August 26, 2006
Upcoming.org, to be Flicalendr
Upcoming.org, which Yahoo bought and has since upgraded substantially, is a wonderful and visionary concept of Local + RSS + User-created + Social. I love it! Now if I could plug it more intimatley into my calendar/world somehow...though the hooks into Y! Cal, My Y!, etc are pretty decent.
August 22, 2006
If I were free tonight
I would do this:
Ian Svenonius and Calvin Johnson
Tue 8.22 (9pm) SubTonic (107 Norfolk St, 212.358.7501) map
Ian Svenonius started Nation of Ulysses and now fronts psyched-up glam band Weird War. Calvin Johnson invented "twee" with Beat Happening and founded K Records so his like-minded wimpster buddies could play, too. Best celebrity DJ set ever. (TG)
But I'm not free tonight. So I'm not going. :(
August 06, 2006
"Save My Hard Drive"
See that little link on the right? It says "save my hard drive". You might wonder why it's there.
It's a spam blog. I posted a bunch of random, other people's comments on hard drive data recovery. There are some Yahoo! ads on there - and they generated $1-2 per day in revenue! I get about $30 per month from Yahoo for that collection of crap.
Now, it's not a lot. But it pays the cable bill. It's really amazing. Imagine if you spent all your time pursuing these little ideas that appear occasionally. That spam blog to 30 min to make a few months back. If I kept creating things like that, keep multiplying them, kept creating new ideas...surely it would be worth a lot more than the day job. Unless the day job is itself such a big idea!
Tom Sanford's new blog
June 29, 2006
Caught up with an old chum today. Over the years, I have not just grown apart from longtime, oldtime friends - I have positively separated from them. Childhood, high school, college companions. In every group I have a few "do not touch" types.
It's too bad since it does spoil the water it sits in, so to speak, and when you decide someone in particular is out, then you end up leaving out a few others.
But it's good to catch up with folks from time to time and see how it all has gone.
I realize that things have gone quite surprisingly for me too, and that there are now big distances between me and my natural peers.
June 06, 2006
My "second" line
I have two phones, one of which is Cingular because I roam a lot. I'm about to reconfigure this arrangement and thought I'd reflect for a moment on the crazy bills I pay for this service.
May 20, 2006
Remember the neediest
I gave my $. Give yours.
Though they mention Columbia's endowment is "only" worth $5.2 (vs. Stanford's 12 and Harvard's 25), I would note that the real estate must be worth a ton.
April 30, 2006
April 16, 2006
My 4.8 mi journey
The weather is picking up and it feels OK to be on long runs again.
March 26, 2006
Believe it. I just got back from a weekend in wintry Iceland.
Reykjavik is actually quite nice this time of year. Never quite as cold as NY can be, but that way for longer. They eat puffins. The city is heated by underground hot water geysers. People sell their friends toilet paper to raise money for charity.
Above, one of the "Bjork bars" where the kids flaunt progressive dance and wait for her. More pictures
March 11, 2006
Tom Sanford's new show at Leo Koenig
We're proud of little T-top!
March 10, 2006
It's fun to hear the latest gossip in the MVNO world. Apparently Virgin is suing Nokia (for their own failings...a strategy that led to huge transshipments last year, and losses). And Amp'd is a hothouse.
Supposedly an email that was sent by the CFO to absolutely everyone associated with Amp'd (including Verizon...VCs...etc)
Subject: Amp'd Mobile Confessions
After much thought and soul searching, I've decided to share
with you some sensitive information about our company and
myself. The reason I am doing this, is because I am
concerned many of our business practices to date have been
highly unethical and in some cases even illegal.
We have misrepresented information to the press, investors
and all of you. And as a result I fear the senior management
of Amp'd Mobile has put the company (all of you) at risk.
First let me begin by confessing that Lyn Tran and I had an
ongoing relationship together while she was employed at the
company. I am guilty of taking advantage of my position and
forcing it upon her to be in an intimate and sexual
relationship with me. I have lied to her, used her,
manipulated her, and threatened her. And I am now done. I
have decided to move on and be with a new girl I met during
my trip to the CES show in Las Vegas, Ana Martires. So I
decided to manipulate and lie to Lyn, which ultimately
resulted in her leaving Amp'd. She is planning a large
lawsuit against Amp'd and myself. Unfortunately, my plan to
be with her did not work out, and that is one of the reasons
I am writing this letter of confession.
Secondly, we have not been equally fair to all of the
investors that we have been working with. We've been
inconsistent with regard to ROI across each investor. There
are so many details, I don't know where to begin. Let's move
on to the important topics though. I can't help but think
that Peter Adderton is getting way too much equity in the
company for his over rated management skills and lack of
strategy and guidance. Clearly his motivation is to cash out
when we sell the company or get bought (as am I). I will be
walking away with a measly $3.8 mill.
That does not nearly satisfy me. Further, Bill Stone's
$400k salary is absurd! As is Adrian Hunter's $160k salary.
Adrian does not deserve that level salary, especially after
having left the company. He went back to Australia to chase
his wife after she discovered he was having an affair with
his best friend's wife! Loser. Larry Mattera is definitely
overpaid for what he contributes to the company. Geoff
Fishman, you really don't deserve to be here! I mean you
can't even close the Best Buy deal by yourself and you call
yourself a Senior Vice President?! Doug Molyneux, why should
I walk across the entire building to see our in house
counsel, when I have a lawyer just a finger and a button
away on my speed dial? I don't think you need to be here.
You are just a waste of space.
Everyone should learn from my mistakes. Including you Julie
Dodd Thomas, what in the world were you thinking when you
asked Chris Houston back to your room in Las Vegas?! You're
married with kids for Christ's sake!
This company is full of lying, deceiving, manipulating, and
womanizing men. I am ashamed that I can relate to all of
that. Not to mention the financial antics... kind of reminds
me of the Enron disaster.
I would like to say it's been a pleasure working with each
and every one of you. And I wish you all the best in the
future, and with any luck we'll get through this.
March 03, 2006
Movie trailer remixes
The new thing, for the next 5 minutes.
Use LinkedIn. It's just like Friendster circa 2003. Small but growing fast...and very closed. Lots of uptight "need to be linked" to add a friend. Why? Who really cares? Nobody puts their credit card number on there anyway.
Reverse the model. Let everyone connect to everyone. A la Myspace. Make linking easy, common, open.
You might just get the Craigslist of jobs. Good bye recruiters... You'd be making the world a better place. Unlike Myspace.
March 01, 2006
ESPN Mobile to die?
It takes time for complex products to catch on, so the forecast of death for this thing are premature. (Though someone should have mentioned to the ESPN Superbowl media buyers that this was the case, i.e. that big splashy ads were essentially wasted on niche, high-touch sale products.)
I wonder just how much negative publicity will pile on this thing and crush any chance it might have had -- Mossberg's review has been interpreted as a "slam" by most people I've talked to, the price tag is universally breathtaking, here is this very negative attitude (and a mirror image one in Gizmodo)....what does it take to send something into the tailspin (of things like New Coke).
The issue, at bottom, is whether even sports nuts want the damn thing.
One Guy Has An ESPN Phone (And It Doesn't Even Work)
February 26, 2006
Click logs - a test
I am trying something out. The links on this page (possibly from this point down, but I'm not sure) should show you how often they have been clicked today.
February 23, 2006
Use these buttons
Use these buttons for a good time.
February 18, 2006
The movie guys have exploited new media to push release "windowing" in a highly efficient scheme of price discrimination: suckers pay $10 per head to see it in theaters, enthusiasts pay $10 per copy to see it on DVD, and all the way down to cheapskates who suffer ads to see the Broadcast Premiere.
Music: the time is nigh. CDs, tapes, records used to all appear at once at vaguely similar prices. Well, online-burn vs. online subscription vs. CD is the first meaningful separation. Now you'll be able to buy the album in stores for $17, buy at track for 0.99 per track around that same time, and wait a bit to get it on your unlimited subscription service.
The subscription services are like "cable TV" for music.
My music lately
February 12, 2006
Let's see how this embedded Google Video works
Wow! Unobtrusive. Friendly even. Made for bloggers...
January 29, 2006
Just got back from a great trip to Buenos Aires and Punta del Este, Uruguay (the favorite beach destination from BA). Summer in January is pretty great!
When you go to BA, do this:
* a drink at the bar in the Faena Hotel and dinner at the Brasserie (or perhaps the unicorn room)
* steak at Cabana Las Lilas is pretty great
* shop in Palermo Soho (Felix is a great store for men's clothes)
* drinks in Palermo Soho (Bar 6), snack at Mark's Deli
* lunch in Palermo Hollywood (e.g., supercool Olsen)
* walk around the Buenos Aires Design center and the next-door Recoleta cemetry
* if you come at the right time (not in January...), watch soccer or polo
* go to the clubs sometime after 2:30am (e.g., Opera Bay is a big represenative one)
* the big antique/second-hand fair in San Telmo (esp. Sunday)
* dance the tango (lesson) at Cafeteria Ideal in downtown
* eat a churro (yummy like a donut)
* stay at a cool design hotel (not an international brand) and pay only ~$100/night (for a suite...)
* 1 hour flight to Punta for a great beach fun (other options too)
* apparently, if you have time, things like the mammoth Iguazu Falls, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, etc are great too. But we passed on all that for some relaxation in BA
January 24, 2006
Our Southern Summer holiday in BsAs has been great, and we are currently on a little shore excursion to Punta, where the glamorous apparently go. Unbelievably beautiful weather and a great coast. The people...well, they'll change your impressions of Miami as temple of sun- and silcone-worshipping excess.
Pictures to come later, but for now check out PuntaDigital.com
January 16, 2006
Using this for about a week now. Just took it roundtrip to DC on the Acela train as well.
Fast! Claims about 1Mbps up and down most of the time. And the bandwidth tests online seem to substantiate it.
Pretty great for web browsing and email. The images get slightly compressed (which is fine with me - I wish they had that as an option at home on my cable broadband actually).
Tried to stream music from Yahoo! (per the above image), and boy that was terrible. Was worse than being on dial-up. Of course, I didn't tell Y!'s music engine to downshift the bitrates. Maybe that would improve the quality. But it kept buffering and then losing synch. Oh well. But I'm on the way to not needing cable broadband anymore...watch out you DSL vs. Cable myopics. The nuclear option is starting to hit: wireless broadband. And that's even without WiMAX on the scene.
December 23, 2005
When to drink a French 75
Gin and... Champagne. With a bit of lemon. Refreshing summer drink. A bit funny and lacking character in winter.
December 20, 2005
The makings of disaster
Lots of $$$ invested, few reasons to buy
Imagine if HBO had to sell you a $500 device to get you to watch
December 08, 2005
This old blog, its new feed
December 05, 2005
Watching movies on the go
You can watch movies (any kind really, esp if you use PocketDivxEncoder) on your Treo. Here is Twin Peaks.
December 04, 2005
I never realized that Kehinde Wiley is only 28 -- and already with a solo Brooklyn Museum show, a cover of Art in America, VH1 award show commissions, and so on. I also think the very recent look of Yankee hats with fleur de lys and other decorative patterns has a lot to do with his stuff.
November 30, 2005
The next president of...
Saw Joe Biden at Nello's on Madison and 62nd tonight
November 25, 2005
Solution to an annoying Palm Treo problem
Problems with bluetooth, hotsync, treo. Finally found a solution.
Main lesson: after all these years, Microsoft operating systems still suck. Add something slightly new, unanticipated, and all hell breaks loose and mysteries abound. In the lawless MS world, there is no decisive authority...no solution to ultimately turn too. There are unreliable vendors, MS guys, discussion boards, hardware guys. It sucks.
Here is one hint:
Thank you for contacting Palm Technical Support. My name is Rocely and I will be assisting you on this issue. I understand that you are not able to perform a HotSync® operation and receive an error message displaying 'Unable to initiate HotSync operation because the port is in use by another application’.
This issue might be caused by some other applications that is currently been using the same port with your handheld. To resolve this issue, we advise you to first disconnect the HotSync cable, reboot your computer and perform a soft reset with your handheld. Please proceed below for the detailed procedures to perform a soft reset and creating a new connection on your handheld.
Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click System.
On the Hardware tab, click Device Manager.
Double-click Ports (COM & LPT).
Double-click the appropriate COM port.
Click the Port Settings tab.
Make sure that the FIFO Enabled box is NOT selected.
Exit the Control Panel and reboot your system.
Perform another HotSync operation.
In addition, ensure the following:
The correct COM port is free on the PC through the device manager.
The Cradle is securely plugged into the correct COM port.
Local is selected in the HotSync Manager.
The correct port is selected in the HotSync Manager.
PERFORM A SOFT RESET OF YOUR HANDHELD
Always attempt a HotSync® operation prior to resetting the device.
When performing any of the resets listed below, a 'Reset Tool' will be required. Use the tip of an unfolded paper clip, unscrew the top end of the stylus, or use a similar object without a sharp tip.
If using a Palm handheld that includes the slider feature, opening this will reveal the reset hole.
Performing a soft reset
A soft reset tells your Palm to stop what it's doing and start over again. All records and entries stored in your handheld are retained with a soft reset. After a soft reset, the Palm logo screen appears, followed by the 'Preferences' screen.
To perform a soft reset:
Use the reset tool (described above) to gently press the reset button located inside the hole on the back panel of your handheld.
If after performing a Soft Reset, you still encounter the same error, you may need to create a new connection for your handheld.
