Sunday Espresso: Branding, That Said, Black Box

    Sunday Espress Editorial Clint

    Sunday Espress Editorial ClintFor a while our house smelled like a giant mushroom, what with all of Loni’s urban vegetable adventures that turned even the simplest of recipes into earthy green wanderlust. Now, I feel like I’m living at the center of a gigantic, overly fragrant flower. What is happening here?! Plants everywhere. Pots. Bags of soil. When will I ever be at the center of a colossal filet mignon. Or sitting atop a house-sized oyster, dripping in creamy butter and oil?

    You know the drill here folks. Sunday morning. One espresso for me (no sugar whatsoever, and a bit of non-fat Skim). Keep it pure I say… then let the mind wander freely. Oh, and one espresso for you. Hope you’re enjoying the Memorial weekend.


    I’ve been involved and led large branding projects before. Large-scale stuff for monster-size publicly traded tech companies.

    We’d hire consultants. Pull together team brainstorming sessions. Get in touch with customers. All in an effort to portray the right image, send the right message. It’s never easy, and there’s certainly never a right answer. I’m a big believer, for better or worse, in destroying group-think. Find it, squash it (that’s what she said). It results in the most diluted, crappy stuff imaginable. Someone must eventually make the call. It doesn’t mean input can’t be solicited, and valued. Of course it can – every employee, and even customers, and partners have bright ideas that can help move your business forward (be it, a non-profit, hobby, or billion-dollar enterprise).

    But you know what? I never, ever – not in a million years – thought we’d have any semblance of a “branding” challenge here on this web site… er, sorry, web publication. Part of it is maddening; why does this need to be so complicated, with so many moving parts? Part of it amusing; why don’t we just tell everyone we’re, “twice as fun, but only half as smart…”?

    And then there’s the name: StarkSilverCreek. Bane of our existence, or source of profoundly unique differentiation? Probably the former. I seldom see it spelled correctly (even we have trouble getting it right!). More often than not, it’s written with three words Stark Silver Creek or Stark Silvercreek. Or some other inspired interpretation. But almost never StarkSilverCreek. Heck, I’m just happy for a mention though, so it doesn’t bother me much. However, it does make us think about the name… should it be something else? And why on (green) earth did we end up naming this dirty bird StarkSilverCreek to begin with? Hang on a sec. Maybe network call sign would work. Aha, yes. SSC. All Things West Coast. But, remember: “twice as fun, but only half as smart.

    That Said

    The end of the “that said” era can’t come soon enough. Its emergence, along with just about every other Jiminy Cricket-hackneyed-bloggy expression—goodness, getting official, OMG,  FTW!—is like so many tiny daggers thrust “glee”-fully into my crusty, Strunk & White-loving heart.

    That said, I suppose we should celebrate the evolution of the written word. After all, the fact that we still use it, in this world of 3-D, video games, and 140-character epiphanies, is just awesome.

    Black Box Theater

    Speaking of awesome, is it just me, or is Black Box theater, well… awesome? Walking down a twisty corridor, in a building in a dodgy neighborhood, into a small space that puts on a damn fine production despite gloomy financial constrictions, must rank as one of those cherished memories of live stage.

    I love all the glitzy stuff too, Broadway or off-Broadway too. Of course. Harvey Fierstein. Fiddler on the Roof. Tradition! Fantastico!

    But just as there are Ferraris and Porsches (no substitute. And side note: why did I ever sell my silver 911, with metropol blue interior and rare ROW suspension?), there is a diversity of quirky, lower priced vehicles with—arguably—more creative flare, more excitement. Less can some times mean more. Small groups of people, with limited budgets can change the world, I say! Look as some of those Scion and Honda box vans with the dark tinted windows. Don’t you sometimes wonder, what the hell’s going on in there?

    That would be black box theatre on wheels; tight spaces, dark walls and windows. But explosive creativity. I’m thinking here of Giant Bones most recently at EXIT Theatre. Or the absurdist (and highly memorable) Bald Soprano at Cutting Ball. And, of course, the astonishing The Creature at, yes of course, Black Box Theatre. Even last night, another example. While I wouldn’t call City Lights Theatre in San Jose a black box theater, it still embodies that special vibe of people making it happen; hard work, passion, balls-to-the-wall.

    That said, maybe it’s just this espresso talking.

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