Archive for December, 2009

The Ultimate Shaman Space

December 29, 2009
RAAAAAGE, courtesy of the Intellectual Gamer

Option A) Send girlfriend for anger management therapy. Option B) Stop living in your C Grade anime comic book

I refer to an interesting Martell VSOP Ultimate Start Up Space entry from a certain Ms. Elize Kawauchi, whose idea very blatantly invokes the trope “Misery loves company”.. with extreme prejudice. Not only does Ms. Kawauchi egregiously pepper her summary with hackneyed clichés (see also : All Crying Girls Eat Dairy Products By The Tubful), she also conjures up shamanistic imagery with her promise of delivering voodoo curses and the like. She calls her shop a “healing sanctuary” for God’s sake! So..is she some kind of wiccan who delivers bovine dairy goodness imbued with psychopathological healing powers or is she a shaven shaman replete with skull adorned belt and twisty walking stick who surreptitiously offers up a crude voodoo doll with button on eyes while generously applying “Kali-Ma! Kali-Ma!” in boisterous doses? I mean, why do these people act like they’re trading Cataclysmic Armageddon Devices under the table when they start hollering at the top of their voices not one minute later anyway? Youssa tayk dis voodoo an stik de pin an yer boyfren he feel da payn.

But seriously, Singapore loves clichés. I too loved it when I saw it. I mean, low cal frozen yoghurt? Dartboard with face of offending ex-boyfriend? Mock voodoo doll? Tissue strewn floor? I know of many a girl who will happily bite the bait and weep balefully while doling out wad after wad of cash, judgment clouded by their salty, salty tears. Ms. Kawauchi can expect her shop to be inundated with intransigent females wailing gratingly and generally being nuisances because the world clearly revolves around them when they’re sad. Who cares if the mournful women come out feeling a little lighter only in the vicinity of their waist pockets? Ms Kawauchi is going to make money, and probably spawn plenty of similar ventures. I’ve heard of a company which provides angry men the chance to vent on defenseless old cars, by arming them with blunt weapons and a devil may care attitude towards property damage.

It might sound incredibly gimmicky, but Ms Elize Kawauchi probably could market it as a self aware concept store which gives an ironic nod towards the phenomenon of crying females. Or, because I don’t know the extent of her earnestness, she could go for a full fledged cry-your-heart-out-and-don’t-worry-the-tissues-cost-five-dollars-a-pop store.

Whatever. I like it because its new. Ooh..Shiny. Oh, and you can rate her idea at The Ultimate Start Up Space : http://www.ultimatestartupspace.com.sg



Thrift Store + Drinks = Lady GaGa

December 17, 2009

Drunk dialing leaves you mortified after some semblance of sobriety has been restored to you. Drunk e-mailing gets you fired. Drink driving..let’s not go there. Drunk shopping? Dean’s Credit Clothing, a concept bar in Houston, Texas makes it possible for people to foray into the panoptic of thrift fashion while blitzed! You won’t cause any moral panic, but your soul will be irrevocably tainted by the memory of purchasing fluorescent green pants in a drunken haze because you thought they would “bring out your rambunctious personality”.

In all honesty though, Dean’s Credit Clothing seems a rather novel idea, for those looking for a hoot. I won’t make any excuses for seeming so contradictory (you know I hate “designer” bars) because for once, it actually is an interesting idea. Eski bars..done. Art house bars..check. Irish bars..been there. Sports bars..probably all over Texas. Biker bars..too loud to be overlooked. Karaoke bars..eugh. A bar with actual clothes for perusal and purchase (you can actually put your purchases on your bar tab), that I haven’t seen.

Drunk enough to consider taking that gaudy top home. That's their scheme people, it's a conspiracy!

What used to be a thrift clothing shop from the 40’s to 70’s has been transformed into a bar by partners Ziggy Morrow, Steven Scalice and Toby Lister. The fashion range is far more eclectic now and probably isn’t limited to the ubiquitous drawstring pants of old. Say what? It is a thrift store after all. (Disclaimer : I draw all my conclusions about that era from cultural references like “Stand By Me” and “The Beverly Hillbillies”, where everyone seemed to wear drawstring pants)

I hear the proprietors have taken great care to preserve the space’s historical aesthetics, while tacking on a sense of intimacy with their own conception of “confessionals”, cozy spaces behind what used to be the original cash register where you can ignore the obligatory thicko yammering away in a more private setting.

