Saturday, December 17, 2016

Carolyn Ferris and Wes Wilson Collaborate To Create Psychedelic Rock Poster Art

The queen of the surreal and the father of the rock '60s concert poster had worked together before, but in July this year Carolyn Ferris and Wes Wilson officially teamed up to design a sublimely surreal poster for the Doobie Decibel System show at The Westcott Theater in Syracuse, NY. As Carolyn described it, “This is Wes Wilson’s and my first copyrighted image together in true collaborative/team effort. We had great fun designing it and bringing it into its vividly full and magical life.” The DDS collaboration was followed shortly after by another poster, this time for Roger McNamee’s other band, Moonalice

Carolyn who used to live in Fairfax, California, recently moved to Missouri near to where Wes is based.  Describing her career in art Carolyn said, “I worked with Timothy Leary over a span of about six years, and have created work for Santana, The Fillmore, and The Warfield. I joined the incredible Moonalice poster artist pool in 2009; within it, I find sanctuary with great music and adventure. In the years I’ve been with Moonalice, my style to date has now changed three times!  I started making posters with computer art using photoshop. In 2013, I used acrylic on canvas to create posters.  By 2015, I put away those acrylics and I’m now creating posters using ink on paper. I totally enjoy using ink, and now I even hand draw the lettering!” 

Wes Wilson, who is generally acknowledged as the father of the '60s rock concert poster, was born Robert Wesley Wilson on July 15, 1937 in Sacramento, California. He helped pioneer what is now known as the psychedelic poster. His style of filling all available space with lettering, of creating fluid forms made from letters, and using flowing letters to create shapes became the standard that most psychedelic artists followed. It helped put the “psychedelic” in the art. Today, Wes Wilson creates paintings, but still occasionally does new posters or new art of interest. 

Recent collaboration between Carolyn and Wes includes the amazing poster art below for Doobie Decibel System, Moonalice and for #yeson64.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Moonalice's New CD - HIGH 5 - Will Help You Live A Little

As Moonalice fans who call themselves "The Tribe" will affirm, Moonalice is more than a band - it's lifestyle lived in tie-dye technicolor as glorious as the video wall which makes its appearance at many Moonalice shows. Fans check the sepia of everyday life at the door of Moonalice concerts, and enter an emotional oasis where for a few hours the world seems like a kinder, happier place - an oasis that they can then access and relive at will on the band's social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram - or on the band's own radio station, Moonalice Radio

Moonalice is Roger McNamee, Pete Sears, Barry Sless and John Molo -  a seasoned ensemble of talented jam and rock scene musicians blending evocative lyrical prowess with blistering instrumental mastery. Everyone, both the band and audience are part of the experience - feeding off each others' energy while the music inspires dancing and other acts of self expression.

Roger McNamee recently talked to Digital Journal about the band's new CD called "HIGH 5" which was officially released with a concert at the Terrapin Crossroads' Grate Room on October 6th. He said, "Even though we have released CD's before, this is where we went back to the full-album LP style. In our previous CD's we didn't have much rhyme or reason, thought or input. It was just getting songs out there."

He added, "With 'HIGH 5' it is much more. In this CD we have something deeper. In my mind, 'HIGH 5' is a notion of breaking out of the usual routine in the hopes of making things better. The songs on this CD could have been written when we were young," noting that, "In youth the goals are more about simple things. But in maturity life has more complexity. This new CD forms the core of our repertoire, in that we want to help make a positive impact." 

Moonalice is about having fun and sharing music but as Roger pointed out, "The songs on this CD are reflective of a full lifetime; a life that has matured and come to an understanding of things." 

He mentioned that in society right now, there is "lack of trust, people are really struggling just to survive (financially and for some emotionally). There is an uncertainty about the future. These are things that are effecting everyone." 

As a musician, he said, "It is not everyday where we can write songs like this. And, as I see it, it is our opportunity to share these songs, their meaning and to see how our audience/fans receive them."

A GratefulWeb review of HIGH 5 describes CD highlights: "McNamee’s vocals on the opening track “Live A Little” are reminiscent of the finest classic Eagles and Byrds singles. The next track “Summer Rain’ yearns for those beautiful memories past, evoking and provoking imagery in the vein of Bruce Cockburn’s early material. The Pete Sears led tracks “Unsung Heroes” and “Lady of the Highlands” show off the modestly understated vocal range of the multi-instrumentalist. The album’s title track is a remarkable Barry Sless composition, inspired by Joe Morello/Dave Brubeck’s canonical original “Take 5.” Always consistent as the rhythmic heartbeat of Moonalice is John Molo who takes each unalike track with such precision that no other percussionist could realize."

"Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" is a personal favorite. One of the best-known American songs of the Great Depression, it is a bittersweet reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

The HIGH 5 CD is available for $10 in the Moonalice Store.

Track Listing:

Live A Little (That's Right)
Summer Rain
Unsung Heroes
Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?
Lady Of The Highlands
High Five
I Can't Help But Wonder (Where I'm Bound)

A live performance of "HIGH 5" by Moonalice at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco, 2014.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Amazon Go - Experimenting Really Does Matter Says Investor Roger McNamee on CNBC

Image: Amazon Go
With the announcement of Amazon Go, the company is taking e-commerce to a whole new level. "Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning," the company explained in a press release today. "Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you're done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.”

