June 24, 2007
New York Breathes Life
New York breathes. It lives. It draws you in. Despite the fact that I've been to the city countless times, so many and often for lengthy intervals, that I couldn't give you a number, I'm always amazed at not only how much the city shouts authenticity and life, but how much it gives you life. It's a force, moreso than any other American city and every visit reminds me of this as if its my first time.
Times Square. The East Village. SOHO. The Bronx. Brooklyn. Upper West. Upper East. Grenwich Village. I plough through the sweaty crowds; the tourists walking at a snails pace with their heads arched back and eyes upward bound towards the skyscrapers and the locals, who whiz past you, with purpose, their eyes saying "don't bother me, I have ten places to go. My life is busy. Life is tough."
And yet, they're all interesting and want to draw you in, if you had a chance to stop them in their tracks and remind them why they live here in the first place. They want it as much as you do. The longing for even the briefest exchange, an exchange that makes you and them feel alive.
I always want to ask -- "who are you? why are you here?" Each and every exchange opens the door to a new international discovery. Yes, always, in a way that London often did when I lived there, but not always.
I wander through the people-laden maze on my way back to the hotel at a time when the humidity started climbing back to its typical late June numbers. The sights feel as common to me as Vivian Gornick's daily encounters with neighbors, shopkeepers and her mother's connections, all of which are there to remind her that she's part of a community, that she's safe, that she belongs, that she is New York -- all of it, everything and anything it stands for. For this, she is proud in a sarcastic, quiet and ironic way. The reader is taken through that journey again and again.
In tourist-rich areas, girls walk hand-in-hand, as do mothers and daughters, as if the linking of hands and looping of arms somehow send a signal to potential thieves and rapists - 'we may be in your site, but we're off limits.'
In Little Italy, restaurant owners call you in as if it is already so, "hey you - you're eating with us tonight." How to argue with such intensity. Many follow at the first or second calling. Others who want to play the game will walk up and down Mulberry Street challenging their calls for over an hour, eventually settling on a choice they may have made much earlier had the game not been so important.
They enjoy the game as much as they do bargaining with the guys four blocks away on the China Town/Little Italy border. Here, you can find the best fake bags in multiple colors and designs for $30-45 a pop. Some argue with you - 'yeah lady, its real leather,' whereas others give you the news honestly, "hell no, whaad' ya want for $30?' No receipt, no guarantee, no return and they only take cash, but its a thriving trade that draws in women from around the world.
Here, women can also get cheap multi-colored watches, wide-brimmed Hollywood-style sunglasses and designed perfumes and wallets for $20, not to mention the vibrant cashmere scarves for the same. It's the land of excess and also the land of the physical, where people gawk at MySpace and FaceBook. They ask me, 'why the fascination with a virtual digital world when you can have a real one?"
But in this land of excess, international tongues come together and cross paths every inch of the way, whether its sitting at the sushi bar, taking the subway, walking down the street, connecting on the cross-town bus or blading in central Park.
It's all there for the 'having' and the 'taking,' and upon each taking, you are thrown into deeply rich conversations that always surprise, force you to step into a land beyond your knowing and often beyond your comfort zone.
You are reminded to engage and dive in rather than stand on the sidelines and watch from afar. New York's theatre does this too and the same acting you just saw off-Broadway extends into New York's real world - the streets, restaurants, cafes, elevators, yellow cabs, delis, office buildings..........everywhere. The intensity of all of it -- everywhere -- is what makes New York so remarkable.
May 17, 2007
Personal Democracy Forum
When I lived on the East Coast, the Personal Democracy Forum was an easier haul. I'll miss it this year, but check out the line-up, which will connect you to the speakers and intensive blog coverage of the event in New York later this week.
February 21, 2007
BlogHer's Business Summit
Topics to be covered include:
* Should my company blog? How do we decide and then identify the best people to do it?
* What are the boundaries of "authenticity" and "transparency" for a company blog?
* How can companies find and talk to the right bloggers? What's the best approach?
* Are blogs a religion or a tool? What are some pragmatic methods to measure results
* Does the cost of social media ever outweigh the benefit?
February 10, 2007
A Glimpse into FashionWeek
A handful of my friends are involved in Fashion Week every year and while I planned to weave in one fashion blog post a week, technology, as always, always seems to take over. In full force this past week in New York, Fashion Tribes covered the annual event extensively. Spendora also does a comprehensive round-up.
Isaac Mizrahi's Fall 2007 "Frozen Spring" Collection is an interesting mix of knits, slouchy and sexy dresses, wild dashing prints and as they describe it, "a trapeze coat in a hue dubbed Psychopeach, which apparently was a crowd favorite.
He says, "I call it Frozen Spring because I couldn't bring myself to do heavy coats and heavy sweaters. Even though there are sweaters and coats in the collection that will keep you warm, I feel like they're year round and seasonless; the way I made these big springtime-looking prints fall'ish was by giving them these fur petticoats." And he seems to weave these in throughout his collection. Check out a few fun examples below.
The things you learn at FashionWeek. Ever hear of rexy? Who knew?
February 08, 2007
New York's VC Outlook
NY's annual VC Outlook will be held on February 13th, 2007 at Heller Ehrman LLP at New York's Times Square Tower between between 41st and 42nd Streets. Who attends? Leading Corporate VCs, Investment Bankers, Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors, and chief executives of emerging companies.
