The Brilliance!

HTTP://WWW.THEBRILLIANCE.COM/

#INTERNET Ah, we're back! Like we said, we were just "chilling out" for like 3 years. Feels good to have the team back writing. Still us three: Chuck, Benjamin, and Virgil. Got new interviews coming up, and hopefully we'll be posting on a regular basis, who knows. We also interviewed each other, check: CHUCK, BENJAMIN, VIRGIL...

St. Barths…ST. BARTHS!!

Wow. Yeah…just wow. Just got back late last night from the second part of my ‘island odyssey’ vacation. The first part was the USVI and BVI…second part was French West Indies. We hit Anguilla for like one day and then spent about 5 days in St. Barths. Man…I haven’t been a ton of places in the world. But I really don’t know if I can imagine anything more amazing than St. Barths. I’ve always been a bit obsessed with the whole ‘perfect’ island concept, imagining it exists somewhere, just a perfect tiny spot…but I also love cultural centers, cities, the hustle, the bustle, the markets, nightlife, cafes, etc. That’s where St. Barths snags the Ben’s-Favorite-Place-In-The-World-As-Of-Right-Now award. It has the most a-ma-zing beaches (Rick, you know, ha), its got this fresh thick/warm air, mountains, palm trees, crystal clear waters, craggy cliff like areas that drop right off into the ocean (you can jump off them in some spots), protected bays, etc, etc, etc, etc…all those beautiful island necessities. Man, its nuts. AND…its just an amazing town/city. The main area, Gustavia, is like a 6-7 blocks of Paris plopped right onto a tiny island. Amazing French restaurants, bars, shopping, nightlife, cafes, simple/classic architecture, and tons of culture…you can just feel it in the air. And really, really beautiful French women. Ha, really. So yeah…its actually quite a challenge to sum up the St. Barths portion of my trip with this post, this flickr set or even this video of us taking a puddle-jumper over to St. Maarten to catch out flight…but I tried, ha. It was just such an amazing place…and experiencing New Years Eve there was almost otherworldly, mind-boggling. Yeah…St. Barths is amazing. Yeah. ***Seriously, check the video of us leaving St. Barths on a little puddle-jumper plane…sheesh!

Vilebrequin swim trunks!

Swim suits. I almost always buy them last minute…and from the mall of all places…so needless to say they aren’t very fashionable. In fact, I think the ones I packed on this trip actually have cargo pockets, actually go all the way to my knee, and that typical Hawaiian all-over pattern. More ‘MTV-spring-break-2003’ than the other gear you catch me sans the beach. Fortunately my man Rick put me onto Vilebrequin. As he said it: ‘Kind of the only swim suit that matters.’ And I’ll vouch for that…especially after grabbing a pair myself here in St. Barths. It’s like the classic case of a niche/interesting brand that would grab my attention. Heritage, great story, amazing attention to detail, super unique design/patterns but still understated, and a following of like-minded buyers. Seriously, the pattern selection is amazing…the shop I hit most have had over 100 different styles. I kept it simple, navy blue with the tiny white dots. So yeah…check the site, they even have web-based ordering for the US (which is of course a negative for some, ha). I would recommend the short cut version - do something new and ‘proper’ you know?

US Virgin Islands & British Virgin Islands…my wrap up!

So what can you really say?? I touched down in St. Thomas on the 26th of December…and it just keeps getting better everyday. Here is a quick run-down of the spots we’ve swung past or anchored at: St. Thomas, Tortola, Norman Island, Peter Island, Virgin Gorda…and more to come. It’s wild, I mean, how many islands related posts have I made on this site?! Then to get to see all this stuff in person…just too cool. The beaches? Just like in the pictures. The water? Yeah, super, super warm, crystal clear. Snorkeling? Looks like a screen saver, amazing. The stars at night? Pretty much spiritual. The Baths at Virgin Gorda? Other-worldly looking and super fun to climb on. The overall vibe? I’ve got that irie feeling, ha. I don’t even like rum…but I’ve been sipping all sorts of ‘painkillers’ and other multi-colored drinks. I even visited the OG ‘painkiller’ bar known as Pusser’s. They had good Caribbean Jerk wings too. No Buffalo Wild Wings around these parts…ha. So yeah, that has been the first part of my trip, the USVI and the BVI. Now I’m in the French West Indies…I woke up this morning in St. Barths with Paul Allen’s boat right next to ours. I mean…?? Check the Flickr set at the link below. ***Pictures are up now.

