means of blinding artifice and ignoble charlatans promises.

As Dada marches it continuously destroys, not in extension but in itself. From all these disgusts, may I add, it draws no conclusion, no pride, no benefit. It has even stopped combating anything, in the realization that it's no use, that all this doesn't matter. What interests a Dadaist is his own mode of life. But here we approach the great secret.

Every product of disgust capable of becoming a negation of the family is Dada;
a protest with the fists of its whole being engaged in destructive action: Dada;
knowledge of all the means rejected up until now by the shamefaced sex of comfortable compromise and good manners: Dada;
abolition of logic, which is the dance of those impotent to create: Dada;
of every social hierarchy and equation set up for the sake of values by our valets: Dada;
every object, all objects, sentiments, obscurities, apparitions and the precise clash of parallel lines are weapons for the fight: Dada;
abolition of memory: Dada;
abolition of archaeology: Dada;
abolition of prophets: Dada;
abolition of the future: Dada;
absolute and unquestionable faith in every god that is the immediate product of spontaneity: Dada.

A SAVIOR, A MONSTER, WHICH WOULD LAY WASTE TO EVERYTHING IN ITS PATH

The Dada movement was a protest against the barbarism of World War I, the bourgeois interests that Dada adherents believed inspired the war, and what they believed was an oppressive intellectual rigidity in both art and everyday society. Dada was an international movement, and it is difficult to classify artists as being from any one particular country, as they were constantly moving from one place to another.

Dada thought that reason and logic had led people into the horrors of war, so the only route to salvation was to reject logic and embrace anarchy and irrationality. However, this could also be thought of as the logical side of anarchy and rejection of values and order; it is not irrational to embrace the systematic destruction of values, if one thinks them to be flawed.

According to its proponents, Dada was not art - it was "anti-art". It was anti-art in the sense that Dadaists protested against the contemporary academic and cultured values of art. For everything that art stood for, Dada was to represent the opposite. Where art was concerned with aesthetics, Dada ignored aesthetics. If art were to have at least an implicit or latent message, Dada strove to have no meaning - interpretation of Dada is dependent entirely on the viewer. If art is to appeal to sensibilities, Dada is to offend. Ironically, Dada became an influential movement in modern art, a commentary on order and the carnage Dadaists believed it wreaked. Through their rejection of traditional culture and aesthetics they hoped to destroy them.

A reviewer from the American Art News stated at the time that "The Dada philosophy is the sickest, most paralyzing and most destructive thing that has ever originated from the brain of man." Art historians have described Dada as being, in large part, "in reaction to what many of these artists saw as nothing more than an insane spectacle of collective homicide."

Years later, Dada artists described the movement as "a phenomenon bursting forth in the midst of the postwar economic and moral crisis, a savior, a monster, which would lay waste to everything in its path. It was a systematic work of destruction and demoralization...In the end it became nothing but an act of sacrilege."

While broad, the movement was unstable. By 1924 in Paris, Dada was melding into surrealism, and artists had gone on to other ideas and movements, including surrealism, social realism and other forms of modernism. Some theorists argue that Dada was actually the beginning of postmodern art.

By the dawn of World War II, many of the European Dadaists had fled or emigrated to the United States. Some died in death camps under Hitler, who persecuted the kind of "Degenerate art" that Dada represented. The movement became less active as post-World War II optimism led to new movements in art and literature.

Dada is a named influence and reference of various anti-art and political and cultural movements including the Lettrists and the Situationists.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

HOW TO (NOT) OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT





Holy shit. In the past month, I've experienced a deadly explosion at a mall, a political assassination via bomb attack, a typhoon, an earthquake, and today, an attempt to overthrow the Philippines' government. The Coup attempt was made by a senator and a general who were on trial today for ANOTHER coup attempt they had in 2003. So they just walked right out of the courtroom and proceeded to take over a posh hotel just 3 blocks from where I work. Imagine waking up in the morning and saying to yourself "Today is the day I'm going to overthrow the government." It's actually a pretty attractive thing to dream about, but this guy took it to the proverbial "next level." Here's CNN's take on it:
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MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- Dramatically played out on live television, an opposition politician and rebel military officers surrendered to government forces after taking over a luxury hotel in Manila.

"We're going out for the sake of the safety of everybody," Philippines Sen. Antonio Trillanes said.

The senator made the decision to give up after the military peppered the inside of the hotel with tear gas. Live pictures from inside the hotel showed reporters and rebel soldiers covering their faces.

An armored vehicle was also seen firing into the lobby of Manila's Peninsula hotel and later rammed through the front entrance of the building.

"The situation is contained within the Peninsula hotel, Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro told CNN.

"The perpetrators are in the process of being arrested." Those who held the hotel were shown being loaded into a Philippine National Police bus.

Teodoro said no one was injured, but Associated Press reported that at least two people were injured.

The standoff began hours earlier when a group led by Trillanes and Army Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim bolted from a court hearing on charges linked to a failed 2003 coup attempt. Video Watch footage of troops storming the hotel in Manila »

"What happened, to me, was clearly either an attempted rebellion or an attempted coup d'etat," Teodoro said.

Philippines military and police personnel had been surrounding the hotel, where the group was asking for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to step down. After Trillanes' announcement, soldiers milled around the outside of the hotel, but the scene had calmed noticeably.

Arroyo had issued orders to the military and police in response to the seizure of the hotel, located in Manila's Makati financial district, journalist Adrian Addison told CNN. Few supporters of the rebels were visible around the Peninsula hotel, Addison said.

