Kenan Doyle Branam services Saturday


Services for Kenan are this Saturday, the 28th of April, 2012.

A message that was sent out to the Houston Netsquared Meetup Group tonight in memory of our  friend and colleague Kenan Doyle Branam. He was a  debater, optimist, producer, geek, well read, researched, and all around renaissance man. We will miss you Kenan. Even if you challenged us constantly with debates and thoughts Kenan, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. A tip of the hat to you. You will be missed.

April 26, 2012


Sad news….

If you have attended Net2Houston over the last six years, then you know Kenan.  His meetup profile says Kenan attended 28 meetings with us, although I think it may have been even more

Kenan Doyle Branam was a Netsquared regular who always asked challenging questions from the heart. An optimist, he always found the positive, which was impressive given his posts frequently talked about his growth from being a skeptic to an optimist over time. What a beautiful transition.

I’m sad to say that Kenan passed away unexpectedly last week and his services are this weekend. The official notice is below. If you can attend i know Kenan would be honored as would his family. The official version follows. And I know the family would appreciate help with the costs of the funeral. Please consider the part at the bottom about the fund at Amegy in lieu of flowers, but your presence on Saturday would be a huge tribute as well.




The Houston Advertising, Media and Production Community lost one of its own in the sudden  passing of  Kenan  Doyle Branam on Saturday April 14, 2012.   Services will be this Saturday April 28th 2012 here in Houston.

Beginning his long career in media,  Kenan  worked as a cameraman in the local broadcast television station in Tyler. In addition to this his media experiences later included advertising agency client service, corporate communications, point of sale training, and even documentary and music video work.  

Kenan  was President of Paradigm Communications, Inc. for 25 years, and most recently worked as a Media Consultant supporting people to show up, be heard, look and feel good about their web presence.  Throughout his long career he was a careful watcher and analyzer of media. He was, in his own words “a philosopher, then an artist, then a media evangelist“

A great number of local organizations were fortunate to have  Kenan  initiate lively and thought provoking conversations while bringing his gifts of philosophy, kindness, laughter and an artistic sensibility to their gatherings.

A Life Celebration for  Kenan  will be held

Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 3:00 PMTotal Video at Houston Studios
707 Walnut, Houston TX 77002.

In lieu of flowers, donations in  Kenan’s memory can be made (and would really help his family at this time) at any

Amegy Bank for the  Memorial Fund for  Kenan  Doyle Branam.

“60-something years to transform to a more optimistic state of mind”

Kenan Branan
Kenan Branan
Kenan Branan

I was drilled for surviving nuclear apocalypse as a “duck-and-cover“ teenager, believing that the world might end before I reached adulthood. But I suspect my personal perspective was the biggest factor: I didn’t like the world the way it was and wanted to “figure out“ how I could make it better. I was hurting and scared. Survival instinct pure and simple!

It’s taken me 60-something years to transform to a more optimistic state of mind, actually a passionate state of mind. Maybe through the wisdom of my varied experiences and learning, I have not only figured out what a better world can be, but more significantly, through the media of the Web, I have discovered “signs“ of a large community of likeminded people. For the first time in my life, I can justify hope and faith in the future of humanity.

–  Kenan Doyle Branam  (source)


“In retrospect, I have always had the temperment of an artist, looking at the world with curiosity and sensitivity””sometimes, so much that the beauty of nature overwhelms me.

Like Pecos Bill, I was raised by a pack of dogs. I thought I was one… until they started to chase, kill, and eat squirrels. I guess I will always be a pacifist. I still love running in the woods.”

–  Kenan Doyle Branam

5th Ward Jam

5th Ward Jam by Dan Havel and Dean Ruck. Article about it on Chron. It is located at 3705 Lyons Street Houston Texas (and YOU should go see it!). Regardless here is a video from the brave quadracopter “yellow” and a few photos from the not so brave 5D-Mii:

Fifth Ward Jam

Fifth Ward Jam

Fifth Ward Jam

Fifth Ward Jam

the most beautiful moment at the renaissance festival. EVER.

I saw the most beautiful moment last weekend at the Ren Fest and I have to share it with you. It involves children and green giants. (stay with me for a moment…)

I started going to the Texas Renaissance Festival in either 1987 or 1988 while going to Texas A&M as an undergrad. I can’t recall the exact date. I went many times, but it was college so that might have been three times in one year or two times each year, or who knows. It’s lucky I remember my own name from 20+ years ago.

