Digital DUMBO Drinks #4, DUMBO Arts Center, New York
April 23, 2009
Do you start each week with a list of not necessarily specific tactics to destroy the week, but those overarching thematic goals? Yeah, I used to make fun of those people, but guess what? I set goals this week inspired by an incredibly sore jaw and a constantly lurching heart rate. I'm not a neurosurgeon or a premature baby rubber, so what can possibly increase my heart rate to late-night tooth-grinding status?
My solution to clear the mind and soothe the soul: Deny the open bars, eat healthfully (no pizza, cheese, and crumpets covered in peanut butter and syrup), detoxify myself (I don't have the fortitude to go hardcore, so detox tea suffices), and ... this is the big one... do not let stupid things (people fall under this category as well) get to me. Firefox "Not Responding" and Twitterberry "uncaught screen exception" should not result in blinding rage. I mean, let's keep this all in perspective.
Keeping cool and clean is hard! It's hard not to get clogged up with the lower-level burblings (the gossip, the personality dramas) rumbling in this industry. And really, when you care about ANYTHING it doesn't matter what line of work you walk, you get emotionally invested in it (a column, a project, a plan, an event), which is great, but can cause you to lose sight of realistic reaction-making. People are losing their jobs, kids are committing suicide because of bullying, adults are resorting to the same and worse because of poor financial decision-making, people are dying around the world, pizza still makes you fat -- all of this is much bigger than one offensive comment on a blog (OK, it's more like online content with commenting) ABOUT MEDIA INDUSTRY PARTIES. Wake up and smell the levity.
I've done well with my goals this week until I got barfed on by a grown man in my post about Lee Woodruff's book launch party (and coinciding promotion of Tweet to ReMIND) that happened to be at the bar JWT. I didn't write about JWT's work nor did I meet anyone who worked there, but somehow I inspired ire in a grown man who doesn't even know me. You know what wiped away my shocked and offended heart palpitations? Hitting the Digital Out of Home Awards and being in the company of professionals. That's right, professionals -- people who operate and have companies to represent. "These people are MediaPost, these are the people whose opinions I care about," I reminded myself -- the rest is just noise.
Last night was a good cap to the almost end of the week - with a little Digital DUMBO action at the DUMBO Arts Center (DAC), a wood-planked basement-like place. A dash of frat house was added with that beer-on-the-floor stink emanating from the keg. Oh yes, they had a keg. Talk about insta-college-flashback. Joining the keg was a table of crunchable munchies. I met some new DUMBO-ites, including a gal from my other homestate of CT, creator of the Hey Brooklyn podcast, Amber (also of theambershow.net). Poor thing was wearing sky-high heels that kept getting grabbed by the plank cracks. Every once in a while you're see her walk and then jerk quickly to a stop, stuck once again. Amber created Hey Brooklyn as a newbie to the area hungry to meet other creative, smart, driven people. She was with husband is Rob Blatt, host of a "not totally offensive male centric" podcast.
Oh, ha, I forgot that as I walked along Front Street looking for the other street names that hopstop.com gave me (but that DUMBO did not) I ran into Gregory Galant of Sawhorse Media on the corner. No, he wasn't working there, he was looking for the venue like me. We arrive together and ran into other guests, among them William Alvarez, Online Marketing Manager at EcommercePartners.net.
In the middle of the party, my defensive reaction button was tested by David Skokna, Executive Creative Director/Partner at HUGE as he scrolled through his simple, clever, and engaging slides. While celebrating the culture, the crime, and the critters of DUMBO he threw in a few jabs at Manhattan. Since I live here and made the 35-minute, two-subway ride over to document the digital hub of Brooklyn, I had to physically hold my knee jerks down. One slide took a jab at Manhattan rent, with a big F___ Manhattan. Now, that one I agree with. Another was Skokna's list of things he hates. People chortled along to the list of inside jokes. Then I saw "Bridge and Tunnel" where Skokna vehemently stated that Manhattan is the bridge and tunnel crowd and that they should just stay there.
My knee jerked up and kicked me in the face. It's WONDERFUL to be proud of your neighborhood and its history. Skokna has an incredible history himself building HUGE, running out of money and losing HUGE, and now finally after all the blood sweat and tears, propelling HUGE full steam ahead with a fuel tank stacked with smartypants. But that message was at 76% opacity for me with the Manhattan alienation jabs. There are a few of us over here who are against gentrification, love found graffiti, and live, breathe, and dream in glossy storyboards and UI-perfecting wireframes, too, you know. We can co-exist can't we? I mean, you guys can still be all Brooklyn plaid cool without putting down the island, right? I hope so, since I've been impressed by the people and the work every time I hit Digital DUMBO, and I was pretty inspired by the rest of Skokna's slide show, especially the photo of the Speedo thong guy. Every neighborhood needs "that guy."
Not "that guy" were the following guests, possibly looking for Squarehead: Sander Harlage and his colleague Duncan from outside.in, Heather Jackson and Luca Mihaly from Conductor, Ian Culley and Chris Cassanello from Two B Two P, Christopher Rush from Wireless Generation. Representing the Manhattan bridge and tunnel crowd with me were Josh Sternberg of Sternberg Strategic Communications; freelance writer and baker to the stars, Lisa Lacy; Ripple 6's Katie Morse; Trylon PR's Matt Caldecutt; Yelp's PR crawfish queen, Chantelle Karl; and "the other photog" Nick McGlynn.
Thanks to Carrot Creative's Kristin Maverick for helping DUMBO shine digitally and to HUGE's Katy Kelley for hosting the event and nabbing a great venue. Keep fighting the good fight!