Why You Should Be Watching “Portlandia”


Portlandia Friday Nights at 10PM/9PM Central on IFC

Portlandia is a satirical take on modern counter-culture. Based in Portland, Oregon, with the majority of the characters played by SNL Veteran Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, the show is an entertaining advocate for being weird. Several hipster stereotypes such as DJ-ing, pickling, technology fads, intellectualism, coffee shop humor, environmentalism, etc.. are played upon in different episodes, demonstrating that in the pursuit of individualism and differentiating ourselves through trends or innovation, we wind up being very ordinary, really, and yet very impressive too.




Great Customer Service





Vegan strip clubs





Every episode is basically a vacation in itself




Still not sure if you should watch Portlandia?



Just sit back and RELAX.  If the show gets too intense for you,  just remember the SAFE WORD




And DO NOT PANIC when you finish Season 3. They’ll be MORE EPISODES

Barthes, Italo Calvino & Denis Johnson

Barthes’ The Pleasure of the Text describes the relationship between the reader and the writer in terms of the paradox a writer must coerce in creating a narrative that exhibits originality to interest the reader and tangibility so that the reader may understand the signification of the text. Barthes states that in writing he, the writer, must “seek out the reader without knowing where he is”(Barthes 4). Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler and Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son epitomizes the paradox encountered by Barthes’ The Pleasure of the Text.

In writing, the writer must ascertain credibility over the reader in order to attempt to find the reader through the text. Barthes attempts this seductive control by initially writing in the first person narrative and then addressing the reader directly in the second person, switching back and forth throughout the essay. Calvino addresses the reader in the same way. The first sentence of the book speaks to the reader directly; “You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler” (Calvino 1). Calvino continues to directly engaging the reader, narrating directions in order to prepare for reading the text. In order to achieve coercion of the reader, the writer must incite both pleasure, defined in text as “the text that comes from culture and does not break from it” (Barthes 14), and bliss, defined in text as “the text that imposes a state of loss” (Barthes 14). Barthes calls this “fight for hegemony” by language an attempt to become “doxa” or nature (Barthes 28). This stride to become “doxa” is the “essence of ideology” because as a reader “there is no other solution than to inhabit one of them” (Barthes 29). This ideological overcoming is the “signification” of the text for the reader (Barthes 29). Barthes states that “ideology can only be dominant” (Barthes 32), in that the “book creates the meaning, the meaning creates life” (Barthes 36). This signification begins with sentences which Barthes states that “the sentence is hierarchal” (Barthes 50) and describes writers as sentence thinkers (Barthes 51). Sentences imply “subjections, subordinations, internal reactions” (Barthes 50). In the completion of a sentence, it “runs the risk of being ideological” (Barthes 50), therefore providing signification to the reader. Barthes defines significance as “meaning, insofar as it is sensually produced.” (Barthes 61) This sensual production that Barthes described is achieved through interpretation through the reading. This analysis of text allows the reader to encounter their individuality which Barthes states “makes my body separate from other bodies” (Barthes 62). Barthes states that this is the pleasure of the text, the “value shifted to the sumptuous rank of the signifier” (Barthes 65) The simultaneous existence between bliss and pleasure in text is “”a living contradiction”: a split subject, who simultaneously enjoys, through the text, the consistency of his selfhood and its collapse” (Barthes 21). A text must balance originality for the reader with tangibility in order for it to be understood within the reader’s contextual perspective. Barthes describes this balance as “always and throughout between the exception and the rule.” (Barthes 41) Calvino balances this “living contradiction” by placing the reader in the context of buying the book, stating to the reader “you derive a special pleasure from a just-published book” (Calvino 6) in that the book is new and initially intrigued the reader in their selection to read it, portraying all the other books in the bookshop as superfluous in a personalized context since the reader has not read or bought them yet for many different reasons. By engaging the reader directly through hypothetical yet accessible contexts that the reader may encounter throughout their experience in purchasing the book, Calvino already asserts induction over the signification of his written text to the reader. The reader is instructed that “there is no message that indiscreetly outshouts the message that the book itself must communicate directly” (Calvino 8). The second person narrative commandeers respect through directly providing signification for the reader by directing the reader how they should begin reading the book. By confronting the reader as though the book is a book within a book, such as Barthes is a book about books, the writer develops seductive control in asserting their expertise through direct narrative. Calvino warns of this writing ploy, stating to the reader “watch out: it is surely a method of involving you gradually, capturing you in the story before you realize it-a trap” (Calvino 12). Barthes states that “Storytelling is a way of searching for one’s origin” (Barthes 47). Through engaging the reader in first and second person, Calvino draws the reader in authoritatively by inciting interest in the narrator’s origin as well as the reader’s own. Calvino alludes to the metaphor of a traveler who has missed a connection which is the position he puts the reader in by dictating the narrative directly, asserting control over the text and the story it signifies. The reader, the traveler, is hindered from their destination by the narrator’s control over the text as the narrator points out that this missed connection, the “something else” is what “makes it risky to identify with me” (Calvino 15). The narrator informs the reader of the paradox Barthes describes in his discourse, The Pleasure of the Text. According to the narrator the reader “must remain both oblivious and highly alert”, they must “take in the murmuring effect and the effect of the hidden intention.” (Calvino 18). The reader’s role as the signifier of the text is directly addressed by the narrator, affirming the responsibility the reader must exercise in order to interpret the text which is necessary to obtain any pleasure and bliss from reading. The narrator tells the reader that the text inhibits “a sense of concreteness that you perceived from the very first line bears in it also the sense of loss, the vertigo of dissolution” (Calvino 37). This sense of familiarity blended with a sense of loss is what Barthes ascertains where pleasure and bliss spawn from. The repetitive assertion of authority by the narrator to the reader creates bliss (Barthes 41). Barthes describes this excessive “eroticism” on “two opposing conditions: if it is extravagantly repeated, or on the contrary, if it is unexpected, succulent in its newness.” (Barthes 42). Calvino’s narrative exhibits both opposing conditions in order to create bliss for the reader as the first to second person narrative provides a repetitive yet unexpected method of conveying signification through the text.

In Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son a patient in the hospital F*ckhead works tells him “there is a price to be paid for dreaming” (Johnson 117). F*ckhead must come to terms with his drug addictive past in order be able to dream of establishing any hope for a future. Through F*ckheads personal accountability for the narrative of the text, the reader is seduced into the text through an original account of drug addiction which seduces the reader in discovering F*ckhead’s past in order to bear witness to his reconciliation. In order for the reader to conjure any hope for F*ckhead’s future, the narrative provides a historical background inciting relevance to the reader for F*ckhead’s improvement. The dysfunctional behavior of the narrator transitions throughout the text from the incoherent behavior of a drug addict to the resolution of that incoherence. F*ckhead begins the text without any regards to whether he lives or dies, prophesizing the car he has hitchhiked into crashing. He responds to this prophecy by stating “I didn’t care. They said they’d take me all the way.” (Johnson 3) Barthes definition of storytelling as “searching for one’s origin” (Barthes 47) becomes evident as F*ckhead begins to realign himself as a functional member of society. “Jesus’ Son ends with F*ckhead stating ““All these weirdos, and me getting a little better every day right in the midst of them. I had never known, never even imagined for a heartbeat, that there might be a place for people like us.” (Johnson 133) He transitions from not caring whether he died or not to actually caring about his life while acknowledging that he is a weirdo as remnants of his drug addled behavior still manifest themselves through his personality as F*ckhead develops a peeping Tom addiction to an Amish couple and viewing their dull and normal life excites him. As his drug addiction begins controlling his life to lesser extents, he obtains regular employment and “Jesus’ Son” ends with the hope that F*ckhead may transcend his name after all and become something more in his life than just a F*ckhead.

Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler and Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son epitomizes the paradox encountered by Barthes’ The Pleasure of the Text. The reader is seduced into the narrative through the ideological construction of the stories in which conflicts are demonstrated yet not clearly resolved, allowing the reader to lay at the mercy of their own prejudicial interpretations.

Works Cited
– Barthes, Roland, Richard Miller, and Richard Howard. The Pleasure of the Text. New York: Hill and Wang, 1975. Print.
– Johnson, Denis. Jesus’ Son. New York, NY: HarperPerennial, 1993. Print.
– Calvino, Italo, and William Weaver. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller. London: Vintage, 1998. Print.

The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility





In Walter Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility”, Benjamin discusses the mass reproduction of art and its effect on what Benjamin coined as the “aura” of the art itself in which the artwork’s presence in time and space is lost through the means of reproduction. The reproduction strips the artwork of its function as an individual unit.

