“All it takes to keep a man alive is…”

“… a positive attitude.” That’s what my friend said sitting next to me on the bench. I know we can all quibble about what it takes to keep a man alive and maybe come up with something else more poetic, but it wouldn’t be true, because the man who spoke this knows about staying alive in ways you and I don’t. My friend, William, spends his days in Rittenhouse Park, and his evenings, often times, at a train station. He has no formal residence. He has diabetes and has illnesses that come and go. This has been one of the harshest winters in Philadelphia history. Yet the man spends more time during our conversations talking about how to help other people, than talking about himself.

“All it takes to keep a man alive is a positive attitude. I could be lying on my back, dying somewhere, but I’m not.” There are other people in his situation who have gone over the edge. William offered one of them a sandwich yesterday, but the man declined preferring to “eat out of trashcans because his mind is so messed up.” William is not in that state and he’s thankful for that. He’s looking forward to the weekend, when we might see the mid 40s or possibly the bottom 50s. He’s looking forward to be able to take off his gnit hat and loosening his coat. He always asks me how my project is going and “how’s your girlfriend?”

Before I moved to Philly, I came to visit from LA, of all places, sometime around August. That’s the first time I saw that guy sitting there on the bench. I’m not kidding: 7 out of 10 people seemed to know him. Every 3rd person stopped to say hi. There’s a reason. He exudes optimism. He exudes joy. At that time, I actually said “hi” and we talked a bit. He introduced himself. I introduced myself. The funny thing was, I thought about him when I flew back to California. Two months later, when I moved to Philly, and I saw him, he recognized me “It’s Seth, isn’t it?”

I don’t know where I’m going with this, other than to iterate what we all should already know, and maybe too often deny. It’s not cheesy. It’s not oversimplifying, but it should never be considered profound. It should be obvious. “All it takes to keep a man alive is a positive attitude.”

“… have some tacos to cool off.”

So, today, I took a bus from Philly to Scranton, to meet up with my dad.  We are preparing for our trip to Louisiana. Today is also my dad’s birthday. In continuing efforts to entertain my father, I thought, for fun, we’d go to a late lunch at this place called “Quaker Steak and Lube”. Ok, before you get to thinking this is the cheesiest lunch plan on the planet, especially for so important a day: hear me out. Quaker Steak and Lube was featured recently on the Travel Channel’s “Man vs Food” (excellent show). The host, Adam, had to eat their most insane hot wings. I thought : this is great idea! What better way to celebrate with my dad then to try climbing Everest! (seriously, though, my other thought was “Dad’s going to get a great laugh”).

I can’t tell you how nervous I actually felt, leading up to the arrival of the basket. Dad had “hot” (3k Scoville Units — measure of hotness). Atomic = 150k units. I ate the first three with zeal and they were delicious!! Then came the pain, chased by lots of milk. As I ate, and Dad gave me the play by play on the sweat pouring off my forehead, I reflected that the worst part was the dual concentration of ignoring the pain, and abating the nausea building in my stomach of the 2 massive glasses of whole milk swirling amid hot sauce (and the pudding I had for breakfast – not a good way to start the day).

Pain upon pain. The heat was only in my lips, tongue and throat, but it was so intense, that the rest of my body actually shivered with cold! Beth, our waitress, was incredible, sympathetic. She had to try all of the sauces, as part of her hiring, so she understood. At the end, she brought me a small cup of chocolate sauce which she said would take down the edge. I wasn’t crying. (maybe tearing). I was tough. Still a man. Still had my deep voice going. She was right about the chocolate helping.

Then Dad said the phrase which locked in my mind. “Well, for dinner, you can have some tacos to cool off.” Probably any third party will think my dad crazy with a line like that. No, Mom just had dinner planned, and Dad was just reminding me, but the delivery made me laugh so much the resulting afterglow in my stomach was slightly frightening. It subsided, as did the pain. “Boy,” my father said, as he does when imparting wisdom, or when he is too embarassed to pronounce my name, ” eating that was a really stupid idea.”

Rainy Streets – look at the pic for a few seocnds



Last night, I was walking with my brother to his car, and saw this light refllecting off the pavement around me.  After he took off, I grabbed my cam and tripod, and began a short adventure around my neighborhood. I got a few looks (some amused).  I think I’m going to turn this into a series.  I need to do a little technical thinking about how to present these.  More to come.

