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Air Horn Under The Chair Prank

12 Jun

Chris Prater SlappedToday is my boss’s birthday and I happen to have an amazing boss.  He gives me freedom to manage my projects at my own pace, encouragement and assistance when I need it, and is a valuable resource I can rely on whenever I need him.  He and my coworkers are why I love my job.  However, today is his birthday…which means its time to prank him!  So niceties aside, I got Chris good this morning with a classic prank.  Never in my life have I been a punctual person so I decided part 1 of my birthday gift to him would be showing up for work today an hour early.  It gave him quite the surprise…just not as big a surprise as the air horn I had taped to the bottom of his desk chair the night before.  Here’s the prank:

STEP 1

Finding a small air horn in Kansas was harder than I thought!  I kept finding the big ones at the hardware store but a big one wouldn’t fit under his chair and it would be very visible.  Finally I found exactly the one I was looking for at Gander Mountain, the Orion Mini Safety Signal Horn.  It was small, under $10, and most importantly: triggered from pressing the top (not the side).

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STEP 2

Rigging the air horn to the chair requires some patience and duct tape.  In my case I used electrical tape to match the black base of the chair.  Be sure to understand the physics of the chair and ensure that the air horn button and chair will make contact once pressure is added by sitting down.

Air horn taped to bottom of chair and rigged to go off when seated.

Air horn taped to bottom of chair and rigged to go off when seated.

STEP 3

Add a Happy Birthday note so your unsuspecting victim knows where to send their ER bill for their heart attack.  I went with the classic “HOPE YOUR BIRTHDAY IS A BLAST!” note inside.  If you don’t want to be caught, leaving a note would not be recommended…though you could leave a forged note signed by a coworker.  Personally, I’d blame my coworker Dee.

I took full credit for this one. Happy Birthday Chris!

I took full credit for this one. Happy Birthday Chris!

STEP 4

Be sure the cleaning help or other coworkers do not interfere with the prank.  In my case I needed Chris’s chair to remain in the same spot because if it swiveled too much the air horn could scoot too far down and no longer work.  A quick note to the cleaning help detailing my needs alleviated my worries.

Now you have an accomplice as well.

Now you have an accomplice as well.

Make sure the evidence is destroyed.

Make sure the note is easy to find and then destroyed.

STEP 5

Document, document, document.  While I had hoped to get a camera in place to record Chris’s reaction this morning…he came in early!  On his birthday!  So all I have is the video test the night before and Chris’s reaction interview after (in which he is a very good sport).  So…enjoy!

The Night Before:

Chris’s Reaction:

Remember, the rules of pranking are:

  1. Is the person I’m pranking going to find this funny?
  2. If the person I’m pranking won’t find it funny…can I still get away with it?
  3. Be prepared to accept any consequences foreseen and unforeseen.
  4. Video and camera documentation is the best.
  5. Watch your back for the inevitable future.

Special thanks to Chris Prater, David Smith, Dee Lanzrath, Williams Ace Hardware, Gander Mountain in Wichita, the office cleaning services, American Armed Forces stationed worldwide, Bud Light, the internet, Skittles, and of course my loving family…without whom (and free time) I would never act out such childish pranks.

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Finding Your Tribe

30 Apr
Flag of Wichita

Flag of Wichita

We’ve all heard the phrase “You don’t know what you’ve got till its gone.”  However, maybe you just need an outside perspective to appreciate them.  Harvester Arts (an organization I am Co-founder of) brought visiting artist George Ferrandi to Wichita for a two-week residency.  Like any time someone visits your city for the first time you take them around, show them your city’s history, and share stories of why your “home” is relevant.  As a native Wichitan who moved away for 15 years and came home, I’m full of fun facts for visitors such as what companies were founded here, where historic moments took place, the evolution of Wichita neighborhoods from a brothel-laden cow town to an art district, and what a Knork is.  After a year of being recognized by outsiders as being from a place where the Wichita State Shockers basketball team plays…it was great to be reminded of Wichita’s vast history and find comfort in calling it my “home.”

