The Society infiltrates madelife, and the Polka mural.

Now underway on the side of madelife, 21st and Pearl in Boulder. David Polka paints away. His solid but subtle style belies some serious narrative. Will passers-by realize that the geometries and New Mexico-inspired colors are subterfuge for a geological/social critique of their city?

Answer: no.

Follow up: who gives a shit? Beauty is the reward. Enjoy.




Mission Complete: Botstories Boulder by Gary Hirsch

Artists are now exploring social media as a platform for experience.  Not just as marketing tools, though that should not be underestimated.  Rather the tantalizing experiments with social media as a component of, or the canvas for, expression is a source of fascination for the agents of the Poorly Kept Secret Society.  Well, some of them at least.  Admittedly there are more than a few agents who are confounded by the whole thing and believe that what Facebook needs more than all else is a  well placed toss of a large wrench…

As these artists continue to experiment we see a depth and complexity to the investigations that can be exciting.  Or, sometimes, ridiculous.  One lesson that is worth exploring was ably demonstrated by artist Gary Hirsch in his recent mural project for the City of Boulder.



hirsch (2)


hirsch (1)


Gary’s simple idea is, as you might imagine, the front for a serious and complex game.  I won’t go into it here, as time will not allow.  (Sorry, I am writing this post while on a stakeout, hidden in a mailbox…)  But, please read more on his site:

What is compelling for the agents who assisted Mr. Hirsch in his project was the delight people take in his clever, perhaps devious, social media campaign.  What makes for a viral hashtag, or blog post, or tweet, is mysterious.  But Mr. Hirsch saw something.  Please conduct further research at #botstories and #botjoy.

What should we learn from his success?  That a simple message, a simple question, is accessible and therefore useful to the folks in social media land?  That opening up the exploration to the personal voice captivates?  That irony is attractive?  Or, as I hope, that people yearn for the connection to beauty in all they do, even when what they do is 140 characters in length?

We shall follow #botstories as the internet community of quizzical robot enthusiasts grows.

And, congratulations to Gary on a wonderful project!!  And, congratulations Boulder on your new artwork!!  Stop by 13th and Arapaho to see it for your own self.

Society Agents Infiltrate the New York Bakery on Havana in Aurora

 At 16:15 hours on June 23, Agents of the Poorly Kept Secret Society infiltrated the New York Bakery on Iliff and Havana in Aurora, Colorado. Below is a summary of their findings.1. The tiny bakery is likely to be a front for either sinister or noble purposes. The reason for this assumption is that the “New York” Bakery, in which one might expect to find lots of pumpernickel and biallies, in fact carries an extensive assortment of delightful Korean pastries.

2. Agents, posing as customers purchased dinner rolls, a chocolate filled pastry, a strawberry layer cake and several other items. Finding: effing yum!

3. The kind lady serving our agents gave them complimentary lemon cakes. We can only assume that she was doing this to deliver a secret message.

3. The New York Bakery did not have a website or Facebook page. This is promising. It appears to be a quiet, family run local business devoted to sheer, unambiguous enjoyment. Thus, it is exactly the kind of organization that the Society should activity promote.

4. Further investigation will be required. Soon.

That is all. 


Livability + Sustainability + Vitality + Justice

These are the four categories of great cities. There are many subdivisions, many occupations and intentions that comprise these four things.  Healthy local businesses are a component of Vitality. Neighborhood parks are a component of Livability and Sustainability. And, so on.

The Society is mainly involved in Surprise and Astonishment, a component of Livability. That is pretty specific.

However, to be an effective part of a city’s portfolio, we must also be open to partnerships. These partners must be chosen wisely; agents of a secret society must be careful in whom they trust. We, the Agents and friends of the Poorly Kept Secret Society must seek out other organizations that are also beneficial to life in the city. We must find compatriots who deal in social justice, perhaps. Or, job creation. We must be focused on subversive tactics to Surprise and Astound, oh yes. But we must make sure that such action connects to success of others.

Mission Statement?

The Mission of the Society is classified.

However, it is your good fortune that one of the Guiding Principles of the Society is RADICAL TRANSPARENCY.  Which means, you have clearance!  Congratulations.

There are some Agents in the society that have raised doubts about having a Mission Statement at all.  You see, we are an organization that uses the expertise and talents of our Agents, clandestine as they sometimes may be, to enhance and catalyze the missions and goals of other organizations, communities, and government agencies.  In that regard, perhaps our mission changes based on the operation we are associated with.

Good point.


We Agents will continue to deliberate on that.  We have, however, been developing a Manifesto.  This seems to be a better fit, in that our deeper purpose can be a tool for the use of our clients.  It is a philosophical stance from which action can be generated to achieve all sorts of goals.  The Manifesto is long, and will take a while to decode.  You see, each individual word is hidden within the content of concert posters taped or stapled to lamp posts along a six-block stretch Colfax Avenue.  I have managed to decode the first sentence of the draft Manifesto of the Poorly Kept Secret Society, and can share that with you now:

The Poorly Kept Secret Society exists to SURPRISE and ASTOUND by connecting the remarkable creativity of artists, musicians, thinkers, writers, designers and performers with those communities, organizations, and government agencies that would improve the urban built environment.

The Poorly Kept Secret Society does not usually participate in online activity.  Our communications generally happen face-to-face; typically in a darkened alley or appropriately smoke-filled speakeasy.  (Which is not easy to find, let me tell you, since cigarettes are bad for you and should be avoided, and bringing a bucket of water and dry ice into a smoke-free establishment is likely to blow your cover…)

If you would like to contact the Poorly Kept Secret Society, or learn more about our organization, then please follow these simple instructions.

  1. Go to your nearest local library and ask the friendly, if nervous-looking, librarian for a copy of last Saturday’s Denver Post.
  2. Cut out the first article on page five.
  3. Circle the third word in the second paragraph with a pen.  Preferably red.  This is the secret word.
  4. Leave a comment on this website with an anagram of the secret word hidden in the final sentence.

Once you have performed these simple steps, a member of the Poorly Kept Secret Society will review your message and, if they find that you have followed all these simple steps correctly, we will know that you are just a bit too curious and you will be avoided at all costs.

Not to be rude, as I am sure you are a wonderful person.  I apologize for this inconvenience.  Good day, sir!