The Brilliance!


We’re really internet and we’re really back. A website about things Benjamin , Chuck , Virgil , and various friends & guests think are interesting. Little-to-no specific focus, a bit odd, speling errors, and incredibly culturally relevant.

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The problem with web services being free.

Something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately… The problem with web services being free. Seems every service on the internet is free, right? Blogging services, facebook, google, email services, even the blogs themselves, etc, etc, etc, etc. I started thinking about it more after just recently switching my personal email to be hosted using Google Apps, and hosting my personal site using Tumblr…both services free. So for $8.95 a year, GoDaddy fee, I have the pretty much the best email solution possible and a fantastic blogging platform - both with rock solid performance and uptime. Minus the GoDaddy fee…I have everything for free. In fact, I left a previous host and I’m actually saving money and getting better service. I’m starting to feel like this isn’t a good thing. In fact, apparently neither is Google, they have been lowering the number of free accounts you can have on your Google Apps service - its down to 50 form 200. And after that its $50 a year I believe. The web has long been about ‘getting eye-balls’ and then figuring out how to monetizing them. This has all been funded by massive venture cap that have made their money selling their hit products to some other, often established, company who thinks they’ll be able to monetize those zillions of ‘eye-balls’...see News Corp + MySpace. But at the end of the day, it always seems to come down advertising real physical things, that can be monetized the old fashioned way…by selling them. It’s like the internet has been subsidized by venture cap for so long that the idea of creating something for the web that makes money because it offers a valuable service…doesn’t even occur to ‘entrepreneurs’ anymore. Kind of scary, you know? There is that classic saying that if you give something to someone for free they’ll never value it. And from that, people won’t really evangelize the product because they don’t really value it. Right? What if Google Apps wasn’t free? What if facebook was $1 a month? What if twitter was $5 a year? What if really great blogs weren’t free? I just wonder how much different things would be if there were 1,000s and 1,000s of great little internet business humming along that made money…without advertising. You know, like the real world. I guess this post was just me thinking out loud. There are companies, new and old on the web that charge…just not as many as it seems there should be, and not enough small ones in particular. ***Did this post suck? Was it too boring/long? Stating the obvious too much? Should I not think out loud on here anymore? Ha.

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Obama + Blackberry BFF4LIFE

You’ve got to love this…Not the kind of change talked about during election season, but nonetheless, instant, obvious, immediate change. Taking the White House out of the dark age and into the age of technology with a simple change in policy. Obama will in fact keep his Blackberry. Sure it’s going to be secured and guarded like a tank, but he’ll still have it and be able to use it when he needs to… Setting a totally new precedent for future Presidents, this will be the first time email has been used by a President since FDR. Remember how slow email was back in the 40’s?! Anyways…I think this is a great move forward and a clear sign that this man understands that times have changed. A wired, connected President for a wired, connected generation. If his wife is anything like mine though, this Blackberry will cause more problems than it should…so, just keep the Crackberry addiction under control and don’t use it in public too often, Mr. President, and you’re good to go. What are the chances he’s actually reading this right now on his 6230?

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Have you ever taken a “45 minute vacation?” I just did!

Alright…so I got a bit of the winter blues going on. We’ve gotten just slammed by winter this year…like 3-4 snow storms already, super low temps for a week at a time, and its only mid January! I guess I complain about this every year, but this year just seems to be bugging me more than usual. And I have a headache today. So I decided to take what I’m now calling a “45 minute vacation.” I’m kind of creating a list of things you can do to refresh and renew a bit when old man winter puts his cigarette out in your drink. We’re lucky enough to have a really great conservatory/botanical garden here in Grand Rapids, the Fredrick Meijer Gardens. Conservatories, as I detailed in a post a while ago, just blow my mind. A whole mini rainforest inside a beautiful glass building…you know? So today I headed over during lunch to stroll around, enjoy humid air, smell some fresh plants/flowers, listen to the waterfalls, and even get some work done on a new project I was stressing about. As you can imagine, its the middle of the day, and very few people were there…even better. It seriously felt like a tiny vacation. Check out the photos I took!! So…the question is, does anyone else have a “45 minute vacation” recommendation or idea for me? Hit us up,

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Darcel Disappoints!!!

