Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mac Premo

We've known Mac ever since he came to work for us after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design. He's an incredible artist and animator. These days, he finds himself in his Brooklyn studio, making better and better things with his hands.

What else does he have to do, now that his beloved Yankees are not in the hunt for the first time since 1996?

Peanuts! Popcorn! Art!

With a name like Premo, you betcha it's good. To see more, go to his website macpremo.com.


Does this remind anyone of the halls of Congress?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Phi Phi Island, Thailand

I don't know what made me think about Phi Phi island, located in southern Thailand today...nostalgia, I guess. It's been nearly 18 years since I was aboard a longboat like the one pictured here, diving in caves buried beneath the huge rock-islands...maybe these very ones.

Back in the day when I was there, in 1990, there were only huts on the island...no hotels, and not really any tourists. I would go out ever day and go diving on one of those longboats. We would go into underwater caves, and then surface inside the island where swallows would be flying everywhere as shafts of light penetrated into the cavern. There would also be these primitive man-looking dudes on these super-high bamboo ladders risking their lives to collect the birds nests and bird drippings for the Japanese who would pay princely sums to eat it. UGH!!!!

This is the area where they filmed the Bond flick The Man with the Golden Gun.

Ah, paradise. Are there any Eden spots left on the planet that don't have a Sheraton or Hilton property on them? God, I hope so. If so, would someone please tell me where it is... -- John Anderson

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

War and Peace - it's about time

It took a long time to tackle this goal, but I'm finally reading War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy's greatest novel, they say. I did read Anna Karenina way back when, which others argue is better. The only way to truly know is read both.

W & P...when you read a book written so long ago, you wonder how much application it has to today's world. Well, one thing's for sure. When Leo is writing about the social norms of his day, and how everyone is jockeying to get one up on each other, that sure rings a bell in '08.
More thoughts on this to follow, once I dig deeper.

One thing is for certain..the book is darn heavy. I had a Norton Critical edition, but the book was too big and long (length-wise) to read in any kind of relaxing way. Then I found out that Sharon had another copy of the book from the Modern Library. You can read this version while lying down without pulling out the ligaments in your thumb from all the weight you're holding.

Someone should think about printing the book in thirds, for portablility purposes.
It turns out that was done way back in 1915, which I found out on Google Books.

Of course an easier way to carry W & P around would via download on your iPhone (if you can read that small) or on your computer. Google scanned the entire book which they got from the UC Berkeley library. What I found fascinating was that this book has not been checked out since February 3, 1964.

I know there is a whole movement afoot to teach college students the Classics. So why hasn't this book been checked out in over 44 years?
--John Anderson

Monday, September 22, 2008

"I'm sorry to see it over"

Yogi Berra, wearing his old Yankee uniform, #8, got the last word on the closing of the Stadium: "I'm sorry to see it over." This from the fella who said "it ain't over 'til it's over."

Well, Yankees fans, it's over. The Stadium is no more. The Yanks played their last game, and won (thank God!) 7-3 over the Orioles.

It is so hard to believe that we'll never see the boys in pinstripes play in the House that Ruth built ever again. We have so many fond memories there over so many years.

The best game that we ever attended was Game 4 of the 2001 World Series against the Diamondbacks. We are eternally grateful for those lower box seats to Lee Ann Daly of ESPN, who is now head of marketing at Thomson Reuters (you rock Lee Ann!). The World Series that year had been postponed because of 9/11, and so Game 4 wasn't played until Halloween night. The game went past midnight, and when the clock struck 12:00 midnight, we looked up at the scoreboard which read "Welcome to November baseball."

The World Series had never been played in November before, and probably never will be again. The specialness of that night was heightened by the American flag which flew right in front of us, the very same flag that had been found in the rubble from the World Trade buildings.

This was also one of the first times "God Bless America" was sung during the 7th inning stretch of a baseball game. And it also when Tino Martinez, facing two outs in the bottom of the ninth, hit a two-run homer off Byung-Hyun Kimto to tie the game.

The next inning, Derek Jeter hit a solo shot to win it with a walk-off homer.

The Stadium went beserk. We saw cops hugging and kissing fans, jumping up and down with them, yelling as loud as they could as Derek rounded the bases, his fist pumping the November air.

We'll never forget buying round after round of drinks for NYFD firemen in the bars behind the Stadium after the game, as we toasted to their fellow firefighters who they had just lost in the World Trade bombings.

In the TV spot that we did about The Stadium (which you can see at thefarm.com), we loved what announcers Michael Kay and Al Traugwig had to say about the place: "You don't have to say Yankee Stadium. This is The Stadium. Ballet's got Lincoln Center, Opera's got the Met. This is it. This is the address for the greatest things that have ever happened in baseball."

