Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Banksy strikes again

The brilliant 'Banksy' pulled off an another completely audacious stunt to produce what is believed to be his biggest work yet in central London. The Daily Mail reported that underground and thus far unknown graffiti artist managed to erect three storeys of scaffolding behind a security fence despite being watched by a CCTV camera.

The work, above a Post Office yard in Newman Street near Oxford Circus, shows a small boy, watched by a security guard, painting the words: ‘One nation under CCTV.’ Done under the cover of darkness, the scaffolding gang returned the next day to remove all evidence - again without the camera operator stopping them.
Andrew Newman, 35, a businessman from Dulwich, who works locally, said: ‘It was only on Sunday morning that the Post Offices guys realised what had happened.’

There are up to 4.2m CCTV cameras in Britain - about one for every 14 people.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Scorched Earth Day on the Promenade

It was pretty hot on Saturday at the 6th Annual Earth Day on the Promenade in Santa Monica.
I'm not just talking about the unusual summer-like weather. My temper was flaring at the LA shopping mecca event. It's perplexing because I do have respect for the pioneers, organizers and volunteers who take their time on a Saturday afternoon to promote what they deem a 'healthy lifestyle'. My gripe is that the way they do it has become frankly just plain awful and plays into the cliched stereotype.

It's alarming to me that thousands of people walking by the line of standard 10'x10' tents are witnessing the green lifestyle as low budget, half-baked and aesthetically third rate on their way to FootLocker and Banana Republic. The presentation is blatantly what the organizers want 'green' to look like rather than what might be more palatable and engaging for the general public, shopping frenzied and captivated audience to truly connect with and appreciate deeply (and I know for a fact that talented people have reached out to the organizers to help, but have been either been turned away or embarrassed by participating in the event). My argument is that it's not only well past time to preach to the indoctrinated, stale offerings like this event have become detrimental to a collective effort geared towards mass adoption for a sustainable planet.

Fortunately, there are many other promising Official Earth Day Celebration options on April 22 including one on Wilshire (featuring Michael Franti) and the Green Apple Festival in 8 major cities (including LA, featuring Ziggy Marley and Taj Mahal) with A-list speakers and talent.

What I've said may seem harsh, but my wish is that the many people involved in the Promenade event can find a way to get through to the management to make some long overdue changes (music, showcase more innovative products/services, dynamic speakers etc.) to give this event a fresh green start.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cruising the "Anti-mall" in the OC

My fiancé and I had a Sunday adventure to head down to Costa Mesa to interview a wedding photographer husband and wife team. The kindly couple steered us away from the nearby South Coast Plaza Mall complex that I'd heard about, but have had the good fortune of avoiding. They knew of our green proclivities and directed us past the megamall-a-saurus to The Camp, an alt-shopper 'anti-mall' created by Shaheen Sadeghi back in 2002. It's actually a two part complex that consists of "The Lab" directly across the street, as well. Sadeghi built The Lab shopping center out of recycled military structures back in 1993, then nine years later added The Camp, which boasts grass roofs, solar power and a water filtration system that prevents ocean runoff.

The complex is definitely a mecca for putting the hip in hippie as both hipsters, action sports/outdoor enthusiasts and mod-hippies conveniently cruise around the facility. Among its tenants are Active Ride Shop, which caters to skateboarders, snowboarders and surfers; Adventure 16, a camping, hiking and climbing outfitter, a fully vegan Native Foods, Patagonia, Harlow Boutique, and raw food joint 118 degrees. There's a large scuba center where you can get certified, a cycle shop, and even a bikram yoga facility.

Sadeghi has clearly been a pioneer with a keen eye on youth culture marrying urban-hip, organic and action sports together. Sadhegi from what I've read is my kind of entrepreneur--one who has experienced many different, interesting and risk taking gigs from working with renowned couturier Charles James (who cited nature as his biggest source of inspiration in his work) at the Chelsea Hotel back in its heyday to making dresses for celebrity clients and winning the New York Designers award in 1977. He also manned the helm of Quicksilver alongside one of the all- time power players of surf Bob McKnight.

Through his diverse experience, he has been able to see ahead of the curve where Gen X, Gen Y and the baby boomers used to be neatly compartmentalized and separated by cultural rifts, to a place where old and young care about eating well, the environment and a more balanced lifestyle. He sees that creative merchandising and design that appeals to cultural commonalities tap into people’s emotions and simultaneously create a community. In this case, one focused more on well-being and positive life experience than the norm.
Now my question is when will something like The Camp open up in LA?!