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.

 

 

 

I was promised a snow storm

I’m here on the couch moping with the cat. Where is my storm?? I really wanted it. I am so ready for it. I mean I didn’t buy bread or milk or anything, but mentally I’m ready for it. I’m ready to cancel plans. Ready to not leave the house for the next 48 hours. Ready to not shower, stay in my pjs, and take intermittent naps all day long. I had planned on making my husband feel guilty for not getting firewood. I was looking forward to that all week. Now I got nothing.

And it’s almost 40 degrees outside. WTF. I think I just saw a peek of sun. So frustrating.

Now I’ll be expected to do things. Empty the dishwasher. Put my contacts in. Get off the couch. This isn’t what America is about! I can’t even depend on weather I was promised.

My daughter drove back to school yesterday so she’d beat the storm up in New York. I bet they’ll get a foot. Or two. Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, you make me sad. I’m not mad at you. Just really disappointed.

This cab smells like bad breath

I stayed in midtown Manhattan last night for work. Walking distance from Penn Station. This morning, instead of walking a block over to take the speedy subway back down to work – I decided to take a cab (Joe, I hear you calling me lazy). 

I decided that if there wasn’t a taxi around right away – I’d move on to the train. But boom. I walked out and he was there. Waiting for me. See, the universe wanted me to take it. 

Now I’m in the cab and it smells like I’m inside of someone’s rotting mouth. As soon as I got in – I wanted to get out. 

I have my head stuck out of the window like a dog but I’m pretty sure the stench is all over me. I’ll be wearing Eau de Halitosis for the rest of the day.

Just sharing.

Have a great day everyone.

Snow dayzzzzzzz


I think this picture was taken in 2000. We were living in NYC on the upper east side. Kera was 2. Going for walks with her daddy was one of her favorite things, even in a blizzard. Even in dirty city snow.

That white snow suit was a gift from her godmother Colleen, my sister-in-law. Colleen bought Kera every winter coat until she became a teen – and stopped wearing winter coats.

The picture with the pink hat below became our Christmas card that year.

This was Kera’s first major sledding adventure. Look at that face! Look at that hat! Remember when you could put your kids in anything and they’d wear it? I don’t.

  I think this is that same year. We had moved out of the city to upstate NY.

  Then Jack came on the scene…ready to party.

 Just look at Kera’s toothy smile! I like taking this trip down winter coat memory lane….

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We still meet with family every year right before Christmas – back then we met in Lancaster, PA. Thanks to Aunt Dee Dee we’d see a show, stay in a hotel and kick off the holidays. The picture below is from one of the last times we were there. We drove down and a blizzard hit. The show was cancelled but we found an open restaurant and made the best of it. I’m not sure why Jack isn’t wearing gloves. I seem to have him wrapped up like a babushka except for his little, cold hands. I was too busy taking pictures.

Snow makes them happy. And anything that makes them happy is fine by me.

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Baking is my kryptonite

Not that I’m comparing myself to the caped wonder. I’m not super at all. And I would never wear blue tights.

My husband used to work in a bakery all throughout high school. He worked for a wonderful baker whose family has owned a German bakery in NYC for over a 100 years (it’s still there – everyone check out Glaser’s on the Upper East Side!). That lovely baker is my daughter’s godfather and one of our closest friends.

In college he let me work at the bakery to make some extra money. Early in our marriage we lived in an apartement right above that bakery, and I’ve never met anyone who likes cake more than me! So why for the love of all the sugar gods can’t I bake? And please, save me all your advice. Yes, I know baking is a science. I know I can’t “wing” ingredients. Oh, you bake all the time do you? It’s easier than cooking you say? Well in the words of Christian Bale when he had the meltdown on camera…”GOOD FOR YOU!”. Bake yourself a cookie and eat it why don’t you. Sorry. I’m just covered in sugar and failure. I’ll be nicer tomorrow.

Here’s my latest crumby attempt. Literally. No, this isn’t the crumb layer. This is the final product. Oh I’ll still eat it. I’m not nuts. But I am done with baking for good! Done I tell you! Done!

  
 

 

 

The Kiln Life

We went to visit one of our favorite aunts – which I know I say often, but we have a lot of cool aunts. I can’t help it. Kathy is my husband Joe’s second cousin on his mom’s side and his godmother. She’s one of the first people I ever met in his family (Colleen, his sister, beat her out by a month). I remember Joe taking me out to Long Island, where she’s lived most of her life. We had just started dating and he was really excited for me to meet her. Kathy and her mom, Mary, were a huge part of Joe’s childhood. He spent every summer out there, living and working with them.

She was a single mom at the time raising two kids on her own and working a hot dog wagon that she owned on the beach. She was kind and funny and incredibly hardworking. She was also the life of the party. Cocktails and the beach life were what I remember about that time with her.