George Ferrandi

George Ferrandi

George Ferrandi is a performance artist (among other art forms such as sculpture) who came to Wichita to create a performance piece in our newly founded Harvester Arts 5,000 square foot work space and gallery.  The show itself was one of the most moving experiences of my life that changed the way I view performance art, let alone myself and my relationship with my wife.  Yeah…it was that good.  However, my experience of the performance is heavily influenced because I got to spend two weeks with George before her Final Friday show.  I got to drive her along the Arkansas River, I got to show her what a Kansas sky looks like, I got to walk through long prairie grass in a gale force wind on a sunny day, I got to huddle next to her by the bonfire with a lunar eclipse and unveiled stars overhead, I got to share whiskey from the bottle with her, I got to share time with her, and most of all…I got to share stories with her.

Wichita Mainstreet, 1875-500Wichita was a trading post long ago and last week, in Wichita’s modern evolution, I got to trade stories with George Ferrandi…the commodities people like us treasure most.  We shared stories of how we met our significant others and the parallels of the experiences.  We shared stories of near death and dying of laughter.  We shared stories of, as she might say, our tribes.  So when I sat down in the gallery last Friday night, put the head phones on my head, looked across the table at my lovely wife, and began hearing George’s soothing voice in my ears spinning stories…it had a very profound effect on me…and I couldn’t hold the emotions back.

Tears ran down my face as I looked into my wife’s eyes.  Tears ran down hers as well.  George’s piece had successfully explored the relationships of friends as she had set out to do…but the experience was life changing.  I’m not going to critique the piece or speak heavily about it (that’s for the art critics and patrons to express), but I will tell you that I personally was deeply moved.  What I will tell you is that George speaks about “your tribe” in this piece.  Your people.  Your home.  In some cases we move away from our tribe as we go to college, pursue a career, and so on.  In other cases we stay with our tribe and form strong bonds that can only come from small-town living.  In my case I got both.  I left my tribe in the pursuit of knowledge, education, and happiness.  Then, I brought what I learned home and expanded my tribe.  As George’s voice wrapped up in the headphones she told us that we got to “decide when the piece was over”…so my wife Kate and I just sat there staring at each other in wonder.  Neither one of us wanted it to end.  We both were overwhelmed by what we had brought to our home, the journey George had then taken us on, the joy and sadness of her stories, and the realization that George’s residency was done…and she would be going home.

We had brought George into our tribe.  She had invited us to be part of hers.  We were each other’s people…and now she had to leave and go back to New York.

10155476_10152089786971818_3638390715056468528_nThe same weekend another performance group called The Bridge Club was in town for the Ulrich Museum.  Among the many things they do, they collect stories from local areas and build performances from them.  I donated the story of how Kate and I were on the road as digital nomads for 3 years and lived out of a 22″ camper for a period of time.  We documented our lives on video and constantly asked ourselves, “What makes a home?”  This was the very question The Bridge Club was asking of Wichita.  In a hotel in L.A.’s Koreatown in 2008 we answered that question.  “Home is where the cat is.”  Following The Bridge Club’s performance I spoke to them and they told me that they found the inspiration for their drawings in Wichita from a painting in my living room they had seen the week prior when we hosted a party for them.  I almost broke down in tears again.  It was my wife’s painting from when we first met.  It was a piece I stared at every time I visited Kate when we were dating and she framed it and gave it to me long before she knew she’d marry me, travel the country with me, move to Wichita with me, and start a family with me.  It has deep sentimental value.  The knowledge that a major portion of their performance was formed from its visual affirmed that I had learned a new life lesson and the world was trying to shake me into understanding a portion of the meaning of life:  Human connection.

20140427_170141That is why George’s piece brought me to tears.  That is why the past two weeks have been amazing.  That is why Wichita is my home.  Five years ago, figuring out that “home is where the cat is” was the last straw in abandoning my ties to a place and instead attaching myself to a being.  I had always called Wichita “home” because I was born here.  I always called New York City “home” because I came of age there.  I always called Bolton Landing “home” because it was where my family is from (going back to the 1700′s).  While these places speak to me, this weekend showed me that they are actually rooted in person, not place.  My tribe…my people.  I’ve learned you can move somewhere new and make it your home by joining a tribe and creating new stories.  I’ve learned that when you leave a place you never leave the tribe.  You can’t!  Its your people!  I learned that the cat was never “home.”  The cat lived in the domicile I called home but the connections to living beings, places, and stories are what make a home.  For me that is my wife Kate and my boys Max and Dodge.  My tribe.  My people.  My home.  That this revelation came from a performance piece by George is why she’ll forever be part of my tribe.  We’ve traded stories, shared experiences, and caused each other to look at our homes and love them more.