Stores will comprise of a compact 1,800 square feet of retail space so that busy customers can get in and out fast. All consumers need to shop is an Amazon account, a supported smartphone, and the free Amazon Go app. The first store is located at 2131 7th Ave, Seattle, WA, on the corner of 7th Avenue and Blanchard Street and is currently open to Amazon employees in a Beta program. It will open to the public in early 2017. To be notified of when the store opens, click here.

Speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Alley, Roger McNamee, co-founder of technology investment firm Elevation Partners, said, “I think this is part of a continuum that began a number of years ago when folks like Home Depot and then CVS and Albertson's and others like Walmart have experimented with self-checkout. That has been a mixed experience. I think the most compelling consumer experience was the one at Home Depot. Unfortunately, the technology they used to do it was then exploited by hackers to basically get access to all their corporate accounts. That didn't work out so well.”

Image: CNBC Squawk Alley
He continued, “These things have all had rough moments. The consumer experience has been everywhere from fantastic for the person who otherwise would've been in line for a long time, to just dreadful. I don't think that it's been as good for the company as they'd like to think. Amazon's model, which appears to be kind of a closed system, the whole thing is controlled by them, is way more consumer friendly. I really do hope it works. I'm not going to sit there and assume it's going to move the needle much for Amazon because Amazon's really big and really successful. I think moving the needle for them is hard. I think this is another example of Amazon really pushing the envelope in really interesting ways. I like this better than Dot and some of the other things they're doing.”

Human beings are really a positive part of retail

Answering a question about the comparison of Amazon Go with self-checkout at Apple stores, Roger said, “The early results from self-checkouts suggests that, in fact, self-checkout works in a relatively narrow set of circumstances with today's technology. Amazon's moving the technology forward. In principle it should enlarge the number of cases where it works. The reality is, having human beings in the retail experience is actually one of the more positive things for many retailers. Imagine Tiffany, there's a place where the sales person is really important. At Apple the human beings are really a positive part of the experience. I think there are other circumstances and grocery stores might be an example, where it's a mixed blessing. I don't expect this to take over the world. It just doesn't seem like an earth-shattering thing.”

Really hope Amazon Go works

Experimenting really does matter

In conclusion Roger said, “I'm just glad they're doing it. I think variety's a cool thing. I think experimenting really does matter. I do think that the employment impact is going to be something. Hopefully not terribly huge. I think what it will show, as the CVS thing has shown is that humans are actually a really positive part of retail.”

According to CNBC sixty-five percent of U.S. consumers who have never purchased groceries online said they simply preferred shopping in a store, based on a survey of 2,500 U.S. consumers taken by Cowen analysts.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Roger McNamee - Spectacles Are A Genius Marketing Gimmick

Image: Snap Inc.
New York is the newest location for one of Snap Inc.'s vending machines. Located inside a pop-up shop at 5 East 59th Street, near Central Park in Manhattan, and right across from the Apple Store.

Vending machines are the only way you can officially buy the sunglass-mounted cameras. The location is scheduled to remain open until New Year's Eve but will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

Spectacles are sunglasses with an integrated video camera that captures 10-second scenes, said to be capable of recording a day’s worth of “Memories" in a circular video format and on a single charge. Spectacles connect directly to Snapchat via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

With its trio of three bold, bright colors (teal, orange, or black) and blinking lights to indicate recording, the edgy device looks more fashion toy than tech, which is said to only add to the appeal for its user base. According to Mashable the Snapchat app reaches 41 percent of all 18- to 34-year-olds in the United States and is reported to be growing daily active users at 50% annually (based on leaked numbers), and to have had 150M daily active users in June 2016. Now those users can pop on a pair of Spectacles and capture everything that they can see. Since the glasses capture circular videos, they are a de facto GoPro for the face.

Image: CNBC Squawk Alley
Speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Alley, Roger McNamee of Elevation Partners weighed in on Snap's Spectacles vending machine arriving in NYC, describing it as a “Genius marketing gimmick," also saying, "No matter what else it is, it is an extraordinary marketing gimmick. I look at Snap and I have nothing but admiration for them."

Roger continued, "When they turned down the offer from Facebook a number of years ago, like many people, I thought that that was ill-advised and was going to result in a lot of tears. It turns out not only did they have the last laugh, but at the moment they really, they have captured something in the zeitgeist out there that is different from other technology companies. I don't know where it's going to lead, but I will say that they have the magic right now."

Commenting on Snap being Los Angeles as opposed to Silicon Valley based, Roger said, " If we think about Amazon and Amazon Web Services located in Seattle, there was a long period of time when Silicon Valley was wildly better as a producer of great tech companies than the rest of the country, maybe two standard deviations better in terms of the percentage of successful tech startups coming out of the valley. The reality is, the rest of the country now can do it. Silicon Valley, there's still way more money there, still way more people, a lot of energy here. But the hit rate has come down so much that it no longer stands out as the place you have to be if you want to create a technology company. That if you work hard enough and you have a great idea, you can do it pretty much anywhere now. Snapchat, I think, really does confirm, yet again, that observation."

Reflecting on a possible IPO, Roger said, "What the stock is worth is anybody's guess. But it is really clear to me that they're going to get everybody's attention. When they do the IPO, I suspect it will be well subscribed."

A recent article on Recode has described the rollout of Spectacles as a "spectacle," commenting, "Everywhere Snap drops a Snapbot, the big yellow vending machines that serve as temporary storefronts for the glasses, crowds line up, dozens of people deep, and spend their hours waiting in line posting and tweeting about how excited they are to get their hands on some Spectacles." 

