Appreciate first. Safety will follow.

I was in Glenn the Barber’s chair yesterday when he looked out the front window and said, “Uh oh.  Here comes ‘Noise’.”  As if that were the large, pleasant 40-something-year-old man’s nickname.  I could tell that there was a brotherly love there.

There was a twelve year old kid receiving what I expected was his first ‘real haircut’ in the other chair.  His Mom had dropped him off and run errands, knowing he’d be in good hands with the pillars of the local community who are fortunate enough to afford a session with Glenn or his assistant.

As ‘Noise’ entered the thin-doored bathroom, Glenn yelled after him.  “Why couldn’t you use the bathroom at your house?!”  If I could have bottled that ad-lib comic routine, I’d land a regular gig on SNL.

Glenn subtly hit me up for a donation to his church fundraiser, proud they’d just moved into the old synagogue down off Pequot; Zion something….  As ‘Noise’ settled cozily into the third chair, he was psyched for a ‘big meal’.  He talked about every soul food dish as if they were holy:  “Collared greens…  ham hocks… fried chicken…”  The list included 10 more items I wish I could remember.  “Oh, and macaroni with cheese.”  Cruel shoes before lunch I thought.

I was also jealous of Noise and Glenn for being able to move their heads to the unbelievably righteous, bass-driven, Marvin Gaye-style funk from 1975 while I had a sharp buzzing razor attacking the hair on my temples that my friends had never told me I have.

Obama, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and others looked proudly down on us from the wall.

Noise said, “I just thank Jesus that I had the good fortune to wake up and enjoy one more beautiful day on this beautiful earth.”  We all agreed we were fortunate people.  As I left, they each gave me blessings, and me them.  New London is a sanctuary of cross cultural exchange.

Yet some are saying, as the Police Department is shaken up a bit, that New London is becoming less safe.  Its been almost two years since 21-year-old artist, Mathew Chew, was stabbed and beaten to death by six punks just a couple blocks from our condo.  The six wanna-be gang members were quickly arrested and have been sentenced to long years of incarceration.  Since then, New London citizens have been educated, police have become more ‘community’ focused and only a few minor incidents of people being harassed have been reported – but there’ve been no gun or knife murders downtown.

This past week, however, a group of 10 men were alleged to have ‘beaten up’ on a visitor to one of our bars.  The victim claims to have been punched in the face, thrown to the ground and kicked by this ‘group of men’.  Police were on the scene within minutes and the victim was treated and released by L&M Hospital.

It all sounded suspicious to me.  A downtown bar had thrown a ‘welcome back college students’ event?  I’ve never seen anything like that publicized.  I walk my dog downtown every night and have never seen 10 men together except at one of our two local gay bars.

I’ve seen some chemically-effected, middle aged guys on bikes without shirts weaving through strollers on the pier.  I’m sometimes hit up by both local and transient wanderers who respectfully ask for fifty cents or a dollar, likely having heard that our local convenience store is a friendly weigh station.  But no one’s been threatening.

Well, I put on my Shirlock Holmes hat and googled the name of the victim and his home town.  It turns out our visitor had a couple different incidents a few months ago involving disturbing the peace, unlawful discharge of a firearm, interfering with officers…

He comes from a pleasant, colorfully named middle class town in New Haven County.  Without blaming the victim (I have no further insight – the local police have issued no further information), I can only speculate that some of this individual’s bad karma followed him here to New London.

Senseless violence doesn’t distinguish between rural and urban, between on-the-street and in your front door.  Idiots and wannabe’s could be living upstairs from you, in the house next door to you, or down the street near your kids’ bus stop.  We have to be vigilant.  But let’s not let ourselves be intimidated.  My dog and I have ears and eyes and legs ready to run.  We explore using his nose.  I will not be denied that right to roam.

Sure, violence might visit any one of us in a downtown.  But in the meantime, let’s enjoy each other and our cities.  We are truly lucky to have any day the Lord allows us to live.  Let’s not waste it in fear.

