Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nevada Business Report: 2010 End-Of-Year Special Episode

Join the team of business analysts at SINdustry City as they summarize the last twelve months in commerce for Las Vegas and the rest of the Silver State!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

European Version of Theme from "Tippi Thomas, Sociology Detective"

When "Tippi Thomas, Sociology Detective" ran in Europe, a much more visually radical version of the opening was used. Anticipating that American audiences would be overwhelmed and confused by the European opening, the producers of the show put together a more reserved version of the opening theme for stateside broadcast. This video shows the European opening in its entirety.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Theme from "Tippi Thomas, Sociology Detective"

Younger viewers may not have seen a single episode of the social science drama "Tippi Thomas, Sociology Detective" that aired on American TV over 25 years ago. However, many have heard the iconic theme song countless times, although without knowing its origin. The show technically had two opening themes, one a guitar-based, LSD-influenced, acid folk version for the show's run during the Carter administration and one a more sedate, solo piano, Mike Post-ish treatment for the Reagan years. In both cases, the featured performer was shown during the opening theme without his face being visible, gaining immediate cult hero status as the _cognoscenti_ speculated on whom he might be. The production company revealed only that the same man was present in each version, and his identity is known even today only to a very few super-hip industry insiders.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New YouTube Channel

I have created a YouTube channel that fans of our videos might enjoy. Our Vimeo account will remain active.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I've been posting videos to for over six months now. It is not where Pattie and I are heading with our creative/media careers, but it has been a lovely stopover. The site administrators are pulling the plug this Friday, and I for one am sad to see it go.

Video aficionados who want to know where to go next for their Pattie-and-Carl video needs might try our Vimeo account:

Most of the content there is from 2002-2004, when we were living in Canada and shooting with a single Canon ZR40 [sic]. Thoughtful work nonetheless, I'd say, and not without scope and ambition. The footage from the Yukon and northern British Columbia in Free Way was beyond picturesque. The sociological bent in Cat's Eye is quite conscious of (and, indeed, addresses with delight) recent and promising methodologies in that field. And if the central principle of theater is that dying is easy but comedy hard, then the humor value of Lavelle and Ginny Visit Victoria, the two aureole-centric videos, and possibly the video for The Carl Wilkerson Fan Club Theme Song is at least preferable to dying.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The 730-Day Disabled List

I have an MBA from a school with a good reputation internationally. My wife and I moved to Las Vegas four years ago ready to begin a media business, a venture towards which we had accumulated significant experience and for which we were otherwise well-qualified. Before we could execute our plans, I became ill with what would turn out to be fibromyalgia, which put us in a financial hole from which we have been digging out slowly.

My illness has come under a little better control with a recent change in my meds, and I have begun planning how to live my life now that I am not forced to do so with one hand tied behind my back. While I was ill, I had a long time to think about how I wanted to live if I ever regained my former level of ability to function on a day-to-day basis, and I came up with some very specific ideas. The process has been rewarding, but it has of necessity been deliberate in its pacing, and I do not need to listen to long, boring lectures about how I became ill at exactly the wrong point in my life or what I ought to be doing now that it appears the worst of it is perhaps over.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Am Not A Filmmaker

After a conversation w/P this morning, the proposition that “I am not a filmmaker” seems even more attractive. The beauty part of choosing video over film is that it works nicely if what you want to do is not spend 99% of your time worrying about how pretty it is, a hole with no bottom if there ever was one. I’m capable of better things. OTOH, the craft element of the craft is making itself manifest to me, and although I may know more than enough about, e.g., editing as it is, I feel strongly that if I continue to learn about it, it will broaden my creative palate. It isn’t so much that I’m going for a “happy medium” here, it’s that my initial impulse to say “Screw the film schoolers, I only care if it’s legible,” has been overridden by the fact that I actually know something about the subject now and want to delay making any pronouncements about the subject, or maybe even defining the subject, until I’ve learned more. So as pathetic as it would be to turn into just another “pretty picture person,” to be informed only by that narrative and no others, it is perhaps a na├»ve analysis to conclude that “therefore” I am going to have a totally nuts-and-bolts approach to the matter. I think that there are considerations that are present beyond and despite the film nerds’ approach to the matter, a multitude of perspectives on this very promising medium, and I don’t want to make the mistake they have made of boiling it down to the point that no really good corn can grow given what is left. I am informed in my film and video pursuits by a number of valid and rewarding narratives, and to pick one as supreme would be a loss of potential not so much in myself but, worse yet, in what I could create.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Victoria Nipple Count

VICTORIA NIPPLE COUNT (c) 2003 from Pattie Thomas on Vimeo.