Philippine authorities gave the rebel group until 2:30 p.m. (0630 GMT) to allow guests to leave the hotel, and until 3:00 p.m. (0700 GMT) to surrender, the ABS-CBN news service reported.
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Businessman Peter Parcel was caught in the middle of the hotel's takeover and subsequent tear-gassing. Listen to the eyewitness in the hotel describe what happened Video

"I couldn't see and couldn't breathe," he said, noting he faced "at least 100 guns" as he exited the hotel.
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I got let out of work early because everybody was wondering if full-scale civil war was about to jump off. I immediately went back to my apartment, grabbed my camera, (like any international man of adventure would do) and rolled back out into the street to get pix. It was really weird walking right down the middle of an empty Ayala avenue, which is usually so traffic packed it's impossible to even cross. I could only get so far until the Police barricade which was set up a few hundred yards in front of the Peninsula hotel, where the perps were holed up. After I shot some photos, I walked back to the crib and watched it play out live on CNN, and heard hundreds of bullets being fired outside my balcony. A few hours later, after the rebels surrendered, I walked back by the hotel just as the tanks were rolling out. That was so fucking surreal watching a giant military tank rolling right down the middle of the street. There's a Govt. imposed curfew tonight from midnight-5AM. This shit is gonna make Miami feel even more tame than it already felt, but that's OK. I think I'm about ready for a little bit of tame.

Monday, November 26, 2007

NOTHING SAYS "EXCELLENCE IN ADVERTISING" LIKE FULLY AUTOMATIC WEAPONS




Aren't guns wonderful? I mean, you never know when an angry suit from Proctor & Gamble is gonna go all suicide-bomber and storm the convention center because he's pissed about the pack shot on their latest toothpaste ad. After this photo was taken I asked one of the SWAT guys if I could get a close-up of him putting his gun to the side of my head. He declined. I guess that would've been against his orders.

Anyway, BBDO-GO dominated the awards, winning the agency of the year honors based on a points system determined by the amount of Bronze, Silver, & Gold awards won. BBDO amassed over twice the amount of points as TBWA, who finished second. The next day, a full color photo of the agency appeared on the cover of the "Philippine Daily Inquirer." The guys also graciously invited me to be in the photo which will appear on the cover of next month's "Adobo" magazine, which is the biggest Ad industry magazine in the country. I wish I could share the credit for all of it, but the ideas that won all these awards were hatched long before I got here. I'm just happy to be in such good company, and share in the spoils of their success.









Sunday, November 25, 2007

MORE EXISTENTIAL NEUROMANCY

This is one of the most beautiful songs ever written, with lyrics that would make Sartre proud. Like Roxy Music, Tuxedomoon were always trying to find that something, just out of reach...glowing
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In a Manner of speaking
I just want to say
That I could never forget the way
You told me everything
By saying nothing

In a manner of speaking
I don't understand
How love in silence becomes reprimand
But the way that i feel about you
Is beyond words

Oh give me the words
Give me the words
That tell me nothing
Oh give me the words
Give me the words
That tell me everything

In a manner of speaking
Semantics won't do
In this life that we live we only make do
And the way that we feel
Might have to be sacrificed

So in a manner of speaking
I just want to say
That just like you I should find a way
To tell you everything
By saying nothing.

Oh give me the words
Give me the words
That tell me nothing
Oh give me the words
Give me the words
That tell me everything

Oh give me the words
Give me the words
That tell me nothing
Oh give me the words
Give me the words
That tell me everything

THUS, EVEN ZARATHUSTRA COULD BELIEVE IN YOU

I was riding up to Subic Bay for the Philippine Ad Congress awards (more on that later) and I found myself listening to this classic Roxy Music cut about 6 times in a row, and deciding that these are the best lyrics ever written. Bryan Ferry manages to weave abstracted meditations on mortality, vanity, sensual dystopia, post-modern isolation, false idol worship, and even Nietzsche into an epic song that just rolls on and on like a never ending dream. This song makes me believe in the future of civilization. To see that something, just out of reach, glowing...

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Well I've been up all night again
Party-time wasting is too much fun
Then I step back thinking
Of life's inner meaning
And my latest fling
It's the same old story
All love and glory
It's a pantomime
If you're looking for love
In a looking glass world
It's pretty hard to find
Oh mother of pearl
I wouldn't trade you
For another girl
Divine intervention
Always my intention
So I take my time
I've been looking for something
I've always wanted
But was never mine
But now I've seen that something
Just out of reach - glowing -
Very Holy grail
Oh mother of pearl
Lustrous lady
Of a sacred world
Thus: even Zarathustra
Another-time-loser
Could believe in you
With every goddess a let down
Every idol a bring down
It gets you down
But the search for perfection
Your own predilection
Goes on and on and on and on
Canadian Club love
A place in the Country
Everyone's ideal
But you are my favorita
And a place in your heart dear
Makes me feel more real
Oh mother of pearl
I wouldn't change you
For the whole world
You're highbrow, holy
With lots of soul
Melancholy shimmering
Serpentine sleekness
Was always my weakness
Like a simple tune
But no dilettante
Filigree fancy
Beats the plastic you
Career girl cover
Exposed and another
Slips right into-view
Oh looking for love
In a looking glass world
Is pretty hard for you
Few throwaway kisses
The boomerang misses
Spin round and round
Fall on featherbed quilted
Faced with silk
Softly stuffed eider down
Take refuge in pleasure
Just give me your future
We'll forget your past
Oh mother of pearl
Submarine lover
In a shrinking world
Oh lonely dreamer
Your choker provokes
A picture cameo
Oh mother of pearl
So so semi-precious
In your detached world
Oh mother of pearl
I wouldn't trade you
For another girl

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

SUCKERED AGAIN BY CORPORATE MEDIA

I was checking my e-mail today, and a link on the page caught my attention. It said something like "Watch the Bachelor season finale SHOCKER!" I hate that fucking show and all other shows like it with a passion. But, because the headline claimed some kind of "shocker" I fell for it like a fucking idiot. I thought to myself "I can spend a minute of my life watching The Bachelor if someone is going to get royally fucked." In the back of my mind I was hoping that this "shocker" had something to do with the chick who gets picked revealing that she's really a lesbian, and that she just came on the show to fuck with the structure, bring down the babylon and punk everybody out, and that she would rant & rave about how fucked reality TV shows are, and maybe they'd even get security on her. I'd get to watch Joe Lonely try to calculate the proper response that says 'manly, yet contemplative!' AT LEAST I was hoping for something like he gets attacked and nearly has his eyes clawed out by angry, scorned reality TV star wannabe.

