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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Fast Company says: Grand Rapids is America’s greenest city!

Ah, another win for my favorite little-big-city. I’m pretty into this. So yeah, when you think of Michigan, and you’re not from here, you probably think of Detroit, a failing auto industry, manufacturing plants, and all things associated with these…none of which are green in the least, you know? While the state has some work yet to do, and a rocky re-organization of core-industry, we do have something going for us and Fast Company gave us the nod: Grand Rapids! We started really getting attention for our focus on sustainability and general ‘greeness’ with the new art museum we’ve got downtown. Speaking of which, I was just there catching the Richard Avedon exhibit - epic. Anyway, I just wanted to tout my city yet again here on THE BRILLIANCE…Grand Rapids is pretty fantastic. Check the article below.

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3 things I like right now!

I didn’t really want to make a post on each one specifically, so I just threw them all together. #1 - The Mash SF x Cinelli track bike. Whoa. Totally ground-up design, no corny branding, beautiful geometry, custom (!!!?) black Campagnolo Record groupo, and made from Columbus steel…had this been around at the time, I think I may have skipped on the Pista Concept. Maybe. Congrats to the Mash SF guys, you’re doing amazing things. #2 - The Peek mobile email device. Its the most stripped down mobile email device available - no phone, no internet, no apps, just email. Super thin, love the square design, and only $19.95 a month flat-fee for national access. I really hope they eventually offer an international package. I just dig this thing. Just a fun, useful, and simple device. #3 - Rob Brandt’s ceramic crinkle cups. Awesome. I have one sitting in my office. They’re the perfect substitute for boring (typical) wine glasses. Its amazing, they really look like a crinkled plastic cup. Super cool, and affordable.

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2/3rds of THE BRILLIANCE! is off to Asheville, NC!!

A little business/vacation trip for Chuck and myself. I’ve never been to Asheville, or anywhere in North Carolina before…always cool to visit new places. And we’re lucky enough to be staying at what looks like a pretty fantastic resort/spa called the Grove Park Inn & Spa. Yeah, looks super nice…especially the spa. I already made my appointment. I think we’re hitting up the whole Biltmore Estate thing as well. Anyway, yeah, looking forward to it…I haven’t traveled with Chuck (and now his wife too!) in a while, so should be fun. That’s my post. And just FYI, I’m eating a 12 inch Italian BMT from Subway right now, and its delicious.

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Artists doing great work…who are they?? You tell me.

Typically I get a post together after doing research on a bunch of different artists on a bunch of different sites and report here about all the amazing talent I’ve found. Well, I’ve searched the internet high and low, I’ve looked through every art and design book in existence, and scoured countless magazines, and I am sad to report I have not found a single interesting person to write about….
...Ok, that’s not actually true at all. In fact, I think I could probably fill a post like, a paragraph, maybe a paragraph-and-a-half, full of a ton of amazing artists I’ve discovered in the last month alone. Like 6 artists. Maybe 6½ artists even. The ½ being this one guy who I thought was pretty good but not that good. So anyways, there’s a point to all this…I was thinking - I love our readers, all 9 of you - and I think it would be fun to have you all send artists in who maybe I’ve not seen before, or need to be reminded of, that I could post about on here and give some attention to. As you’ve probably figured out if you read The Brilliance, I love to post about talented and creative people…so I’m taking recommendations for the next week or so. Please send me links to your favorite artists at and I will read and consider for a new post, or series of posts, depending on how many quality links I get. Feel free to send as many links and suggestions as you’d like but please know we don’t really feel like can’t due to very busy schedules, respond to all emails we get. Thanks…let’s see those URL HTTP webpages!!!!1

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Shawn Frayne matters: his wind power invention!!

‘...and you can call the energy out of the wind…’ Love this guy, love his invention, love his pitch…and his whole ‘swagger’ dare I say. So real quick, Shawn Frayne is a young inventor who has a brilliant little product that generates power from the wind - but without the typical turbine - and instead with a belt that basically ‘flaps’ in the wind. Its a controlled flap, and the video will make all this easier to understand, that undulates two magnets between metal coils which of course creates a simple generator. It was initially designed for 3rd world countries but can certainly be useful in any number of environments. I’m impressed on so many different levels by this product… (1) It’s so amazingly simple its almost beautiful. Really. It’s so organic in how it works/moves too…just adds to the beauty. (2) It scales unbelievably well. You can stack them, make them bigger, smaller, etc. (3) It’s cheap to build…like super cheap. (4) It can be both repaired AND manufactured by the people who use it. You know, thats actually probably my favorite part. It’s built of such simple components, so few moving pieces, and of materials that can be substituted out for similar materials found locally. So yeah…just love this. And Shawn’s whole presentation in this video is fantastic. Full of quotables. I certainly hope the best for your project/product Shawn! ***I got this link off the 37signals blog, check it out if you don’t already.

