Posts tagged “los angeles”

Out and About: Steve in LA

Recently I was in LA to speak at IxDA Los Angeles/LA UX Meetup (see more here). Here’s some of the photos from my time in Southern California.

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The Wall Project is made from the largest section of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany, with original and added imagery.

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In a dystopian-LA moment, I filled my rental car with gas only to find the pump had some ridiculous software error and wouldn’t generate a receipt, giving me a message to see the cashier. There was no cashier as the “store” part of the station was gutted and loosely under construction. The unhelpful signage gave a non-working phone number – no matter what variation of the scrawl I tried. And what good would it do to call for a receipt? I was on my way to the car rental place and I needed a receipt in my hand.

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The holes where monitors used to be.

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Excitement over a mail chute denied; it definitely does not work.

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Exterior, Beverly Hills.

From my Los Angeles presentation on Interviewing Users

I had a wonderful trip to Los Angeles last week so speak at a combined IXDA Los Angeles/LA UX Meetup event. They gave me a really warm welcome (including a pint of cold Ben and Jerry’s ice cream all to myself) and the at-capacity room was filled with enthusiastic and thoughtful folks who contributed to an interesting discussion.

Here are the slides

And the video

Also, an alternate video is here and highlighted tweets are here.

Out and About: Tamara in LA

I am missing the sun and beaches of LA from our trip there last week. At least I have these fond memories to keep me warm…


I’ve read about airlines letting passengers choose their seats using social media profiles and finally got to experience a digital/analog collision first hand on our Virgin America flight. I accepted the offer from 12A (aka Vinnie)¬† to chat. Admittedly, I never talked to that stranger as I was engrossed in an inflight film.


I was not surprised by the proliferation of celebrity endorsements in every eating and dining establishment that we entered. I was surprised by what constitutes celebrity.


Dear lucky owner of this gorgeous Manhattan Beach home overlooking the ocean, thank you for using your prime position to promote a message of peace (in 4 different languages).


I am so fond of legacy establishments (like Pink’s Hot Dogs) that make explicit the rules of how to be a customer. I’m also fond of people like Julie’s dad, who insist that we stop at such locations to relive childhood memories when we are in town!


Julie and I both captured images from this Burbank dry cleaners. She focused on the environmental sustainability while I was enamored by the sustainability of their service!

Out and About: Julie in LA

Despite my relative proximity to it, LA is not a city I’ve had much occasion to visit. But I was there last week, with Tamara! Here are a few snaps I took in-between fieldwork interviews and client pow-wows. Most of these are from Venice Beach, with the exception of the last shot, which was taken in Burbank.

Napping Aliens
Clad in familiar brands (LA Lakers, Spongebob Squarepants, USA), this pile of patriotic aliens comes across as just another family of worn-out tourists.

Faces
The face, three ways.

Stickers in your face
Upper left is a riff on Shepard Fairey’s original Andre The Giant Has A Posse sticker. This one reads “Chopstick Charlie has one crazy posse,” then lists Chopstick Charlie’s dimensions at 5′ 11″ 150 lbs. (Note: If you are easily offended definitely do not look too closely at the nose and lips stickers).

Shapes and figures
I discovered a moment of serenity and geometry in the midst of the madness.

Something surreal
Magritte and the Surrealists are clear influences here.

Retail guillotine
It’s all about the body.

Environmentally friendly
The neon juxtaposed with this message of environmental consciousness comes off as deliberate irony! See Tamara’s Out and About: LA for her shot of this unique dry-cleaning establishment.

What’s In A Business Name?

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Lunchroom Hannibal, Amsterdam, May 2009
Don’t order the fava beans with the chianti.



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Challenger Copyprint, Amsterdam, May 2009
Not the most encouraging association.



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Synergy Project Management, San Francisco, July 2009
Needs a better illustration of the concept of synergy besides a plain ol’ pipe!


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we bring you a pizza, Amsterdam, May 2009
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U-Wash Doggie, Los Angeles, February 2009

Some names tell you what the business does.


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Hand Car Wash, Los Angeles, February 2009
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Trashy Lingerie, Los Angeles, February 2009
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Ethical Drugs, Los Angeles, February 2009

Some names tell you something about how they do it.

See more pictures from Amsterdam here and Los Angeles here.

Griddle to Griddle Design

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The Griddle Cafe, Los Angeles, February 2009

Recently, we ate Sunday breakfast at LA’s The Griddle Cafe. They offer an extensive menu featuring some interesting pancakes. I ordered Scotch On The Rocks (coconut, pecan, oat, and butterscotch-chip filled flapjacks covered in powdered sugar) and brown sugar-baked bananas. Not only did I end up with a side of bananas and bananas in my flapjacks, what I didn’t realize was that the portion size was insane: three thick flapjacks large enough to hang over the edge of a plate:

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Needless to say, I couldn’t come close to eating it. The more I ate, the more the plate resembled what it looked like when they first served me. Eventually I began to feel badly: I’m a glutton for eating something like this, I’m wasteful for ordering something like this that I can’t eat, and I’m an out-of-town rube for not knowing how to order here.

