Archive for assets

Reality TV

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2012 by javedbabar

The man in black with a silver crew-cut and tiny beard said, “Hello, I’m Frank, TV Producer.”

That’s more like it, thought Bobby. I couldn’t really see myself with the previous two people – a lawyer and an accountant – but I could probably hang out with a TV producer. That was the whole purpose of the New Ideas Show’s Speed Networking event – to meet the kind of people you wouldn’t usually come across, and share your backgrounds and goals. You never know what these new relationships can lead to.

“Pleased to meet you, I’m Bobby. I’m new in town and looking for work.”

“Excellent,” said Frank. “I always need new people. Do you watch much TV? What skills do you have? Are you single? Are you politically engaged?”

“That’s a lot of questions,” said Bobby. He wondered how he was expected to answer.

“I’m sorry; it’s the nature of my business to always question. I mainly produce reality TV shows and am always asking Who? What? How? When? And What For? Have you seen Lonely London and its spin-off Lovely London? The First One In? Why Should I Live Like That? What? You haven’t seen any of them? You’re not much of a viewer.”

“Don’t take it personally. I’ve had a lot going on in my life. There’s been no time for TV.”

“Not to worry,” said Frank, running has hand over his silvered head and stroking his tiny beard. “I’m looking to base a new show in Lucerne. I think it’s the perfect location with rich natural and cultural assets. There’s the Old Families, logging and farming for five generations, and new families escaping the stresses and expense of the city; there’s poor kids barely making a living, and billionaires building holiday homes; Anglo-Saxons and Natives, with Chinese and Indians coming in…”

So that’s the modern media business, thought Bobby. Take a trend and put your own spin on it. Make it distinctive. “What do you have in mind?” he asked.

“I’m still developing the idea. I’ve ruled out hidden cameras and hoaxes; this town is too small for those, and job searches and sports are mundane. I’m focussing on ethnic, supernatural, self-improvement…” he thought for a moment, “and maybe dating themes…”

Bobby couldn’t help interrupting. “How about helping Guru Baba,” – a famous holy man who had retired to Lucerne – “to build his karma and find a new wife in his next life?” He couldn’t believe he’d said something so ridiculous; it had come from nowhere.

Frank nodded his head, amused. “I don’t think that’s it, but I like your thinking. Look I’m in real need of story editors and segment producers. It doesn’t seem that you have technical skills, but you are a creative thinker. There are all kinds of things that need to happen behind the scenes; we need to script action, manipulate events, influence audience voting, re-stage scenes – create sensational television by whatever means. Maximise the voyeur-wow-factor to increase viewers and maximise advertising revenues.”

“But that sounds quite contrived. Don’t you make reality television?” said Bobby.

“It’s all about sex and money and twenty-four hour surveillance – how much more real can you get?”

Rabid Response

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2012 by javedbabar

Rapid Response was the only security company licensed by The Authority to operate in the village. It had been started by a doorman, Big Bob, at the Lucerne Valley Hotel, before he had met a Japanese girl, married her and moved to Tokyo. He’d sold the company to Matt, a doorman at the Transparent Temple – nickname for their fancy, glassy community centre – who had expanded the business in and around the village.

Matt manned the base seven days a week. He sat too much; he knew that. He would rather be walking around like an old fashioned cop on his beat, than sitting on his ass. But the structures and processes of the modern security industry required you to sit in an office, close to computers, phones and monitors. He watched a lot of TV, indulged in online gaming, sometimes gambling, and occasionally porn. Should an emergency arise though, he was always ready to go.

Rapid Response’s purpose was to provide a reliable form of protection where a separation was created between assets and threats. This separation was typically breached in the village once a night. Warning lights flashed, overriding his browsing, and he would immediately alert field staff.

Since the development of The Place though, things had gone quiet. What had till recently been the village car park, a badly lit, mostly empty space, with benches for drunks and corners for criminals to lurk, was now a well-maintained, well-lit, popular place with people wandering around. It seemed to have brought a new spirit into town, that of an integrated community.

As crime around the village fell, so did Rapid Response’s business. They barely had enough subscribers to make the enterprise worthwhile. Something needed to be done.

A number of affluent individuals had moved to “the beautiful village with the white mountain above it.” Maybe Rapid Response could focus on those – wealthy, absent, paranoid people like Mr Choo, who came only one weekend a month from the City, and Mr. Bhavan, who was here even less than that. Why did they buy places here when they didn’t have time or inclination to be here? They were taking from, but not giving back, to the local community. It was inevitable that some people would want to correct the balance.

Matt invested in state-of-the-art systems, and sent uniformed staff to walk around the Place, as pure security theatre. He knew that the measures he deployed to increase feelings of subjective security would also cause an increased awareness of crime, and potential for profitable criminal activity, leading to reduced objective security. It was like scanners at airports making innocent folk try to think of ways to beat them; like having two computer security programs working against each other but feeling that you’re getting double protection.

Matt launched an advertising campaign highlighting the low population density of the Lucerne Valley, and its ease of access – in and out; its message was that if you were robbed, “Who would know?”

His scare tactics worked. Both Mr Choo and Mr Bhavan signed up for premium service, along with their wealthy neighbours and friends.

Rapid Response’s new systems were too sensitive though. Many times when staff went to investigate alarms, they found that the “culprits” were house owners’ dogs. And Rapid Response’s staff weren’t sensitive enough. The few times they apprehended real criminals, they were heavy-handed. For these reasons the company became known as Rabid Response.

Matt kept an eye on Shama, a petty criminal who had recently arrived from the City. One day Matt saw him approach and smash a concealed camera. He was about to call field staff to apprehend him, but then recalled that the Authority had denied him permission to install cameras in The Place. They had said it was a “node for self-perpetuating community”, not a location to instil suspicion and fear. In addition there were privacy, child-protection and copyright infringement issues. Matt couldn’t go and get him. He could only sit on his ass.