But I DO remember the texas renaissance festival. We were broke students so we bought the discount tickets from HEB and had to sneak in our own beer because we couldn’t afford the beer inside. In the late 80s my favorite renfest-shows were, in priority order, the falconry show followed by the mud show. The mud show back then was a mud pit in an open field and people who would gather around said pit. Falconry on the other hand, always had the most beautiful arena. But that is probably an artifact of not wanting the birds of prey to perch on small children during the act. I gotta figure being the falconry guy at the RenFest is like being the lion keeper at the zoo; if you say you need something you might bump the queue over the guy who takes care of the armadillos. There’s only so much that can go wrong if an armadillo is on the loose. But a lion? Definite priority. Just sayin’

I love the Renaissance Festival. (Disclaimer, as of a couple years ago RenFest is a client. But that doesn’t change things. I still pay for my ticket and I still take my whole family every year.) I have so many great memories and so many great photos. But this year, a 10 second interchange, stopped me dead on all-hallows-eve. This is what happened:

An ENORMOUS green man was attacked by a small child. Or torpedo-hugged. I don’t know the guy, and I’m not small, but he was larger than me and commanded a presence with his huge frame. And this giant man was reduced to a puddle of love by a child he had never met. Until that moment. That man was Shrek:

Shrek hugged a kid.

2011 Texas Renaissance FestivalOr to more accurately state it, a tiny 3 or 4 year old little girl propelled herself out of her parents arms like an Olympic athlete and flew above the ground like a hydrofoil to Shrek. It was kinda like the “human torpedo” move in WWE.

Shrek knelt down on one knee and caught her. The young’un quickly buried her head against his enormous frame. The giant man, in costume of course, brought her to a safe position and looked up at her parents for approval. Mrs. Shrek right next to him.

The parents of the star of our story 5 feet away nodded approval and smiled. Myself 20 feet away dumbstruck.

And all of us were frozen. We froze watching this beautiful young lady who completely believed not only in Shrek, but that THIS was SHREK. And she loved him. It looked like this photo I took after I snapped out of it.

I can’t really explain it. It was just beautiful. It was respectful. The parents were smiling ear to ear. The actor-volunteer-Shrek was well aware of a responsibility that I had no idea he had; to represent honorably the image of Shrek and the dreams of little kids.

And the child demonstrated a complete lack of prejudice, she charged and jumped into the arms of a 300+ pound green man! How many of us could jump into the arms of a giant green man with complete faith that he in turn was a gentle giant?  I fear I have lost the ability to be that child-like and I miss it. I am working on that…

The shrek-hug was the most beautiful thing I have seen all year. God bless you Shrek. And God bless this child and her family for their wisdom to allow her to have this moment. And thank you that I was there with my family to witness it. ‘Cause my kids are pretty awesome too IMHO.



(this is a cross-post. To comment visit the shrek-renfest-post on and comment there please.)

being roasted

Through an act of extremely poor decision making, I agreed to be roasted. It happens tonight. In Houston. Apparently they have made a video. Borrowed my car without asking for unknown reasons. And one person commented “you have so many quirks it’s too easy…” which gives me lots of confidence going into the evening. If this were MadMen this would definitely be a day for a two-martini-lunch. I am posting this at the last minute in the hopes that if anyone sees it, it will be too late for them to attend.

Note the sponsor is “Boner Beer” cause that’s just how classy we are. The deets:

Thursday, October 20, 2011 “” October 20, 2011 6:00 p.m. – 9:00pm

Heights Theater
339 W. 19th St.
Houston, TX 77009

Register Now

What better way to celebrate AIGA Houston’s Branding Month than with a bit of roasting!

Join us as we ROAST 3 Houston design legends –  Bo Bothe  and  Jonathan Fisher  of  BrandExtract, and  Ed Schipul  of  Schipul. Join us for an evening of industry insight, inside jokes and the celebration of personal brand evolution.

Appetizers and drinks will be serverd.    Beer sponsored by  Boner Beer.

Roasting will start at 7pm.

