Up until last night, the most I had ever been genuinely tempted to pledge to a project was $50. Sure, many of the higher-priced, personalized rewards are cool, but I have never seriously considered buying one. Until I came across Little Brass Bird, that is.
Little Brass Bird creators Robin and Rhoderick live in Chicago and handmake plush toys like these:
Cool, but no biggie, right? Thing is, these aren’t just little toys. They are also — and this is the gist of their project — stars of a stop-motion series that Robin and Rhoderick make called Little Brass Bird.
There are a couple of teaser episodes up on their official site, and they are mind-blowingly awesome. Really. These could easily be on Adult Swim — it’s that style of humor. And the level of work and care that has gone into these is startling. It’s incredible. Here’s the first episode (don’t worry it’s short):
Here’s the second episode, which kills me:
I love the art direction, the surreal humor, and that very friendly British narrator voice that’s so perfect for storytelling. I watch these and I’m just blown away that people — actual people, not some production company or something — make this. It couldn’t make me prouder that Kickstarter is a resource for someone like this.
Getting back to that expensive reward thing, I still haven’t backed the Little Brass Bird project because I can’t decide which reward to choose. Because I back so many projects, I try not to go over $20, and yet I really really want one of the characters. And they have these rewards, which a richer me would’ve already backed:
All of those are amazing. I especially like the character-based-on rewards — they make me imagine Space Ghost basing a character on someone (who wouldn’t want to meet the original Brak?). A fascinating opportunity.
Economics will force me to opt for one of the more affordable rewards, I’m sure. But if someone does end up picking one of those, can I jealously peek over their shoulder for the whole experience please? Thank you!
For her project video, above, Kali took to the streets and posed her questions to a series of unsuspecting strangers. Pledge $40 toward the publication of Live Wrong and Prosper: Your Morals for a Million, and she’ll film herself similarly pitching whatever question you can come up with, no matter how outrageous. Now — do you really need another reason to do this?
Read what Kali has to say (and politely withhold) below. Support her project here.
How did you come up with this idea?
I don’t remember the first time I played Live Wrong and Prosper, but I remember that I unknowingly played variants on the game even as a kid. I’ve always asked a lot of questions (“inquisitive” is just a nice word for “nosey”) and been fascinated by people’s (including my own) get-rich-quick fantasies, so you can see how this game and I were meant to be together. I got very into playing it in college, although I can’t say which aspect I enjoyed more: coming up with these weird, out-there questions or the kind of information their answers gave me about friends and even complete strangers -– insight into their morals, how much they cared what other people thought, the amount of value they placed on money, and so on and so on. Plus, really, who doesn’t like thinking about pretend ways to make pretend piles of money? That’s just universal, right?
Anyway, I started the Live Wrong and Prosper blog because I ultimately realized that others seemed to tire of playing the game before I did. Aside from being a way to ask everyone on the Internets what they’d do for one million dollars, it’s also given me a chance to answer the questions honestly, and often with included bits of related, obscure information and factoids. Anyone who knows me can tell that you that I love pretty much anything that involves 1) useless trivia, 2) implausible scenarios or 3) potentially embarrassing admissions, so the chance to combine all three is SWEET.
Was alcohol involved?
Why do you ask? And what are you implying?
What’s the best response you’ve ever gotten from somebody?
There are two stories that stick with me. One is that a boyfriend in college answered that he *would* run someone over in a car moving at 30 mph, but that he *would not* eat a bowl of his own shit. So, basically, he would rather potentially murder a human being using two tons of slow moving metal than have a really, really unpleasant meal. I think that tells you a lot about that guy.
Also, once I was at a party where I’d essentially gotten the entire room of mostly casual acquaintances and strangers to play the game, and I asked if anyone would be willing to contract herpes (which has no cure, mind you) for a million dollars. And this guy – I’ll never forget this -– this guy immediately yells, “I already have herpes and I got it for free, so I would absolutely get it again for one million dollars.”
Oh, the humanity!
Where does the inspiration for your questions come from? Got any ones that you are particularly proud of?
I’m not sure that there is anything that doesn’t inspire me. I’d say that mostly I’m curious about things that present moral conundrums, or changes that are definitely not for the better. As often as I’m amazed by what some people would do for money, I’m constantly amazed by what some people wouldn’t do. It’s genuinely pretty fascinating.
