Posts Tagged ‘Culture and Society’

Twenty years ago today…

November 9, 2009 Leave a comment

I was a child riding in the back of my daddy’s grey Cadillac with my sister by my side. We were barreling down a tree-lined boulevard within a mile or two of our home. Dad was listening intently to the radio, and all of a sudden, he turned up the volume and said

Listen, girls. This is history. You’re too young to understand now… but someday, you’ll be proud to tell your children you were alive on the day that the Berlin Wall fell.

The words didn’t mean a thing to me, but the look on my dad’s face, and the gravity in his voice, gave me pause. I tried to get it, to look solemn, and to make him proud of me.

Later, of course, I learned about the deprivation, the cruelty, the triumph. It meant more then, and I thought I was horrified at it.

At twenty, I backpacked alone through Germany, making special stops to explore Dresden (a citystorydreampileofashes that has always haunted me) and, of course, Berlin.

You know, you can still see a difference between the East and the West sectors. The East is a little more spartan, pockmarked in places; there’s a McDonalds restaurant, though, and you get the feeling that East Germany didn’t finish getting dressed for the party and now that it’s there, feels a bit out of place; a little naked.

The remnants of the Wall, of course, are a shrine now. I crouched down and laid the palm of my hand against what was left; it’s more graffiti than it is wall. And it’s thinner than I had imagined, a poorer barrier than its reputation suggests. The “Iron Curtain” was mostly an idea.

Which of your ideas impoverishes you? Which separates and distances you from the life you want to have? Bear down on it with enough rage and enough determination, and you may find it somewhat weaker than you thought.


Spamtastic irony

September 29, 2009 Leave a comment

What’s the best spam you’ve ever received?

Mine is an invitation to a free webinar on how to evade spam filters. And I’m blogging about it because I just can’t keep this kind of thing to myself; elegant cases of irony belong to the world.

I’ve left the identifying information intact (but I’ve disabled the links) as I grudgingly have to give this Craig Stouffer fellow props. And bonus points for chutzpah. The guy deserves a bit o’ free publicity, as apparently he does know what he’s doing.

(My initial reaction was #fail… but now that I think about it… #win, Craig, #win.)

Simply put, if you don’t understand how current SPAM Filters work, you simply can’t design for

effective email deliverability.  I’m dropping you a final invite to join us this Wednesday / Thursday

for a *free* Webinar: Understanding SPAM Filters. We’ll follow the path of an email from send to

delivery and explain how current SPAM filters can stop your email in its tracks. Details…

This 45 minute interactive event will cover several tips to help The Weinbach Group, Inc.

improve email response rates.  Topics include:

* How current generation, networked email filters work
* Email authentication: How DKIM and SPF impact delivery
* Tech tips to improve email deliverability

Session #1: Wednesday September 30th
WHAT: Writing Tips to Improve Response Rates
WHEN: Wednesday September 30th at 1:00pm (Eastern) / 10:00am (Pacific)
WHERE: Register:

Session #2: Thursday October 1st
WHAT: Writing Tips to Improve Response Rates
WHEN: Thursday October 1st at 1:00pm (Eastern) / 10:00am (Pacific)
WHERE: Register here:

Not sure you can attend? Sign up – we’ll send the slide deck and on-demand webinar.

As an attendee, The Weinbach Group, Inc. can take advantage of the following-

  • Free NetProspex account. Select 100 target sales prospects.
  • “Recycle” business contacts and get free contacts in exchange.
  • Free Pinpointe email account w/2,000 email credits. Reach new prospects with Pinpointe’s email marketing platform and your Netprospex leads.

All the best,

Craig Stouffer
4601 Lafayette
Santa Clara, CA 95056-4428
408-834-7577 x125

PS: TopTen Reviews ranks Pinpointe as one of the all-time top email marketing platforms! -read the review here

On rap as a literary device

Rap has really gone downhill, right? Its rhythmic beats and aggressive pace have been co-opted by the hip-hop sector to host the constant repetition of a few poorly-constructed self-aggrandizements. Oh, and continuous insistence on how cool the rapper pop star is, how much money he has, and how superhot his, ahem, lady friends are.

I argue that this trend is an iniquitous misappropriation of a valuable literary device.

City of Words, a lithograph by Vito Acconci


The pace of rap is basically a chant, a mantra, a construction reminiscent of certain elements of being a human that are highly relevant to art.

As a chant, it imitates the stream of consciousness; as a tempo, it recalls the resilient beating of a human heart and the sensation of actualizing a path through the consistent tap-tap-tap of steps on concrete.

Great rappers of the past, like Tupac (allow me the pleasure of indulging in the cliché of hallowing Tupac’s work) were storytellers, social critics, lyricists. They used the literary vehicle of rap for its most apropos application: translating the slipstream of thoughts, memories and insights into verbal expression and music.

In anger, the pace of their verse was institutional in strength and blistering in force. In reflection, it was solemn, resigned, yet quietly regulated by the pace of cognition and the cyclical arrival of intuition.

I concede that there are artists recording today who do this literary vehicle justice as a stream-of-conscious communication device; Kid Cudi comes to mind (the original songs, not the dance hall remixes, although those are still some killer tunage), as do the Fugees and Miami’s own ArtOfficial.  A Tribe Called Quest, superior storytellers, kicked it up until a few years ago.

I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on the universe of rap, but I know enough – and am definitely haughty and snobby enough – to be sickeningly disappointed by today’s radio dominators. (Well, I admit grooving to Akon’s “I’m So Paid.” Who can resist?)

In conclusion, while there are shining stars, the lion’s share of today’s hip-hop artists stars far too often bastardize the lovely gait of rap as a template for the formulaic construction of verbal autoeroticism.  Anybody bucking this trend you’d like to direct me to? Leave a comment.

[Image: City of Words, a lithograph by Vito Acconci. Thanks.]

The real cultural divides

August 19, 2009 1 comment

What are the real issues that divide America? To abort or to not? To wed homosexuals or not? Red or blue? Guns or no? God?

Yes, those are the ones that are usually eventually resolved (except for God; that one festers) – over and over and over again, as happens in a diverse democracy with periodic opportunities for legislative change.

There are deeper chasms, though, that pit neighbor against neighbor and will continue to foster discontent with no hope of peace or resolution.

Mac vs. Microsoft.

Coke or Diet Coke? That is the question.Coke vs. Diet Coke.

Have you ever met someone who didn’t have a clear, vibrant, and forceful preference for one or the other? I know you have your own idea about which is superior, and most likely, you can’t for the life of you comprehend how anyone could disagree.

For the record, the obvious winners are inarguably Microsoft and Diet Coke.

No discussion. Comments for this entry are closed. Unless you agree with me, rabidly and verbosely.