2010: The Best Year of My Life

I don’t know jack. Chances are, neither do you. The truth is that the moment you think you have Life figured out is usually around the exact moment you begin reeling from the latest hook the bastard just threw you. However, something I do know?  This past year has been the best of my life.

2010 was the year when the right people came into my life — and when the right ones left. It was the year that the scales of my personal and professional life balanced. It was the year I found my place in the universe.  All the negatives were positives in disguise. It was the year that will forever make me — well, me.

I am not playing favorites by any means, but I need to say thank you to some. This is by no means an all-inclusive list — after all, there are friends and family who have been there since day-one and know their importance to me.

That said — David, Tara, Ryan, Steve, Chris, Regan and Aunt Dorothy — thank you for making 2010 possible for me. When the zombie apocalypse strikes, you’ll be the ones I try to teach to read instead of shooting in the back of the head.

Yep

Regan Smith Clarke: Remeber His Name, You’ll be Wearing it Later

Watch out everyone. Regan Smith Clarke is poised to take over the world.

The Boston-based t-shirt aficionado has been threatening us with the launch of his self-titled clothing line for almost two years. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.  

His vintage art influenced designs have been a huge hit with urbanistas and layman alike. But what else would you expect from a dude who has already been dubbed the next Johnny Cupcakes?

Clarke stopped busting his ass for five minutes to talk about RSC, the latest tunes on his playlist, and what he has planned for the future.

Give me a quick run-down of all things Regan S. Clarke. What sets your line apart from the others?

RSC is a vintage art inspired clothing brand that I’ve been working on for the past year or so. After many late nights and lots of hard work, I released my first line on March 1st. The line includes 4 different t-shirt designs, several posters and a button pack. You can see them all in my online shop here: http://shop.regansmithclarke.com

What sets my line apart is the attention to detail and the message behind each design. There is definitely a level of emotional attachment that comes with owning a clothing line, but I don’t think this is often conveyed well enough to customers. People can’t read your mind, which is why it’s important to be clear about your intentions and what your brand stands for. If they can relate to it on a more personal level, you will be likely to make a connection with them.

To be honest ‘though I’m not actually trying to re-invent the wheel like so many other people seem to think they’re doing. I’m just doing what I love and gathering inspiration from what moves me. I look at it like having a band.  Everybody is in one these days, and they always think they’re the most rad, unique thing to hit the scene. Chances are you’re only foolin’ yourself; it’s all been done before. Just do what you want and focus on the finer details rather than pretending you’re the second-coming of Johnny Cupcakes!

RSC has been in the works for awhile. Your name and plans for a clothing line have been floating around the web, the local music scene and the Emptees.com community for quite sometime. Why the wait?

Yeah I actually started with the name “Real Supreme,” and in retrospect it wasn’t a great idea.  I foolishly thought it would be ok because it’s just two fairly common words put together, but what I found was that the potential legal issues and brand confusion with other established companies was too much. I had to go back to the drawing board. After a lengthy search, I decided I couldn’t find anything more personal and meaningful than my own name.

Beyond coming up with the right brand name, there’s a fairly large amount of research and prep work that needs to be done to get something like this off the ground. I would even say one of my biggest mistakes was taking on too much myself. I was fortunate enough to work with Danny Jones aka YASLY on the t-shirt designs, but aside from that I did pretty much everything else myself.

Your line is completely inspired by Vintage Art. Why the obsession?

I guess I kind of look at it the same way someone who likes classic movies would. There is a romantic quality to the art, which has a theme or message that still resonates today. Although things have changed tremendously in the world, ultimately the messages being conveyed are the same. I find that fascinating. Besides, anytime you work on a creative project like this, it’s good to focus on what inspires you the most. If you’re going to spend all your free time and money working on something, it better be fun and interesting to you.

How has Boston, MA influenced your art?

Boston is and will always be my true home. I grew up in the shadow of the city, and that deep connection I feel with it will last forever. I believe your environment has a strong influence on who you are as a person. Many of my best experiences involve the city of Boston, so I’d say it will definitely play a big role in the development of my brand.