So what did I get? This nondescript, almost handsome "guy next door" looking country-fried hick, getting all weepy with another bumpkin while he blabbered predictable shit like "I hate to lose you," and then proceeded to lose her. The dude doesn't pick either girl. So what? It still looked exactly like you thought it would. There aren't enough colorful adjectives in the world to save a show like that from choking on it's own vomit, because you can't polish a turd. No matter how hard you try. Isn't it sad how many things in life are consistently EXACTLY HOW YOU EXPECT THEM TO BE?

It's my own fault. That's what I get for believing even for a second that there could be anything close to "shocking" happening on "reality" TV.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

JESUS LOVES YOU AND YOUR 15 HOUR WORK DAY

Did this story come straight from the bible? The irony is so thick you could have fooled me.
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NEW YORK - A labor rights group alleged Tuesday that crucifixes sold in religious gift shops in the U.S. are produced under "horrific" conditions in a Chinese factory with more than 15-hour work days and inadequate food.

"It's a throwback to the worst of the garment sweatshops 10, 20 years ago," said Charles Kernaghan, director of the National Labor Committee.

Kernaghan held a news conference in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral to call attention to conditions at a factory in Dongguan, a southern Chinese city near Hong Kong, where he said crosses sold at the historic church and elsewhere are made.

Spokespeople for St. Patrick's and another New York landmark, the Episcopal Trinity Church at Wall Street, said the churches had removed dozens of crucifixes from their shops while they investigate the claims.

"I don't think they have a clue where these crucifixes were made — in horrific work conditions," Kernaghan said.

Kernaghan said the factory's mostly young, female employees work from 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. seven days a week and are paid 26 cents an hour with no sick days or vacation. Workers live in filthy dormitories and are fed a watery "slop."

Kernaghan said factory workers took photos and smuggled out documents detailing practices there. While none of the crucifixes sold in New York were identified as made in China, they bore serial numbers matching products made at the factory in question, Kernaghan said.

Joe Zwilling, a spokesman for St. Patrick's, said church officials had not heard about the issue before Tuesday. Trinity spokeswoman Diane Reed said her church had been "under the impression that these were mass-produced in Italy."

St. Patrick's and Trinity bought the crosses from the Singer Co., a religious goods company based in suburban Mount Vernon. Co-owner Gerald Singer said the religious objects were made in China and purchased through a Chinese manufacturer called Full Start.

"Whether they came out of a sweatshop, we do not know," Singer said. "We asked Full Start to sign off that there are no sweatshop conditions involved, and no children and that they abide by Chinese law. This is a black eye for us."

An after-hours call to a U.S. office of Full Start Ltd. in East Providence, R.I., was not immediately returned Tuesday.

A man at the Full Start factory in Dongguan said the allegations were "totally incorrect."

The working conditions at the factory were "fine," said the man, who refused to give his name. The 200-plus employees work from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, with an hour and a half break for lunch, he said.

The employees were rarely asked to work overtime, but were compensated when they did, he said. When pressed for more details, the man said he wasn't in charge of those issues and hung up the phone.

Kernaghan said the crosses were exhibited at an annual trade show organized by the Association for Christian Retail, a Colorado-based trade association that works with thousands of religious stores across the country.

Bill Anderson, president and chief executive of the Christian trade association, issued a statement saying: "While we occasionally hear this issue raised, and believe there are factories in China where human rights are violated, we believe claims that products sold through CBA member stores are made in these shops are irresponsible and unfounded."

Dongguan lies at the center of China's export manufacturing industry, which relies heavily on low wages to remain competitive. Factories there have been accused in the past of labor abuses, including those making products for McDonald's, Disney, Mattel and the Beijing Olympics.

ROOM SERVICE

And the second...

video

THE ICING ON THE CAKE

I just got my hands on the hi-res copies of the 2 NU107 TVC spots we filmed last week. Here's the first:



video

Monday, November 19, 2007

ART IS NOT A MIRROR, IT IS A HAMMER





I got an amazing book a few days ago called "The Design of Dissent." After viewing work that illuminates the human condition for the rest of humanity, all other visuals seem a little meaningless. "Can you make the logo a little bit bigger?" Sure, we can make the logo bigger, chief.

Friday, November 16, 2007

AMERICA IS KILLING IT'S YOUTH

Take one look into Alan Vega's eyes and tell me he doesn't mean it more than anyone who ever stepped onto a stage. To say that Suicide was the most ahead-of-their-time band in history is doing them a disservice; they didn't even exist in the same time-space continuum as the rest of the world. Suicide was, and will always be, the biggest "FUCK YOU" to every institution, every record label, every scene, every eardrum ever perpetrated in the name of music. It is simply impossible to gauge the scope of their importance. There will never be another.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I LOVE YOU



More sad news from the headlines:

Megan Coulter, a Mascoutah, Ill., eighth-grader, served two after-school detentions last week. Her offense? Hugging two friends and therefore violating the Mascoutah Middle School's ban on public displays of affection.

Coulter's case drew dozens of newspaper headlines and landed her on NBC's Today Show. But it also illustrates a key challenge facing America's schools: When is a hug inappropriate - or "extreme," as its been dubbed by some administrators? And, more broadly, how far should schools go in policing the behavior of a generation that often takes its social cues from Paris Hilton and Britney Spears?