Panelists will include:
Stephen Brotman, Managing Director, Greenhill SAVP
Joseph Gitto, Managing Director, Emerging Business Group, Geller & Company
Andrew Lipsher, Partner, Greycroft LLC
Ned Carlson, Managing Director, Dawntreader Ventures
Maria G. Gotsch, Co-CEO and Co-President, New York City Investment Fund
Todd Pietri, General Partner, Milestone Venture Partners
You can register here.
January 29, 2007
New Tech Reporter at WNBC
Sreenath Sreenivasan recently joined WNBC-TV, the local NBC affiliate in New York City, as a technology reporter. In his new role, Sreenivasan will contribute segments on technology trends, new gadgets and online issues. He had been with WABC-TV and 7online.com since December 2001.
January 16, 2007
Google's Unbound & NYU's Free Culture
Google's Unbound event is in New York on January 18th at the New York Public Library from 8 am to 5 pm. This is Google's conference on the state of the publishing industry and what's going on with the Internet and publishing. Cory Doctorow will be speaking alongside Tim O'Reilly, Chris Anderson, Stephen "Freakonomics" Dubner, and several other publishing gurus.
On January 19th at 5 pm, there's the FreeCulture NYU event. They'll have a discussion around the "State of the Copyfight 2007: Looking up, not out of the woods yet."
December 28, 2006
On Majora Carter
I met Majora Carter at the TED Conference last year, or was it the year before? I'm pretty sure it was last year since Al Gore was the big draw and he stood up before the end of the conference to praise her publicly in front of the entire room and then some.
She is being honored this month by Newsweek for her work in New York's Bronx. I saw her presentation before meeting her and thought - "My God, a woman with such passion, such...that Je ne sais quoi, but you knew she has what it takes....."
Apparently the world at large thinks so too. From MSNBC via Newsweek, "Growing up in the South Bronx," said Majora Carter, "it didn't occur to me that what I had here was an environment." More from the piece and what this honor is about:
"Her neighborhood was surrounded by waste treatment plants, garbage dumps and power stations, and she glimpsed nature only when visiting the blueberry patch in her aunt's backyard in New Jersey. Since then, Carter, 40, has been making up for lost time.
An artist and urban planner, she created Sustainable South Bronx (SSBX), an organization dedicated to the idea, says Carter, that 'poor communities of color are just as deserving of clean air, clean water and open space as wealthier ones.' This meant "rallying residents to oppose even more dumping and waste treatment, while bringing nature to urban neighborhoods."
Majora: a special presence, a special gift, a special woman. I hope to get to know her a bit better in the future.
October 25, 2006
I am recently reminded of Vivian Gornick again. I’m not really in love with her or her writing but I am in love with her ability to bring you to a place so sacred and real that it could have been you behind the pen or keyboard. South African Andre Brink has that effect on me, so does Hemingway, Oscar Wilde and so many other greats. Is she of that callibre? No, but from behind my lenses, I can’t stop thinking about her short story “The Street,” where she captures the culture of urban energy, urban living.
I wrote about it a few weeks ago knowing I would be in New York soon. After re-reading the story, not only did I resonate with every encounter, but longed for The Street’s energy.
New York isn’t new to me, nor is The Street. This trip, I needed The Street more than I normally do and for the first time, was forced to explain it to not just one person, but two. It should have been four, but I had a hard time admitting that I needed to not only understand it – out loud to myself - but articulate it to another.
On The Street, I realized how important it was to be alone – with it, with myself. Normally I try to organize a networking group dinner of some kind, but this time it simply didn't happen. Client activity was back-to-back, but there’s always time for a three hour gathering that brings like-minds together with like-minds. Yet, in the time I had to myself, I longed to be alone with The Street.
Usually it takes me a day or two to settle into New York’s energy before I carry The Street with me and it carries me back. Within ten minutes of checking into my Times Square hotel, I needed to feel its presence.
I love people and the energy and color they carry with them. Without them, life would be gray, placid, limp and without meaning. Yet the peace attainable from walking The Street in a culturally dynamic, colorfully rich city like New York is without question, a ritual that fills me up. I look forward to the exchange of multiple languages, some of which I don’t recognize – quick, without explanation and for the purpose of a necessary exchange, or not.
Alone, I can take it all in. In someone else's presence, a connection is lost, as if The Street is its own person eager for my undivided attention.
I quietly take in the broken down and bandaid patched corner shops, windows that scream of vintage, art galleries, churches of all denominations, sparse coffee bars all with cappuccino machines, the even more desolate but authentic streets of Brooklyn in the late afternoon…..the list goes on.
Thank you Street. Your vibe, your color, the life you give off when others don’t make an effort to.
October 21, 2006
New York Films & Festivals
I caught up with old industry pals in New York recently and re-discovered and re-remembered The New York Film Festival as a result. When you travel to New York on business more often than pleasure, its often hit or miss to catch one of your favorite unseen (or seen) delights. I always try to do both, hence a new tradition to head to Avenue A Sushi in the East Village.
It reminded me of the days when film was such an integrated part of my life (i.e., in London), the Bugs Bunny Film Festival at the Brattle in Cambridge, which became an annual ritual when I lived in Boston, alas no more.