Saturday, March 28, 2009

Now, if they could only build two of them...

The announcement came out yesterday that The Freedom Tower will now be called One World Trade Center.

I have to be honest, as a former New Yorker, this announcement has only come about 7 years too late. In general, I don't like anything that feels forced. I hate ESPN because they try to tell me what I should like. I like the new U2 album because it's the first time in 10 years they haven't been making music with the overt goal of convincing me how good a band they are.

And with the World Trade Center, we've attached so much "importance" to what happened there that we had to attach symbolism. And patriotism!

What always irked me when I lived in NYC was how it always seemed that the rest of the country had a lot more say about what happened on that site than the people who lived in New York and the people who had worked in the original World Trade Center. That's funny, see, because up until about 8 a.m. on Tuesday, September 11, 2001 - when I was walking down Fifth Ave. to work - most places to the west of the Hudson River complained that all those New Yorkers thought they were just the center of the world.

Anyhow, on Christmas Eve 2002, I spent the afternoon adjacent to the World Trade Center site in the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center. There, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp had displays for the potential site plans to replace the Twin Towers. Understand that, at this time, about 50% of New Yorkers simply wanted the Twin Towers rebuilt.

I remember putting my two cents in on the plans on the provided comment cards. But, even at that time, the word was out that with a "celebrity" architect (Daniel Libeskind) submitting a plan, that every politician and his sister was going to favor him. Why? Because this ground needs something monumental. Something symbolic.

I know I wasn't the only one who was disappointed. And, honestly, even since moving south in 2005, I have had some secret glee with every design change, from the initial "we have to change this if it's actually going to work structurally" to the MTA announcing the name of the subway station is and always will be "World Trade Center" at the end of the E line. And now, yesterday's name change.

I am sure the memorial on the site will be beautiful. But your average New Yorker wanted to stand on Park Row, looking up, and see a really damn tall building. Your average New Yorker probably thought the Twin Towers were kinda ugly compared to other iconic NYC towers. But, they were every New Yorker's ugly towers.

For the past 7 years, the rest of America - a lot of people who could care less about New York and are scared to get on the Subway - were having their interests represented at Vesey and Greenwich Sts.

Today, that land, the World Trade Center, is back where it belongs.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


I recently attended a fantastic conference on the topic of social media. What made it fantastic? Instead of the usual conference where you show up and listen to people pontificate, it turned into more of an idea-sharing forum. While we were not all presenters in a technical sense, we all ended up participating in the discussion, not just watching and taking notes.

Anyhow, a few random observations:

  • One day, Facebook, or a similar as-yet-unknown site, is going to hit a gold mine in that it will begin to assign relevancy to members of your network. Doesn't it suck to sign on and all the updates you see are from that kid you knew in first grade but don't care about now? Of course it does. Because it buries the friends you really care about way down the line. Soon, someone will find a way to change this. And it doesn't take much to see where that could lead...
  • In my business, a lot of people want to post online videos. I mean, all the kids, you know, they're on the YouTubes and stuff. And all of the people who say that, think they need an incredibly funny video to make it work. The truth, though... online video simply needs to be worth watching. Think about it... funny or not, was something worth sitting there for 1-3 minutes of your life. If the answer is yes, chances are it was done the right way.
  • More than ever, people can tell when you're forcing it. In fact, the best way to use "social media" is to concentrate on the social part, not the specific channel. We're all enamored with Twitter, but that doesn't mean every company should just jump on Twitter. Especially if the audiences it wants to reach could care less about Twitter.
I could go on and on. But the prospects of how this will play out are exciting. And the result should be better understanding among companies and their audiences. And I'm sure we'll get a bunch of new case studies on what not to do. :-)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Reality > Fantasy

I've mentioned this here and there before, but it's worth bringing up again since it is NCAA Tournament time...

Fantasy sports can suck it. There, I said it.

Why? Because it makes me mad Cleveland State beat Wake Forest yesterday. Some little school knocked off a team that was ranked #1 earlier this year. That's something that makes this tournament great. That's why people watch/follow this tournament.

And I had picked Wake Forest to go several more rounds, so I'm screwed in the pool.

The good news? This isn't costing me money. Never understood pay pools/leagues. I played in a fantasy football league for the first time in three years this past fall. My team, a typical case of looks-great-on-paper, quickly dropped to last. And I have to admit, I made a good decision... I stopped trying to care. The Steelers were playing well. And that's my thing, reality sports are always better than fantasy.