Student-on-student public displays of affection (PDAs) have long been problematic for school administrators and parents. Experts say anti-PDA policies have existed for nearly two decades, although it's not known how many schools and school districts have imposed such rules. In 1999, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling held schools responsible for creating environments free of harassment among students; that decision then led many lawsuit-averse administrators to ban most forms of student contact - except, of course, for high-contact sports like football and wrestling. Among the most extreme policies is in Vienna, Va., where the Kilmer Middle School has a blanket "No Contact" rule that bans even high-fives. The Fossil Hill Middle School in Fort Worth, Texas, has banned students from hugging and holding hands. Earlier this year, the Percy Julian Middle School in Oak Park, Illinois, banned hugs.

Other schools have a broad ban on "inappropriate displays of affection," or IPDAs. Proponents say it gives school administrators more discretion in interpreting what constitutes "inappropriate" behavior. Yet that same discretion potentially exposes administrators to accusations of unfairly targeting, say, a Latina for braiding a friend's hair, or for showing favoritism by failing to reprimand the football team's quarterback who playfully smacks a teammate's back after a win.

Practical considerations - like hallway traffic control - are behind some of these no-contact measures. For example, at Iowa City, Iowa's South East Junior High School, girls who hadn't seen each other for an entire 42-minute class often stopped to hug each other in hallways during the four-minute break between classes. The hugging clogged the 700-student school's hallways. So Deb Wretman, the principal, developed a "hands-off, or handshake" slogan to limit greetings to a handshake. (She is loath to call it a "policy," and points out that "you won't find anything in our handbook that refers to 'no hugs' or 'public displays of affection.'") While there's no penalty for "violating the slogan," Wretman says the effort has significantly reduced hallway congestion.

Under the most extreme anti-PDA policies, however, even a student who hugs a friend whose parent has just died could potentially face suspension. The lack of nuance in such policies bothers critics like Lisa Graybill, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union's Texas Chapter. "Preventing harassment and teaching kids to respect each other is important, but having yet another reason for kids' behavior to be criminalized is unnecessary," she says. "It's draconian to ban all forms of touch."

Megan Coulter's case began in earnest at a sports event a couple of weeks ago. Her parents say her southern Illinois school's vice principal asked her and a male friend to stop hugging. Then, on Nov. 2, Megan stood near a bus in the school's parking lot and put her arm around a male friend's shoulder. The vice principal, who did not return calls seeking comment, immediately issued a detention order. Minutes later, as Megan walked across the school's front lawn, a female friend gave her a hug. The vice principal issued the second detention order.

"I honestly think I shouldn't have been punished, because the hugs were nothing inappropriate," Megan, 13, said in a Today show interview, her face expressionless, her brown hair pulled back, one hand clutching her mother's. "There wasn't bodies pressed up against each other."

Now, says her mother Melissa Coulter, Megan is being shunned by friends, whose parents deem her a "bad influence." Yet the Coulters say they still support anti-PDA policies, particularly for teenagers. "I don't want them to be all over each other in the hallways," Melissa Coulter told TIME on Sunday. "We just need to clarify how they apply it. Maybe the administrators weren't given enough latitude in using their judgment." The Coulters are waiting to see if Megan's school reviews the policy for the next year. If that does not happen, they will take the issue to the school board.
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Can you believe it that in America, in (nearly) 2008, public affection is slowly becoming an act of radicalism? Are the people making these rules impotent, or just loveless? I think they need a hug. I like the way they even invented a clever acronym for "inappropriate displays of affection" - IPDA. I came up with a better one- "Inadequate Pawns Dig Authority."


Mr. Wilson predicted this in 1985-

"If I were to kiss you here they'd call it an act of terrorism--so let's take our pistols to bed & wake up the city at midnight like drunken bandits celebrating with a fusillade, the message of the taste of chaos."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

LIQUOR, DESTRUCTION, SPANDEX: ALL THE INGREDIENTS OF A GOOD TVC




On Monday we shot the TVC's for NU107's 20 year anniversary & 14th annual rock awards. The concept is that yours truly plays a rockstar hopelessly out of touch with the times, yet still living the life just as hard as he was 20 years ago. We started at 11AM and finished at 8AM the next morning. In just under 24 hours, I got to destroy a guitar, birthday cake, flat screen TV, lamp, dishes, carpet, bed, and a nicely framed picture. And I did it all while completely drunk. They call it "method acting." In this case, the method was easy- get fucked up and destroy shit. I have a little bit of experience doing that, so it was easy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

ATTACKED BY GOD FROM ALL SIDES


The Philippines is a very religious country. Right now, as I type this, I'm looking out my window at big green neon letters on top of a building that say "IN GOD WE TRUST." That's one of the only things I don't really like about this country, except when I'm in a cab. When I get in a cab I'm very excited to see that cross hanging from the rear-view mirror, because then I can be reasonably assured the driver will immediately turn the meter on and keep everything honest. You see, in guidebooks (written in typically alarmist fashion) they always say shit like "Many drivers will try to rip you off by not turning on the meter and then asking for an inflated rate." Not true, as long as your driver has the fear of God in his heart. The one and only time I had a driver try to pull the "no meter" shit on me was with this young guy driving a "pimp my ride" cab bumping obnoxiously bad modern R&B. Sure enough, no cross dangling from the mirror, or any other religious paraphernalia in the cab. Because he knew that there would be no lightning bolt waiting to strike him down the second he got his con on, that gave him the mental freedom to act shady. CAB DRIVERS + GOD = GOOD! I look for the guys who are deathly afraid of that ominous lightning bolt in the sky. I know they'll get me to the destination in a righteous manner.

