I created a few scrappy comics strips about that one friend every one has. Based on real situations from my life.
The tea-cabinet in my work's kitchen has an extensive selection of flavors. There have been minor disputes over which one is the best, so I decided to take it upon myself to end the disputes. Here is the definitive ranking of teas:
1. TOASTED RICE
It boasts the scandalously-delicious simplicity that champions my heart and Chinese tea houses alike. Destroy anyone who disagrees.
A wonderfully strong tea. If you’re ever out of it, just squeeze a bunch of tea tree shampoo in boiling water. Pretty sure that’s how it’s made.
4. EARL GREY
Reminds me of my grandpa: classic, comforting and nicer on the tongue when covered in honey.
Not tea, but they're in the tea cabinet so I'm treating them as such. Almonds are dope.
6. LEMON CHAMOMILE
Padlocked to the memory of drinking “Sleepytime Tea” as a kid before bed. Pairs well with a Captain Underpants book.
Basically just thick water.
8. BREAKFAST BLEND
Slightly more boring thick water.
9. HERBAL TEA
Like a post-2004 U2 record: not particularly bad, but nothing you’ll crave later.
10. GREEN TEA
This does nothing for me.
Rooibos is in time-out down here for being spelled so idiotically. Normally #4.
Great if you’re constantly wishing you were eating an actual piece of ginger instead of drinking tea.
Why would anyone make a tea out of this? Honestly offensive.
14. THE ASHES OF YOUR FAMILY DOG
Also horrendous. I cannot believe they sell this at Whole Foods.
15. UNSWEET ICED TEA
I don’t mean to overreact, but this tea’s existence is more offensive than the genocide.
The more cynical people get, the more brands have to mask their end-goals and create temporary goals of connecting with people. This narrative has existed for decades, but the corporate grip for authenticity has become so undignified and dishonest that products themselves have completely left the conversation. It’s a pissing contest for who knows their audience better.
Eventually, what we’ll be left with is a bunch of censored, bootleg meme pages, littered with Coke and Pepsi logos, begging for likes, voraciously measuring success by little digital-hearts that have no tangible connection to what they’re actually selling. All our time is spent passively roaming the digital world, so why shouldn’t companies make sub-businesses off that?
What happens when Denny’s is known more for their funny Twitter account then their restaurant? We forget that they’re a restaurant, so when someone opens a diner that tastes better, we won’t hesitate to eat there instead. They’ll simply show us a picture of pancakes, and we’ll buy them, because people-being-hungry-for-pancakes is what started this entire thing in the first place.
The end game will always be to sell products. Even if brands could keep up with trends and meme formats, chances are, there are more relatable places to find content: from the people that create it without any monetary incentive. So copywriters, if you’re gonna make a joke, make it relevant. There’s a really ugly and confusing rabbit hole opens up if we don’t.
When senseless acts of terrorism occur, a single message echoes throughout conversations and all-company emails alike: how could there be such evil in world?
This reaction puzzles me. When we experience an act of senseless-goodness, we bookmark it as an indication of innate morality and hope. However, when we experience an act of senseless-badness, on any scale, we militantly refute the assumption that it says something about our species. We’ll inevitably spend the next few weeks wondering how someone could have done something like this. Eventually, our murmurings will fizzle out, a year or so will pass, a similar attack will happen, and we’ll all immediately up-cycle the same ethical maxims, wondering “how could anyone have done something like this?!”
It’s good that we cannot empathize. But I can’t shake the feeling that we are wrong to be so surprised. Regardless of a country’s political situation (I'm as frustrated as any of us), senselessly evil things have always happened (our postcolonial society can only be blamed for randomizing and de-institutionalizing terrorism), and I imagine I’m not the only one who’s tired of feeling like the world has gone to shit in the relentless wake of these events. I think I understand it now. The only thing paining us—the physically unaffected but politically present populous—apart from momentary sympathy pains from watching graphic videos, is our expectations. Having high moral standards is helpful for personal and philanthropic causes, but the assumption that nothing like this is going to happen again is only causing us grief.
Want to make the world a better place? Start loving people so relentlessly that no one’s mind has the chance to get confused or twisted enough to kill innocent people. And until we can ensure that everyone does so, if you want to make the world feel better, adjust your expectations.
