Tag Archives: We Don’t Coast

Weird Is Good

July 14, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Since transplanting from Pennsylvania nearly a decade ago, Christopher Vaughn Couse has made the observation that Omaha is downright weird—but in a good way.

From the hipster-laden streets of Benson to the apex of West Omaha’s suburbs, where cul-de-sacs meet cornfields—and of course there’s our friendly local billionaire, Mr. Buffett, who you may just spot snacking on a Dilly Bar—Couse is right: There’s no place like Homaha. As an artist, to pay homage to all the things that make Omaha, well, Omaha, Couse painted a simple black-and-white design with text that reads “Keep Omaha Good Weird.” It was part of Benson First Friday’s Tiny Mural Project.

“It’s about celebrating the city’s diversity and everyone’s willingness to embrace others for doing their own thing,” Couse says. Of course, it’s also a mix of the almost-revoked Nebraska mantra, “The Good Life,” and the “Keep Austin/Portland Weird” slogans.

If you’ve walked the streets of Benson or Dundee, stopped in at one of the latest oh-so-trendy and oh-so-healthy Eat Fit Go restaurants, or are familiar with the Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s “We Don’t Coast” campaign, you’ve likely seen Couse’s work. He may not be a Nebraska native, but with roots firmly planted in this city, his work as a freelancer, photographer, and illustrator seems to be sprouting up everywhere.

And that’s pretty darn good for a self-described “art school dropout.” It took just two years of classes in the art photography program at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania for Couse to discover he needed to try a different path —and eventually a different city—to forge his career. Determined to utilize his keen eye and knack for creative styling as a professional artist, he knew it was time to move on from the world of lectures and syllabi when a professor told him art photography was a dead-end job.

“Just like that, tuition money became payments for nicer photography equipment,” Couse says.

Just because Couse was done with school didn’t mean he was done with education. He took his lack of professional training as a chance to personally develop his craft and began learning new mediums.

While he had been taking photographs since his teen years, the next evolution of his artistry came when he began combining his shots with handwritten notes to make collages. Then came illustrating and painting, then printmaking, and even working on zines. One glance at his Instagram, @christography, and you could argue he’s made social media his next canvas.

“I delve into different genres of art, figure out what I like, and begin incorporating these aesthetics into my own work,” Couse says. “I’ll admit, I have a bad problem of not sticking with one thing and instead trying to tackle a lot of things.”

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any similarities across mediums. Stylistically, his work is usually filled with color, idiosyncratic humor, and his emotions as each piece reflects what he was feeling when it was created. Thematically, he regularly combines text with imagery, and he’s often inspired by the conversations, people, and the city surrounding him.

For one of his most popular series, a combination of party gossip and local lore inspired him. Shortly after moving, he heard boozed-up friends describing metro movers and shakers as “Omaha Famous.” Using his love for pop culture, he decided to borrow this phrase and started illustrating portraits of actual famous people who were born in Omaha. Perhaps nowhere else will you find a collection that includes the likes of activist Malcolm X, President Gerald R. Ford, and Lady Gaga’s ex and “cool Nebraska guy” Lüc Carl. There’s even a coloring book available online, so you too can shade the mugs of Conor Oberst and Marlon Brando for only $4.

“What I love about Omaha—and why it inspires me—is it has a small-town feel but in a big-city atmosphere. I haven’t found that elsewhere,” Couse says.

Couse has further made an impact in the community through his creative freelance work. Often collaborating with branding agency Secret Penguin, he’s helped design packaging for Eat Fit Go, design signs for Flagship Commons, and developed promotional material for
“We Don’t Coast.”

As if all that combined with balancing a full-time retail job and playing daddy to a newborn wasn’t enough, he also preps collections of his work to show at local galleries, with a recent exhibit at Harney Street Gallery.

“I’m always searching for ways I can do better in life, better in my craft,” Couse says.

With Omaha and all of its oddities keeping him so busy, art projects get done when he can find the time. If one makes him a sweet penny, then great. If not, that’s A-OK with Couse, too.

“My end goal is to have fun and inspire other people to create things,” Couse says. “It’s not complicated. I just hope my art makes people smile for even a second.”

And there’s nothing downright weird about that at all.

Visit christophervaughncouse.com for more information.

This article appears in the July/August 2017 edition of Encounter.

Christopher Couse

10 Cheap Things to do in Omaha This Summer

April 27, 2017 by

This is going to be no ordinary summer in Omaha, and the best part is, you won’t have to budget much to enjoy it with your family. There are inexpensive and free activities throughout the metro, from a pool with a pirate ship to a trail that leads to a waterfall. There are indoor and outdoor film series for families, as well as free festivals. Here are 10 ideas for cheap fun in Omaha.

1. Spraygrounds

For free water fun, head to one of the city parks with a sprayground: Benson Park, Fontenelle Park, Kountze Park, Orchard Park, Seymour Smith Park, Upland, Morton, Westwood Heights, and Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge Plaza. These spraygrounds are great because they’re also near playgrounds. You can find additional outdoor fountains and spraygrounds that cost no admission to play in at Omaha Children’s Museum, Joslyn Art Museum, Shadow Lake Towne Center, and the First National Bank Tower.

2. Festivals
Free summer festivals in Omaha have kid-friendly aspects to them, while introducing new things to see, hear, and taste. Dance at a music series like Jazz on the Green at Midtown Crossing and Stinson Park at Aksarben Village. The Omaha Summer Arts Festival has an entire area dedicated to children’s activities.  Shakespeare on the Green has a tent of costumes for children to try on. Taste of Omaha is free, but you’ll want to buy tickets for food and rides.

3. Hikes

For the price of park admission, an adventure awaits on a nearby trail. One kid favorite is an easy trail that leads to a waterfall at Platte River State Park just outside of Omaha. Head to Hummel Park to search for the staircase that always baffles its climbers—no one can settle on how many steps there are. For a gem hidden in the middle of the city, visit Heron Haven Nature Center just northeast of 120th and Maple streets.

4. Unique Pools

Swimming is fun no matter where you go, but some local pools offer some fun extras worth checking out. The popular city pool at Lake Zorinsky has waterslides and a fun splash. Cross over the Missouri River to Council Bluffs to visit the city pool, Pirates Cove Pool, where kids can play around a pirate ship and use two waterslides. Head indoors to the Salvation Army Kroc Center and check out the newly renovated pool and waterslide.

5.   Explore the Old Market

The Old Market has so many things for kids to see, hear, and taste. On Saturday mornings, stroll the bustling farmers market. Visit any day of the week and you’ll likely encounter musicians playing music and charming horse-drawn carriages. Kids love the Old Market Candy Shop and Hollywood Candy. Head to The Passageway for toy store Le Wonderment, and then go on a hunt for the Zodiac Garden hidden behind an art gallery there.

6.  Downtown Fun

There’s more fun just beyond the Old Market. Slide down the big slides at Gene Leahy Mall. At Heartland of America Park, you may catch a gondolier offering inexpensive rides around the lake. Cross the “The Bob” pedestrian bridge to take that iconic picture standing on the state line. The building at the base of the bridge is the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Headquarters, which has a visitor’s center with free kid-friendly activities.

7. Bowl or Skate for Free

There are two national programs for children to sign up for that get them free rentals at local venues. Kids Bowl Free allows kids to have two free games each day all summer long. Shoe rental may not be included. Kids Skate Free is a similar program. SkateDaze participates in this program that allows children 12 and younger to skate for free once a day all summer long. The skate rental fee isn’t included.

8. Family Movies Series

Ruth Sokolof Theater at Film Streams has a great series for families, and children’s tickets are only $2.50. They show a mix of classics and first runs. Large chain theaters often have film series during the summer featuring slightly older movies at a discounted price. Check your closest Marcus Theatre and AMC Theatre to see if they’re participating. Check the calendar of events for Midtown Crossing and Sumtur Amphitheater to see when they show free outdoor movies.

9. Fan Fest

Feel like you’re a part of the NCAA Men’s College World Series experience for free at Fan Fest right outside the stadium. You can get into the spirit by playing interactive games, taking a photo with the trophy, meeting players, and soaking up the atmosphere. Fan Fest is open through the run of the series. Go to Open Day Celebration to catch batting practices and autograph sessions, concluding with the opening ceremony and fireworks. That’s all free, too.

10. Fort Atkinson

On the first Saturday and Sunday of the month, May through October, head to Fort Atkinson to see interactive historic recreations depicting life 200 years ago. Children can complete a scavenger hunt, earning a little treat at the General Store for finishing it. Actors shoot off a cannon during the re-enactment, which is cool for some kids and too loud for others. A state park permit is needed to get into the park to see the re-enactments. 

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of Family Guide.

 

Family Feud

October 16, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“At home sitting on your couch it’s easy to think of the answers, but when you’re up there you have to be on your A-game and don’t have extra time to think.”

-Danita Webb

There’s no greater certainty than that of an armchair game show contestant. Answers flow easily from a cushy couch, with the benefit of comfy pants, snacks, and extra seconds to spare before buzzing in via the customary shout at the TV screen. 

Now, name something that might derail the masterful omnipotence of such astute sofa spuds. Survey says…the lights, camera, action, live studio audience, and split-second pressure of actually appearing on Family Feud, as several Omaha families discovered. 

familyfeud3

“We’ve always watched the show, yelling answers at the TV, feeling like we knew more than the contestants. So when auditions came to Omaha, we jumped right on it,” says Danita Webb, who joined sisters Dorotha Rohlfsen, Darnisha Ladd, Sherita White, and Beverly Tate to compete as the White Family. 

The fivesome played mock games for producers at the October 2014 audition, alongside hundreds of local families.

“You would’ve thought there really was $20,000 on the line, because we were jumping up and down, high-fiving each other. It was awesome,” says Webb.

One Friday night the following January, Webb and some of her sisters were together when the good news arrived.

“My sister checked her mail and found this blue postcard from Family Feud that said ‘Congratulations!’ and we just went crazy,” says Webb.

The Franklin Family also received that lucky, blue-hued golden ticket to the Feud.   

familyfeud2

Cydney Franklin—who competed with sister Lindsey Franklin, mother Brigette Law Franklin, father Frederick Franklin, and aunt Patricia Franklin—says her mother urged the family to audition in matching “We Don’t Coast” T-shirts displaying their Omaha pride.

“Our family is really close,” says Franklin. “(Auditioning) was mostly just something to do for fun together that actually turned into us getting on the show.”

Six more Omaha-area families made the cut—the Quaites, Coffiels, Shanks, McIntoshes, Kirshenbaums, and Skaffs. But only the White and Franklin families would return from their Atlanta tapings victorious. The Whites won two games, including one Fast Money round victory, and the Franklins took it all the way to game five, the maximum number of games each family can compete in, with five straight victories landing them on the platform with the grand prize car. They may have made it look easy, but both women say their victories were hard fought.     

“You really earn that money,” says Webb. “You have to make sure you’re smiling, clapping, thinking of your next answer. There’s so much going on that it can be stressful. At home sitting on your couch it’s easy to think of the answers, but when you’re up there you have to be on your A-game and don’t have extra time to think.”

“Finishing that fifth game and winning the car was a high point, but honestly, the coolest part is bonding over those memories together. We reminisce often about the highs and lows of Family Feud.”

-Cydney Franklin

While it was her family’s fun-loving energy that got them on the show, Franklin says they realized it was serious business when they arrived in the Atlanta studio. Although they went on to win five games, she says they waited a day and a half to be plucked from the audience to compete, then nearly lost their first game.   

“It was one of the most intense moments of my life,” says Franklin. “We’d gone through so much to get to that point and then were sure we were going to lose, but at the last second my sister came through with the answer—I don’t know how she did it—and we won. We came back the next morning and just kept winning.”

Both women agree it wasn’t all nail-biting nervousness, thanks to congenial host Steve Harvey.   

“He is a riot,” says Webb. “You’re so nervous at first, but he really helps you let loose and have fun.”

“Steve is hilarious, and each episode is almost like a comedy show,” says Franklin. “He’s also really inspiring. At commercial break he shares these uplifting, inspirational messages about being your best self, fulfilling your dreams, and about himself overcoming his own obstacles and hurdles in life.”

Webb and White say that while the prize money was wonderful, it’s the family bonding around celebrating their accomplishment they cherish most.

familyfeud1“Running out onstage to celebrate winning with my sisters was awesome,” says Webb. “It was especially meaningful to us because we tried out in October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I am a seven-year breast cancer survivor. We all wore pink when we auditioned and then on the show a year later, too. It was amazing to create those memories together and celebrate that great accomplishment.”       

“Finishing that fifth game and winning the car was a high point, but honestly, the coolest part is bonding over those memories together,” says Franklin. “We reminisce often about the highs and lows of Family Feud.”

