My Own Words To Live By

Everyone has a code, whether it’s well-defined or not. I do my best to live deliberately, to lead an examined life, and sometimes that means I have to stop and take stock of both what I’m doing and what I’ve done. Everyone needs to course correct from time to time. I don’t always succeed, but definitely continue to try to live my life by the things listed here:

  1. Do something nice for someone else each day, and don’t tell anyone about it. You’ve taken enough from the world. It’s time to give back, one small kind gesture at a time. Ideas? Push some shopping carts back to the rack, hold a door open, let someone go in front of you at the market, and it goes without saying, when you see anyone in need, help them (like the guy whose car died in the intersection…help him push it to the curb). You get the idea. Important caveat: if you tell someone about it, you’ve just canceled it out. Talking about what you’ve done makes it about you…it isn’t about you!
  2. Chew your food. Pay attention to what you’re eating. It’s also good for your belly.
  3. Use your turn signals. Ever get stuck behind someone who doesn’t announce that they’re turning until you’re right up behind them, or who cuts you off without a signal at all? Of course you have. Don’t be that guy.
  4. Clean up the wreckage of your presence. When you make a mess (figuratively and literally), clean it up. Don’t litter. Put things back where you found them. Try to leave places you visit / hang out at better than they were before you arrived.
  5. Take the stairs. Unless it’s over 5 or 10 flights, there’s no reason not to take the stairs. Unless there is a reason. Here are the only acceptable ones: broken leg, in a wheelchair, carrying something over 50 lbs…hmmm…yeah, that’s about it. Take the damn stairs, man.
  6. Stop worrying about what you shouldn’t eat. Add the things that you HAVE to eat in order to be healthy (like tons of greens, and colorful fruits and vegetables), and you won’t have room for all of the other crap. But don’t stop eating the other stuff completely…life is meant to be enjoyed, and yes, that includes Double Stuffed Oreos from time to time.
  7. Drink lots of water. A good measurement is to drink half of your bodyweight + 10 in ounces. I’m 190lbs. so that’s: 190 / 2 = 95; 95 +10 = 105. 105 ounces it is. Gulp, gulp, gulp…it’s the greatest gift you can give yourself…gulp, gulp.
  8. Use your body. Walk, swim, bike, run, jump, climb, play, stretch. It’s the only one you get (until science perfects the full head transplant), so take care of it.
  9. Work hard. Nothing else to be said here.
  10. Create something. Do it, right now. Whatever it is. A paper airplane. One of those paperclip crickets. Sketch the person sitting across from you. Make something. Go! What’d you make? Upload a pic!
  11. Learn another language. I’m sure you have a close friend who speaks another language. Learn it. Or, perhaps you might be able to get promoted quicker at work if you were bilingual. Whatever the case, new languages open doors to different worlds.
  12. Travel. Time to go visit the place where they speak the language you just learned… See you later!
  13. Process, then let go of your anger. Holding onto anger and resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
  14. Act as if this is the only life you get. It’s entirely possible/probable that that’s the case. I’m a firm believer that heaven and hell are here and now. You have nothing to fear in the afterlife (if you believe in that) when you’ve lived a good life and been kind to people.
  15. Pay attention to the life beyond your own nose. We all have problems. But spending too much time in your head isn’t going to make it better. The solution is beyond your nose, not in between your ears. There’s a whole world out there that’ll keep things in perspective…get out of your head and go make today a great one!

This post was as much for me as it was for anyone else. You can’t have too many rules, and I simply wanted to write mine down. Above all else, we’re all in this together. Think about other people as you’re out in the world. You never know what other people are going through. Give people the benefit of the doubt, when possible. Keep things in perspective…

Please feel free to share your thoughts, agree or disagree, or add your own.

Photo credit: Run by Hernán Piñera | This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

After a Twelve Year Arch, It All Comes Full Circle

When I graduated from college in 1997, I had a degree in Ecological Anthropology and Writing under one arm, and a driving passion to jump headlong into the publishing game. As editor-in-chief of my college’s weekly rag, I was sure I’d found my calling…the classifieds section just didn’t seem to agree with me.

break_logo-160square_plainI became a designer (which I had always been passionate about as well), because I figured it could be a way in the side door. After kicking around a couple of shops building up my skills and resume, I figured I’d be working in a publication’s layout department within a couple of years at most. But in reality, two years later I’d already forgotten about that passion, as I was hired to be Media Temple’s (a brand-new web design and hosting company at the time) first Creative Director.

Twelve years later, I’m now working for one of the bigger content companies in the game. I’m no longer designing (full-time, nor by title), and I’m not writing either. I’ve found my way right into a position that fits me quite snug.

October 1st (a day that’s held some pretty important events in my life, oddly), I started as the new Director of Social Media for Break Media (purveyors of Break.com, MadeMan.com, CagePotato.com, etc). My sixth week will start on Monday, and I’m having a blast. The last five weeks have been packed full learning the ins and outs of my new company, and getting accustomed to not working in Photoshop and Illustrator on a daily basis (which has not been the easiest transition).