I listen to Spotify pretty much all day long. And while I'm acutely aware that no one may follow or care about my streaming choices, I take a great deal of pride in my playlists.
The default thumbnail for Spotify playlists is just a collage of the included songs' album covers. This eventually started to feel a bit unintentional compared to how much time I spend curating these tracks, so I decided to create my own playlist thumbnails that played off their quirky names.
If any of this intrigues you, follow me on Spotify! @brysonschmidt
The last thing I remember is wearing baggy aristocratic pajamas with all my peers. I walked on stage to grab my diploma from Anthony J. Fischer—the Dean of the School of Communication Arts at SCAD—and BOOM. I awoke in front of a desk in San Fransisco, where I now sit typing this blog entry. The vibrant folder to my left says "Welcome to Venables Bell & Partners", whom I can only assume is my new employer.
Dean Fischer must've whacked me pretty hard with that diploma. Knocked me straight into this Fall. I bet he caught wind of my drunkenly climbing Arnold Hall and figured graduation was a good place to make an example out of me. No hard feelings though. I was subject to a pretty excellent dream while I was unconscious. (And in all fairness, Hannah and I did pick a lock to access to building's maintenance ladder.) Like all dreams, parts are hazy...
At first, I was with my family in Peru. We were riding dirt-bikes through mountainous roads and peering adventurously over their inappropriately large precipices. (This is funny because I've never driven anything with a clutch.) I'm pretty sure there were alpacas involved as well. I vaguely remember my older brother falling in love with one. What was it's name... Pablo? Paulito? Paunchito? Something like that.
Then there was a part that felt like a charmingly low-budget indie film—driving all day to see Hannah and starting our lives in an unremarkable North Carolina town. We held hands all the time and would pass entire days doodling and laughing in coffeeshops. The only weird thing about that part was the fact that our entire house was about the size of an ice cream truck. Also, all of our olive oil was replaced with avocado oil, which, I'm pretty sure doesn't exist.
There was even a short part of the dream that felt like an Angels & Airwaves album. There was a solar eclipse, dozens of hours of driving across the desert, and misdirected pondering on how someone can keep an artistic edge once their angst has dissolved. Come to think of it, it was exactly like an Angels & Airwaves album.
It feels like sleepily consenting amnesia; I'm still coming to. I miss my friends, and I can't escape the feeling of waiting for something. But more importantly, I'm in love and hungry for inspiration.
I'll stop neglecting my blog for months at a time.
This past Sunday, my girlfriend and I, out of respect for our endearingly Christian grandparents, decided to go to Easter church service. Neither of us are normal church-goers, so we rolled dice on where to go and ended up at a "concert church”, or what I am now coining as a Squarespace church—clean, modern and all white.
The worship music was polarizing. There were four vocalists competing to be the leader. They all stood at the front of the stage, making sporadic eye contact with the congregation and inviting us to sing along with an arsenal of half-assed hand gestures. When I wasn’t entangled in one of their gazes, I was staring at the drummer, who I’m pretty sure was playing the very drum set Neil Peart used on Rush’s Snakes and Arrows Tour. This, of course, inspired him to play like he was Neil Peart on Rush’s Snakes and Arrows Tour. To his right was a sphere-shaped bass player covered in Dorito grease. To his left was an elderly piano player who (I think) had an oxygen tank on stage with him. The entire spectacle was supported by about 13 acoustic guitarists that lined the back of the stage. They stared at their chord charts like their salvation depended on it — all strumming along in vociferous unison.
In front of us was a young lady performing a ritual of her own. She had one hand raised towards the ceiling, one hand on her stomach, and was see-sawing at the waist like she was about to throw up. I nearly asked if she needed help giving birth, but was distracted, yet again, by the graphics on the projector. I’m all for trendy background videos, but there’s a good chance they just put worship lyrics on top of that “Every J.J. Abrams Lens Flare” video.
By the time I finished analyzing what the hell was going on, the three songs were over and we were all told to sit down. The sermon itself, I thoroughly enjoyed: My girlfriend and I spent the whole time drawing crucified Easter Bunnies on the back of connect-cards. I did, however take away something valuable from the service: a rekindled love for Neal Peart’s drumming style. I think I’m going to listen to Rush today.
