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JEFF STECK MANAGEMENT is a Los Angeles based, boutique marketing, digital advertising, social media management, and promotions agency specializing in the creative small business. The agency's emphasis is building a strong online presence for clients customized to their buyers. Online content brands a person or organization as a thought leader. Online marketing and PR efforts work because they start by identifying one or more buyer personas. Once personas are established, we create packages that include developing and maintaining professional websites, social media networking, blogs, securing national press coverage, private event attendance, and even a little crisis control should the need arise. We build a social dialog about our clients. What sets us apart from the standard one-size-fits-all marketing company is that our business models are highly targeted and delivered directly to interested consumers. We also happily work with those who have small marketing budgets or those who believe they have no maketing budget at all.

West Hollywood Bans the Sale of Fur – Get Over It!

Through the diligent efforts of a group of people and PETA, the city of West Hollywood has made preliminary steps to ban the sale of fur within its city limits.  People are beside themselves in anger stating that more important issues should have been addressed.  This is a subjective statement.  But I have to ask, were you at the public meeting to address what you believe to be more pressing issues?  Probably not.

Los Angeles Times blog reports, “West Hollywood moved a step closer to being fur-free Tuesday when the City Council tentatively approved an ordinance that would ban the sale of apparel made in whole or part from the pelt or skin of an animal with hair, wool or fur. More than 200 people and a Shih Tzu named Zach filled the West Hollywood Park Auditorium even though the first reading of the ordinance wasn’t done until 1:15 a.m.

Dozens of people made statements about the proposed ban, and 120 supporters gave their names to be recorded by the council. The crowd gave a standing ovation to the council after the vote.

‘This was very exciting, and it was unanimous by this brave and thoughtful City Council,’ said Councilmember John D’Amico, who promoted a ban on fur during his election campaign earlier this year.

The ordinance must be given a second reading before it can receive final approval. The council also would have to decide on a start date for the ban and whether it should apply to sales of used clothing. D’Amico proposed next June 30 as a start date.

City Council members indicated they would be speaking with business owners about the proposal before the next reading. The West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce opposes the ordinance.  Genevieve Morrill, president of the business group, told the council that such actions by the city ‘are not doing anything to help animals; they are hurting stores in your community.'”

I have no idea how many businesses in West Hollywood will be adversely impacted by not being able to sell fur.  I think the impact is likely negligible, which is why there is no way this would have ever been presented in the bordering city of Beverly Hills.  Honestly though, how many people in Los Angeles actually wear fur?  It’s either really hot, comfortable or raining.

Truth be told, this ordinance has not yet passed.  It is only in its preliminary stages.  If it negatively impacts the city and future revenues it will likely go no further.  I predict a compromise with existing businesses that sell fur to be grandfathered in and allowed to continue to sell fur.  This is only likely if fur sales are make or break for the businesses. The law will probably stipulate that no new businesses or existing businesses that do not currently sell fur shall be issued a business license permitting the sale of fur.  A google search reveals that most of the businesses that sell fur are actually in Los Angeles City or Beverly Hills.  Revolve Clothing in West Hollywood has already said it would provide faux fur as an alternative in its West Hollywood store but would continue to sell fur online.  This would be permitted since it is headquartered elsewhere.

So, for all those people who are complaining that West Hollywood did not use this time to expand social services I ask these questions.  Does West Hollywood have the money to expand these services?  If so, then present a proposal, gather 200+ people to support it and patiently sit in the council meeting for over 12-hours waiting to be heard.  Is this too much trouble for you?  Then shut up.  Those who take action get results.

Some say that this move by West Hollywood is nothing short of communism by removing choice from the people.  This assertion is nothing short of stupid.  It was the people who made this call to action.  It was the people who fought for it.  It was the people who argued it before the city council.  If the people as a whole do not like the decision then it will go no further.  People throw around words like “communism” and “nazi” which nearly always reveals that they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.

