Black Balls in Silver Lake Resevoir

About 3,000,000 black plastic balls were dropped into the Ivanhoe resevoir in Silver Lake last year. It’d been forever since I’d been on that side of town (where I used to live and my brother still does). We took a bike ride in the late afternoon (click here for a crappy mobile phone video on YouTube) and it was the first time I’d seen all the balls floating in the water. The geometric shapes they form on the surface are like a giant version of a silicon chip circuitry or something.

Click here to find out the why behind the millions of plastic balls on the L.A. NOW blog from the L.A. Times.

Three Piles and a Landscaping Story

Pile of bricks, a pile of dirt and a pile of crap. All three piled up behind my house as our back yard is being landscaped. You can see our photos (and some pixelated video shot with my Blackberry) by clicking here to go to Flickr. The work has gone quite smoothly, given that I’m trying to act as the project manager, and the guys who do our weekly yard maintenance are doing all the work. In other words, I’m paying people who work on lawns every single day to redo my lawn, and I’m skipping hiring an expensive landscaping firm. We did have the good fortune of hiring San Francisco based landscape architect, and very close friend, Dean Williams, to do the plan. And when I say “hire” what I really mean is that he did it out of the kindness of his heart and as a gift for us.

Caro and I had watched a HGTV show called 25 Biggest Landscape Mistakes the week before we started (oh, and did I mention that we started this project the week we came home from the hospital with a brand new baby?!). On the show, there were a couple of important takeaways that I will 100% get behind:

  • The number one mistake is not having a plan. You have to have a plan, even if you do it yourself. Having had a landscape architect helped immensely. He did the plan from photos and my measurements. It’s not a science, but it helps to have someone understand the relationship between plants, outdoor living space and the house. And then you know what you’re getting into, because costs can run away from you before you know it. Which leads to the next point:
  • It costs more than you think. Unlike a lot of jobs where labor would be the biggest expense, our single biggest expense is materials, especially the plants. By getting Gustavo and Juan to do it, I got deals at wholesale rather than paying retail myself. It also helps to have a large, commercial nursery. The show said add it all up and add 30%. That’s about right.

So check out the photos to see how the three piles were all part of our landscape job, and you can see before, after and nearly-finished photos. Tomorrow evening at dusk we’re going to put in the lighting and then the maintenance starts.

Note from Dean: never get thrown off by a garden’s first planting. The whole thing will come together and look more natural as the plants fill in their beds.

Beldings Awards Show – Kind of a Bust?

ThinkLA Belding awards. I’d have to say, a little bit of a bust this year. The cash bar didn’t help (and I wasn’t drinking; I just listened to every conversation open with a complaint about an ad show without a vodka sponsor – times are tough all over).

We had a great site built with The Branding Farm, but the show’s theme didn’t tie in with the theme that was created for the invitations and entries. The Broad Stage at Santa Monica College was an amazing venue, though.

The RPA Honda “Grooves” music road work that won the sweepstake bowl deserved it. The only undeserving award I thought was when TBWA/Chiat-Day won a slew of interactive awards for the Mac & PC campaign. I do think they’re great use of video and a great use of media placement, but they have absolutely no interactivity. So the Beldings and ThinkLA might think to either revise the categories for Best Use of Online Media or Best Use of Video Online and leave Interactivity awards to go to work that is interactive. Just a thought.

DDB was left out in the cold this year after taking the top prize last year.