Although Benjamin’s discourse focuses on art itself, using film and photography as his main examples, his analysis is applicable to the culture industry itself. Popular culture is created to function in the best interests of the economy. Everything is filtered by the culture industry. The selection mechanism as to what is authoritatively produced and distributed to the masses is contingent upon investment capital and those who control it. Traces of spontaneity are controlled due to the dependency upon such vast amount of capital in order to be widely distributed. Culture itself is manufactured. Consumers are classified, labeled and organized by the manufacturers who view them only as statistics in which more capital, money and power can be gained through further distribution of reproductive cultural entities. Benjamin begins his discourse with a quote that summarizes how innovation and technology have been constantly transforming culture. “Our fine arts were developed, their types and uses were established, in times very different from the present, by men whose power of action upon things was insignificant in comparison with ours.” (Benjamin) The quote from Paul Valery alludes to the transformation of art due to technological breakthroughs that revolutionized the distribution and techniques of art itself. Access to art was severely limited due to technological constraints thus limiting art itself due to the cultural constraints that such confinement in terms of exposure caused. Benjamin’s discourse begins with a sense of optimism which deteriorates as the capitalist mode of production and its cultural effects are discussed. With such widespread reproduction of art and culture itself, the aura of the artwork itself is lost along the way as what is considered to be art becomes disillusioned amongst widespread reproduction with alternate motives. Through the capitalist mode of production art becomes intended to suit capitalist interests rather than being a unique form of individual expression. Benjamin states that such conditions of mass production “neutralized a number of traditional concepts-such as creativity and genius, eternal value and mystery.” (Benjamin) Benjamin goes on to quote Paul Valery once again in the first part of his discourse, stating that auditory and visual images became marginalized to something hardly more than a sign.

The aura of an artwork is lost during reproduction. It loses its “unique existence in a particular place”(pg.1053, Benjamin). The copying of the artwork detaches its essence from the artist and loses that personal connection. Famous artist Pablo Picasso said that “Art is a form of magic designed as a mediator between this strange hostile world and us.” Most recently in our culture technological innovations have distorted art and disrupted the function that art serves as a mediator in understanding the World we live in. “By replicating the work many times over it substitutes mass existence for a unique existence” (pg.1054, Benjamin). Technological innovations have led to the emergence of new art forms such as film and photography. In doing so traditional concepts of art have been overthrown and production has overflowed the cultural filter so that art as a form itself loses its own aura. The traditional concept of the definition of art is transformed by such technological reproduction but at the cost of its essence. Art was becoming so reproduced that it took on different goals and approaches such as dadaism’s attempt at counter culture which eventually was culminated with the surrealism movement. In a more modern sense art has been developed into so many forms of entertainment to the point in which the aura is so far removed that it lacks any artistic qualities or skills as technological advancements replace or remove these things. Due to the mass reproduction of art, art has transcended beyond its function as a specialized field of humanism for better or worse. Quality has been sacrificed for quantity as mass reproductions of imagery serve different functions without focusing on aesthetic representation in the form of beauty. Mass reproduction has outmoded the primary necessity for art to inhibit specialized techniques and training. Such exploitative motives ruin art and serve popular culture only as a means to reinforce elitism amongst the established power.

Benjamin cites egalitarianism as the ideological condition for the constant decay of art. Benjamin cites two circumstances, “the desire of the present day masses to “get closer” to things spatially and humanly, and their equally passionate concern for overcoming each thing’s uniqueness by assimilating it as a reproduction” (pg.1055, Benjamin) as reasons for the loss of the aura in question. Capitalist motives are the root for such ideologies to gain influence over the masses in order to fuel reproduction. Benjamin cites the phrase “l’art pour l’art” which means “art for art’s sake” which was a sentiment to preserve the aura as a reaction to the first revolutionary means of reproduction and many counter culture movements have emerged since then.

Benjamin’s discourse advocates a sense of optimism with the emergence of culture industry and its role in transforming art. Benjamin cites massive active participation as a positive aspect of technological reproduction. He refutes notions that popular culture is a form of escapism from the drudgery of capitalism that causes the masses to be docile and subservient to the elite. Benjamin argues that by advocating contemplation and absorption of such art forms, such art forms are gradually understood and mastered, in other words through dialectics. By constantly searching for truth and maintaining an open mind for resolutions between disagreements, the masses could transcend such seemingly destructive influences as popular culture.

Popular culture serves capitalist interests because of the industries that depend upon it for reproduction. Such industries are indebted to particular ideologies that were formed in order to preserve and further influence upon the masses. Popular culture is an authoritative outlet for such extensions of influence.

Title: Chicago Vacation Package

Short Description: Relive Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and more with a vacation to Chicago.

Long Description: Although there is no way to cram all of those into one day in reality, come to Chicago and experience the best the city has to offer with an itinerary customized with the plot of the classic film. Go to a Cubs game at Wrigley field, enjoy five star fine dining restaurants and all the classic food chains only found in the Chicago area such as Portillo’s or Giordano’s, drive around town in a luxury car rental, visit the Art institute of Chicago and much more!