My plan is to handle it about like the ending of this video. Especially if I find out my nickname is “Pluto.”

Houston Arts Calendars

UPDATE: After a few days of testing, it seems to me that do713 comes closest to generating a consolidated list of events that I might want to attend. So a tip of the hat to the folks at do713.

Trying to find something interesting to do in Houston tonight? The Vau de Vire SocietyTry these arts calendars. Yes a million different people have tried to make consolidated arts calendars, but until someone figures out how to herd cats get arts people to be more organized, you just gotta hit them individually.

For profit maintained calendars:

  1. Houston Chronicle Entertainment Section
  2. Houston Press Calendar
  3. Facebook – your events (shows ones you said “no” to as well)
  4. Houston Public Radio Arts Calendar
  5. Meetup Events Calendar for Houston

Arts Organizations Calendars

  1. Spacetaker arts calendar
  2. DiverseWorks calendar – downtown area
  3. ArtsHound events calendar
  4. Fresh Arts Coalition – then click “calendar”
  5. Discovery Green Events Calendar

Blogs and stuff

  1. Glasstire Arts Calendar
  2. Caroline Collective Events
  3. Chron Entertainment Blog
  4. “Tonight in Houston” search on twitter (today)
  5. Houstonist Blog
  6. do713 blog on events in Houston
  7. Culture Map Blog
  8. Only in Houston Events Calendar
  9. Art League of Houston

Not so big venues that we like

  1. AvantGarden Houston Calendar
  2. McGonigels Mucky Duck
  3. Fitzgerald’s
  4. St. Arnold Brewery
  5. Block 7 Wine Co


  1. Menil Collection Events
  2. Houston Museum of Fine Arts Programs
  3. Contemporary Arts Museum
  4. Houston Museum of Natural Science Events
  5. Rothko Chapel Calendar
  6. Lawndale Art Center


  1. Houston Center for Photography
  2. Fotofest

Big venues

  1. House of Blues Houston
  2. Reliant Park Calendar
  3. Wortham Center
  4. Miller Outdoor Theater
  5. Cynthia Woods Pavilion
  6. Verizon Theater
  7. Blaffer Gallery at U of H
  8. Orange Show Center for Visionary Arts
  9. Alley Theater

…. DRAFT … let me know what I missed, or misclassified, or where you look for events to do in Houston related to arts and music and I’ll try to get it added.

Caroline Collective Coworking Space Anniversary

Houston’s own Caroline Collective Coworking Space is having an anniversary party this Saturday!

And a few more related links to the party THIS Saturday at Caroline.

1. Caroline link post:
2. Facebook invite:
3. Artshound:
4. Mentions on twitter:

I hope to make it on Saturday and hope to see y’all there too! From the announcement:

And a special thanks to the party sponsors step up to offer things to donate and would love to show them some love, including Riazul Tequila, Sweet Leaf Tea, Saint Arnold,, Tacos A-go-go, Danton’s Gulf Coast Seafood, and Aztec Party & Tent Rental.

Don’t Fight It will DJ and the illustrious (you)genious will serve as MC.

Houston Green Scene will be providing the party favors: 2″ biodegradable peat pots with organic potting soil and planted daisy seeds.

Formation of New American Group Influencers

New groups are being formed throughout the country, and nobody has noticed. These emergent groups are zero to three years old. And the organizers are not the usual suspects. If there is a connection to urban tribes it is the connecting of existing urban tribes.happyface

We meet our new friends, talking to others we know through the same medium, and in introverted humility ask “oh, how do y’all know each other?” Assuming it predates our joining the group. But it doesn’t. We assume these eclectic people of diverse backgrounds knew each other selectively before the overall group formed. But they didn’t. It’s like everyone has the same social birthday. It all happened as part of the Great American Social Software Revolution. The grandparents were born in 2004.

And I am not convinced they, we, follow the RENGEN model.

It is simply like minded people. Who met through sites like Flickr and twitter, form groups. Old news, like 15 year old prodigy news, right? What is news is that about three years ago the local aspect got magnified somehow. Asynchronous communication on bulletin boards drifted not to synchronous, but on an exponential curve much closer to synchronous. And the closer the line moves to zero, the more local factors come into play.

Local is the new black. And these new local influencers, many previously also influential but with a new magnifying glass, are more powerful than ever. Or newly powerful.