Congratulations! If you're reading this, it means you've chosen to embark upon the wonderfully lonely road of constant introspection and assured un-relatability. This tested 4-step plan is guaranteed to produce the isolated life you've always dreamed of.
The first and greatest danger on your path to isolation is friendship. Especially during the crucial stages of your early development, you’ll need a foolproof way to keep all of your relationships pleasantly superficial; this will lay the groundwork for all your angst and intellectual elitism that is soon to follow. The most fail safe way to do this is to have a military father whose job requires your family to move every few years. To be safe, I also recommend his backup job be an airline pilot which requires an equal or greater amount of recurring uprooting.
STEP 1: Welcome to the World and Homeschool Co-op’s
Now you may always be moving, but there’s still no guarantee that you won’t be a moderately interesting person. In this case, it’s imperative that your mother raises you autistic—I mean, homeschooled. This will ensure that you grow up around Christian fundamentalists, sticky psychopathic children, and a perplexing lack of empathy for your scene phase. Retract into your head; this must become routine for you. Your skateboard and flame-y black beanie will be foreign to the other church kids—disorient them but do not fully scare them. Remain fairly amiable, but do not refuse the opportunity to beat the shit out the pastor’s kid for constantly bullying your friends (Justin Pitts is a jerk off and will have it coming anyway). This reaction will seem perfectly sensible to you, but will only sabotage anyone else's attempt to understand you. Do not fight this—the perceived complications of your personality are crucial on your journey to isolation.
STEP 2: The Delicate Seedling of Angst
By now you’re about 12. Luckily for you (and your avoidance of friendships), you’re built like an anorexic crane and insist on having hair down to the middle of your back. Develop a deep and indefinable sense of violent apathy, but, because of your pampered life, have nothing to point it at. This is precisely when you must discover the liberatingly beautiful sounds of My Chemical Romance. These guys get it. They get you. Despite your parent’s disapproval, continue to listen to them, tortured by your conscious as you routinely waste iTunes gift cards on bands that “seem satanic”. As your awkward phase slowly wanes, follow your older brother balls-deep into the trap that is hyper-charismatic-christian youth groups. While most of the kids will deeply believe in the lifestyle, proceed as little more than a cathartic release for your newly-emo soul. Feel smarter than everyone because of this. Fall in love with the other most cynical person in the youth group and be overwhelmed that she liked your ever-unsubtly straightened hair. Join a travel soccer team and have tons of fun with it. At this point you will be dangerously happy and connected to others. Allow your house to burn down and move to another part of Florida.
STEP 3: The Illusion of Cool
Especially after moving in the middle of high school, you’ve every necessary precaution to ensure your being outsider. However, you must never grow comfortable with this state. False hope is what solidifies your isolation, so you’ll need to join a number of extracurricular activities to keep new relationships at a constant arms distance. Soccer, theater, swing dancing, art clubs—any and all of these will do. Be suspiciously good them all. Be known by many and generally agreeable. As soon as people seem to understand you, release 10 live chickens into the local high school’s cafeteria. To you, this is hilarious and the most obviously logical thing to do when you’re bored. However, in pairing with your otherwise well-behaved persona, others will perceive you as an enigma.
Now it’s time for the cherry on top the cryptic-social-reputation-cake that is your personality: start a band. This band will be a genuinely good way to express your emotions and hopefully make you a little more like Gerard Way. But since most of your friends are from church, they’ll call you a worship band and never actually listen to your lyrics. You’re a real musician, dammit. Heck, I doubt Chris Tomlin has even heard of an A♭dim7 chord that you definitely used in a song once. But that’s okay, high school is almost over and you just got accepted to music school where you’ll be able to explore your newly found passion and finally meet friends who understand you!