CREATE A NEW CONNECTION
To create a new connection:
1. Tap on the “Home” icon of your handheld.
2. On the upper right hand corner of your screen, make sure that “All” is selected.
3. Look for the “Prefs” icon and tap on it.
4. On the Prefs application, choose “Connection”.
5. Click on the “New” button near the bottom of the screen.
6. On the “Name field”, type PALMTOPC as the name of the connection.
7. On the “Connect to” field, select PC.
8. On the “Via” field, select CABLE.
9. Tap on the “OK” button.
10. On the HotSync window of your handheld, below the HotSync icon, tap on the pull down arrow and choose the name that you have just created
If the problems persist after performing the steps above, proceed with the steps below.
1. Delete the ConnectionMgr50DB.pdb,
q The default path would be “C:\ProgramFiles\Palm\
2. Reboot computer.
Here is another hint:
The first problem that I ran into was getting my BT adapter to work; I kept getting the error message “Bluetooth device could not be found.” I do a lot of removing this and installing that so I though I had screwed up my COM ports bad enough that I couldn’t get the D-Link 120 adapter I have to install right. It turns out, and I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear this, it was a Microsoft issue! Today I just happened to come across this link (http://mytreo.net/forum/index.php/topic,18729.msg158400.html#msg158400) (thanks Tekara!) and the rest was downhill from there. Turns out there’s some issues with the Service Pack 2 BT stack and (insert technical mumbo jumbo here)… Long story short, if you’re having trouble getting your BT device to install or work properly and you haven’t done this yet, give it a shot.
And some of the other links I used on my quest:
Oh it was painful.
3. Perform a HotSync operation.
October 10, 2005
Tom Sanford, Kelli, and Leo in the New Yorker
Days and nights in Leo Koenig’s gallery.
by NICK PAUMGARTEN
Issue of 2005-10-17
Of the many moments that may have moved Leo Koenig to become an art dealer, the one he’d choose, if he had to choose one, is an encounter he had eight years ago, when he was twenty and living with three roommates—two Lithuanians and a German—in an apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He’d come to New York from Munich a few months earlier, in part to avoid military service in Germany. One night, another Lithuanian stopped in, an artist named Aidas Bareikis. They had dinner and then began drinking vodka. After a while, Koenig suggested that they try snorting the vodka instead, which can be rough on the nasal passages but in this instance had the desired effect of fostering an atmosphere conducive to the telling of life stories.
Bareikis, who was twenty-nine, had a good one. In 1985, as an art-school student in Vilnius, he’d been drafted into the Soviet Army. After two months, a Soviet general paid his unit a visit. There was a uniform inspection, and Bareikis was found to be wearing an undershirt on which he’d painted the Lithuanian flag. He was sent to the brig—solitary confinement in a pitch-black cistern buried in the ground—and then to a mental hospital, where doctors could not find evidence that his affection for his native republic had anything to do with madness. He was shipped off to Afghanistan, to fight the mujahideen. At first, he didn’t see combat, but he did see, while loading trains bound for Russia, some of its results: caskets, quadriplegics, amputees. He came across a mangled helicopter covered in soldiers’ blood. Later, his convoy was ambushed, and he spent three days and nights behind a rock, pinned down by enemy fire. He told himself, “I’ve got to go back to art school.”
Bareikis and a few other Baltic draftees began scrounging for pencils and grinding the graphite into powder, which they inhaled through their noses in an effort to poison themselves. They also tried rolling fingernail parings into their cigarettes and depriving themselves of sleep. After a couple of weeks of this, Bareikis, delirious and suffering from high blood pressure, was ordered to see the unit’s medical officer, who was instantly suspicious. “Are you faking it or not?” he asked Bareikis. Bareikis decided to tell the truth, and the officer decided to help him. Bareikis was hospitalized and declared unfit for combat. Eventually, he returned to Vilnius, finished school, won a Fulbright, and, in 1992, made his way to New York, to pursue an M.F.A. He spoke almost no English. For money, he did construction and demolition work. He was often homeless. He found that if he slept in a tree in Central Park no one would bother him. For a while, he squatted in a loft in SoHo; on the same day he got evicted, he learned that he’d won a green card in the State Department’s immigration lottery—an experience that became the inspiration for a piece titled “You Have Fifteen Minutes to Leave,” which, like most of his work, was a gaudy and monstrous sculptural installation of found or shoplifted materials. In general, his work was hard to sell, and even harder to look at, but in some circles he acquired a reputation as a sort of a beacon—the genuine article.
Koenig considers the night he met Bareikis to be one of the best of his life. They stayed up past dawn and became fast friends. Months later, when Koenig mentioned to Bareikis that he was looking for something adventurous to do, a way to bring people together and have a little fun—he was thinking of opening a restaurant—Bareikis told him, “No, you should do a gallery.” Koenig did, and in his inaugural show he exhibited a work by Bareikis called “Embarkation for Cythera” (after Watteau). The gallery was in Williamsburg. Koenig and Bareikis transported the installation, disassembled and crammed into garbage bags, from Bareikis’s studio by bicycle. On the day of the opening, they sat alone in the gallery, waiting for people to show up. To allay their anxiety, they started in on the mountain of beer they’d stockpiled for the occasion and eventually sank into a stupor in a back room. Hours later, they came to and discovered that the gallery was full—some seven hundred guests, if Koenig recalls correctly. Art revellers spilled into the street. Among them was Klaus Biesenbach, the chief curator at P.S. 1, who liked the work enough to include Bareikis in an exhibition of emerging artists. Bareikis’s installation at P.S. 1, “Yellow Peril, Friendly Fire,” was purchased for thirteen thousand dollars by an eccentric collector from Berlin. It was Koenig’s first sale.
Koenig likes this version of his beginnings because it accentuates the wildness of the early days, the serendipity and the cheek. It also camouflages the significance of his birthright. Koenig’s father, Kasper, is the director of the Museum Ludwig, in Cologne, and is one of the most prominent curators in Europe. Koenig’s mother, Ilka, is a well-known purveyor of art books in Munich. His uncle Walter is one of Europe’s biggest publishers of art books. (There is also family wealth—a house-paint business going back several generations—but it has not accrued either to Kasper Koenig or to his children.) Leo Koenig grew up surrounded by artists and critics, steeped, if not fully engaged, in their work and conversation, and his surname has eased his entry into the art trade. It confers legitimacy, in a world where legitimacy is amorphous and highly coveted. Some people begrudge him his connections, and point out that making it in the art world is so easy for a Koenig that even Leo’s younger half brother Johann has a gallery, despite being almost blind. (When he was eleven, he was playing with fireworks and they exploded in his face.) Some skeptics also say that Koenig hasn’t done much with the head start, that he is merely a party boy—the Paris Hilton of Germany, as one art-world figure said to me, with an anonymous unkindness that seems typical of the trade. But others recognize that the advantage has as much to do with sensibility as with preferential treatment; his boyhood exposure to the art world, to its esoteric language of ideas, attitudes, and names, gave him an education that he would not have received in graduate school. Anyway, as far as the Paris Hilton problem is concerned, Koenig has mellowed, to the extent that these days he finds himself going through what he wistfully calls “a nostalgic phase.” He fears being seen as a sellout, a mere merchant among the creative and difficult souls who make the art, and the hard partying seems, by his reckoning, a kind of inoculation against that. Reputation, in this world, requires a delicate balance: being both a businessman and a rascal, without being seen as too much of one or the other, or even as either one at all, entails constant adjustment, whether you are an art prince or a self-made man.
The occasion for these anxieties was his gallery’s move, this summer, from the backwater of Centre Street, at the edge of Chinatown, to a big storefront space in Chelsea, as concentrated a district of art exhibition and commerce as exists anywhere. Chelsea attracts collectors, small buyers, browsers, consultants, advisers, curators, critics, and all kinds of “weirdo cats who make money off the art world in weird ways,” a curator / critic / consultant named David Hunt told me. Together, they are after some kind of consensus of taste, and the money and the acclaim—and even the transcendence—that come with it.
This pursuit has got a little out of hand in recent years. Art, like real estate, has been enjoying a long and durable speculative boom, attracting, as it did a century ago, in the days of Duveen, the obsessive and competitive attentions of an expanding class of people who are very, very rich and who, for reasons ranging from the noble to the crass, have chosen visual art as an instrument for their aspirations. The appetite for new work is such that little-known artists command outlandish prices—if the circumstances align, a first-timer might sell a painting for fifteen thousand dollars, and then see its price double inside of a year. There are more artists, more galleries, and more buyers, and as a result the art world has grown more diffuse. There is no era-defining dealer, as there was in the heyday of Leo Castelli or of Mary Boone. Larry Gagosian is a powerhouse; Marian Goodman is a doyenne. But there are dozens of gallery owners out there, many of them young, with artists who, to varying degrees, are critically celebrated, institutionally represented, and commercially successful. Thirty years from now, a few of these dealers will have some claim to permanence. This depends, of course, on their artists’ work, and it is the dealer’s role to persuade people to think highly of it. “I’m aware that if I do my job right I will be forgotten and the artists will never be forgotten,” Koenig told me one night. He likes to think that he is presiding over an incipient movement, citing as a model the community of German neo-expressionists who came to prominence three or four decades ago, some of whom are family friends. The correlation is as strained as it is personal, but it reflects his belief that, as he put it, “you create your own context.”
Koenig represents a dozen artists, most of them emerging artists. There are just two women: the painter Nicole Eisenman, who had a reputation and following before she joined Koenig, and Kelli Williams, who has made just six paintings and has never sold one. Mainly, Koenig’s enterprise is anchored by a group of hard-drinking New York men in their thirties, who have been with him more or less from the beginning. The artists hang out together, and Koenig hangs out with them. In this respect, the gallery is unusual, more fraternity than salon. “There is so much cheating and finagling in this business that a lot of dealers don’t want their artists even talking to each other,” Koenig told me. He rarely goes anywhere without at least one or two of his artists in tow. He hosts regular dinners in restaurants, arraying them around him like apostles. The artists call him Opa, the German for Grandpa, even though he is years younger than most of them. “You look for these surrogate fathers and then you play one,” he told me.
Koenig’s most striking attribute, besides his youth, is his height. He is six feet four inches tall—gangly, long-limbed, and baby-faced. These days, he has a beard and close-cropped hair. A few years ago, he abruptly put on sixty-five pounds, transforming himself into a startling caricature of a brau-and-bratwurst Münchner, but then he quit drinking for a spell and, with the aid of a treadmill, a rowing machine, and a sauna that he installed in his bedroom, reverted to form. Still, he can project a cartoonish persona: the way he allows his arms and legs to flap around and his eyes to bulge after he’s had a couple of pints suggests that he has a good sense of what it is about Germans—bossiness, buffoonery, clusters of consonants—that Americans find funny. He often wears suspenders. His accent is not overwhelming, but his malaprop rate is about two per hour: “Can you borrow me a pen?” “Let’s have a night drink.”
I often heard Koenig pass judgment on works of art (“fantastic,” “amazing,” “crap”), but he rarely explained himself, except to mention the work’s provenance or to point out a section of it and say, “Look at that,” as though taste, his and everyone else’s, were universal. It takes a certain amount of nerve to act as though one knows what is good or, more important, what will be deemed good in the future. It’s an article of faith in the art world that some people have an eye for it and some people don’t; the disagreement arises over which do or don’t.
“I am happy when people relate to my way of thinking,” Koenig told me one evening, over Pilsners in the back office at his gallery, Leo Koenig Inc. He was seated behind a big desk, hands clasped behind his head, a wall of art books to his left, a small neon sign that read “dealer” to his right. “And there is a monetary aspect to that. The more money you make, the more people are relating to it.” By that measure, people seem to be relating well to him. Still, he offers contradictory statements about his financial status, a reflection of the murkiness of the business he is in. To the art market, obfuscation is like oxygen. One moment, he would say, as he showed me his messy one-bedroom apartment, just upstairs from his old gallery on Centre Street, with its fairly slapdash and unceremoniously displayed collection of art work, “I can’t afford my own art.” Then, some other time, he would say, of his new gallery space, which he currently rents for fifteen thousand dollars a month, “I could buy this in a day if I wanted to,” suggesting that a couple of million dollars was a phone call away. His longtime girlfriend Debora Warner, an artist with whom he shares the apartment, told him, during a recent drunken 3 a.m. heart-to-heart, “I don’t understand your financial situation.”
The rudiments are this: He generally pockets fifty per cent of every sale—the industry standard. A few of his artists, such as the Austrian conceptual collective Gelatin and the versatile prankster Jonathan Meese, are based in Europe and have their primary dealers there. He handles their work in the United States, and usually kicks back ten per cent of each sale to the primary dealer. (He gets a similar cut when his artists show abroad.) Some of his artists receive money from him up front, which can result, essentially, in his owning their work. Not everyone is comfortable with this arrangement, as it implies a kind of indentured servitude; others require it. He does not have contracts with any of them. A dealer does not want to sell one of his artist’s pieces to someone who will turn around and resell it a month or a year later, because then the dealer can’t control who gets the artist’s work, in what context it will be exhibited, or at what price it will sell. If a work turns up at auction, the dealer often must be ready to bid on it himself. He may even buy work straight out of his own artist’s studio. “If I’m not happy with a particular piece of work, I might buy it and put it in storage, to keep it off the market,” Koenig told me. He says that he has a net worth of zero; the profits go back into the business. That may be so, but there are probably more zeros this year than last. He estimates that he will sell ten million dollars’ worth of art in 2005, many times more than he has sold before.