One of our first collaborative efforts, the film is based upon the annual Victoria Flower Count -- an event in January when people living in Victoria British Columbia are encouraged to count the flowers blooming in their yards and call in the "count" to a hot line. The total (usually in the millions) is tallied towards the end of January and sent out to all the other provinces in the form of a press release that basically says "too bad you're in the frozen tundra, eh. We are happily in a Mediterranean climate here, eh. Ha-Ha." (Last part meant to be read like Nelson from The Simpsons.) Victoria Nipple Count is one man's quest to show Canadians and the world that it is possible to enjoy a Spring-like day on January 4!

LaVelle and Ginni Visit Victoria

LaVelle and Ginni Visit Victoria (c) 2004 from Pattie Thomas on Vimeo.

Carl clandestinely follows LaVelle and Ginni as they invade Canada looking like innocent seniors on a cruise ship. The plan is to follow, confuse them with site-seeing adventures in Victoria and then see if they will give up any information. But, of course, out-witted by their wiley ways, the duo return to the boat and sail off to Alaska with whatever secrets from Canada they learned. Foiled again.

(This is a souvenir video made of the 2003 visit from Carl's mom-in-law, LaVelle, and her friend, Ginni, who had a few hours in-port while we were living in Victoria. But a home movie would have been tres boring.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Carl Wilkerson Fan Club Theme Song

The Carl Wilkerson Fan Club Theme Song from Pattie Thomas on Vimeo.

While in college at University of Chicago in the mid-80s, my husband wrote his own fan club theme song. The guys in his dorm sang the song and recorded it with Carl playing the bass guitar as accompaniment. It is a catchy song and lots of our friends have said it gets stuck in their heads for years to come, but no one seems to be able to remember the lyrics. So in the tradition of Mitch Miller, here's The Carl Wilkerson Fan Club Theme Song Video! (Doing this video was inspired by a request from Danielle P.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Back to the Future of Vegas

Vegas has to decide if it's going to be just another suburb of Los Angeles or if it's going to return to its role as the Little Resort Town That Could. I've heard the "recession" excuse beaten to death by the locals over the last two years, and it's beginning to sound prettty hollow. If we're going to start repeating economic grand narratives for this most distinctive of local environments, let's try this one on for size instead:

Las Vegas experienced phenomenal economic growth from 1931, when gambling was legalized, until the late 1980's. During this time, they had a near monopoly on gambling in the United States, although the entrance of Atlantic City into the market in the 1970's did put a slight crimp in their action. Since then, the proliferation of casinos and casino-like institutions (which are distinct from casinos in that they offer "games" that appear similar to those offered in casinos but are marked by the store's ability to withhold, at their discretion and without serious accountability in the matter, the money won by players in specific sessions) has cut into Vegas's non-strategy for continued econimic well-being.

The need to diversify in southern Nevada has been talked up for two decades now. It was said as recently as 2007 that the "non-casino" portion of the economy was growing faster than the casino portion. However, in the style of all the non-gamblers of the world, whose intolerance of risk is so pathological that they sit down and cry if they don't win every pot, Vegas experienced one losing period after over seventy years of prosperity and threw a tantrum. The rhetoric over the last two years has been that what has happened here is insurmountable unless we gear all urban and state economic planning to the proliferation of the largest casino corporations and to "attracting business" from California.

What has happened here, in addition to the factors facing all markets nationally, has been a result of overextension, of betting too much of one's stake on a less-than-sure thing. If Vegas were run by competent gamblers (look up "Kelly Criterion" for a short course in what gamblers know that casino management does not understand) instead of by half-smart corporate clowns whose only understanding of business strategy is "Attain corporate sovereignty," the "recession" would not have been half as bad as it has been locally, and the "recovery" might still be in sight. Instead, in a manner similar to "permanent war" as a political tactic on the federal level, it appears "permanent recession" is being installed locally. Some of it is to be substantially engineered, and some of it to be simple rhetoric, a repetition campaign that "reminds" us all of why we "need" the measures being implemented as a "remedy."