greatsealI love Kansas.  I love that this is my home.  I love that I get to go to sleep at night to the sound of long trains rumbling through the outskirts of town shooing off cows with a distant and forlorn “Woo woo!”  I love how much sky there is to look at, and every chance I can I place my bare feet on grass to look up at it.  I love that there are places you can’t get to with a car.  I love that on George’s last day in Kansas she got to see a bald eagle’s nest and the bald eagle flew over to see if we were friend or foe.  I love that my kids get to grow up here like I did.  I love that the people I know have very different opinions and politics than mine…but they agree to disagree.  I love the people Wichita attracts and how this city is growing.  I love that Wichita opened its arms to George Ferrandi.  I love that I found my tribe.  I love my tribe.  They, their stories, and all the decisions they and I have made have led to this point and are why I am in this place.  This is why I live in Wichita…my tribe.  My home.  “Ad Astra per Aspera.”  “To the Stars Through Difficulties.”  Kansas.  Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone…but sometimes you realize what you’ve got while its there and all it took was an outside perspective.  Welcome to my home.

Dodge, Dodge on the range.

Dodge, Dodge on the range.

George Ferrandi out on the windy prairie of her last day in Kansas.

George Ferrandi out on the windy prairie of her last day in Kansas.

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Harvester Arts Launches

28 Feb
Harvester Volunteers

Harvester Volunteers

Two years ago, my wife Kate and I set out to create something in Wichita, KS that would bring visiting artists to this city.  We called it *asterICT and the mission was simple:  “To break down barriers between contemporary artists and their audience by inviting emerging artists from a broad range of disciplines to Wichita, KS for performances, exhibitions, workshops, and casual conversation.  *asterICT brought contemporary arts to the community on an intimate level so artists and audiences could engage with each other and mutually benefit from a shared artistic dialog.”  Two years later, Kate has taken this project and founded a fully operational nonprofit arts organization with her business partner Kristin Beal…and Wichita is abuzz!  Tonight Harvester Arts officially launches.  Instead of me fumbling over how proud I am of the work Kate & Kristin have done to make this organization a reality, I’ll turn things over to Lindsey Herkommer of KMUW Public Radio and the F5 Newspaper:

Harvester Arts — Wichita’s newest art space — opens this Final Friday. They are kicking off their first Final Friday with a disco-themed shindig, and announcing the winner of their logo contest selected from a local open call.

Harvester Arts, comprised of Kate Van Steenhuyse (Founder and CEO), Kristin Beal (Co-Founder and COO), and Ryan Gates (Co-Founder and Advisor), is dedicated to artistic cultivation and community engagement. This trio is making the second floor of Bluebird Arthouse, known as the NEST space, their creative home.

The aim of Harvester is to cultivate critical dialogue and new work in Wichita. This will be put into action in two phases.

Phase 1: they are looking beyond the city limits to bring nationally recognized artists to Wichita for a two-week residency. A residency provides artists dedicated time and space to they can experiment with their practice in another context. In these two weeks, artists will be introduced to our city, and we, in turn, will be introduced to their creative process. Harvester residencies will take place quarterly — a nice touch that sets them apart from the rapid rotation of monthly art exhibitions — and the first artist-in-residence will be revealed at their Final Friday disco party.

Phase 2: Harvester will organize satellite exhibitions beyond the NEST space in an effort to reach broader audiences and generate critical dialogue. These exhibitions will be the local response to the artist-in-residency, and an essential component to foster thoughtful conversation and encourage more risk taking in creating new artwork.

The local responses can take many different forms, and the community engagement can be as simple as some old fashion Midwest hospitality. Take the artist to lunch. Show them the sights. Let them borrow a book. Other ways to respond can be through art, writing, scholarly discussions, spoken word poetry … whatever we want, as long as we respond. Much of the success of the Harvester enterprise rests on us — the community.