STEP 4: Go to Art School Instead
Welcome to art school. There are about 60% more furrys and about 34% more vegans than you had anticipated. Fall in love with one of the later. Get broken up with. Manifest your frustration into an obsession with philosophy—Nietzsche, Kant, Hegel, read them all simply for the intellectual edge. If you can’t be happy, you might as well be smart; after all, you're 20 and that's the mature way to handle things. Keep reading philosophy, even after it's served its therapy. Being the only person who cares about things like post-structuralism can only help the whole not-making-friends thing. Funnel any other stray frustrations into a hobby that is deeply meaningful and twice as easily misinterpreted. For example, love anime for legitimately objective reasons but live in constant fear of your friends making hentai jokes. Then dress up as your favorite anime character for Halloween and tell all your friends that it’s ironic. It’s not; tonight you are Sasuke Uchiha and you’ve never felt so alive. Since it’s college, you’ll also start going to parties. Drink everyone's least favorite drink—straight bourbon. Drink only drink enough to fake being an extrovert and pretend to enjoy trivial conversations. Sustain this easy-going personality and fail to reconcile it with that fact that your favorite band is literally called "The World is a Beautiful Place and I'm No Longer Afraid to Die". The duality of one-dimensional-self and vehement-existentialist-self will eventually grow so familiar that you won't even give it a second thought.
Congratulations! By this point you've have grown so accustomed to your isolation and will have formed some sort of Stockholm-Syndrome for it, which was exactly the goal.
Brooklyn is an archival delta of unbridled human instinct.
Despite its limitless reserves of cumulative empathy, and to the dismay of my longing to affirm it as sacred, it fails to display anything of notoriety. Every black man pridefully causing a ruckus at a corner store. Every gentrifying inhabitant of a wood-trimmed Williamsburg bar. Every quiet Hispanic woman avoiding eye contact on the subway. They are irrelevant sacrifices. Blindly consenting vessels. Tiny particles whose existence does little more than saturate how gut wrenchingly thorough this case study is. A case study no one asked for. A case study no one needed.
My last entry ended at Paris, so that’s where I’ll pick up. The City of Love’s weather, having lived up to its name, was freezing or raining the whole time. Often exhausted from the group, I spent a lot of time wandering around the city on my own, doing my best impression of probably-not-an-american-on-a-school-trip. The locals seemed to restrain the attitude that way; even if they were just appreciating the attempt. Times with the group were nice n’ weird too though. A handful of us with a larger artistic-attention-span got emotionally wrecked at the Louvre. A few of my friends and I met the some locals who deemed us worthy to invite to an exclusive techno club. We even experienced a Disney-themed bar where drinks were served exclusively out of baby bottles while outdated board games were brought to our table for entertainment.
School also exists here, as I failed to make clear in previous entries. The other week, P&G, needing new package designs for the feminine care products, came to our students to host a design challenge. Being one of two guys in the house, I was naturally thrilled too learn so much about periods that weekend. Art History class essentially morphed into a circus of students jousting for the last word in their half-informed philosophical debates. The majority of my work time, however, was robbed by my volunteering to illustrate an entire book my Art Direction 2 class.
The quarter ended with an open studio exhibition where all the students had the chance to display and sell our work to residents of neighboring cities whom we (SO awkwardly) invited during our market trips. Very few of us walked away with substantial profit, but it was an appropriately sentimental way too close out our time here (so was the massive party in a nearby rock quarry that proceeded it).
So here I am, sitting in the Marseille airport—a dusty field of grey carpet with enough glass and ceiling space to make you feel vaguely underwater— in disbelief that I fly out in a few hours. If it didn't translate through my writing’s innate pessimism, I can sincerely say that this has been one of the happiest times of my life. I made the best of friends I could have asked for (and a lot that I simply didn’t ask for), saw all ends of a beautiful country, and managed not to make any real enemies after having lived with the same 17 people for two months. Studying abroad has been sick, but it’ll be nice to be home too. Thanks, France, for everything.
Some of my friends who made this trip last year said that Lacoste got boring after a few weeks during the winter. I have recently reconsidered said friendships, as I'm having the time of my life. I'm beyond grateful for this trip. There's so much I could write about, but I'll do my best not to hurl my stories in prose like an excited school girl.
Treasures of Provence is called an art history class so that SCAD has an alibi when the higher ups figure out that all we ever do is take field trips—which is awesome. One of my favorite trips was to a Roman aqueduct called Pont du Garde. After exploring the bridge itself, my friends Alex, Leah and I faced our fears of freezing water, striped down in front of flocking of tourists, and dove in the river. The story was well worth the two hours of shivering on the bus ride home.
I had mentioned in my last post that we're short on males here, but I honestly wasn’t expecting such a drought of athleticism as well. Nonetheless, my professor (who is in his 30s) and I can occasionally scrounge up enough recruits for an adventure. Such adventures sparked my new love for mountain biking. There are seemingly endless trails behind the chateau of Lacoste, and exploring them as quickly and dangerously as possible has become a quality pastime.