Friday, September 19, 2008


Daylife is an amazing place to get news and information that you can really use (no kidding!), and it's designed just for you. We know you have heard this all before, but it's Mac news versus PC news.

Daylife is an aggregator site, but what is truly incredible about it is how well it's designed. We love the big picture approach of showcasing the big story of the day with a big bold photo cover, and how below that pic/story, you can scroll through each and every other big story of each day all the way back to January 1, 2007. It's a snapshot in recent history, any time you want it.

You can find Daylife at daylife.com. You can customize the site to search for anything and everything of interst to you. They have partnerships with just about every major news organization - CNN, USA Today, BBC, Economist, the usuals. But what's wild is they draw from all kind of obscure sources as well. Today, for example, there was a story there from the Maylasian Sun.

Daylife was started by a group of folks who include Tom Tercek. We've known Tom for a very long time, dating back to his days at MTV Networks. Tom knows, and appreciates, great design, and it shows with Daylife's "ContentSense" platform. Try it; you'll like it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Damien gone wild with the Golden Calf of C-A-S-H

We're sure that most people reading this know who Damien Hirst is. What they don't know, and neither do we, is how he makes so much $$$ with pickled sharks and bulls and diamond-studded skulls in the middle of this economic meltdown.

You probably heard in his latest sale go-round that Sir Damien skipped sharing the wealth with his art dealers altogether, and decided to sell the work directly to his adoring public via Sotheby's. Here's how the sale went, as reported by the Associated Press:

A sale of pickled sharks, butterfly paintings and other pieces by provocative British artist Damien Hirst has raised $198 million, silencing his doubters and defying the global economic gloom.

Sotheby's auction house said the total for the two-day sale was a record for an auction of works by a single artist.

The turmoil engulfing global financial markets did nothing to dampen prices as more than 600 prospective buyers packed the showroom for each of the three auction sessions.

"The Kingdom," a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde, sold for $17 million in the first session Monday evening. "The Golden Calf" - an embalmed calf with golden hooves and horns - fetched $18.5 million.

We've always puzzled over the issue about how much Hirst's success is attributable to branding versus the actual artwork. Maybe the two are one. Love to hear what you think about all this.

We also wanted to share with you his platinum skull, embedded with 8601 diamonds sale for $100 million cash last year. Is Damien the guy from that movie, all grown up?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First Day of Kindergarten with my best friend Phil

Speaking of dirt (see previous blog entry), I must be asking for some when posting this photo of my first day at kindergarten. Some say you learn more in kindergarten then you do the rest of your life. Well, I hope that I learned at least not to dress in shorts and dark socks like I did here, with hands in pockets. Next to me is my best buddy, Phil Calcutt. If you look close enough, you'll see our name tags, put there by our moms in case we forgot our names, I guess.

Forty three years after this picture was taken, Phil and I are still best buddies. He is now a powerhouse executive at Accenture, traveling the world to cure business of its inefficient ways, while I do what I can to keep out of trouble at The Farm. --john anderson

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dirt Farmer Wisdom

We were poking around the Museum of American Folk Art (which is right near the Metropolitan Opera and even closer to the big Barnes & Noble on Broadway and 66th) when we came across this little gem of a book by JoJo Hensen. You got it. If it's about farms, we love it!

JoJo is the granddaughter of a dirt farmer, and she provided us with some very juicy intellectual plums to savor during these incredibly turbulent financial times. Here's just a few to ponder today:

"Can't have rainbows without rain....Meet the storms head-on, push through the rain and wind to dance in the glorious colors of the rainbow."

Here's something Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae should have heeded 10 years or more ago, especially about the cash part:

"Sell your harvest to the buyer who is ready to make the deal, is willing to pay the best price, and has the cash in hand."

Or try this one on for size:

"Are you digging sinkholes in your life? Time is too precious to squander becoming an expert in things that don't benefit you, personally or professionally."

And here's one of our favorites from the book for the presidential candidates to embrace:

When your cows break through the pasture fence, do you call a committee meeting, initiate an environmental impact study, and call in the National Guard? Or do you simply catch your cows and mend the fence?"


Mark Warner and the "Radical Centrist"

As much fighting that's been going on back and forth between Dems and Repubs this election season, it is a bit refreshing to hear about someone trying to straddle the middle. His name is Mark Warner, ex-governor from Virginia who is making a run for the U.S. Senate. We were invited to a small gathering of friends and supporters to hear him first-hand, and we found him a lot more impressive than when we last heard him at the Democratic National Convention.

