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By Gustavo Arellano
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How does that create culture?
Outside the marketing bubble of like-minded groups—the Moderns, Winners With Heart and Traditionals—shouldn't there be a segment called "Leadership Seekers"—a huge untapped portion of the population looking for someone with fresh ideas that haven't been diluted by polling data?
The more I learn about Terramor's pitch to Cultural Creatives, the less "authentic," "nurturing" and "altruistic" it feels. I tip my imaginary hat to the iGallery receptionist, get in my car and cruise through the tract. Here, on grand opening day, the streets are lined with green and white 360-degree balloons. Surrounded by paradoxically bulldozed hillsides, prospective Cultural Creative buyers in their antithetical SUVs cruise down O'Neill Drive past Gaia Lane, Aura Lane, Thoreau and Ethereal Streets.
It's possible to attack the Mission Viejo Company as cynical—as inauthentically green. And you'd have so much evidence, including the fact that the developer might have chosen to throw green upgrades (photovoltaic cells, solar panels, wastewater wash/rinse and the like) into each and every home as standard, and could have simply insisted, because it was the right thing to do, that this is how everybody should live on a planet whose resources are tumbling around on the sides of freeways, festering in landfills, falling from the sky like hard rain, running through our fingers. Or you could praise the company, and say, well, hell: capitalism has something for everybody with money, even people the capitalists wouldn't really like very much hanging around their swimming pools.
"Great homes, wrong place," I think and flip Hicks back to life on the CD.
"If anybody here is in marketing or advertising," Hicks yells though my speakers, "kill yourself. No joke here. Really. Seriously. There is no rationalization for what you do. Kill yourself now.
"You know what bugs me?" he continues. "Everyone here who is in marketing is thinking the same thing: 'Oh, cool! Bill's going for the anti-marketing dollar. That's a huge market!'
"Quit it! Oh, quit it!" Hicks cries. "Don't turn everything into a dollar sign!"
The marketers in Hicks' head speak again. "'Oooooo—the plea for sanity dollar. Huge. Huge market. Look at our research.'"
Looking at the research and the results, it appears that the Cultural Creative market wants creativity as long as it's institutionalized and standardized in museums and universities. It wants self-expression as long as it doesn't violate the Talmudic CC&Rs of the homeowners association. It wants altruism and idealism as long as they don't get negative numbers. It wants polls instead of considerations, population trends instead of truth.
Terramor is to the social-justice, environmental-protection and self-actualization movements of the 1960s and '70s what Vanilla Ice is to rap, what Cat in the Hat the movie is to Cat in the Hat the book, what The O.C. is to Orange County.
Isolated in the hills of Ladera Ranch, Terramor is a marketing analyst's answer to a global community—a preprogrammed Cultural Creative world with hiking trails and solar panels. But the real creators of culture won't be living here. They'll be directing the future from between the slices on the Anderson/Ray pie chart.
I head north on the 405. Through a demographer's eyes, I'm passing miles and miles of flat suburban piescapes populated by marketing segments.
Thirty minutes later, I'm surveying 19th Street in Costa Mesa's Westside—the breeding ground for Rock Harbor Church, Diedrich Roasters, Wahoo's and Chronic Industries. Throwing back a beer at Taco Mesa, I take in the wild open environment of humanity living outside the marketing bubble—approximately 180 degrees from 360-Degree Living.
Warrick might ask, "What does the pie chart look like here? What are the psychographics? What's the marketing campaign?"
Here's the breakdown:
They are Mexican Altruists, Guatemalan Idealists, Indian Subcontinent Optimists, Gay Thai Episcopalians, Bug-eyed Hopped-up Propellerhead Poets, Catholic Narcotraficantes—all subgroups of what Nathan Callahan calls Society's Mavericks, expressing their core values of bebop, hip-hop, trance, ranchera, No Wave, narcocorridos, rockabilly-acid-jazz-funk and biting the hand that feeds them. The Real Shit—the Unknown Rebels, creating a culture without an adjoining dollar sign, monkey-wrenching the engine of homogenization, stopping the line of Red Army tanks, bending yardsticks into burning men, engaging in life outside the marketing survey.
Hear Nathan Callahan onWeekly Signals on KUCI-FM 89.9. Tues., 8-9 a.m. Or visit nathancallahan.com.