Day 422

Well folks, we've officially entered into the final week of #TGAA. I'm currently on my way back from a weekend trip to Las Vegas and I have to admit that I had a stellar time. I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it, since I didn't plan on spending any money, but those buffets really sold me. I don't even want to know how many calories I consumed in the past 48 hours. Yeesh! 

Anyway, I wanted to post my final 'helpful website' blog today, because I think it makes for a good segue into my final 'project' blog on Thursday. Not to mention, I always get a lot of good feedback on them. So, before I start rambling on about crab cakes and salad bars, let's take a look at some of the sites I frequented over the past 5 months. 

Austin

Do512.com  — A list of all the wonderful events going on—in and around Austin. What’s cool and different about this calendar is that they regularly offer free tickets to shows, which is a very useful tool for the vast nightlife of the city.

Austin360.com — A more traditional site, Austin360 offers everything from sports standings and classifieds to concert photos and games.

C3Concerts.com — These folks have their hands in some of Austin’s biggest festivals, which means you’ll find the latest and greatest concerts here before anywhere else. An excellent site to bookmark, if you love live shows.

Seattle

The Stranger — City news with a twist. The Stranger is Seattle’s go-to site for all things music, art and culture. But they also have a rambunctious staff running the show and they know how to bring the fun into everything they do.

City Arts — Art is alive and well in the city of Seattle and if that’s your scene this is a site you’ll absolutely love. From lectures and comedy to openings and movies, they cover just about every creative endeavor you can image.

Seattle MET — This is a great site for new restaurant openings, the latest fashion tips and a lot of local giveaways. Personally, I found it extremely useful when trying to decide where to eat. They have some really great reviews over there.

Portland

Willamette Weekly — Arts & Culture, Food & Drink, Willamette Weekly is the city’s authority on everything happening in and around the city. Their print version can also be found just about everywhere too.

Eleven PDX — This one is all about the music. You can learn about upcoming concerts and even read up on the local and national acts who are making their mark on the scene.

Artslandia — Portland has a lot of stage performances going on almost every single night. This site brings you the good, the bad and the ugly of what’s going on and where.

San Francisco

Fun Cheap SF — If you’re living on a budget (and let’s face it, most people in SF are) this website is Internet gold. I had an extremely tight budget in December and this site provided me with a slew of free and cheap events to attend.

The Bay Bridged — If you love music, this site is for you. San Francisco has an incredible indie music scene and The Bay Bridged brings them all together for your concert-going pleasure. If it’s happening on a stage in the bay area, you’ll find out about it here.

AD2SF.org — This site is much different than any of the others I’ve posted about. AD2SF is dedicated to bringing young ad professionals together through networking events, learning seminars and mixers. If you’re under 35 and in SF, I highly recommend you check out some of their events.

Los Angeles

Art Scene CalLA has an incredible art scene, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise. This site is constantly updated with the latest openings, shows and news from the art world. It’s a great way to take in some culture any day of the week.

Buzz Bands LA — Have you always wondered how people hear about the ‘next big thing’ before anyone else? They probably frequent this site. It’s dedicated to highlighting the newest groups and letting you know where and when they’re taking the stage.

LA Weekly Calendar — I feel bad about putting this one on the list, but I’ll be damned if LA Weekly doesn’t get it right. They’ve got nearly every upcoming event listed and catalogued to help you make plans for the week ahead. 

I hope these sites help you as much as they helped me. It's nice to look back and remember how much I used them. As for now though, I'm going to take a nap and hopefully wake up back in LA.

See you soon!

-Steve-

 

Day 408

Whenever I think of LA, rarely do I think about the creative community here. Sure, we all know this place is full of actors, directors, musicians and many others with a 9-figure bank account. But, how often do we take the time to remember there’s a vast network of animators, writers, bloggers, comedians, set designers and chefs out here too?

As my friends continue to show me around the LA area, I’m becoming more and more familiar with just how tight-knit these tertiary players truly are. These are people whose names fall at the end of a credit reel. They’re the award winners whose categories never make it to air, if they’re even honored at all. They don’t live in giant hilltop mansions, nor do they drive around town in Bentleys and Porsches. Yet, the role they play in media and culture is irreplaceable. That’s why you’ll find many of them banded together, working as one to help each other succeed.  