The author concurs with the assessment of "genius" when it comes to marketing, adding, "Snap isn’t going to make much money selling smart glasses one vending machine-full at a time. But that’s not the point. Instead, what the company has done is create the kind of buzz and excitement around a product - and thus the Snap brand, which is prepping for an IPO - that we haven’t seen in a long, long time."

The momentum before the IPO?

Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, describes itself as a camera company, saying, “We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate. Our products empower people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.” 

Image: CNBC Squawk Alley
The company is using the "bot" vending machines to sell Spectacles - keeping them exclusive and generating hype - and most importantly, generating perceived demand. Spectacles are a pricey $130 a pop and you can only buy a maximum of two pairs at a time - but people are reported to be reselling them online for far more - up to $2,500!

Snap Inc. is reported to have filed confidentially for an IPO that could value the company north of $22B. For context, the company was last valued at $18B in the private markets, which put it just behind three other US-based unicorns: Uber ($68B), Airbnb ($29B), and Palantir Technologies ($20B), and just ahead of WeWork ($16.9B). Snap’s public debut would be the first unicorn IPO since the September 2016 IPO of Nutanix, which went public at a valuation of $2.2B.

Snap’s move into wearables could be a signal of possible future growth in new areas. Its initial Spectacles product sold out quickly, and Snap has itself acquired three companies this year alone, including a company specializing in 3D imaging (Seene). Snap also bought Looksery, a facial recognition company in 2015. In January 2015 it acquired Epiphany Eyewear. Patent data also reveals it has filed over 30 patents, with more recent patents related to object recognition and image augmentation.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

PokéNatomy Re-Imagines Pokémon Through The Lens Of Modern Biology

In the four months since its launch Pokémon GO has extended itself into more than just gaming - into the course curricula of at least two Poké-Pioneering universities, and as a transformative educational art project. Entitled "PokéNatomy - An Unofficial Guide to the Science of Pokémon," the book dissects, expands, and explores the original 150 Pokémon in breathtakingly beautiful and detailed illustrations. 

PokéNatomy re-imagines Pokémon through the lens of modern biology. According to the project's Kickstarter page,"Now, for the first time ever, you can get the incredible scientific world of Pokémon in print in a high-quality, fully illustrated, unofficial guidebook, designed to help people of all ages understand the power that's inside!" With one week of the Kickstarter campaign to go, 376 backers have so far pledged $20,117 of the $20,000 goal.

In the exclusive interview below, Christopher (Chris) Stoll, the creator and illustrator of PokéNatomy, talks about about Pokémon GO beyond gaming, and PokéNatomy as a bridge he between pop culture and the life sciences.

Pokémon GO is worth studying

"I believe sincerely that Pokémon GO is worth studying, the free to play augmented-reality game has been downloaded almost half a billion times and become an incredible success for its small studio, Niantic. The game can serve as an example for aspiring game developers, and it certainly made enough money to capture the attention of entrepreneurs," said Chris.

He continued, "It is easy to scoff disdainfully at gaming trends, but I believe we must not avert our eyes from properties that capture the popular imagination, no matter how crude or simplistic they may appear. There is real merit in studying the success of Pokémon GO and aspiring to understand how the application gamifies physical activity, using reward systems to encourage exploration. Pokémon GO may well be the first step into a world where powerful game-like incentive systems integrate into every aspect of our daily lives, encouraging good nutrition, exercise, and intellectual exploration. I believe the game should be studied in academic settings, and its merits, risks, and limitations understood by a new generation of designers and inventors."

Chris concluded with a warning, "I don’t, however, believe that studying the game exclusively involves playing it. I hope that these courses involve serious discussion of the game’s technology, cultural significance, and incentive systems. If the game is merely being participated in, rather than being examined and discussed, I’d consider these courses terrific wastes of fertile young minds, money, and time."

Bridge between pop culture and life sciences

"I believe we are at a point in time where the public wants science to be a part of the entertainment landscape," Chris said, continuing, "More and more, scientists who tackle difficult and unintuitive subjects can use pop culture to communicate with the public, and especially with young people. However, there is a danger here. In a world where astrophysicists are regular consultants on science-fiction movie sets, and anatomical diagrams of Pokémon can amass tens of millions of views online, the boundary between real science and popular entertainment is thinner than ever."

He elaborated, "In the push/pull of science and entertainment it should be science that influences popular culture, and not the other way around. There are already perverse incentives in place for aspiring researchers to capture the public’s attentions and imaginations, and earn funding through popularity. If we are not careful pop culture could come to dominate scientific discussions and direct the attentions of the public towards entertaining, but ultimately unscientific, endeavors."

Basic understanding of Biology required

On the topic of some scientific knowledge required, Chris said, "To me, popular culture needs to be supplementary to a foundation of scientific understanding. My Pokénatomy pieces require a basic understanding of biology to be enjoyed. Each Pokémon is based upon real-world organisms, and only once I have a grasp of each organism’s basic scientific principles do I begin to tease out the more fantastical elements. These illustrations are intended to reward and engage with viewers who have an understanding of basic Biology, and are rooted in real scientific principles." 

Chris continued, "This is not always easy, as some Pokémon possess bodies and abilities that totally defy the laws of physics as we understand them. There’s always a temptation to just invent an organ and label it the “fire sack” or “psychic gland” and leave it at that. I try to resist that unscientific urge wherever possible, and in those cases where hard-science is unavailable I try to present interesting and alternative perspectives on these characters based on the theoretical rather than the outright fantastic."