This has been possible because, in addition to selling his own artists’ work, he has been active in the secondary market—that is, buying and selling work that has already been sold at least once. With good contacts and a good eye, you can make a fine living at it. Sometimes this involves speculating, acquiring works in the expectation of reselling them for more later; sometimes it involves matching up a collector who covets a particular work with one who wants to part with it. The market is unregulated and inefficient. “I do well with my artists,” Koenig said. “But the secondary market puts me at ease.” Koenig spent months this year discussing a potential offshore enterprise, with a Danish dealer named Jens Faurschou and two anonymous investors, to deal in the secondary market. They talked about the venture during the Basel art fair, in June. To keep people at the fair from finding out who was involved, they met in a private room in a restaurant in a village across the border in France, arriving in separate cars. “It was super secret,” Koenig said. “A total spy thing.”
A year and a half ago, a collector named Andy Hall and his wife, Christine, walked into the gallery on Centre Street. Hall had bought, in London, a painting by Frank Nitsche, a Berlin abstractionist, and learned that Koenig was Nitsche’s New York dealer, so he came in looking for more. Koenig introduced himself, and he and Hall quickly established that they had similar enthusiasms, especially for German neo-expressionist painting, a category that includes Georg Baselitz, a close family friend of the Koenigs, as well as Jörg Immendorff, Anselm Kiefer, Markus Lüpertz, and A. R. Penck. Hall had begun collecting their work. In Koenig, he found someone who, in spite of his youth, knew a great deal about these artists, and who could also claim a personal connection to a few of them.
Koenig sold Hall another Nitsche, then asked if he was interested in Penck. Hall brightened: Penck was an obsession. Koenig took Hall and his wife up to his apartment, where he had several Penck drawings that he’d purchased from his father. Hall bought these. Soon, Koenig had Hall collecting the work of some of his own artists as well.
Hall, a fifty-four-year-old Englishman who lives in Connecticut, is the chief executive of Phibro, a commodities firm. He has made a lot of money trading oil and gas. He is tall, meticulous, and extremely fit, a former president of the Oxford boat club who rowed competitively until two years ago, and he approaches art collecting with the fanatical dedication of an oarsman. He had his first New York gallery experience three years ago. “I hate shopping, I hate salespeople, and I had this feeling that gallerists were salespeople,” he told me. “Also there’s a whole in-ness, with regard to which galleries are hot, that I can’t stand.” Nonetheless, one Saturday morning he and Christine walked into Mary Boone’s gallery, on Fifth Avenue, where they took a liking to a piece by an artist named John McCracken. “One of the Stepford men, one of her gallery assistants, said, ‘Are you serious?’ I said I was. And he said, ‘Mary would like to talk to you.’ ” The Halls were led back into Mary Boone’s office and connected to her by phone. “What do I have to do to make you like it enough to buy it?” she asked.
“Make me an offer I can’t refuse,” Hall replied. She did, and Hall had a McCracken.
Koenig prefers to cultivate an air of fellowship and collaboration with his clients. “They can never tell whether I’m selling or just talking,” Koenig said. He has a way, when sitting with the Halls and flipping briskly through books in search of paintings for them to covet, of arousing fervor for works of art. (“Look at all those Pencks,” I heard Hall mutter once, as the pages flew by. “Somehow I thought that I had them all.”) Although the dealer represents the artist, Koenig also occasionally finds himself working on the collector’s behalf, becoming a kind of adviser—an agent working both sides. He spends a great deal of time with them, on the phone or in restaurants. His client list has two hundred names, but there is a handful to whom he turns most often, and who are the most supportive of his artists’ work.
Last fall, Koenig suggested that the Halls travel with him to Germany, to meet Georg Baselitz at his home, a renovated thirteenth-century castle in Derneburg. (Derneburg was familiar ground for Koenig; when he was a child, Baselitz would take him eel fishing after midnight in a river that runs near the castle.) At around the same time, Koenig got a call from his mother, who told him that Baselitz and his wife, Elke, were thinking of moving and were mulling what to do with their vast collection of contemporary German art—a hundred and twenty works, which occupied some twenty rooms on the castle’s third floor. “Huge works,” Koenig told me. “No itsy-fitsy stuff. Five or six real masterpieces.” Baselitz had wanted them in a museum, and had made overtures to the local government, but talks had fallen through. Koenig didn’t say anything about this to the Halls. He didn’t want to appear as if he were selling something.
Baselitz has a reputation for cantankerousness, but the Halls’ visit went well. “We were so excited to somehow have passed the test with Georg,” Christine Hall, a slim, fashionable, and slightly giddy Englishwoman, told me. “You’re always nervous that you’re going to be somehow gauche.” They were smitten by the collection, but the idea of buying it did not occur to them until months later, when, after several more trips of his own, Koenig floated the possibility. The Baselitzes thought of Koenig less as a dealer than as a kind of son—a boy, really—but, because he’d introduced the Halls to them, he was the obvious go-between. Eventually, Elke Baselitz called Koenig with a number.
“It was a big, big fucking figure,” Koenig told me. “This was a hundred times bigger than anything I’ve done.” He relayed the information to Hall, who had by now allowed the notion to take shape in his mind, and asked him not to tell anyone about it—Koenig had stopped discussing the matter even with his mother. “You would’ve had people trying to dip their fingers into the cake, so to say,” Koenig told me. Anton Kern, Baselitz’s son, who is a prominent dealer in New York, was not involved. Neither was Larry Gagosian, who is Baselitz’s dealer. In April, Hall bought the entire collection, for an estimated price of seven million dollars. (Neither Koenig nor Hall would confirm a figure.) Koenig said that his own cut, once you factor in some additional deals, was less than ten per cent. “There’s one person in the world who would or could buy that collection,” Koenig told me. “The whole deal was perfect, absolutely perfect. It was really beautiful.” Then he added, “It paid for the new gallery.”
Hall told Koenig recently, “I don’t know if I’m a complete idiot and you’re the best salesman in New York or if we are really onto something here.” That something involves amassing a collection that might one day be able to stand on its own in a private museum, either here or in Germany, perhaps even in Derneburg. Recently, the Halls, Koenig, and Baselitz have been discussing the prospect of the Halls’ buying the castle. It would house the Halls’ collection, and serve both as a monument to Baselitz and his contemporaries and as an exhibition space for new art. Koenig would have a role, although it’s not yet clear what that would be. This year, Hall also bought thirty new Kiefer paintings from a gallery in London, for around four million dollars, and an additional fifteen Baselitz paintings from the artist himself; again, Gagosian was not involved. Koenig was emboldened by the experience. He told me one evening, after several pints, “I’m going to be Georg Baselitz’s dealer. I’m going to be Anselm Kiefer’s dealer. If it’s thirty years from now, so be it. But I have a feeling.”
A dealer must often make studio visits—to find new artists or to check in with his own. Sometimes collectors come along, taking the opportunity to see the artist in his element and to buy work before it has been shown, or even finished. Sometimes the dealer goes alone, keeping collectors’ requests in mind. One day last spring, I accompanied Koenig as he made the rounds.
A livery car conveyed us to Brooklyn, to a windowless garage belonging to Erik Parker, whose street-waif manner and graffiti-imbued art work have earned him some attention, here and abroad. Parker, who is thirty-seven, elicits good prices—in the range of twenty to forty-five thousand dollars a painting. He seemed tongue-tied and anxious; the whine of an oil-tanker truck across the street was driving him mad. To drown it out, he’d put on a record of Hawaiian chants. The sonic mix suited the paintings, which were garish and psychedelic, with dyslexically rendered slogans about the art world and the global energy market.
“Out of this batch,” Koenig explained to me, “two paintings have to go to the Basel art fair. And one has to go to the next group show at the gallery.” He expected it to be sold to a couple from Long Island.
In the current overheated market, the laws of supply and demand do not necessarily apply: often, the more work an artist creates, the higher the prices he fetches. Each show presents an opportunity to charge more. Parker, for example, shows at galleries in Zurich, Berlin, Tokyo, and Milan, to say nothing of the art fairs, which have proliferated and become increasingly frenzied and lucrative. Consequently, Parker can have a show every few months. Each one leads to more critical appraisal, more talk, more buying, and higher prices. It keeps him very busy turning out product.
Parker gave Leo and me a lift to another Williamsburg garage, where Tony Matelli, a thirty-four-year old sculptor with a caustic and literate sense of humor, was applying plaster bandages to the shaved leg of an assistant, in order to make a cast for a new edition in a series called “Fucked.” Earlier versions had featured models of chimpanzees and humans impaled with various tools and weapons: axes, swords, chain saws. The new one would portray a couple, already impaled, being clobbered from above by a baby grand piano. The piano, in tatters, would be sculpted out of fibreglass, plastic, and wood. “Great piece, tricky sell,” Koenig said. It was destined for a show in Copenhagen. The gallery there was balking at giving Matelli an additional eight thousand dollars to finish the work, so Koenig had offered to put up the money, hoping to extract recompense later. There was a discussion about some collectors who wanted to borrow another of Matelli’s works to exhibit with their collection. “And now they want to show it in their piece-of-shit ghetto space?” Matelli said, as he worked. “Please. If they were better collectors, I’d say fine.”
Aidas Bareikis’s studio was a few blocks away, a small space on the ground floor of an old warehouse. It was taken up mostly by a sculpture called “Mugpuller,” based on a game Bareikis used to play as a child in Vilnius, to see who could make the strangest face. Bareikis must have been good at it. He had big, startled-looking eyes, an expansive mouth, a jutting jaw, and enviable bed head. He seemed dismayed to have company. There was no real business for Koenig to conduct here. The point was just to see Aidas.
“Mugpuller” consisted of a breathtaking arrangement of ghouls fashioned out of heaps of plastic toys and knickknacks, which Bareikis had partially melted on a grill and spray-painted gold. “I haven’t seen this one,” Koenig said.
“It isn’t finished yet,” Bareikis said.
“A collector from Zurich is interested,” Koenig explained. “It just needs a bit more . . . intensity.”
Bareikis gestured toward his ghouls. “Yeah, I need to fuck them up.”
The three of us walked a few doors down to Torben Giehler’s studio, a big, clean loft space hung with a few giant colorful canvases. An assistant was painting a wall white, and Giehler, a red-faced German whose shyness might be mistaken for hostility, was removing tape from a painting of a mountain composed of multicolored quadrilaterals. The assistant wheeled away a paint cart. The scene brought to mind an operating room after surgery. Giehler silently appraised his work.
“That’s fucking great,” Koenig said.
“That’s fucking great,” Giehler mimicked, in a mock-Cockney accent.
Koenig’s core artists are prolific. Nearly all of them are painters, which leaves him out of step with the current curatorial enthusiasm for photography and video art. As unadventurous as painting can sometimes be, it makes for good business, because paintings last a long time, and they fit well into an existing tradition of visual art. Owing to the decorative aspect of painting, there is a broader base of possible buyers than there is for video art or sculpture or installation. Bareikis, for example, has a hard time selling his work, though it does find its way into museums. To make ends meet, he continues to do construction and demolition work. Giehler, on the other hand, can make twenty paintings a year and sell them for between twenty and fifty thousand each. (It seemed telling that while we were at Giehler’s studio Koenig sent Bareikis out to get beer.)
“I just don’t care if people think that painting is past,” Koenig told me. “I feel comfortable with painting. It’s what I know. I’ve tried with photography, for example, and I’ve failed miserably. Photography just doesn’t do it for me. It’s so easy to make a photograph visually compelling.”
Some of the other artists converged on Giehler’s studio, and then everyone trooped a few blocks down the street to a place they call May’s, a nondescript Chinese restaurant that used to be a hangout for the Koenig crew. Twenty people—the artists and their mates—gathered around a few tables near the window, over heaps of moo-shu pork and bottles of beer (Koenig’s favorite, Reissdorf, from Cologne, which he had arranged to have imported to May’s). People wandered outside to smoke. An argument sprouted up, out of Koenig’s earshot, when one artist’s wife suggested that all Germans were Nazis. After a while, I found myself sitting across from Bareikis, who, with a grim and transfixing gaze, began to tell me about Afghanistan.
Koenig was born in New York in 1977, and though he spent less than a year here, he told me he has memories of it—ambient memories, SoHo in the lizard brain. He was Kasper and Ilka’s third child. They were already separated when she became pregnant with him. “Leo was my present to Kasper, to try to make it work again,” she told me. It didn’t. The Koenigs moved to Munich and the marriage ended. Leo, throughout his childhood, saw little of his father, for whom he substituted various male friends of his mother’s, among them Penck and Baselitz; Penck helped him learn how to draw. His mother called Leo der Rattenfänger, after the Pied Piper of Hamelin, because other children used to follow him around. He told me that he was “first terrible in school, then brilliant—kind of figured it out.” For his final project in high school, he interviewed Baselitz. His interest in art really took shape in the summer of 1997, when his father got him a job as an assistant on the Münster Sculpture project, a once-a-decade exhibition throughout the city of Münster, north of Cologne. His father took care to treat him no better than the other assistants. They stayed together in Leo’s grandmother’s mansion. They got into a big argument one night, when the elder Koenig returned to the house ready for his evening bath and found that his son had filled the tub with bottles of beer.
