Gotham gal

A couple years ago I was a judge for all of the end-of-year presentations from the students at ITP. There was one particular presentation that has stuck with me. It was called Data Face. The student, Greg Dorsainville, had pulled data across commercial media to see the faces that are on TV shows and advertisements. It showed the vast diversity in broadcast media. It was fascinating.

If you look at the diversity in TV advertising or even print advertising, it speaks to the people who are watching these shows. Broadcast media understood that diversity is the reality. Audiences want to see a myriad of faces. All of the big September fashion magazines this month are mixtures of cultures from across the globe as they should be.

It is the rise of a country that is truly a melting pot.


Minorities will outnumber whites in 2020. The companies providing the content for all of us to consume know that and their content reflects it. Maybe because of the current administration I am paying more attention to the faces the media puts out there from films to the TV to magazines to podcasts because what I am seeing gives me confidence in the future.

The old is out and the new is in. A young generation of photographers is shooting Vogue covers because the last generation got outed for bad behavior. There are young people running for office. There is a movement to get the youth out to vote from their own peers. The new change agents are a myriad of faces. Change always wins. My fingers are crossed for change this fall…in a huge way.

This past week we went on a quick trip to Berkeley for our niece’s wedding. Going through security was the worst. I had my son’s bag because he was meeting us at the airport and the TSA person made me downsize to only going thru with two bags. As she said, those are the rules. Really? No flexibility, no understanding, and inconsistency as I have only heard the two bag deal one other time.

The TSA is like the new post office. A hired workforce that seems insanely unhappy and just follows the rules. USPS employed over half a million people in 2017. The numbers are decreasing as the industry of mail has changed. Revenue was almost $70b in 2017 decreasing almost $2b from the year before. More than likely that decline will continue. The TSA has a budget of almost $8b with almost 50,000 security officers. Obviously, USPS has more employees but they are both Government agencies who employ a large workforce that could be dramatically changed with technology.

Technology will certainly change the workplace in the years to come but as I stood there in that miserable line at the airport I thought there has to be a better way. No doubt the technology is available to scan everyone through at the front door without us even knowing and without the lines and random checking. It could be so much more fluid but where would that money come from? Just noting that LA is putting full body scans into the public transportation system so the technology is available.

Our roads need fixing, our urban transportation systems are falling apart and antiquated, the education system has been bled dry, our healthcare system is laden with costs and our support of our Veterans is abysmal so I suspect fixing the torturous TSA systems in place at the airport are far from the top of the list. Yet, as one of the richest countries in the world, how do we fix these things? How do we move us forward using technology as the platform to get us there? Cutting taxes when we are in desperate need of an upgraded infrastructure makes zero sense.

The last time I was in SF was a quick in/out for an event where I was nominated for an award. I thought if I won and didn’t show up that I’d look like a total asshole. Ends up I didn’t win and my 24-hour jaunt was for naught. It is an area of the country where I spend little time if any. My friend told me that I should add to my sig file a line that says consciously never goes to the Bay area. I wouldn’t go that far but I always feel like a fish out of water when I am there.

The next day we went to Chez Panisse for lunch. The last time I was at Chez Panisse was 35 years ago. Chez Panisse has been open since 1971. The impact that Alice Waters has made starts with the fact that you can now buy Arugula in every grocery store in America. Nothing has changed even the decor and of course the farm to table commitment. The food is simple and a page right out of new French cooking. I had the tomato salad. Sliced tomatoes and cucumber with a spring of watercress dressed with a shallot dressing.

The best piece in the museum was an Arthur Jafa film called Love is the Message, The Message is Death. It is an extremely powerful 10-minute film of a string of very short online videos circulated mostly from phones highlighting African-American’s racial profiling to police brutality. The piece is interspersed with African American athletes, performers, civil rights leaders and artists paired with Kayne West’s Ultralight Beam for music as the backdrop. I am still thinking about this piece.

As we left SFMoma my daughter who got their earlier than I did told me that the museum doesn’t have discounts for students. She is a graduate student and so is her boyfriend, both connected to the arts. The tickets for both of them to get in and see the Magritte show (an extra cost) is $33 a person. In a city where the homeless are everywhere and housing is one of the most expensive places in the US, the museum backs up the culture of the city. No discounts for students.