And these new groups haven’t self-identified yet. And the leaders don’t even realize they are leaders. People who nominate themselves as leaders are frequently rejected. Like an atom that meets to form when it wants and then goes on to reject the laws of physics, a self-nominated enforcer is refuted.

This is startling in that there is no visible ideology to bind.

“A common sharing of ideas integrates individuals into the community, a group, a party, or a movement. Ideas, commonly held, define the things that are acceptable and the tasks to be accomplished, excluding all others.   Ideologies play the same role that totems and taboos play in primitive tribes, defining what is common to the members and what is alien.”

– Contemporary Political Ideologies, pg. 9, 1986

Yet there is no dominant ideology that can be seen by this writer. Liberals and conservatives and the rational majority that are not on either end of the spectrum all participate. The “unfollow” and “block” functions of twitter are natural enforcers.

The main take-away is not a new ideology so much as the awareness of the rapid fire formation of new influencers. Influencers who in a majority appear, ironically, “off the grid” to the current power structure.

As I close this post I find I am very convinced of

  1. the formation of new groups is very real
  2. there is no readily apparent ideology that binds
  3. the leaders are below the radar, the influence unmapped

The next 10 years will be interesting indeed!

Note: The image? No relation to the post. Just an image of happiness on my flickr stream. That is all.

Performance Art for HOT Funded Art Accountability

Woman in gallery
Wayne Dolcefino recently completed an expose called The Color of Money about Houston Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) dollars funding Art to increase art tourism in Houston. From his story on the ABC 13 web site:

HOUSTON (KTRK) — We've put aside millions of your dollars to get art for the city. So why is some of the money collecting dust for nearly a decade? Where's the art?

We've gotten an earful from artists about my supposed lack of culture because they are under the mistaken impression we spend tax money just to create art. In fact, we spend hotel tax money on art to bring in tourists to fill up hotel rooms.

That's why our focus is the color of money; your money.

This has been posted on the Houston Arts Alliance blog (a client) and commented on by several influential artists in the Houston Community. As well as on the ABC 13 site. How can you resist talking about a story that includes the phrase "Lesbian puppet theater"?

As best I can ascertain the themes of Wayne's report are:

  1. Some Art is inaccessible – art at a wastewater treatment plant is not attracting tourists and now it is behind locked doors in a post 9-11 world. Jonathon Glus in the interview agrees with Wayne that this art should be moved to be accessible saying: ""I think civic art monies need to be focused on very public spaces," This can and should be fixed.
  2. Everyday citizens may question if something is art, consider it bad art, or overpriced art at times. Fair enough. Yet we are limited in what we can do here. Specifically government must decide to fund art or not fund art, but it can't cross the first amendment.
    1. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution requires the government to spend taxpayer dollars to fund
      artistic expression. If the government chooses to fund the arts, however, it must do so
      in a manner consistent with the First Amendment
  3. It's YOUR Money. Or maybe it's not your money. The report opens with "your dollars" and day two has "You spend millions of dollars on art to bring in tourists." but later Wayne is careful to say "The millions we collect in hotel taxes are required to go to tourism, stadiums, conventions and art. " My take? During Hurricane Ike many of us stayed in hotels. So if it is HOT money at least a portion of it can be referred to as "my taxes".  I think this is semantics and not the point as far as I am concerned.
  4. Not much HOT Money has been spent on the most obvious tourist location – the Houston Museum District. And some signs have grafiti on them. And the "banners that are tattered." Hard to argue with this one. This can and should be fixed.
  5. Some people in the museum district make too much money. "$145,000 a year salary" and "compensation last year was $475,000 a year, but with bonuses it came to $888,173". Those are big numbers. But this is purely subjective and right now I am too busy being upset at AIG giving Christmas bonuses to worry about the cost of a world class curator. It's like sports – if you can earn it then good for you. That's just the American way. Dan Rather versus a local station. Sorry kiddo, life's not fair.
  6. Only one piece has been delivered.  True, but to be balanced perhaps look at the works refurbished as well? But on that note, deadlines do matter so this can improve with better oversight.