Following two 14-hour studio days, the Franklins finished their third day at about 3 p.m.

“We walked out of the building, and it was the first day we’d left that the sun was still shining. So we were all joking like, ‘Was this a dream? Did this actually happen?’”

For at-home champs aspiring to transition from couch to soundstage, Franklin and Webb suggest folks bring a lively energy, but one that truthfully reflects their family’s authentic personality. 

“Make sure that you bring that family togetherness and have an enthusiastic personality,” says Webb. “You definitely have to turn it up if you’re going to be on the show.”

Visit familyfeud.com for more information.

Jason Fischer

April 19, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The design team for Omaha’s bold “We Don’t Coast” campaign included 30-something Jason Fischer, owner of boutique marketing-branding firm Surreal Media Lab.

“It’s great to know it’s been used so well and been so widely accepted,” Fischer says of the slogan.

This master visual stylist grew up drawing, airbrush illustrating, and acrylic painting. Then he turned to graphic art. He taught himself photography, film-video production, software programming, and computer coding as digital, Web-based platforms came in vogue. All the while, he fed wide-ranging interests in art, culture, media, and history.

“I just wanted to do something creative for a living. It’s nice to be able to have these disciplines and ultimately connect all these dots. I think that’s what really helps me be successful in the marketing-branding area. My brain lives on the big picture scale.

“I like the challenge behind the collaboration of taking what a client wants and creating something that is me but that captures their vision.”

His diverse clients span the metro but he’s done “a body of socially conscious work” for the Urban League of Nebraska, No More Empty Pots, Together, the Empowerment Network, and others.

“At one point I was asked by a few community leaders to get involved. I would be the fly on the wall at meetings and events. That led to opportunities. I really care about community and want to see changes. Everybody has their own part they play. I’m just doing my piece, using what my calling is, to be an advocate the best way I can.

“I am really inspired by the work these nonprofits are doing.”

His feature documentary Out of Frame gives voice and face to Omaha’s homeless. His short docs Project Ready and Work Their Best won festival awards. His new art film, I Do Not Use, puts images to Frank O’Neal’s powerful poem decrying the “N” word. He’s in-progress on another feature documentary, Grey Matter, about being biracial in America.

Fischer’s M.O. is “asking the right questions and getting people to tell their own story,” adding, “I go in with the end in mind but I’m fluid enough to be open to the unexpected. Then it’s piecing it together.”

He’s known tough times himself. Raised by a single mom who labored hard to make ends meet, he used that work ethic to build The Lab. Then a burglary nearly wiped him out. Insurance didn’t cover the loss.

“It put me at ground zero. I was fortunate to have enough resources to get a loan through the SBA (Small Business Administration).

He moved his business from North O to the Image Arts Building’s creative hub at 2626 Harney Street.

“If it hadn’t happened I feel like I would still be stuck doing the same thing, smaller jobs, just turning the wheel. The move brought greater expectations and bigger opportunities to express myself and raise the bar. Before, it was more the hustle of making the dollar. Then it switched from dollars to passion. I think the passion part has definitely shown through and propelled the work and the business.”

Visit surrealmedialab.com to learn more.

JasonFischer2

David Brown

December 15, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

David Brown and the Greater Omaha Chamber are batting .1000 this year in the awards department and couldn’t be more excited.

And maybe a little superstitious.

“We’re one-for-one,” says Brown, the organization’s president and CEO. “Maybe it’s time to retire,” he adds with a laugh.

In reality, however, retirement is the farthest thing from his mind after the Omaha Chamber was chosen as the 2015 Chamber of the Year by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). Brown accepted the award—as well as the 2015 Chairman’s Award—last summer at the ACCE’s Annual Convention in Montreal.

Judging for the award considered organizational excellence, member services and connections, and programs/initiatives.

Among other elements, the chamber’s application highlighted its “We Don’t Coast” branding initiative, its Greater Omaha talent and workforce initiative, and the array of growth-focused services it offers, including its THRIVE business assistance program and YourBizAssist.com.

This marks the first time the Omaha Chamber has taken the steps to apply for the prestigious award—and according to Brown, who celebrated 12 years as the president and CEO this year, this recognition is a reflection of the membership and business community as well as the dedication of chamber staff.