And of course, there are stand-outs that, like any parent, I’m quite proud of. Too many to list here, but I think one of my all-time goofy favorites is:
“Would you French kiss Shane Macgowan, deeply and passionately, for a minimum of a minute per kiss, twice a day –- once immediately after he woke up and once just before he fell asleep passed out -– every day, for a year?”
If you know who Shane MacGowan is, you can see why this is a pretty challenging dare (although, to be fair, he recently had an entire new set of teeth implanted). I actually answered the question myself, btw, here.
I guess to sum up I’d say there are an infinite number of ridiculous questions to be asked and I’ve only discovered a few hundred of them. So I’m always trying to figure out what I’ve forgotten.
How have people been responding to your use of Kickstarter so far?
I think people have been really responsive so far. The beauty of using a platform like Kickstarter is that it helps you call on your own support network to aid in completing creative projects, but it also lets you share your ideas and work with people you might not otherwise have connected with. It’s an intimate way to share your work and your passions with people who are genuinely interested in finding new and interesting projects. And I think I speak for everyone using the site when I say that it’s an amazing feeling when a stranger supports something you’ve undertaken as a labor of love. I’m not sure that backers realize just how immensely appreciated their support is. Not just because they’re helping you produce the final, tangible product, but because it’s so incredibly encouraging to have someone inform you that they believe what you’re doing is worthwhile. It really means a lot.
For a $1,000,000 would you apply an irritating substance to your mouth that would make your tongue swell uncontrollably so that you spoke with a lisp and kind of drooled every single day for a year?
Basically, you’re asking if I would take a job drooling and lisping for a year for a million dollars and I say absolutely.
We’ve heard it a million times before (thanks, Mom) - “You are what you eat.” But what are we eating these days? Good thing we’ve got folks like Berlin Reed, better known as The Ethical Butcher, around to help us answer that question. Berlin’s butcher company, which specializes in the humane slaughtering of sustainably farmed animals, aims to educate customers on ethical eating choices while offering them bacon cured in everything from watermelon to whiskey. “I enjoy empowering people to make better choices about their food,” Berlin tells us. “I think people are intimidated by so much of the local/organic/sustainable movement. I try to put it into perspective…The info is out there and all you have to do is make a choice.”
Having recently relocated from Brooklyn to Portland, Oregon, Berlin is aiming to take up the cause on the West Coast. He hopes to bring The Ethical Butcher to Portland’s Farmer’s Market by March 2010, and he’s using Kickstarter to do it.
Read what else Berlin had to tell us below. Support his project here.
So you went from militant vegan to butcher - what happened? I’m very curious!
I had been vegetarian since my early teens, I was 26 when I started eating meat again. My vegan days were about 3 years of that time from 19-22 or so. I have always been very interested and passionate about food but I actually worked as an EMT back in those days. I loved cooking, especially trying to make delicious healthy vegetarian foods and I finally started working in food when I moved to NYC in 2007. I first worked in a wine store and fell in love with it my first day. I knew I wanted to make a career in the food world. At that point I was still dedicated to my vegetarianism, so I wanted to gain expertise in a field where that wouldn’t be challenged. I went from the wine store to working as a cheesemonger then cooking and bartending. For a while I even wanted to go to Germany to study to be a Brewmaster. I took the job as a butcher mostly out of necessity. I thought I was interviewing for a cheesemonger position at a new gourmet shop in Brooklyn, after hiring me they told me it would be a couple months before the current monger left and asked if I’d be willing to help out the meat and fish guys. I was hesitant, but needed work so I accepted with full intentions of returning to cheese. A couple months went by and it turned out the guy wasn’t going to leave, which was perfect because by then I had fallen in love with butchery and didn’t want to go back to cheese. While there is definitely a place for vegetarian/vegan/raw chefs in the culinary world, I have always been drawn by the traditional. And what is traditional is milk, eggs, butter, meat, real foods. Working with meat felt right and good and honest.