The other weekend we took a trip to Lyon, which, in a way, is like Paris' little brother—the little brother that gave your parents more trouble but consequently had way more friends at school and is actually a really sweet kid if you're not in a rush to get to know him. Most of the days in Lyon were spent drifting through museums and cathedrals, trying to find an apologetic demeanor through which to address the mass lumpy rainbow-haired art students that I was traveling with. Occasionally though, I managed to escape the hoard and find hole in the wall restaurant or a cool record stores that specializes in African funk music. Per the group's elation over the reasonable drinking age, I decided to take a sip of the night life in Lyon. A sip of a mock-cocktail, that is. And literally just like a sip or two. I split it with my straight edge friend Emma. As usual, sobriety sparred my wallet, and made being a wing-man/babysitter all the more entertaining.
Other highlights since my last post include: bike trips to neighboring cities, helping a miniature horse (who I’m still convinced was a ghost) find its way home, discussing philosophy with professors in 7th century caves, and frequently blurring the line between kleptomania and "wanting a souvenir”. Tuesday we’re leaving for Paris, so I’m bound to back soon with plenty more stories.
It's been a mere week since our arrival in France, and I can already confidently call this my favorite time since coming to SCAD. Very few days pass where I don't pinch myself from the happiness this place exudes.
Lacoste is a little town on the hill in the south of France. In the valley beneath the town is a small villa called Maison Bass, where all the advertising students are staying. Our physical and social separation from the rest of the village earned us the nickname, the "Ad Frat House", which birthed the jokes and filming of our mock reality show Real World Lacoste (The Real Housewives of Maison Bass was the runner up title).
I learned on the orientation tour that Lacoste was the home of Marquis de Sade. Mr. Sade was a French philosopher from whose name we derive the word sodomy. Needless to say, our classrooms did not have plaques with history lessons on them. I also learned that this is a bad fact to lead with when relatives ask about your trip.
For the most part, the locals have been extremely friendly. Between exhausting my repertoire of maybe 3 French phrases and playing charades, I've always been able to communicate without offending anyone. With one exception. Some friends and I were eating at a cafe in a neighboring city, where, via my translator app, I braved ordering off of their recommendation. Either this waitress was bitter towards Americans, or my translator's lack of linking words changed it to "you piece of shit ", because her interpretation of an authentic French sandwich was a hamburger patty and fries sacrilegiously torn apart and thrown onto a ketchup coated baguette. My friends tried telling me that it was a real item from the menu. But I knew. I knew.
There is so much that I could write about. I've been exploring caves in rock quarries, writing guitar riffs in vineyards between classes, discussing philosophy with old French professors, and most importantly, blowing all my cash on fancy-ass cheeses.
Overall, I feel refreshed. New friends and new scenery. I'll post photos before too long.
P.S./F.Y.I. In context, this is actually an extremely masculine friend group. I am one of (I think) 3 straight guys on this trip. And my roommate Trevor, who is usually with us, just happened to be in class when we took this picture.
Today I'm shipping out to Lacoste, France where I'll be studying abroad for 8 weeks.
Most of the traveling in my life has been fairly thrifty. Whether we're braving the sketchiest of food trucks or flying to Rome without hotel plans, my family and I consistently kick the travel channel's ass on half the budget. However, this trip is more more official, and is obliged to cater to the lowest common denominator of sheltered rich kids. I'll be sharing itineraries with the same kids that buy guac and an Izze every time they go to chipotle. Needless to say, my new camera, my learn-french-cheat-sheet, and I will have to forge some adventures of our own and carry out the family tradition. Maybe I'll meet some friends who will tag along.
Which reminds me. I know almost no one going. Most of my friends who study abroad choose to go to Lacoste in the spring. That way, they can be joined by their same Savannah friends who are all equally infatuated by the thought of painting baguettes in a warm field of sunflowers. I get it. I really do. But I'm more excited by the thought of traveling to an new climate with a bunch of new people. I'm going for a change of scenery, so I don't see a reason to decorate it to be more comfortable.