When Joe and I decided to elope and not have a big wedding – she’s who we called to help us. Any other relative would have tried to talk us out of it or tried to tell us that many people in the family would be upset. But not Kathy, she was all in. She’s one of the witness signatures on our license and we wouldn’t want it any other way. That day was also a milestone for her. She woke up the next morning and stopped drinking completely. She swears it had nothing to do with our wedding…

Since then she’s transformed her life completely. She’s been teaching for over a decade, she’s raised two amazing kids and had many other adventures in between. The one thing that hasn’t changed about her is her big heart. Her home is always welcome to all. I’ve never once heard her complain about guests or people visiting. She loves it. The more the merrier.

For the past several years, my daughter boards a bus in NYC and heads out to Aunt Kathy’s for a week. Sometimes it’s with a cousin, sometimes it’s with a friend. This year it was with both! We pick her up and usually make a weekend of it – that’s what we were doing these past few days.

She still leaves near the beach – that’s another thing that will never change about her. She needs to be near her ocean.

A couple of years ago she developed a passion for pottery making, and like everything else she’s gone after – she’s completely committed. She took classes. Built a studio. Bought a wheel. She’s in it. Deep.

Ofcourse I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. The closest I’ve ever been to making pottery is watching the scene in Ghost. I mean I’ve gone to those paint-a-mug places a few times with the kids but that’s just overpriced coloring. I wanted to make something. To create! I get excited.

Kathy took me to her beautiful studio – in her even more beautiful back yard. She walked me through the steps and gave me clear instruction. Here are some shocking things I learned that you might already know, but I certainly did not: Clay is tough. Like really really tough. I thought it would be pliable and moldable. I thought it would fold and move easily under my hands. But it doesn’t. You have to use force and strength and balance. You have to have steady but really firm hands pushing and pulling it. Clay isn’t for wimps. You know when you meet those people that make pottery and you think they’re all soft hippies? They aren’t. They can break you with those hands. They’ve taken a hard piece of clay, controlled it, managed it, and made it yield to them. There’s friction on that wheel that can burn you. If you don’t center your clay with authority, it basically refuses to work with you. Clay is a bitch yo.

It took me three attempts to create something that looked like something – but it was addicting. I totally get why she loves it. Before I left I snagged some of her amazing pieces. Because I’m type A I’m trying to talk her into opening an Etsy shop so other people (like you) can also get her pieces, but she told me to calm down. She’s just doing it for fun (for now).

Here’s her sun filled studio



She has these beautiful Buddha statues all over her house – this one protects women, children and pets. This has nothing to do with pottery but I love the idea.    IMG_5151

These are her pieces that I grabbed. I was greedy. I don’t care. They are pieces of art!  

   The pieces look delicate and beautiful – but they can survive a lot of heat. Kinda like lady who makes them.

A girl named Sue

A few years ago I was invited to join a group of gals on a girls weekend. They all grew up together or met in college and have stayed in touch since. I met one of those gals when she moved a few blocks down from me almost 7 years ago – and now I cannot live without her (or her family).

This past weekend was their annual trip and I joined in the fun.

We stayed in a cute little (actually it was pretty big) apartment right in the heart of St.Mark’s Place in NYC. Very hip. Very cool. Just like us 🙂

I can’t go into too many of the stories because we are moms, teachers, responsible employees that love our jobs and, well, we did some non-mom, non-teacher, non-responsible things.

Here’s what I can tell you about… we ate some really good food. Drank some really good wine. Those were the two themes of the weekend in general. Where should we eat? Where should we drink? We went dancing! We hit a cool, hipster flea market in Brooklyn and saw a celebrity (Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family). We ubered all over the place. And we laughed. Boy did we laugh. Sometimes at other people, but mostly at each other.

One of the best laughs we got this weekend was at my expense (what’s new). I had never met one of the gals that joined us, she grew up with most of the other crew but this was her first time with me. Somehow during introductions on the first day, I missed that her name was Chris. I am almost positive someone said her name was Sue. Or I heard the word Sue and associated it with her, or she looked like a Sue or something. Doesn’t matter. Her name was Chris!

Now, you would think that during the next 12 hours someone would correct me right? Wrong. I must have had multiple conversations where I directed a question at Sue/Chris. “Isn’t this breakfast great Sue?”. “Sue, do you like the flea market?” “Sue, how many kids do you have?”. MORTIFYING.

Finally, after a couple of glasses of wine on Saturday night someone pulled me over and said,”who are you talking about? Chris?”. Shoot me now. Dead. Oh the horror! The horror! Then I started blaming.

“Why didn’t you tell me?!!” I shouted! “You should have told me”, I cried! But I know why no one told me. It was funnier this way. They are all evil. Including Chris/Sue.

Anyway – here’s some pics to take your mind off my stupidity. The first pic includes Chris (she’s the one smiling sheepishly on the right). There’s some prerequisite post-wine selfies. A shot of all of us at Supper. Which was this fantastic Italian restaurant where we had dinner. So we had Supper for dinner. Get it? Hilarious. To us.

There’s also a picture of the flea market  and some info about it if you want to check it out yourself, a shot of our friend Jesse Tyler, and a shot of one of the gals dancing with the Phantom of the Opera – who also happened to be letting off some steam at the gay 80s club we danced at all night (until 11:30pm).

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