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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A summer in Downtown Grand Rapids: Neil’s fixed gear races!

It’s getting chilly, kind of rainy…and very un-summer like here in Grand Rapids. Another sunny-season has come and gone…and I can honestly say I had one hell of a fun one. I made a post at the beginning of the season about getting back into cycling via way of fixed gear…and it’s a good thing I did. I can honestly say I haven’t had a summer this fun in a while…and the main reason for that would be my man Neil Hubert’s Wednesday late-night fixed gear races here in downtown Grand Rapids. I met so many new people, made new friends, blended scenes, got in great shape, broke a rib or two, and had too much fun riding thru my city super late at night with a mob of peaceful like minded people shaping the new, younger, culture of Grand Rapids. The rides/races themselves ranged anywhere from alley cats, messenger races, sprints, ‘ghettodrome’ track races, chill group rides and whatever other random stuff Neil came up with. But the actual races aside - what it did and will continue to do for Grand Rapids is build culture and community. What started as literally about 8-10 people eventually grew to races of 30+ riders and even more scenesters/on-lookers soaking up the action. Simple things like this in a small, but growing city like Grand Rapids are so important for building community and culture. I hope we continue to see this trend here, I love it. Thanks to Neil and everyone else who made this summer super fun. Check for us mashing thru traffic. ***And to the out-of-towners who don’t think we have proper hills here, I have three words: Martha and Godfrey!!

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Double Threat, some new music!

The first time I ever heard anything from Double Threat was mix they did of some Jeezy stuff titled ‘Halloween Massacre’...and the first thing I thought was like, why can’t we hear hip-hop like this more often?? Slightly weird sounding, non-traditional production, maybe even a little scary sounding. I actually didn’t know the song was produced by them back when I first heard it, but Virgil sent me the link their Myspace just the other day, and there was the track along with my new favorite ‘Straight Out The Rarri’. Love that right now…so massive sounding. Throw this stuff on at your next house party…give those hipster kids something to research.

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The Metal Shutter Houses!!! (Arts!!)

Umm…this is next level architecture in my book. The renderings leave nothing else to be said. Shingeru Ban has turned on a light blub for modern urban living. Its such a smart idea, big metal shutters that allow you to open up your unit like a big window. This building is gonna feel so “alive” with each unit opening and closing their shutters. Kinda plays with the notion of opening and closing your small window on a normal façade doesn’t it? And the website for this project, sheesh. Even though you cant do much on it yet, its awfully well designed. Units in here are gonna sell like hot cakes. If I was crazy rich I’d buy a unit with out even looking at the floor plan, yikes!

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The Violet Hour, have a drink!

Love this place. I was in Chicago this past weekend catching up with Virgil and doing a little shopping, etc. Good times. A highlight would have to be our visit with some crew to ‘The Violet’ hour, a relatively new (right?) night spot in Wicker Park. Loved it man…super cool. The whole concept is perfect, they only let in as many people as there is seating for, all the drinks are a simple $11 and amazing/well executed, the scene is somewhat hushed and quite ‘un-bar-like’ in its feel, Virgil dubbed interior design as ‘being inside a Tiffanys box’ - a good call, and best of all, the exterior, has no windows and is pretty much comprised of black painted plywood with a very, very simple door. It seriously looks like its out of business or being worked on - just one guy, quite polite, in a suit managing the door. The whole reservation process is kind of wild too - I guess they don’t answer the phone until its dark. Yeah, great spot, great drinks, cool crowd…and very well executed. ***No website, I love that

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Perfection: My trip to Tahiti, Moorea, & Bora Bora…

I actually shouldn’t really be saying “my” trip, because a honeymoon is most certainly an “our” trip kind of thing…ha… But moving on. A year ago at this time I was starting to really try to figure out where I wanted to take myself and my then-fiancee-now-wife Holly for our honeymoon. I knew I wanted somewhere that would be considered paradise…somewhere that is as close to Heaven-on-Earth as possible. It didn’t take long after a few Google searches and quick looks through some travel magazines that Tahiti was what I needed to look into. And it wasn’t long after that that I was trying to figure out what hotels I wanted to stay at on the islands of Moorea and Bora Bora. So anyways, here I am, almost 2 months after we were married and spent what had to be the most beautiful week and a half of my life, and I still can’t quite wrap my head around the utopia that is the islands of French Polynesia. We flew from LA to Tahiti and hopped over to the island of Moorea shortly after landing. This 10-minute flight was like nothing I’d seen before. The sun rising over the Pacific ocean with the island of Tahiti visible behind us and the island of Moorea ahead of us…truly blissful. We spent the first 4 nights at the Sheraton Moorea. Moorea is, simply put, a beautiful island with beautiful people, full of amazing history and colors and sights that you really have to see to believe (pictures at the link below…) We were fortunate enough to take a Jeep safari tour of the island, and at the climax of that tour found ourselves looking out at this. Unbelievable…I really could go on forever but I have to move on and tell you about Bora Bora. Bora Bora is somewhat of a fantasy, make-believe kind of place, even when you are there. You don’t believe the water actually looks like that. You go in it, but you have to convince yourself that it is real. Even with the abundance of overwater bungalows, they seem to fit right in to the natural, simple landscape of the island. Bora Bora is small enough to get around the entire island by motor-buggy or car in about 45 minutes. Just one road that goes around the whole place. We stayed at the IC Le Moana there. Beautiful property, lagoon, just about everything…perfection perfection perfection. We had some seriously good food (seared red tuna anyone!! mahi mahi!! and the pineapple on these islands is the best in the world). Oh - I have to mention the snorkeling we did…a seriously crazy amount of beautiful fish, stingrays, and these incredible sharks. One last thing - if you stay at the IC Le Moana, you can hop over on a free boat ride to the brand new IC Thalasso Resort where they have a beautiful lounge area filled - no really - filled with about every piece of classic furniture that exists in white. I could seriously go on and on about this trip, this place, the hotels…everything…but it’s really best to just look at some pictures to get the idea. Link below.

