Lady Gaga “Alejandro”

11 06 2010

This video, like every Lady Gaga video these days, is way too long. We get it, there are a lot of great dances you can do in boots.

But for the first time in a while, I enjoy a Gaga song.

A couple months ago, MIA criticized Gaga for making videos that are far weirder than her actual music, which she described as unoriginal and uninspired (or words to that effect). I suppose MIA is right, but it’s not like Ms. “Paper Planes” is reinventing the wheel when she takes the mic.

They’re both pop artists for goodness sake. MIA performed at the Grammy’s, which is hardly an award show known for its edgy, outside-the-box entertainers.

Anywhoski, I’ve hated and refused to wear shorts for more than a decade and this video offers a good example of why. You could be the coolest cat on the block, once you put on a pair of those black pantalones cortos, you look like a total goober.

What accent is Gaga trying to put on when she calls out for Alejandro? Is it French? Spanish? I’m totally confused.

And who is Fernando? I thought this whole think was about Ale-Ale-jandro, but then she says Fernando. Which one is he? Is he also wearing those awful shorts?


Production Book

11 06 2010

I’m taking a summer class at NYU designed to sharpen journalists’ multimedia skills. For me it’s especially useful because it’s the first time I’ve ever put together a video piece. Below please find my production book for the project. And please, please tune in on June 17 at 8 p.m. ET (6 p.m. MST) for our live webcast where my story will premiere.

May 17: I came to class with two story ideas. One is a story about Laurance Rassin who wants to be the first American artist to paint in zero gravity. The second is a story about a proposed amendment that would require New York City government to boycott Arizona. The amendment is in response to the controversial Arizona immigration law.

I would prefer to do the artist in space story because I think it would be easier to get a hold of Laurance. It might be tricky to get a lot of time with Ydanis Rodriguez, the councilman proposing the legislation. On the other hand, for the artist in space story to work, it would have to be clear that Laurance is serious. Anyone can say they want to go to space, but it takes more then that to make a real effort to get there.

May 19: I’ve done some pre-reporting and it seems like the artist in space story is the best fit for the class. Rassin is definitely driven. He won’t give specifics about how much money he’s raised far towards the $200,000 ticket to space, but he has several people backing his mission. There’s an accredited space agent, a big time travel agency and the only company in America that trains non-astronauts to go to space. None of these folks is supporting him financially, but they’re taking his quest seriously and that’s a good sign.

The Arizona story doesn’t look like it would pan out. It’s unclear what impact a boycott would have (if any) on Arizona or New York City. Further, it’s been very difficult to get a hold of the important sources for the story. This idea has been nixed.

May 20: I am slated to travel to Philadelphia with Laurance on Monday. We’re headed to the NASTAR space-training center where Laurance is slated to go through training in September. He’s bringing the folks at NASTAR his design for their new space suit.

May 24: The trip to NASTAR was cancelled this morning. The woman we were scheduled to meet with at NASTAR, Brienna Henwood couldn’t make time with us today. I’m very disappointed this trip didn’t pan out. It would have given me time to get to know Laurance, get some b-roll of him meeting people at NASTAR and potentially knock out a couple interviews with important sources for the story.

On the plus side, Laurance has invited me to film his band practice tomorrow. His band, called Clusterfunk, is a funk-fusion band with a drummer who has played with Carlos Santana. Should be fun.

May 25: Band practice was cancelled today, just like the NASTAR visit yesterday. Laurance said we could meet later today, but then cancelled those plans as well. I am a bit discouraged. Things are not falling into my lap the way I had hoped they would. It’s not surprising. Things almost never work out as well as you hope, but I hope these cancellations don’t become a pattern.

I have scheduled interviews with Moshe Gabbay, an accredited space agent with Virgin Galactic and Jeff Orley, who co-owns Orley and Shabahang carpets on Thursday. Orley’s company has turned some of Laurance’s paintings into wall hangings/carpets.

I also interviewed Brienna Henwood at NASTAR over the phone should be able to pull some audio from the conversation for the uninterrupted 3-5 minute video piece and additional audio clips for the full iBeat package as well.

May 26: Laurance invited me to sit in and film a meeting with the managers of the Dream and Time hotels in the theater district. The meeting took place as planned, but the footage I got was unusable. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I’m worried there may be something wrong with my camera. I’m meeting with my professor, Adrian Mihai tomorrow morning to trouble shoot.

May 27: The interviews with Gabbay and Orley went through as planned today. I was very nervous, especially for the first interview with Orley, because it was my first filmed interview I’ve ever completed. The footage looks usable for both interviews and I think I dig out some god sound bites. This is the first day I’ve felt like I made significant progress towards completing this project. I also got b-roll of Laurance speaking with Moshe and Jeff and footage of Laurance playing guitar. There are also some shots of his paintings at his studio in West Chelsea.