Still others are throwing the bible at the situation stating that God created animals for man to dominate.  Really?  Do you think when Genesis 1:26 was written that it meant to create animal farms to mass reproduce the animals, force them into small cages and then drown or electrocute them, skin them and create fashion accessories for the wealthy?  We can all throw scripture around as a weapon.  Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations.  So I decided I would like the freedom to buy a couple Canadians, maybe Justin Bieber.  I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.  Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death.  Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?  Religion evolves to fit culture, not the other way around.  Eventually we have to decide what is right and what is wrong, make the change, and then religion will catch up.

Let’s face it, no one is buying a mink, fox, or chinchilla coat for survival.  Fur is little else than a socially unconscious, conspicuous display of wealth.  The wealthy want furs because most people cannot afford them.  They’ll tell you otherwise, but if fur became commonplace the wealthy would no longer want it.  Take note Missoni.

Anyway, if you want to make change you have to effect it.  You cannot sit at home and complain that someone else made a difference that you do not support.  You cannot miss presidential elections and then bitch about the job the president is doing.  Stop bitching because you are not taking the initiative to accomplish anything.  Either do something or get over it.

 

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Is Ignorance a By-product of Traditional Family Values

Traditional family values are political and social beliefs that are typically Christian-based and hold that the nuclear family to be the essential ethical and moral unit of society.  In the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, the term has been frequently used in political debate, to claim that the world has seen a decline in family values, and therefore a decline in social morality, since the end of WWII.  I have absolutely no problem with traditional family values as a concept, I just don’t think that they ever really existed.

The problem I have with the concept of traditional family values is that they are used as a weapon to strip others of their rights and frequently backed up by some idiot who begins his argument with the words, “Well the bible says. . . .”  Let me say this now and get it out of the way.  Almost no one interprets the bible correctly.  People know their end game so they find data they can construe to support it.  As soon as someone unqualified starts to quote scripture I mentally shut down.  Let’s face it, some of the biggest proponents of Christian family values are later caught with young male baggage handlers they found on rentboy.com or are having extra marital affairs, or are closeted politicians with nude photographs on Grindr.  I’m really nervous about what will eventually be revealed about Senator Michele Bachmann and her husband. The people who yell the loudest seem to be doing so out of fear to distance themselves from the “sin.”  To me this mirrors the frequency in which men who now self identify as being gay admitted to gay bashing when they were younger as a way to deny their sexual orientation.  It’s all fear based.

I believe the illusion of traditional family values exist, but in most cases the concept never reached application.  TFVs were famously depicted on television with Ozzie & Harriet. Harriet was always dressed impeccably and adorning an apron.  When Ozzie came home she met him with a drink and a pair of slippers.  Dinner was always 10 minutes away from being served, the optimal time to finish a drink.  She knew her place was second in the household.  Ozzie was the man, and therefore the boss, just as it was meant to be.  My first comment on this is to let everyone know that Ozzie and Harriet was a television show.  It wasn’t real.  Please google “Fiction.”  Viewers watched it because it was the unreachable ideal.  It’s the equivalent of age defying makeup.  We know you want it to be true so we’ll keep selling it to you.  Is this what the conservative movement is fighting to regain?  If so, would Michele Bachmann be a senator?  If she wants traditional family values then shouldn’t she remain in the kitchen?  Do we want this moral core or do we just want to ensure that others who are “not like us” do not have equal rights?  Let’s explore that a little.

In November 15, 1960, The New York Times wrote: “Some 150 white, mostly housewives and teenage youths, clustered along the sidewalks across from the William Franz School when pupils marched in at 8:40 am. One youth chanted ‘Two, Four, Six, Eight, we don’t want to segregate; eight, six, four, two, we don’t want a chigeroo.’  Forty minutes later, four deputy marshals arrived with a little Negro girl and her mother. They walked hurriedly up the steps and into the yellow brick building while onlookers jeered and shouted taunts. The girl, dressed in a stiffly starched white dress with a ribbon in her hair, was gripping her mother’s hand tightly and glancing apprehensively toward the crowd.”  This was or dare I say is traditional, white family values.  Maybe this is what conservative groups are trying to bring back.

