Liar Liar, Pants on Fyre

Did you watch the documentaries on The Fyre Festival? Hulu and Netflix both have a version of this story. I watched both. If there were 6 versions I would have seen them all. I can’t get enough. I watched the first one twice. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me try to explain…

A young, upstart entrepreneur from NYC decides to partner with Ja Rule to host a music festival on an uninhabited island in the Bahamas (once owned by Pablo Escobar) in 6 months.

Why does he think he can do it? Because he’s been hosting “parties” for a few months in penthouses all over the city. Ja Rule performs at one of those fun parties and decides, “yeah, ok, I’ll partner with you on a multi-million dollar event”.

What happens next is a mash-up of ego, lack of experience, lack of leadership and lack of morality. It’s a hot mess.

Billy McFarland, the young entrepreneur that I mentioned earlier is either a smart dude who let things go out of hand, or a sociopath who let his ego lead every decision he made. Maybe a bit of both.

The documentary tells a month-by-month, day-by-day story of everything leading up to the non-festival. Here’s what they did first. They created a slick, well-produced teaser. They filled it with top models. They went to the island where they wanted to have the festival, stayed on private yachts (not on the island) and partied for a few days while they filmed the promo. Turquoise seas, beautiful women, expensive boats, it had it all. The promo was incredibly well produced. I think you can still watch it somewhere on YouTube. The company they hired to do the teaser gave them an incredible digital and social presence. Their website was super slick and their marketing was off the hook. Really high-end and modern.

They spent the next few months designing an experience. Luxury tents. Luxury villas. Beautiful packages that made you feel like you were going to a music festival in some private piece of heaven. And it had a price tag to match. Each package was thousands of dollars. And they all still sold out, in record time.  Through their social campaign (which was genius), they sold every package they had. All the tents. All the villas. Sold.

Just one problem. There were no luxury villas or tents. All the images were created. Nothing was real.

Turns out the island they originally wanted couldn’t be used. The owner of the island had only one deal-breaker in the contract – don’t mention Escobar – so what did they do? They mentioned it in the first teaser. Game over.

Luckily Great Exuma was near-by. This island, under other circumstances, was a much better place to host a festival. It had infrastructure, hotels, restaurants, etc.

Sadly, by the time they decided to go there – everything was sold out. The only thing they were able to get was some undeveloped real estate on one side of the island by the water. They grabbed it.

The details of what went down are so crazy. Instead of luxury tents – they put up hurricane tents left over from the last season.  There weren’t enough homes on the island to get for private villas, so those who signed-up and paid for one got a tent too. And they didn’t even have enough crappy tents. 380 for 900+ people attending.

Not enough food. Not enough bathrooms. No plan B for rain. The attendees were f**ked. The musicians who agreed to perform weren’t any better. There was barely a stage – let alone multiple stages for a festival. Most of the acts started dropping out. Still, the producers let the event go on.

In the end, it was a nightmare. You can google how much of a nightmare it was.

I can’t tell you how validating it was to see those documentaries. I watched the first one with my husband. The entire time he kept turning to me and going, “ohh babe, can you believe it?”. Even he knew. He knew because he’s been married to an event planner for 20 plus years.

I couldn’t believe it. But I could believe it. It was totally believable. Let’s be honest. People think they can do it. On the surface it’s a job that literally everyone thinks they can do. Oh you planned your sister’s shower? Sure! You can be a planner! You organized the office pot-luck lunch? Sure, you can plan a 1,000 person event. Go for it.

I would re-title those documentaries as, “So You Think You’re An Event Planner?” or “You Are Not A F**king Event Planner”.

Go ahead. Roll your eyes. I know. You’re a teacher (love teachers), or a nurse (love nurses), or whatever. You are impacting the world. You’re maybe literally saving lives. But here’s what I know for sure. I know that in this world of big picture thinking, one thing is lost. Execution. No one likes to say they execute. Everyone wants to be a “strategist”. Big thinking. Not big doing.