 Untapped public desire

"I don’t believe that my work strikes the perfect balance between science and popular entertainment, but it seems to me that there is an untapped public desire to see these elements mixed. I hope that in some small way, my Pokémon illustrations contribute positively to this trend," he concluded.

Doobie Decibel System – Tight Harmonies Create Harmonic Resonance

Improvisational ‘friends night’ evenings featuring local up-and-coming bands have revitalized the Bay Area music scene. "Says Roger McNamee, reflecting on the formation of Doobie Decibel System, “Those of us who live in the Bay Area are blessed to have venues by Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. San Francisco hadn’t been interested in up-and-coming bands for a long time, but Sweetwater and Terrapin Crossroads completely changed that.”

It was in this context that Roger first met Jason Crosby (Assembly of Dust, Robert Randolph, God Street Wine, Lesh, Weir), who had recently relocated from the East Coast. He invited Jason to sit in with Moonalice at Sweetwater. This, in turn, led Jason to Roger’s home, where they shared a revelatory moment after they opened a book of Beatles sheet music and arbitrarily performed “Two of Us.” During this impromptu porch performance that Roger’s wife, Ann, who has a Ph.D. in music theory, noticed was there was something about the pairing of Roger’s voice with Jason’s, where a harmonic resonance was created that the ear heard as a third part.

That casual porch session led to a new, more formal musical partnership. The name of their duo, a riff on the library classification system, was Jason’s own term for the method he employs to keep track of the songs he performs with so many different acts.

While Doobie Decibel System began as a two-piece, the group performed at this year’s Lockn’ as a quintet, with ALO guitarist Lebo, longtime Weir drummer Jay Lane and Bay Area mainstay and multi-instrumentalist Pete Sears. (DDS also gigs as a Trio with Lebo.) The band’s shows are archived on its website and, as Roger notes, in all three iterations, “Tight harmony is an essential part of what we do. The fundamentally acoustic foundation of the music is quite distinct from Moonalice, which is pretty clearly a jamband.”

The crowd at a sold out show at Sweetwater last night got to rock out to Doobie Decibel System perform as a Trio as they supported Tom Hamilton's American Babies – who were joined by Bob Weir. The show was broadcast live on the web as well as on the Moonalice Facebook page

Those that missed yesterday’s off the hook show can watch the video below, and can also catch a second show that will be broadcast live tonight, 19 November, at 9pm PT. Those that attend in person are not only guaranteed good food and a fun time at a great venue, they will also receive the beautiful poster shown above from well-known Bay Area poster artist, Alexandra Fischer, a member of the Haight Street Art Center.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Packaging Gets A Digital Life On The Web

Image credit: EVRYTHNG
EVRYTHNG have announced a world-first collaboration with Crown, one of the largest packaging companies in the world and the number one producer of food cans globally. Together they will be embedding digital intelligence into billions of consumer packaged goods (CPG) products, making each one capable of triggering and driving digital applications. For leading global brands this collaboration means their products can now come with digital capability right out of manufacture at huge scale and with immediate application opportunities. 

Under the partnership, Crown will add unique serialized codes and on-product triggers ‘at source’ to products packaged in beverage, food and aerosol cans, and in specialty packaging tins. Every physical item has its own unique software identity and data profile in the cloud with the EVRYTHNG IoT Smart Products Platform, enabling each product to power new real-time digital applications and analytics throughout its lifecycle. Crown and EVRYTHNG are making it possible for food and beverage products to be #BornDigital™ , given digital capabilities right out the gate as they’re made.

The value of #BornDigital™ products is not just to provide standalone experiences, but to build a bridge to the other products, applications and services in consumers’ digital lives. As Andy Hobsbawm, co-founder & CMO of EVRYTHNG recently told me in an interview for an article I was writing for SnapMunk, “You should be able to ask Alexa or Google Home or Siri what you should wear today and the service knows what’s in your closet because of the smart tags on the individual items,” says Andy. “Or your ready meal should tell the microwave what setting to configure itself to. Or your recycling bin should be able to count and track what gets thrown away responsibly to be able to feedback into reward programs to incentivize sustainable behavior.”

In terms of apparel, EVRYTHNG’s partnership with Avery Dennison, via their Janela™ Smart Products Platform, will allow them to digitize ten billion apparel and footwear products in the cloud over the next 3 years

How big is the IoT pie? Here are some eye-opening stats regarding the size of the IoT pie, per Andy and Avery Dennison:

·         89% of brands believe customer experience will be their primary basis for competition (Gartner, 2015).
·         Digitally influenced sales (traditional brick-and-mortar retail sales impacted by shoppers’ use of digital devices) are 5X larger than e-commerce sales (Deloitte, 2015).
·         By 2020, 90% of the world’s population over six years old will have a mobile phone (Ericsson 2014).
·         77% of consumers are particularly interested in expiry notifications for food products (Group M panel, UK, 2016).
·         According to Nike, digital is a vital accelerator in reaching $50B (USD) in revenues by the end of fiscal 2020, including new ways of engaging consumers with the brand, through to the manufacturing and delivery of products (Just Style, 2016).