It’s a brash move because the two concepts don’t necessarily mesh easily. I mean, thrift fashion and drinks? The only comparison I can draw from the two is the classic scene where a drunk guy hurls all over his friend’s resplendent clothes. Maybe I just don’t read enough fashion rags. But seriously, it’s interesting, conceptually at least. Whether this unique thrift shop-bar melange eventually consigns itself to the rubbish bin of history remains to be seen. At least now you and your partner can deride the clothes hanging off the mannequins instead taking the piss out of regrettably misguided party-goers.

At least now you know where Lady Ga Ga gets her clothes from. And you can probably find out from the resident bartender which drink unravels her mental faculties before she shops. Did the penny-pinchers of the 50’s  really look so strange?


Ultimate Ultimate Start Up Space Redux

December 17, 2009

1) Originality

The idea needs originality. Martell isn’t giving away a 760 sq ft space in the middle of arguably one of the trendiest locations in Singapore for you to peddle your pedestrian teddy bears. The cutting edge digital installation is proof enough that Martell won’t endorse banal clichés.

2) Individuality

The idea shouldn’t be what you think Martell wants to see. The Ultimate Start Up Space is all in the spirit of entrepreneurship, evidenced by its open ended conception of innovation and ingenuity. The etymology of “entrepreneur” is elicited from the idea of risk-taking. While “individuality” might seem to be an amalgamation of originality and self interest, it isn’t quite so simple; it’s the quest to distinguish oneself from the masses.

3) Feasibility

Sure, you can be original and individualistic, but I believe there’s a limit on how far your idea can deviate from the norm. No one wants to buy your toenail flavoured salsa dip, or indulge in your one-of-a-kind service that offers to ascertain the level of Satanism present in your vinyl collection.

4) The Long Run

Everyone rushes to buy your revolutionary, superlative inducing product, but what happens when the hype fizzles out? Will you reinvent your ideas or put on your blinders? Even revolutions have cycles. Sustainability is one of the many keys to a successful start up, and if you don’t have a pertinent, rational road map, things will get ugly in no time. I’ll spare you the hackneyed quote regarding planning to fail.

5) Substance

Generic pubs are my antipathy. You would’ve known that if you’d read the previous posts chronicling my disinclination towards said pubs.  What’s inside matters more than what’s on the outside. I’m sure this oft repeated maxim is something even your dear old mother has conveyed to you. While I’m not knocking the Nipponese tendency to package products in the notoriously extravagant fashion unique to them, nobody wants the whole royal treatment shebang at a foot massage centre, only to realize that the advertised service is carried out by a dog trained to lick your feet.

6) Profitability

Ah, the heady mix of concept art and idealism. Anyone can imagine up a FIRE BREATHING ROOFTOP DRAGON WITH LASER BEAM EYES, and even create a miniature scale model, but how much money will said fire breathing dragon make you? Please don’t squander the 6 month rent free period. (See also: The Tortoise and The Hare) It’s all well and good that you stay true to your ideals, but the inevitable truth of consumerist societies is this: Money begets money!

7) Commitment/Determination

Didn’t your mother teach you any better? I know mine did (try). It’s so fundamental I refuse to provide more than two lines.

8 ) Passion

Being committed to keeping a floundering project afloat is going to achieve exactly that: keeping it afloat. Flounder or Flourish, you decide. Martell seems to capitalize very well on the whole idea of passionate people. But remember, passion without control and direction is ineffectual, so don’t waste this one inimitable quality.

9) Remember your roots

Thumb your nose at the crass hoi polloi and sneer at the plebeians, oh You, champion of business coups, oh You of whence splendiferous business ideas are begotten, but never forget that the bourgeoisie pays for your 7-Series Beemer.

10) Bring your morals

Now that you can skirt the issue of climbing the corporate ladder, you’ve got no excuse. People are tired of power hungry suits and soulless corporations which plunder and pillage. There are enough of those out there, and there’s enough reason for your start up to break the mould. Go for it.

What makes the Ultimate Ultimate Start Up Space?

December 16, 2009

1) Originality

Martell isn’t giving away a 760 sq ft space in the middle of arguably one of the trendiest locations in Singapore for you to peddle your pedestrian teddy bears.

2) Individuality

The idea shouldn’t be what you think Martell wants to see.

3) Feasibility

Will it work? Are you going for mass appeal or a niche market?

4) The Long Run

Everyone rushes to buy your revolutionary, superlative inducing product, but what happens when the hype fizzles out?

5) Substance

What’s inside matters more than what’s on the outside. Fancy marketing won’t save you all the time.

6) Profitability

You need to make money in order to make more money.

7) Commitment/Determination

Didn’t your mother teach you any better? I know mine did (try).

8.) Passion

Being committed to keeping a floundering project afloat is going to achieve exactly that : keeping it afloat. Flounder or Flourish, you decide.