Seriously the most genius blog. I definitely have an affinity to blogs with no specfic content. The icing on the cake is if the blog has really cool images. Helps keep me inspired. Add a little bit of revelant cultuure and a cool illustration style and you have this blog Darcel Dissapoints. An amazing cartoon take on a New York state of mind. One favorite posts is “Mickey Rourke, Jay-Z and Ashley Dupre? I must be at the Waverly Inn.” or his latest “Ed Hardy vs UGG = Satan’s vortex and the end of civilization?” What a fresh concept.

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Justin Van Hoy - Bone marrow benefit!!

A really good guy and friend that a lot of you may know, Justin Van Hoy, recently had a Leukemia relapse and is searching for a bone marrow donor match. It’s very simple to get tested to see if you’re a match - go here to order the kit to take the test yourself, or go here to see if there is a donor center in your area.

If you’re in NYC, there is a benefit for Justin this Sunday, January 18th at Lit Lounge from 7-10PM. You can see all the information about that right here. It doesn’t take much and if you’re a match for Justin - or anybody in need - you can really help to save a life…

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James Jean is on another level…

I’ll follow up the longest post ever written on THE BRILLIANCE with the shortest post ever, because there just really aren’t words for this.

James Jean’s ‘KINDLING’ opening at Jonathan Levine gallery looks absolutely amazing. One of the most talented living artists in my opinion.

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First off, happy late new year…2009 feels a bit mysterious. I have no idea what’s going to happen this year considering 2008 was a great year, an awful year, a fun year, a fast year, a slow year, a miserable year, a joyful year, and a weird year. It was all of those things probably no matter who you are in some capacity, and might be one of those things more than the others depending on what line of work your in, who you voted for, who you invest your money with, and whether or not you like autotune. Here are a few brief thoughts…

•Obama. 2008 will be remembered as the year of the ‘O’ logo, Shepard Fairey’s now iconic poster, 24 hour news, and of course just simply Obama winning. There’s nothing more to really say, you know the whole story… Ben and I have talked a lot about how positive yet bizarre this whole thing is. Am I glad he won? Sure, I voted for him. Is there a bit of a creepy ‘overlord’ feeling to the whole thing? Yeah, kinda…and I don’t blame the man himself, more just the whole phenomenon in and of itself. But I think that will pass and in a matter of days we’ll get down to business and see what this guy and his ideas can really do.

•Music…let’s just have a little less (maybe a lot less) autotune in 2009. Kind of a ‘fun while it lasted’ sort of thing, at least for me. TV On The Radio really impressed me and T.I. offered up the coolest hip-hop album cover I’ve seen in a while. Sigur Ros, Bon Iver, and Harvey Milk put out a few of my favorites this year too. As for 808’s & Heartbreak, I wasn’t a huge fan at first, I’ll admit. But I’ve come to appreciate, quite a lot, how unapologetic Kanye was about this album considering everyone had such strong opinions about it, myself included. Not to mention utilizing KAWS on some of the album’s artwork and having it end up in Time Square...funny how things work out sometimes...

•Movies. 2008 was a really, really fantastic year for movies. ‘Doubt’, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’, ‘Burn After Reading’, ‘Pineapple Express’, ‘Tropic Thunder’, ‘Milk’, ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘Iron Man’, and a movie that has set new standards for good movies for me, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. All that and I have yet to see ‘Wall-E’, ‘The Wrestler’, ‘Man On Wire’, ‘Gran Torino’, or ‘Frost/Nixon’...and I know there are still a bunch I haven’t even thought of. I mean, I really, really loved all these movies. Even ‘Valkyrie’ wasn’t all that bad!

•Branding. Brand New wraps this up best with their brand/logo redesign Best & Worst of 2008, so I’ll just say check that link out…but I need to mention specifically that this was particularly awesome and on the flipside, well…let’s just say Pepsi really, really confused me.

