New Year, New Company
I’m going to be blogging about more personal and pop-cultural matters at my new Wordpress joint, ajkandy.wordpress.com.
Professionally, I’ve launched a new sole proprietorship called Marks & Pixels. I’m specializing in interface design, user experience consulting, usability testing, and presentation design. As of this writing, there’s just a bare-bones site up now, but it’ll fill in very soon.
I’m continuing to work with Ken as a Creative Director on many projects for existing and new clients. If anything, the past year has taught us a lot about how to adapt in order to pursue new opportunities, and I look forward to what 2008 has to bring.
That said, will the last reader please turn out the lights? I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, and it’ll remain here as an archive as long as the electricity still flows.
Cheers, and sayonara,
Given yesterday’s torrential downpour (and bizarrely warm weather — the reported high was 24˚C / 75 F), I decided to purchase Singin’ In The Rain and The Life Aquatic on DVD.
Also, check out the new Wes Anderson flick, The Darjeeling Limited. It rocks, no matter what the critics say.
TALKING IN CAPITAL LETTERS
I keep seeing those Oxi Clean ads with the bearded guy WHO SEEMS TO TALK IN ALL CAPS. It’s an interesting branding decision for parent company Church and Dwight; they’re deliberately avoiding what most companies in the home-tidiness category are doing right now.
Continue reading “TALKING IN CAPITAL LETTERS”
Touched by the hand of Jobs
At YULBlog this past Wednesday, I got to hold an iPhone for the very first time — Boris’ one that he got in the States, and then SIM-hacked to get to work on the Fido/Rogers GSM network.
- This thing is breathtakingly small. It fits in the hand very, very comfortably.
- It’s incredibly elegantly designed. It’s a bit like a river-polished stone, seamlessly curved; the entire front of the device sits behind glass. The only surprise was finding out that the Home button is actually a physical button.
- The screen is gorgeous, with a very high pixel density.
- The “grammar” of the touchscreen and gestures is very intuitive.
- In some ways, this was like seeing a Macintosh in 1984.
- Boris has a very impressive Rolodex.
Of course, using the iPhone in this fashion means that you miss out on the one truly gotta-have-it feature, Visual Voicemail. When will Fido/Rogers get in on the action? Or will it take a new MNVO, say, like Videotron (piggybacking on other people’s networks) to bring this to the People?
The culture of flirting and aging gracefully
My good friend Nadia recently blogged about flirting. According to her, “the benign flirt is a kind of kindness and politeness towards the opposite sex […] it keeps things ‘lit up,’ plus we receive smiles, compliments and winks in return…all good for the ego.”
The culture of flirting — of openly looking and receiving a look in return — is something that’s intrinsic to life in Montreal. Often it means nothing, but it’s part of the joy of life here. Other times, a wordless look seems to communicate entire novels. It’s an interplay located in the sweet spot between voyeurism and exhibitionism. Sometimes it’s just about appreciating beauty and style — as David Bowie once sang, “When you’re a boy, other boys check you out.”
I’ve always felt that our longing to look is rooted in the visually rich culture of Catholicism — iconography, art, visual storytelling, architecture, etc. You see the same open flirting, with variations of importance, in Madrid, Paris and Rome. Change the setting to a Presybterian stronghold, however, and a look that lingers a bit too long can provoke a sharp argument.
The culture of looking, to call it that, can be hard to navigate for people from other origins. An acquaintance of mine* from university was a striking woman who was brought up in a strict Mennonite enclave out West. While she still turns heads everywhere she goes — and has quite the hunky boyfriend already — she thinks of herself as unattractive, and protests any declarations to the contrary.
Of course, this may be one of the quirks of Protestant culture — trying to fit in by avoiding sticking out, aka Tall Poppies Syndrome — or attempting to devalue beauty in others by declaring it unwanted. ‘i reject my own beauty; therefore beauty is invalid; If no-one is beautiful, then we’re all even,’ or something like that. I wonder what sort of Style Intervention it’d take for her to realize that it’s OK to be attractive.
As I move into my late 30s, divorced and dating again, flirting’s become more important. I’ve learned to accept some realities — I can look good by dressing better, and look better by exercising. While I can’t compete with 20somethings on the youth stakes, I’ve got light-years more life experience. It is this that allows me to flirt benignly, accept compliments gracefully, and realize when someone truly interesting comes along — our responses are more poised, our filters more precisely tuned.
Meanwhile, a male Quebec City blogger, under the name of Em Ka Be, responds to Nadia’s piece with one of his own, seemingly eulogizing a kind of lack of flirtation in his life, as if some sort of great rift has opened up between men and women in the 30 years since his adolescence.
I’ve heard this story before. Usually, it’s when one of my older buddies starts striking out with women for any number of reasons. From what I’ve seen, letting yourself go, being stuck in the past, or downplaying your own right to be happy / successful all play a part in falling into Enforced Singledom.
To be blunt, aging gracefully is something a lot of men just don’t do well. Women can sense this and they avoid them like patchouli and pleated pants.
Some men are just prematurely old — they get stuck straight into full-on tweed-overcoat-and-cabbie-cap granddad-ness early on and never get out, as some sort of futile anti-style gesture.