Harvester is set-up as a non-profit which distinguishes them from commercial galleries. Since commercial galleries are concerned with making sales, they often submit to mass appeal and display art that lends itself to being a commodity. Harvester is not bound by these conventions. Instead, they will focus on installation and performance art — two types of art that have difficulty in the mainstream and do not lend easily to commodification. Both of these genres have been around since the 1960s and are widely accepted in contemporary art, yet are sorely underrepresented in Wichita.

In Ryan Wright’s article for the Wichita Eagle, he states, “[Harvester's] goal is simple — to bring nationally established artists to Wichita to do two-week residencies and create new work, which will give local artists an opportunity to respond through creation of new work of their own.” While I agree with his synopsis of the mission, the goal is far from simple. This is a big undertaking with many moving parts: hosting an out-of-town artist, displaying their work in NEST space, assembling satellite exhibitions, and orchestrating community engagement. Each of these components plays an important role in addressing some of Wichita’s largest challenges facing the local art scene.

We have arts reporting, but we lack critical engagement with the visual arts. We also have many art exhibitions, but the recycling of old artwork is embarrassing. We have a bad habit of showing the same work year after year, venue after venue, and giving each other a pass when it happens (I’m guilty of it, too). Local artists that developed a niche style are too comfortable and continue to make new work that looks the same as their old work from decades past. Critical dialogue and critical writing — with multiple perspectives — is necessary to move forward and foster new work.

Harvester Arts is set-up to address these issues with a positive, community-friendly approach. By mobilizing the community around artist residencies, we will have opportunities for rich discussion, creative experimentation, and a chance to push Wichita to a national level. Let’s take that chance.

To read the article on F5 or read more of Lindsey’s articles please go to f5paper.com/article/harvester-arts-promote-art-scene.

Photo Booth

Photo Booth

So if you are in the Wichita area come party with us (and the few hundred who have RSVP’d) as we kick things off with a gallery showing of the over 40 logo design submissions we received, the awarding of a $500 prize to the winning design and the new face of Harvester, the reveal of Harvester’s first visiting artist, a showing of our 5,000 square foot space and a party for the ages with bar, heavy hour devours, DJ, and a celestial realm photo booth sure to transport you to a heavenly state!

Havester Launches Friday, February 28th 2014, 8-11 PM.  924 W. Douglas - bluebird Arthouse 2nd floor NEST Space.

Havester Launches Friday, February 28th 2014, 8-11 PM. 924 W. Douglas – bluebird Arthouse 2nd floor NEST Space.

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Vote our music video to be “Video of the Week”

24 Jan

300x300Last week I shared the music video “Royal Flush” I produced in Los Angeles for singer-song writer Ethan Gold that was directed by the amazing Rachel Samuels.  Now, it’s up for “Video of the Week” by The Last VJ and I strongly encourage you to check out the 5 nominated videos and vote for Ethan’s.  The Houston Press calls it:

“All that constant dissonance in both sound and the nature of the stop-motion cinematography give “Royal Flush” a distinct dream-quality that is typical in his work. So much of what he brings to the medium is a haunted aspect, as if he’s seeking catharsis through the twisted mirror of a nightmare. Another brilliant video from someone we had all better keep an eye on.”

2008+CineVegas+Film+Festival+Day+3+-sT9yquiKmGlIn a world where most music videos today are made with Best Buy handycams and little thought other than “this looks cool,” Rachel Samuels creates a piece of 35mm artwork that compliments the song and tells a story.  Ethan and Rachel deserve every accolade available and I humbly ask that you help me reward the fruits of their labors and artistic vision bu voting for them today and as often as you remember.

To vote simply click HERE and vote for: Ethan Gold, “Royal Flush” on the second page.  Thank you for your support!

http://blogs.houstonpress.com/rocks/2014/01/last_vj_week_16.php

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Ethan Gold’s Royal Flush Music Video Premiere

17 Jan

ryan_slateEight years ago I packed up my New York City apartment, booked a U-Haul storage unit in Spokane Washington, and drove west towards Calgary Canada for a 3 month residency for a feature horror film I was going to Assistant Direct.  About 3 hours out of NYC I got a call from the Canadian film commission informing me that they had reviewed the film’s budget and required that a certain percentage of the crew be Canadian.  I said I understood and asked how I could help.  They informed me that they felt it was best if the Assistant Director be Canadian.  The conversation didn’t go well (as you can imagine) since I no longer had an apartment, was already en route, and now had nowhere to go.  My fiancee (now wife) Kate had moved to San Francisco for graduate school and I was supposed to move to LA…but not for another 3 months!  The rest is a story for another time but the short version goes like this:  I stopped off in Iowa to see family, made over 300 phone calls, found a place to crash in LA, and moved to Hollywood.