GREENBELT MALL + GOD = NO GOOD! I went walking around at the Greenbelt mall today. I'm definitely NOT a mall person, but in Makati if you want to see a movie or just waste some time, the mall is about the best option. Greenbelt is kind of like a little oasis of Green in the city too (whoever named this place was a fucking GENIUS!!!!) It seems removed from the urban cityscape, noise, and smog of the city. Unless you go there on a Sunday afternoon, where you will escape the city and smog, but not the noise. Today's noise came in the form of a preacher blabbing on and on over a LOUD P.A. system. He kept on talking about how God wants us to reject sin. Every few minutes or so he would pause for a second, and then I could hear birds chirping, and the water bubbling in this nice little fountain with fish in it. I would feel tranquil for a few seconds, and then he'd start telling me what God wants again. I was thinking to myself "What if God wants me to enjoy the sound of these birds and this bubbling water?" Maybe I should get my own bigger, badder P.A. system so I can wage a GOD-OFF BATTLE ROYALE with this dude next Sunday. He can tell everyone to reject sin and I can read passages from Bertrand Russell's "Why I Am Not a Christian." I'm sure his audience would be larger.

Oh well. At least it was better than that time in New York where this radical Islam dude was standing on the sidewalk with a mic and a few cronies, yelling about how the White man is the Devil. I walked past and he pointed at me, saying "look at this Devil!!!" I started laughing in his face and blowing him kisses.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A PLACE IN TIME CAN BE SOMETHING ELSE

In case you were wondering where I got the name for this blog, here it is. Bey's book "T.A.Z." is one of my absolute all-time favorites, right alongside Battaile's "Guilty," Nabokov's "Lolita," and Camus' "The Stranger." It's easy to find good books to read. It's hard to find books that change your life. T.A.Z. is that book. Thank you, Mr. Wilson.

BEAUTY AND DANGER...THE PERFECT COMBINATION

This song was supposedly never released commercially. Art for art's sake. No chart position, no billboard soundscan, no commerce. Just sweet, sweet music.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

WAR IS PEACE, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY





Have a look at this disturbing article I read today:
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/research/4226614.html

"In the past decade, a wave of researchers using scans has laid bare the rough schematics of how our brains handle fear, memory, risk-taking, romantic love and other mental processes. Soon, the technology could go even further, pulling back the curtain guarding our most private selves. Indeed, boosters say, a nearly foolproof lie detector based on brain scanning is just around the corner.

If they’re right, then there may come a day when others—the government, employers, even your spouse—might turn to technology to determine whether you are a law-abiding citizen, a promising new hire or a faithful partner."

More proof that (sadly) Orwell WAS the visionary genius we thought he was. Yes, he was right, and only time will tell how many years off his predictions were. Have a look at the state of the planet today, and then tell me that figuring out how to read someone's mind is a good use of time and money.

I'm just REALLY, REALLY, HAPPY that I'll be dead before this technology comes to fruition. I know that the thought police wouldn't like what they'd find inside my head.

DUDE, WHERE'S MY COUNTRY?

I just wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes from the greatest founding father of them all, Thomas Jefferson. What would he say about the state of the nation now?



I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind.

I have seen enough of one war never to wish to see another.

Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government.

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.

I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way.

I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.

Bodily decay is gloomy in prospect, but of all human contemplations the most abhorrent is body without mind.

Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.

Every generation needs a new revolution.

Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.



-So, anybody heard any good George W. Bush quotes lately?

Monday, November 5, 2007

DOPE, GUNS, AND FUCKING IN THE STREETS

Hey Miami-
you can keep your anaesthetized house music, plastic surgery, fake tits, velvet ropes, and VIP lists. Fuck that. THIS is my kind of party.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD



I've been interested in photography for many years, and even though I still consider myself an amateur, I've shot a few photos here in Manila that make me feel very proud. This is my favorite photo I've ever taken (that's not of a family member.) The look on the faces of these people is so beautiful. And not just the genuine smiles, but the warmness, the openness. It's amazing how one image can give you hope that the world hasn't completely gone to shit, that humanity is still alive. Too bad the image most foreigners have of this country is one of terrorists & kidnappings. They need to see more photos like this one. THIS is the true nature of the Philippines. But even though photos can say so much, you still need to see these things with your own eyes. It's like Charlie Parker said- "If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SMOKING HELPS YOU PEDAL FASTER


Look at this motherfucker pedaling his way to victory in the Tour de France, dreaming about the smooth, satisfying Champion cigarette he's going to smoke right before he breaks away for good during the last leg. Man, I saw this and my mind was blown. Last post I said people in advertising should tell it like it is. Scratch that. I now believe we should tell the most insane, outrageous lies we can think up, and the sheer preposterousness of it will be enough to make the viewer go "WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?!?! THAT'S SO FUCKING CRAZY I HAVE TO BUY THAT PRODUCT RIGHT NOW." It worked on me. After seeing this demented billboard I almost started smoking and cross-country cycling simultaneously.

Friday, October 26, 2007

THIS IS MY FINEST ACHIEVEMENT IN ADVERTISING

Just kidding. I didn't actually make this, even tho I wish I had. Wouldn't it be great if every Ad was this spectacular? If people started telling it like it is, this business could get a little respect.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

NOISE POLLUTION

All of the people at the agency have exquisite taste in music. I was amazed, actually. I figured that they'd all know about the BIG time "cool" bands (Nirvana, Clash, Pixies, etc.) but I never figured the depth of their knowledge would be so extensive. I've had talks about bands like The Birthday Party, Killing Joke, Mission of Burma, The Stooges, Husker Du, and they all know them. That's the agency. The rest of Manila, however, is another story. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a cab or a mall and heard probably the worst song of all time, the brutally sappy "Lady in red" by Chris De Burgh. Uggggh. Seriously, I've heard that song at least 5 times in two weeks. Another winner that's played incessantly: "You're the inspiration" by Peter Cetera. Also, any fluffy, corny-ass piano ballad you could describe as "positive," "uplifting," or "inspirational," chances are I've heard it about 1,000 times. I've heard every acoustic power-ballad by every hair metal band of the 80's here, although I haven't heard any electric hair metal. I think my testicles are actually shrinking with every second that I'm exposed to this mind numbing, testosterone draining assault.