Warner's sells himself as a "centrist" and his goal if elected is to create a bi-partisan caucus of Democrat and Republican "radical centrists" who will focus on tackling, together, the sticky issues of energy, health care, Wall Street reform, etc. Imagine both sides working together. Well, we think he's sure to win in November. As to pulling together his "radicals,"we wish him the very best.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


We are so happy here at The Farm about the G-Men, given last season's insane Super Bowl win and now this season, starting off at 2-0. Eli was on fire today, as was the defense, when they whomped the Rams 41-13. Man do they play well in those red-lettered away jerseys. Maybe they should just stay away from Jersey all year, and play on the road every game! It was Big Blue's 12th consecutive victory on the road.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Real Thing

We went to a house concert party last night. How did we not know about this for all these years?
Here's how it works: you book the act/band, invite some friends over who kick in some cash by donating what they think is appropriate (which you suggest), and then wham, you have a concert in your living room, backyard, garage, wherever you want. You're now a homegrown music promoter. Just Google "home grown concerts" to find a slew of options, and off you go.

Ann and Dave Trinkle opened up their incredible Tuscan-styled house last night to showcase Amy Speace, a songer/songwriter who plays downtown haunts like the Bitter End in the City. She showed up with her Gibson acoustic guitar, a bearded fellow sporting a Fender telecaster, a pair of speakers, and two spotlights for the "stage" which normally serves as the slate landing which leads into the kitchen.

Amy writes some wickedly good tunes. She had an album that came out a year or so back entitled "Songs for Bright Street" on Judy Collins' label which you can find on iTunes, Amazon, and wherever else all music downloads are sold. Definitely listen to "Double Wide Trailer" where she sings about falling in love with a good 'ol boy from Carolina for whom she cashes in her trust fund for a six pack of Bud.

Also check out "The Real Thing" about a woman who is who she is, like it or not. Sound familiar? Well, Amy ain't that kinda woman. She was supposed to play at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, but her schedule got changed around and so she recorded a music video protest song against the war instead which features her and a slew of real Army and Air Force soldiers in uniform. The video is set to air next month on CMT (which, for all those country neophytes, stands for Country Music Television).

Here's Amy doin' "The Real Thing":

Friday, September 12, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes

Today, our beloved Creative Director and breast cancer survivor Sharon Rapoport celebrates her 7th anniversary since she received her last chemo treatment at NYU Medical Center the day after 9/11/2001. That's right. Sharon got her last treatment just around the block from where the World Trade victims were being brought and accounted for the Day After.

She is our hero at The Farm. Sharon is cancer-free, and is very active with Susan G. Komen For the Cure. She's been diligently lobbying US Senators and Congressmen on Capitol Hill to allocate more money towards breast cancer treatment and research. She helped co-found a new Komen chapter in Virginia where she sits on the board, and for whom she created an incredible regional campaign which will go public next month as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

We are so happy to have her with us, every minute of every hour of every day. She is doing an incredible job as a Mom, raising two boys (Seth and Isaac) who were 7 and 5 when she was first diagnosed, who are now 15 and 12. She is our sunshine that gives light to everyone and everything she does. She is what makes us grow.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11 - 7 years later

It happened 7 years ago today. I watched some of the memorial service being broadcast on CNN, and then came home early to see my youngest son Isaac (who was home sick), age 12, watching MSNBC broadcast the "Today" show from 9/11/01 as the events unfolded that day at the WTC, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania. All I could think about was that Isaac was just 5 when all this happened. What did all this mean to him now? He wasn't up for talking about it, but one day, I sure hope he tells me.

Later, I called my good friend Andre. He and I walked home together after I watched the towers fall with my own eyes while standing in the middle of 5th Avenue and 26th Street. For some crazy reason, I was wearing clogs that day. I still have 'em, and they are one of my most prized possessions. I walked in those black clogs with Andre all the way to 110th and Broadway before the subways began to run again, one-way, out of Manhattan. My friend and I were trying to get home to Hastings-on-Hudson in Westchester County. The subway took us as far as an Irish pub in the Bronx, where we waited with our Guinness clutched firmly in our hands until Andre's wife picked us up so we could get home to hug our children, and my wife. Andre and I never forgot how lucky we were then, and how lucky we are now.

