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The Celebrity Vault // Down With Us

The Celebrity VaultSpecial spotlight on our host venue for Blend, sponsored by Puma. We've known Cole Sternberg, co-owner of The Celebrity Vault, for a couple years and have been to a handful of openings there, including Kim Porter's "The Rock N Roll Of Hip Hop," which featured hard-to-capture shots of Biggie, Jay-Z, TI, and others thanks to the insider access that comes with being Diddy's baby mama. Among other things, I really like the fact that Cole is a talented artist himself, which adds a bit of credibility. On the other hand, iconic photos of legendary rock stars and actors is pretty damn cool on its own.

Pop culture fans and corporate art buyers should definitely know about The Celebrity Vault. If you haven't been yet, stop by this Thursday and check us out at Blend - pick up tix before and save a couple bucks.

Rehabilitation, by Cole Sternberg James Dean, Giant, by Richard Miller Jimi Hendrix, Classic, by Gered Mankowitz

Introducing Blend // Headlines: Rebel Makes News

Blend InviteBlend kicks off this Thursday, October 15. This is an original concept I've been developing and I'm very excited to share it with you. I grew up around music and DJs. Used to spend much of the week looking forward to what was coming out on Tuesday, and then rush to the store with whatever money I had to make sure I was up on the latest vinyl. More recently, I would spend at least 5 nights a week listening, dancing, and connecting. These days, I've given up late nights for early morning yoga and quality time with friends. The appeal of keg cups and Patron shots have been replaced by a good glass of wine.

But good wine is hard to find, with more than 5,000 producers in the US, and several times that when you add in Europe, South America, etc. Wine marketing does a really poor job at helping us navigate the choices available, and the experts' appeal is limited mainly to the hard core. For those of us who like wine but aren't ready to make the commitment of taking classes or lots of trial and error, the simple task of having something enjoyable to drink can be pretty frustrating.

Enter Blend - debuting Thursday, October 15th at 7pm - which combines wine tasting with top DJs in stylish venues. Wines are selected by Erik Kelley of the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, and once America's youngest sommelier. Music is selected by KCRW's Garth Trinidad, who collaborates with Erik on pairing — of sorts — the wine with the music.

We are grateful to have Puma as a charter sponsor, premiering the new AFRICA collection on Thursday. Our host venue is The Celebrity Vault, a Beverly Hills gallery specializing in contemporary art and iconic photographs of celebrities. Really cool stuff to look at.

We have a couple surprises planned as well, so I'd love it if you would come out and let us know what you think. Your feedback is essential as we grow this brand.

Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door. There's also a VIP ticket available at $75. You can see all the details and purchase tickets at www.blendwineandmusic.com

Blu and David Ellis // Down With Us

combo-by-blu-and-david-ellis-fame-festivalCheck out this video of some amazing collaborative work between artists Blu and David Ellis at Italy's Fame Festival. Not only is it great art, it's amazing video. Why isn't your brand sponsoring this? Or commissioning work like this? Is it the cost of a little paint and some sweat from guys who do it for the love? Is it that you can't see the ROI in giving your customers something they will love? There are things far more difficult to monetize than love.

COMBO a collaborative animation by Blu and David Ellis (2 times loop) from blu on Vimeo.

Science of the Time // Headlines: Rebel Makes News

kogi-420x315The newest edition of Science of the Times is fresh off the press on the web, including a piece by your humble servant about LA's Twitter-powered food phenomenon, Kogi Korean BBQ. We've been featured before, and for those of you that aren't familiar with Science of the Time, it's an international network of futurists and trend watchers worldwide who report on new trends. Besides my piece (of course), I also liked Paolo Al Assal's joint on Rio's favela art.

But wait, there's more! We were covered in the Dutch newsweekly Spits with a full page on the latest trends. Good luck with the translation.

Music, T-shirts and Dim sum // China Trip 12/20

Hi Panda brand Most people go to the beach or skiing during the winter holidays. Not me. Always up for an adventure, my wife and I traveled to China where we visited friends and family, saw the sites, ate, shopped and got lost. As always, my eyes were open for insights on culture, consumers, branding and marketing - you'll find them in this set of posts - most starting with a bit of business, followed by some fun (and strange) trip stories. (3rd in a series)

Insights - Today we hung out with Archie Hamilton, a partner in the Chinese concert promotion outfit Split Works. With offices in Beijing and Shanghai, Split seems to be holding it down in China for indie and progressive music. They’re currently producing the Jue Festival in both cities, which features Chinese and international music and art.

For all my sponsors reading this, you should be all over the Jue Festival.

We also found some pretty cool brands you might not know about. Not the $5 “Zegna” ties, although they were plentiful. I’m talking about Hi Panda — a Sino-centric pisstake on Hello Kitty — and Produc-T, owned by an award-winning designer whose propaganda-style graphics featuring surprisingly subversive messages. The one I bought said “Never forget the life we had under a planned economy. But is commercialism the answer?” I didn’t think you could say things like that in China.

Trip Notes - Saturday in Shanghai, and the top priority on my agenda is dim sum! If we’ve never eaten together, let me tell you now that dim sum is near the top of my favorite meals list (By the way, LA has some great spots, so hit me up if you ever want to join us.)

Dim sum is Cantonese, and is typically associated with Hong Kong, not Shanghai. But Time Out said the city’s best dim sum was either at Crystal Jade or Din Tai Fung, both foreign chains with locations in Xintiandi. Since I’ve been to Din Tai Fung in Arcadia, off we went to Crystal Jade.

The main difference from the dim sum we know was that there were no carts. That’s kind of a bummer, since I consider ordering off a passing cart central to the experience, and because it ruins the “no waiting” advantage, but the food was very good. Maybe not Yank Sing good, but very good. The roast duck was awesome, and Christie loved the red bean cake.

At the table next to us was an American couple. From Detroit, they had been living here since summer, and were understandably happy to be away from Detroit. Not only for the weather, but the guy worked for “a major supplier to the automakers.” He wouldn’t say which one. They told us about a little arts district nearby called Tai Kang Road.

Chilean wines in China

This was our last day in Shanghai, and we had big plans to hit the Jade Buddha Temple at the west end of the city, find a tailor who could make me a custom suit, take the subway to the Science & Technology market, which apparently sells the best “designer” bags, and again, be in Pudong for sundown. But, the arts district sounded really cool, so we went there first. Once we found it, the adventure began. There were easily a dozen tiny streets that seemed woven together like an MC Escher painting.

After an hour or so of trekking through the maze, we stumbled onto the Wines of Chile store, which was handing out free tastings. Wine in China is still many steps behind the US, and I was thirsty for a good taste in addition to being intrigued by the concept of a Chilean wine shop in the middle of Shanghai, We tasted a cab that was actually very good.

Click here to see more pics from Shanghai.