As I said, this position fits me well. I’m a social person by nature. I love people. I thrive on communication. And most importantly, the last few years have shown me that I really enjoy digging into the strategies and bigger picture.

I’ve spent the better part of the last ten years building websites, corporate identities, and various ephemera for a wide range of clients. It’s been fun, but I’m keen to the idea of backing up a step and being able to implement concepts across the entire spectrum: websites, social networks, mobile devices, offline networks, etc.

I’ll do my best to document this adventure, and I’d love for you to be along for the ride. With that, I’m going to get back to some much needed rest, and I’ll leave you with this quote from the man who said most things the best:

All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure.” – Mark Twain

This Blog Has Fallen Silent – It Needs a Rebirth

These words are my first on this blog in well over two months. It geniunely is my hope to use this site as a way to connect with people on a variety of topics that are important and pertinent to me, but apparently, other things find higher priority right now. So, instead of just being completely quiet, I figured it might be best to show you what I’ve been doing, and where I’ve been doing it.

First and foremost, my beautiful wife and I gave birth to our third child, Ameenah Jane Ololade Huntoon in late April of this year. Without a doubt, she has been my primary focus. It’s an absolute joy and blessing to have such a wonderful family and incredible kids. It has always been the greatest goal of my life to be a father, and I’m a lucky guy to get to realize that dream each day.

In the past couple of months, things have been shook up on the work front as well. I left my job as Creative Director of Musicane (which recently launched a new homepage – my last site design work before leaving) in early July to jump back into the freelance world. While I enjoyed my time at Musicane, it was time to move on and get back into client work. Things are busy, but you know how freelancing goes. I’m still looking for the next right fit for me full-time, but for now, am quite happy and busy with the projects on my plate.

For those of you who don’t know, I also opened the doors of a new company, Humanity Snowboards, with my business partners Ryan Monson (also a childhood friend) and ex-Olympian snowboarder and champion, Tommy Czeschin. We’re just getting fired up, but this first season is looking to be a promising one. Ryan and I worked hard on hosting our first online contest on July 17th, which was met with great success. Check out the wrap-up.

Lastly, being a jock at heart, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of writing stories for fan-fueled sports channel BleacherReport.com over the course of the last year or so. In June, I was notified that I had been chosen to be a syndicated writer, and have been doing my best to cover my favorite teams: USC Football and LA Lakers, as well as a couple of articles about USA Soccer. But, as you’ll notice, my writing there has suffered too. Some days I really wish I could just write all day long.

I’m not sure how long it’s going to be until I’ll have the time to be constantly writing on this blog again, but I’m going to do my best to write as much as possible. Right now it has to take a backseat to family, deadlines, job searches, interviews, etc.

The One Thing To Work On

“We shall never have more time. We have, and always had, all the time there is. No object is served in waiting until next week or even until tomorrow. Keep going… Concentrate on something useful.” - Arnold Bennett

I was sitting down to write a response to ChrisBrogan’s article, “12 Things to Stop Doing in 2009“, when my answers started to develop a trend. When I whittled each of my 6 things (I decided to stop and write this article instead) down to their core, it looked the same for each: procrastination.

If I look down the last 15-20 years of my life, through the first decade of my career, through college, even through my high school years, procrastination is responsible for probably 90% of my frustrations. At this point in my life, I’ve learned how to work through the habits at work, largely, but at home and in my personal life it’s been a more uphill battle.

I am the king of “in a little bit” or “I don’t know when…later”. Which has to be quite frustrating to my wife, kids, parents, and friends. I know the fine art of self-rationalization too well, and will be working against years and years of habitual repetition breaking the cycles.

I’m realizing that I spend too much useless time on the computer, without a specific goal or focus for my non-work time on the computer. I need to work on staying focused, reading, making comments, writing, and getting out. I think I could make my non-work computer use much more productive.

So this year, instead of putting together some long list about eating better, working out more, and taking more time each day to smell the roses, I’m just going to work on procrastinating less. Because, for me, so many of the things that I would write about will happen more often if I just do the things that need to be done, instead of always putting them off for later.

I’m not going to put it off by reading a GTD book before getting started either, though I somehow think that would really help. I know I’ll put that off though, and keep myself hovering. For me, procrastination is about three different things:

  1. Putting things off until later, the obvious piece of the equation
  2. Getting stuck in thought – I will start to think about a task and/or its pieces and get lost in thought, and totally forget to do what needed to be done in the first place
  3. Thinking that somehow I need to rest in front of the television or computer screen because of how hard I work everyday. It’s true, I am a hard worker, and do run around from morning ’til night, every day. But, getting things off of my plate frees me up mentally and emotionally, thereby reducing my stress level far more significantly than an hour of television. This is something I need to remind myself of constantly.