In 1963, Normal Rockwell shocked his followers when he released his illustration in Look Magazine, titled, “The Problem We All Live With.”  It depicted the same civil rights story just told but in a way that resonated with the masses. It showed tomatoes being thrown at the little girl.  It showed the requirement of a US Marshall escort just so a little girl could go to school safely.  It wasn’t just a column filled with words, but rather an image that gave meaning to the words.  In 1963 Rockwell was not allowed to depict a black person as the primary character or in anything but a subservient role.  This is still considered Rockwell’s most controversial piece. The image is exactly what it is, regardless of how one feels about it politically.  It is in the title, “The Problem We All Live With,” where words may be misleading.  Is the “problem” stated in the title racism or is the “problem” in the title about desegregation?  Regardless, the image stands on its own.  Christian family values were the core of this and other similar demonstrations.

Film, another art form, has also taken on the subject of racism and traditional family values. The most current example of this is the film, The Help.  Oppression, fear and ignorance were spread like mayonnaise on white bread with the dagger of traditional family values.  A value system that taught segregation, that taught hierarchy, that taught passing judgement. Seriously, what would we have become without these traditional values?

The loudest civil rights movement happening today is probably gay rights.  When searching for art work depicting this fight I discovered a painting that regardless of how one feels politically, should ellicit a reaction. The painting was completed in 1993 by Artist Steve Walker.  I wish that the painting did not have a title, because I believe it makes a stronger statement without it. The title, “Some Family’s Values,” in my opinion does a disservice to a brilliant painting.  My concern is that people will interpret the title rather than take in the image and decide for themselves. With that being said, I have worked in the art industry for years and I know how much collectors love titles. Regardless, the depiction of a traditional family looking at a painting that appears to depict a same-sex couple caught in a serious moment is profound, regardless of whether one is offended or hopeful. I can further interpret this painting but it becomes a more powerful piece if each viewer decides what it means to him or her.  If this nuclear family can look upon this painting and see a loving couple what is society’s harm?

Similar to what some racial minority groups in this country have experienced, and continue to experience, gay people also experience prejudice in nearly all aspects of their lives. ”Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was a hot bed issue for years.  Gay men and women could serve in the military and die for their country as long as they didn’t tell anyone who they really were. Countless research revealed that soldiers who reported that they did not know a gay soldier were against the DADT repeal.  Soldiers who reported that they were aware of gay soldiers were for the DADT repeal.  What this should tell anyone is that the replacement of ignorance with personal experience and information is powerful tool at eradicating prejudice.  A now famous quote reads, “When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.” — the tombstone epitaph of decorated Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich.

One of the newest art forms is the independent film.  A Google search of gay-themed films was somewhat disturbing as most appeared to be sophomoric sex romps with very questionable scripts. There were several that appeared to cover the topic with respect. One notable film was Save Me starring Chad Allen where a man was sent to a religious camp to “pray the gay away” and of course the multiple tellings of the Matthew Shepard story, The Laramie Project.  If you haven’t seen this play I highly recommend it if nothing more than a statement on the human condition.

Coincidentally, the morning I was putting this story together I received an email from Gustavo Marcolla about an independent film he is trying to finance titled, Pink & Green. The initial trailer pitch (www.vimeo.com/28369377) opens with the first card reading, “In 19 countries throughout the world, same-sex foreign partners of legal citizens can be granted citizenship upon marriage, essentially the same rights afforded to heterosexual binational couples.” This legal standing is not offered in the United States. The USA is behind at least 19 other countries when it comes to civil rights.  Why does this not anger more people?  This film is telling a story that reflects the conflict occurring between traditional family values and same-sex couples, two groups that quite honestly do not have vastly differing values.  The difference being that the latter believes everyone should share the same rights, while the former does not.  As marriage for same-sex couples remains a controversial topic in this country, immigration status changes will likely take a generation or more until same-sex marriage is acknowledged by the nation and not state by state.  To learn more about Pink & Green and how you might help its production visit the official website at www.pinkandgreenthemovie.com.