9) Remember your roots

Don’t forget who got you where you are now.

10) Don’t forget your morals

Now that you can skirt the issue of climbing the corporate ladder, you’ve got no excuse.

Come back for an expanded version tomorrow, right now I’m just interested in being a lazy git.

ultimatestartupspace.com.sg or O Bacchus! Hear my cries!

December 14, 2009

While I’m not predisposed to shamelessly plugging events and products, this one deserves particular mention for almost telepathically reviving my floundering hopes for the Singaporean pub scene. And while cognac isn’t my poison of choice, I must say that Martell VSOP certainly is being very kind to my entrepreneurial instincts.

Close friends and family of mine who are privy to my shamelessly opinionated stance against large corporations will question my decision to participate in this event. “You’re a sellout!”, the ineluctable cawing and baying echoes around my online social circles, but not within my conscience. Sorry fellas, I’m a sellout and I’m proud of it, if the good people over at Martell deign my idea worthy of Bacchus and Dionysus they can fill the fairy cup with Martell VSOP cognac for all I care.

The floorplan for the proposed space.

That boxed in X in the middle of the space? Thats where the fairy cup goes.

I’m no architect, and I have no idea what that little box in the middle represents, but with sufficient arm twisting the rendition of the floor space will resemble my conception of a warm, intimate setting. No, I don’t care if it’s a vent that’s necessary for ventilation at the expense of possible safety hazards, imbibing tepid cider alongside a gaudily disguised air vent is an even greater evil than involuntary asphyxiation.

By now many of you will be hemming and hawing over my absolutely appalling disregard for one of the laws of nature (self-preservation), but I assure you, the incommensurable delight one derives from sipping their intoxicant of choice far removed from any jarring design influences takes precedence over an individual’s health and safety.

Bacchus, God of Wine

A man does not die of love or his liver or even of old age; he dies of being a man. ~Percival Arland Ussher. I may have misconstrued this quote, but I'm self-seeking like that.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of things. Why is this T-shaped space so pertinent to my idea? I came home on a Saturday night, sinus cavities and bloodstream free from the insidious influence of cigarette smoke and alcohol, to find this rather interesting post on YoungUpstarts detailing (the promo video is available here too) the Ultimate Start Up Space contest. It’s interesting to say the least. The floor space is 760 sq ft, and funding to the tune of $20,000 is provided. If the website is anything to go by, I’ll be provided with an executive education program from INSEAD. If a framed degree from “Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires” doesn’t lend credence to my self proclaimed European sensibilities, I don’t know what does. What it doesn’t lend credence to, however, is my horribly unrefined photoshopping skills.

Floorplan

Photoshoppery at its finest.

I’ve painstakingly mapped out the areas of the proposed bar counters, yes painstakingly, it took me a grand total of fifteen minutes to figure out how to re-size the image in order to draw lines. The only notable deviation from my original plan is the booth in the bottom left of the floor plan. It’s for raucous yuppies to gather, removed from the fine, upstanding patrons savouring their drinks. An area of shame. I expect it to be uninhabited.Perhaps even a new job opening for “annoying, menu-providing waiter constantly hovering around table making uninformed choices for exceedingly uncultured patrons”.

Behind the bar counters will be the well-stocked displays, for patrons who aren’t predisposed to amiable conversations to peruse. Remember the no menus policy? It’s still in effect. The three bartenders will make recommendations based on trivialities such as The Weather, Your Mood, Your Bosses’ Mood, Your Wife’s Credit Card Tab, If Your Dog Had a Poo in Your Shoes, and How Unbearable The Commute To Work Was. Perhaps the apprentice bartender will handle the purchase of bottles to take away. The glaring lack of tables situated on the floor space is intended. Eden Hall wants patrons to lean over bar counters and forestall the ill results of a menu-less bar by engaging the bartender in  informative conversations. Who knows, they may even find out they prefer French Connections to Manhattans.

I’ve got until the 12th of February to tweak my idea to acceptable standards of normalcy. Check back soon for updates. What do the less deviant minds of public consciousness think?

Here's hoping. Brownie points please? Martell VSOP's Ultimate Start Up Space brick and mortar storefront.

Of Fairies and Menus

December 10, 2009
The proverbial Eden Hall fairy cup

The proverbial Eden Hall fairy cup

In my time spent as a rambling man navigating the stretch of prime real estate that is Clarke Quay, I’ve managed to avoid obstreperous rowdies, gaudy bars and the discordant crowds gyrating to tacky music, but I’ve never managed to escape the looming spectre of The Menu. The Menu? THE MENU!! Okay, can the exaggerated gasps and let me explain.