The transformation of packaged goods products into dynamic digital assets, connected in real-time
with enterprise systems and the wider digital ecosystem offers huge value creation opportunities for
brands. EVRYTHNG expects innovation to come in many different forms such as:

·         Product information: Consumers can scan smart packaging for product nutrition, ingredients, manufacturing processes and provenance for total transparency about where a product came from and how it was made.
·         Supply Chain Tracking: Staff and other role players in the supply chain can scan products to track inventory, update field information and optimize stock levels.
·         Loyalty Rewards: Consumers can interact with products to access personalized digital services, offers and content.
·         Product Reordering: Consumers can use their smartphones to interact with, or reorder, products and access similar products that they may want to purchase.
·         Brand Protection: Brands can bolster anti-counterfeit programs by enhancing products with item level digital authentication and real-time analytics.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Steve DeAngelo: Prop 64 not perfect, but a really essential next step

Mill Valley community gathering place and venue icon Sweetwater Music Hall last night rocked to a “Get OutThe Vote Concert” to raise awareness on Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act(AUMA), with a show headlined by Moonalice and also featuring Lorin Rowan and the 420 Waldos. The show was opened with a talk by Steve DeAngelo, one of the founders of the Harborside Health Center in Oakland, CA, followed by Lindsay Robinson, director of development of the Marijuana Policy Project, answering questions about Proposition 64 and AUMA.

A survey released by Field Poll and the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California suggests that 57% of likely voters support Proposition 64. As reported by the Huffington Post, that’s similar to the 58% support that the University of Southern California’s Dornslife College and the Los Angeles Times found in a poll released earlier this week.

Roger McNamee, cannabis reform advocate and Moonalice founder, whose "first and driving motivation on Prop 64 is about civil rights," started the evening by explaining why he is so strongly supportive of Prop 64, saying, “This is California and this year on November 8th there is at least one really good thing that can happen. That is that we can pass Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. This is something that is long overdue and absolutely I think essential to the welfare of our state."

Describing the negative impact of the black market in cannabis, Roger said, "As you know, we have an enormous black market in cannabis in California. It takes place outside the economy. It has huge negative environmental consequences. It has huge negative consequences for employees. It has huge negative consequences for everybody who's involved because it's a felony. We have a chance to fix all of that. We have a chance to address the civil rights violations of people of color who are arrested and incarcerated at three times their rate of usage. We can do a lot of really good things.”

Prop 64 – Not perfect, but a really essential next step

In introducing Steve DeAngelo, Roger said, “Folks have sent us a ton of questions on Facebook and on Twitter saying, "Hey, we don't understand this thing." There's been a lot of disinformation in the marketplace. The guys on the other side of this thing are people in the opiate business, people in the hard liquor business whose businesses are threatened by the legalization of cannabis. They've spread a lot of disinformation.”

Steve DeAngelo began by saying that to him Prop 64 was also a compromise, but one that needed to be made, “Let's think about what is this thing 64 in the first place. It's a law. It's a law that's going to be passed by the people as opposed to the legislature, but it's a law. Like most laws, it's a compromise. There were many, many different groups who got around the table to help draft Prop 64. Some of them had interest A or interest B. There were a lot of different opposing interests that needed to come together around that table to put together a team that could get this initiative on the ballot, and compromises were made in the process of drafting.”

Steve continued, “The result, from my point of view, is there is stuff in there that I love. One of things is that people like me who have felony cannabis convictions will be able to be licensed in the legal cannabis industry under Prop 64. There's things in there that I really, really, really don't like, like the power of local governments anywhere to overrule the will of the voters of California and say that, "Just in our little city, in our little town, in our county, we're not going to allow a legal cannabis industry. Even though the voters of California approved this law." Is there stuff I like? Yeah. There's stuff I like. Is there stuff I really find distasteful? Yes, absolutely.”

“That's generally the way it is with almost all laws in a democratic society,” Steve said. “That's what we do. We come around a table. We have disagreements. We have different interests. We trade things off, and we come up with compromises. Prop 64 is very much a compromise. We need to understand that it's not perfect, but it is a really essential next step. It comes at a really, really critical time in our country. We can disagree from now until eternity about the details of Prop 64, what you like, what I like. The reality is we are in the midst of an election season that we do not know how it's going to turn out.”

With the results of the election on November 8 uncertain, Steve stressed the importance of not losing the vote on Prop 64, saying, “If we don't pass Prop 64, to the only west coast state where cannabis is still illegal under state law, they will come to California, and they will unleash a reign of terror on the Emerald Triangle and in our cities and on our manufacturers and on our patients that will make what happened in 2011 look like a practice rehearsal. We can't afford to lose this one. This is not an election where we know what is going to be the outcome.”

“Best thing ever for small growers of the Emerald Triangle”

Many of the concerns that people have about Prop 64 are about the impact that it will have on small growers. Steve addressed this saying, “I've heard questions from folks like: What will happen to small growers? Is Monsanto coming? Is there going to be a corporate take over? The answer to most of those really, really scary questions, in my opinion, is mostly no. Mostly no.”

Talking about the need of “letting go” and “one last sacrifice” that needed to be made by the community of cannabis growers, Steve said, “We won't do it alone, we're not going to do that alone. There's not enough hippies in northern California, there's not enough of us, our arms aren't long enough to reach all around the world. We need to welcome new people who have just heard this call that we've called for so long, that we followed for so long into this community, and allow them to help us carry this plant forward.”

