|Posted on October 22, 2010 at 6:09 PM|
I’ve often written about how incestuous the A/V industry – but the press corps in particular – really is. How we all travel in the same hungry packs together, moving with a herd mentality from one open bar press event to the next, then all lining-up like lemmings behind one another in the hopes that THIS will be the time that they are giving away something good instead of just another 512 meg memory stick. (Companies, come ON! 2 Gig is the new 512 meg!) Then once inside we all huddle tightly around our respective editorial teams all the while hush-talking about who’s doing what and who’s scooping who and secretly plotting against each other and wondering who is straying away from the pack looking to get taken down lion-versus-tumbling gazelle Animal Planet style.
But I thought I’d give some further insight into just how this big wheel turns round-and-round, crushing some in its grindy path along the way, but ultimately regularly ending right back up where it started off. And mention some of the great people I’ve met along the way. The fact is -- competitor, colleague, co-worker, boss -- we are all in this industry because we love it and that is also why we stay in this industry. We have lucked into a career where we are fortunate enough to get paid to play with cool toys and turn what we love doing into a paycheck. And somewhere along the line we’ve managed to fool enough people into believing that they are actually interested and care what we have to say about these toys. So when a job is lost or a new opportunity opens up, people move about but almost always stay IN. Like The Family. There is no OUT. Which is why it is SO important to never burn the proverbial bridge in this industry. (Though, I’m pretty sure that I have done exactly that with They Who Shall Not Be Named; burned the bridge, then gathered the charred embers and soaked them in gas and threw them onto another bridge that I also burned and then heavily salted the earth to ensure nothing could rise again.)
Last night a company CEO called me on my cell phone reaching out to me looking to fill a position at his company and asked if I knew anyone. Turns out I did. A tech trainer that worked with us at Elan who has recently been let go in the whole Nortec Elan, Sunfire, Niles, Xantech, combino-congealey machine. I felt honored that this CEO thought enough of me to ask for a rec, and felt good that I was able to pay-it-forward to another industry vet looking for where to steer his parachute.
My first contact in this business was with Rob Sabin. Rob is like my godfather in this industry (the nice, familial pat-you-on-the-head-and-smile lower-case kind, not the scary, “You bettah nevah cross me, you hear me Johnnie?! NEVAH!” capitalized kind). When he was at Home Theater magazine, he returned my cold call and then agreed to give me a shot. Then Rob moved to Sound & Vision and took my name with him. Then Rob went from editor to sales. Then back to editor. Then somewhere along the time when S&V dropped the & and changed to a + Rob was let go. And then Rob went to a CI firm and started heading up their marketing department. Where he tapped me for some blog posts. When Rob left that job he thought he’d try his hand at being a custom installer. Now Rob occasionally calls me for advice on CI projects. The student has become the master. But not really. Rob will always be the Robfather to me.
When Rob left Home Theater and came to S&V he gave my name to Bob Ankosko. Bob was Big Boss EiC. He also got ampersanded out and then went on to The Perfect Vision. And when that book closed he started working at a PR firm in the CI industry. Who I occasionally work with for reviews.
Brent Butterworth is one of the best in the biz. He’s the kind of writer that makes you simultaneously hate HIM for being so good and then hate YOURSELF for being measured and coming up...lacking. He’s been doing this so long that there probably isn’t a time when Brent WASN’T some kind of a legend…somewhere. Spin, Video, Home Theater, Dolby Labs, eTown, Wired, Home Entertainment, Robb Report... Brent has worked for just about everybody that is anybody in this industry. But he was always a “competitor.” Now the wheel has turned to where Brent works with me at S+V. And showing that the universe occasionally tilts correctly to shine a little love on us all, Brent and I are actually on the same level of the S+V masthead. I’d make a Wayne and Garth reference here, but, well, there it was...
Mike Mettler is the new (well, not “new” any more) big boss at S+V. But originally he was over at Car Stereo Review and Mobile Entertainment/Road Gear where he would occasionally contribute stuff to S+V. Shuffle-shuffle and suddenly Mike is the new boss. And the other day he did a Guest Blog for me! How's that for a 180? (Read it if you haven't. It's a great post on the Twilight Zone.)
Pete Pachal used to be a copy editor and S&V. Then he was an Associate Managing Editor at S&V. Then he moved over to NBC Universal where he scratched and clawed – well, probably more smooth talked and stellar performance – his way to being the editor of DVICE.com. Along the way I have seen The Blue Man Group with Pete and enjoyed a wonderful tableside guac preparation while Pete manned his way through a habanero mango salsa. Epic.
Another S&V casualty was Rob Medich. Rob headed up the Website and let me blog away freely. (Well, not *totally* freely. He constantly stifled my coffee creativity, shooting down idea after idea until I finally realized that, no, Rob was just NEVER gonna let me write my Japanese Siphon Bar story no matter how much the world was craving it.) So Rob introduced me to this whole worth of writing on the Internets. When he departed from S&V Rob tried his hand (kinda/sorta) in the Custom Install world. Then he moved over to Men’s Health. Which, granted is NOT tech, but which does occasional tech features that he lets me write for him. Will Rob one day find his way back to an Engadget or Gizmodo or other pub? Probably. That’s the way the big wheel turns.
To be honest, I used to think that Jeremy G was kind of snobby and standoffish. I would see him at events all the time but he was usually over by himself or quietly talking to someone, likely the person hosting the event or company president or some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend
(Wife of a close friend, and... ) . But when I got to know him, turns out he’s totally not any of those things. Turns out he’s just not a big crowd kind of person. And that he’s one of the *nicest* guys you’ll meet. Even his competitors tell me what a good guy he is. (Ironically, today, in fact, one of them did.) So my wheel has turned to where this competitor is now an employer. And a friend.
Finally, we have Darryl Wilkinson. (Did you seriously think that there was going to be a post about industry people without a mention of Darryl? Do you not know me at all by now?) You can certainly read more about Darryl here... (And you should. He's a funny, funny guy. And also rather vicious and hurty-hurty with his cutting horned-rimmed glasses stare and smart guy words and his Droid phones and mulitple iPad docks and his 500 acre ranch with technology pavilion and stacks of "I'm not returning that!" review gear in wherever it is he lives... Even second hand.) But after years of attending the same shows, sharing the same dinner table at PR events, and almost always covering the same products for competing publications (Darryl bleeds Home Theater and even though he tells everyone that he is the EiC, apparently that isn’t the case) I never really got to know him. (I also assumed you had to return all that gear. I have SO much still to learn from Darryl!) It took an hour long cab ride (and a misspelling of my name that will haunt me until I am eventually emotionally wrecked into actually changing my name to “Sicacca” ) to discover that Darryl and I are so much alike that I think we might actually be related. (Darryl would undoubtedly disagree saying that I'm the cheap two-elled "Rollex" knock-off to his originalness, but that is what makes him such a rascal.) Especially after my wife (NOT the rented one as Darryl will try to make you believe) observed that Darryl “looks like Cary Grant. And like the way that Cary Grant *really* looks, not the way that your family thinks your grandfather looked like Cary Grant.” He is old enough to be my father, you know...
The moral of the story? Your boss today can be your competitor tomorrow and your co-worker the next day. And along the way, if you're lucky, you'll get to know some great people.
Categories: October 2010