Pubs in Clarke Quay all provide standard services, a cocktail, wine and food menu. The measure of a pub seems to lie in how thematically sound you can get your pub to be, or worse, how avant garde your chairs look. It’s all style and no substance. I don’t want to spend my time staring at the bust of an unimportant figure lost in the annals of history, nor do I think contending with keeping my drink intact while literally slipping off sleek looking chairs for lack of proper design is very fun at all. I desire substance. A personal touch. A bartender who knows the difference between Cabernet sauvignon and Riesling, and why I do not want to have tannins mess with my fish dish. ( I am not partial to the taste of metal )

I’m calling my brainchild Eden Hall Counter Bar. It’s an old school bar where there are no sullen, churlish servers who thrust menus in your face, instead, savvy, perceptive bartenders chat you up and provide erudite recommendations based on your needs. There are no seats or tables save for the bar stools which encircle the bar, which also spans the entire width of the counter. Two veteran bartenders  man the bar, for added intimacy. Only two? Okay fine, I’ll make concessions..for one bartender understudy or a paying apprentice. Of course, an extensive selection of spirits, cocktails, wines and alcohol is imperative. Locals and foreigners must have their taste buds tickled and their interests piqued. It covers all one’s needs. Need a bottle for a party? Pop by and purchase it.

Oh, and if the name Eden Hall rings a bell, it’s got to do with fairies. And a special multi-coloured glass cup. Please don’t doubt my gender orientation, it might be a tad whimsical but I certainly don’t plan to paste fairy stickers on all the mugs. The contemporary Eden Hall will sport a specially crafted glass in the middle of the counter as a talking point and ice breaker for new visitors.

What say you?

Pop Up Pub Down Under : Victoria Bitter Campaign Delights Pun Hungry Reporters

December 10, 2009
Apparently a tennis court is a perfectly good location to set up a bar. Who knew?

Apparently a tennis court is a perfectly good location to set up a bar. Who knew?

The current Zeitgeist of beer loving Australia is (unsurprisingly) coloured by pub crawlers who desire a throwback to the days more intimate pubs, reminiscent of “Cheers”, where everybody knows your name. In an even more unsurprising twist, people also have their knickers in a twist over the misuse of alcohol.

What better way to allow Australians to live out the fantasy of a Sam Malone-esque existence, serving beer and charming women, while circumventing  the lockout campaigns that have bar owners cowering in fear?

The VB Pop-Up Pub is limited release, is way easy to set up and even includes an illuminated beer sign, but you can’t purchase it, you have to win it by buying Victoria Bitter in its multifarious forms of tinnies, stubbies, cases, cans, pots, twisties..oh you get the idea. It’s even been entered into the Australian International Design Awards for its ingenuity.

Of course, your pub would embarrass even the small bar campaigners, but you get to be the boss and you don’t have to listen to “Closing Time” by Third Eye Blind every time the “bloody bar owner with no business sense” wants to shut down.

Don’t forget to advertise your presence and put up the illuminated VB sign up though ( I hear they have beer stasi who skulk around apprehending selfish beer drinkers who hoard everything for themselves )

What’s a French Connection? Are we talking Gene Hackman here?

December 10, 2009

Which was what a rather surly bartender asked me recently. On my travails as an unrelenting hedonist in search of the ultimate watering hole in Singapore, I think this bartender takes the cake. The French Connection is excruciatingly simple to concoct, 1 part Amaretto Liqueur and 1 part Cognac.

I was tired. I had a long day. I asked the bartender for a French Connection, and he looked at me quizzically with a tinge of chagrin. The audacity of asking a trained bartender to mix up a two part drink! I suppose I shouldn’t have taken the tone which one adopts when speaking to an irreverent child, but I found the bar’s failure to stock Amaretto di Saronno rather galling.

The dearth of well-trained bartenders who possess discerning palates troubles me. It’s a void that bar owners in Singapore need to address instead of hiring fresh faced schoolboys with their “inimitable” memorization skills in droves. Yet, I don’t know if my impassioned missives will be an affront to the sensibilities of the faux classy nouveau rich or the hordes of yuppies who think sharp suits and snazzy ties grant them the right to demand deference from all lower life forms. Don’t get me wrong though, I do love a good old Manhattan or a Singapore Sling. Sometimes.

Singapore wants to be a world-class nightspot? Why are there sommeliers who force their most expensive wines upon me when I merely want to indulge my grease guzzling proclivities and savour my bangers and mash? And why isn’t there Amaretto di Saronno at bars for the well heeled? Ah, mysteries..