DSC08261 (1)I’m thinking about story telling. How we pass the word down about the places we’ve been, people we’ve seen, and the odd, hilarious, way-out and wonderful situations we find ourselves in.

My hunch is that it’s all about connection for me.  The connection I make with the story I’m telling, brings new insights, emphasizes things that were not considered when it was told last. It’s cool to see eyebrows rise and joy in the faces around me as the listeners get hooked to the tale. Every telling causing a slightly new perspective and every telling being a chance to pass the story along … and imagine what it might be like when told again by the next one down the line. Knowing the story is one thing telling it out loud is quite another.


My grandfather, Max Berliner, was an ace story teller. With the perspective of time, it’s obvious and wacky to know that lots of the stories he told were totally made up tales designed to get young children to bed. I doubt that he had a dude ranch in Wyoming and a cook named Pipsqueak who ran the place when he wasn’t there.  But many evenings he brought us to that ranch and told us about his cattle, Pipsquake and oil wells.  God bless hm.  He was a Jewish guy from the lower east side, no ranch, cattle, cook or oil wells …but he could tell a damn good story – especially to wide eyed grandchildren.

And so, I’ve got that bug and find myself often telling stories – mostly real – to friends,family. clients, to pass along the tale, dredge up fond memories, give them something they just might remember … and tell again.



alex dezen

thumb_1456197964647_1024Every once and a while an album (or whatever we call them now) pops up that needs to be listened to, really listened to, as a collection of finely crafted songs. Think, Joini Mitchell  Blue, After The Gold Rush.

Alex Dezen has given us that kind of gift.  He’s the frontman and singer/songwriter for the very excellent Damnwells (check them out)

“Alex Dezen”, his new solo album is disarmingly confessional, poignant, highly musical and needs the attention of a full (no shuffle) listen http://cialisviagr..iew/.  He sings of ex-girlfriends, playing the last song on a favorite guitar, This Is The Last Song (I’ll Ever Write On This Guitar), being in a band, Into The Hands Of Hazelden, love, loss and life lived.

It’s great music, sung beautifully, played honestly with an emotional pull that gets me hooked every time.  Check out Alex Dezen and settle in for a deep listen.



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Is it some hard wired DNA thing or a spark lit by the synthesis of seconds, minutes hours of the ingestion of all things that we’ve experienced up to the very moment that we step off down the path, put pen to paper, take an inspired photo, or pick up that guitar and play?

My hunch is that it’s a potent mix of both,  Lingering in our makeup are millions of moments loving ones, life changing ones, scary ones, vivid ones and murky hard to define ones … Unconsciously we tap into that well, and with a sixth sense of knowing, choose our path .. and get going.


design in the moment returns

I’m really thrilled to announce the return of Design In The Moment, the podcast series that I host with Jim Jacoby.

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Our first guest of the new season is the amazingly talented, Emmy award nominated, singer, songwriter and founder of Big Muse, Peter Himmelman.

Check out our discussion about the music business, creativity, craftsmanship and design.


the essence of what makes us great

My recent talk at MG Fest, part of the Chicago Convergence. Getting down to the core of what makes brand experinces great, vibrant and lasting.


new year, new scent

It’s a new year full of promise, hope, challenge and the potential for self-definition.  

As we consider all of this, how about a small indulgence in the – your brand is you – department; wearing a scent that’s not likely to be worn by the man or woman sitting next to you on the bus every morning.

lucky scent has a terrific on-line storefront and Scent Bar in LA that offers up fragrances, skin care products and accessories that are rare, unique with some being exclusive to them.  The online store offers fragrance reviews, and a guide to finding the right scent based on your astrological sign. They also can send you 1/32oz. samples at 3.00 each to take the guess work out of choosing the right scent for you.

Consider starting the new year with a new scent, indulge, be you, live a little.


the real deal

Of the many musical/cultural events that I’ve been able to attend over the last thirty years or so one stands head and shoulders above all of the rest  .. it’s the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. This year Jazz Fest marks its 40th anniversary with a captivating, scintillating line up, just announced.

My love affair with New Orleans started around 1979 when I had the good fortune to be shepparded there by a client in Chicago, who had a colleague that he felt needed the services of our architectural interior design firm.  Long story short, I became the Partner in charge of our New Orleans office and lived in the French Quarter for about four years.  I met rascals, artists, hipsters, tycoons, chefs and musicians all devoted to soaking up the wild gumbo of influences that was then the Crescent City. 

We all know what happens when we fast-forward this story go.  The city that time forgot and its people, old and new, are still struggling to come back.  Our joining them at their world-class party goes a long way towards helping.  Enough said.

