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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

No Tools in this Shed

Filed under: Fun, Personal

One of the questions I get asked most often from people in the industry, second only to the ever-popular, “You work for ASI?… Seriously???,” is “So, what’s Tim Andrews really like?”

Maybe because people are accustomed to those holding the title of president or CEO at a company being aloof and unapproachable, many assume Tim is like that too. Well, if my employment at ASI (as well as Ron Ball’s & Christian Brandt’s, for that matter) isn’t proof enough of Tim’s sense of humor, I’m here to tell you — if you haven’t met him yet or don’t know him well — he’s a lot funnier and down-to-Earth than you’d think. Much like Jon Stewart (who I’ve decided is indeed the sexiest man alive), Tim’s got a whip-smart, razor-sharp wit, with hearty sides of snark and self-deprecation thrown in for good measure. He loves his Grey Goose chilled, his jokes racy and — as the Supreme Ruler of Michele World — I bestow upon him one of my highest compliments: He’s not a tool.

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Come Fly With Me (Or Not)

Filed under: Fun, Travel

Hi from Philly!

Well, after traveling to four shows in three countries already this year, I am thrilled to be home in PA for a few weeks. The great part of traveling, of course, is getting to spend time with friends, as I did this past weekend in Austin, TX. After the ASI Dallas Show, I went to hang out with my favorite industry family, the Lindermans — Michael, Jane and Matt. Austin, if you’ve never been, is a very eclectic, idiosyncratic blue reservoir of liberal cool in a big ‘ol red state. Its slogan, of all things, is “Keep Austin Weird” — which should tell you a lot about why I love it so much. Michael & Jane Linderman, who are not weird but definitely fun, took me to an awesome area of Austin called the Domain, where fantastic restaurants, fire pits and upscale shops like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. reside. There are condos above the stores and don’t think for a moment that if I lived in Austin, I wouldn’t buy one just so I could say I live at Tiffany’s.

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Get Yer Za-Za Out

Filed under: ASI Shows, Fun

Hey Y’all —

The first day of the ASI Dallas Show was a good one, with lots of happy, friendly Texans and some awesome new products. My favorite? Selco’s new “Hardcore” watch line (see photo), which is hip, edgy and totally cool.

After the show Christian Brandt, ASI’s executive director of catalog sales and my show “handler,” and I went out to dinner with Mark Hobbs from DeyRey Nuts and Nadine Panetti from PromoBiz at the sensationally swanky Hotel ZaZa (www.hotelzazadallas.com). It was just awesome and it is definitely the place where the beautiful people congregate. Mark and Nadine are two of the industry’s pretty people and as a couple, they look like celebs. We should just merge their names together and call them “Mardine” — like Bennifer and Brangelina. (See photos)

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Michele Does Dallas!

Filed under: ASI Shows, Travel

Hey Y’all from Dallas, Texas on the first day of the ASI Show!

I’ve been here since Tuesday, and spent that night catching up with the one and only Dan Townes, at the Palm. We have dinner there every year and we’ve become friendly with the general manager, Randy Hill, who is just the coolest guys and tolerates (and in fact often encourages) our bad behavior (because, when Dan and I are involved, there will be “incidents,” such as the one year when Dan hurled a pork chop two tables away to say hello to our friend Jay Donlin, the vice president of Visions/Awardcraft…).

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The China Syndrome

Filed under: Asia

Welcome to February!

Did you see the news last week? In China, hundreds of thousands of people were stranded at the Guangzhou train station on the way to visit their families for Chinese New Year due to a snow storm. Now, I’ve been to the Guangzhou train station quite a few times and I can tell you that under the best conditions, it’s no day at the beach.

Having seen the footage of throngs of Chinese citizens stuck there for days without ample food and water, it just about redefines what hell must be. Thankfully, the trains have resumed service and the Chinese people are slowly getting where they need to be for their holiday celebration. (The Guangzhou train station, incidentally, looks like Dresden after the bombings in the wake of all those people crammed in there for days…)

The sad part is that Chinese factory workers save their money to visit family during Chinese New Year. It is the high point of their year, and for people who make on average less than $200 per month, it was just soul-crushing to watch them wait helplessly while the Chinese government, clearly not used to this kind of weather-related catastrophe, grappled with how to alleviate the bottleneck of rail travel.

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