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Faces in Places!

Ha… How could I not post this?? This is the internet at its finest…random objects in random places that look like faces…Perfect. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen things before that look an awful lot like faces and laughed to myself…but it’s the internet that reminds me I’m not the only one who thinks certain things are funny. This will have to be a short post because to be quite honest, I’m not sure what else to say about this. Ha. Just go look…

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School Movies Revisited, Fahrenheit 451!!!

Remember those afternoons in high school, couped up in semi-lit classrooms with the TV-VCR up on the stand watching random movies, trying to understand the point. Ahh… he good ole days when life was easy. One flick we had to watch was Fahrenheit 451. For some reasons I had a flashback of the movie the other day. I loved the aesthetic, the was it was shot, the color saturation and of course the subject matter. Plus it always interesting to see what they depict the fashions of the future. Its on some Jetsons-esque, but anti-Jetsons view of what the future would be like. Basically books are outlawed and, no one thinks critically or goes against the grain. You watch the main character fireman in charge of burning books, Guy Montag come to his senses. Next person who uses this film as a basis for some theme, I’ll know where you got it from, THE BRILLIANCE has a make-believe patent on this concept, especially if your starting a streetwear brand.

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Radiohead’s new album, pay whatever you feel like!

Two things. (1) This is brilliant. Radiohead is independent now, and they are taking distribution and more importantly, ‘customer relations’ into their own hands. I can’t imagine Thom Yorke even saying ‘customer relations’ but you get the idea. Their physical vinyl + CD is like $80…but to download their album, you simply pay them what you see fit. In my case I gave them 10 pounds. Really brilliant. Beyond it just being a ‘neat way for your fans to get your music’...its really a fantastic marketing tool. I’m certainly not the only blog talking about this, right? (2) The execution could have been better. The web interface is slightly confusing at best…a bit hard to use. But hey - this is absolutely a step in the right direction. I can’t wait to hear the tracks. THE BRILLIANCE! loves the concept. ***Oh yeah, FYI, I’m re-launching INDISTR in about 2 weeks - stay tuned for more details.

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I want to go to New Orleans & stay at Loft 523!

Just found this place yesterday, and now I want to hit up the Big Easy. I honestly wish I could have experienced things before Katrina - what an amazing city. But by no means am I saying its now longer amazing - in fact, this hotel is proof of their vibrant creative culture still at work. Really, really beautiful spaces, amazing bathrooms with Agape bathtubs, crazy high ceilings, etc…just a really brilliant looking hotel. Excuse their oddly designed site. Decent rates too. This reminds me how much I like my Mom’s dirty-rice dish…so good.

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INDISTR Version 2, Oct 10th!!!

We’re back with it! So for those of you who follow THE BRILLIANCE often might remember a site a l launched about 8 months back called INDISTR allows artist to sell their music directly to the public, set their own prices and get paid 75% of earning instantly. It stood as my first plunge into the world of running my own project, getting funding, executing and building a brand. So 8 months later, how do things look? We made money!! Not a ton, but in this age of dot-com stuff, I was pretty happy to see the bank account edge up on the very first day. Yeah, the first day – then continue to do so! But along with that there were lots of lessons learned and its always harder than you think. Crazy to think this whole concept of music + the internet + artist getting the lion’s share STILL hasn’t been figured out yet. I guess that is good news to me – because INDISTR Version 2 is launching October 10th and we’ve got a lot more focused energy this time around. We’ve also got a fantastic new design, much needed enhanced searching and tagging features, cleaner checkout process, way better embeddable music players and more. And we’ll be updating with new features quite often. Thank you’s to my new head of operations, Kevin Hockin and the new design house we hired, Thought+Theory. Stay tuned!!!!