U-Haul trailerI arrived late on a Friday in my Subaru with the U-haul trailer in tow.  My friend Sean had invited me to a party…turns out it was a Playboy party.  So there I was at a Playboy party in my driving jeans and a stinky tee shirt talking to Bunnies.  “What do you do?”  they would ask.  “I’m a director and producer,” I would respond,” which is the response of about 99% of Hollywood’s population…that or “writer.”  Then they would ask, “How long have you lived here?” to which I would respond, “Oh…about an hour.”  This night became my calling card and everywhere I went for the next year people would introduce me by saying, “You know that story about the guy who went to the Playboy party with a U-Haul trailer?  …THIS IS THE GUY.”

I was the infamous “U-Haul Trailer Playboy Guy.”

Ethan+Gold+egphoto1I slept under my buddy Sean’s pool table during the worst cold spell that had hit LA in over a decade.  He got me a gig AD’ing a few music videos while I continued to work with my director and crew in Canada over the phone.  Eventually I found a few sublets and then an apartment of my own living in Tony Scott’s rental house in Larchmont across the street from Paramount Pictures.  During my sofa-surfing I met some amazing people who became friends for life…two of them are Rachel Samuels and Ethan Gold.  Ethan is a singer-songwriter who had teamed up with Director Rachel Samuels to do a music video from his album…but they needed a producer.  I got hooked up with them by the friend of my director’s producer’s roomate’s friend.  Boom…that’s LA.  The pre-production was intense, the production was an all-night shoot in Los Feliz, and the crew was amazing!  Filming is always better when you have fun and we had a blast.  No drama.

2008+CineVegas+Film+Festival+Day+3+-sT9yquiKmGlA few months later I was working post production on the film from Canada when Rachel called and asked about a second shoot.  The prep was a piece of cake, we used the same crew, we shot on the set of the TV show “Scrubs” while they were off for the week, and post production began.  By the time we had transferred film to digital and were cutting I had moved to San Francisco to be closer to Kate.  I had been commuting to NYC and back every few weeks producing commercials and LA had become a crash pad.  I setup Rachel’s computer so I could view it remotely when she needed help or she could email me the EDL and I could work on it from my editing suite at my office.  There were so many gorgeous shots that had birthed from Rachel’s head that it was hard to land on an edit.  Once it was completed it sat on a shelf as Ethan and his brother Ari cranked out more videos for the album “Songs From A Toxic Apartment.”

300x3008 years from that infamous Playboy party, 3 cities, and 2 kids later…the full album and videos have been officially released and “Royal Flush” premiered this month.  Seeing it again brings back more memories than I can type in this post…and some that are best told over drinks in loud bars with close friends.  It was the best of times…it was the best of times.  To say I am honored to have worked with Ethan, Rachel, and the amazing cast and crew of that shoot would be an understatement.  They affected the path and trajectory of my life forever (in a good way) and are forever part of a time when I discovered who I was.  The music video is gorgeous and I give full credit to Rachel and the crew for her vision, their dedication to the craft, and perseverance to make something that expressed the emotion of the song.  For me it is a happy reminder of why I still pick up a camera a few times a year to create something that isn’t intended for commercial use.  It reminds me that art comes from within and in a time where I was the super commercial dude…I got to be a part of this work of art.  So, without further ado…I give you something beautiful, something fun, and something collaborative.  Here is “Royal Flush.”

To read about the premiere of Royal Flush and Songs From A Toxic Apartment, check out the article and review from Impose.TV which calls it “An exclusive, intimate, and rare moving portrait.”

http://www.imposemagazine.com/tv/premiere-ethan-gold-royal-flush-video

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