But last night I experienced the 'piece de resistance' when I was tooling around in the back of a cab while dude was listening to a radio station called "Love 90.7" or something like that. The DJ's were talking to each other and one of them says "I've been getting REALLY into PCM rock lately," and right as I'm in the middle of thinking "What the fuck is PCM rock???" he answers it for me: Positive Christian Music. My heart sank.

Now there's only ONE time I'll ever agree with a hardcore bible-thumper about anything, and that's when he says that Rock and Roll is the Devil's music. You're right. Rock and Roll IS the Devil's music, so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't fuck with it. The Devil is perfectly happy with his record collection. Keep your creepy little born-again fingers away from it. Rock and Roll needs Christianity like George Michael needs pussy.

I'm not saying there's no place for Christianity in music. Some of the best music ever made is deeply spiritual. I LOVE Gospel music, and that's as Christian as it gets. Mahalia Jackson has one of the most earth-shatteringly expressive voices I've ever heard, and it's all for God. I'm just saying that Rock n Roll is about SIN. Lust, envy, greed- you name it, rock has it covered. And that's why I love it so. Let's keep it pure & evil.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

AN ASSLOAD OF SPECULATION

Since last Friday's explosion in Glorietta mall, it seems everybody has been throwing their 2 pesos in as to its' true cause. At first, of course everyone thought it was a bomb. Then, later on in the first day of investigation, it was thought to be an accidental explosion. Quickly the bomb theory came back. It's easy to see why the bomb theory would be the most prevalent; it's the most sensational, and it definitely sells more newspapers. But now, after days of examination, the most popular theory is that the explosion WASN'T caused by a bomb. Here's why: The only reason it was thought to be a bomb in the first place was due to the existence of a trace chemical used in making explosives supposedly found on the scene. Now, after re-testing parts of the scene, investigators are saying possibly that they had a false positive test at first. Also, as of now, no blasting caps, timing devices, or any other pieces of mayhem-inducing equipment have been found. That's DEFINITELY good news, but there's a big brown cloud draped over the silver lining.

The popular theory now is that the explosion was caused by an underground buildup of heat, mixed with diesel fumes, and the main ingredient- methane gas. Here's the gross part- the reason all of that methane gas had built up was because of the malfunctioning of a sewage pump. That's right- 11 people dead and hundreds injured because of hundreds of pounds of exploding shit. Wow. Which is worse, getting blown up by a terrorist bomb or by human waste?

There's still no definitive conclusion. It might be weeks until the official word gets handed down.

REVENGE

No one can have too much Black Flag in their lives.

THEY'D BE MUCH HAPPIER IF I WAS BUSY BREEDING

Sometimes it's hard to believe how sterilized modern "rock" music has become. Yeah, kids still wear leather jackets, but the difference is that now the (insert popular "punk" band name here) concert is sponsored by (insert multi-national corporation name here.) By this point, sadly, the power of the dollar has long since eclipsed the power of the idea. It's not "us against them," it's "us, brought to you in part by them, with the help of them and them." Now, let's all have a happy concert! At one point, purity of expression in music was something that was non-negotiable.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

BACK TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME

How do you recover after a terrorist bombing? Have a wild, drunken Karaoke party, of course!!! Here we were just 8 hours after the bomb, at a mall right next to the one that was blown up. Gino (the guy singing) has a notorious reputation for falling out by the end of the night. The first time we all went out he ended up passed out on the bar. Sure enough, just hours after this heartfelt rendition of "Happy Birthday" he was out cold again. Some of my rowdy companions decided to pull his pants down and use some whipped cream to make a little kitty-whiskers moustache on his face. Too bad my camera was out of juice by that point.

Karaoke was fun. I sang "Let's get it on," which is really the distilled essence of everything that rock, soul, & R&B music is all about. It's just saying "LET'S FUCK" in the most elegant, beautiful way. I mean, how do you top the persuasive perfection of a lyric like "If you believe in love let's get it on." What girl DOESN'T believe in love? If you can't seal the deal with Marvin Gaye providing the soundtrack, you can't seal the deal. Thank you, Marvin.

video

ALL MUST REMAIN CALM


This sign was just posted in the elevator of my building. My favorite thing about it is the bullet points towards the bottom, like "open the window or doors to minimize the blast effect." It's like an anti-terror instruction manual. Also I love the last sentence- "All must remain calm and no discussions should be made of the incident."

Friday, October 19, 2007

WHY DO THE TERRORISTS HATE US?

Let Killing Joke explain it to you...

all the time you see us we'll be on our way
taking what is mine 'cos now i'll have my day
dominator soul he take what's in his way
dominator soul he take what's in his way
move in on them
all the time you see us we'll be on our way
passive ways to pull you down they pull you down
tear them up and smash them in we'll have our day
dominator soul he sing "i'll have my way"
move in on them
move in on them
dominator soul he'll take what's in his way
and if they fall leave them behind 'cos that's his way
and then we'll dance a dance - a dance they've never seen
dominator soul he'll take what's in his way
move in on them

BOMBING UPDATE






Here's the latest, according to the Associated Press:

MANILA, Philippines - A powerful blast rocked a crowded shopping mall in Manila's financial district Friday, killing at least eight people and wounding dozens. Police in the capital declared the highest state of alert and did not rule out a bomb.

An initial report suggested the blast was caused by a cooking gas tank in a mall restaurant, but Metropolitan Manila police chief Geary Barias later said the explosion was at the entrance of the mall and its cause was under investigation.

"It's too early to say if it's terrorism related," Barias said.

In the past, Manila has been a target of Al-Qaida-linked militants, who have waged a yearslong bloody bombing campaign in the southern Philippines.

The explosion extensively damaged the Glorietta 2 shopping complex in Makati, toppling roofs, destroying walls, and sending debris crashing onto cars outside.

At least eight people died and as many as 70 others were hurt, Barias said.

"I was told by officials of the explosives and ordnance disposal division that it could be a bomb, but it's not definite yet," said national police chief Avelino Razon.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said in a statement she was "deeply saddened" by the incident and ordered police to investigate "and to leave no stone unturned."