Maybe over time I’ll have to enlist a GTD program like Backpack (which I already use, but just not in a GTD way or with that level of precision) or Omni Focus. But for now, I’m going to just get started trying to stay in action as much as possible. Starting, right now.

Three months of Real Pie

In a sense, this is a follow-up to a previous post regarding all of the changes in my life. It’s been about four months since I wrote that article, and all of the apprehension I had concerning my big career decision have fallen away and been replaced with excitement and anticipation, and the horizon is filled with opportunity.

So, the first three months at the new job are coming to a close. After some 70 odd months on my own, the first three for someone else have been unexpectedly great. I’ve traded in an hour long commute (each way) for a bike ride that won’t even allow me to finish two songs of my most played album right now, Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I’ve traded in the long hours and sleepless nights working, for long hours and sleepless nights with my new baby. And, I’ve traded a lonely office with one, sometimes two, at our largest, 4 other employees in-house, for an eclectic band of merry gentle[people] numbering 10. I loved Go Farm, and all of the time, learning experiences and projects (well, most), but that chapter closed at the right time, it appears.

Generally speaking, things are grand. There’s lots of stuff on the horizon. Tons of great projects are starting up shortly, and we’re about to break ground on the new company site in the next few weeks. I’m really feeling challenged in my new position, and look forward to strapping up the shoes and rolling up the right pant leg each morning to crank off to work.

There is a continuing trend in my life: I love going to work. I’m not one of those people that is counting down the minutes to 5 or 6pm. Actually it’s quite the opposite. There are not enough hours in the day to finish what I want to do. This is a direct result of being in a career that I’m passionate about, and continually challenging myself to get better at what I do. Also, I try to expand the list of what it is that I do, which means my skill set grows and grows and grows. Learn a new program, study a language, take personal inventory of your strengths and weaknesses; you’ll be happier for it, I promise.

And as excited as I am for work, that feeling pales in comparison to the excitement overflowing as I leave the office each day at lunch to hang out with my wife and new precious daughter Zurhi. There’s very little in the world that can top the smile and giggle of your little ones, and this part of my day is so key. Ugghh, just thinking about those moments makes me miss holding her.

I have a handful at work, and two handfuls at home right now. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world…

Here’s to hoping your lives are all just as blessed!

For all you USC haters out there

I’ve got a bunch of words for all of the sports writers, flip-floppers, and folks that have jumped off the bandwagon and completely abandoned the Trojans this season. But I’ll start with a very couth and sophisticated two: blow me. I’m really tired of hearing, “What’s up with your team?”, or “How does it feel that the USC dynasty is over?” Look folks, it’s really hard to win week in and week out when your the starting lineup you began the season with looks like Swiss cheese, but even still, the dominance USC has enjoyed over the last 5 years is hardly over. Here’s a note from USC’s weekly release:

Already this season, 10 starters or projected starters have missed games with injuries: S-CB Josh Pinkard (5 games – done for the year), C Matt Spanos (3 games), TB C.J. Gable (2 games – done for the year), LB Brian Cushing (2 games) Pre-season All-American, CB Shareece Wright (1 game), OG Chilo Rachal (1 game), C Kristofer O’Dowd (1 game), CB Cary Harris (1 game), WR Patrick Turner (1 game), TB Stafon Johnson (2 games), and TB Chauncey Washington (1 game). Pinkard and Gable have season-ending injuries. And the last two weeks we added a few more: QB John David Booty (1 game), MLB Rey Maualuga (3 quarters Saturday with concussion) Pre-season All-American, OT Sam Baker (3 quarters Saturday with high hamstring) 2 time first team All-American, and RG Zack Heberer (?).

Out of this entire list, I really hope that everyone returns and is healthy. But I do hope that John David Booty stays on the sideline. I rooted for Sanchez to take the spot Leinart vacated, and last year called for Booty’s job multiple times, especially after his losses at Oregon State and UCLA. Make no mistake, the team certainly has been beatable and continues to show weaknesses, but Booty’s inability to show up in clutch situations means he’s not the one to lead this team.

So, for all you yahoos out there trying to say that USC’s dynasty is over, I say, it’s going to be fun watching you eat your words in the coming years. USC isn’t going anywhere. Their depth is ridiculous, especially at the talent positions. They need to get their O-line and linebacking corps healthy soon, and if they can, they’ll be back in the hunt. When this team is healthy, they are dangerous.

It’s a crazy year so far for sure; from Appalachian State over Michigan in the big house, to upset Saturday which saw 5 top ten teams topple, SC getting shocked last weekend in the Coliseum by unranked and unnoticed Stanford, to this weekend watching numbers 1 and 2 LSU and Cal, respectively, fall to teams they should have beat handily. No one is safe…save for maybe South Florida that has already beaten its truly tough opponents.