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Just plain ‘social’

I saw this referenced in a LinkedIn group:

Study: Amateur User-Generated Video Held Attention Faster and Stronger Than Professional Video commpro.biz

As a ‘pro’, I was alarmed.  I read the earnestly written article and began to feel a bit like Jeff Daniels in those amazing first 15 minutes of News Room.  (OK, I’m not supposed to consider myself Sorkin level, but… how bout a cross between Sorkin and Sederis, taken down a notch?)

I posted the following hastily written comment:

Is it me or is there an overabundance of articles and posts that encourage us to throw out the conventional wisdom that’s been ruling the business world for 10, 20, 30 years and go for the social media equivalent of the lowest common denominator?  You don’t need to talk to someone to actually sell something these days. People will trust you with a tweet. You don’t have to spend money on a professional agency for your video, you can have your friend with his new HD camera that took those cool pictures at Disney help you create the hilarious, next-hit-on-youtube – video that’ll have them reading your blog in no time.

Well, I’m sorry. I’m skeptical. Sure, social media as part of the mix and ‘authenticity’ while shouting in public spaces are important, but at what point do we start to look at just plain ‘social’? And when do we remember that they call it production ‘value’ for a reason? If it looks cheap, it is. Sorry, but I’d like to see the two videos, as well as a multi-video comparison of the kind of videos a pro creative production team has delivered against the user-generated stuff, and then know the intended audiences. I mean, sure, I’d probably buy crayons from a cool teenager if I were five, but…

OK, so I cleaned up the text a little.   It was a rant, sure.

But, this and so many ‘studies’ look suspect to me and point to a cottage industry of ‘do-it-yourself’, self-proclaimed ‘experts’ online.   This so called ‘study’ was questioned by other media professionals as well. In fact, the discussion exposed me to an astute experienced DP in the Tampa area who let me joins his group where these kinds of self-promoting, ‘bogus’ studies are banned.  EFP Video Productions Workshop | LinkedIn

Lesson learned: more than ever, we have to be discerning.   But I’ve had another train of thought:  is there a place for the media-skeptical, socially old-fashioned person in the new mobile-enabled world?  It’s obvious that there needs to be a mix.  Generation We is a fantastic concept and I embrace it:  Rewriting the playbook for “Generation We” – Digital Age of Marketing

But, as alluded to above, let’s not forget the ‘social’.  This generation ‘we’ can’t be inside or plugged in all the time, or then it becomes Generation ‘Those Guys’ Who Stay Inside All Day’  – Generation IAD?

This past weekend, I befriended a boater who was being harassed by a local derelict (that’s a kind word).  I wanted to make sure he was OK and to know that New London really isn’t ‘that way’.  Sure we have our homeless but they’re generally pretty cool and we always have cops on bikes.  ‘I walk my dog here all the time’.  A real ambassador of my city I am.  As it turned out, we had a great chat later and he’s very interested in New London.  Has loved being one of the few boaters coming into New London’s downtown waterfront over the years, and he teaches Urban Studies at Columbia.  He’s sees ‘something happening’ in New London.  He gave me his business card and I told him I’d call him.

We exchanged some email, had lunch a couple days later with a friend I thought he’d appreciate (he did – in fact is talking to him about local real estate investments), and we enjoyed world-class Kareoke that night at my favorite neighborbhood latin place, Mambo.

I believe we’ve established a relationship that will strengthen based on shared appreciation for areas such as ‘aging issues‘, ‘latin music‘ and ‘urban development’.  He’s married to a politically connected woman, lives in a cool Brooklyn neighborhood…  Not just a Facebook friend, a friend friend.  And it was all social.  No media involved – except email and a couple texts – we weren’t that old school.

So that’s the easy argument – the social needs to be a mix of online and ‘real life’.  But now, how do we use the ‘social media’ to make the most of our meeting, and perhaps turn that into some kind of commerce for our businesses to keep the whole philanthropic vibe going?   To help create Smarter Cities?  And ultimately a smarter planet?

Now there’s a question for the interns!