Ok, sure, you had a really great idea. A world-changing idea. Awesome. Good for you. Can you actually execute it? Can you plan the steps it’ll take to get it done and make it happen? Can you think 10 steps ahead to all the problems that might pop up and solve them before they happen? Can you manage the emotional toll it’ll take on people to get them to do what you want them to do for your idea to come to life?  And can you do it without complaining and whining? Better yet, can you work for never-ending hours and days while pretending to be happy and smiling the whole time? Can you be a 20 year professional that’s managing million dollar budgets while still being asked to get someone a tampon in the middle of an event – and do it without question? If the answer is no. Please, for god’s sake, go back to your day job. If the answer is yes, welcome. You are welcome here. In the group of people who immediately start figuring out how to get something done.

When I saw those documentaries I was so moved. In the last few years, a value has been placed on people who can weave a good story in 280 characters. People who can produce slick, marketing ads and pieces that last about a minute or two. They are digital geniuses. They can make an idea viral. Get a million impressions. Which is great. But guess what they can’t do? They can’t execute. They can’t figure out the one million things that need to go down before something happens.

Billy McFarland had no planners working for him. He had digital teams and marketing teams. He had supermodels and rappers. He even had someone called a “producer”. But no planners. To give credit where it’s due – he did have some people with festival experience that he ignored. But those people basically went along with a plan they knew would fail.

One of the things that is the most troublesome about the documentary isn’t the attendees, ok fine, they didn’t get a music festival. Uptown problems. They had to go back to Miami with their miniature dogs and flower halos. Boo hoo. To me, the saddest part was that the island residents were dragged into making this nightmare happen. Hundreds of workers signed up to help Billy and his crew. No one got paid.

So maybe calling Billy an entrepreneur is wrong. He’s a cheat. A fraud. A con man. And I know that’s what this story is really about. But what I got from it was so different. His story validated and brought to life everything I know to be true. You can be a big idea guy or gal. You can be good at tweets and posts and ‘grams. You can get a thousand likes, and a million impressions, but can you bring that vision to life in the real world? A world full of bad weather, cancelled flights, broken technology, and unhappy people? Can you handle it? Maybe. But let’s be honest, probably not.

 

 

 

My favorite night out…

Is in. Bed. Ya dig?

Aperol spritz+tv+bed= unbeatable evening of fun.

Where are you? At a club? A bar? Vegas? Good for you! Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good night out. I love being with friends and family. I’m all about it.

But a good night in is a beautiful thing. And when you’re in for the evening you have choices. What will you do? Where will you sit? The living room is a nice, solid choice. It’s got the biggest tv, it’s near snacks… it’s a no brainer. Maybe you watch in your den or basement, we have neither so that’s out. We do have a family room, but it’s near the laundry room and sitting in there sometimes reminds me of, you know, laundry. And other things I’m avoiding.

My go-to place is always the same – it’s my bed. And it’s not even a King. I still love it. I could rule the world from here.

So I’ll raise my glass, send you good wishes. Here’s to you, out in the world, in real clothes. I applaud you. Have one for me. I’ll have one for you too. If you need me, you know where to find me.

Blog dump

I got called out. Last night we were all sitting around talking about things (end of high school, end of school year, politics, The whip and nae nae, etc), and my daughter quietly turned to me and said, “Mom, why can’t I see any of your blog posts pop up on my Facebook anymore?”…. Why? Oh. That’s easy. Because I don’t write them. LOL. Ahem. Got a problem with that? Then they all started.

“Why don’t you write?”

“Are you done with the blog?”

“Do you need ideas?”

No. No thank you. Ideas I have. Infact, that may be the problem. I have too much stuff to write about. I can’t organize it all. It doesn’t all go together. It’s a mishmash of opinions/thoughts/experiences. It’s good stuff, it’s bad stuff, it’s all over the place. It’s a schizophrenic mix of events during the past few weeks that I’m afraid I can’t prioritize.  Look, even me describing it is a hot mess. But I’ll try. I’m warning you all now. There’s stuff in here that is really really great, and stuff that’s really really meh. But I have no time or patience to separate those things…so here you go.