While I walked away with my gluttony issues intact, we struck up a nice conversation with our neighbors who pegged us as visitors and explained that it is possible to order a single flapjack. Next time! And when we declined the to-go box (as we were headed to the airport shortly) I was very relieved when the host offered to give the leftovers to one of the homeless folk who hang out near the restaurant (presumably because this is a common occurrence).

We left the restaurant and stopped into a nearby store. A few minutes later we emerged and headed to our car. We saw some street dudes walking towards us carrying a styrofoam box. Without exchanging words with each other, we knew that it was my leftovers. But maybe we were staring or looking expectant, because as we came closer, the man carrying the box (with that extroversion borne of the streets) asked us if we wanted some, flipping open the clamshell to reveal – of course – my flapjacks, still quite intact.

Seeing that indeed my food did not go to waste while looking upon the very flapjacks that had just been on my plate was a mini-lightbulb moment. And so I moved to reply with matching enthusiasm to the man who was praising these same flapjacks. But as my jaw opened, I realized that I had no smooth way to honestly articulate my satisfaction without identifying myself as yet another of his benefactors (even as he was offering with a mix of exuberance and cynicism to share with us). Instead, I simply affirmed that the food did indeed look good, and we each went on with our days.

See more of my LA pictures here.

Good and Bad Business Names

Two L.A.-area business with names that just make sense:
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Right of Way, exceeding all of your traffic control needs

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Green Set, motion picture plant rentals. This truck was traveling with a another, both with palm trees hanging out the back.

And, for contrast:
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Got Kosher? Provisions is a retail outlet for the much better-named Got Kosher? but if you don’t know that, the sign reads quickly as Got Kosher Provisions? which is perhaps one of the worst business names possible.

See more of my L.A. pictures here.

The Donut World Tour, in progress

Without donuts being part of the plan when I travel, they seem to show up with some regularity. While Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts seek to provide a consistent experience across geographies, there are also very unique experiences available in the very same category. The notion of donut is rather broad and is reinterpreted in some engaging ways. There’s something about the pure pleasure of a donut that also invites a fun approach to all aspects of the experience: the flavors, the environment, the presentation, the messaging.

Here’s a few I’ve documented. Please leave recommendations for other donuts-shops-to-experience in the comments.

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Randy’s Donuts, LA (Amazing site, donuts are pretty good)

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Voodoo Doughnuts, Portland, OR: Rex Diablo and Ol’ Dirty Bastard (fun to choose, less to eat)

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Murciano in The Marais, Paris (the best thing I’ve ever eaten)

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Fractured Prune, Washington D.C. (didn’t get to try it)

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Roti Donat, Bali, Indonesia (definitely not good)

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Mister Donut sign and exterior, Taipei, Taiwan

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Mister Donut Simpsons promotion, Kyoto, Japan (I don’t remember what I got but it was good!)

Fading Kitsch

A few months ago we saw a very cool Hollywood used car lot, Kay Kars, featuring rather poorly executed (and dated) film icons as enthusiastic decoration.

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A mural along one wall featured Brando, Marilyn, Clint, and Arnold.

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A banner along the street showed some of the same classic stars, as well as Bugs and the Three Stooges.

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Meanwhile, an otherwise non-famous bunny encouraged potential shoppers to “Come On In”

A few months along, Kay Kars has either moved or closed down (the website describes their luxury car inventory; not likely the same business) and the empty lot is nothing but sad.
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Update: Here’s the scene in February 2009:
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The Kids in the Hall at the Steve Allen Theater

Oh to be in Los Angeles! The Kids in the Hall at the Steve Allen Theater

Not having performed together in four years, The Kids are back to rediscover their theatrical roots in three rare performances. As in the early years at The Rivoli, The Kids will come to the table Monday morning, work out new sketches and characters, then put up a show on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It will be a unique opportunity for audiences to travel back in time to the day when The Kids in the Hall first discovered their gift for making strange things happen in normal places.

February 23, 24 & 25
8 p.m.
The Steve Allen Theater
4773 Hollywood Blvd.

How (not) to hire a marketing consultant

There I am on Sunset Blvd the other night, and a guy is yelling at me from the next lane “HEYYY HEYY!” and gesturing to roll down the window.
“What’s YOUR NAME??!” he screams at me.
“You don’t know me.” I reply, nervous.
“YOU LOOK LIKE THAT PENN AND TELLER GUY? YOU HIM?”
“Umm, no…”
“WHAT YOU DO???????”
“Uhh, I’m in marketing” (not really true, but I don’t think yelling at the stoplight requires me to give my elevator pitch)
Meanwhile the light changes, and cars start honking, we start driving and he’s still yelling.
“YEAH, I GOT A COMPANY, IT’S CALLED BLAHBLAH HEALTH BLAH. HOW MUCH WOULD YOU CHARGE TO ****BLOW*** ****IT**** ***UP***?”

I had no idea what he was talking about. We’ve moved along quite a bit. He yells something about blowing it up, and then turns off and gives me a gesture to follow him. Uhhh, right. Then I drive off, and he does not follow, fortunately, but gives me an “oh well, why you blow me off” gesture as I pull away. Very uncomfortable, actually.

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