Are you still playing music these days? What’s going on with EyesAreBlind productions? What do you do with your time besides pumping out awesome t-shirt designs?

For those who don’t know, EyesAreBlind Productions is a booking/show promotion company one of my best friends and I started when we were freshmen in college. I don’t know if I would ever close the door on EAB because I’ve learned so much about the music scene and how to run a business from it, but it’s hard to keep up when time and resources are in short supply these days. It would take the right package of bands for me to start booking shows again. 

As for playing? I still get the itch every once in a while, but I don’t really play music anymore. I’ve just got too many things going on to really make something of it. By day I do graphic design and print production for a printing company (www.pixxlz.com). By night I do some freelance work and run RSC.

What tunes have you been jamming lately?

My iPod shit the bed a little while ago, so I’ve been pretty limited in my music selection. But I’d say Circa Survive, Inner Party System, Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Set Your Goals have gotten the most love lately.

Any local artists or musicians you want to collaborate with in the future? What’s next for RSC?

It seems like a pretty standard move these days is to sponsor bands, but I’m really not interested in doing that right now. If I were to do it at all, I could only see myself doing it discreetly with a couple of my friends’ bands. But like I said, it’s really not something I have in mind at the moment.

I am more interested in teaming up with some other types of artists and clothing lines to create something. I’m actually working on a collaboration with my homegirl and fellow Bostonian Lori from Cavata Clothing. There’s a good fit between our brands, so it should work out great. That’s scheduled to release this June.

Beyond that, I still have a lot of ideas for my own stuff. I’m planning another release at the end of June for my summer line. I will also be a vendor at The Renegade Craft Fairs in Brooklyn this June and San Francisco in July. Hopefully I’ll be able to check out some local shows too such as SOWA (South End Open Market), though I haven’t signed up for that one just yet. It’s going to be a great summer. I want to take RSC to the next level and make some new friends in the process. Lots of cool things will be happening, so don’t sleep on it.

Social Media and Pizza: A Case Study

I live and work in downtown Boston, MA. When it’s time for lunch, I have many options. Today, I wanted to try a new place. I wandered down Newbury Street and decided to check out Bostone Pizza.

Bostone Pizza claims that they are Boston’s “only authentic NY pizzeria, featuring thin crust Neapolitan and deep dish Sicilian pizza.”

I tend to like my pizza covered with the most outrageous toppings you can think of.  I also love it prepared in a variety of ways. For this reason, Bostone caught my attention. But when it’s my first time in a joint? I opt for a straight slice of cheese. That’s just how I roll.

Well, the slice did not disappoint. But you must remember that there are tons of lunchtime options around here. Newbury Street alone offers everything from Indian/Chinese fusion to Spanish tapas. How can a pizza parlor compete?

I think Bostone is going to be just fine.

While dining, I checked in on Foursquare. I also chose to share my location on Twitter. Within an hour, Bostone sought me out and recognized my patronage. Trust me; this sort of thing makes a difference. I think that many of Boston’s plugged-in professionals and undergraduates would agree.  

The next time I’m looking for lunch in downtown, I think I’ll try Bostone’s Mediterranean with extra feta.

How to Use Social Media in Your Job Hunt

I know plenty of folks who are looking for a job, yet refuse to join social networking sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. It’s as if they are trying to prove something. The only thing they are proving is that they don’t understand how the rules have changed. Here are a few tips on how to use social media to find the job you deserve.

Make Your Debut

Whether you are an established professional or a graduate looking to catch a break, you must take the appropriate steps to establish your online identity. Start a blog that focuses on your professional interests and then create accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to promote your endeavor. 

Employers are not going to seek you out. You must make sure your voice is heard loud and clear.

Share the Right Information

When using Twitter to aid your job-hunt, you must be somewhat strategic. What sort of information are you sharing? If you are not reading and re-tweeting articles that cover topics relevant to your field, you are not doing all you can to brand yourself online. That account executive at XYZ PR is not going to notice you if you are solely tweeting about Cheetos and Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. Well, that would probably catch my attention, but I’ll save that for another blog entry…

Go Against the Grain

Do you have an opinion? Do not be afraid to share it! Let’s face it, the social media landscape is filled with @-kissers who love to offer groundbreaking comments like “great post!” on all the hottest blogs. The folks who stand out are those who respectfully voice differing opinions and engage others in conversation.