“We’ve never applied for the award before,” Brown adds, “but we knew we had done some amazing things this year and decided to apply.” Brown was the executive director of the chamber in Greenville, S.C., before coming to Omaha. “Awards like this not only give the chamber and its membership national credibility, but they also give the city more credibility. It’s another positive step toward continuing to brand the city and change national perceptions.”

The ACCE Chamber of the Year honor is the nation’s only award recognizing the dual role chambers have in leading businesses and communities. Those honored with this designation have demonstrated organizational strength and made an impact on such vital community priorities as education, transportation, business development, and quality of life.

This year’s competition drew 33 entries from chambers throughout the U.S. To ensure the fairest competition, applicants are grouped into five categories based on annual revenue, membership, area population, and several other factors.

In accepting the award, Brown was quick to acknowledge the collaborative role that the business members play in allowing the chamber to focus on the big picture of growth, business engagement for the membership, and community.

“This award recognizes chambers that can move forward and do impressive things in the community because they don’t have to spend time putting out fires or struggling to assist members,” Brown says. “Because of this, we were able to focus on the ‘We Don’t Coast’ branding initiative, business retention and development, and successful overall execution.”

Brown’s individual Chairman’s Award is given annually to an individual or group that has made a significant contribution to the betterment of the chamber profession.

In his presentation, ACCE’s immediate past chairman Tom Baldrige detailed Brown’s commitment to the association, highlighting his role as chairman of ACCE’s Horizon Initiative Task Force. That group created the architecture of the Chambers 2025 Report, which outlines eight influences that will impact all chambers in the next decade.

“Without David’s help, wisdom, and encouragement in interpreting information and exchanging ideas, the report and the launch of the multi-year 2025 project would never have happened,” Baldrige said at the awards event.

In Brown’s view, he couldn’t have focused his time and energy toward the Horizon Initiative without the ongoing support and stability of the Omaha Chamber membership and dedicated staff alongside him.

“My name may be associated with these awards, but these are honors and recognition that everyone involved with the Omaha Chamber should be proud of because we accomplished them together,” he says. “These are both team awards shared by everyone.”

Visit omahachamber.org to learn more.

David-Brown

Slogan Explosion

November 8, 2014 by and

Back in the day, if a girl was being cajoled into a blind date with me, I would have been described to her as being a “nice guy.” I wasn’t even that nice, especially by the stereotype standard of small-town Nebraska boys, but saying I was nice was a nice way of avoiding descriptions of my gangly limbs and anvil-shaped skull and propensity for vulgar digressions and run-on sentences. In my world, “nice” most often warns of an impending bait-and-switch.

Nebraska’s new ad campaign slogan—“Visit Nebraska. Visit Nice.”—has already been injured plenty out in the blogosphere woodshed. No need to add insult. The issue, I suppose: If the word “nice” had one meaning, we’d probably be just fine. But it can have so many connotations, and when things have so many connotations, the haters are going to pounce.

In July, Omaha promoters, keeping pace with the international craze to rebrand locales for a jazzier web presence, unveiled “Omaha: We Don’t Coast.” Solid, methinks. Hey, it says we’re a hard driving, happening place. It’s a playful shot at the Left and Right Coast for, well, whatever it is that makes them inferior (Lazy, dope-smoking beach bums. Jersey Shore self-possessed kitsch addicts). Also, it suggests we’re in-shape and eco-friendly, which 12 or so of us actually are.

But my all-time favorite Nebraska slogan was Hastings’ old “Thumbs Up City,” which boosters there created back in 1982. People may have smirked a bit when they drove into the “Thumbs Up City,” but they dang well knew where they were. Hokey, sure, hopelessly dated, yes. But it stuck in your head, stuck at once pleasantly and infuriatingly like a chorus from any tune from Grease.

As of this spring, though, Hastings now has a new slogan: “Life Wide Open.” It’s already my second all-time favorite Nebraska slogan. It was created by a marketing whiz out of Hastings named Sherma Jones. Note to Nebraska boosters: That’s spelled S-h-e-r-m-a J-o-n-e-s. She’s in the book.

I know this because I gave Sherma a call. She’s been in the branding business for 28 years. She’s seen it all, including nice things. “I want to like the whole ‘nice’ campaign,” she says. “But, well, ‘flat’ probably describes it. When I think of ‘nice,’ I think of ‘average.’”