Packages include:
Five Star Hotel Accommodations at the Rafaello
Luxury Transportation
Tickets to preferential events
Customizable Amenities
Five Star Dinner Reservations
Private Beach and Private Pool Access

Photo: Photo Mar 07, 08 09 56am.jpg


Price: 3 Day 4 Nights Packages start at $2500

Cost: Hotel $1000 for 4 Nights, VIP Tickets $200 each, Transportation $500, Museum Tickets $25 Each

Vendors: Raffaello Hotel (Hotel Accommodations)
TicketMaster (event tickets concerts or games)
Windy City Limousine Services
Art Institute of Chicago (Museum Tickets)


Homepage once you login. Login information is username ROBERT password R196969l
ARC is 31Z0660

Choose option of what accommodations you will be providing for client, including flights, car rentals and hotel accommodations. Notice the tab specials and sales. Check periodically for package ideas to advertise.


Fill in the itinerary dates. Planner is self explanatory, just provide information it asks for.


Lists flights by price. Compromise flight prices with times that are conducive to the itinerary as well as how much layover time is spent in between flights.






After flight is chosen, hotels are listed by price. If needed, choose one that fits your clients needs and budget. Car rental options are next, then any add ons such as park passes or Delta Skyclub lounge passes. After everything is selected, Delta e-mails you an invoice with payment instructions.

Title: Cambodia Vacation Package
Short Description: Visit one of the most exotic countries in Asia Long Description:
Packages start at $1600 excluding airfare TOUR DESTINATION: Siem Reap, Cambodia TOUR DURATION: 5 Nights, 6 Days
Tour includes:
Visiting the Bakhneng Monument
Aspara and Khmer Dancing Shows
Visiting the Angkor Wat Temple
Visit the Prasat Banteasysyrey (Lady Temple)
Tour of Kampong Kleang
Tour of the Terrace of the Elephant
City Tour of Siem Reap

All Packages Include
: Hotel Accommodations
: Car Transportation
: English Speaking Tour Guide
: Lunch and Dinner
: Floating Village Pass
: Angkor Wat Pass
: Complimentary Water Bottles throughout trip : Beng Melea Pass
: Kampong Klean Pass
: Preik Toal Pass

Photo: largangkorwat_james3.jpg


Price: $1600 Per Person Cost: $1200 Per Person
Vendors: Angkor World Tours (James Bon Thai) –They Take care of everything in Cambodia

Venezuela Trip

Very few people think of Venezuela when considering an exotic travel destination, despite the country’s ideal climate which rarely dips below 70 degrees fahrenheit, and miles of some of the nicest beaches in the World such as Margarita, Choroni or Morrocoy. One of our partners, Rosber Olivares, is a Caracas native and has a team available at his disposal to aid any of our clients throughout their trip to Venezuela, as well as aiding with the intricacies of the currency system which ward off most foreign tourism.

(A view of Caracas valley, with northern mountains in the background, as seen from a plane landing in the airport.)

Venezuela/Margarita Island Vacation Rentals Ref: 3432

Margarita Village on Margarita Island. This Caribbean island offers year-
round tropical weather, delicious international food, beautiful sandy beaches, and
duty-free shopping. At the resort, enjoy the tropical swimming pool, a children’s pool,
and more.

Playas de Choroni Venezuela

Choroni, Venezuela

Cayo Punta Brava Morrocoy Venezuela

Cayo Punta Brava, Morrocoy Venezuela

Photo: "We want you to enjoy a high level of tourist experience. Here is the best of this beautiful country through our services with integrated whole, from transportation, accommodation, scheduled activities, the best evening entertainment options, yachting and more ...</p>
<p>May know places like Caracas, Puerto La Cruz, Los Roques, Tortuga Island, Canaima, Angel Falls, and many other tourist actracciones that will make fall in love with this beautiful country, Venezuela.</p>
<p>For this we have a team of professionals who are at your disposal to provide what you need and make your stay a VIP experience.</p>
<p>Come and enjoy it and live a VIP Travel Experience"</p>
<p>Rosber Ollarves<br />
Regional Director VIP Travel Experience Venezuela” src=”<a href=https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/p480x480/246479_430090917026259_979423178_n.jpg&#8221; />

We want you to enjoy a unique tourist experience. We will show you the best of this beautiful country through our integrated all-inclusive services including transportation, hotel accommodation, scheduled activities, the best evening entertainment options, yachting and more …

We provide services in places like Caracas, Puerto La Cruz, Los Roques, Tortuga Island, Canaima, Angel Falls, and many other tourist attractions that will make you fall in love with this beautiful country, Venezuela.

We have a team of professionals who are at your disposal to provide what you need and make your stay a VIP experience.


Rosber Ollarves
Regional Director VIP Travel Experience Venezuela