When Leo moved to New York at the end of that summer, his mother arranged for him to stay in the SoHo loft of her old friend Hiroko Kawahara and her husband, the reclusive conceptual artist On Kawara, who is famous for writing telegrams to friends saying simply, “I’m still alive.” (“I remember him, of course, but I’ve never been to his gallery,” On Kawara said, when I unexpectedly got him on the phone this summer. This doesn’t say much: Kawara has never even been to an opening for one of his own shows.) Meanwhile, Koenig’s father had given Leo a list of names, which he used to secure three internships: with the gallery owner Paula Cooper, the art dealer and publisher Brooke Alexander, and the German dealer David Zwirner, the son of the gallery owner Rudolf Zwirner, with whom, incidentally, Kasper Koenig had got his start, decades earlier. Leo was working for Zwirner when he decided to go off on his own. Koenig says that to raise money for the Williamsburg gallery he bought a half-dozen Raymond Pettibon drawings from Zwirner and sold them, at a markup, to Zwirner’s clients—an end run that did not endear Koenig to his boss. “Be careful,” Koenig recalls Zwirner telling him. “You’re starting to be clever. Don’t be clever.”
Amid a burgeoning Williamsburg art scene, Koenig put cleverness aside and instead played the heedless impresario. His gallery became known not so much for art as for art parties. There were benders, at home and abroad. Often when I spent time with Koenig and his artists, he tried to get them to tell me stories about the wild times. Usually, he’d wind up telling them himself. “Shall we talk about Copenhagen?” Leo prompted them, one evening.
“There should be a movie,” Giehler said.
“What happened in Copenhagen?” I asked.
“Nothing,” Giehler said.
What happened is that in 2000 a group of them went there for a show, and, because of a blizzard in New York, their art failed to arrive. To the astonishment of their hosts, they spent two sleepless days and nights prior to the opening in the gallery getting drunk and making new art. There was bad behavior all around. In the end, the original art work was found, but the legend of the young ruffians from New York had spread and the show was a rousing success.
“Nobody was thinking about the future, what role we were playing, how we were being perceived,” Koenig recalled. “We were just doing whatever we wanted. It was as extravagant as can be.” Nonetheless, he managed to turn decadence into something of a business proposition. In 2001, he left Brooklyn for Manhattan, moving to a space on lower Broadway that earned him a flash of new-kid renown but which was rendered unviable, almost as soon as it opened, by the attack on the World Trade Center, a few blocks away. At the end of that year, he relocated to Centre Street.
Koenig was determined to demonstrate independence. When he visited Cologne, he’d stay in a hotel room instead of at his father’s house. When Kasper came to New York, Leo picked him up at the airport in a limousine. “He was like a kid in a movie,” Kasper told me. “I said to him, ‘Come on, now, it’s a nice gesture, but once is a enough.’ It had a naïve childishness to it, in a positive sense. It was almost depression of some kind, I guess.”
“I was in a bad phase,” Koenig says. He and the artists fancied themselves a kind of gang—part Cedar Tavern, part “Sopranos”—an aggressive interpretation of the old bohemian cliché. They had their own Mafia-style social club in Brooklyn, with shag carpeting, poker tables, and a painting of a horse. One night in 2002, in a Williamsburg night club after the opening of a show by the painter Lisa Ruyter (the show was called “Follow the Boys” and consisted of paintings of Koenig and his artists, among others, hanging out in night clubs), Debora Warner, Leo’s girlfriend, complained to the d.j.s about the music. One of them called her a bitch and may or may not have shoved her away. Koenig punched him, and Erik Parker’s brother smashed a bottle of beer in his face. A week later, Koenig was arrested in his gallery and jailed for several hours. Though the charge of assault wasn’t pursued, the d.j. sued Koenig and the Parkers, asking for eight million dollars. They settled for a tiny fraction of that. Parker gave Leo a painting to sell in order to cover his brother’s share. Ruyter left the gallery. Inevitably, the incident inspired a work of art: Tom Sanford, a young Koenig artist, who usually depicts African-American hip-hop stars and basketball players (he is white), is making a painting of it, with a composition based loosely on Poussin’s “Rape of the Sabine Women.”
It also prompted introspection, on Koenig’s part. “I felt obnoxious,” Koenig told me. “My father called me a fat cat and a sneaker entrepreneur. I thought, That’s not me.” He went sober and arranged for an off-duty policeman to keep him out of trouble, or at least to keep trouble away from him. He learned, as he put it, “when to leave.” He had his first drink—several drinks—eighteen months later at his father’s wedding, in Germany, to Barbara Weiss, an art dealer. The next day, he missed his flight home and spent the morning in the airport, throwing up.
One of Koenig’s newer and better-known artists is Alexis Rockman, who enjoyed some success in the eighties and nineties with his colorful and ecologically precise paintings of habitats altered by global warming. Rockman is forty-three, a fitness buff, a Democratic activist, a square with a crewcut. He grew up on the Upper East Side and spends his summers in Sag Harbor. He does not drink. He leaves early. But his sales had flagged, and earlier this year his gallery closed.
“I needed to find a youthful exuberance to put me back in the mix,” Rockman told me. Sanford, his former studio assistant, introduced him to Koenig. Rockman was impressed by Koenig’s ability to connect his artists with European collectors. “If he could do that with me, I’d be so psyched,” he said. Within a few months, Koenig had sold an inventory of about a dozen of Rockman’s older paintings. “His job is to sell art,” Rockman said. “That’s what he’s done incredibly well.”
Two months before the opening of the new gallery in Chelsea, Koenig took Tony Matelli, Torben Giehler, and a painter named Les Rogers to see the new space. Koenig was dressed in a worn light-gray chalk-striped suit, a purple shirt, and square-toed cream-colored loafers. Giehler had come from Brooklyn by bicycle. Koenig held open a sheaf of blueprints and surveyed the space: aluminum wall frames, sprayed-concrete walls, a poured-concrete floor. It is in a brand-new building, on a freshly anodyne stretch of streetfront, and is flanked, mallishly, by other galleries, to the east and west. Idiosyncrasy will be the art’s job. The blueprints called for a large front room, a smaller back room, and, behind a pair of huge oak doors, a vast office for Koenig.
Koenig’s movements were brisk, exaggeratedly optimistic. “This floor is awesome,” he observed. He was especially proud of the gut work he’d had done in the ceiling. “I paid up the wazoo to run the shit pipes through that beam.”
“Well, it feels like a gallery,” Matelli said.
Giehler and Rogers expressed some misgivings about the proportions of the front room. They stood near the door and imagined their paintings on the opposite wall. “I think this is narrow,” Giehler said.
“It’s twice the size of the old gallery,” Koenig said.
The perception of narrowness derived, in part, from the placement, across from the big wall, of a long, chest-high counter just inside the door, where the gallery’s staff would sit. “Why not put the desk here?” Giehler said, indicating a sort of crawl space that would soon be closed off by sheetrock.
“You can’t have your employees behind a wall,” Koenig said.
“Why not?” Giehler said.
“Because they work for you and you want them to work well.”
The artists walked in various directions, pacing off the dimensions. “What’s the typeface on the door going to be?” Matelli asked. “Everyone in Chelsea uses the same sans-serif we’re-a-fucking-business typeface. It’s pretentious.”
Koenig didn’t answer him. He got on Giehler’s bike and started riding in circles, circumscribing the space with big Butch Cassidy swoops. “This isn’t one of the monster galleries of Chelsea,” he observed cheerfully, “but that’s a big wall.” Another lap. “I think this is great,” he said. His cell phone rang. “You get a good cell-phone signal in here, too—five bars, full coverage.”
In March, at a time when Koenig was having trouble finding new artists to add to his stable, Tom Sanford recommended a friend named Kelli Williams. She was thirty-two and worked as a teller at a Citibank branch in SoHo. She had spent five years working on her six paintings. She was shy and a little strange. Koenig said that when he went to see the paintings he was flabbergasted. “They’re like jewels,” he told me. “I’ve brought collectors there, and they are foaming, just foaming. No one knows her, but there’s a myth building.” He began paying her to paint, so that she could quit her day job, pick up the pace, and build the myth.
“Once she’s done these six paintings, we’ll have a show,” Koenig said. “She has never shown anywhere, which is great. The slate is clean for me. Now I can really go to work.”
When I visited Williams’s studio with Koenig, in an apartment in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, the six paintings hung on three walls, in various stages of near-completion. They were small and painstaking—she uses a three-haired brush—surreal Boschean pornography in Renaissance landscapes. Williams has dyed-red hair, in a sort of wedged pageboy cut, and a wide-eyed look that somehow simultaneously conveys apprehension and assurance. Koenig went from painting to painting, inspecting each up close, pointing with a long finger at elements he did or did not like. Standing before one that was all but done, he suggested that she add a layer of varnish to it, to bring out the colors and give it a classical sheen.
“I tend to agree with you,” she said. “But Tom’s friend said don’t varnish it. It’ll look too retro.”
“He’s full of shit,” Koenig said. Talk turned to deadlines and the timing of a solo show. “I think you should take as long as you need.”
“I had a hard time getting work done in April,” she explained, defensively. “I was upset in April.” She told him that a French billionaire had offered to put her on salary and pay for health insurance in exchange for her work. She sent the collector an e-mail with legal disclaimers in it, which scared him off. Koenig told her that she’d done the right thing. “I’m O.K. being poor,” Williams said. “I just don’t want to be a failure.”
Two months later, one of her paintings was hanging in the group show that opened Koenig’s new gallery. It was seventeen inches by eighteen inches and depicted a contorted female figure whose breasts were where her buttocks should be. Koenig pronounced it a “masterpiece.” He said, “The miniaturist style, the craft, the obsessive-compulsiveness is something I respond to.” He told me that he had ten buyers who were interested in it, but that he could not bring himself to sell it. “I’m not there yet. It’s not ready. It’s my painting, anyway—I’ve been paying her for a year—and I want to own it for a little bit longer.” As he said this he ran a finger along the top edge of it, a caress that ended with a flick at an imaginary bit of dust. “But she’s going to want me to sell it, and Hubert Neumann is probably going to get it, just because I like him so much, and because he wants it the baddest. We’re at twenty-five thousand dollars now, but I won’t be comfortable until it’s at fifty thousand.”
When a dealer maintains a waiting list for an artist’s work, it is not first come, first served. Collectors with whom the dealer has a standing relationship often take precedence. Surreptitious deals are cut; the sports term “future considerations” would be appropriate here. Dealers also prefer buyers whose ownership will burnish the artist’s credentials; primacy generally goes to institutions, or to those who have private museums, and then to those whose collections are virtually museums unto themselves. When Koenig got a call about a Kelli Williams this summer from an adviser to the Los Angeles collector and television executive Dean Valentine, he said, “Straight to the top of the list!” He did the same for Steven Cohen, a publicity-shy hedge-fund billionaire who, in the past several years, has become a voracious collector of blue-chip art. Cohen’s reputation is such that when he came calling, asking, as Koenig recalled, “if he was allowed to buy, I was thinking, Is this actually him or am I being set up here?” Eventually, Cohen bought a painting by a twenty-five-year-old Koenig painter named Justin Faunce, who had his first show in February, for twenty-five thousand dollars. “I generally buy only established artists,” Cohen told Koenig.
In Koenig’s case, the collector who best embodies the key attributes of familiarity and prominence is probably Hubert Neumann. Neumann lives on the Upper West Side, amid Picassos and Matisses that his father, Morton Neumann, a Chicago mail-order magnate (he made a fortune on beauty products), began collecting in 1948. Morton Neumann was dismissed early on by the art world as a coarse and gullible enthusiast, but in time he amassed one of the country’s great collections of twentieth-century art. He died in 1985. Hubert Neumann, who is seventy-four, has been an avid collector for more than fifty years, having learned the same lesson his father did: that, when it comes to appraising art, other people are often wrong. Of Koenig’s artists, he collects Tom Sanford, Erik Parker, and Christian Schumann. He is an unpretentious but argumentative man with a mustache and a Cheshire-cat grin who dresses in golf shirts and says “man” a lot. He doesn’t let many people into his house to see his art. When I tried to invite myself over, Neumann told me to buy a book instead—“A Passion for Art,” which has pictures of his collection. And when I asked him about the business of contemporary art, he delivered a mild scolding in the form of an hour-long lecture.
“There are as many stories about it as there are people involved,” Neumann said. “It’s a personal thing for me. If artists are emerging, it’s got to be a personal experience with the work and the artist, and then with the dealer.” He went on, “Leo’s a special guy in his field. What makes him special, if you hang around this world and compare him to others, is—he’s Leo. Leo is not interesting because of his father or his uncle or whatever. Basically, I think his father is a jerk. The reason Leo’s interesting is that he’s in a position to advance the cause of emerging art. Emerging art needs that kind of support. It’s a flower that needs nourishment. It’s a delicate and wonderful thing.
“The art world hasn’t changed,” he went on. “There will always be five or six great artists in a generation. The rest of them are just going to become dust, or different degrees of dust.” Neumann objects to cynicism, and he made sure to point out, as we talked on the phone, that he was surrounded at that moment by works that had been dismissed by the world as peripheral at one point or another and that were now regarded as important. “It’s a lot of baloney to be a dealer or a collector unless the art has a chance of being profound,” he said. “And if the art work is profound, then the art market is irrelevant. That’s what makes it magical.” He cited the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and his contention that civilization is defined by three things: science, philosophy, and art. Of these, visual art is the only one that you can own or acquire. “That’s why it’s so special,” Neumann said. “That’s why you have all these people running around like ants in the art world. They’re all running around thinking they understand what’s profound. But they can’t, because it’s ephemeral.” He went on, “What happens is people like to create myths. And they’ll make a myth about Leo. And it may even have a substantial element of truth to it.”