IBC – Day 1 – Adobe Production Premium CS4

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 After my original writeup from the tradeshow, Creative Cow was told to pull their writeup by Adobe.  I then took mine down.  Creative Cow now has theirs back up, so, I guess I’ll repost my take on CS4.

CS4 is going to be cool.  At first, as I watched the demo, I wasn’t quite sure, but I realized they were building up to the real summit of what is going to be great in CS4.  

1) Broadened use of “Dyanamic Link” – ie, now you can move back and forth between Premiere and After Effects as well as After Effects and FLASH!!!!!

2)  AE and Flash – – this is going to be sick . . . AE layers can be pulled directly into Flash for animation (wow)

3) Speech Transcription  – – Premiere will automatically transcribe spoken works and make video libraries, as well as frames within the videos searchable according to the resultant text!

4) New Effects for AE?  A decent cartoon effect.  With a few clicks, it was actually fairly impressive.

So, there you go.  When I was at IBC, this was one of the things I made sure I attended at Adobe.  This was just a “sneak peak”.  I imagine there will be much more fun behind the new release (not to mention some of the stuff one can find on YouTube surrounding Photoshop CS4).






XXIX Olympiad

I’m not a sportsbuff.  I’m hardly sports-competent.  However, when the Olympics come around, I’m glued to that screen.  I am a member of that crowd cheering the swimming team and hoping for Phelps to break Spitz’ 7 Gold Medal record.  (My dad and I stayed up late watching just that moment last night when it happened.)  Beach volleyball?  Cool.  Track?  Cool.  Gymnastics? Oh yeah!  I don’t care.  I’m there.  Just about the only thing that doesn’t grab me is synchronized diving: just doesn’t do it for me, though I can appreciate the time it takes to put together a real team.  

I have been a little put-off by the over-the-top commercialism of this Olympics.  I know it’s a great advertising opportunity and all, but seeing the US Team parading in with big Ralph-Lauren Polo logos on their chests didn’t impress me, and I gotta tell ya, the McDonald’s ad with the supposed Olympic teammembers “going for the gold” starting their day with a fried fillet of chicken?  I don’t believe that.  I sincerely hope their isn’t some kid out there, wanting to start his Olympic career with the supposed regimine of a friend chicken sandwich every morning.Laughing  I can just see the headline.

You know, though, I can put that aside.  Seeing these people, from all walks of life, from all different cultures, do these Herculean feats just astounds me.  Moreover, just seeing one volleyball player pull an opposing team member out of the sand, or seeing a swimmer stall a race so another competitor can get her swimsuit replaced… that’s what really grabs me.  The Olympics are about building international relationships, and that’s what I enjoy even above seeing someone smash records.  I love seeing the closing ceremonies when everyone is together on that field sharing a singular moment.



Photographer : Gregory Crewdson

Gregory CrewdsonMy favorite thing to do at Barnes and Noble is to go to the photography section and build a massive stack of books.  I take them to someplace quiet and start flipping from back to front: loading up my imagination.  When I get full of one, I’ll move to someone different and just keep going back and forth until my brain is fully saturated. It was during one of these extended stays that I came across Gregory Crewdson’s book Twllight.

The cover grabbed me.  There was just something beautiful in the image of an Ophelia-like woman suspended in a mirror between the ordinary and surreal.  To me, it’s haunting in that way of a good movie or book: you leave the theatre, you finish the last sentence and still – the story continues replaying over and over in your head as you try to dig deeper and decipher every bit, look from every angle.  I love that feeling.  It’s the primary reason why I put David Lynch near the top of my director’s list : his stuff taps into me and the experience just keeps going weeks after I watch the movie.


Something has happened in his photos.  He creates the moment when, whether good or ill,something has transpired. I can’t help but be mesmerized by the mystery invoked.  I do not feel judgment, rather a surreal curiosity.  Many times his work carries that same kind of isolation and loneliness that I would see in Edward Hopper.  Curiosity becomes an almost voyeuristic fascination as we stand looking into a very private moment, oftentimes within the home itself.  Sometimes, I want to step through.  Sometimes, I just want to hold back and watch/listen; otherwise I might be too much the intruder.

You can read about Gregory Crewdson here, at Wikipedia.  His work is featured at the Luhring Augustine gallery.


Reach out and make a friend