I hated Disney. There. I said it. It’s been weighing heavily on my mind. We had a really good event there. It wasn’t crowded. The weather was amazing. My family loved it. The service levels at the resort are bananas good, the people are super friendly- but guess what – not my thing. I even met and hugged Mickey himself and felt…nothing. I guess I’m dead inside.

I did not hate my 20th wedding anniversary. 20 years. Same dude. #goodlife

I turned 44. Here’s where I stand. I have a shitload of white hair. My lady bits are having some issues (you’re welcome for the overshare), looks like I have to be a normal human and see a doctor more often.  I’m grateful for the very deep relationship with my manicure/pedicure gals. Nothing feels warmer than me walking in and all of them smiling and saying, “hello Neha! Mani/pedi/wax?” Yes. Yes. And really yes. I’m also happy to have friends who are still around even though I talk to them less than I write this blog. I’m thankful for all the usual stuff too (kids, family, job, yada yada).

I’m obsessed with Seinfeld, again. This may be bad news for my obsession with Everybody Loves Raymond, I’ll let you know.

God grant me the serenity to accept my family and friends who love Trump. In my mind I imagine even Oprah has friends and family like that – and what would she do? Would she look down on them? No way. She would openly embrace them and love them. For they know not what they do. I’m gonna be like Oprah. Forever.

I am sick of talking about how busy I am. I’m done. I can’t hear myself anymore. If I were listening to me I’d tell me to shut-up. Enough. What am I? The Queen of Sheba? No. Not. I’m riduclous. I will find something else to talk about. Starting tomorrow….I’ve got a lot to do today.

We went to a wonderful, beautiful wedding. I love weddings. I love all of it. I find nothing cheesy or boring about weddings. This is the great mystery of my life. I love weddings but I also loved eloping. Go figure. Maybe I like OTHER people’s weddings. Anyway – it was beautiful and fun and touching. Mazel tov to Keith and Danielle (and Cora the cutie!).

Guess what? The day after that wedding I went to another wedding…err.. wedding celebration. Two lovebirds who found each other later in life but make every day and every moment count. The love story of Marcello and Lorraine gives me serious feels, as my son would say. They are joyful and generous. As I get older I no longer find humor in marriage sarcasm. I love couples who love. Openly and happily. During one of our book club meetings a few months ago (Babes with Books lives!), a new member described her dating life with her then boyfriend by saying,”we spent the next two years falling in love before he proposed.” Come on! That’s some beautiful stuff right there. I told you I’m getting old and soft. One more thing to share about this day…during the time that Marcello and Lorraine were falling in love in Italy, he took a photo that captured a special moment in their courtship. That day, that beautiful photo memory ended up on their wedding cake as a surprise to the couple. Tears flowed from both the bride and the groom. No hiding that kind of emotion and love.

Work is going well. My team and I have lots of fun together. Atleast I think we do. Am I one of those people that think their team likes to hang out with them when deep inside they are all miserable and unhappy and would much rather be anywhere but with me? I dunno. I’m going to start a group chat with them and find out.

My daughter went to senior prom. My son got his blackbelt. It was the best weekend ever.

I’m wearing color, and I don’t mean grey. Or is it gray. I don’t know how long it’ll last and I still like wearing all black – but I get a lot less slack this way. People like it when you mask your inner darkness with chunky yellow jewelry. If I were an evil super villian I’d get away with it all just by wearing a light, flowery shirt. Just an fyi.

Beyoncé. Lemonade. Everyday. When you’re talking to me, just know that’s what’s going on in my head.

Have you had enough? I’ll try to be better..I still have more to tell you…it’s just that I’m so busy 🙂

Who’s Mothering Who?

  
Had I known that you both would be so funny and smart and fun – I would have had an army of you.

Then there would be a whole gang of people who hated cooked carrots, had inside jokes and made world promises that couldn’t be broken. The only thing on TV would be Cops, Inked and Catfish, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch would be a food group.