Set the cannabis culture free

Steve stressed that there is “enough room in the new cannabis industry for everybody who wants to be there,” and that Prop 64 will be “the best thing ever for the small growers of the Emerald Triangle who are the folks that are probably the most nervous about Prop 64 right now.”

Talking about the multi-generational community in the Emerald Triangle that is centered on the production of cannabis and that has developed a culture that “lives by the lessons and the values that the plant teaches us,” Steve said, “Set that culture free. Let that culture have wings. Let us bring an avalanche, a river of tourists from all over the world. Let's bring them into our communities, let's show them what a community that lives by these lessons and values actually looks like. That's what 64 can do for the Emerald Triangle.”

Lose Prop 64 – Lose the national market

Steve concluded his talk by describing what would happen if Prop 64 did not pass, saying, “What happens if we don't pass 64? Two things. One, the federal crackdown that I was talking about before. Two, other states are moving forward. They're not going to stop. Today California has cannabis as it's number one cash crop. Number one cash crop. We outproduce every single other state in the country by far. If we don't pass 64, those states are going to start gaining on us. Colorado, which has legal cannabis. Alaska even, Washington, Oregon, they're not waiting. They will start claiming ever larger parts of that national market. 90% of the cannabis in California is grown and sent out of state. We all know that. We don't talk about it much but we know that. We don't want to lose that market. We lose 64 then what happens is we also lose ... start eroding our share of that national market"

Perfection can't be the enemy of progress

Lindsay Robinson from the Marijuana Policy Project began her talk by reinforcing what Steve had said about Prop 64 not being a “perfect law,” saying, “As Steve was saying this is not a perfect law by any means. It took many many months. Advocates were at the table, business leaders, concerned parties, patients. There was a huge group represented that tried to come together to make something that would work for California that would recognize the long and incredibly diverse history that folks in California have with the cannabis plant but also make something that could actually be passed.”

“We needed to find a middle ground between voters who live in conservative areas and growers in the Emerald Triangle,” she continued, “I think we have found that. One of the good things is that Prop 64 there are portions of it that can be voted on again in other ballot initiatives. It is the will of the people and parts of it can be changed. I think that we can't have perfection be the enemy of progress. I really do believe that this is a step forward.”

Addressing concerns

Addressing some of the concerns around Prop 64, particularly those about corporate take-over, Lindsay said, “There are going to be 19 licensing options moving forward with Prop 64. They will work on cultivation, processing, retail, testing, et cetera. One of the things that I think is really interesting is that for the first five years the law will not allow really large cultivation and it also won't allow those cultivations to be vertically integrated. I think that will help with some of the concern of really large businesses and really large monopolies forming in California. I know that is a concern for a lot of people. There is some wording in there that I think will help with that.”

With respect to what is legal under Prop 215 and new felonies, Lindsay said, “If they are right now legal under 215, they will stay legal under Prop 64. That's really important to know. No new felonies will be created.” She continued, “I think probably having a large quantity of marijuana on you, that currently you could face six months in jail if you had over an ounce. In almost anywhere in California realistically you could face six months in jail, that will not happen under Prop 64. That's really exciting.”

She stressed that sales tax would not need to be paid by medical card users saying, “There will be a new 15% sales tax on recreational or adult use marijuana. That will not apply to people who still have medical cards, they will be exempt from that sales tax.”

Regarding use of the tax fund, Lindsay said, “Annually basically we're looking at ten million dollars going to the University of California to study legalization, see its effects, understand the wide scale issues that folks are dealing with, how the regulations are working, how they're not. This is an interesting piece, 15 million dollars over five years will go to studying and creating DUI protocols. That's a huge issue right now. One that I don't think has been currently worked out in Prop 64. That's something that's going to continued to be studied and worked on. We're looking at 2 million dollars a year to medical marijuana research. That is incredible.”

She continued, “60% of the remaining money in the tax fund will go to youth prevention, education, and treatment. Environmental restoration, that's another one that's going to be receiving money from illegal grows. Hugely devastating to certain areas. There is going to be money that goes to that. There is going to be money that goes to law enforcement in helping to enforce these regulations.”
With regard to losing Prop 215 protection, Lindsay said, “Prop 64 is not going to touch the protection that folks have under 215 now. This is also incredible and super exciting. Upwards of 50 million dollars over the next five years is going to go to grants for communities that have been disenfranchised by this war on marijuana. That is bad ass so I hope that you guys are exciting about because as an activist that is really meaningful.”

Lindsay concluded by taking about the benefits of Prop 64 to veterans, saying, “One thing I think is also really exciting is that right now most veteran doctors, anyone going through the VA, they don't talk to their doctors about medical marijuana. There is a huge stigma with vets and the doctors are actually not allowed to recommend that veterans use medical marijuana. Now vets don't necessarily have to talk to their doctors about it or they can, but it will allow people who are suffering from ailments to receive medicine even if they're not necessarily getting a recommendation from their doctor. I think that's huge as well and really exciting.”

Watch the whole "Get Out The Vote" concert below:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Roger McNamee, Pat Nevins and Jordan Feinstein join Paige Clem at the Bazaar Café on Nov. 15

Remember those times when you sat in front of your record player playing your favorite records, again, and again, and again? Fast forward to your first car, road trips and playing those 8-tracks over, and over, and over? And then there were the cassette tapes and now mp3s… There were always those songs that you could never hear enough of…

Roger McNamee (Moonalice, Doobie Decibel System and solo artist) writes those kinds of songs. Songs that have you hitting “replay” because they reach in and squeeze your heart – because you know that there’s a back story.