Pull the Trigger

So you’ve built your online presence and traded messages with a few established professionals. Now what? Pull the trigger!

Ask your new contacts if they would be willing to sit down for an informational interview. This is an excellent way to learn more about your industry and put yourself in front of the people who matter the most.

Think you are done? Not by a long shot!  Ask your social media contacts if you can contribute to their blog as a guest. Start a Twitter-Chat or organize a Tweet-Up. Ask everyone for referrals. Above all else, stay relevant!

Do you have a success story you are willing to share?

How the iPhone has Changed My Life

I’m a bit late to the iPhone party.  Actually, scratch that.

I waited until I could purchase the device at a reasonable price – and that is not something I am ashamed to admit.  When an upgrade offer of $99 for the phone with a two-year contract came to my attention, how could I say no?

As an iPhone user for a little over a month now, I have difficulty remembering how I functioned without it. Today, I’m going to share with you a few apps that have changed my life.

Facebook for iPhone and Echofon

I’m going to lump these two applications together. Do they really need an introduction? Well, yes. Not everyone sits on TechCrunch all day. Elitist bloggers please take note!

Facebook for iPhone allows access to your Facebook account in ways you never imagined. The application has a grid-like menu that provides easy access to all of Facebook’s most important features and makes sharing photos incredibly easy. Push notifications  – which should have been a no-brainer from the start – only recently arrived, but who cares? It’s just an added bonus. I would have used it no matter what. Afterall, this is Facebook – we use it, we love it and we cannot live with out it!

Echofon is routinely touted as the best free Twitter app on the market.  It loads fast, offers multiple features and allows you to view profiles with ease.  Although push notification features are only available by purchasing Echofon Pro, I’m not terribly disappointed.

Pandora

Distractions – i.e. real life – have disrupted my intake of music over the years. I no longer attend local shows as often as I once did and I’ve become less willing to take risks with my discretionary income. The solution? Pandora Radio!

After entering a song or artist you enjoy, the service automatically selects music and artists that are similar. Although I was already familiar with Pandora, I was overjoyed to hear there was a Pandora app available for the iPhone. Pandora is the type of service that seems made for mobile devices. I would have to guess that users get way more mileage out of this app than they ever would just using the web-based version.

Are you familiar with the Music Genome Project? If not, take a look. It’s an incredible project and the reason why you can enjoy Pandora today!

Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation is a speech recognition program that translates your spoken word to text. Once translated, you can text or email instantaneously. Its accuracy is quite impressive and it also allows you to add punctuation.  The app has received some rave reviews with good reason; long texts and emails now take only seconds to create and edit before before they are ready to be sent.

However, usefulness alone has not been enough to shield Dragon Dictation and its creator Nuance from controversy.

As TechCrunch reports, some terms of the service’s End User License Agreement lit up the blogsphere late last year when word that the app collects the names in your address book became publicized.

Nuance soon issued a statement explaining that it only collects contact names so Dragon Dictation can better recognize them during the translation process. The company also issued an update to the app which gives users the opportunity to not share this information upon first use. 

Dragon Dictation is too good to be free. Hop aboard before they start charging!

Honorable Mentions:

TweetDeck

I have been toying with Tweetdeck for the past couple weeks and I find it to be incredibly useful. It has become especially handy when I participate in Twitter chats from my phone because it allows me to create streams divided by hashtags.

Can 19% of the market really be wrong?

I Am T-Pain

Okay, the I Am T-Pain app really didn’t change my life, but it is a hell of a lot of fun to play around with. Even CNN thinks so!

Use this app to sing along to your favorite auto-tuned cuts from T-Pain himself.  Once complete, simply upload them and share with friends!

Zombie Hunter (7DA)

I have not wasted this much time on a videogame since the halcyon days of Nintendo.

