Wednesday, August 21, 2013


94 St Mark's Place, NY

Truth be told, I was afraid.

Though I was shielded by darkness in the audience, this was a room, where it felt like all eyes were upon you (and looking through you).

Everyone was unique. That’s the toughest audience you can possibly get. 

I mean, can you imagine if poet Tim Shea and Joe Yoga were to uniquely articulate thoughts about your art? Art is always in mixed emotion so I’d not expect one flavor. Or, can you imagine Mike Milazzo playing guitar strings so hard, and you wondering if you worked hard enough for Art?   And what if you saw Killy Mockstar Dwyer creating physical illusions with dazzling movements, making you wonder if your art was even magical? And let’s face it, having a guy named “Satan” as a viewer can be intimidating. 

Unique people make you question a lot--and wonder in awe. 

So much could unexpectedly happen in 7 minutes. And so much did. 

If people were to ask, where can you find a place to be creatively versatile like  Patti Smith, this basement room would be it at Under St Mark's Theater where Penny's Open Mic has been staged every Tuesday for 6 years.  It’s not just because of sheer madness – people singing “Where Is My Mind?” – that Penny’s Open Mic poetically lasted this long. Not even Sandy  pummeling Manhattan lights could stop Penny's Open Mic on a Tuesday. 

I note: No power outage made “Somehwere in the Dark” look darker.  After Sandy, the  flag of piracy that said "Penny’s Open Mic" still waved outside Penny’s famed Ludlow  Street APT candlelit above a darkened bar sign. Power out.  

There’s something special about a stage that heralds uniqueness.

I’ve written three times already on Penny’s Open Mic, inspired by a different muse each time that came with the night. For the final  night of Penny’s Open Mic,  I didn’t want to reminisce about what was written because who repeats an act on a stage that is all about uniqueness?

But this is true. When I wrote those 3 pieces about Penny’s Open Mic, I didn’t tell anyone. I was truly afraid of what so many unique talents would think--even after I’d written a well-received piece about that night of “Risk." The second piece on "Avant Garde" night was  in the style of surrealism, fragmented like a Picasso painting. Did it work out? I didn’t know.

I’d wait months – sometimes half a year – before people would discover the writing posted quietly. They’d say they liked it or loved it, and until then,  I thought no one did.

A writer hears a voice to write but sometimes you think only you understand that voice. That’s the nature of unique.

They’ll be a lot of people who are tone deaf to the voice of unique.

But not on this stage. People who are unlike you will like you. Their differences will sharpen your work, making it edgier.  

Penny Pollak is magic. I always say she should be the Mayor of New York because she knows how to host “unique.” After  6 years, she'll be doing it one last Tuesday, August 27, 2013. 

She'll be having a new exciting creative chapter next. It’s no surprise American X director Tony Kaye is making the film Abigail with Penny. They are two individuals who break the mold.

Who doesn’t love Penny’s creativity, spirit and blue jacket found on the fence?  Not to mention her fire breathing.

She uniquely can make a small space seem so big, turning a bathtub into a stage.  Winnipeg and Scotland know.

* * *

Her eyes didn't just look at you.
They sent a spirit into you and you suddenly performed. 

The underground is not about press. But I’ll tell ya, the press wrote stuff they never write for any place else:

"Possibly the best venue in New York City for performers who like to take risks." 
 ~ CBS 
 “Every Tuesday night, in a tiny theater hidden below a busy East Village street, some of the city’s most inventive minds take the stage.”  ~ New York Magazine.

And I say, in my lifetime, it’s the best deal in New York ever. For $3, you will see crafty words and performances from people who believe:

* * *

I had writer’s block on what to write one last time for Penny’s Open Mic. Then the  muse finally came.  

"nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping"

I was inspired by Killy Mockstar Dwyer’s speech for Revelation night at Penny's Open Mic:

I think one, if not the most important revelation that I came to gradually over my time at Penny's Open Mic, is that I truly wanted do something that no one else is doing. To strive every day for that almost impossible goal, anyway. I wanted to be an entirely unique artist and entertainer. To be incomparable. I think after more than 6 years of trial, error, success and failure, I am pretty damn close. I'm not really a comedian. I'm not exactly a musician. I'm not an actress or a dancer or a puppeteer or a filmmaker. I'm a imperfectly perfect amalgamation of all of those things and more. I'm someone that rebels against fitting in and following a path. With the help of Penny and Penny's Open Mic I blazed my own zigzagging, bumpy, beautiful winding road, flanked with the lovely graffiti of experience, failure, love, support, time, bravery and risk - with lifelong friends to hold my hand along the way. There aren't words that offer my gratitude for the space to fall and fly - "jump and the net will appear". There is only the still forming, ever changing artist that stands before the audience wherever I land, giving 110% of everything I am and the residual experience of every performance I had the esteemed honor to witness and learn from in a underground, black box theater on St. Marks street.”