I know my ancestors owned slaves.  I know that now it is not something talked about as it feels like a blemish in our ancestry.  History tells us that art reflects what was happening at the time it was created.  Major social change occurs through conflict and perseverance. When change is proposed those fearing change bury their heels in the dirt and preach the joys of tradition.  Tradition can be a wonderful thing, but not when it steps all over the rights of others.  We are a changing country.  If we insist on remaining the same we are doomed to fail.  Some say we are already failing.  Are you still proud that your family owned slaves? Will your great grandchildren be proud of how you handled civil rights?  When did “progressive” become a bad thing?

Traditional family values no longer have a clear definition.  Those preaching it do not want to live by them or they want to customize them to support their existing life style.  So I ask, is ignorance a by product of traditional family values or are traditional family values a product of ignorance?

Intuition: It Tells the Truth When No One Else Does

 

This is a short posting, but one that probably needs to be read every six months or so.  It’s about trusting our internal voice.  Our personal intuition is there for a reason.  We sometimes explain it away because it is frequently trying to tell us something that we don’t want to know.  Regardless, intuition is an overall snap shot of the truth.

Some people describe intuition as a gut feeling, a little voice in your head, or even a tingling sensation that gets your attention. The truth is that every person has natural intuition, but not every person is aware of or pays attention to their intuition.

It is said by some that women tend to have greater natural intuition than men do, but that is not necessarily the case. Anyone who has ever been a regular caregiver for a child knows that it is possible to develop a sense of what that child is thinking and feeling, especially when the child is very young.  In close social groups, such as fraternities, clubs, and service organizations, friends of both sexes often develop close bonds that are strengthened by their natural intuition.

It is important to understand the difference between intuitive skills and simply making assumptions about other people. Paying attention to your intuition is never an excuse for making unwarranted assumptions, being judgemental, gossiping, or engaging in rumor and innuendo.  My informed advice is to not ignore your intuition.  I’m not suggesting acting on it without substantiation or some kind of evidentiary support, but do not ignore it.  Think about it, have you ever had a strong intuitive hunch that didn’t end up being at least partly correct?

Intuition provides us with warnings for some type of survival purpose I suppose.  But what I notice is that we ignore it if we’re certain we can endure the repercussions.  For example, if you’re driving down a dark road and something tells you that if you keep driving forward you will plummet from a cliff, you will likely stop the car and do a little investigation.  If you are madly in love and some type of intuition is telling you that your partner is being disloyal, many will ignore it or explain it away as being paranoid.  Why experience pain now when it can be postponed?  Sometimes we just don’t want the truth.

In both our personal and business lives intuition plays an important role, a role that we all too frequently dismiss.  Learn to hone your intuitive skills and become more intelligent in all aspects of your life.

September 11, 2001 – A Rememberance

 

. . . the street was littered with debris and the noise of breaking glass and bending steel was deafening.  It was as if the entire island was folding in on itself.  Fear and confusion were overwhelming but then temporarily shrouded as a tidal wave of dust and wind washed over everyone.  As the dust settled it left everyone covered in thick layers of soot. It looked as if people had been burned alive but had not yet crumbled to the ground. Some began running as fast as they could while others seemed to remain motionless with the only evidence of life being the tear stains running down their ash covered faces.

Further away there was singing.  Children’s voices I thought.  Children, about 4-years-old, walking hand in hand, one in front of the other, and being lead by two women and followed by another.  Their voices were focused on the song, “Old MacDonald” as they continued to walk in a semi-orderly fashion away from the devastation.  Their voices did not sound joyful, but they were loud as if the sheer volume in which they sang would frighten off any harm.   The women leading them were obviously frightened but appeared to be in complete control.  These women were heroes.  These women are heroes.

Later I wondered about the parents of these children who must have been worried sick about not being able to reach them.  I also worried about the children as some have undoubtedly lost one of their parents, maybe both.  This was a day that changed our nation.

