Month: March 2014

Take 5: Patrick Jones

Meet a laid-back biker who’s keenly interested in cityscapes, green parks, and cartography.

Patrick Jones

Patrick’s 10-speed includes “Warp.”

Stage namePatrick Jones

Some friends call him Pat Jones; but he honestly prefers Patrick.

Starring role: Legal Assistant with Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC

Offstage: Patrick serves on the board of advisors of his fraternity’s local alumni association, TKE, and oversees the granting of scholarships to incoming CBU freshmen.

On the weekend:  “If it’s nice, I’ll ride my bike into East Memphis to see my parents, go shopping at Whole Foods, and then back. It’s a 20-mile loop.”

Biking for transportation? “It doesn’t take that much longer, and you see more because you’re not going as fast. It’s just pleasant.”

Scenic sights? “Right now I’m borrowing a Canon Rebel so I’m taking as many pictures as I can.” Check out his serene photoblog of cityscapes: MidCityScenes.

Favorite spot? “Overton Park. I like that quick transition from the hustle and bustle of Midtown to the calm and quiet. It feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere – an oasis in nature.”

That reminds me – your tweet: “Yes, I got over 40 retweets after pointing out that Parks and Rec used an old map of Overton in their last episode.”

But, HOW did you notice that? “I’ve always liked maps.”

YouTube Stardom Takes Work

So you think scores of people can become famous because of the Internet? Well, they can. Hollywood, network execs, and station owners no longer exclusively control what content is seen by audiences.

YouTube gives everyone the freedom to distribute compelling, informative, and silly videos. I tried my hand at it for a class project and learned that even a 3-minute campy short involves trial and error, hours of work, perseverance, and patience.

Memphis’ most recent ice storm was covered by thousands of local Memphians through social networks. Yet, Twitter housed a groundswell of comedic-laced posts via #MEMICE. Thus, I scavenged for content.

Next, I storyboarded the most descriptive tweets and carefully cast the roles to ensure that the personality of each tweet would come to life.  I must brag: My friends are AWESOME! They routinely expect me to drag them into projects and events, yet this was the first time some had ever acted. (I’m more than proud.)

The low-fidelity props and background cost $18 and served as a nice juxtaposition for this hashtag-inspired short. Give the actors their lines and winter-weather gear, and you’ll get two hysterical hours of filming take after take.

With limited seconds, the intro (and subsequently, the credits) needed to convey quite a bit of information in order to provide context to the viewer. I envisioned a movie-trailer theme and turned to Fiverr, a comprehensive market place that let’s you buy just about any creative service for $5. (Think personalized online singing telegrams.) I hired Jordan, a voiceover pro, and he turned around the job the next morning.

To complete the video, I filmed some campy B-roll of toy cars, a hand-drawn background, and paper punches to mimic the weather’s toll on the city. The tools? (Apple could have sponsored this project.) Filming was done on an iPhone 5 and editing was completed in iMovie using a MacBook Pro. (Mindy McAdams offers solid tips.)

Finally, it was time to upload to the MemphisMaverick channel and promote the video. Thankfully, the persons featured were flattered (and not offended). They graciously forwarded the video to their networks, and it spread to those that I do not personally know. Here’s a Storify outlining reactions to the video by key influencers.

In all, 20 hours (see graph below) were spent on a 3-minute movie. Was it worth it? Absolutely! Will I try it again? Definitely…but maybe this summer.

Memphians vs. #MEMICE

Winter 2014 has proven to be a cold one. Many states expected to be pelted with snow and ice, yet one city was taken by surprise.

Once a year, the streets of Memphis are graced with a thin, white covering that melts away the next day. Yet, it’s an event that brings citizens of this Mississippi River town joy, despair, and hysteria.

Below are real reactions to #MEMICE ’14 by real Memphians.

Take 5: Deidra Brooks

Meet the Queen of Commuters: That Girl who works two jobs and lives within a three-block radius.

Deidra Brooks

Deidra soaks up the mighty Mississippi in her rooftop oasis.

Stage name: Deidra Brooks

Starring role: Education & Classes Coordinator for the Memphis Development Foundation a.k.a. The Orpheum Theatre

Daily script: “Impacting the future of theatre. If you expose children to theatre at a young age, they’re more likely to continue appreciating it later in life.”