Ofcourse there would be music constantly, everywhere. I would only hear what you wanted them to hear, like cool indie hits and the occasional rap song with a bad word. But with each other you’d talk about songs and artists that only you knew. I would overhear and ask who you were talking about, and you’d smile and tell me the name and move on with your conversation. No need for me to know more. You’d given me just what I could handle. 

When you weren’t laughing together you’d be fighting. All that Scorpio sting and passion would erupt every few days – and quickly smooth over. And the stubbornness. Omg the stubbornness.

In the end, the world would be full of politeness and kindness. And full of more humans that were beautiful inside and out.

But I didn’t know. I had no clue. I thought I was bringing you into this world. I thought I gave you life. I thought I would be the one teaching you. I had it all backwards. 

Thanks for letting me keep trying to mother.  

Hello

Anyone else having a personal relationship with Adele’s new song? I’m bad-karaoke singing that song all day long. Like. All. Day. Oh, you hate that song? Ok – Not everyone likes it.

I’m sure Isis hates it too. Or is it Isil? How come everyone on the BBC calls it Isil? Is there a difference? Or is it like potato paTATo? I’m not making light of it. My heart goes out to the city of lights. As it does to all cities that are victims of violence.

Can I be honest? I was hoping not to think about refugees and death and Justin Beiber right now. I kinda wanted to just think about my Scorpio birthdays, turkey brines and maybe – on a heavy note – whether or not to shop on Black Friday.

It’s not that I don’t care. I care. I’m just really tired and I’d like to not be thinking about humanity right now. Is that so bad? Shouldn’t the Pope and the Dalai Lama be doing that? Come on. We’ve all got our jobs. I don’t ask them to think about how I’m fitting 16 people at one table next Thursday am I?

I mean fine, the world is falling apart. But it’s hard to focus on that when my baby girl is driving and looking at colleges. I’m not sure I’m ready. Oh, it’s about her you say? Maybe. Ok, for sure. But. But. It’s a little about me.

I want to run up and hug every parent that’s already done this. Sent a kid off at night in a car. Just like,” Here you go. Here’s a key to a deadly weapon. Love you!”. Not normal!  And then sent a kid off to college. With strangers. Who will sleep with them at night. In the words of Adele, hello?! That sound crazy. Sonnets need to be written about these parents! They should be lauded and supported! Sigh…You think I’m overreacting. I’m dramatic. Who cares. What do you know? Yesterday I was supposed to stress out if this little creature coughed or sneezed and now I’m what, just pushing them into the world?? On their own?? With no one to watch out for them?  Like refugees? Sorry.

It’s all going to be ok. It’s all going to be ok. Right?

I’ll just focus on the good stuff.

kerabday

Music and Mud

If you know me at all – you would not think,” there’s a gal who would enjoy a 4 day music festival”. Maybe you would think,” have one less carb today”. Or,” I’m not sure those big hoop earrings are appropriate for your age.”
Nevertheless I’m at Firefly Music Fest in Dover, DE. We are here for my daughter (well I am – my husband is here to rock out to bands because he’s cool like that).
She got the tickets as a gift from a favorite aunt – and has been waiting for this all year.
A few initial observations:

– music festivals are muddy. Why doesn’t anyone talk about the large quantities of mud? Articles should be written about the amount of mud on the ground.

– only old people like me had issues with the mud. Everyone else incorporated it into their ensemble.

– although I’m sure she would rather be here alone with her pals, my girl seems happy to have us here. Parents come in handy for Dunkin Donut runs.

– we are now parents of a senior in high school. I am trying to squeeze every living moment I can with our first born. The little, smiling baby is now a funny, kind, smart, lovely girl. You’re welcome world.

So thank you Aunt Dee for the tickets – thank you to my husband for dragging me here and thank you to my sister for telling me not to wear my good flip flops.

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I’d rather be the hammer than the nail

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Everything is connected. All the time. Don’t you think? Let me explain. My husband and I snuck off to see the movie Wild on Friday night. It was the first book I read when I joined my book club a few years ago. Great book. Great movie. Great book club. But this isn’t about the movie or the book club. This is about the soundtrack to the movie. I need to back up a few years.