The bulk of the Baselitz collection arrived on these shores by air in August. It was moved to an art-storage facility on Eleventh Avenue, where the Halls maintain a fourteen-hundred-square-foot climate-controlled private space. On the last day of the month, the Halls came into town, from their home in Southport, Connecticut, to conduct some business with Koenig, and then the three of them went to check on the shipment. They were greeted at the storage facility by Oliver Stebich, an art shipper and storer, who led them into a windowless white room skirted by thirteen paintings, which had been unpacked and propped against the wall. Stebich, Koenig, and an assistant donned white gloves and began delicately removing the thin layer of foam that protected each painting. Gradually, the room filled with angry color. The paintings—Penck, Polke, Kiefer, Immendorff, Lüpertz—were grim, crude, almost primitive, many of them featuring iconography relating to postwar Germany. A number of the Pencks had been smuggled from East Germany; one had been painted on an old woollen blanket. Hall and Koenig moved from painting to painting, elucidating motifs peculiar to each artist’s oeuvre: painter’s palettes in the Kiefers, eagles in the Immendorfs.
“I’m dazed,” Koenig said.
“It’s reassuring that (a), it all got here safely, and (b), it looks even better than it did at Derneburg,” Andy Hall said. He drifted around the room, with a queasy grin that seemed to blend reverence for the work, pride of possession, and the anxiety of appreciating objects for which one has paid dearly. “They look better here,” he said again.
“Every single one of them has a story,” Koenig said to me. “They have significance.”
“Four or five of these we’ll bring to Southport,” Hall said. “The Polke, that Penck, maybe this Penck, the Palermo, and one of those Kiefers.”
After they had lingered awhile, they rode the elevator to another floor, to visit the Halls’ storage room. It contained, in addition to mousetraps, a thousand or so works in crates or in partial paper wrappings, on which the artists’ names were written in ink: Beuys, Warhol, Twombly, Clemente, Fischl, Hockney, Rivers, Hirst. Also, some from Koenig: Giehler, Parker, Nitsche, Rogers, Faunce.
“This is criminal, keeping all this in storage,” Christine said, with a sigh.
“Wow, we have great stuff,” Hall said, mostly to himself.
On the Friday after Labor Day, Koenig had an opening at his new gallery: eight paintings by Frank Nitsche. It was a grand opening, of a kind, since the first show there, a group exhibition featuring most of his artists, had débuted in the middle of the summer, at a time when the art world, true to its European roots and aspirations, had cleared out of the city. At 5 P.M., an hour before the Nitsche opening, the town cars started pulling up, one after the other, fifteen minutes apart, as though by prior arrangement. For Koenig, the paintings already had names attached. “I had certain people in mind, even if they didn’t know it,” he said. By seven, most of the big buyers had come and gone, and six of the eight paintings were sold. Koenig hoped to sell one of the remaining two to a museum. A young dot-com entrepreneur named James Healy, a regular customer whom Koenig referred to as a “triggerman,” took a liking to the other. Healy overheard a few collectors asking Koenig if he’d hold it in reserve for them. Koenig would not. Healy stepped in and pulled the trigger. The preliminary enthusiasm of others, tepid or insincere as it may have been, was affirmation enough.
It seemed that most of the people in the gallery at this point were artists, including Matelli, recently returned from Copenhagen, where he’d sold his baby-grand “Fucked” for a hundred and ten thousand dollars, and Bareikis, recently returned from Zurich, where his installation “Straight to the Top I’ll Take . . .” had sold for sixty thousand dollars. Bareikis’s time abroad had been miserable. He had got four tick bites in Germany, and had been put on a course of antibiotics and forbidden to drink alcohol. “It was a nightmare,” he said, looking a little shaky.
A celebratory dinner was held at Arqua, an Italian restaurant in Tribeca—an odd choice, in these frothy times, because during the art boom of the eighties it had been a sort of headquarters for the likes of David Salle and Julian Schnabel, whose declining reputations, fairly or not, have become cautionary tales. Koenig had reserved five tables of eight in back, mostly for his artists, though a few collectors, such as the Halls, who’d bought two of the Nitsches, and Hubert Neumann, who’d bought nothing, were there, too. Koenig stood to toast Nitsche. Andy Hall stood to toast the gallery. Finally, Nicole Eisenman paid tribute to Koenig, with a few remarks about how the gallery felt like a family and how grateful the artists were for that. Koenig started crying but recovered himself quickly. It was eleven, and the night was looking long. Six hours later, he was in Williamsburg, at May’s, watching five women dance on top of a bar.
October 09, 2005
Looks like Stanford put in a pretty good time.
October 05, 2005
I am falling behind
I used to be totally totally up on tech stuff. I knew and could use everything internet-related for the first long period -- I installed Trumpet Winsock, wrote in Coldfusion, did DHTML, configured Apache, etc all the way to...well, recently. Now I don't really know what stuff is. Like AJAX - I hear it is cool and I like Google Maps and Yahoo Instant Search....but what the heck is it.
More important, I don't really care anymore. I'm more "mobile" than "web" now.
September 25, 2005
Now we build
I've finally crossed of a big item from that "to do" list on the right side of this page. Property 2. It's done and Property 3 too. Now build a big building.
August 29, 2005
August 25, 2005
The property is ours. Now for the other one...?
August 20, 2005
Yahoo music for 5 bucks
I have re-subscribed to the Yahoo! Unlimited music service. I tried it out for a bit and it's really great. $5 or $6 a month for everything you can possibly imagine. It really is a lot better than searching for p2p music and eventually hearing what you want. In fact, it makes me use both. I sample lots of stuff on the Yahoo service and things I really like for a while, I decide to search for and store on my iTunes machine (a machine where the Yahoo service doesn't even work). So I have two music worlds: the Yahoo "Music Engine" that plays through my main laptop and the attached stereo, and the iTunes/iPod/Mac Mini world that connects to my other stereos and portable players and car.
Still the $5 is worth it - it's like Netflix for music (convenient, unlimited selection, not a replacement for your "collection")
August 19, 2005
Valbonne this summer
Back from India
Just spent the last 5 weeks in France and India. France was a short holiday on the coast and India was something else altogether.
August 08, 2005
Nearing completion on building 2 (and maybe 3)
July 24, 2005
On my trip
I may not have mentioned that I'm on my multi-week trip to Europe and India. The good part, a week in France, is over and I'm about a week into the bad part: 3 weeks in Ahemdebad. Hot as hell. Looking forward to that tail week in Mumbai, where the quality of accomodations will improve.
I realize now why I felt so strongly, as a lad, when I was melting away here, that I would never return here of my own free choice.
Strange set of circumstances that have caused me to reconsider! Let's see why my post hoc view is. I'll let you know all about it when I am post of the hoc.
Alan Schaefer, sex offender
The old music teacher (apparently still there after all these years) at my Junior High was arrested for preying on little girls. About Mr. Schaefer
July 12, 2005
Now for a few weeks
Few weeks of holiday coming up.
June 18, 2005
Everything is a bubble
The learning from the stock market bubble (to everyone) was that "bubble's happen." Everything's a bubble these days -- startups are all dot-bombs, real estate is "irrational exuberance", etc. The learning might be oversold!
June 10, 2005
Two killer new business models
#1: Yahoo! Unlimited. $7/month for all the music I want? It's cool. I am trying it out right now and it's almost worth it for just the at-the-PC listening (including at home where it goes through a stereo)
#2: Morrissey's new label Attack/Sanctuary. They are releasing shit all over the place, little EPs, live stuff. It's exactly the right way to sell to a fanatic fan base. I am listening.
May 12, 2005
Math - 10% of my address book is in LinkedIn. That's fast.
April 06, 2005
April 04, 2005
They fixed my Shuffle
The iPod Shuffle I got was a bum - the buttons would stick. I put up with it for a month. And then, suddenly, my iTunes downloaded a refresh and my iPod works. Apple pushed out a button fix quietly. I love it.
April 03, 2005
My Yahoo 360 page
When they have RSS, I will post my moblog here too.
April 02, 2005
We are back and buying
Tell George Bush not to worry about reelection. Consumer confidence is up.
We bought the wheels last weekend and are waiting for "delivery" (really just waiting for Geico/DMV to sort out the registration) this next few days. The gas-guzzling darling we have on the way? Don't ask.
The other topic is flooring. Stuff like this:
March 31, 2005
Consumerism as personal expression
In modern times you don't make your own stuff, you buy it. So personal expression is constrained by the limits of economics: what can be produced at a economical price. You cannot have custom made to the specifications of your whim (yet), so you must be you but off the rack.
One way to dodge the Sears or J.C. Penney conundrum is to go vintage. Travel through time to find a world where your taste ruled (the Mesozoic?).
In cars it's even more extreme. There are about 100 models fielded by the about 10 car companies.
Exactly the cars we spent hours poring over last month.
Now, the fact that we did not buy some such car is the force of the market. It constrains us as it does them. They are getting an SUV anyway...and so are we.
March 30, 2005
Or, Skypecasts. This idea already exists online, but my guess is that it is fixin' to blow up in the media world. Shoutcast is pretty much a personal, private broadcasting system. Not sure why narrowcast would make so much difference.
Skype: VoIP Calls Become iPod Radio Broadcasts
March 29, 2005
Calling all iPods.
There's a growing number of people sharing their iPod digital music using freely available software and Skype, a free Internet phone service.
The enthusiasts are borrowing heavily from another personal broadcasting phenomenon called podcasting, in which digital recordings are posted on a Web site for download to Apple's popular digital music players. Skypecasters, as they call themselves, use Skype's peer-to-peer telephone network to distribute recordings over the Internet directly to each other for free.
Anectdotal evidence suggests Skypecasters are becoming more widespread, although one user wisecracks that the level amount of required technical know-how makes it "not for mere mortals." Yet the "implications are very disruptive," writes the SkypeJournal, a well-known Web community that provides Skypecast instructions. "Many Skypers want to record their Skype conversations and turn them into podcasts."
Skype is the largest of the new breed of companies offering voice over Internet Protocol, which lets Internet connections double as telephone lines by treating calls no differently than e-mail, Web pages or other common Internet travelers. Skype gives away its VoIP software, and phone calls that stay on the Internet are free. Skype also has premium services that charge about two cents a minute to call cell or landline phones.
The Luxembourg-based upstart has so far signed up 29 million registered users for its free PC-to-PC Net phone calling service. Earlier this month, the company reported that its SkypeOut service, which connects PC calls to traditional phone lines for a fee, reached 1 million customers since launching in July 2004. To some extent, Skype competes against Vonage, which at 550,000 plus subscribers is among the world's largest commercial VoIP providers, as well as some cable companies, which have commercial VoIP services of their own.
It's Skype's peer-to-peer infrastructure--similar in construct to Kazaa, Morpheus and other file-swapping programs--that makes it well-suited for turning Net phones into a broadcasting system, as Skypecasters now do.
Other possibilities discussed by Skypecasters at Unbound Spiral or Moodle are to turn your iPod into a radio station for any of Skype's 29 million registered users to dial up using their Skype line. There's also instructions available on how to record your own soap opera and use Skype to distribute it en masse. Even more ominously, some Skypecasters record Skype calls and post them on the Internet.
All of the work is being done without Skype's active input. But it has made some of its source code public so developers can tinker with new applications, such as Skypecasting, said a Skype spokeswoman. "We're aware of this and encourage developers to help facilitate it," said spokeswoman Kelly Larrabee.
"It's a relatively complicated set-up that requires some technical sophistication and awareness of ones entire hardware/ software environment," she added.
March 27, 2005
Back from Oz.
Fun time. Reflective too. The property deal blown up, the latest work project wrapped, new ideas getting appealing, some time to read a long book and think what life would be like if this were Paris 2002 again.
March 26, 2005
How to buy a car (in New York)
Once you actually pick out the car from a private seller, here is what you need to get/do:
1. Title - seller and buyer must sign (also the declarations on reverse of the Title)
2. Bill of sale (can use DMV form) or create own
3. Certificate of Incorporation (certified copy) for Hollywood East if we are using that company as owner
4. Insurance card - applied already for one from Geico
5. Then get registration from NYS and license plate
- show title
- show bill of sale and pay sales tax
- show corporation form
- show Amol Sarva Driver's License
- show Insurance card
- pay fee TBD at DMV
6. Put on car and get safety inspection within 10 days
7. THEN pick up the car and drive away
March 17, 2005
Having fun in Oz. Not so easy to post via Blackberry - I really should sort it out sometime to make it post by email. Until then!
March 10, 2005
LIC is going purple
All my indicators suggest that LIC is going nuclear. Brokers are emailing LICNYC to get ads or postings. The building pace is ridiculous. Prices are way up on listings I have seen. Volume of requests for LIC real estate onto the LICNYC pages are way up. It's all happening so fast.
Mac Mini changed my world
Music, media, elegant tininess. It's all I could want and more. Goodbye PC (except when I need a 3rd machine to do some dirty work)
March 07, 2005
My first linux installation
Now I have a Linux box. It's called my wifi router! I installed the Sveasoft firmware, which is essentially a *nix environment for the router. It even has command line access and I set up a cron job to reset the router ever 24 hours (it's been misbehaving).
March 04, 2005
Mac Mini en route?
Search your life
Compare http://deli.cio.us to http://mysearch.yahoo.com/ (in particular the My Web feature which is basically deli.cio.us)
Truth in blogging
The truth is, this blog is a surface skim of what's really in the news for me.
See, with property projects, the sellers read the web. With consulting, the consultants and the clients read the web. With various other dealings like ventures in the offing, the same.
So this might as well be a surface skim of what going on for real, with lots of reporting on home entertainment technology. :(
February 27, 2005
Found a bunch of google-based hacks. Here are some to try. Accidental, really. Still trying to find a way to hack my linksys camera so I can get it to behave differently/better.