Witnesses told radio stations they saw bloodied people being helped out and carried away in ambulances. An Associated Press photographer saw four bodies covered with blankets.

Taxi driver Mario Em said he had just dropped off two women at the mall when the blast hurled them against his vehicle, killing them instantly.

He said he pulled one of the victims, who was pregnant, from underneath his car.

"The blast was so loud I lost hearing," he said.

People inside the mall scampered toward the exits when the blast shook the mall.

"One man who was in front of me was already dead. There was a child but we don't know where the child is now," said witness Dennis Inigo, who was shopping at the time of the explosion.

"The man's wife was with me a while ago, and her leg was shattered. Many people were falling on top of each other," he said. "It was loud, and then it became dusty."

In 2004, Abu Sayyaf militants, notorious for kidnappings and beheadings, blew up a passenger ferry in Manila Bay, killing 116 people in the country's worst terrorist attack. The following year, four people were killed and dozens wounded when a bomb exploded on a Makati bus and two southern cities.

Several months ago, authorities were alerted to an alleged terror plot to plant bombs in Manila's business districts of Makati and Ortigas, said a government counterterrorism official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

CHAOS


The sirens are raging 11 floors below right now. It's 2:19PM on Friday, and about 15 minutes ago a bomb (supposedly) exploded in the Glorietta mall, which is only a few blocks away up Ayala Avenue. Reports are unconfirmed, so there's a change the explosion could have been caused by a gas leak or something else, but initial reports say it's a bombing. I'm not sure if anyone was killed or how many were injured.

Watching the scene below from the window was surreal. Sirens struggling to break thru the already gridlocked traffic, while thousands of people filled the streets. One girl in the office came up to me and said "Welcome to the Philippines" with a coy smile.

The creepyest part of this- I was at the exact location where the bomb went off yesterday. Guess I spoke too soon about how safe it is, huh? :) Still, that's no reason to hide inside and reject experience. When my time comes, so be it. I refuse to live in fear.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!

I just remembered something I miss about America. Here it is.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

WATCHING THE MARKETS WORK



It's fascinating the way that economics are everywhere, constantly swirling around us. Time and space are commodities, the battle for positioning in hearts and minds is being waged every second of every day. All is supply and demand. Is it any wonder Ned Beatty won the oscar for about 10 minutes worth of dialogue in "Network?" I like to watch all of the human commodities exchanges taking place on the streets of Manila. What does it all mean?

You might not realize this, but comic book guy has an identical twin, and his name is fat, white, old, bald, Filipina whore-monger guy. Yes, I have seen this dude, and his numerous dopplegangers, carousing the streets with little 80lb., 18 year old Filipina hotties, at all times of the day & night. The Ugly American personified, he cruises like a modern day pedophiliac urban cowboy, with a wallet full of money and a pocket full of Viagara. Dude woke up one day in Bumfuck, Idaho and realized his life was going nowhere, his woman didn't know how to polish the knob properly, he says to himself "I'm OUT!" and next thing you know Mr. Nobody is suddenly big pimpin' as the great white hope, stranger in a strange land.

My first, gut reaction is to look at this guy and say to myself "What a fucking sleazebag," but then when I back up and eliminate my inbred moral judgement which is the result of growing up in the midwestern bible belt of America, I realize there's nothing "right" or "wrong" about it, it's just economics, supply and demand. Now, the REASONS for the existence of these conditions that create the supply & demand are worthy of their own book (I'm sure there have been plenty written), so I'm not going to get into that. All I know is, people have jobs, people make money, and then people spend their money. Welcome to the glorious machine called Capitalism. Is a girl selling herself to Joe Fatfuck any different than a sad little slave who puts on a tie everyday and rides in a crowded metal box to a job he hates? Both are doing a job, to make money, to spend money, to feed the machine.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

WHAT?

The first project I was assigned to work on after getting here was to write some scripts for NU107, Manila's biggest rock radio station. They want a TVC to coincide with the Rock Awards, an event kinda like the Philippines' MTV VMA's. that will happen while I'm here (fuck yeah) that also references the station's 20 year anniversary. After Simon (BBDO's head of copy) came up with the brilliant strategic line "20 years of rock has an effect," I came up with a few scenarios to illustrate what that might mean. We had a meeting with the client yesterday, and after we presented all of our scripts, they said they liked one of my ideas the best! :) We're probably going to produce it, they just need to run it by a few more people first. Here's the script:

"CAN’T HEAR YOU!"


Old rocker is onstage, looking out at a crowd. He can’t see them since he’s brightly lit up by a spotlight.

He says “Are you ready to rock?”

The crowd cheers. “Yeahhh!!!”

He says “I said, are you ready to rock???”

More screaming. “Yeahhh!!!”

“I can’t hear you!”

More screaming. “Yeahhh”

“No really, I can’t hear you!!!!”

Crowd is a little bewildered. Still some applause, but it’s dying down.

He’s obviously agitated. “Seriously, is ANYONE here ready to rock????”

Hardly any applause now, because everyone in the crowd is very confused.


Super: 20 YEARS OF ROCK HAS AN EFFECT


The 20th NU 107 Rock Awards

OR: 20 years of deafening rock.

Monday, October 15, 2007

NIGHTFALL IN THE CITY



This is the view from my balcony. This photo doesn't begin to capture the panorama the way it looks in reality. From up here on the 17th floor, the honking horns almost sound like ambient music.

FEAR

After spending my first full week in Manila I have noticed many similarities to the western world, and obviously a few differences; but one thing stands out more than the rest: there is nothing here that even remotely feels "Dangerous." Granted, I am in Makati, the business district and therefore the most upscale district in the city. But I can't help but feel like I've been victimized by some kind of alarmism prior to the trip. Many people, after I told them of my plan to work & live here, said nervously "Aren't there terrorists there???" As if the mere existence of a single "terrorist" was reason enough for me to cancel my trip. My response should have been "Aren't there millions of ignorant, simple-minded, fucked up assholes in America? Yes. But I still live here, don't I?"