Others give up (or never tried) — choosing instead to take the Dark Path into casual athletic leisurewear worn out in public when not engaged in exercise. Or worse - socks with sandals.
At the other extreme, some slide into their 40s while desperately clawing on to their 20s. Recently while dining at Lemeac with a friend, a tragic midlifecrisis-ist walked in wearing flashy white leather rocker duds and wraparound shades that only a 23-year-old could pull off successfully. He was accompanied by an attractive 18-year-old who we presumed was his daughter. “At least she had the decency to look suitably embarrassed on his behalf,” noted my companion.
Another near-50something I know has a perverse grip on a kind of 1980s CEGEP student protestwear look; even though he’s fit and successful, his style vocabulary never progressed beyond the ethnic pillbox hat as a ‘statement’. He’d look fantastic in a tailored suit, but I despair of ever seeing him get one. (He’s also one of those types that eschews cuisine, preferring to think grudgingly of food as fuel, and seems to mostly live in his head; as Sir Ken Robinson called them, the kind of people that use their bodies strictly to transport their heads around to academic conferences.)
Beyond mere issues of style, however, are deeper-rooted insecurities that most men face, especially being single at an age when they feel they should have had a partner and possibly kids.
I think for many, it’s all too easy to fall victim to poor mental habits; a fear of success, call it, that encourages risk-avoidance. Why try for best and risk losing the mediocrity we’ve settled for, goes the reasoning. We devalue ourselves, or become slaves to work; like my old school friend, we can think we’re unattractive even when there’s copious evidence to the contrary, or stay in failing relationships well past their sell-by dates.
After all, if we don’t love ourselves — if we can’t take care of ourselves — how can we convince someone that we can take care of them or anyone else?
As Lisa Jones writes in “Why I’d Date an Older Man,” older men fall into two categories, the ‘attractive bachelor’ and the ‘pathetic single guy;’ — with an exception made for the hot family man who’s strictly hands-off, but still admirable. In essence, at some point you have to choose between being George Clooney or George Costanza.
Jones’ ideal older man embodies elegance and most of all, comfort in his own skin:
- He’s experienced, but not fatherly.
- He’s intelligent, yet hip.
- He’s successful, but not flashy.
- He’s a man who has something to show for his life.
- He’s in shape and healthy.
- He’s stylish, but also age-appropriate.
- He acknowledges his age, but doesn’t focus on it.
- He makes me dream about taking him to bed.
- He knows what he wants. He’s passed the waffling, what-do-I-do? stage. When he wants a woman, he tells her. And not surprisingly, often gets her.
As one of my closest female friends puts it, “There has to be something of the wild man there…someone that looks good in a suit and has good table manners, but is still at heart, untamed.” As they said of Connery’s Bond: Men want to be him, women want to be with him.
Can A Shopping Mall Save Griffintown? Find Out At Pecha Kucha Night - Tuesday Sept. 18th
Recently, Quebec developer Devimco partnered with Toronto-based RioCan to build the suburban Quartier Dix30 “lifestyle centre,” a drive-in power-centre big-box shopping mall located in a greenfield development at the intersections of Highways 10 and 30 on the South Shore.
Devimco is now working with the City of Montreal to push through a similar $1B development near the Peel Basin section of the Lachine Canal. The Gazette’s Mary Lamey reported that a parcel of land west of the Bonaventure Expressway and south of Ottawa Street, comprising 18 hectares, was to be developed. By my rough estimate, that would seem to indicate it will be sited on the former Canada Post sorting plant, but also possibly combined with other land adjacent to the Peel Basin itself. Reportedly, Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire are to be anchor tenants. Essentially, it’d span an area from Guy to Peel streets.
A suburban mall at the feet of two of Montreal’s central boulevards, in the middle of Griffintown and adjacent to Old Montreal, ignores both the “retail DNA” of Montreal and the history of a proud neighborhood. It’s anti-urban, representing low density and sprawl, and there is serious doubt that it will contribute positively in terms of built space, eyes on the street, and other issues.
Even if there is a residential tower attached, as the current proposal includes, it’s still likely going to be a lot of cheap car-dealership-style sheds separated by acres of parking lagoons… It’s an odd decision in a neighborhood that is moving towards drastically increased residential density and good urban design, and which is likely to be enhanced by the Harbour Commission’s plans to demolish the elevated portions of the Bonaventure Expressway to create a pedestrian-friendly urban boulevard and tramway links. With Peak Oil on the horizon, are big-box malls of national chain retail even viable, anyway?
We — being Stephanie Troeth and yours truly, AJ Kandy — are proposing an alternative, urbanist vision for the project in a quick six-minute presentation at the upcoming Montreal Pecha Kucha Night, Tuesday, September 18th at the SAT, starting at 8:20pm. We hope to see all of you there, and for those who can’t attend, we’ll be republishing it online with narration, background articles and links, and providing tools for action and discussion.
In the meantime, interested citizens should get in touch with the Sud-Ouest borough mayor’s office about an upcoming series of public consultations on the project.
Originally posted at Urbanphoto.
Signs your neighborhood is hip
When Hot Hot Heat shoot their video in a storefront just down the street from you…