She was the hardest act to describe.  So in that regard, that’s how unique she’s been. Words do not exist yet to describe her. 

* * * 

Addendum -  Week #314 straight, Penny's Open Mic #314.  68 people showed up to perform. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

US Economic Forecast

The business of liberty can no longer afford rent. A new luxury condo called The Liberty is expected to take over. The prestigious penthouse is expected to go for a record-breaking price. The lower levels will pay homage to the United Nations recently demolished to make way for a taller luxury condo charging triple the rent. Every Liberty suite has an waterfront view. If you have too much money, and are looking for a 5th offshore home you don’t really use often, this is the place for you.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Next Wave of Geo-Tagging

“It’s what we don’t know that is the breakthrough.”

Investors Geo-Tagged: The investment trail of Chris Sacca 
Quora CEO & Former Facebook CTO 

* * *

It’s time for a leap in the geo-space.

So much is known about a place, but so little is represented.

A big missing strategic piece has always been the lack of compelling content to measure up to the capabilities of Google Goggles or even  Apple and Google Maps. 

Viewers have not been impressed with generic photos, recycled listings, ads looking like Times Square or unmeaningful user-generated words geo-tagged to “augment” a rich geographical world.

Foursquare and Facebook check-ins could certainly be re-vitalized by better content. Travel/accommodation sites could also spike interest with greater location intelligence.

* * *

To make places more interesting,  Jump2Spot embarked on a mammoth project to geo-tag digital content that had been curated daily and collected  over 7 years. 

10,000 hours was spent geo-tagging notable photos and iconic stories (new and old).

A new kind of "augmented reality" has been created. You can see where Bob Dylan was photographed for an album cover, wrote a song or bought a house. You can follow the footsteps of  Steve Jobs, to where he invented new ideas, regularly ate, met notable people, traveled and lived. You can see where Audrey Hepburn or Madonna checked-in. You can see where The Godfather made an offer that “can’t be refused.” Or where a lesser known photographer took a stunning photo.

Today Jump2Spot's GPS atlas is more than double the world’s longest novel in words, accompanied by notable visuals geo-tagged. It is already larger than the world's first  digital encyclopedia.

Stories can be seen near the most photographed spots in the world and on every block in Manhattan. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Paris, Toronto, Chicago,  Vancouver, Dublin, Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Montreal, and Rome  have become  “story networks” where geo-patterns and geo-connections can be seen.

A new form of geo-journalism emerged - to chronicle what happened at a place, its stories geo-tagged there.  News is geo-indexed.  

A new form of geo-history emerged - to time lapse what happened at a place over  a century. 

New history has been discovered from old history via  geo-intersections disclosing factoids seen only by mapping stories at a common place.  Who knew F Scott Fitzgerald moved into the same apartment building of his hate mailer within months of receiving his letter? 

* * *

So where does a stand-out geo-library go from here?

 Jump2Spot 2.0 blueprinting 
at U2 producer ’s place

In the tech space, too many build what they know. But it’s what we don’t know that breaks through. Or as my math prof once said, “You have to twist your mind to see it.”

There are formulas for status quo but there are none for breakthrough.  

At first, Jump2Spot 2.0  focused on a new kind visual geo-zine showing cool things near any place - including stories matching your interests and stories connecting people at places.  But  a convenient process where you don’t have to do much while on the go  became paramount. These days, even opening a new app is quite a chore – especially if you have 100 apps on your phone.

Today you can open Jump2Spot 1.0 and see stories nearby instantly without pressing a button. Or alternatively, type an address to see stories near a place top of mind. It’s so simple but still too much in this era of serve me (who has no time) conveniently.

The Jump2Spot 2.0 blueprint is now focused on having your  instant camera shots trigger story annotations for your photos.

When you use your camera, Jump2Spot 2.0 could automatically  inform you  about objects in your photo – and notable stories related to the spot.. You will no longer be clueless about the place you just photographed.  

Additionally, it can alert you of interesting things to photograph nearby. 

* * * 
A lot of brain power is behind this start up. 

There's  a pre-seed stage  advisory board that includes a tech executive who managed Cisco and Motorola;  digital product leaders with global experience at AirBnB,  Blackberry’s Instant Messenger,  the New York Times and TV Guide; a museum app guru  at the  Royal Ontario Museum; and community leaders involved with Esri, Ushahidi, TED, and SxSW. Friends with experience at  Intel, Harvard, and a leading VC have put thought into it.

Thousands of people have reacted to stories shared by Jump2Spot 1.0 to give valuable feedback. 

Founders are personally active in communities now spanning 9 cities - and it's clear a creative or leading edge audience expects a highly visual, relevant and resonating, convenient experience. 

The geo-story assets are tremendously rich, but it’ll come down to the execution of  product convenience. 

Stay tuned.