Here's the point: I whole-heartedly believe that in many occasions the human psyche creates more drama pertaining to a situation than really exists. Why is that? Is is because so many people feel a sense of disillusionment or lack of fulfillment in their own lives? Are they really that stupid, or just bored and feel the need to "stir things up?" I guess if billions of people worldwide can live their lives making decisions based on some book written by somebody they've never met, of course they can be afraid because of some supposed insight written by someone they've never met. It makes perfect sense, really. The world is as fucked up as it is because of fear. Fear of "that" way of thinking or living. I can only attest to my own firsthand experience, but in my life I've never been anywhere that felt dangerous to me, and I've been to a lot of places that public opinion deems "dangerous," often alone, lost, inebriated or all of the above simultaneously. Of course, I've never been to Iraq, Afganistan, or Sudan. But I've seen enough to tell you that there are a lot of fucking sheep in humans' clothing grazing around all of us.

It makes me think of a quote from the classic film Blade Runner- "Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave."

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

SYNCHRONICITY TO THE FUCKING NTH POWER

I very rarely experience something that I would want to conclusively attribute to that syrupy word "fate." I'm not religious. I believe in nature & science. That being said, I experienced a series of seemingly chance occurrences over a period of 24 hours that defy logical description. When I think about how many people live on this planet, and then about the events that unfolded, it almost makes my head explode. So here's what happened:

The day before I left for Manila I re-read my itinerary, making sure everything was tight. I noticed that on my return flight, the flight leg between Tokyo & Los Angeles had mysteriously vanished. I knew that I booked a solid round-trip flight with no gaps, so I got on the phone to see wtf was going on. The dude helping me was very polite, and kept putting me on hold, then coming back to explain what was happening. Turns out JAL had to cancel the flight from Tokyo, so he got with American Airlines to hook me up w/ a new flight. When everything was straight he said "So, I see you're going to Manila. Are you Filipino?" I said "No", and explained that I was doing an internship at an Ad agency for 10 weeks. "Well, you'll have a great time, especially in Makati." I explained that that was where I would be staying and working, and then he said "That's where I am right now." I said "so you're in Makati right now, and that's exactly where I'll be tomorrow, huh?"

He then says that I should have a tour guide while I'm there and he gives me his cell phone number. Tells me to call him up & he'll take me out for drinks. I told him I'd call him when I get in (still haven't done it yet, but I will.) After I got off of the phone with him I was thinking that coincidence was pretty crazy. It turns out that was only just the tip of the proverbial iceburg.

About 12 hours later I was in Narita Intl. airport in Tokyo. I hadn't received a boarding pass to the Tokyo/Manila leg of the trip, so I was waiting at the JAL counter. There was also another American guy waiting next to me, who also needed to get his boarding pass. He had a wicked stiff white trash mullet. It was like Ziggy Stardust era Bowie meets Nascar. He was asking me about my guitar (I brought it with me carry-on.) The lady at the counter asked us for our passports and then printed our boarding passes. She lays them down on the counter and when I first looked at them I thought she had made a mistake. I looked at mine, and then I saw his, and it had the same last name. I said "Your last name is Buchanan? MY last name is Buchanan." We both spent a few minutes doing the "WHOAH" thing. I have never met anyone in my life with my last name (that I'm not related to) and then here I am in an airport in Japan and it happens. Strange? Fuck yeah. But not nearly as strange as what was about to happen.

Of course, after this craziness with our names, we sat down together & started exchanging stories. I told Danny Ray (yeah) the story about the Orbitz dude that I randomly called in Makati from Miami, and he says "No shit???? My girlfriend that I'm going to visit in Manila is the supervisor of the Orbitz call center. She's probably that guy's boss."

At that point, my mind was completely blown. If I could have bought a lottery ticket at that moment I'm certain I would have hit the jackpot. But wait, there's more (if you can believe that)...

After we sat and tried to get our heads wrapped around that shit, he looks at his phone and says "Man, I told my phone company to get me Intl. service, but it's not working here. I hope this works in Manila."
At that point another American guy who was sitting across from us leans over with his phone up and says "You can buy a phone like this one on the street for $50 and it works everywhere in the country. That's your best bet."

We then struck up a conversation with the phone guy and Danny Ray asks him how safe he thinks Manila is. (This guy had already expressed the fact that he's visited a number of times.) "Oh, it's very safe" he says. "I feel safer walking around the streets of Manila than I do walking around the South Side of Chicago." I then said that I had lived in Chicago for a number of years. I asked where he lives, and he said "I'm actually from Rockford, so I live there now." I said "Ahhh, Rockford, the land of Cheap Trick." (Cheap Trick is one of my favorite bands) Then he says "Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick's drummer) is my cousin. I gave him his first drum set when we were teenagers."

As you can imagine, at that point I was feeling like I was in some kind of wrinkle in time or a twilight zone or something. Since arriving I've found out that the building where I'm working is also filled with call centers. There's a good chance that the first guy I talked to from Orbitz works in the same building as me. It's a wild world.

Monday, October 1, 2007

FROM SAFETY TO WHERE?

Leaving for Manila in 2 days. I'll be working at BBDO for 10 weeks. Of course my parents told me how "dangerous" it was going to be. That doesn't really matter to me, considering that a decade ago I didn't think I'd live to see 30 years old. When I was younger I liked leaving much more than arriving. Now that feeling has reversed itself. What does that say about me? Perhaps I'm becoming more of a "glass half full" person? Sometimes I even start to believe that myself, until I turn on the news or happen to overhear a "conversation" (if you want to call it that) being had here in sunny, vapid Miami Beach. Will I miss America? When I was in Budapest, Hungary for 10 weeks I didn't miss America for a single second.