My Mexican Moments: Chapter 30

Mazatlan is a culture of last-minute events; very few things are planned ahead. Although we have a new director of Cultura, Raúl Rico González, who understands promotion and lead times, not everything falls under his watch. There are many smaller venues that have spontaneous art shows, musical concerts or flamenco presentations. This world was meant to be captured online. This world was meant to be consolidated in an arts and entertainment calendar. Heck, just tracking musicians and their venues is a full time job. On Janaury 7, 2011, Soren registered our domain name, Mazatlan Life. It’s been a hot topic at the dinner table. I will need all of Soren’s web skills. I am wrestling about being so dependent upon him. He’s promised to find me a simple program to write in. He’s promised to be patient and I’ve promised to listen. We both know my frustration level in learning a new technology will have sparks flying from the 7th floor.

It’s seems hard to believe now, but in 1990 when we were both working at a large ad agency, BBDO, the office had only a couple of Macs that we shared and rolled around. I was a vice-president and one task was to manage the relaunch of Chrysler’s Magic Wagon, a massive direct marketing campaign that required database marketing skills. I didn’t have those skills, but my employers believed I did. I phoned my preferred freelance agency, blurted out the project and skill set required and Soren arrived at my office. Sparks were indeed flying, but of a sexual natural. We managed to keep that under control (sort of, well, we were 44 years old) and Soren would roll in a Mac and slowly show me how to work Word and an Excel spreadsheet. I honestly don’t recall e mail. I can see myself phoning clients and suppliers and talking to my co-workers.

By 1995, the computer landscape had blossomed and every desk had a computer. Just as I’d get familiar with a Mac, I’d freelance for an agency that worked on a PC platform. It was exhausting and I was always calling Soren for help. Every company had an IT department but I was too embarrassed to ask for assistance because I knew so little. My biggest computer challenge came with a two- year gig at TBWA Chiat Day, an American icon with an office in Toronto. Jay Chiat was the CEO, and Lee Clow was creative director. Steve Jobs adored Lee Clow; Clow was part of the Apple team and sat in on weekly brainstorming meetings. Naturally, when the Toronto office opened it was loaded with Macs. Jay Chiat adored the Canadian architect, Frank Geary. Naturally, Chiat hired Geary to design the Toronto offices. When you walked off the elevator you were greeted by a white claw foot bathtub with a sculpture of dolphin peeking out of the water, behind a large sheet of Plexiglas. All the office surfaces were covered in plywood with repeat patterns of fish. All open concept, with “war rooms.” These offices were so much a combo of Frank Geary, Lee Clow and Jay Chiat, creativity was popping out of the plywood.

But back to the computer challenge. Chiat was Apple all the way. Yet, they won the Microsoft account. Our team launched Windows 95 in Canada. The Microsoft crew would meet at Chiat and gaze down wanting to avoid all the happy little Apples dotting our desks. In the end creativity won; Chiat never converted to PCs. The account team danced their way around the lack of PCs and I danced my way around the lingo of various platforms. I’ve improved since 1990, but I seriously know nothing about creating a website. No pay cheques, no performance reviews, I guess it’s time to take a new technology plunge. My desire to be accurate and current, outweighs the learning curve.

I never knew what the owner of M! magazine was thinking or feeling. Some days she’d speak to me, other days she would ignore me. This much I do know: my profiles and my A&E sound bites never rocked her world. Fair enough, my writing style was most likely not up to her standards. Indifference is a powerful motivator to make a change. My writing fee, $200 pesos, was always donated to Hospice. However, Hospice did express great appreciation for that gift. I had the right idea months ago, but now was the right time. I know there will be rip roaring fights with the 7th floor IT department. I just have to remember my promise —to be patient. Or was it to listen? Ha!

Talk about a soft launch. MazatlanLife came to life February 9, 2011. It was to be advertising free with clear, current, crisp, accurate information about arts, music and culture. I believe it’s easy to navigate; it has to be, as I am in charge of that! I don’t know how to make it complicated. Soren wanted to shoot videos so he bought the equipment and enrolled in various courses. It’s a creative hobby that combines our skill sets. When you don’t need to answer to advertisers, it’s amazing the amount of freedom you have. Our daily Piwik audit reports, report excellent growth. What’s a good number of page views and hits? It’s a guess on our part, but we feel it’s going in the right direction.

I zip around the world on my iPad every day. The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The New York Times, The Guardian (my go-to newspaper), Newsweek, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and yes, CNN. I binge- watch tv shows on Netflix. I ditched my library card for the digital world. There’s online competition in Mazatlan, no question. As long as our Piwik numbers increase, or stay stable, we’ll be here for you. Unless we get bored.

MazatlanLife is a big Mexican Moment. Never imagined it, never occurred to me, never entered my mind. I feel that our Mexican adventures are just beginning. The more we learn, the less we know. Neither one of us can wait to see what’s around the corner. What will the next Mexican Moment be?

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