I suggest that Vegas still has a long history of solid investment potential, although the execution has been lacking of late, and that the current whiny approach of placing the infrastructure in a position subordinate to placing itself as a vassal to the "financial center" of southern California has to go. This is a "prescription" that is always waiting in the wings, one that is suggested as a cure for all ills as soon as economic life is less than rosy, or in this case, has been "announced" to be so. Well, that may work on people from the other 49 states, but I'd like to think that there is more to Nevada's vision of its own future than submitting to this mechanical claim that attracting the oligopoly to come here from other states is the proper function of any "economic development" initiative. If you're that easily intimidated into giving up the store, you never should have gotten into the gambling business at all, guys, and no real-life situation is ever going to be "secure" enough for you. Do the competent adults who still live here a favor and hand control back to organized crime before matters get out of hand for good.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Free Way

Free Way from Pattie Thomas on Vimeo.

Filmed in 2003, this is from our trip through British Columbia to the Yukon and back. Directing and Producing by Carl Wilkerson and Pattie Thomas. (c)2004

Friday, March 19, 2010

Desert Ridge Development

Notwithstanding the sign in front of its sales office offering to provide accessibility measures upon request, Desert Ridge Development in North Las Vegas is not accessible and does not provide accessibility upon request.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Marketing Strategy for Downtown Vegas: "Fuck You If You're Disabled. "

The Fitzgerald's in downtown Las Vegas has just 86'ed my wife, a PhD in sociology with a billion years of experience in undergrad-level instruction, for recharging her mobility scooter with one of their electrical outlets.

When we first moved here, three years ago, there was actually some expressed interest in making the Fremont Street mall (aka the "Experience") more accessible to disabled patrons. I'm not sure if the interest was legitimate of if it was just "handling. " In either case, it is gone now.

Downtown Vegas has supposedly struggled to redefine itself in the last two years. But I'd like to know who the marketing genius was who came up with "Fuck You If You're Disabled" as a feature of the new strategy. Overlooking every other thing that is immediately stupid about the matter, disability is correlated with age, and retirees make up a disproportionate share of the (remaining) patrons of the downtown area. I don't expect brilliance from "marketers," but an inability even to read elementary demographics is a new pinnacle even still.

The "Old Vegas" paradigm used to mean "good food, good whiskey, and a good gamble," to quote Benny Binion. The subtext was one of affordability, among other things: Las Vegas survived its adolescence by offering the thrill of the casino lifestyle to the 99% of the travel industry's customers who could not afford to pursue it on the level traditionally required by European gaming hot spots. Las Vegas faced a number of criticisms, but it was one of the short-listers on the destinations list where affordability was concerned, and no one disputed the matter for long. Nowadays, the implicit arrangement is a grotesquerie of its historical self: show up and walk around for three days, and you can tell all of your friends you've been to "Las Vegas. "

Open resentment of the client/customer has been faddish in marketing circles of late. A number of going concerns have decided that a first principle of their relations with the public will be to display irritation that the public doesn't just stay home and mail in money. But if this is the best that the marketing minds behind the New Old Vegas can do, that says something about the quality of management at the establishments in question. Not even the recreational gambler is a complete sheep, and some are less sheeplike than others. The strategy in question raises other issues as well in each specific case (such as rudimentary competence in execution). It's a little harder than just deciding to decide this time, folks.

I have no personal interest in this matter. If downtown Las Vegas wants to continue to shoot itself in the foot, I won't care too much. But it annoys me as an MBA to see the goodwill (in both senses of the term) of an 80-year-old brand wasted. Downtown has always been cut-rate, but that used to be true in a good way. Now it is just petty, insubstantial, and ultimately trashy: there is nothing trashier than playing adolescent dominance games to the point where self-interest itself is compromised. You can take your one-and-a-half stars and go to hell for all I care.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Da Spike!

P and I have had an uneventful one-day staycation in downtown Las Vegas. We are topping it off with a thrilling climax, however: dining at the renovated Gold Spike. The decor is tidy, and the staff is pleasant.

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