Sunday Espresso: Alan Frew, Twitter No-stars, Loni vs. Mantis

    Cupcake has been the central personality on so many of our SSC videos, yet the whole ordeal has tested my Canadian-born patience. Time for change.

    Sunday Espress Editorial Clint

    Sunday Espress Editorial ClintAnother week, another Sunday morning, already. One espresso for me, one for you. Read what you will here, but do not, under any circumstances whatsoever, share this with anyone. You mustn’t Tweet this, print this out, or, even try to fax it. Telex? You must be joking! The information below is strictly confidential, and I tell it to you only because I trust you. It must be your face. Or that you listen so well, every week, faithfully. Regardless, I repeat, kindly keep it to yourself my friend, for this is stuff I don’t write anywhere else, and I’d certainly never publicly speak of such matters.

    Alan Frew

    Everyone wants to tell us how to become successful, or, more recently, how to be a social media star. Snake oil for the 21st century. The tonic is available on every virtual street corner.

    Yesterday, I heard the 80s hit (at least it was in Canada) Someday. The band: Glass Tiger. I know them well, not personally, but they were huge for several years. For a while, they were even considered Canada’s answer to Duran Duran. Their biggest hit, Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone) hit #1 in Canada, and #2 in the U.S., and featured the backing vocals of an emerging rock-and-roller named Bryan Adams. The song came from their first album, a slick pop entry, A Thin Red Line. I have a cassette of it somewhere, stretched and worn. I also have a live version with an intro by then-DJ, news personality (CNN) John Roberts, who at the time went by the less news-credible “J.D. Roberts.”

    When it comes to music, especially the 80s variety, I’m all about the trivia. I know arcane stuff that has no redeeming value whatsoever, about bands that only a handful of people probably have ever heard of: The Spoons, Haywire, Chalk Circle, The Northern Pikes, Eight Seconds, One to One.

    So when Someday came on, I immediately wondered what became of these guys, that fluffy 80s band with the Scottish front man. Google and Wikipedia tell all, in mere seconds. I did know that Alan Frew, lead singer, had personality and charisma and had parlayed it, along with a smooth voice, into a semi-successful solo career.

    Little did I know, some 24 years after becoming a massive pop sensation, he’d try his hand at selling… success. How cliche!

    Turns out he recently wrote (ghost wrote, perhaps, I’m not sure) a self-help book called The Action Sandwich: A Six Step Recipe for Success by Doing What You’re Already Doing. Aside from the cringe-worthy title, there’s also a rambling video that does more to revisit his past success than to pass-on nuggets of wisdom. Also, based on the title alone, do I even need to buy it, can’t I just carry on being successful by doing what I’m already doing? I must be missing something.

    Why is it that everyone feels compelled to tell everyone else how to be successful? My cynical side smells profits and lots of desperate dollars in those fields. Otherwise, why not pen a book about something you might really know something about – like, for example, how to create a great band? Or how to work with a record label (admittedly, somewhat passe skill…)? Or how to write catchy lyrics that sell records?

    Instead, Frew writes in a general sense… selling success to the masses. I suspect the publisher prefers it that way.

    Twitter No-stars

    Yes, I’m ranty this morning. Scrappy! If there was a kitten here I’d probably kick it. Or at least toss scalding water its way. It could be this espresso is slightly off. Or my gimpy knee is exhausting my patience, but why… oh, why, do people feel the need to have massive numbers of “friends” on social networks? I can answer that. But first, I’m talking about adults here. I believe that social networking is becoming a large part of the new peer culture for kids. That makes sense. Kids seek admiration. But why do adults feel like they must have thousands of followers on Twitter, for example?

    The not-so-secret reality is that most of these so-called friends are either robots or off-shore call-center staff. There is a healthy business now around selling popularity. Hey, pssst… want some friends… ? People will like you so much more. $50 for a thousand! $100 for three thousand! Love?! Well, that’s priceless.

    The mistaken logic is that larger numbers equates greater influence.

    Apples to apples this might be true (or Oranges to Oranges for the Don). But there is a huge flaw here.

    Followers and friends only matter to a business (I’m not so concerned here with the less-important matters of social networking such as, you know, real friends, family, etc.) if they are targeted – that is, they’re actually interested in the topic, product or service in question. In marketing, we’d call it segmentation. Thanks to the internet, it’s a precision-like science.

    On one extreme, Lady Gaga may have millions of followers. They are probably hugely relevant to a spin-off product line she introduces, for example, aimed at teen fashion for girls. But they’re probably next to worthless to the makers of Rogaine.

    On the other you have me. With only 800 or so Twitter followers. But they’re smart, trustworthy, good-looking. Best of all, they’re all real people. And they await my every Tweet and deep thought, looking for inspiration, direction in life, and affirming platitude. Friday, I tell them, “Tonight I pee for free!” Now when has Lady Gaga ever said that?

    Loni vs. Mantis

    My search for a Loni replacement continues. Cupcake has been the central personality on so many of our SSC videos, yet the whole ordeal has tested my Canadian-born patience. Time for change. Woe is me, no longer. And, by the way, I’m open to any and all new ideas. But I may have just stumbled upon the perfect alternative.

    I met Mr. Mantis in our yard the other day. And he proved to be a most willing star for a little video segment I shot. It was touching. Not once did I get any talk-back. And he seemed totally in sync with my framing and overall aesthetic. Best of all, Mantis delivered an authentic performance, even without a script. Could this guy ad-lib!

    As if to demonstrate his superior acting abilities, at one point he cocks his head and delivers a “You lookin’ at me!” steely-eyed gaze without uttering a single word.

    Best of all, there were no flubbed lines. No egos were bruised. The shoot lasted about 5 minutes. Then Mantis scurried away, presumably to his trailer where he negotiated his next picture. I’m sure we haven’t heard the last from him.

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