If you are as big a zombie fan as I am, you have to check out ZombieHunter 7DA. You will find hours of delight in cutting down hordes of the undead while completing various missions designed to help save the world from “mutation.” The graphics on this game are top notch and the replay value is through the roof! Best of all, it’s free!

What are the iPhone apps have you been using?

How Not to Write a Press Release

Big news hit the world of heavy music today, as Carl Severson and Paul Conroy – founding owners of Ferret Music – announced the formation of  Good Fight Entertainment, a sports and music management company that will also act as a record label.

That is the long and short of it. I advise you to take my word for it too. The reason? Well, the press release for this announcement is borderline unreadable.

What went wrong? Well, a few things. Let’s take a look:

1. Not Making Each Word Count

At almost 1000 words, this release is too long. Did we really need a full paragraph explaining that this new company plans on having a website and a Facebook page?  Also, I understand the point of endorsements by opinion-makers, but a quote from hardcore legend Freddy Cricien discussing Madball’s career is completely off topic. It should not have been included in this release.

2. Jargon

Buzz words are sometimes necessary, but I think we have a case of overkill on our hands. Take a look at the following excerpt:

“Pioneers in the hardcore and metal scenes, and former partners at Ferret Music, Warner Music and ChannelZERO, Conroy and Severson have proven track records for innovative thinking and unwavering tenacity. Their abundance of experience has taught them how to spot cutting edge talent and propel them into the spotlight.”

Terms like “innovative,” “unwavering tenacity,” and “cutting edge,” reek of contrivance and continue to hide the facts that are really important. The term “cutting edge” is even used again in the very next paragraph.

Perhaps the biggest issue here is that the name of this endeavor is not made very clear. Most of the release refers to it as “Good Fight Music.” However, there are instances where it is referred to as “Good Fight Entertainment.” I have found pages on social networking sites referring to it as “Good Fight Records.”  Are these all the same thing? Can the names be used interchangeably? When your reader is confused, you are in trouble!

3. Unanswered Questions

Last but not least, there is an unfortunate lack of information here. This announcement is newsworthy because Conroy and Severson founded Ferret Music – one of the biggest labels in the history of the hardcore/metal music scene. So…what’s going on with Ferret right now? Has it ceased to exist? If not, who is running it? The label is home to a slew of bands not mentioned as artists who will be releasing music under the Good Fight Music name. Have their contracts been terminated? Even a nonfan has to wonder what has become of the label that launched these men’s careers.

I did not write this to attack Ferret, Good Fight Entertainment/Good Fight Music or anyone involved. After all, this is huge news. Two hardcore/metal pioneers are branching out in a new direction. Hardcore stalwarts like Madball and Disembodied have a new label to call home. In many ways, this is another step towards the legitimate recognition of heavy music.

Though the bottom line still stands; I was ready to stop reading this press release by the third paragraph and this is coming from a fan. I imagine a journalist’s attention span would expire much sooner.

Hipster Journalism: A Case Study

I’m up for reading snarky pop culture pieces as much as the next guy, but that doesn’t mean that some hipster journalist has the right to assassinate anyone’s character they choose.

The latest piece to burst out of the bohemian media gates comes from James Montgomery of MTV news. On the heels of Mark McGwire’s admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs, Montgomery decided to list several figures in the music industry who he believes are steroid users. Among them was Dillinger Escape Plan front man, Greg Puciato. Montgomery explains:

“The diminutive wailer for New Jersey spazzers Dillinger Escape Plan is ripped enough for a man five-times his size, and though he’s denied using steroids (he chalks his physique up to “eat[ing] a lot of protein and work[ing] out a lot”), we’re still not entirely convinced. Then again, positively destroying the stage on a nightly basis has to have some benefits, right?”

Puciato, who subscribes to the belief that “sometimes pacifism is simply being lazy,” responded to the accusation by issuing a statement to Noisecreep.com, decrying the allegation and giving its author a piece of his mind.

