Hangovers, zombies and impulse control – Sonoma News – News 2011 – Sonoma, CA

Hangovers, zombies and impulse control

by Daedalus Howell
Dec 15, 2011 – 02:48 PM
Daedalus Howell

Daedalus Howell

I must have misunderstand my high school guidance counselor?s admonishment that I have ?poor impulse control.?

  It seems I might have heard it as ?pour impulse control,? because as soon as I discovered wine in my teens (courtesy of Carlo Rossi?s vin rose), I became really good at impulsively pouring glasses of the stuff. I?ve since tempered my rate of consumption, not for a lack of love but for a lack of my ability to remember anything that follows the second glass. For example, there was apparently this period in my life in the mid-?90s called ?college.? I have no recollection of it but every month a student loan bill arrives. It?s like paying a never-ending bar tab.

  This is why I?ve come to schedule my subsequent investigations into viticulture or vinification or vilification, whatever it?s now called ? winoism ? with at least two days of recovery time. As they say, ?when it rains, it pours,? to which I?ll add, ?when it brains, it sores.? This what the first phrase sounds like when wheezed into a paper bag between chunders.

  As humorist Robert Benchley opined, ?A real hangover is nothing to try out family remedies on. The only cure for a real hangover is death.? I?m inclined to agree with him, which either means I?ve never had a ?real hangover,? or my name is Lazarus. I think it?s a bit of both. Being hungover is like being a member of the walking dead. As Sonomans, it?s something of a rite of passage to go from zinfandel to zombie and back again. If we were better organized we could stage a re-enactment of Michael Jackson?s ?Thriller? in the Plaza. Of course, this is the kind of idea that sounds brilliant about three glasses in. Then the next day, a single die-hard will find himself in front of City Hall with a red jacket and a mouthful of blood capsules who did not get the ?we?re sleeping off our hangovers? memo. I can tell you, there is nothing sadder than watching a lone zombie practicing his steps in the cold, light of day.

  If it is not yet obvious, I?m hungover as I write this. Which is why it?s taken twice as long to write half as much while sleeping past my deadline to the inevitable chagrin of my editors. Please know, I don?t fancy myself a Brendan Behan type ? ?a drinker with a writing problem? ? as I?m merely competent in either pursuit, if sometimes inspired. Neither drinking nor writing is particularly heroic ? both leave you broke and generally wistful. But if I had to choose, I?d choose the writing game. It?s less likely to lead to liver disease. The fact that I?m writing these observations in a bar called The Bookstore is an irony not lost on me. It?s the bar and grill of the hotel in which I?m staying while on assignment in Seattle. If I could get my forehead off my keyboard I might visit an actual bookstore (the Elliott Bay Book Company comes to mind). Or I might not.

  Where did I go wrong? Is it in my genes? Can?t I blame this headache on some erstwhile ancestor for introducing a mutant strain of winoism into the family tree? Perhaps I could blame my grandmother. On a family road trip to Disneyland, she revealed she was traveling with a mayonnaise jar she had re-purposed to hold vodka. Even at 8, I was impressed with her resourcefulness, which apparently proved handy when we were broken down just outside Coalinga.

  I?m too classy to travel with condiment containers of hootch. Besides, the TSA would just dump them anyway, not least because it might impact sales of those little plastic bottles of 2010 Sutter Home merlot on the plane. And with a wine list like that, who needs impulse control?

? ? ?

This article appears in the News 2011 issue of Sonoma News

Pop-up stores sign of retail times

Pop-up stores function like gallery exhibits?they appear for a spell, often with a theme, make some dough, then vamoose. Some are seasonal, like Petaluma’s annual Christmas store put up by Marisa’s Fantasia. Others are a means for brands like Wired magazine to showcase its curatorial prowess, as with its temporary location in NYC’s Times Square.

Trendwatching.com, a self-described “independent and opinionated trend firm” based in London, claims to have coined the term “pop-up store” in 2004. Their cool hunters noticed that the now-defunct airline Song had opened a store in New York’s SOHO district with the lifespan of the average fruit fly. As planned, it closed a week later, after seven days of selling samples from the in-flight menu, travel gear and tickets.

Now a new mutation of the pop-up concept is appearing on the retail event horizon?the store-within-a-store.

Consider the recently announced launch of micro?Martha Stewart stores inside JCPenney locations. I had no idea JCPenney still existed or that Martha Stewart was still relevant, but my demographic is likely irrelevant to the department store’s new CEO Ron Johnson, who’s shepherding the midrange brand’s revitalization. (He’s also acquiring an almost $40 million stake in Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.)

On its face, it might not seem like a very exciting premise?the doyenne of domesticality branding some shelf space in a retail chain. What’s germane is that Johnson was the brain behind Apple Stores. If Johnson can bring any of the mojo from Steve Jobs’ in-house shopping experience, he may be able to create a successful retail Frankenstein out of JCPenney and Martha Stewart. At which point, the editors of Trendwatching.com will explode from smug self-satisfaction as the store-within-a-store trend will have crossed into a hard, cold economic reality.

For some, “it’s a good thing.” But for those holding the note on vacant retail space, this nesting-doll approach to commerce is trouble. Due to the economic downturn, there’s no dearth of available storefronts in which one might temporarily set up shop. Pop-up stores in these spaces could represent a minor reprieve, and would surely be welcomed with open arms like the Spirit Halloween stores that are ubiquitous through September and October. Founded in 1983, the come-and-go costume seller has perfected the large-scale pop-up store model. This year, it filled 900 temporary locations in 48 states and Canada, all in “high visibility, high-traffic strip centers” that would otherwise be empty.

But then, as JCPenney’s Johnson probably realized, a standalone Martha Stewart store might also end up empty.

Daedalus Howell is at FMRL.com.


Just learned that if you “came of age” during the ’90s you’re entitled to an official “re-do,” courtesy of those that somehow mattered to you then. I’m totally cashing in on this… You?

The Next Great Media Form | Fast Company

Many have written about the changing news business, how the economics of inefficiency that characterized newspapers ad sales, which still are the lion’s share of revenues, don’t apply in a world of plenty; how anyone with a smartphone and camera can act as a reporter and draw eyeballs away from so-called mainstream sites; how publishers are hoping the iPad and the teeming apps ecosystem will somehow toss them a lifeline. Fewer, however, have addressed how the actual content is changing.

But we are in the midst of a transformative shift in the craft of journalism. Text-only stories, the kind your parents found in their morning newspapers and characterized by the classic inverted pyramid (most important stuff at the top, least important stuff at the bottom) could eventually go the way of 45-rpm records. The MP3 of journalism may be the “live blog,” which relies on the merging of platforms and weaving of text with video, audio, external links to other articles (including those of rival news organizations), blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, and whatever other useful information is available. It doesn’t matter if information originates from a New York Times article, a tweet from an eyewitness on the scene, or someone offering astute commentary and curating links, a video shot by a protester or produced by a team at CNN. Because in the live-blog format disparate platforms become irrelevant, and the walls between these separate silos of content simply dissolve…

via fastcompany.com

Now, consider live-blogging for fiction. Could be something akin to Nanowrimo.org (National Novel Writing Month) but published in real time. Add the notion of collaboration and an exquisite corpse (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exquisite_corpse) might emerge like a digital Frankenfiction.