Belvedere is hip to it??

In huh-thats-pretty-interesting-but-almost-kind-of-weird-news: I don’t watch TV much, but Chuck just sent me the youtube link for the new Belvedere Vodka commercial done by Terry Richardson…and its quite interesting. Who is on the marketing/creative direction team over there at Belvedere?! To think Terry Richardson would be showing up in/making/producing//whatevering commercials for Belvedere is certainly something out of left-field, you know? That being said…the commercial is pretty brilliant and so is the print campaign. I love the way the commercial is shot, love the energy in it, love the whole New York high-society meets New York “genre-now-society” as A-ron might call it. I mean…Ear Snot makes a cameo…really?! In a commercial for Belvedere? And a verse from the RZA to end it out? Who knows if this move will get Belvedere whatever it is they wanted from a branding/image standpoint…I just think its great to see brands like theirs make such interesting (odd?) moves like this…and spend time to really do it properly.

The year in music 2007 (#2)!

I agree with Chuck, 2007 was a great year for music. If anything, it was great year in music just for me personally…lots of new discovery. So, album of the year? Without any question, it goes to Kanye West for ‘Graduation’. I love how it took hip-hop and pop music to another level. Song of the year for me though would have to be ‘Videotape’ by Thom Yorke/Radiohead. I loved it when it was just that video-only download with Thom on the piano by himself…album version is great as well. So thats the basics - album of the year, song of the year. Some randoms now… Beat/production of the year? ‘Flashing Lights’ by Kanye West. New favorite artist of the year? M.I.A. My new-discovery-of-old-music this year? Ahmad Jamal’s amazing track ‘Ghetto Child’. Amazing. Most remembered move made by an artist this year? Radiohead…obviously. Music I got into that I never thought I would have this year? French electronic. And it goes without saying…I’m sorry to everyone who spent big-budget dollars to make great music video…the music video of the year? Snoop Dogg with ‘Sensual Seduction’. And that’s that…my 2007 music review.

I think I like Jacek Yerka’s art.

Ha @ the title of this post. Anyway, yeah…his work is really, really…engaging. I’ve spent the last 20-30 minutes just trolling thru his work trying to figure out if its ‘my style’ or if i really dig it. And I think I do. I have always been drawn to the more trippy and far-out stuff. Actually, more specifically, I’ve always been drawn to art that creates worlds that are trippy and far-out. Let’s my imagination (however child-like, you know?) really wander with the idea. Jacek Yerka’s work is exactly that. Definitely has a bit of a children’s book feel to it - kind of whimsical with softer edges and colors. So yeah, if you’ve never seen his stuff, check it out at the link below. Read the ‘How do I create my paintings’ write-up. ***After looking at his stuff more…I’ve moved it from ‘thinking I like’ is work to ‘knowing I like’ his work.

The year in music 2007!!!