Behind the Scenes at the Orpheum: “We have tons of students from Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Missouri that travel for hours to see our Student Matinee Series. These are shows that are produced by international children’s theaters that come and perform.”

Moonlighting gig: Hostess at The Majestic Grille

Insider tip? “The roasted-chicken flatbread is my favorite. And the soups are always good.”

Any notable encounters? “I did take John Mayer‘s order one time. It was the night of his concert at the FedEx Forum, and there were several entrees. The grilled salmon was initialed ‘J.M.”’

What energizes you? “I could spend hours on end” being surrounded by music and the arts. “Everyone wants to do what they love.”

Social media muses: “Follow Mindy Kaling on Twitter; she’s effortlessly funny. Beyoncé, of course. And Pinterest. I basically decorated my whole apartment based around things I saw on Pinterest.”

Walking to work? “That’s the best thing ever! I love this city, especially the spirit to just grit and grind.”

Silly rabbit, memes are for kids.

Or are they? If anything has evolved (or regressed) with our sense of humor, it’s the tolerance for online silliness.

Mischievous catsHillary Clinton. And…the Harlem Shake? That viral YouTube clip garnered more than a billion views and enticed thousands of spinoffs that included NBA teams, colleges, and even NASA.

What’s so appealing? A combo of amateurs, parodies, and laughter. That’s what Olga Goriunova discussed in her article, “New Media Idiocy.” Goriunova said that it’s the “homemade feel” that keeps a piece, or video, authentic, and that is captivating. Today’s digital culture encompasses many tools, academic theories, and business models, yet we shouldn’t overlook the power of the idiotic. Or the “sincerely comic,” according to Goriunova.

So how did YouTube convince people that it was acceptable (and possibly profitable) for parents to showcase their children biting one another? Clay Shirky‘s Here Comes Everybody boils it down to three factors: a promise, the tool, and a bargain.

YouTube promises uploaders that others will not only watch a video, they’ll react to it. Each reaction is positively correlated to the number of visible views. When the views increase, the video is then promoted exponentially across several platforms. Thus, YouTube the medium also serves as a tool that encourages and tracks engagement. Does this site deliver on its promise? I’d wager that by having more than one billion unique viewers each month, YouTube lives up to its bargain.

People are clearly satisfied with YouTube’s structure, and it continues to reign as the most-visited video-sharing site. (If people didn’t like it or liked it less than a competitor, they’d quit using it.)

As silly as it sounds to post personal stream-of-consciousness tirades, they too are YouTube-worthy because others can relate to the message. When I first watched Krissychula‘s profanity-laced rant about trying to survive the “91,000 damn degrees” of summer…I buckled over with laughter. Why? Because I was staying in a sweltering Harlem apartment during the Fourth of July with no air conditioning. My misery found solace in Krissy’s company.

And for Krissy’s bargain? Well, I can assume she’s being financially rewarded as her videos have garnered more than two million views, and she’s now hawking an app for users to download.

While it’s still hard to explain why silly stuff spreads so easily, I think a good place to start is with relatable emotion. (People are absurd!)

Texts from Hillary Tumblr

Texts from Hillary Tumblr

References:

Goriunova, O. (2013). New media idiocy. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, (19)2, 223-235. Retrieved from http://con.sagepub.com/content/19/2/223

Shirky, C. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations. New York: Penguin Press.

5 Juke Joints where Memphians Jive

What’s a juke joint?

Some say it’s a law-breaking, rag-tag shack that can only be found by word of mouth. Yet, my expectation for any jukin’ hotspot is ironically lower.

It’s typically a grungy, after-hours place where music is a feature, the inebriated sporadically dance, and barflies just watch.

Memphis has been blessed with dozens of them. To begin, here are five places to impress your out-of-town guests if they’re seeking the scrappier side of the Bluff City.

5. The Buccaneer Lounge consistently delivers by showcasing solid musicians, must-see Tigers and Grizzlies games, and piratey decor. Permanently docked on Monroe near the shores of Midtown.

4. Wild Bill’s welcomes everyone…if you’re willing to boogie. Bill’s bands are rooted in soul and funk. Just past North Parkway on Vollintine.