Who knows what the rest of the year has in store. Tough games on the road in top 10 ranked Cal and Oregon, and top 15 ranked ASU, and rarely is a game between USC and Notre Dame ever easy in South Bend, regardless of how the two teams have fared all season. Sanchez will grow up exponentially as he tucks experience and snaps under his belt, and hopefully this weekend will be more of a coming out party for the young future Trojan QB.

Oh yeah, one last note: if you are one of the folks that jumped on the bandwagon and have since jumped back off, please, just stay off. Go start espousing UCLA as the new LA team to beat or spend your time telling us that the SEC is the tougher league. USC is far from done with this streak of dominance, and I think they’re going to right the ship with a couple of tough wins through the latter part of this season. But whether they do or don’t, I stand by them, as I have for the past 25 years as a cognizant fan.

Album Reviews: Wilco and Akon

You could very easily jump over to my profile at Last.fm to find out exactly what I’m listening to, up to the minute. But I think at times those dynamic utilities, at times can be disingenuous to what I’m really feeling. You know, there’s music I throw on when I’m reading a script or writing a proposal, and it’s usually something without lyrics like Yo-Yo Ma, something orchestrated by John Williams or one of the Cirque Du Soliel albums. They’re just so good for inspiring concentration. But they aren’t always the music that I listen to for listening’s sake; they aren’t the artists that spur enjoyment, unless I’m going for the melt-away sleep kinda enjoyment. So, every once in awhile I’m going to drop a few albums here and give you a few words to pump them up.

Wilco
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite albums of all time. I first fell upon Wilco back in 1996, in what my close circle of friends dubbed “The Summer of Love.” They came along with Son Volt and the Jayhawks, and stole time from our then constants of The Black Crowes, Lenny Kravitz, Bob Marley, and Dave Matthews Band. While I still listen to all of the latter bands, I really hadn’t listened to Wilco in about a decade until I ran across one of their recent albums at the library (read more about this here).

Wilco is a lot of things. Some credit front-man Jeff Tweedy’s 90’s band Tupelo with being the crystallizing genesis of Alt-Country. Tweedy is a guitar force, who’s lyrical genius and musicianship has been overshadowed by the turbulence and inconsistency in his personal life and supporting cast (only recently has the same Wilco lineup shown up in the studio for back-to-back records). Regardless, if you are a fan of what I like to call mid-country rock and artists ranging from Neil Young to The Black Crowes (the poppy-end of the spectrum), you’ll love Wilco. And Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is a great starter album.

This album starts with an easy paced mellow tune, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart”, which serves its purpose as a lead-off hitter, but honestly I usually skip it in favor of one of my favorite Wilco songs, “Kamera” which comes in the second slot. Like a good baseball lineup, the first song gets you in the door, the second song really picks up the pace, and the 3, 4, and 5 slots are heavy hitters. “Radio Cure”, “War on War” and “Jesus, Etc.” which itself echoes Grateful Dead like nothing I’ve ever heard before, are all absolutely great songs. The rest of the album is solid, but the next great song is “Heavy Metal Drummer.”

There are sounds of Jeff Buckley in here, Radiohead, The Dead, The Shins, Neil Young and the what is becoming an unmistakable Wilco quality to the music. The Black Crowes are oft called “America’s most rock n’ roll Rock N’ Roll band.” I don’t disagree, but Wilco is becoming one of the most original Rock N’ Roll bands around. I can’t recommend this record more.

Akon
Konvicted

My review of Akon’s Konvicted is going to be shorter than the review of Wilco above. I suppose it’s because there’s a bit less substance to it. But I’m not sure that’s a completely fair assessment, as I don’t think that Konvicted (which is a pop album) was written or conceived in an effort to rival the depth or structure of a neo-country / indie rock record written by one of the more accomplished guitarists of this generations. But I still say this album is well worth a purchase. It’s a hip-pop album, with some Highlife-Afro flair; a great recipe for mellow beats and smooth rhythms.

While the whole album is pretty good, there is one absolute gem in here on track 7, “Mama Africa.” It’s not quite the enduring reggae standard of the same name by Peter Tosh, but Akon’s “Mama Africa” is rich with near Soukous style guitar riffs and runs that play a nice backdrop to this love song to Akon’s motherland.

The rest of the album is filled with a mix of: well-known club-bangers, two featuring Snoop and Eminem, songs which beside their nice beats are absolutely raunchy songs with absurd lyrics; the radio hit “Don’t Matter” which is what helped catapult Akon into the limelight in 2006-2007, which is really a very solid song; and a handful of songs where Akon’s Senegalese roots shine strong. Top to bottom, it’s an interesting collection, and I’m really happy that the album is on my figurative shelf. It’s been in pretty regular rotation on my iPod and iTunes for the past 3-4 weeks.

