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.