Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Pressure with your coffee?

It must be tough running a cafe. 

For instance, I walked into one today with an art director friend and his writer during lunch break.
Brick walls? Check. Handwritten chalk boards? Check. Cement floor? Check. Warehouse settings? Hanging lightbulbs? ...

Ok I quite liked their red hanging lightbulbs.
I took out my camera and before I could take a 3rd shot this dude with stubbles and blood-shot eyes (possibly the owner) came up to me and said 'who're you with?'

I was like 'what?'

'Who're you with?'


'No I'm serious. What are you doing here? Who are you with?'

Dude. My friend is taking away lunch. I'm not with anyone. I'm admiring your cafe. 

'You want to take photos you talk to me first. Understand?' 

Ok, I'll delete these photos then. 

'Seriously, who are you with?'

This is when I walked away, back to my friends while making a mental note never to step foot in this place again.

It must be tough running a cafe.

I started looking around, and I see Asians making the coffee and sandwiches in the back. Efficient workforce. Their name is 'Espresso' followed by the postcode 3121. Very clever SEO wise. Single origin coffee and petite dessert. Textbook. Old school Coca-Cola glass bottle? Nice. 

I admit it's partly my fault for not asking for permission, but why the the paranoia? 

More importantly, why the attitude? As far as I'm concerned who-are-you-with is a question used on mafias and Chinese triads when a stranger causes trouble in a turf. Is it because of competition? Is it fear of bad reviews? The fear of someone stealing the 'style' that is readily available on other cafe blogs? To the extent that you see a camera you think publicity and espionage, like McDonald's?

This reminded me of an Anthony Bourdain's article that I read recently about activists going to the extreme to ban foir gras. They sent a celebrity chef video clips of his own children playing in his backyard saying 'we're watching' as a threat for him to take the item off his menu.

This is food we're talking about. Not biological warfare.

And it's heart breaking from a marketer's point of view. This guy could've just said 'yea man, cool camera, send me some photos when you're done', and I probably will be writing a completely different post today.

6 years ago I was at a Moby concert and he said, 'If you want to take photos of me, remember to turn off the flash. They turn out better that way.' 

6 years ago.

Are we going backwards with self-promotion?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

It's not all about you.

Are you following Homeland?
It's only like, the 2nd most acclaimed TV series at the moment. (Breaking Bad is well, taking a break.)
Channel 10 has pretty much spoiled it for everyone so far, but I'm issuing a warning here anyway.

Spoilers ahead. Turn back. 

So the whole of season 1 was about how the CIA mistrusted Carrie's judgement on Brody.
Her mentor didn't trust her, her boss was entirely dismissal, and to make things worst, they then discovered she was hiding a psychotic disease.

Fast forward to episode 5 of season 2, the cat got out of the bag.
Carrie was correct, after all. She went through brain zapping, demotion, and a lot of self doubt. But she was right. And redeemed.

If you rewatch the beginning of the episode, you can observe how upper management deal with guilt and remorse: very straight forward.

David and Saul basically just sat there and went: 'Ah crap, what do we do now?'
Oh well, get her back, and get her back on the job.

Because we've been watching the show from Carrie's perspective, it's hard to not feel angry. She deserves more that a pat on the back. She needs maybe a pay rise, for collateral damage, a statue, an apology from the president, even.

Yet, from the CIA's point of view, this is merely one of many fuck ups they have to deal with on a daily basis.

Even when David met Carrie again after the realisation, after he told her just 2 days ago that despite her good work in Beirut she will never be reinstated, he could only say: I don't know what to say.

And Carrie understood.

We want Carrie to be better, because for a whole season she's been the victim. But it's difficult to see things from management's perspective. The agency took a huge risk to ask her to go back to Beirut again, and in turn gave her an opportunity to find the SD card.

Compared to Carrie and Brody's relationship, I find Saul and David's interaction more intriguing.

And that's probably the attitude we should have in a professional working environment.