Holy crap does Netgear suck
I bought a Linksys 802.11g router to replace this buggered Netgear version I got in "kit" form from Amazon (card + router) . The Netgear was nothing but pain for 2 weeks. Signal constantly dropped. Was really hard to figure out why -- location, interference, the card, the Win XP driver, the router firmware, the Airtunes bridge interference, the cordless phone, the neighbor's wifi, the weather, the...???? Infuriating.
Plugged in the Linksys, got it going, and goodbye Netgear. So much for hip designed devices.
Thinking the unthinkable about the Gray Ghost, I have been looking at a new car with the following features:
* rusty bits do not fall off of it from time to time
* starts in cold weather
* runs even when the gas tank is below 1/2 full
* room to keep and restrain the dog
* room for big bags of dog food
* power locks
* working A/C and heat
* gas pedal doesn't "stick" sometimes
* defrost works
Well, just about any car will meet these requirements. Other requirements:
* not $20,000+
* not $15,000+ if possible
* not a boring stupid American car
* can be parked in LIC and other places I go
* evokes cool Volvo Wagon 240DL I used to love so much
* wood paneling? OK maybe not
* handy for trips to Home Depot etc.
* not sporty, not family, not mainstream, not big, not small
At the moment, I am thinking (partly because of the Pavement song "Passat" and partly because this was the single most popular car on the roads of San Francisco/Bay Area) of a 2-3 year old Jetta Wagon which I will park on the street in front of our building the way I do now with the Gray Ghost who is ailing more and more these days. Reactions?
February 26, 2005
Wireless life, troubles
Airtunes, Netgear's WGR614 802.11G router, a faster card, a new laptop, a Mac Mini...technical upgrades all around the house.
The Netgear is not reliable! It seems to drop the connection every 2-3 minutes for a split second - so if you are streaming music the iTunes stream just dies, and if you are online in a Windows session it also drops out and has to go through the whole production of reconnecting. Yawn! I don't like it. I'm sending it back. I'm going to get a Linksys (the old 802.11B linksys I had never had these problems with continuity.
The Apple Mac Mini is taking forever to ship! Nearly a month. Typical Apple.
The one that shipped quickly was the iPod Shuffle - but even here there are flaws! The buttons seem to stick so it is constantly fast forwarding or reversing, and it's over-sensitive to changes, so I have to keep it in lock mode often. Sucks.
And while I'm complaining - the iTunes software is buggy for Win XP. It's heavy and crashes from time time (e.g., when the wireless connection to the Airtunes players drops).
The Airtunes player - why, it causes trouble too. Interface is clunky and doesn't play well with windows iTunes.
What else can I complain about? The new laptop is actually great -- Compaq Evo has great battery life, screen brightness, quiet, fast, big disk drive.
The other thing I love is Napster. But I already told you why I love that.
February 23, 2005
Semantic web, Search
You don't need search if the semantic web works. Meaning, if RSS output is out there synthesizing all the content on all the sites, with feeds going every which way, you don't need a crawler so bad anymore. You need a My Yahoo/Reader/Browser. Think how relevant Google News is when all the news sites have nice RSS feeds and your little reader learns from you.
February 21, 2005
Good for Apple?
The Napster "workaround" really works. Is it the death of Napster to go?
February 20, 2005
Someone I know
See the extended text to check out this person (or not, since my template seems to ruin it)
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February 15, 2005
February 13, 2005
Castries to market
My buddy David's creme liquer is marching to market. It just won "best cream liquer" for 2004 from the Beverage Tasting Institute. Approvals coming in and he's heading for market.
February 12, 2005
Map wars too
I mentioned the cool A9 photos of streetscapes. Well, maps.google.com has the new google mapping beta (with great pan-n-scan flash for the maps)
February 09, 2005
I hate the show but there are these people out there who watch Law & Order the way I hit "reload" on the NYT.com site. Who are these people? Why do they do this?
February 08, 2005
My invention continues, three years later
I was part of making the Rescue Ring at Virgin, the most signature contribution I made since I really had a big part in the creation of the data services and specifically of the name of this thing. And I often like to say how you cannot read a piece of marketing crap from them without it mentioning Rescue Ring, even now, 3 years later. Well, see this excerpt from the latest press release, as they hit 3mm subs (about 1 month late, actually, when you consider it should have happened in Q4).
Virgin Mobile USA Attracts 3 Million Customers in 2.5 Years
Tuesday February 8, 8:09 am ET
Company Exceeds Customer Expectations and Drives Active Use of Data Services and Mobile Content Favored by Youth Market
WARREN, N.J., Feb. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Virgin Mobile USA, one of the nation's fastest growing wireless providers, today announced that it has surpassed the three million net customers mark nearly six months ahead of its third anniversary. Launched on July 24, 2002, the company has rapidly built its youth-relevant brand by offering a Pay As You Go wireless service with no long-term contracts or hidden fees, and a unique suite of mobile content.
"Achieving a three million customer milestone in less than three years since our launch drives home Virgin Mobile's position as a Pay As You Go pioneer," said Dan Schulman, CEO of Virgin Mobile USA. "Our continued growth confirms that we're making a powerful connection with the youth market."
Posting Powerful Results for Entertainment Services
Mobile phones are fast becoming lifestyle accessories used for more than talking, especially for teens and young adults. As these metrics demonstrate, Virgin Mobile customers are doing a lot more than just flapping their lips:
* In 2004, over 70% of Virgin Mobile customers sent or received text
* In 2004, over 60% of Virgin Mobile users used non-voice data services
such as MTV's Pimp My Ride, THangman, Comedy Central's Joke of the Day,
SongID, and Rescue Ring.
* Over half of its customers downloaded ringtones last year and Virgin
Mobile represents approximately 8% of the total US ringtone market -- a
number disproportionately larger than its total wireless market share.
Stellar Customer Service
Virgin Mobile also continues to provide outstanding service that exceeds the expectations of its customer base. Over 90% of Virgin Mobile customers say they'd recommend the service to a friend -- while more than eight-in-ten (83%) already have recommended Virgin Mobile to a friend or family member (Source: MSI Survey of current customers, 4Q 2004).
In addition to high marks for customer referrals, Virgin Mobile also keeps its gold-star status for customer satisfaction. Recent independent research among current customers gave Virgin Mobile a 92% satisfaction rate. "Customer service is our most important measure of success," Schulman said.
About Virgin Mobile USA, LLC:
Launched nationally in July of 2002, Virgin Mobile USA, LLC has redefined and set the pace for the entire prepaid wireless category. More than three million wireless users have chosen Virgin Mobile's Pay As You Go service with no long-term contracts and no hidden fees. In addition, J.D. Power and Associates has recognized Virgin Mobile for providing "An Outstanding Customer Service Experience" under its Certified Call Center Program(SM).
The nation's first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Virgin Mobile is a joint venture between Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Sprint, which operates one of the largest 100-percent digital, nationwide PCS wireless networks in the United States. It is the first wireless provider to focus exclusively on the needs and desires of the youth. All Virgin Mobile customers have access to VirginXtras -- a host of music, entertainment and fun lifestyle features, including exclusive content from strategic partner MTV: Music Television. Customers with 3G-enabled phones also have access to VirginXL -- the high-octane version of VirginXtras featuring picture messaging, downloadable games and more.
Virgin Mobile phones and Top-Up cards are available direct on the Web at http://www.virginmobileusa.com; at 888-322-1122; or, at more than 20,000 locations, including Amazon.com, Best Buy, Coconuts, CompUSA, F.Y.E., Media Play, RadioShack, Rite Aid, Safeway, Sam Goody, Sprint Stores, Strawberries, Target Stores, Wal*Mart, Virgin Megastores and select college bookstores. Top- Up cards are also available at more than 57,000 locations, including Circle K, CVS and 7-Eleven stores.
A9.com + Doom
The pictures on A9's yellow pages are amazing. You could texture map them into a Doom-like game environment. Shoot-em up in Soho!
February 05, 2005
New property, old process
Like the last couple of buildings we looked at, it's still quite tenuous with this one. We may very well call it off and we are already looking at new properties. It's a bit frustrating since this is a fine and suitable site for the project. But the seller's terms can still break the deal.
It's better not to get to wedded to a project until you are well into it.
Upgrades at home
Sold: HP's noisy laptop on Ebay for $830
Decommissioned: Linksys 802.11b router
- Netgear 802.11g router (56Mbps)
- Mac Mini with extreme card
- Airport Express
Promoted: a quiet Compaq laptop I had salted away
So the new strategy is: the Compaq running windows is my desktop machine. Quiet. Battery life is great so I can carry around the house. Runs windows so I don't break my Outlook/Hotsync/FusionOne/miscellaneous shareware habits.
Under the TV, Mac Mini with wireless keyboard/mouse and fast networking. I will watch movies on there!
And I am streaming music all around the house.
I think I count as a MS-to-Mac switcher now -- have spent a few thousand on Apple items in the last months and zero sent to Redmond.
January 29, 2005
Killer new feature on Y! Local
Search from the Yahoo homepage using the local tab -- then click "send to phone" - that thing is awesome! That is exactly the need I have had sitting unmet for ages. Find a place and "make a note of where it is" by sending it to my phone inbox. It's killer.
Making money from my boutique website
LICNYC gets about 40,000 views a month now. So it should be yielding revenue right? Not really
Cafepress t-shirt store - $1-2/month average
Google Adsense - $20/month average
Amazon referral link - $5/month average
Not big numbers really, huh!
I've just increased the Amazon exposure though, because the one or two purchases I'm generating per QUARTER are yieleding a whole 15 bucks or so. Maybe generating more would be better. We shall see.
The Google stuff is eroding- worse links and maybe Google is just paying me worse share of revenue. Of course, the content topics are not exactly high value porn, mortgages, and tech reviews either. I should look into a different advertiser - somebody more local/yellow pages driven.
January 23, 2005
Changes on my desktop
Our iPod Shuffles have arrived and they are great. They are so light they can hang by their own headphone wires. iTunes is also great software - it's better for managing and listening to mp3s than Winamp, I think.
And my HP laptop sold on Ebay for $950 (to some guy in South Africa! The second highest bidder is from the US, so I think I can at least get the $940 he bid). That's a good price. I'm happy about the auction.
But I have sold the laptop off my desk in one go! Needs replacing. What really pissed me off about this laptop was:
- very hot desktop chip in the laptop form factor never really felt fast
- 512 MB, graphics card, etc. but the machine was constantly hanging and slow. Very frustrating
- Noisy as hell! Three loud fans that seem to blow constantly. Not OK in our "loft" where I can hear this thing when I'm in the shower, practically
- odd behavior from the trackpad, which does not work when the mouse is activated. Annoying since I like having both
- unreliable performance from the CD-RW
- 'redundant' large screen - I don't need the 15" screen since I watch movies etc on my TV. I can do with a smaller presentation
So now I am rid of it.
I'm going to get a Mac Mini and put it in the living room. I'll get a wireless keyboard etc for it too. Plug it into the TV. Then I will move the decent Compaq laptop from there to be my primary workstation here, keep using windows. That way, my Palm, Outlook, Sync apps, and similar stuff will stay as I like them.
But things are a' changing.
January 20, 2005
Had a pretty bad flu!
For the first time in years, I was out for three or four days with the flu. Maybe because I made the mistake of taking aspirin, which my mother tells me makes the flu worse. Or maybe I just was due my bout.
It's very boring being sick, watching TV and laying around. To think that people do this intentionally, when they are actually feeling well!
January 16, 2005
LIC Part 2
The second LIC project is going full steam ahead.
The worklife has fully blossomed into a driver role.
The homelife has fully matured into maintain and grow.
The hobby startup is sputtering ahead for the moment.
I am considering selling my HP laptop and replacing with an Apple. I just bought two iPod shuffles. I am convinced that PCs suck (for the little reasons, not the big ones, and now that I can afford to choose I will choose little perfection....fan noise, battery life, whatever).
January 11, 2005
Jobs is amazing. Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American life, but here it is. Apple Scene 1 - the PC: genius, arrogance, defeat. Apple Scene 2 - the music player: genius, paranoid innovation...what's next?
Ten million iPods into the phenomenon, things look like they are feeding back on themselves and running away.
iTunes makes iPod a defensible advantage:
- music library is the same as the other sites
- the iTunes software is an installed base/channel
- the music only play on iPods
- the iTunes site is distributing "prepaid cards" into many retail channels
- the online iTunes community is creating "albums" that make the store a better place to shop than other stores
- Motorola is about to come out with iTunes devices for car and mobile phone; if they continue to license the "iTunes/iPod" platform to many device makers...they will reap diversity, hardware innovation, and cost innovation advantages that they missed the first time
January 07, 2005
Went to CES this past Thursday. What an amazing show! Really huge. I wish I had spent a night in Vegas; would have been fun. I actually ran into a few people that I knew -- MSFT and Intel. Weird that I would know people there.
- Home media centers
- Flash memory
- MP3 players
- Wireless everything
- Chinese manufacturing
- Korean brands
January 04, 2005
Going to CES tomorrow night. Let's see how fun it is. Last big convention I went to was CTIA in Orlando. Come to think of it, I was in Las Vegas for CTIA the year before that. Ah well!
December 30, 2004
Heard on the Midtown-bound 7
"Hey, L I C N Y C. Check that out."
December 21, 2004
Opera still rules
I like Firefox but Opera is still the best (if you have a reg key) -- it's faster, does everything Firefox does but two-versions-ago (more efficiently, more intuitively), and supports more windows and everything else since the code is more compact.
They released 7.5 recently, removing the one pet peeve I had that had driven me to try Firefox. Now, the right side of my trackpad can work as a scrolly-button for the Opera window as well as all my other Windows apps. Hurray.