Let me give you some examples of why I am pretty much signing off for fantasy sports:
  • The above-mentioned Cleveland State win. The NCAA Tournament is all about underdogs knocking off big-time schools. I want to cheer for those, not sit and whine that my bracket is shot because of them.
  • Say the Steelers are playing Dallas and my fantasy team has Tony Romo starting at QB. I don't want to spend the game pissed off that Romo is killing my fantasy team when the Steelers, my favorite team, are doing the job. No fun.
I've heard a lot of people say, "oh, but it makes the games you don't care about more interesting."

Folks, some news:
  • If there's a game you don't care about, don't watch. Read a book. Anything.
  • This attitude is killing coverage of real sports. Every year, without fail, I have to hear about how San Diego is going to the Super Bowl. I mean, they've got LT! They've got a good solid QB in Rivers! Truth is they've got players fantasy owners love, but when it comes to getting on a field and winning a real damn football game, they're kinda average at that. Why? Because fantasy football is all about stats, but it doesn't deduct points for "safety completely missed Harrison after he made a high school-level deke." Thing is, that's you you lose reality football games. But since ESPN and every other network wants you to play fantasy football on their Web sites, all we ever get coverage of are the great fantasy players.
Anyhow, for what it's worth, I've got Duke winning the NCAA Tournament. Against UConn. Just think that Duke is peaking at the right time. There are no stats to back it up. There are no players on Duke you'd pick in the first round for your fantasy team. They just seem to have their act together.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spanish for "The Meadows?"

Have you been to Vegas? You have?


Even my best friend, who has spent many a weekend in Vegas, says the whole town is fake. And he's right! I took a walk down the Strip Wednesday afternoon. Here's what I saw:

  • Venetian gondoliers paddling tourists down a fake Venetian canal spanned by fake Rialto Bridge.
  • Guys handing out cards for strippers, wearing shirts that say "Girls in your room in 20 minutes."
  • A lot of overweight people.
  • The Eiffel Tower... well a 5/8 replica of such.
It was a spectacle, for sure. Here are the good things I can report on:

  • The mountains, specifically the Spring Mountains and Mt. Charleston. I had an incredible view of this range from my hotel and let's just say I tried to keep my eyes there rather than on the Strip.
  • The Bellagio Fountains. These were actually really cool. Though you have to wonder about any place whose best man-made attraction is basically a grand-scale version of something I once saw in a Cleveland shopping center.
Anyhow, I'm glad the conference I went to was wonderful. Really, I learned a ton and met some fantastic folks.

But the city itself? Blech. And to top it off, these casinos making money hand over fist? Yeah, my hotel also charged $30/day for the gym. FAIL.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tune Day: ...and the Livin's easy

There will be much more here... lots of London to discuss and other things. Plus, I head to Vegas today and I cannot imagine not having something to say about that.

In the meantime, it it Tuesday and, if you read this blog, you know what that means. If you live anywhere near here, you know how ridiculously warm it is right now. And, sure, it's going to get chilly this weekend. But the buds are blooming, the grass is attempting to grow (the weeds are certainly doing fine, unfortunately).

Anyhow, summer is coming. And no one says that better than Matt Pond PA circa 2003:

Summer Is Coming - Matt Pond PA

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tune Day - PART TWO - Welcome Back U2

As far as I am concerned, U2 spent the last 10 years or so in retreat. Entitled fans bitched and moaned about Pop. They hated Zooropa, too. Nevermind that every band was doing what U2 did on each of those discs four years after U2 first did it.

Anyhow, I guess U2 wanted more cash or something so they went through the motions on All That You Can't Leave Behind. At least it was good sounding motions, bc the follow-up, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, was the most indulgent album in years and did nothing innovative.

The high-water mark, for me, since then was this song from Pop, a tremendous tune:

Gone - U2

Now, glory be, U2 is back with some real stuff. Is it Achtung Baby? No. But it is easily their best material in more than 10 years. They finally have the cojones to try out a song like this one... don't let the long intro fool you... stick with it...

FEZ-Being Born - U2

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tune Day: Going all Euro...

I haven't been on a trans-Atlantic flight in nearly nine years. But I can remember most all of it. And one of the first things I recall was putting on the plane headphones prior to takeoff and tuning into Finnair's in-flight "alternative" station.

And so, in honor of Wednesday evening's flight to Gatwick, I present the first song I heard on my first flight to Europe. It's going to be good to be back.

Go Let It Out - Oasis

In like a lion, I guess...

By month's end, I guarantee I will be mowing the lawn you cannot see.