***

I think I like reviewing two completely disparate albums next to each other. Looking at them back-to-back forces a glance from a wider perspective, opening angles to both albums previous undiscovered. I’ll try to have a couple each week. So until then, have a good week.

Introducing the newest Huntoon

I’d like to introduce you all to my new daughter: Zurhi Tolani Azizat Pelumi Emmanuella Alake Omolade Huntoon. There are a bunch of meanings to those names, but I’m not going to bore you with all the details. Basically, some are from us, some are from parents, and per Yoruba (my wife’s) culture, certain names come based on which day of the week a child is born. In any case, we went off the reservation and chose a first name outside both of our cultures; the root of “Zurhi” is from the Arabic zurh meaning “prayer”. However, we originally picked the Swahili version of the name, Zuri, meaning beautiful. But over the duration of the pregnancy, with all of the struggles, we determined that “prayer” was much more befitting.

She is the joy of my life, and I can’t wait for you all to meet her. That day may be awhile off for many, so let’s just get started by posting up some photos for y’all: It’s so easy to see divine power and intelligence when your newborn is in your arms. Life rules.

She joined us in this world on Thursday, August 30th, 2007 at 10:18pm. She weighed 6 lbs, 8 oz and was 22 inches long. Gorgeous doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings for how beautiful she is; she absolutely takes my breath away.The family was all there to welcome her into the world, and another part of the community welcomed her in this Sunday. She is protected and guarded on all sides by proud parents, older brother, grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins, godparents and friends. Thank you for your patience and space while we recover from a pretty intense and long couple of weeks.

In such a good way…
Greg

Jobs

I partnered up with the boys over at Krop.com to provide my readers with any creative job search help that I might provide. Of course, you could just go straight over to Krop.com, but what fun would that be? Isn’t it more fun to support affiliates?


Public services: use your spent tax dollars

If you fancy yourself a loyal citizen – and mind you, I’m not getting righteous and spilling yellow ribbons from my orifices – I hope that you take advantage of the services your tax dollars pay for in your town and country. There are a ton of great services that are sitting right under your nose, and if you’re anything like the majority of the people I know, you’re not taking advantage of these things that you help support with your tax dollars (with the exception of KCRW…everyone in LA seems to tune in from time to time).

Not all of them are free. In fact, I can’t think of many that are completely free. Even so, our tax dollars subsidize a lot of great things that we should all take advantage of. In Beverly Hills (not 90210, mind you), there are a handful of things that I’ve started using on the regular which are of great benefit to me, at little to no cost:

  • TelevisionPBS HD – how cool would it have been to see Fred Rogers in 1080p? It’s still pretty cool to check out all some of PBS’s shows…sometimes sinfully boring, but often worth checking out and/or DVR’ing, especially if the show is in HD.
  • RadioKPFK 90.7FM, KCRW 89.9FM, and KKJZ 88.1FM are all top-notch radio stations with a great mix of “less-biased” news(read: non-corporate, but still sometimes agenda-driven) and fantastic music.
  • Local libraries – I saved the best for last, seriously. Maybe I just lucked out living in Pasadena for 10 years, and now Beverly Hills, because both of these cities’ libraries are incredible. Beverly Hills Public Library recently changed its policies to allow their patrons to check out up to 64 items – any mix of books, audio-books, DVDs, CDs, etc. – for 2 weeks. DVD rentals used to be $.50 per day, and there was also a limit of 6 CDs that could be checked out at a time. I have 30 CDs at home right now, and 8 or 9 movies (mostly foreign, of which there’s a great selection).

I’m a media junky. For years I consumed DVDs, CDs, magazines, books, TV, etc. at a great financial loss to myself. Granted, now I have a very nice collection of the aforementioned items, but as it becomes easier to consume these items digitally through personal audio players, online reading, and RSS syndication delivered to my phone, I’m finding it increasingly wasteful for me to continue to purchase these things. I think I’ll always be a consumer, in that, I will consume or digest large volumes of information and stimuli. I always have.

But there’s no reason to support the wasteful production of unnecessary CD and DVD cases, when I can rent them from the library. I can listen to great radio on the stations listed above. And, in the instance of movies, I can rent anything unavailable at the library through my Blockbuster Online account (which deserves a whole post of its own). Instead of $200 shopping sprees on a fairly regular basis to stuff myself with music and movies, I pay Blockbuster monthly charges of $17.99 and whatever late charges I incur on my library card. You do the math.

The long and the short of it is, I’m tired of being so wasteful. If I’m paying with tax dollars to help support my local libraries and community services, I’m going to do my best to use them. I don’t happen to need public transportation, but if I could use it, I would. The Big Blue Bus on this side of town is bar none the best bus system I’ve ever been on.

