Saturday, June 17, 2017

Parlux Prez: Jay Z Won’t Give Back Our 18-carat, $20,000 Gold Prototype Bottle

Parlux President Donald Loftus

Parlux Fragrances is suing Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and his company Shawn Carter Enterprises for $18 million for allegedly failing to promote the Gold Jay Z fragrance, and for failing to cooperate in the development and launch of subsequent flanker products in the line. Carter denies the charges and claims that Parlux, in fact, owes him $2.7 million.

New York Commercial Division Judge Charles E. Ramos agreed to let the two sides in this dispute redact whatever they like from documents they file publicly with the court. While keeping proprietary information and certain contract terms under seal is routine in commercial litigation, my understanding is that New York state courts usually require justification for each item placed under seal; they don’t simply grant the parties carte blanche to hide whatever they like. But, hey, Jay Z is super-famous and rules are for the little people.

The upshot is that some documents filed with the court have been redacted in their entirety. Others have certain items blacked out, such as an internet URL. [You mean, like “”?—Ed.] [Yeah, exactly like that.]

Well, a few tasty tidbits do make it past the litigants’ cone of silence. One is the affidavit of Don Loftus filed by the Parlux attorneys on June 9, 2017. Loftus, the former head of Procter & Gamble’s prestige fragrance division, joined Parlux as its president in 2013, the year after the company made its ill-starred and mind-numbingly complex licensing deal with Jay Z and his various entities.

In his affidavit, Loftus recites the particulars of Jay Z’s alleged non-compliance with the terms of the deal. It’s all good, but our favorite part is item 12 (redaction courtesy of Parlux and/or Jay Z legal team):

Item 12 reads: “In addition, Parlux designed and created a prototype GOLD JAY-Z bottle with an 18-carat gold cap and poured gold exterior at a cost in excess of $20,000 to be used in a promotion. Not only did Jay-Z reject the design, but he kept the bottle and refuses to return it.”

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They
are different from you and me.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Rich Boy, 1926

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Something in the Air

Via Gizmodo

My recent inquiries from online journalists are beginning to form a pattern and it’s not good.

First came an email from Eric Spitznagel at Vice Tonic asking about the science behind the age-old saying “he who smelt it dealt it.” His starting point was the idea that laws of gas diffusion and the concentration gradient of odor dispersion would invariably indict the smeller as the dealer. (From the published piece it appears he got this working hypothesis from an engineering professor at the University of Colorado.) My response was to distinguish between models that describe the behavior of ideal gases, and the more complicated turbulent currents and plumes found in real life. The non-ideal distribution of scented air streams is the basis for the “casting” behavior which many animals species use to localize the source of a smell (they zig-zag back and forth through the odor plume in ever-shorter tacks until they reach it). Given these atmospheric vagaries it is entirely possible that an emission from the guilty party might curl up an innocent person’s nostrils first.

Next heard from was Daniel Kolitz at Gizmodo who was putting together a “GIZ Asks” installment on the legitimate if somewhat feculent question “Why does dog poop smell bad to us but good to dogs?” Kolitz collates answers from a crack team of dog specialists and smell researchers including, beside yours truly, Alexandra Horowitz, Don Wilson, Peter Hepper, Cat Warren, and Charles “I’m publishing as fast as I can” Spence (I kid, I kid). What’s interesting is that several of the experts blithely assume that all human odor responses are cultural, while other take the (correct) view that certain smells or categories of smell are inherently (biologically) offensive. Click over to read the whole thing, but here here’s the pungent part of my answer:
Dogs don’t approach shit as an aesthetic experience—they treat it as a source of social information, like an olfactory Instagram. It answers a lot of questions: Who left it? How recently? Is the pooper healthy? We are able to extract similar information. The lingering cloud in the office restroom tells you who had lunch at P.F. Chang’s. Plumbing and ventilation rob us of the social signals in feces and leave us with mere disgust.
So where is this latest journo-trend heading? What follows farts and dog poop? I could make an educated guess, but I’ll take the lazy way out and just wait for the next email from an inquiring mind.