Montgomery soon realized the consequences of his actions after no doubt being scorched by legions of DEP fans.  He eventually reached out to Puciato via Twitter early Wednesday morning and not only apologized, but offered to write a retraction.  Strangely enough, Montgomery also tried to explain that his article was never intended to insinuate anyone was using steroids, but that is a story for another day…

While Montgomery is not exactly a reporter for the New York Times, his piece still lacked common sense and decency.  There is nothing funny about unfounded accusations of drug use.  One might wonder why he even wrote the article and question how much he actually believed in it since he was so quickly willing to apologize for it. Was it a looming deadline? A case of writer’s block? Maybe a good old fashion lapse in judgment? The world may never know.

What do you think?

Update

Montgomery has added an amendement to his article. In it, he issus an apology and attempts to explain his actions.

To err is human; to forgive is divine.

My Plastic Surgery Experience

I recently had plastic surgery.

You are probably still reading right now because you want to hear that I got calf implants or liposuction. Sorry, I’m a bit more practical than that.

An interest in body modification is what brought forth my need to go under the knife. Before jumping to conclusions, let me assure you that my tongue is still in one piece and I certainly do not have any facial tattoos.

Instead, here is the story of a 16-year-old who decided to gauge his earlobes. I liked the way they looked. Plus, the underground music and art scene I was a part of had always promoted body art and forward thinking. It all just made sense! Although I stopped wearing plugs several years ago, the time had finally come for me to tuck away all remnants of my modification days for good.

Why you ask? These ½ inch holes were becoming an albatross around my neck. They were imperfections on an otherwise perfect portrait. They were a reason for a potential employer to ask a question like, “Why do you have holes in your head?”

"Why do you have holes in your head?"
"Why do you have holes in your head?"

The time had come for bilateral ear repair.

I determined that the right man for the job was Dr. Daniel Del Vecchio of Back Bay Plastic Surgery. After my consultation, I was very comfortable with his explanation of the procedure and his staff. I was on my way!

Before sewing my earlobes back together, Dr. Del Vecchio needed expose the fresh tissue surrounding the holes. The need to preserve what was left of my earlobe made this a bit tricky.  He used a device typically used for skin biopsies to achieve this.

IMG_3984IMG_3987IMG_3989

With that goal accomplished, he began sewing them back together. They are now as good as new!

The final product!
The final product!

This site focuses on communications, right? I want to point out that Dr. Del Vecchio realizes the importance of social media and uses it to promote his practice. He is currently learning the ropes of Twitter and can be found at twitter.com/easybreast. You can also see footage from some of his procedures on his Youtube Channel — NSFW!  Finally, what business should be without a blog?  Read the latest at http://www.drdelvecchioblog.com/.

An Open Letter to Tiger Woods

Dear Tiger,

While there may have been some doubt before, you’ve now cemented the fact that you are guilty of at least some sort of unsavory behavior.

Because many have come before you, there is sadly no excuse for the way you have conducted yourself thus far. There are numerous case studies and examples your publicity team could be using right now to guide you through this turbulent time.

I happen to think you are deliberately ignoring them.

After all, you are Tiger Woods. You are the world’s most famous athlete. You revolutionized the game of golf. You are an exemplary role model for children everywhere. You earned all of this through hard work and determination. For these reasons, you are going to take care of your current situation your way – and no one else’s.

I don’t know you personally, but I have formed these opinions based upon how fiercely you guard your privacy. It is also my opinion that as a professional athlete/celebrity who makes a very generous living off of the admiration and interest of the general public, you are not entitled to the privacy you believe you deserve.

What, me worry?
What, me worry?

 

However, I digress. Let’s get to the point. The statement you issued last week was laughable. You owe the public a full explanation. Instead, you have retreated into the shadows, most likely with the hope that this nasty little incident will soon be forgotten. It will not be. And judging by your alleged mistresses coming out of the woodwork, this is just the beginning.

There is still time for redemption. You have to make a choice. You can still choose the path taken by the Andy Pettitte’s and Bill Clinton’s of the world. Tell us what happened. You will be forgiven. The public wants to love you! 

Or you can join the ranks of Roger Clemens’ and Mark Sanford’s of the world. Based upon your actions up to this point, you will be there in no time at all.

Update:

You are coming around. But a public apology that lashes out at the media in any manner is not exactly productive.