May 28: I’m leaving New York to attend a wedding this weekend. I won’t have a chance to do any shooting until Monday at the earliest. I’m schedule to meet with Laurance to film his primary interview on Monday, the day after I get back.

May 31: Laurance cancelled our interview today. I’m hopeful we can meet on Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. He says we can meet tomorrow. We’ll see if it comes together. He is very busy and said he paints 16-20 hours a day.

I’ve scheduled an interview with Kimberly Wilson Wetty, co-president of Valerie Wilson
Travel, one of the few companies allowed to sell tickets to space through Virgin Galactic.

June 1: The interview with Kimberly went well. However, Laurance was unable to meet again today.  I am a bit anxious about making sure I get Laurance’s interview done ASAP. It is, obviously, crucial for the story.

June 2: Finally completed the big interview with Laurance. We had to film it twice because the audio was essentially unusable the first time. The iTech camera I’m using to film the story has very sensitive audio settings. It’s impossible to adjust the settings, so we just had to move Laurance’s mic further away from his mouth. I also got footage of him painting on the roof of the Dream Hotel in the theater district.

June 3: I was scheduled to meet with Frank Maraschiello of Bonhams’ auction house. But he cancelled today. He said he would be available for a quick phone interview tomorrow, so I will get in touch with him today. His interview is not crucial for the story, but it helps solidify Laurance as a bona fide artist in New York. Frank has sold about a dozen of Laurance’s pieces at auction for around $30,000.

I did interview Nancy Spielberg, who sits on the board of Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl charity. She’s the sister of director Stephen Spielberg and has several of Laurance’s pieces. Laurance has done work with Children of Chernobyl in the past and has an art show at the Conde Nast building where a portion of the proceeds go to the charity.

June 4: Had the phone interview with Frank Maraschiello today. I also met with Prof. Adrian Mihai and we discussed what the structure of my primary video segment would be. It’s all coming together. I am slated to film Laurance’s work at the Cande Nast building in Times Square. His work is on display in the lobby as part of his “Simply Blue” show. The proceeds from the ongoing showcase will go towards funding Laurance’s ticket to space as well as Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl charity.

June 5: Got footage of Laurance’s work at the Cande Nast building today. I had hoped that Laurance would be able to meet me there to discuss his work, but he was celebrating his girlfriend’s birthday. This should wrap up shooting for the story.

June 6: I have been desperately trying to get a hold of a source for the print story.  I would like to put together a print piece about the New Blue Riders art collective, that Laurance helped form, as part of the iBeat reporting package. So far though, I haven’t been able to track down I am scheduled to meet with Adrian about my print story and other aspects of my package tomorrow.

June 7: I am having a great deal of difficulty tracking down a source for my print story. I want to write a piece about Laurance’s art group the New Blue Riders. It includes several members who are the grandchildren of legendary artists. Without at least one other Blue Rider (besides Laurance) the story is pretty unworkable. I’m hopeful I will be able to get all the interviews I need done in the next day or two.

June 8: Finally got on the horn with Anton Kandinsky, the great-grandson of Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky. He’s a member of the New Blue Riders. The story is a go. I should be able to put together a rough draft by tomorrow at the latest. I also completed the audio segment section of the package I have to put together by next Wednesday, June 15.

Things are rolling right along. I have to finish ingesting so I can start putting together the main video piece. That will start tomorrow.

June 9: Started on my video piece today and finished up the draft of the print story. It was such a relief to actually put some video clips together. This thing is going to need a lot of smoothing out, but it’s a start. Just putting my first clip together was a daunting step forward and I’m glad it’s over with.

June 10: I had a minor freak out when I couldn’t find a clip I really needed. Then I found it and realized I didn’t necessarily need it. My brain does that quite a bit. If I can’t find something, or something I’m used to using isn’t available anymore, I tend to think of it as an absolute necessity. Then, when I find it again, it doesn’t seem that important. I lost my iPod about two years ago. I was crushed. I didn’t think I could ever go back to silent walks that weren’t filled with music. Then I found it and I rarely use it. Walks without music are fine.

ME!!! and Sara

Partnership Forged

19 04 2010

One of my fellow students in my entrepreneurial journalism class reached out to me hoping to form a kind of partnership that links our two business ideas.

She’s putting together a site specifically for  freelancers.

She said her site will include several videographers who could help bands on my site make music videos. Hopefully this week we’ll be able to get together and flesh out the nature of this potential partnership.