•The internets. The internets had a lot of new webpages launched in 2008, lots of web 2.0’s, lots of new Twitters and Facebooks, lots of good Flash homepages and lots of really great socialized network webpage design homepages. My favorite www of 2008 was probably the homesite URL of Ffffound and also The Google made a lot of great things as well.

•Art/design/streetwear stuff. I wrote an article for called The Most Intriguing Artists of 2008 you can check out, and their entire 2008 wrap-up is right here. Some good, bad, and funny stuff…

•Me, personally. It was a good year and I have a lot to be thankful for. My wife and I moved to Grand Rapids, bought a great condo, and have made some amazing friends here. I put a new NoPattern book out…spent a lot of time with family I usually don’t get to see much, read too much news during the election and got a cool but occasionally obnoxious new cat named Fredo.

•What else? I don’t want to dominate the front of the site too much even though I probably already am…but send us your favorite things from 2008. Links, songs, artists, things, etc. to and I’ll put a little ‘mailbag’ post together in a week or so.

Here’s to Ben, Virgil, The Brilliance, and 2009…and another thanks to Jason Fried of 37Signals for doing a great interview with us.

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We’ve got a new interview! Jason Fried of 37signals!

I’m not sure how many times we’ve said it…but we really love being able to do interviews. In fact, I’d say its one of major reasons we even started this site…to connect with people we find brilliant, fascinating, interesting, etc. Our process of picking who we want to interview is pretty ‘organic’ as well… I noticed the other day that both Chuck and myself had mentioned 37signals in a post 1 or 2 times in the recent past and thought “hmm, why don’t we just reach out for an interview?” That’s pretty much that. Jason was nice enough to give us some time and more importantly, a really insightful/fun-to-read interview. I think this will stand as one of our classics. And you really have to love our juxtaposition/contrast with who we interview… Just before Jason was Verbal, the fashion/influence icon of Japan and after him comes Jason, who’s pretty much THE guy in web applications via 37signals. I dig that. So yeah, a big thank you to Jason and all the people who’ve done interviews with us. We really appreciate it!

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Building a brand: T-Pain!

“OMG, the vocoder guy?! Ugh…he sux!!!11” Not really. He wears a top hat, Oakleys, circus-flavored tuxedos and makes it look super fresh. True story. I’m not a huge, huge fan of T-Pain’s music - but I am of his brand. Specifically the visual brand he’s creating for himself with his image and his amazing videos as of late. I made a post a while back about my new love for good pop music and how I wish there was more of it…and I honestly I think T-Pain is one of those artists thats making it happen. It’s just super fun music. But yeah, the videos…have you seen the, lately??! So good. I think it started with the ‘Chopped & Screwed’ video and is continuing forward with his latest, ‘Freeze’. The super fun, and sometimes pretty amazing, visual effects, the lack of super cliche girls-dancing scenes, no slow-mo pan shots of a Phantom, the colors, the tempo of the visual effects, etc, etc, etc…I’m just really enjoying them. What a breath of fresh air. In the ‘Freeze’ video, where they make his name out of a continuous motion of him dancing and play it backwards?! So, so good. Feel like the first time I saw the ‘3D Pipes’ screen saver on Windows, ha. So yeah - I’m a fan of T-Pain’s brand and I think a ton of artists could (should) take a couple notes from him…or least the brand that is T-Pain.

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Le Blog from the Coolest Cats!!!

My french homie Busy P a.k.a. The Rainbow Man Diaries just shot me a link to his new blog network. You got So-Me on the blog tip and graphics, you got superstar DJ Medhi, artist-extraordinaire Fafi, and Michael from LAMJC means this is an instant bookmark. So fitting…New Year, New blogs are needed. So Perfect…in 5 hours I am going to be ringing in the New Year at this Jus†ice show staring at the glowing cross, popping champagne (eh!!) and pumping my fist wildly. How could this not be the next best year of our lives?!! It’s definitely gonna be a strong year for Ed Banger, continued sucess my french breathern! Catch you on the other side of this year…