The United States is plagued with political and economic problems right now.  We may still be suffering the effects from this day, ten years ago.  But for a period of time in 2001 this nation was united in fear, devastation, patriotism, and the overwhelming desire to become strong again.  The outpouring of kindness from our neighbors and from countries all around the world following this tragedy should always be remembered. September 11, 2001, revealed the worst in humanity but it also revealed the best.  It is a day that will never be forgotten.

Michelle Williams is Marilyn Monroe, Sort of.

 

“Success makes so many people hate you. I wish it wasn’t that way. It would be wonderful to enjoy success without seeing envy in the eyes of those around you.”– Marilyn Monroe

I was a little surprised when I learned that Michelle Williams would play Marilyn Monroe in The Weinstein Company’s film My Week with Marilyn due to hit theaters on November 4.   I wondered how successful can a meek actress, albeit a good actress, portray an iconic sex symbol who was bigger than life.

Norma Jean Baker was an intelligent and conflicted brunette who came to Hollywood to become a serious actress after years of living in foster homes.  She arrived in Hollywood emotionally damaged.  What she eventually became was largely a product of the studios.  I wouldn’t have been able to envision Norma Jean as Marilyn Monroe, yet that is exactly who she became.  Michelle Williams has received a tremendous amount of praise for her acting talent, most notably in Blue Valentine and before that in Brokeback Mountain where she had to utter the nearly impossible-to-authentically-deliver line, “Don’t try and fool me no more, Ennis; I know what it means! Jack Twist. Jack Nasty! You didn’t go up there to fish!”  Michelle has the respect that Marilyn has been quoted as saying she was never given the opportunity to truly earn. Monroe states, “Some people have been unkind. If I say I want to grow as an actress, they look at my figure.  If I say I want to develop, to learn my craft, they laugh.  Somehow they don’t expect me to be serious about my work.”

Marilyn’s early work in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve was well received and she earned a Golden Globe nomination for her acclaimed work in Bus Stop.  Unfortunately, her type casting as a ditsy blonde limited her roles even though she studied and became an exemplary actress.  I believe Michelle has the subtleness and the vulnerability to capture Marilyn’s personality, but does she have the sex symbol quality that epitomized Marilyn Monroe?  Ironically, the very thing that Monroe detested, “A sex symbol becomes a thing.  I hate being a thing.”

So much about Marilyn Monroe was her beauty, her ability to seduce men with an innocence that was anything but innocent.  But herein lies the rub, if Norma Jean could be transformed into Marilyn then why not Michelle? Only time will tell.  Monroe’s star power was undeniable and her continued popularity 49 years after her death is indicative of not just a star, but an icon.  These are very big shoes to fill and I have to believe that Michelle is feeling a little of that pressure.

In contrast to Marilyn’s presence, Michelle has always been quiet with subtle performances.  In fact, I have never seen Michelle appear larger than life in any of her roles or public appearances.  She’s good at what she does, but at this point I am asserting that she is not Marilyn. However, Williams claims that she has never felt so liberated as when she was playing Monroe.  Stating that being Marilyn has helped her find her true voice. She is less shy, less meek, less introverted than she has ever been before.  I have to admit that the photograph of Williams as Monroe lying on the sofa required me to do a double take. Nevertheless, Williams still does not quite exude the charisma of the iconic Monroe. This concerns me as I wonder how authentic her performance will be if we don’t believe that she embodies Marilyn.  This movie will not open with a wimper.  Word of mouth will make or break this film.  Her portrayal will either garner Academy attention or she will be blasted by the critics. There will be nothing in between, there simply can’t be.

Near the end of her career Monroe stated, “Being a sex symbol is a heavy load to carry, especially when one is tired, hurt and bewildered.”  I believe that Williams can capture tired, hurt and bewildered as good as any actress out there.  But none of that will work if we do not believe her to be not just a sex symbol, but the sex symbol of the 20th century.

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