3. The Blue Monkey: It’s okay if you’re already seeing double because there are two monkeys in Memphis: Midtown & Downtown. Bands, billiards, and local beer always flow on Saturday nights.

2. Kudzu’s Bar & Grill: You’ll feel like Robert Johnson when you step inside this bluesy hideaway in the Edge district. The patio-like atmosphere recreates what Clarksdale offers, yet Kudzu’s is conveniently closer.

1. Earnestine & Hazel’s, downtown on South Main, is best described in bullets:

  • Brothel (formerly)
  • Soul burgers
  • JukeSoul-box
  • Nate the Bartender
  • Spirits (shaken, stirred, and ressurected)

Memphis is full of authentic dive bars and this only scratches the surface. If you have a favorite for us to try, please comment below or via #MEMJukeJoints.

Mixin’, Minglin’, and Movin’ the Needle

ASPIRE is the new network on the block for young professionals, and it’s warming up more than its own house. It’s fighting poverty, pushing service, and connecting faith-minded millennials across town.

That’s a lot for a Thursday night, but it didn’t deter the 60-plus who attended the kickoff for ASPIRE: Catholic Charities of West Tennessee‘s initiative for young adults. The first meeting was held at Overton Square‘s Local Gastropub and featured Chris Wallace, general manager for the Memphis Grizzlies and board member of CCWTN, as the guest speaker.

Mike Allen, president and CEO of CCWTN, founded ASPIRE for recent college grads and other young people who yearn to connect and serve others. “Feel the energy in here. Some people know each other, but a lot don’t; hopefully, tentacles will spread,” he said.

John Austin Tubbs, a student at Christian Brothers University and ASPIRE steering committee member, said that he got involved “because of the networking and that it’s uniquely based in volunteering.”

Allen personally informed Tubbs and other key influencers about ASPIRE because he considers it “a breeding ground for future board members and volunteers.” While Allen’s goal is to support Catholic Charities, it’s not the only resolution. He’s also focused on the overall potential impact to the city. “If they wind up on another board, then that’s also a win,” Allen said.

The events, which are promoted through Facebook and Twitter, are open to all and involve a service component such as bringing food or clothing items for a pantry or shelter. Social media is how Alison Powers, a design engineer with ThyssenKrupp, learned about the program. “I belong here; these are people that I get energy from,” she said.

After graduating from Stanford, Powers moved to Memphis for her career and has since been involved with her church and anti-poverty issues as a board member for the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality. “The sense of community is something unique to Memphis, and I love that,” she added.

Upcoming (and cleverly titled) events include May’s “Cosmos & Claret in a Convent” with Amy Weirich and September’s “Burgers with Bishop Terry” in Bishop Steib‘s backyard.

[The CA also published an article about ASPIRE (which is how I found out).]

Take 5: Francis Ginski

Meet a lawyer who’s into musicology, theology, and most recently, parentology.

Fran's Super Bass and Super Kicks

Fran kicks it into high gear with his Fender Stratocaster.

Stage name: Francis Ginski

Friends call him: Fran

Starring roles: Case Manager for Benefit Recovery, Inc.; Father to Jack

Daily script: “Making employer-based health plans healthier…and ensuring claims are/can be reimbursed…” (My bewildered look then prompted him to slowly spell “S-U-B-R-O-G-A-T-I-O-N.”)

Moonlighting gig? Fran practices weekly with fellow millennial musicians via the Catholic Diocese of Memphis‘ young adult ministry. Next up: “Playing for the Bishop (and more) at the upcoming Fishers of Men gathering.”

How’d you get into music? “I have 10 brothers and sisters. My grandmother taught us all classical piano…and today we’re still into big-time family jam sessions.”

Descended from the von Trapps? “No.”

Behind the Scenes of Young Catholics: “There’s Theology on Tap that meets monthly to discuss philosophy and theology…and to go deeper into your faith over a good meal and beer.”

Living at Shelby Farms“I like running and am ready for the jogging stroller. The Greenline has brought more and more young people to the park. It’s harder to find a parking spot, and that’s not a bad thing.”

Insider tip? “Patriot Lake has food trucks on the weekends.”