It seems like a good idea because it’s a free way to get the bands on my site hooked up with people who could help them produce a professional, high quality video that allows them to standout from the crowd.

I hope there’s someway to monetize this partnership facilitation. I could potentially charge a service fee that comes off the top of whatever price the band agrees to pay the videographer.

If we can’t monetize it, it will at the very least be another asset to the site that could drive traffic to

That’s still looking like the primary challenge to getting this thing off the ground, so anything that helps accomplish the goal is important.

Silversun Pickups “Little Lover’s So Polite”

17 04 2010

I know everyone says Silversun Pickups sound exactly like the Smashing Pumpkins, and their not indie rock, they’re just for little girls and no one should like them. But millions of little girls can’t be wrong.

I like this band a lot and I don’t care who knows it. My friends pointed out that the lead singer looks like Crispin Glover pictured below:

I suppose they’re right, but with lead singer Brian Aubert’s beautiful head of luscious, flowing hair, he can look like whatever he wants.

Incidentally, when you type in “lead singer silversun pickups” into Google, the first thing that comes up is someone on a message board asking if the Silversun Pickups’ lead singer is a boy or a girl. I’ve heard much girlier singers than Bri Bri.

This whole band has great hair, except for maybe the token ugly one (the keyboard fellow). It’s not really fair to call him ugly. He’s maybe, the ugliest. That’s certainly true. The drummer has so much hair, you can’t even see his face. He could look like anything under there!

Finally, does anyone know where the parents of those two youths are? It seems like it’s very late, and I know the boy has a cool guitar that he wears like a backpack (the coolest way possible to wear a guitar) but he’s still very small and probably couldn’t fend off an attacker. Be safe.

A Few More Things

17 04 2010

This image came up when I searched "Primate death match"

So I’ve gotten some ideas for how to spread the word about my site. This is probably the weakest part of my business plan, but I think a lot of sites struggle with driving traffic to their site, so at least I’m not alone.

I need to make it as easy as possible for people to embed videos from my site on their web pages. But the videos will have to have Music Video Haven’s logo on it at the beginning and end of the video, so that it’s clear whose site the footage came from.

Also, bands should have their own websites on my site. In other words, when you click on a band on you’ll be taken to say, for example as opposed to Each band should have a named site so that they can promote their site, and thus drive traffic to MusicVideoHaven.

I’m offering bands a chance to promote themselves and, hopefully, in exchange, they’ll promote MusicVideoHaven by telling fans and those curious about the group to visit my site.

It’s possible I could also do some regional marketing. So, buying ads from Google for example when people search for “New York bands”. That will drive up start-up costs, but it could be worth it.

Gil Scott-Heron “Me And The Devil”

14 04 2010

This video depicts my fear of teens perfectly. Look at those scary-faced youths! They’re after me, and they know I’ll give them anything they want.

I have been scared of teens since I was 13. They are just young enough to have no reservations about doing absolutely anything. They’ll steal, they’ll fight, they’ll deface property, etc. But they’re much more dangerous than pre-teens because their bodies have developed to the point where they can inflict real, substantial damage on anyone they choose to destroy.

And of course they skateboard. Perfect. That’s perfect.

Now about the old man who appears in the second part of this video. Now there’s a guy you can feel bad for. Just trying to walk somewhere or keep moving so as to assure himself he’s not dead.

Also, goodness knows what’s on his shirt. Is it blood? Is it dirt? Blood dirt? Alcohol? I guess that guy is drunk, though he could have just had a rough go of it in general.

This video depicts a much more dangerous New York City than the one that I think currently exists. I haven’t seen anyone with painted faces, except the obnoxious drama kids hell-bent on making people notice them. But they won’t hurt anyone. They’ll just give you a flyer for a theater workshop that you’ll have to throw away.

New Ideas

11 04 2010

I got some help for my project from my brother today. He said I can increase the sound quality of the videos by using high-quality encoding on the site. He warned that this would mean videos would download less quickly. Thus, they would not be instantly viewable.

He mentioned that another option is to give viewers a choice between instantly viewable, lower quality videos and high quality, but slower downloading ones. That sounds good to me and that might help me standout from YouTube.

I also want to have guest picks, where I invite known musicians and perhaps music critics to provide their top 5 favorite videos on Music Video Haven (which is what my site is called, at this point, anyway.)

My brother also suggested that certain people’s votes on videos could be worth different amounts. For example, if someone from a very popular band on my site liked another band’s video, that musician’s vote would be worth more in the vote tally than someone who did not belong to a popular group.

That might help push better videos to the front of the site. People with a more “trusted” opinion could help usher higher quality videos to the homepage.