I was still abstaining from meat about 2 weeks into working there, everyday I wondered to myself if I was ready to start eating meat. All along my major objections to eating meat were related to consumerism and animal rights, specifically I did not wanted to financially support companies that were profiting from the abuse of animals. I never had a problem with the fact that animals are sometimes food. Now that I was the one purchasing the meat, cutting it down and knew exactly were it was coming from, I had no reason not to take a bite. I also felt like not eating meat was holding me back. It is difficult to explain how to cook a London broil, what cut to use for stew or the best steak for a given cooking method if you have not tasted and cooked them yourself. My mentor butcher, Bryan Mayer had a lot to do with it too. He picked up butchery a few months before I did. The two of us just dove in, we were both bitten by the bug and wanted to fill our heads. We are both so dedicated to this work. We actually used to sit over our whiskeys after cutting all day and lament the demise of the oceans due to bad fisheries and the scarcity of truly sustainable beef. A strange conversation to overhear at the bar, I’m sure.
I always say butchery is everything I have ever loved in my life combined into one. It is hard, bloody, physical work based on biology and anatomy that brings about something that is at once aesthetically pleasing, delicious and steeped in history. I found a writer within myself because of butchery. This craft allows me to be political and artistic as well as grounded and connected to my food and my community. I honestly feel this is my destiny. I am the grandson of Alabama hog farmers raised by his German grandmother, what else am I supposed to do?
Talk to me about your cause - why is being an ethical butcher important? How do you convey this to your patrons?
Having ethics and integrity is so important these days when it comes to food sustainability. I think it is the duty of butchers, fishmongers and chefs to start making the difficult choices that consumers can’t or won’t make for themselves. I don’t mean to say people can’t choose what foods they want to eat. Far from it, I do think that we can do better to make sure that all the food choices offered are good choices for consumers AND the environment. I get so upset when I walk around these natural food stores. They implement a color-coding system for fish species- which is exactly what all the reputable fishery guides do, but then they carry “red” choices. That totally defeats the purpose. Your customer may love an item and won’t think much because they are only buying a half pound, but you have to buy 25 lbs to keep it in stock. As a purveyor, we are the ones with the responsibility, the knowledge and buying power to change things. We are also in a position to educate the public about the issues. I enjoy empowering people to make better choices about their food. I think people are intimidated by so much of the local/organic/sustainable movement. I try to put it into perspective. It doesn’t have to be this elitist, expensive venture. The info is out there and all you have to do is make a choice.
You’re working to change the way the meat industry handles its product - what’s your ideal vision?
I think sustainable butchers are going to save the world. My ideal vision is one where butchers and fishmongers are back in the neighborhoods using products from local farms, rivers and lakes as well as responsible fish farms. Where people have a true alternative to cheap diseased meat wrapped in plastic and styrofoam that comes from a hidden room at the back of the supermarket. I loved the relationships I had with our customers in my shop in Brooklyn. They could place special orders, get dinner advice and watch me work feet away from them. I also dream of a public that is knowledgeable and aware of the impact of their choices. I also really want to start a butchery school as well as some sort of international association of like-minded butchers, fishmongers and chefs, with conferences and the whole nine. When people realize that wild salmon populations are more important than the lox on your bagel in February, or that 100% grass-fed beef meansseasonal beef. I want to see heritage breeds return to the market on a large scale and the manufactured breeds created for speed of growth to fall by the wayside. I stop short of calling myself a Luddite, but I am strongly for a return to the way things were. I often think about how, years ago, people thought they were using technology to help future generations by switching to industrial farming methods, trawling the sea floor for bottom-fish or farm-raising fish in open rivers. And now here we are, cool kids getting famous because we make food with our hands. Bakers, butchers, cheesemakers, farmers, we all just want to get it back.
How have people been responding to your use of Kickstarter?
The response to my Kickstarter has been awesome!! My girlfriend actually turned me on to it and I thank her for it every day! It has been an incredible marketing tool and is definitely the only way I will be able to get my business off the ground soon. I know that I am on to something, as far as I know, no one is making bacon like this and especially with sustainability as the standard. With just having moved from NYC to Portland, I am still getting back on my feet. There have been times recently when I have only had 10 bucks to last me a week. I was getting so frustrated with people telling me I was going make millions that I decided to just get going on it in any way I can.