I've also decided to delete all social media while overseas—for two reasons. One, staying updated with Savannah friends would keep me from being fully present for the adventure. And two, I will drink battery acid before adding my name to the list of SCAD kids who have Snapchat-ed ironic selfies with the Mona Lisa. All that to say, call me if you want to hear about things. I'm stoked out of my mind.
In light of some recent turmoil, and after calculating cost-per-hour compared to therapy, I decided to utilize my free flights and fly to California to camp for a few days. Luckily, I have a friend with insomnia who was willing to drive me to the airport at 4am, which meant I still had a full day ahead of me when I landed in Santa Barbara. The mountains in Los Padres National Park were only about 15 miles from the airport, so I decided to walk. I enjoy a physical challenge, and getting a taxi would have completely negated the impulsive momentum from which this trip was born.
Locals looked at me like some sort of vagrant as I crossed town. Which is absolutely valid in context of ragged camping clothes and having the posture of a pack-mule lugging around a small cooler of full of snap peas and bagels that I had just bought at an en-route Trader Joe's. I made it to the foot of the mountain in a few short hours. Accompanied only audibly by Jon Foreman, and assisted for a mile or two by a nice girl who gave me a lift, I hiked to the top of the mountains—about 1,800 ft. above sea level. It was an all-day ordeal, and well worth the sense of accomplishment.
"Holy Shit, I Started at the Water" by Bryson Schmidt. Cheesy Panorama on iPhone. c. 2015.
I set my hammock up high in a tree off a trail near the road. It's branches framed view of the the whole hike and the city that preceded it. Before long, the sun set and prompted the city's illumination. I hung my food and supplies in a nearby tree, and slid into four layers of Florida-grade winter clothes. It had been forecasted to reach about 42° that night. However, my dear friend, The Weather Channel, had betrayed me. Santa Barbara now had a low of 34°, which was meant it was god-knows how cold at the altitude of my little perch. After many hours of freezing my ass off in foolhardy denial, I decided to reevaluate my sleeping situation.
Maybe I'd use travel points to get a free hotel, or go hammock on the beach in town. I wasn't about to walk back down, and for some reason, no Uber driver wanted to pick up a stranger off a tiny road deep in the mountains in the middle of the night. Lucky for me, there were some friendly stoners parked at a nearby lookout. I politely refused their beer, but was thankful for a ride back into town. My new stoner friends, Robert, Mario, and Luca (pronounced loo-sa) were pretty swell dudes. They even gave me a tour of the city before dropping me off at the hotel.
Even though mother nature foiled my plans, it was a fairly successful trip. I proved to myself that (despite people's warnings) an excursion like that was no big deal. But more importantly, life was felt to the fullest—on many ends of the spectrum.
As Advertising students, we’re told every day how we need to adapt to new media that consumers are already using. I would tend to file that tip under general logic, but so many young advertisers (those in the work force included) put on their blinders and cling to that bit of guidance with a nearly religious level of conviction. The reality is, some products are inherently unfit for having a social media presence. And there’s nothing more embarrassing than seeing the ads of an agency that denies that.
That’s not to say that I don’t love adaptive digital campaigns as much as the next guy. Because I do. But honestly, no one is going to post on Facebook about a fun experience they with pretzels. And no one is going to use a hashtag to talk about your brand of toothpaste. More often than not, it's trying to fit a square peg into a very not-toothpaste-shaped hole. The only people who swallow it are the percentage of S-type personalities who fall on the lower end of the IQ bell-curve. To most of us, however, it seems insincere.
Consequently, my intuition is that people are going to (get ready for this) start caring about the advantage of product itself. Brand image has been everything for the past few decades, but agencies have spammed every inch of real estate with imitative jokes and stories that not many people care about. Naturally, consumers are exhausted and desensitized to it. I think people are finally starting to care about benefits. The USP may rise once again. It’s all speculation, but I’m interested to see where things end up.
Between Venture Magazine ending and no longer needing to pump out so many essays for classes (thanks A LOT art school), writing has become even more magnetic and alleviating that it already was. So I write a lot during the week, and am going to start a blog. I don't imagine that I'm arrogant enough to think people would keep up with my blog or look forward to new posts, but it seems like a good idea to log some of my writing on here in case people want samples. There's also something about publishing my work, even if it's just in the coy sub-navigation of my website, that feels more rewarding than it never leaving the ever-growing stack of journals in my bottom dresser drawer.