Seven years later, and it still is hard to believe so many innocent people died that day, and that the towers are gone. I still sometimes look for the towers when I come out of the subway for direction. Old habits, I guess. I remember my wife and I picked out our favorite apartment because it had such a spectacular view of the WTC. I remember carrying little Isaac, and holding the hand of his older brother Seth in early 2001 as we toured the buildings just 6 months before the attack. This video commemorates being inside them. What a loss 9/11 has been to everyone - the US, the world, but especially New York City.

--John Anderson

"Henry Poole is Here"

Well it must be that time of year when all your friends' movies come out at the same time (see "Choke" below). Last weekend, we saw Henry Poole is Here which was directed by Mark Pellington. We've known Mark since before we even started our company, back in the day when he worked as a producer/director at MTV. Mark's film delves into the life of Henry Poole (played by Luke Wilson) who gets a terminal diagnosis from his doctor, and is on the slide down, down, down until a strange supernatural occurrence happens on the wall of his stucco house. The take-away for us was a positive message of hope and redemption. Some critics have been tough on this film, which is unfair. There's enough cynicism in the world, so we agree with Mark that there needs to be a lot more hope infused into the world. Henry is a great step towards moving all of our moods into a positive direction. The movie was inspired by Mark's own tragic loss of his wonderful wife, Jennifer. Go see the film, and ignore the naysayers.

Here's a little interview with Mark and Adriana Barraza (who is really really really good in the film) about Henry.

Mark is an incredibly brave soul by tackling the hard issues of death and spirituality, head-on. If there is any doubt about his personal strength, just watch the video below that he did for the band Keane called "Everybody's Changing" which features folks like Mark himself whose loved ones have died, and are left behind, alone and sad. Mark is now raising his beautiful daughter Isabella on his own, and he's s doing a fantastic job of it. We got a chance to play with her on the beach in Venice Beach, California back in April, and she is one special little girl.

And as if all that is not enough, Mark somehow found the time to direct the film "U2 3D." Rock on Brother Mark - we love ya.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


We just got back from a special screening at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA of "Choke," a very dark psychotic comedy made by ATO Pictures (Dave Matthews' and Dave's manager Coran Capshaw's company), produced by our good friend Temple Fennell. Sam Rockwell is on his game by playing the lead role of Victor Mancini who is part con man, part indentured servant (by working as a colonial-era theme park actor), and full-time sex addict who attends Sex Addicts Anonymous. He can't ever get past more than two days of sexual sobriety, and step four of the "process." The movie is based on the book of the same title by Chuck Palahniuk, writer of Fight Club. The movie, set to be released nationwide in over 500 theaters on Friday September 26th is going to be a big hit among the college crowd, judging by the reactions we saw from the UVA viewers. The You Tube trailer already has over 1 million hits. One last note. Gotta love the design of the movie poster, and definitely check out the promotional website. So get out and enjoy some dirty sex satire right before the presidential debates.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"Stay Mad for Life" by Jim Cramer

We don't know about you, but we find ourselves mesmerized from time to time by the antics of Jim Cramer on his CNBC show "Mad Money." He's amazing. He really makes stocks exciting. Since we had some time this summer, we had a chance to read his book. After the nuclear meltdown by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we figured this was as good a time as any to go back and review Big Jim. Here's the meat of the matter when it comes to Cramerica:

Capital preservation is always more important than the exciting capital appreciation.

If you want more money, the first step is always the same: you need to save. Saving is the basis on which every other aspect of building lasting wealth rests. You can't invest without savings.

You absolutely must create a budget for yearly, monthly and even daily expenses. You must have health insurance. You cannot carry a credit card balance.

In budgeting, learn from your past, and judge it. Create a short term and long term budget, and hold yourself accountable EVERY month. If you fail on your planning, take drastic measures to get back on course.

Divide your income into three separate streams - spending, retirement, and discretionary investing.

Some things you don't want to take big chances on, and your ability to retire with plenty of money to spare is definitely one of them.

Even though you need to pay this month's bills well before you retire, if you are smart you will prepare for the long run first.

If investing in mutual funds, invest in index funds or the lowest cost mutual funds offered. Actively managed funds fail to beat the market 80-90 percent of the time.

To create the best possible retirement fund and the best possible discretionary fund you need to know what you're investing in and what you should be investing in.

Retirement funds percentage stocks/bonds

40 to 50 years 70-80% stocks, 20-30%% bonds

50-60 60-70 stocks/30-40% bonds

60-retire 50-60/ 40-50

retire 30-40/ 60-70

You know that I am a stock junkie and you know that investing in individual stocks is the best way to go.

Many parents exclude their children from family discussions about money, and I think that's counterproductive. When I talk about getting kids involved in the market, I mean getting them involved in things they know and may get excited about.