In 2010 my husband turned the big 4-0. He only wanted one thing to celebrate – a trip to Munich, Germany for Octoberfest. Turned out that 2010 was a celebratory year for that event (I can’t remember if it was 150 years or 100 years). Either way it was a big year for them too. So we went, and it was a blast. Him and I are really good travel companions (not in an Amazing Race kind of way, but in a relaxed House Hunters International kind of way). We stayed about a mile from the fairgrounds and headed there the first night we arrived. It was out of control and amazing. Crowded. Loud. Did I mention crowded? Our favorite haus introduced us to all kinds of characters (we were almost lured into a tricky situation but that’s another story). We had a blast. A couple of notes for those who have never been. There are a lot of Italians there. A lot. Molto. Also, John Denver is their God. Everywhere you go – in every tent – every 5 minutes – they play Take me home, country roads. The entire place stops and all the Italians and all the brauhaus servers sing along holding hands. True story. I’m off the rails. Back to why everything is connected.

By the third night we were pretty much done with all the fest fun. My husband suggested we find a small, local pub off the beaten track and spend the evening there instead. And because he has a tracking device for such places, we found one on the other side of town. Quiet. Small. Almost empty. Dark. Perfect. We settled in with our beers, ordered some food and chatted with the two other people in there. Did you know Germans are very friendly? Did you know Germans in a bar with beers are even friendlier? They are. After about an hour of hanging out there, the doors to the pub flew open and an entire oompah band walked in. Have you ever seen an oompah band? Sorry I’m asking so many questions. Oompah bands aren’t petite. Here’s what they kinda looked liked.

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Imagine this group with those instruments walking into a small, dark, pub – you notice. Turns out that the oompah band are regulars here. And they don’t just put their instruments down and relax, oh no. They play. They play loud. By the time they got there, we were ready for some excitement and my husband started hooting and hollering as he often does and recording them with his phone. We bought them beers. We sang along. It was great fun. At the end of the night they played Simon and Garfunkel’s El Condor Pasa. My husband leaped out of his seat and started yelling and screaming. What can I say? He likes Simon and Garfunkel – and we were so happy not to be hearing John Denver. They played really well and I thought I knew the song but couldn’t remember. My husband turned to me and said,” you know, I’d rather be a hammer than the nail…yes I would, yes I would.” I nodded and smiled. Oh yeah, I said, sure I remember. Truthfully I had no idea.

Days after we got home from the trip we would play that song and even John Denver to remind us of the trip. We even made the kids listen, showed them all the videos. Eventually the videos got deleted, because unless our kids in them – they really don’t seem to make the cut.

A few months after the trip we were still thinking/talking/singing about our time away. My husband decided to Youtube videos of Octoberfest one night – that’s how desperate we were to relive our time. He watched videos of all the differnt brauhaus fun. Then he typed in El Candor Pasa Oompah band. And the first video that popped up was the one he clicked. He turned it up. It ended. He watched it again. Turned it up louder. It was a dark video of an oompah band playing the song in a small pub. No way. He called me over. He said, “do you recognize this?” He played the video and it looked kind of familiar – but it was so dark, I couldn’t make it out. Then he turned it up and pointed to the corner of the room – where there was a dude recording a video of the band and hooting and hollering. NO!! It couldn’t be!! But it was. Someone else from that bar had recorded the band too – and in the background was my husband holding up a phone and yelling. You couldn’t really make out his face, it was blurry – but it was him! Come on!! That’s fantastical no? I feel my kids rolling their eyes somewhere out there in the universe. We’ve told them the story a few million times. It’s a good story.

Ok I’m getting excited again. Back to the movie. Told you it wasn’t really a review. The soundtrack is amazing. It’s the one thing that kept my husband awake the whole time. And I know he liked the movie, even though he kept tapping me and asking,” when does it get WILD?” every few minutes. He’s hysterical.  I’ll ask one last question. What song do you think they played all throughout the movie? Yep. That’s the one.

Everything is connected, even if it involves oompah bands and book clubs.

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