After traveling around the world a bunch in the last few months it has been driven into my head again how wasteful our society is. There’s no reason for the excess, and as I have been trimming it from my life, I feel the fat in my soul; it’s like having spiritual love handles. And so I send myself up the street to the library to check out fistfuls of CD’s from Yo-Yo Ma, Clapton, Wilco, Hamza El-Din, Nusrat, and plenty more, all to make me feel better. And you know what? In the process of me checking these things out and using them, I’m increasing the circulation statistics which helps generate more funds to improve the health, selection and services the library provides.

Go find what’s great in your neck of the woods and share it with us here…

Ciao Italy! Mark and Franchy are married!

Folake, Sidney and I just returned from a 6-day vacation to see Mark and Francesca get married in Padernello which is west of Treviso and north of Venice, Italy. We flew out Tuesday, arrived Wednesday, and it seemed like the party started rather immediately. We all went out for dinner the first night at a nice little restaurant in Treviso, and had our first Italian pizza. I’ve always heard people say how much better (and thinner) the pizzas are in Italy, but had no idea they’d be that tasty. I was quite excited about the fact that you can finish an entire pizza without really stuffing yourself; very, very thin crust.

After a nice, long sleep, Sidney, Mark, Erica (Mark’s sister), Brian (her fiance), Megan (her best friend), Peter, Paul, Ben, and I jumped on the train and took a day in and around Venice. We seemed to have picked the hottest week of the year to visit, as the temperature tipped around the century mark and combined itself with the 90% humidity to really echo the weather in Thailand. Folake didn’t even test it, thank God, and just stayed in and around the hotel to avoid the heat.

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.greghuntoon.com/swf/ssp-gh_italy.swf” height=”475″ width=”600″ /]
Photos from our trip to Venice and Treviso.

Venice was pretty incredible. You can feel the history as you walk through the old town, a steady mixture of old and renovated buildings, but all renovations made with keen awareness of the historical significance of old Venetian style. The canals are pretty dirty and filled with debris, though I suppose not as bad as I anticipated. Mark actually found himself swimming in the canals a couple of weeks back, due to a lack of proper facilities – 5 hours on a boat with no “water closet” and a night filled with drinking would put me in the canals for a “swim” as well – and has found no real ill effect from the swim.

After a fantastic lunch at a little spot across from the train station in Venice, we headed back up to Treviso to unwind before heading out for the evening. The train ride back to Treviso was unbearable; an hour in a sun soaked, poorly ventilated carriage was enough to put all 9 of us out. I was afraid we were going to have to carry Sidney back to the hotel, which wasn’t far, but in the heat would’ve felt like 5 miles.

We spent the next day, Friday, just kinda relaxing and waiting until the rehearsal dinner in the evening. Sidney was all up in arms about the forced grounding for the day, but we all needed the rest. To support our decision, and you can actually seem some of this if you go through all of our pictures, Sidney was just sleeping everywhere we went. He set new records for the amount of places and positions in which one can fall asleep. Let’s see, he fell asleep with his airplane snack pack and drink as a head-rest on the way to Treviso, slept at every single dinner table we ate at, and actually ate dinner asleep on Thursday night. He slept in cabs, on trains, in lobbies, at gelatto cafes, and if I wouldn’t have arrived so quickly, I caught him dosing with standing with the support of one arm on a street sign. And of course, he slept powerfully each night. If only he could’ve slept past 7am each morning, I might’ve been able to catch a few more needed z’s each night.

The wedding itself was just a fairytale wedding, dotted with extreme bouts of overheating (and overeating…keep reading). We started out the day with a “small continental breakfast“, or that’s at least how it was described to be in our briefing at the rehearsal dinner. But what unfolded on Francesca’s front porch was far larger than anything small, and enough to keep us satiated until the afternoon meal. This was the warm-up.

Then we jumped back on the bus and traveled a short distance to the church and enjoyed the full mass wedding, complete with choir singing hymns and songs, though without ventilation or air-conditioning. The church, adorned with frescoes, sculpture and various relics hearkened back to a time much older than the priest’s white robes and suggested that these ceremonies had been performed in this exact location for hundreds of years. The priests, the faces in the crowd, the clothing, and hair styles come and go, but the church seemed to have endured generation after generation of Padernello citizens. In a town 2000 strong, there’s a pretty good chance that many of the locals ancestors walked through the streets and performed similar ceremonies. It was inspiring, and definitely lent a sense of history and importance to the rituals and proceedings.

After a good deal of rice, confetti, and mad applause, the tears, hugs and photos took over. Little did anyone know, the food was probably cooking already.

When we arrived at the first reception, the food started immediately while we waited outside on the patio surrounding the hall. Fried shrimps, caviar, and other various appetizers attempted to break the fast endured through the mass. What should’ve been told to us, was that shortly after arriving upstairs in the reception hall we would be seated and served food continuously for nearly 5 hours. I lost track, but I believe we were served 18 courses. Italians definitely know how to cook and surely laid waste to anything put on the plate. They painstakingly lay out course after course, and carefully group them as appetizers (five, to start), first courses (of which there were five), and second meals (which are basically the meats, and again, there are five), and then a small and nearly rude display of dessert by only delivering us two full each (this, of course, is sarcasm). I have to tell you, I have never eaten that much in my life. I also have to tell you how proud I am of myself and my man Pat for finishing all of the food set in front of us. I believe that we were the only Americans and/or non-Italians to accomplish that feat.