1. Don't invest like a hedge fund manager

2. Don't quit when you get back to even (meaning if you believe in the stock long term, stay with it, or buy a bit more on the way down).

3. Never Say Never on a Takeover (it can happen to any stock).

4 Don't let the market shake you out of a good long-term plan.

5. Piggybacking can be a winning strategy- just stay on the pig

6. Play with the house's money (meaning that as a stock goes up, sell part of it in increments until you are left with an amount that you got all from gains...then stick with that for the really long haul because it's free).

7. Never turn an investment into a trade....If it is long term, stay with it.

8. Trust your instincts, not your friends.

9. Don't let short term bad news scare you from a long term stock.

10.If you sell a position to fill a need in a portfolio, don't jettison it because it isn't working. (so if you need a gold stock to round out your portfolio, and it is underperforming, keep it..it's insurance for a market turn).

11. Uninformed low dollar amount speculation can wipe you out.

12. Love the product, don't love the stock. (make sure the stock works with a product that has some lasting power).

13. Never buy the best house in a bad neighborhood (example: buying a radio company after XM and Sirius hit the scene).

14. You are not an index fund, so you don't need any one kind of stock in your portfolio......

15. Pay attention to local papers - the Web is your secret weapon.

16. Be suspicious of high dividends..they often don't get paid.

17.Be suspicious of technical analysis. It tends to miss all of the big turning points.

18. Companies can change their stripes, especially when you least expect it.

19. It just can't be this bad, can it?

20. Don't let the media panic you out of a good holding.


1. Pros always shave cash....No less than 5% at any time. Need to be able to jump in on bargains.

2. Pros learn t start living and stop worrying about the quarterly report.

3. Pros try to not invest in things they don't know.

4. Pros recognize that not everything is analyzable.

5. Pros want to know the downside, not the upside.

6. Pros always look; they never avert their eyes from a downturn...need to know what is happening..and when to strike on an opportunity.

7 Pros accept that not everything works or is going to work at once.
That's why you diversify.

8. Amateurs are worried that they aren't making enough, and pros are worried they are making too much.

9, Pros know that cuffing it without doing homework can reduce you to an amateur.

10. Pros understand the upside, but they know that things can go wrong.


Caterpillar, Goldman Sachs, ConocoPhillips, XTO Energy, Transocean, Hologic (diagnostics for early detection for mammography and osteoporosis...women's health), Inverness Medical Innovations (diagnostics); CVS Caremark, McDonalds, Freeport-McMoRan, Hewlett Packard, Corning, Google, International Game Technology (gambling machines), Pepsi, P&G, New York Stock Exchange, Union Pacific, Boeing, Sears.


Aggressive - CGM Focus (CGMFX), Dreyfus Premier Strategic Value (DAGVX), Bridgeway Agggressive Investor (BRAGX) Rice Hall James Microcap (RHJSX). Legg Mason Aggressive Growth (SHRAX)

Growth - Buffalo Small cap, FBR Small Cap,

Value - Putnam Small cap value, Heartland Value, Berwyn, Muhlenkamp

Monday, September 8, 2008

Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food"

We love food at The Farm, so we figured it would be helpful to do a reduction, if you will, of Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food." Here you go:

1. Don't eat anything your great grandma wouldn't recognize as food.

2. Avoid food products that make health claims.

3. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket, and avoid the middle.

4. Get out of the Supermarket whenever possible - use farmer's markets and direct from farmers if possible, and avoid microwaveable.

5. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.

6. You are what what you eat eats too...(so if cow eats corn, no good, because getting injected with hormones..go for grass-fed).

7. If you have the space, buy a freezer (that way you can get good food in bulk when in season, and freezing doesn't significantly diminish nutritional value.

8. Eat well-grown food from healthy soils.

9. Eat like an omnivore (eating what is in season first).

10. Eat Wild foods when you can (plants and animals both).

11. Take Vitamins and Supplements.

12. Eat more like the French, Italians, Japanese, Indians or Greeks - This means eat together, and spend more on quality versus quantity, and EAT SLOW.

13. Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism.

14. Don't look for the magic bullet in the traditional diet.

15. Have a glass of wine with dinner.

16. Eat up to being 80% full.

17. Eat meals.

18. Do all your eating at a table (that doesn't mean a desk).

19. Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.

20. Try not to eat alone.

21. Consult your gut on how much to eat - when you are full, stop...not when your plate is empty.

22. Eat slowly.

23. Cook, and if you can, plant a garden.

24. Avoid food products that contain ingredients that are
unfamiliar, unpronounceable, more than five in number or that include
high fructose corn syrup.