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Um, Marc Jacobs!!! Update! Better Link Status

He is on fire right now. I have always been into Marc Jacobs collections, more so as an observer, fan of the brand form the sidelines. After his 2 shows in the past 2 days I want to get off the sidelines and participate. The pieces that are freshly uploaded from fashion week are spectacular! Count me in for all of those necklace’s. The looks are a perfect street-level derivative of the beach-swept-style Burberry and Lanvin’s latest collections looked like for dudes. The Hi-Tops look interesting too. Super easy to wear stuff that has a little more edge to it than what you’d find at J-Crew or something. Props to Marc! TheCobraSnake captured the vibe, I love how they packed the crowd in and I bet it was still impossible to get in, I love how this collection is styled too.

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Ned Kahn’s installations!

My friend Rick just put me on to this guys work - specifically the ‘Articulated Clouds’ piece. His work is a bit hard to describe real quick in a post - he’s definitely one of ‘those’ artists. I’m a fan of these artist’s by the way. My first impression was that his work is largely inspired by weather and specific weather occurrences - clouds, wind, tornados, fog, even fire, etc. He does super large scale projects - some of which look to be pretty temporary while others are permanent structural/architectural elements of a building. So yeah, again, hard to explain his work - better to just check it out. I’m quite a fan of the smoke rings and tornado pieces. The tornado in the middle of the huge circular staircase/walk-way is pretty unreal. Check it out below. ***Quick fun fact, I just had a fantastic #4 from Jimmy John’s, any Jimmy John’s fans out there? Am I the only one who puts the Jalepeno chips on the actual sandwich?? Gives it a little crunch, so good.

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THE BRILLIANCE! got interviewed, learn about us!!!

Yeah - we haven’t done an interview in quite a while. So was fun to have William Yan of hit us up to be featured in his Taste Maker section. Always flattering to be interviewed. We each did an interview which made up a 3 part feature on THE BRILLIANCE! as a whole. Check out what each of us had to say here: Virgil’s, Chuck’s, and Benjamin’s (mine). Funny, its actually really interesting for each of us to read each others… While we’re all in touch quite a bit its interesting to ‘watch from the crowd’ a bit…ha, I guess that’s implying we have a crowd. Anyway, yeah, check out the interviews and learn a bit more about us, the guys that run this site and what else we’re up to… And check William Yan’s site as well he’s doing some cool things.

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Jordan 5’s!!!

As I wait for FEDex to arrive, lets reflect. The Jordan 5 the is like no other sneaker, past or present. I know, I know, the 4’s and the 6’s and the blah blah blah are crazy but let take a second to praise the 5’s. The clear sole, the fighter jet influence, the REFLECTIVE tougue!!! for all those camera flashes!!! When I had my first pair I could feel the elevation of my game. That extra step in having these shoes on was priceless! It just felt better to play ball in these shoes. This white colorway just got retro’d and I was reminded how fresh this particular colorways was. I only had the black colorway groing up. The black sole, white upper is the key. Think about how amazing it was year after year….the new Jordans to look forward to. In an era of no internet the pure hysteria these shoes would cause…sheesh. Rightfully so. Nowadays the highend designers are in the Hi-top game charging upwards of $800?! for shoes that are pale in comparison to these Basketball! shoes. I guess back in the 7th grade asking for $125 was the same thing…Tools of the trade for the greatest basketball player of all time. Imagine if that Jil Sander model below had these shoes on…that outfit would look less crazy!

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Jil Sander Marble Print!!!

It dropped. Chicago may not have alot of stores but we got one of the best, a full on Jil Sander boutique. The second I saw this print on I was like….there goes another one. So after taking something like a 5 year break, I am back onto wearing button down shirts. This is an extreme re-entry point but I can’t get over how fresh this is. See the main reason I hopped off button downs was because everytime you’d go out and see dudes with vertical stipped button downs and collars spread super apart super far I was like I need to dress the complete opposite of that. I am all about the stuff that’s a touch crazy so this works. There’s ways to make it work, trust me….I won’t hold it against you if you don’t believe me tho. Least I don’t gotta worry about everyone else at the bar looking like me, ha.