Here is the first absolute of successful city or state branding: You can’t do it by committee. Period. Jones, like so many others in her field, has seen countless campaigns bomb because too many interests and too many voices built a Frankenstein of a campaign. “Design by committee equals mediocrity,” she says. “We kept it all very streamlined.”

Her team’s first idea was “Hastings Has It.” Critical Step #2: See how a slogan plays in Peoria.

“People immediately started thinking about the things we don’t have. A 56-slot shopping mall, for example,” she says. “You have to describe yourself in an honest and inviting way.”

And you must anticipate the jerks. If I was the awful kid that I was and I saw a sign that said, “Hastings Has It,” that “It” would be spray-painted over with “Crabs” or “Erectile Dysfunction” or “A Kearney Complex” within a fortnight.

Her advice: Try to be timeless, honest, optimistic, relevant, progressive, sophisticated, fresh, and mindful of the power and energy of certain words.

“Life.” “Wide.” “Open.” Can you feel it? I can. Can we steal it? Ask the Attorney General. Regardless, I think it’s worth a very nice two thumbs up.

2

Slogan Explosion

September 2, 2014 by

Back in the day, if a girl was being cajoled into a blind date with me, I would have been described to her as being a “nice guy.” I wasn’t even that nice, especially by the stereotype standard of small-town Nebraska boys, but saying I was nice was a nice way of avoiding descriptions of my gangly limbs and anvil-shaped skull and propensity for vulgar digressions and run-on sentences. In my world, “nice” most often warns of an impending bait-and-switch.

Nebraska’s new ad campaign slogan—“Visit Nebraska. Visit Nice.”—has already been injured plenty out in the blogosphere woodshed. No need to add insult. The issue, I suppose: If the word “nice” had one meaning, we’d probably be just fine. But it can have so many connotations, and when things have so many connotations, the haters are going to pounce.

In July, Omaha promoters, keeping pace with the international craze to rebrand locales for a jazzier web presence, unveiled “Omaha: We Don’t Coast.” Solid, methinks. Hey, it says we’re a hard driving, happening place. It’s a playful shot at the Left and Right Coast for, well, whatever it is that makes them inferior (Lazy, dope-smoking beach bums. Jersey Shore self-possessed kitsch addicts). Also, it suggests we’re in-shape and eco-friendly, which 12 or so of us actually are.

But my all-time favorite Nebraska slogan was Hastings’ old “Thumbs Up City,” which boosters there created back in 1982. People may have smirked a bit when they drove into the “Thumbs Up City,” but they dang well knew where they were. Hokey, sure, hopelessly dated, yes. But it stuck in your head, stuck at once pleasantly and infuriatingly like a chorus from any tune from Grease.

As of this spring, though, Hastings now has a new slogan: “Life Wide Open.” It’s already my second all-time favorite Nebraska slogan. It was created by a marketing whiz out of Hastings named Sherma Jones. Note to Nebraska boosters: That’s spelled S-h-e-r-m-a J-o-n-e-s. She’s in the book.

I know this because I gave Sherma a call. She’s been in the branding business for 28 years. She’s seen it all, including nice things. “I want to like the whole ‘nice’ campaign,” she says. “But, well, ‘flat’ probably describes it. When I think of ‘nice,’ I think of ‘average.’”

Here is the first absolute of successful city or state branding: You can’t do it by committee. Period. Jones, like so many others in her field, has seen countless campaigns bomb because too many interests and too many voices built a Frankenstein of a campaign. “Design by committee equals mediocrity,” she says. “We kept it all very streamlined.”

Her team’s first idea was “Hastings Has It.” Critical Step #2: See how a slogan plays in Peoria.
“People immediately started thinking about the things we don’t have. A 56-slot shopping mall, for example,” she says. “You have to describe yourself in an honest and inviting way.”

And you must anticipate the jerks. If I was the awful kid that I was and I saw a sign that said, “Hastings Has It,” that “It” would be spray-painted over with “Crabs” or “Erectile Dysfunction” or “A Kearney Complex” within a fortnight.

Her advice: Try to be timeless, honest, optimistic, relevant, progressive, sophisticated, fresh, and mindful of the power and energy of certain words.

“Life.” “Wide.” “Open.” Can you feel it? I can. Can we steal it? Ask the Attorney General. Regardless, I think it’s worth a very nice two thumbs up.