A prime example of this is Meltdown Comics in Hollywood. Owned by comedian, Chris Hardwick, this comic book store boasts its own performance space (known as NerdMelt Theater), recording studio and even a classroom. While you won’t find any of these in a typical comic shop, they all play rather important roles here.

The classroom welcomes students looking to learn the ins and out of improv. The recording studio is often used as the backdrop for some of the Internet’s favorite podcasts like Nerdist, You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes and Dining with Doug and Karen. And the performance space allows students and professionals alike to take the stage and delight audiences each and every night.

The reason this all works is because Chris is a friend to the comedians and podcasters that grace the space. He wants to help them succeed, so he’s created a space that allows them to test material, reach new fans and even try out new mediums. In turn, these friends provide programming for his store and are able to improve their material as a result. It’s a simple case of friends helping friends helping friends. And it’s just one of many similar ecosystems I’ve discovered in the past week.

There are bars here where you can find dozens of writers helping one another with plot points, storylines and script revisions. There are hole-in-the-wall restaurants where you'll find animators scribbling their ideas onto napkins, just to get feedback from others at the table. Hit up a local coffee shop and you might even see a few comedians working on new punchlines. 

It’s extremely fascinating to see such cultures come to life, because these are the creatives we don’t often associate with the glitz and glamour of LA. Really, the only downside to it is that this city is so hard to get around in without a car and often people tend to cluster amongst each other as a result. If they had better public transportation here, I bet all these little ecosystems would mingle more often and create stunning works of art. Yet, I hear some people barely see each other, because of how bad the traffic can get. So, for all the wonderful things I’m uncovering here, I’d have to say that’s the one downfall to it all.

Traffic is the worst, am I right?

-Steve-

From the Rails 6 (The Final One)

Well folks, I’m on my way to San Francisco. That means from here on out, I’ll be located in California until the trip has come to an end. On a similar note, this is actually the final train ride of my journey, as I’m hopping a plane to LA and then another back to Cleveland. Am I nervous about it all? Of course. Am I just as equally excited? Absolutely. But that brings me to what I wanted to write about today, as I stare off into the west coast’s endless tree-covered hills and snow-capped mountaintops.

When I first embarked on #TGAA, I scrambled to gain as many online followers as I could. I was so sure that I needed to amass as many likes, retweets, links and mentions as possible. What I’ve since learned is that I had the whole thing backwards. This project isn’t about any of that. Sure, I utilize the Internet to tell the project's story and spread the word about what’s going on. But at its core, #TGAA is about connecting people in the real world; showing people what’s possible; and proving there are opportunities out there you may have never thought to consider—places you never thought to go.

The gravity of this project is not lost on me and neither is my unique position to help others. I may not broadcast all of the things we’ve done along the way, but my hope is that there are now plenty of people out there who can sing their own personal praises for the project. That’s because, whenever I find a line I can help connect, I jump on the opportunity to do so. And I truly believe these are the things that help measure the overall success of our project. I’ve connected musicians with labels, job hunters with headhunters, agencies with apps, writers with artists and individuals with publications. These real world connections are an element that has grown out of #TGAA over time and that—to me—is magical.

While I do my best to open a window into the ever-changing world I’m currently living in, there are limits to what I write about. That’s because the last thing I want to do is cheapen the interactions I have with people along the way. I’ve had drinks with executives, lunches with entire creative teams and picked the brains of musicians, authors and artists alike. Yet, aside from adding their names to the ‘Great People’ page, I’ve elected not to mention many of them in the blog. I feel the anonymity that comes with knowing our interaction is off-the-record helps people relax and be themselves. In turn, this creates more meaningful conversations. Plus, the last thing I want is for someone to think I’m only talking to him or her, just so I have content for the blog.

Of course, the information I gather does make it to everyone in many other ways—even if it’s not attributed to anyone in particular. Every piece of advice—every tidbit of information—has been shared in one form or another. Whether it’s the topic of a blog, through an on-campus Q&A, a one-on-one chat with a junior creative or in response to an inquisitive email, I strive to share everything I learn on our journey. So, trust me when I say, I’m not hoarding any of this newfound knowledge. Most of it is already out there. And as always, if there’s anything you want to know, just ask. This project has always been an open book and that’s what it will always be.

-Steve-