Songs like “I’m Glad You Think So,” about relationships that get out of balance, or “Nick Of Time,” which is a letter of support to a friend struggling with life changes, or “Angle Of Repose” written in memory of a dear friend that passed too soon.

Roger’s songs reflect his very positive outlook on life – and his desire to make the world a better and a happier place for his fans – even if it is only for the duration of a show. As he describes in this interview, “I was raised by parents who taught me to try and make a positive impact on the world.  I’m a dyed-in-the-wool hippie who happened to get really lucky, okay, and I just try and share that good fortune with everyone I meet.”

On November 15 Roger joins Pat Nevins (Shakey Zimmerman), Jordan Feinstein, and San Francisco singer-songwriter Paige Clem for a highly-intimate song-sharing session. As part of her third Bazaar Café Songwriters Residency, every Tuesday in the month of November, Paige is leading legendary local songwriters “in the round” as they perform original music in an unplugged, acoustic setting. All ages and no cover charge!

Good news for fans in the Bay area that can attend this show, is that as Roger describes it, “I will be including some songs I don't play as often as I would like.” My fingers are crossed for “I’m Glad You Think So” – a personal favorite since the very first time I played it!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Roger McNamee - My First And Driving Motivation On California Proposition 64 Is About Civil Rights

Roger McNamee, musician and advocate for cannabis reform in the United States, recently shared his thoughts on California's Proposition 64 and his support for #YesOn64. Here are some of the highlights from his recent live Facebook broadcast. Scroll down to see the video. 

Roger began, "I'm here to tell you, on November 3rd, Thursday, November 3rd, Moonalice is going to be playing a concert at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, California. That's the venue owned by BobWeir of the Grateful Dead. We're going to be there on November 3rd for a Proposition 64 awareness concert. We're going to be joined at that show by Steve DeAngelo, the founder of the Harborside Health Center, which is the first, the largest, and in my opinion the best medical dispensary in the state of California. He's going to be there to answer all your questions."

He continued, "There is a tremendous campaign being waged by people who are coming out of industries like the pharmaceutical opiate industry, the hard liquor industry, for-profit prisons, and other people who are trying to protect the status quo, to keep our state from making what is a really, really, really important next step in the battle to free people from just the hell that has been the war on drugs. I want you to understand a few things. Proposition 64 is just a step. It's one in a long line. It's not perfect, but we're going to fix what's wrong with it, and it is so much better than what we have now that I want to encourage you to listen to the arguments that I want to make right now so that you can appreciate why I'm so enthusiastic about this."

It's a matter of civil rights

"My first and driving motivation on Prop 64 is about civil rights," Roger said. "I don't know if you know this, but did you realize that people of color are arrested and incarcerated for marijuana at three times not just the rate of the population but thee times the rate of usage of marijuana? Essentially the drug laws are the foundation of the new Jim Crow. This is the way that white supremacists, one of the core ways for controlling people of color. It's really horrible. It's a tremendous waste of law enforcement resources. The people who are caught in the cross-hairs of this, it's so, so hard to recover. The only way, the only way we can help them is by taking this important step to legalize cannabis in the state of California."

He added passionately, "To me, this is a civil rights issue. For me, it's not an investment opportunity. For many people it will be. My focus is, if I have anything I can do about this, I want to make sure that people of color get special advantages to come into this industry and be successful, because frankly they're the ones who've been abused by these laws all the way along, and they deserve a chance to be part of whatever success comes. Let's not kid ourselves. This is a humongous industry today. It's $50 billion. The notion that this isn't dominated by big business? It is. It's dominated by big crime. Our job is to get this into the legitimate economy so that it can help everybody."

Continuing, Roger said, "I'm sitting there going, look, you're free to vote any way you want, but if you want to vote in a way that you can feel really good about, just ask yourself the following question: How often do you get to make a vote that directly impacts the civil rights of people in our state? How often do we get to do that? I'm involved in this because I grew up in a family where civil rights was a big deal. My parents were super active in the '60s in the civil rights movement. I was raised to believe that that stuff really matters, so I'm doing everything in my power to try to fix the great wrong that has been done to people of color in the name of the war on drugs. I'm inviting all of you to join me."

Other reasons for saying #YesOn64

Roger elaborated on other reasons for saying #YesOn64, "There are lots of other reasons to do this. Let me just list a few of them. The first thing to understand is that California has a gigantic black market today, and the black market for marijuana is somewhere between $20 and $70 billion a year. The folks at Harborside would tell you somewhere between $50 and $70 billion is probably the correct number. A lot of this is in the hands of people who are growing illegally in state parks and national parks with enormous environmental consequences. None of the people who work in that industry get health insurance. They don't get social security. There is no labor protection. There was a story in The New York Times this week about people who are being abused, I mean physically abused working in that industry because everything is currently illegal. That's just wrong."

He continued, "The key thing here is that the state of California needs to accept the fact that marijuana is the largest cash crop in our state, and that having it outside the legitimate economy, it's just crazy. This is a commonsense thing that we're trying to do here. Again, it's a step along the way. Prop 64 does not do anything about bringing the black market into the legitimate economy, but it sets the basis for it. It sets the next step that essentially creates and normalizes the cannabis industry in our state. It allows a bunch of really important things to happen. The first thing that it does is that it's going to begin to create a real industry, so the folks who've labored so hard during the medical era have a chance to also address the portion of the market that is, if you will, adult use."