December 19, 2004
Outlook for the new year
What a big year it's been so far, in a different way than all the years I've had so far. Big because it was 99% consolidation of gains and only 1% new risk.
Next year, I'm conflicted on where to take it. Swing back the other way or keep pushing the stakes deeper into the foundation out here. Property and other projects call.
December 06, 2004
Great art-themed weekend in Miami.
Here I am in front of Versace's steps, where he was gunned down.
November 28, 2004
When you fix a toilet bowl
Be careful when you undertake to fix a toilet bowl. Don't fix "more" than you need. It's probably just the flapper -- or at least it could just be that. Or just one or other element of the assembly.
My main advice would be, open the tank and look. Flush and watch. Time some of the steps. You will see where the problem is. Then you can buy the right stuff and change only the necessary stuff. Otherwise, you are going to waste your time.
Home Depot has all the right things, for example, but only observation will tell you which piece you need.
I say all this after three hours laying under one toilet bowl, then five minutes quickly re-jiggering another. I have fixed two, and had a wide range of experiences between them.
November 27, 2004
Reunions 5, 5, 10
From the Paris Metro
It occurs to me this morning, after the Stuy '94 10-year reunion (www.stuy94.com), that I dressed differently for this one than for the 5 year Columbia reunion just a year ago.
Last year, I put on a jacket and tie. The intention was to slightly hip it up, since I wore a gray camel hair jacket and a black silk tie. But still, it was essentially that.
Last night, I went with a velour black jacket over jeans and even a thin preppy sweater. Why did I do that? When I turned up, sure enough, there were many reflections of just that decision. Lots of guys in their "going to a bar"-wear and ladies wearing what they might put on to go walk around in Chelsea on a Saturday.
By contrast, the Columbia reunion was packed with suits, fancy dresses, etc. The last reunion.
We're actually a year older for this reunion, but we are stuck in our high-school paradigm of competition on the "cool" parameter.
Nice to catch up with people, but of course they edit their appearances in line with their overall success and mixability. The real bitter stinkers don't show up, I guess. But the group overall seemed pretty self-satisfied and up to interesting things.
November 22, 2004
What Americans Believe
November 21, 2004
The Growth of LICNYC
I have been running the LICNYC site for about 18 months now. Long time! It started up when I was actually in Paris, and I have kept it moving since returning.
It's up to about 1,000 page views a day, which I take to mean about 500 viewers a day. I don't have great stats since the installation I have of phpnuke is so customized that I am afraid to add on sophisticated logging tools. What I do have, though is this new traffic tracker site:
I also have a discovery to report: net2ftp.com. It's great! I like it better than actual ftp client software for purposes of editing/maintaining a site. All the free ones are so overloaded with dumb features and lacking the key one - managing remote files as easily as local ones, including edits.
Arts and crafts improvements
Around the house, we have installed three major and one minor arts-and-crafts improvements in the last 6 months.
One is the wall of stripes in the back yard, inspired by Buren. Two is the LICNYC sign on the roof, vaguely in the Hollywoodland spirit. I'm told by people I run into that they have seen the sign -- quite a few people actually.
Third is a small mosaic mural on the front of the building. It's inspired by a graffiti artist called Invader we used to see in Paris. He's here in NY too, but we think our little piece is better than his stuff. Sorry, Invader!
The fourth thing I am trying to make is a lampshade out of silk flowers. It's meant to be colorful and light, but also riding the line of artificial/natural the way the weird bamboo shoots do (the ones that require no attention or light or anything).
November 09, 2004
October 09, 2004
Built! See LICNYC for bigger views.
October 05, 2004
Fall is here
Saw electric light cast on street corners in Soho, with people in jackets at the shops, dark out but busyness in the windows.
October 03, 2004
What the place used to look like, in case you forgot
We've come a long way!
My latest project: publicity in the LIC hills
Some things I like about our place
* There are no pigeons to be seen, anywhere around (compare to Manhattan fire escapes)
* There is no through traffic on the street (compare to Broadway)
* There are just a few people who live on the street, maybe 50 total (compare to any building in denser high rise districts)
* There is always parking across from our house
* There is a sunny spot out the back, and the tree makes it shady, and we get to use it
* We have lots of closets, even if they are a bit high up to reach
October 01, 2004
Kerry won the debate
It was a substantive debate with clear discussion on the key topics. Quite apart from my general dislike of the Bush worldview, I got to hear his arguments and actually get the feeling that he believes them. And then they actually went back and forth and picked apart the arguments -- is North Korea worse today? Why? Would direct talks have worked? Why? And what about alliances? Is Bush really using them in a way Kerry would not? Or is he just using them as an excuse not to move forward? I think Kerry won.
September 29, 2004
During the week?
No, never during. My present life never permits such plans! That's a tough compromise.
Declining dollar auction...sold!
Auctioned off the apt the scary way - down. But it worked. You only need one bid!
September 26, 2004
Building new building
Thinking about new property in LIC lately. When you think such thoughts you should consider:
* this excellent narrative explanation of the zoning peculiarities they have created here from the NYC Dept of City Planning, complete with diagrams etc
* a guide you will need as you read the zoning law, the NYC Zoning Handbook helps explain what things are. For example, this is an R7A:
And this is an R7X:
(R7X is taller and more dense, the picture just happens to be showing a newer R7X)
* some kind of mortgage/amortization calculator. You see, you will pay about 30% up front and the rest as a mortgage. You need to do lots of (pretty easy) calculations to figure things out on this: what is the building's income? What is the tax? what is the depreciation? What is the mortgage payment? What part is interest and therefore deductible? And so on!
Other useful links:
* Building code guide
September 25, 2004
On top of Bear Mtn (nearly)
This Sat. morning we are on a hike w the pup. May be the last nice w/e of summer today.
Summer season, in retrospect
Summer has passed by without much blogging, though I think I've had lots of things going on.
There was a bit of a chill around my dayjob-related topics, partly because it's been very busy and partly because I've left it low-key. Too bad, since there is so much of interest to think about there. I will have to try capturing it properly later.
Major events of the summer:
- BBQs on the roofdeck (several)
- got a dog and spent time trying to train and contain her
- walked around LIC examining its economic development
- trip to South of France and Bermuda
- painted the back yard walls
- had nearly every M-F packed to the gills with office stuff
- dined outside in parks, gardens, and my backyard quite often
September 06, 2004
Having a great time in the south of France. You will love the pictures when we get back.
September 01, 2004
Gmail breakout is happening
In the last few days, three or four people have (excitedly) announced that they are switching to gmail. (Almost all from hotmail.) This invitation-only thing is clearly making it fun for people.
August 29, 2004
Charmer in Toledo
Went to my cousin's wedding this past weekend dreading a trip to Toledo. Turns out they put on a lovely production -- great space, delicious food, lots of well-tuned touches that felt sincere without being under-done. Ashish rode in on a white horse - we danced around to blaze the path and it was a fun time. I have seen it done grimly without much celebration around the horse riding -- forgetting that this is sort of an amusing, quaint way to do things. And I have seen it entirely dispensed with because of time/space/other constraints. This beats both.
Pictures coming soon. I have to figure a way to upload them all. Chetan will probably post his share of the pics at some point too and we can have them all online in one spot. Maybe sarva.org.
August 21, 2004
The head to head improves
Things are looking good this year. Back in 2000, things were still a dead heat. Here, there is a pattern:
August 14, 2004
You can tell that you are aging physiologically and old people complain that they can tell it cognitively too. I am young by any measure but I have noticed something recently.
I think I've been having malapropisms more frequently. It's not really a linguistic disorder, but it could be a sign of aging that I switch the order of words, or say the main noun of the next sentence in this sentence, or whatever.
There are many types of speech errors (e.g., spoonerisms at the phonological, lexical, or grammatical levels, anticipations, perseverations, blends, malapropisms, and telescopic errors) and they happen due to different parts of the cognitive mind's behavior.
My errors are mainly lexical substitutions. I don't garble words or reverse their order or mix up the different pieces of words to make amusing statements (like Reverend Spooner's "You have hissed all my mystery lectures" or "Work is the bain of the drinking class").
Mine is more like "What time are we eating television?" before dinner time because at the moment I say that, I'm also looking for the TV remote control. Or whatever.
But it feels more common now than in the past and I will report again if my blathering worsens.
August 11, 2004
Don't forget Microsoft's monopoly...on the web
Everyone started ignoring the whole MSIE vs. Netscape war once Microsoft won and Netscape vanished into AOL. The action online has been with e-commerce, email, search, auctions, etc. these days.
But the importance of MSIE is picking up these days and here is a prime example: Gmail. All that whizbang stuff works in MSIE but not in Opera. Same goes for the new "enhancements" that are appearing all over Yahoo. The web is actually becoming dynamic and "software-like", and it is intimately stitched into the many fine bugs and workarounds it takes to develop for MSIE. So much so that you cannot log into Gmail with Opera.
There will be no going back, and eventually email will be bundled with the Windows OS.
August 10, 2004
Tonite at the Fair
At the county fair, what wildness! We saw a demolition derby, a horse team pull, and galore de jeunes locales.
August 08, 2004
Yahoo wins head-to-head
Was searching for a splitter box using google. Found something that was exactly what I needed, for $40. Then searched a little more and used Froogle, and found the exact same item for only $15.11. Wow.
So I gave Yahoo a crack at it and they got me this
A much better device (looks nicer) and even comes with a cable. And it's only $9.99. Was a Yahoo store. How about that!
August 05, 2004
Rescue Ring: Stolen!!!
This great thing I helped invent at Virgin Mobile called the "Rescue Ring" has been all over their positioning and marketing for three years. You will have no trouble finding it on their website even today, proudly and sassily promoted.
Cingular has ripped it off!! Escape-a-date is exactly the same thing Virgin Mobile has been offering for two years. See the description (appearing in the New York Times Opinion page today):
Cingular Wireless now offers a new wrinkle on this strange social effect called "Escape-A-Date." If you're going out on a date, you can arrange to have your cellphone ring at a specified time. The call guides you through a script that makes it sound, to the gullible party across the table, as if you've got to rush off. Think of it as a wake-up call with benefits. If the date's going well, just don't answer.
Dating has always been a game of sorts, but the gaming has gotten more serious. Witness "The Player," a new reality show about competitive heartbreaking on UPN. Those contestants could really use the Escape-A-Date service, which Cingular calls an added "functionality," except that their dates probably already suspect that they're being gamed - a new euphemism for being lied to.
Adlinks in green
There is an interesting new type of sponsorship that a company called VibrantMedia has managed to market. Read Matte's thoughts on this.
August 03, 2004
Samsung i500 drivers
There is an alternate universe where it is actually easy to find drivers for things you buy. I might have stepped through the wormhole recently: Samsung i500 drivers for USB modem use
Sidney Morgenbesser died
One of my professors from Columbia and one of the most influential on me, Sidney Morgenbesser died on Sunday. He was very old already when I got to Columbia in the 1990s. What a great guy he was in person, and very much what you'd expect from a man famed as a kind of Yogi Berra of philosophy.
The NPR story is one of the only ones, partly because he was such a funny guy. The one about the linguist talking at Columbia...Danto clarifies the story, J.L. Austin in the 1950s is the "British linguist" who was pointing out the gap in the world's languages for "double positives" that make a negative, to which Sidney shot from the back row "...yeah yeah!"
We gave him a teaching prize in 1998, for that seminar I was taking with him and a lifetime of great service. What they missed in this little piece about him was the primacy of his oral legacy, he didn't write much stuff (they mistakenly say "he wrote lots of stuff but what will really last is...").
Philosophy is a small world and stories about Morgenbesser were told at all its four corners. When I got to Stanford, I was amazed how many people knew Sidney stories and could recite them for an hour or two of laughs. Here are some. Here is a great one (that jokes about a principle of choice theory):
Sidney Morgenbesser walks into a restaurant, has dinner, and then asks the waitress what they have for dessert. She says apple pie and blueberry pie. Sidney Morgenbesser says he’ll have the apple pie. She comes back in a moment and says that they also have cherry pie. So Sidney Morgenbesser says “In that case, I’ll have the blueberry pie."
July 25, 2004
My life, yours, and the one that's missing
Things have been drifting more quickly these last few months, not in a new direction but just a bit faster than I can digest the change. I am not seeing friends as much; not pursuing my many, multiplicitous hobbies as much; not talking on the phone with people I know or like or even reading personal email as much. Things are running away at work where I'm getting new things to do and getting a bit carried away with the duties incumbent with progress.
Meanwhile, my friend James has been in his plot in Valhalla for several months now. I had much more time to brood and be sad about it when he was sick. I was lucky to be more free then: free to visit, free to have my own thoughts, free to take time out from travel and office life to step into Bronxville once or so per week.
From his plot in Valhalla, though, James has projected out a marvelous thing we all shared with him as he crafted it -- his play. Dave, Megan, his parents, and lots of others decided to put the damn thing on in a real way and to really make it serious. We saw the play Friday and Saturday nights, together with friends and in a place that was totally disembodied from Bronxville, Harlem, Carroll Gardens, Paris and all the other places he traveled as he struggled against cancer, was sick, and eventually died.
They smuggled in the very same chairs we sat on, though, the ones we sat on in Bronxville at his house that day we read the play. I think they are from the dining room. He did not sit on any of those chairs; he was in his bed. And the times before that he was wheeling around on an Aeron chair, because it was hard to walk.
But the chairs were there at the theater and the audience was full of our friends and family and those who thought his struggle was worth remembering. On the stage were actors who performed the play incredibly, with minimalist staging designed to set loose the emotional recollections rather than stitch tightly to the play's narrative.