What did Wayne miss? Well, he was either kind (uncharacteristic, no?) or did not  know about ignoble past of the Cultural Arts Council of Houston and Harris County. The mismanagement at CACHH, as I understand it, even caused a backlash within the arts community. Did ABC13 report on this at the time?

One other aspect of the "story" that I have trouble with is going from "we shouldn't spend tax dollars on art" to "why aren't you spending tax dollars on art fast enough?" but I'll chalk that up to journalistic license.

What can Wayne do better next time?

  1. Be balanced. Interview a few people who LIKE art in the city of Houston! This is just basic journalism to look at the other side. I know, I know, Fox News, but still I can dream, right? Plus he might have found an art lover who was similarly outraged at timing/location/etc which might have led to constructive dialog.
  2. Give people a chance to respond before airing a sensational piece timed to show the week the National Arts Marketing Conference and the Latin Grammy's are in Houston. This was just a PT Barnumesque stunt that hurt the city in front of two very influential groups. Very clever I'll give you. But if it's all about ratings maybe I need to listen to my own advice "life's not fair".
  3. Release the FULL interview of Glus from the story as background material. At least the transcript. Soundbites with dramatic music are just silly and taken out of context destructive.

I was wondering what exactly are the duties of a journalist? Is it art, or reporting. And if art, shouldn't it be labelled as such?

From the National Union of Journalists Code of Professional Conduct it says things like "strive to eliminate distortion, news suppression and censorship" and "ensure that the information he or she disseminates is fair and accurate". So I'd have to say that reporting is more Art than Journalism in this case. And he is quite entertaining when your community is not the target of the attack. Like watching ultimate fighting I guess.

Dan Keeney (a client) had a constructive comment on the HAA Blog:

Love him or hate him, I think Wayne Dolcefino has plopped a big
stinkin”¦.OPPORTUNITY in the lap of the Houston arts community. He
repeatedly has acknowledged that there is a direct connection between
the arts and the city’s economy, which is typically the hardest concept
for critics to grasp.

He is making that difficult argument on your
behalf “” but he is also demanding accountability.

Hard to argue with Dan's point on accountability. HAA and the arts community should work to improve transparency and accountability. And the citizens and hopefully the media should help the entire city move in that direction. Just hopefully without ripping ourselves apart or timing it to make us look like backwater fools the week of the Arts Conference Wayne. Oh please, that wasjust disingenuous.

The bottom line for me?  I am going to view the whole thing as some amazing performance art with a few grains of truth. And for that I tip my hat to Mr. Dolcefino on a ratings grabbing performance. Now this way to The Egress please.

Disclaimers: HAA, Discovery Green, Dan Keeney and numerous others (over 300) actually are clients. Those that aren't clients, many are friends. I am sure I missed an asterisk somewhere, but this is a blog and I am not pretending to be impartial.

Economic Impact of Arts in Houston

Our lady of transportation from the Houston Art Car Parade
The Houston Arts Alliance is one of our clients, and I have been doing some research on the economic impact of the arts in Houston. It's very impressive actually.

Some data from the Houston Arts Alliance Blog from Mayor Bill White's recent talk on the arts.

  1. Arts are a 626.3 Million Dollar Industry in Houston
  2. The Arts in Houston support 30,000 full time jobs
  3. The economic impact for the city is 69.5 million in local and state government revenues
  4. Total Attendance of the 10 Largest Arts Organizations in 2007 = 7,383,740
  5. Total Hotel Occupancy Tax funds directed to the Arts in2007 = 12.1M


I mention this because I have been seeing the 13 Undercover teasers on TV for a show called "The Color of Money". I haven't seen the segment yet. Investigative Reporter Wayne Dolcefino runs "The Color of Money" about Houston Arts tonight at 10:00 PM.

As a tax payer it is important to me that my taxes go to logical and necessary expenses. But I also like knowing that there is a baseball team in Houston (stadium paid for with taxes), and while I can't always afford the beer at a Texan's game (ditto), I can always afford a glass of wine in the basement of the new building at the Houston Museum of Fine Art. Art is necessary. To what extent, that can and should be legitimately debated as with anything regarding public funding.

And again, the Houston Arts Alliance is a client so I am clearly biased. And I love the arts, so add a second bias to the first.

Trying to reserve judgment until I see the piece. But knowing Dolcefino….

Here is the Mayor's Funding for the Arts set: