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Archive for the ‘happiness’ Category

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My friend John Cutter, a bicycle designer and builder here in San Luis Obispo, sent me this link this am… about a new city being built in South Carolina… called Riverwalk.  It includes a huge outdoor velodrome, a very large BMX area, permanent criterium track, and all sorts of other outdoor activity related areas for the citizens to enjoy…

here is the blog post John sent…. from a blog called redkiteprayer.com

here is the link to the community website itself

It is a community built around outdoor activities… specifically cycling… but not exclusively.

Interesting stuff… dig in a bit.

Eric

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walkablecity

“Walkable City” is a fantastic new book by Jeff Speck on creating great cities and overcoming dated planning ideas.  For anyone interested in making more pedestrian, bicycle and transit oriented spaces it is a must read.  It is also a must read for anyone interested in what it takes to make your city “feel” better… or making places a better place to live.  Jeff Speck was a co-author of “suburban Nation” a few years back… also a great book.  I recommend this book to city council’s, bike/ped advocates, and city planners.

For more info:  http://jeffspeck.com

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Click the YouTube link (see link just below) for a great TEDx talk on designing streets for all users.  By Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize

http://youtu.be/pX8zZdLw7cs

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I was walking along the parking area next to carmel beach… and there was a beautiful  sixties vw Westfalia camper  bus sitting there with the door open.  So, being the VW lover I am, I went over to check it out.  Nobody was anywhere near it.  I suspect the owner was out surfing.  Inside… happy as a clam… was this great cat.  He was a bit hard to photograph in the bus.  But he was obviously the king of the bus.  As I took this shot he hopped down and proceeded to jump out of the bus and go sit on a rock 50 feet away on the edge of the sand like he owned the property.  Dogs walking by on leashes sniffed at him… he didn’t even look at them… all sorts of random noises… not a flinch… nothing phased him.  He was… one cool cat.

What a life. If I were a cat I think I would like to live in a sixties Westfalia camper on the beach in Carmel.  I kinda want to even as a human…

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My friend Dan Sullivan (who I have named “the barometer of hip”) wrote me an email dissing brands and the surf clothing industry a while back…  It is a topic he and I chat about often… branding, trends, style, culture etc.   Here is what he wrote…(in one huge long single sentence with 17 commas… classic Dan style…) and it succinctly sums up what many people feel about the marketed “surf culture”  and “action sports”… or truly… about brands in general.

Dan wrote:

“Since ESPN and Orange County apparel and footwear peddlers coined the act of surfing, skating, riding a dirt bike, or snowboarding  an  “Action Sport”,  these activities, which use to be about fun, personal enlightenment and self challenge, have deteriorated to just another over-marketed activity that requires “specialized gear”, which  former surfers, skaters and snowboarders of Orange County, will gladly sell you, at inflated prices, even though the goods are the same quality as a a Wal-Mart garment, and sewn in the same factories in China, so they can live in faux Tuscan Villas, drive Range Rovers and keep their wives in shoes, handbags and sunglasses, purchased at South Coast Plaza.”

I love his comment.  Dan and I have been friends for many decades and have watched as surf culture was absorbed by large brands… and as action sports was born.  Indeed I am guilty of helping create the monster as creative director of the first “skateboard clothing” company: Vision Street Wear…. and via the  shoe brand I built Simple Shoes.(Full disclosure… Dan was marketing director for a while)

So I will just come out and say it… “there is no such thing as surf clothing”.  Surf clothing is a bathing suit.  That’s it.  Birdwell Beach Britches may be an authentic surf clothing company I suppose… all they sold was trunks back in the day… and pretty much only to surfers.  But the list is damn short after them…. a few Authentic Hawaiian shirt companies are authentic.  Everyone else in the category today called surf or action sports including me pretty much made up what we now call surf style or action sports.  These days there are even re-issues of classic (made up) surf style.  There are even re-issues of classic skate style from the 1980’s…  but it wasn’t original then… it was just made up.

Dan would say “it is all bullshit”.   And it is true… it was bullshit then… and it is now.

Think about it…. WHY ON EARTH should you PAY to wear somebody’s name on your shirt?  In all honesty… they should be paying you to wear their name.  Why pay to have a surf clothing company… or any company for that matter… on your shirt?  It is ridiculous.  But marketers have been making up stories about how the cool kids all wear  “X” and so if you want to be cool you have to wear “X”.  They pay pro athletes to wear “X” and or really incredibly beautiful girls to wear “X” and people buy it.  Over and over.