Here are the Jazz Fest dates: April 24th – 26 (first weekend) April 30th – May 3rd (second weekend)

And just a few of the fine artists who’ll be playing;

Aretha Franklin  Allen Toussaint  Wynton Marsalis  Kings of Leon  Neville Brothers  Ben Harper  Dave Matthews Band  James Taylor  Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra  Irma Thomas  Jakob Dylan  Big Chief Bo Dollis & the Wild Magnolias  Wilco  Bonnie Raitt  Dr. John  Tony Bennett  the subdudes  the Radiators  Nicholas Payton  John Mayall  Ellis Marsalis  Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen  Solomon Burke  Los Lobos  Galactic  Johnny Winter  Spoon  Papa Grows Funk  Erykah Badu  Sonny Landrith  Pete Seeger  Dirty Dozen Brass Band  Ebenezer Baptist Church Mass Choir ….. and many, many more that you’ve heard of and would never discover without being there.

So while the snow and cold weather has many of us in its grip, think about music outdoors, a community of zellous music lovers, the smell of soft shell crab po boys and crawfish cooking, 80 degree temperatures and the occasional cold beer.  Try Jazz Fest, its not too soon to make plans, once there, you’ll be addicted .. and that’s not a bad thing.


give a little, help a lot

Times are economically challenging, to say the least.

As the year winds down, our good friends at the Old Town School of Folk Music are facing a deficit for 2008 and are reaching out to the community that supports and benefits from their great classes and concerts, for a bit of help.

A small donation of $20. will go a long way to help insure that we get to see the likes of the subdudes up close and personal, take classes with exceptional teachers and support the neighborhood beacon of music and creativity that the school has become.  

Please click here and see how your small contribution can make a big difference.  Thanks


soul + design

Taschen, the German publisher with stores in the US, abroad and online offers a terrific collection of highly visual books for design lovers, architecture, fashion, art, pop culture, travel enthusiasts and people that simply like good books. 

Among this year’s best is Soul i-D,  a collection of stirring musings on family, global responsibility, survival and spirituality from people like Bono, David LaChapelle, Tom Ford, Bob Geldof, Yoko Ono and many others.

For those of us that seek out design stimulus and travel there’s the Icons Style series of punchy, elegant books. 24 in all, they’re packed with images of selected regions including; Buenos Aires, Berlin, Egypt, Morocco, New York and at $9.99 each an amazing high-quality bargin.

So, as you consider those last minute affordable gifts for the more picky in your group take a look at the best from Taschen.  Enjoy


best music ’08

As the year in music winds to a close it’s time to look back at some of the stand-outs of ’08.

This started out as a Top 10 List, but quickly grew into a Top 11 and then, because we need more than “one more”, especially this year, a Top 12 List emerged.

There’s lot’s of diversity here from Jazz to Folk to modern Big Band. Names you know and names you may not.  But, all share a legitimate honesty, inventiveness and passion for the music …that’s palpable.  Pick them up for Holiday gifts, share them, enjoy them, sing along and stay sparked.  

In no particular order here goes;

1. Tell Tale Signs, The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 Rare and Unreleased, Bob Dylan

Amazing out-takes, live cuts and unreleased tracks from 1989 – 2006, a must for the die hard Dylan fan.  So good they could have been released as other non-“bootleg” albums.

2. Miles From India,  Various Miles Davis Alumni and Indian Musicians

A global, cross-cultural, mind bending musical summit of Miles’ music played by his alumni and virtuoso Indian musicians; Chick Corea, Marcus Miller, Ravi Cari, Vikku Vinayakram et. al.

3. Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes

The Byrds meet the Beach Boys and CSNY in Seattle in their 20’s

4. There’s Me and There’s You, The Matthew Herbert Big Band

Big band protest songs mixed up with soulful vocals, electronic samples .. sophisticated, jazz, wild and intoxicating.

5. Electric Arguments, The Fireman

McCartney and Youth let their inner freak flag fly.  Paul’s best work in ages

6. Sex and Gasoline, Rodney Crowell

Smart, socially tuned-in songs from a gifted writer, that you can’t get out of your head

7. Dear Science, TV On The Radio

A brilliant mash-up of hip hop, r&b, drum and bass, jazz .. catchy, smart, now-music ..defies categorization

8. Gently Disturbed, Avishi Cohen Trio

Truly inventive, classically influenced bass, piano, drums trio work from one of the world’s best bassists

9. Acid Tongue,  Jenny Lewis

Smokey, dark, sharp, hipster folk and rock.  With guests Elvis Costello, Chris Robinson, M. Ward, sounding fine

10. If The World Was You, JD Souther

A real surprise and return to a “new” form  .. jazz tunes from a master lyricist, still in great voice

11. Carried To Dust, Calexico

Fine border town music .. where latin horns meet folk songs good tequila and an occasional Peyote bud 

12. The Works, Jonatha Brooke

Never heard Woody Guthrie lyrics beautifully set to music and sung by Jonatha … backed by stellar Jazz musicians