"Why is that important? The reason it's important is that we want this inside our economy. We want to regulate it," said Roger. "We would like to tax it, because the state needs more money for education. It needs more money for mental health care. It needs more money for infrastructure. The reality is, if you had a 10% tax on cannabis all the way through the industry and somehow you were able to get two-thirds of the black market to be part of the real economy, it would literally change the economics of the state of California dramatically. Effectively it would be as important to California as oil has been to the state of Texas. I think that would be a really, really good idea. I think in many ways marijuana is that important to the state of California. Let's make it part of the mainstream economy."

Opponents' disinformation campaign

Describing the plethora of #NoOn64 memes on social media, Roger said, "There have been a ton of complaints that this is going to be bad for smaller farmers, that it's going to create new crimes that currently aren't crimes. All of that stuff, all the stuff you've been reading on Facebook, it's coming from people who profit from the status quo, and it misses some points. There are clearly some things wrong with the bill. I think it is stupid to have misdemeanor for certain kinds of growing at home. That's nuts, but let's remember, today it's a felony. This is clearly a step in the right direction."

He continued, "Is it perfect? Not even close, but I am now working more or less full-time trying to get this done, trying to help our state get this right. I'm working with the Lieutenant Governor's Office. I'm working with other people in our state government. I'm working with people in the federal government. Why am I doing this? I'm doing this because people of color have been victimized by these laws for ages. Our state needs the tax revenues. The people who work in this industry need better protections. It's not going to go perfectly. We're going to make mistakes. We're going to fix them. We've got to do this   together."
"Here's the thing. The disinformation campaign being waged by the people who make opiate pharmaceuticals, by the people who make hard liquor, by the for-profit prison companies and all that, their disinformation campaign has caused the polling to get much tighter," said Roger. "It shouldn't be that way. This is a core part of our economy. Let's just do the right thing and treat it with the respect it deserves. Let's treat the people with respect. I want to protect small business."

Rocking the prop

Roger described the show (embedded below) of his band Moonalice in support of Prop 64, saying, "On November 3rd at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, California, Moonalice is going to be playing a show. We've invited Steve DeAngelo, the founder of the Harborside Health Center, the largest, the first dispensary in the state of California, to come and answer your questions. Come and meet Steve. Come and meet the other people from Harborside. It's going to be a fun show, but we're going to learn a lot, and we're going to bring the tribe together to do something for civil rights that we can all be incredibly proud of." 

He concluded by saying, "I will tell you, I don't pretend that Prop 64 solves the whole problem. In politics it never works that way. In politics you make small steps and you make lots of them, and you keep at it and you're determined and you fight for the right thing. If you're really lucky, you live to see the finish line. I look at all my friends in the LGBTQ community and the incredible job they did on marriage equality, and I admire them for just hanging in there and fighting the good fight. Look what's happened. They've been really successful. If we elect the right person President this year, we're going to keep all of those gains. Now is the time to do the same thing for cannabis. Join me. Vote "Yes" on Proposition 64 on November 8th."

Everyone who attends the Prop 64 awareness concert at Sweetwater Music Hall on 3 November will receive a set of 11 #yeson64 posters, including these posters by Dennis Loren, Carolyn Ferris and Wes Wilson and Wendy Wright, Moonalice artists from the Haight Street Art Center collective.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

New Update Makes Pokémon GO Training At The Gym Sooo Much Easier!!!

Training Pokémon at the gym just got a whole lot easier! 
One of the problems with the current gym experience has been that you could only bring one Pokémon to battle. Even with a Pokémon with a sky-high HP, like a Snorlax, training at a gym could get to be very heavy going, very quickly. Basically one battle and you were done, making it very difficult to rank up in your own team's gym and, leaving you with the feeling that it wasn't really worth the time or effort.
A new update aims to rectify that! As Niantic Labs have just announced on their website:
"As we continue to make improvements to Pokémon GO, we have made an enhancement to the Gym experience for Trainers of all levels. In an upcoming version of Pokémon GO, when training at a friendly Gym, Trainers will be able to bring six Pokémon to battle instead of one. In addition, the CP of the Pokémon you are training against may be temporarily adjusted lower during your training session to generally match your Pokémon’s battle capabilities."

As Paul Tassi, one of my fave Pokémon contributors, elaborates in his article for Forbes, "The core idea of this is to help make it easier for lower-level players to help friendly gyms. Right now, if you’re level 15 and the lowest rung of your gym is a level 28’s 2400 CP Snorlax, your 1100 Tauros just isn’t going to cut it. By allowing you to bring six Pokémon to battle and have CP downscale to closer match your own team, that should mean that friendly gyms are more of safe havens for new players to do just that…train, as opposed to brick walls that serve no real purpose."
Paul isn't too sure if the new update will make the gym experience better or worse due to the preponderance of that he describes as "7-10 level fortresses full of the same four or five crazily high CP Pokémon" in his area. 

I have those fortresses in my area too, but since I'm in the 'burbs where some kind of travel is required to get to the nearest gym, I can usually find a level 6. I agree with Paul though, limiting levels to a max of 6 would make for a lot more fun!

Time will tell whether the new update will make the experience better or worse for trainers. My first impression is that it will make things better, and I'm looking forward to being able to try for myself. Fingers crossed for a rapid roll out that allows for some weekend play!