THIS IS CRAZY!  WAKE UP PEOPLE!

Why have we allowed ourselves to be defined by what we wear… what we drive… etc. It is NOT who we are.  It is a dream… a false reality.  You are not cooler because you drive certain kind of car.  You are truly just a sucker.  You are not cooler if you wear some branded article of clothing. Again you are just a sucker.  There on only so many hours in a day to work to earn money… don’t waste it on stuff you have been fooled into thinking will make you cool.

I suppose it has to do with fitting in… not wanting to be the outcast.  But when you think of the truly interesting and cool people you have known… did they wear branded merchandise and was that what you remember… NO WAY.  Does anyone give a crap what pants Pablo Picasso was wearing.

DEFINE YOURSELF somehow… you are not the sum of your possessions or your wardrobe.  The people with the cool new clothes from the cool new store are not cooler than you… they are sheep.

Trends are all born from trend forecasters who watch truly cool individuals doing things that are different than the norm.  Those different things… when they occur randomly… are noted by trend forecasters and photos are taken and various style trend books note the oddity.  These style trend books are then sold by the trend forecasting agencies to the fashion houses for HUGE sums of money… the fashion houses research the trend books accuracy by sending their designers out around the world to verify the trend within certain core constituencies and at a certain threshold of adoption amongst “alpha”  examples.  Once it is fairly obvious that a given trend is going to become mainstream enough for the fashion house to be able to sell this to the dept store, surf shop etc it is given the greenlight to go to production.  So they copy the idea and sell it and it is part of their “forward” collection at first… until it proves itself for a season.. at which time it then gets put into the regular line.

You will never see the truly cool people wearing the branded products unless they are being PAID to wear them.  Think about this.  Does the coolest person you know wear brand t-shirts?  Probably not.

Most brands are vultures preying on our lack of self confidence and our desire to be cool.  But truly cool people don’t wear brands.

Yes… there are some exceptions… where a company makes something that is truly useful or performs in a way that other clothes don’t.  Smartwool socks for example… They are warmer than cotton socks and they wear well.  But these are just socks… they are not surfer socks or action sports socks.  So if some surf brand slapped their label on wool socks would they be better… nope.

Branded clothing is probably less than about 150 years old.  Somehow we humans seemed to survive without wearing big logos on our chests for millions of years.

So be brave… be original… find a truly unique style that is your own.  Be the one that the trend forecasters take the photo of.

and yes I did design and sell action sports clothing… and action sports shoes… and am thus a hypocrite I suppose… The nicer amongst you will notice that I no longer sell fashion clothing or shoes though… and simply call me a sell out.  The very few of you left that haven’t called me a hypocrite or a sellout probably actually know me and will simply snicker quietly.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Henry  Thoreau:  “avoid all activities requiring special clothing”

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Well… I suppose it had to happen eventually.  That damn book on happiness has outed San Luis Obispo, California big time.  We were on Oprah a couple of days ago. Jenny McCarthy interviewed a bunch of people… and toured around the city and general environs….  talking in that kinda goofy odd “Crest toothpaste spokesmodel” way she has.

I know EVERY SINGLE person interviewed in this segment!   I suppose that it is these social connections that make you feel good about a place.  You can go anywhere and find a conversation almost anytime you like.

Of late I am starting to see more saccharine smiles on tourists around town… Very Stepford wifey.  Wandering around… looking up a lot… as though this were New York maybe… or perhaps like animals that have just been let of of the cage… in a kind of happiness stupor.

The wine and  cheeze places are no doubt doing bang up business… and it is hell to rent a bike I bet.  Oprah Effect they call it.

Here’s kind of a cool overview of SLO and the surrounding area  (a “tilt shift” video)… for some reason a shot of Morro Bay is the first image though!

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Look carefully at this wrought iron.  Move around the window view bars if you can’t see the whole image.   It is a small very small fence on a building in Carmel by the Sea, CA.   Awesome work.  Such amazing detail at the top…each little dragon head different than the next.  It is inspiring to think that somebody cared enough to build this grate … that 80 years later still really makes a huge impact.

A simple iron fence that makes you smile.

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