There really isn’t much else to tell beyond that. There was a second reception, and some really hilarious rituals, but I think I’ve said enough for now. It was an amazing experience, and I trust the bride and groom enjoyed their day as much as could be. I hope them nothing but the best, and will continue to enjoy all the time our families spend together.

Man, has it been a busy couple of months. It feels like we’ve barely been home, as this trip followed close after our honeymoon in Thailand, our wedding and festivities in Gaithersburg, Maryland in the middle of last month, and Chris and Isela’s wedding in Cherry Valley which began the streak of weddings back at the end of May. Three best friends and our ladies are now three happily married couples; and it’s so cool that all of our ladies love spending time with each other, and it was never forced upon them. I think we’re a pretty blessed bunch. I know I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried. Continue reading Ciao Italy! Mark and Franchy are married!

Bachelor party recap

It’s comforting to me that I can recount my bachelor party with full recollection, free of regret, and with a story lacking all of the seemingly requisite strip clubs, decadence and chicanery. No fights. No strippers. No blood. There were plenty of guts shared. Emotions revealed. Prayers given freely and graciously. And damn, my ass got roasted…

About fifteen of us, a completely mish-mashed crew, went up to Big Rock Creek which is located on the backside of the San Gabriel Mountain range, a few miles southeast of Valyermo, California, not too far off from Palmdale and Lancaster. We had a ceremony, a sweat, and spent a bunch of time walking around hangin’ out in the cold creek, eating good food, and shit-talkin’.

It was an incredible 24 hours. Filled with laughter, love and tears. My guys sent me off in a good way, and I am very grateful for the band of brothers I have been blessed with in my life. Thanks to everyone for all they shared and provided.

Morning drive meanderings

When you drive for an hour each way to work every day commuting, your mind wanders. The drive is nearly the same each day, except for lane changes, dodging poor drivers’ maneuvers, and stops for gas, etc. Your mind starts to attach itself to thoughts, instead of concentrating on how to get to your destination, because that remains the same. The only downside to this in my drive, is that sometimes my reflexes are needed to dodge the bullets in Koreatown – the bullets aren’t actually bullets, for those of you who don’t live in LA – as at least once a day someone stops on a yellow, runs a red light (horribly), and/or makes a right hand turn from the middle lane. It never fails.

In any case, my brain started to dance the other day, and I pulled over after a couple of minutes to write what came out of my brain, onto my [phone]:

Order and chaos dance and spar to a rhythm like breathing…calm and reserved, though equally (in random intervals) frenetic and grasping. They are less rivals or antagonists to each other, except perhaps as much as loving siblings argue, compete, and tease. For the pairing is the brother sister combo essential; companions, yin and yang.

As the ideas persist, I’ll post…

My lady

I tell ya’ man, I’m lucky. Four weeks from now, I’ll be married, Insha’allah. (If you haven’t met my fiancee Folake, or heard about her, I’ll tell you in a minute.) I’d say that four weeks is still a good ways off, but the last 9 months of engagement have kinda screamed along. Perhaps that’s due to the fact that six of those months have been spent preparing for a little one. As it is, June 16th is the day I’ve been preparing for my entire life.

So let me tell you a little bit about her: she is an absolutely splendid woman. She’s my hero, and one of the toughest cookies around (even when she doesn’t need to be, she’ll be hangin’, tough as nails). In any case, go check out her website. She’s a fashion designer and stylist…on the side. She’s an attorney by education, who happened to give up the law racket to work for a big consulting firm as a investigator in business intelligence. And, a…well, a fashion designer on the side, right? She’s brilliant, beautiful, and intensely talented. And a fantastic mother, to boot.

I just wanted to take a moment and shed some light on this woman who I have given my heart to. She’s such an incredible addition to my life, and the bedrock of my house, and new family.

To my hero, my love.

Movie review: Cinderella Man

I’m a romantic. I’m also an athlete at the heart. It makes for embarrassing scenes sometimes, like when you find yourself tearing up at The Legend of Bagger Vance or really any movie where the ending builds in a frenetic crescendo to this ultimate winning sequence. Like the ending of Rudy…forget about it.

So, put me down in front of a movie like Cinderella Man, and we have the makings of a sob-fest. Actually, I don’t think that I teared up, but my heart strings were definitely tugged heavily. Russell Crowe was pretty fantastic, and although I’m not a big fan of watching her on screen, Renee Zelleweger played convincingly as well. And shit, Paul Giamati plays Braddock’s manager; that guy is the most underrated talent in all of Hollywood.