Paste Magazine says that The National - Boxer is the best album of the year. I have to agree, personally. It was my favorite along with Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam. Ben told me his is hands down Kanye’s Graduation. ”>Pitchfork named Panda Bear - Person Pitch #1 (a great record I do agree…). Metacritic chose Burial - Untrue, MSNBC listed Radiohead - In Rainbows, Spin gave it to Against Me! - New Wave and Rolling Stone crowned M.I.A. - Kala. I researched a ton of other lists and Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, Bruce Springsteen, and Lil’ Wayne all also were either #1’s or listed consistently in top 5’s. I have to say, 2007 was a fantastic year for new music. The explosion of indie rock and hip-hop onto the charts and into the mainstream has been pretty fascinating to see and it’s exciting to feel like truly good music is making its way into more and more people’s hands. There’s certainly a downward trend in the importance of labels thanks to Myspace, blogs, and Radiohead this year, although there are handfuls of labels who are making moves to change with the times. I would have to say one of the negative things about music moving to a mostly downloaded format and the rapid demise of the CD is the loss of the importance of album artwork. If we all download our music, we’ll never see the album artwork in more than a 1x1 inch square in the bottom left of our iTunes or in a record store/Best Buy just walking by. I like what Beck did with The Information late 2006 and (sorry for the 3rd namedrop) what Radiohead did a few months ago with the box set option. It keeps up the interest to have something tangible and to hold it in your hand, something I believe cannot be replaced simply by downloading an MP3. So I’m excited to see what artists go above and beyond in that aspect this coming year. Anyways, I tip my hat to all the musicians that put out great albums this year. Here’s to The Breeders and Oasis in 2008.

Lupe Fiasco’s “The Cool”…easy listening!!!

“One of Jay-z boys, now I am skating in your pool, not to be rude, I am just hatin’ on your rules” – Lupe “Gold Watch” Crazy. The Cool is out today. Lupe’s sophomore effort is such important music. In an era ‘singles’ and not ‘albums’ its amazing he was able to make an album with a story. The best stories stick in your mind and replay in different life scenarios. Like watching Crash and riding the train the next day. The Cool is equally a novel as it is an album. The trinity of characters The Cool, The Streets, The Game play out throughout the album painting a moving picture of reality. He sets the concept up here. Its like a secret book on tape for today’s youth. It makes the inside album artwork from Food and Liquor even more eyebrow raising. Real music is too refreshing. His site just launched the in-depth imagery. Check your local itunes store for a copy. Peace and much love to ya.

Saab ‘Aero’ SUV. Boring.

We actually haven’t done many ‘negative’ posts in the past year or two here on the site. We like to highlight stuff we find interesting/inspiring more, you know? But I felt like I had to put this one up. So Saab, listen up…we’re giving you free ‘market research’ here…free consulting. Stop doing boring stuff. Stop making irrelevant cars like this new ‘Aero’ model SUV…and start making brilliant and quirky cars like you used to. I find it so funny that brands do these ‘green’ initiatives like Saab has done with its bio-fuel and diesel stuff…and then they come out with an ‘Aero’ or tricked-out-for-speed SUV. That couldn’t be farther from their brand image…and its not at all an efficient or ‘green’ move on their behalf. Not to mention its really boring and uninspired design. ‘Oh wow, it has 20 inch wheels on it right out of the showroom!! Vrrrooomm!’ Uhhh…so to the crew over at Saab, or GM, or whatever: go back to your roots a bit, go back to the quirky design that made your brand important in the first place, and work to make fantastic and RELEVANT products. Relevant products…wouldn’t you say thats the majority of car companies are missing right now? (Except VW. I’m loving their stuff more and more everyday.) And yeah, I’m a Saab owner.

Tom Ford ain’t never left!!!

I am all about championing this new-era of designers becoming the new rockstars. Hence another quick but valuable insight into another influential fashion designer. This is taken from the Supreme Luxury Conference in Moscow. How nice would it be to get an invite to that…Tom Ford is another fashion character who I am familiar with but never heard speak. Who knew thats what he sounds like? Why did Gucci and him split ways? In my mind he is what Gucci lacks on a number of levels. They have the red/green heritage but there no ‘face’ to the the brand which is so important these days. He’s obviously onto bigger and better things like building his Tom Ford Group empire with his finger on everything his brand touches. Talk about supreme luxury.

“We don’t have logos, we have (Tom Ford) logos about the store but they are representative of your own initials”. - Tom Ford. That’s pretty much my whole frame of mind right about now.