But really, it’s the story itself that is so incredible. This guy, Jim J Braddock, was just a mediocre fighter, broke his hand and quit fighting to work the docks to keep his family through bouts of starvation and a fear of being turned out on the street through the Depression. But a random happenstance allowed him one last fight, which turned out to be the first of four fights that led him to a title fight against the well-feared Max Baer.

Not only did he defeat Baer…he was the Heavyweight Champion of the World for the better part of two years, until he lost it to Joe Louis. Joe Louis, considered by some the greatest fighter ever, was on record stating that Braddock was “the most courageous man he’d ever fought.” Quite a large statement coming from that man. That’s like earning respect from Ali.

It’s a second chance story. A story of redemption, of a comeback. Everybody loves comebacks. Everybody loves the underdog. And unless you just have a difficult time with any of the lead characters, you won’t be disappointed.

Back in Cali

We just got back to BH 90212 after a 10-day wedding planning trip in Maryland. We have all of the major details set, and most of the smaller ones as well. There are of course a few loose ends, but since the trip was supposed to knock out all of the major stuff, we accomplished what we set out to do and then some. The location, hotel, officiant, flowers, cake, caterer, gifts, suits, and dresses have all been worked out…like I said, just a few incidentals remaining.

It’s nice to be back, and I’m actually looking forward to getting back to work. I missed the office…and the crew…and the work…

Upcoming

I’d love to say that a new design will be forthcoming, but that would be overzealous and ultimately a promise that I cannot even attempt to keep. Over the coming months I am headlong into a new startup shoot-off of Go Farm on the work-front, and my personal life is as full as can be.

Folake and I are getting married on the 16th of June, and we have a new baby girl due somewhere around the 8th of September. So, needless to say, things are busier than usual. Sidney just turned 9, and we had a blast at his birthday party.

Things are ALL well and good, I’m just not going to be able to build this site out as planned or hoped for a pretty good while.

Until then…

A few of the details

I’m an anthropologist by nature and education, a writer, swimmer and runner by passion, and an art director by accidental occupation. I never had any intentions of having a career as a designer. I have been living in Beverly Hills since October 2006 with my new wife, my son, and a new baby (Aug 30, 2007).

Life is terribly good, albeit incredibly busy and filled with lots of change at this point.

For the last several years I have headed up Go Farm, a design studio in Pasadena, CA with my old partner Brian Kupetz. And since long before that, dating back to the middle of 2001, I have kept up 417north as my personal portfolio. I have taken up post as Creative Director of Musicane, a music-tech start-up HQ’d in Venice. I’m having a blast so far, and love the team. This new position has also afforded me the opportunity to get about 20 miles of good road work in on each day I commute by bike. Riding to/fro about 3 days a week right now.

As I’m growing older and finding my place as a designer (and as a human), I realize that I have so many things that I want to learn and get better at. My “wants” in life are far less about material goods, and more about skills and personal development. Except for a new digital SLR…I really want one in a bad way to go with my desire to learn how to take better pictures. I want to shoot pictures and video like Peter when I grow up. I want to write more. I would like to spend more time in warrior pose than I do sitting in a chair. I want to climb Kilimanjaro before the snows melt, and to see the Nile and Amazon before they dwindle. I want to finish a triathlon; any length will do, but I’d feel like a champ crossing the finish line on an Olympic-length race. I want to smell the air my ancestors breathed in Ireland, England and Sweden. I’m starting to learn my wife’s mother tongue, Yoruba, and have always had a desire to speak Arabic. Add to that, more fluency in Spanish and Swahlii, and the language(s) of whatever country my family decides to move to in the next few years. There’s a long, long list of wants, and they’re all realistic.

It’s becoming clear to me that there are limitless possibilities. I’ve always felt like I have great moneymaking ideas on the daily, but can’t seem to wrangle the time to see them to fruition. Then I realized that it’s all about making small strides and putting one foot in front of the other. Now instead of a head full of ideas, I have a notepad full of diagrams and sketches, and the initial plans have starting making their way into prototypes. So, slowly but surely, some of the side projects that I’m passionate about are happening. With any luck, and a good deal of dedication and help from others, I’ll be sharing some things with you all this year. As things get closer, I’ll start showing off the progress, and keep everything up-to-date here.

First, before anything else gets any more attention, greghuntoon.com will be receiving its very first design. I’m thoroughly excited about it, and can’t wait to get the psd into HTML and CSS, and then turned into my new WordPress theme.

Where you been?

It’s been a busy 9 months over at the new company, Go Farm. We’ve been busy working on a variety of projects, most notably those for west Coast Choppers. There’s a lot that’s going to be coming shortly, so stay tuned. We’ve just hired some new hands, have a new intern on the way, and have a wealth of fun and exciting projects about to roll out.