The play is a message from James in its every sentence, and it is a meditation by him too. And then it's also a rumination on all the big issues, erudite and sharply constructed from the vernacular of New York's people, yuppies, old-timey personalities.
Seeing it live created a few new ideas for me. One was the strong religious/faith theme that links through it. I seriously did not see it in my previous readings with it. Another is that it is quite short. It felt pretty lengthy when I read it but it's nothing on reflection compared to Shakespeare and other multi-hour works. Third is that there is no reflection on identity in the play. It's as if there is no identity. It's entirely existential -- I am and I wonder why, and why what happens to me happens. He draws from his cultures and experience -- the play is overall an expression of identity -- but he doesn't take on the question of "who am I?". Who am I? is the essential question that I struggled with during his struggle with the disease; rather, who is James? was my question.
Who is he? Who was he? What did he think about and desire? What would he have become?
The play tells you he was an Irishman, a fan of Zeppelin, an idealist and a nihilist and a catholic, and the play's existence tells you he was or could have been a great writer.
But the play's character's do not reflect on their identities and maybe there is a reason for that. They know who they are just like he did.
He kept that sure identity from us though and we will never (together) find that one biography of him that ties all our experiences together.
July 24, 2004
Kronos and Krainos
James Kearney's play premiered last night at the Peter Norton Space near Times Square.
It was an amazing production!
Seeing it again tonight. See the website for more information. Will say more after seeing it again.
July 17, 2004
Home ownership and maintenance
When we bought our place I made the estimate that maintenance would cost on the order of $1000 per month. I thought I was being generous there, on the assumption that we might actually have to hire someone to come around and do things every week the way a super does in a building.
An unanticipated savings was that you can do most things yourself in a little place like this -- change a fuse, shovel snow, deal with the trash.
But there are things you can't do and they happen more than you would imagine.
So you never think of your water heater (not exactly the boiler, but the thing that provides hot water for food, showers, etc.). But it only lasts 10 years in general and the one we had just sprang a leak. Fine. $300 plus an hour or two of this handyman guy's time (which we get on the cheap because he is the super in one of the properties my Dad looks after). Call it $500 to fix this plus a morning without hot water.
When the snowpacks this winter were slowly melting off, they leaked water on the downstairs guy. Rain drains fine but melting snow is somehow an issue. Had the guys in for a day and a half to fix all that.
The floor they originally installed in the bedroom didn't quite take. Actually, they screwed it up and had to spend a half-day fixing it. Plus the pain of living with the screwed up floor for ages. Call it another $500-$1,000 since there were a few guys working to fix it.
Other things happen - the light fixtures in the downstairs space had to be fixed back in January, for wear and tear reasons. That was $1000.
The garbage service was something I never factored in. Commercial building = commercial service = $12 per pickup. One apartment fills up about 1.5 dumpsters per month. The downstairs tenant, well he fills up at a decent clip himself. About $50 per month.
The electric and gas suck -- the commercial rates are worse than the residential rates you are used to, plus the single-meter arrangement we have means the distribution is not quite fair (we knew this when we negotiated it but had to take the hit).
All told, the expenses are high and the headaches are low-medium. I think we're easily spending the thousand a month plus throwing in the elbow grease on assorted minor issues -- put the dumpster in and out, call the garbage guy about whether the bill was paid, deal with the permits from the city, arrange for the plumber to come by when we are not home, etc etc.
I don't think it can get much more complicated than this and I'm pleased to report I've been able to strike a halfway decent balance.
June 27, 2004
PDA future, on the E train
Sometimes I get to take the E train into the office. I get on at the last stop in Queens before Manhattan, so people deep from the working class reaches of the borough have been riding for a while when I meet them.
Some of them sleep or stare into space. But other times I get to take the pulse of mass market adoption trends. Lots of iPods, for example, and ipso facto more than I would expect. I really did have the intuition that iPods were bourgeois artifacts still, and they're not.
Lots of game-playing on cell phones. I didn't realize normal cell phones had chess games etc on them, for example. Seen that. Number of adult (males) playing Gameboy devices to pass the time. And recently, one guy actually watching some kind of movie on his handheld Windows PocketPC with headphones on. I was really amazed! I don't have a device that can do that!
I just tried playing a 20-second clip on my Samsung i500 smartphone with Fireviewer...and it crashed. (It kind of crashes a lot. Better form-factor than the Treo 600 but not on OS5 and therefore...limited.)
June 25, 2004
Lots of bad news this year for Bush
From AP: The lowlights include:
_ Bush delivers a State of the Union address, with his opposition to performance-enhancing drugs in sports standing out against a bleak roster of new policies.
_ Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill writes a book claiming Bush was determined from the get-go to overthrow Iraq's Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).
_ The president's shaky performance on NBC's "Meet the Press" fuels anxiety among GOP allies about Iraq and the fledgling re-election campaign.
_ Richard Clarke, the top counterterrorism official for Presidents Clinton and Bush, undercuts the president's tough-on-terrorism claims during congressional testimony.
_ National security adviser Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites) at first refuses to testify before the Sept. 11 commission, then bows to pressure.
_ Bush's economic adviser, N. Gregory Mankiw, says the transfer of U.S. jobs overseas is sometimes a good thing.
_ Bush scuttles plans to name Anthony Raimondo as manufacturing czar after Democrats point out that the businessman's company laid off 75 workers in 2002 while announcing the construction a $3 million plant in China.
_ The death toll in Iraq mounts through the spring as Republican governors, busy attending funerals of slain servicemen and shipping National Guard troops overseas, warn the White House that voters are getting antsy.
_ Four U.S. contractors are killed and mutilated near Baghdad.
_ Train bombers strike Madrid. Voters throw the Bush-backing Spanish government out of power. Spain later withdraws its troops from Iraq.
_ Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) comes under fire for past business ties, secretive deliberations on energy policy and unsubstantiated suggestions that his office might be behind the leak of a CIA (news - web sites) operative's name.
_ U.S. weapons inspector David Kay concludes that Iraq did not have stockpiles of forbidden weapons, undercutting Bush's main justification for war.
_ Democrats unite behind Kerry after a short nomination fight, allowing him to raise record amounts of money and turn quickly against Bush.
_ Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into whether the Bush administration's Medicare chief pressured a subordinate to withhold estimates of the cost of last year's Medicare legislation.
_ Clarke follows his testimony with a book claiming Bush was so preoccupied with Iraq both before and after the Sept. 11 attacks that he failed to effectively confront threats from al-Qaida.
_ Gas prices top $2 per gallon.
_ Revelations that U.S. soldiers abused prisoners in Iraq fuel anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world and raise questions at home about U.S. moral authority in Iraq.
_ Militants linked to al-Qaida behead American Nicholas Berg.
_ The leader of Iraqi's governing council is assassinated.
_ A memo reveals plans for the Bush administration to slash domestic programs after the Nov. 2 presidential election.
_ Al-Qaida militants in Saudi Arabia behead American helicopter technician Paul M. Johnson Jr.
_ Militants in Iraq behead South Korean Kim Sun-il.
_ Insurgents launched coordinated attacks that kills more than 100 people, including three U.S. soldiers.
That happened Thursday, the same day the FBI (news - web sites) questioned Bush in the CIA leak case. Hours later, Bush was flying to Turkey to plead with NATO (news - web sites) for help in quelling Iraqi violence.
Kerry stayed on the campaign trail, seeking advantage from the president's woes.
June 06, 2004
Learning from a doggy housemate
We got a dog, named her Ultra, and are learning to deal with her.
It wasn't easy. She gets 5-6 walks a day (I suspect she only needs 2), eats ~$2/day worth of food (and $2-3 dollars of medecine, treats, toys), forgets the difference between inside and outside 0.25 times per day, and probably sleeps 15 hours out of 24 (though I cannot prove it). I bought a wifi video camera just to monitor her movements.
May 14, 2004
Run for James
On May 29, 2004, we will be honoring the memory of James E. Kearney, in the first of many ways, at the Bronxville Memorial Day Run for Fun. We hope you can join us, regardless of whether you can compete for one of the first place trophies, which will be named in James' honor, or simply hope to be upright when crossing the finish line. We know travelling a distance of
2.5 miles is a struggle for many, especially when not behind the wheel of a car. But remember that just two weeks after his second brain surgery in May
2003, James won the second place trophy in the Bronxville ?Run for Fun.?
Before that race, James had written in a Mother?s Day card: ?Remember Mom, the beauty is in the struggle not in the outcome.? If that is true, several of us will be feeling beautiful on May 29! After the run we will have a big brunch and celebration at my parent's house in Bronxville.
We choose the Bronxville Memorial day Run for Fun as our first day to honor James for a number of reasons. James was a former winner of the Bronxville ?Run for Fun? and he graduated from Bronxville High School in
1994 (to whom the proceeds from the run benefit). In 2002, James was running 10 miles each morning before work in preparation for the New York City Marathon when he was diagnosed with primary brain cancer. Two months after his first brain surgery he ran a 5k race in Central Park, leading a team of his friends and family. His last organized competitive run, was the aforementioned, May 2003 run, where he took 2nd place.
Next year we hope to be able to sponsor the run and call it the James E. Kearney Memorial Day Run for Fun.
So if you can, please join James' friends and family as we honor his memory and thank the people of Bronxville by supporting the 2004 Bronxville ?Run for Fun? in his name on May 29, 2004. One can register online at www.bronxville.k12.ny.us or the day of the race. Registration prior to May
21 costs $20.00 and registration the day of the race is $30.00. The race begins at 9:00 and registration starts at 7:30, although, I don't think anyone should arrive before 8:00 or 8:30. We will have T-shirts made for the event.
Please let me know if you plan on running. Also my contact list is limited so please pass this on to anyone I may have missed.
May 05, 2004
The Fever again
Chris's band The Fever is on another Heavy compilation. Their album should be coming out soon. The song on there (Gray Ghost) is pretty cool.
My ears finally stopped ringing today from the Moz show on Monday.
May 04, 2004
Tonight was something like the tenth time I've been out to see this guy, and he always has a big impact on me. This time, not least of all, he had us all up at the Apollo in Harlem. It's a good place to see a show.
Some things feel like formula now. Rockabilly-classic-fades-into-Moz-standard. Walk off in the last heart-thumping riffs of an anthem, then come out for a Smiths-cover encore (or nowadays an early-90s Mozzer encore).
He is going for a more commercial sounds, if you can believe it. In some ways, you might say 'finally'. But then again -- it's not the Vauxhall rock. It's Brit adult contemporary -- there are horns sometimes, synth bits, little "pings". I don't know that it's for the best.
But I can't judge at this stage. He should have given us the album in advance. Well, we'll have to wait for the real thing to see how this latest go round will be. There is so much lined up this year -- the Meltdown festival, this tour, the Lollapalooza headline, a week on Craig Kilborn -- that perhaps he can push past 1996's #6 position showing on the charts. It would be a first. I can see why he wants it. I wonder if he's designed the right attack.
May 01, 2004
Perception and results in search
Play with this cool tool Danny found: Google v. Yahoo.
You'll notice the Yahoo search manages to match the #1 result most of the time. In the top ten results, a lot of the time. Further down, it's not the same.
But what do you care about search result 23? You look at the first 5, and search again if the right one is not there. (I do anyway, as much as I try to browse further through the results...the highlighting, the selected text in the result, etc. make it hard to realize "aha, #43 is it!" when it didn't quite match your query.)
More importantly, when deciding between Yahoo! and Google, you will use a mental comparator, not this tool. So you will have an outsize impression of similarity from the matching #1,2,3. And then you will say, on Yahoo's marketing assumption, that you may as well use the site you rely on for mail/finance/IM/news/personals/shopping/whatever to do your searching as well.
April 30, 2004
Google's great and all, but it's money comes from search volume (now that everyone else has pay-per-click installed). I think they are at the peak of their powers, and it's a great time to go public. But it's also the peak of their expected value. By year's-end, I predict, the picture will be different. Their share of search on 12/31/04 will be lower than on 1/1/04 and their share of search revenues will be lower too. And 12/31/05 will be worse. My prediction. Let's see if I'm right. Why do I think this?
Risk 1: a better search comes along (or a not-so-better search sponsored by Microsoft). Searchers are very fickle. They will switch; faster than they switched operating systems or browsers. What happens? Fewer searches, then eventually no searches, and so go the earnings.
Risk 2: But what about all these advertisers that use Google? It's hard to build up a big base like that. Where will they advertise? Google can squeeze money from them right? Others will simply have to do it. Now that the "serve yourself model" invented by Overture is prevalent, it will be easy enough to get the first, most capitalist 50K advertisers. The rest will follow. Nobody has figured out mass-market breakout yet anyway, which is when the real money will flow (that is, when my local pizza guy or dentist are buying ads).
Risk 3: But there are all these contextual ad publishers in their network. That's a great business, right? No. Ask Doubleclick. The money is still in search placement. That's when people are shopping.
Risk 4: But doesn't Google have all these great technologists to invent the next great sensation, like Gmail or Orkut? No, they probably won't invent anything. Gmail and Orkut are also-rans not game changers. You knew the first time you used Google search that it was better. These other things are sort of "eh".
So that's all their amazing assets right? What else...their chefs?
The Economist agrees.
April 23, 2004
At the Council
Saw Paul Volcker talk with Lavagna, Argentina's Minister of Economy, this week at the Council on Foreign Relations. It's a nifty forum, though I didn't realize how much it was a press club for bankers. The session was essentially a pitch by Argentina for its economy and its bonds, and a Q&A with the principal holders of that debt (Wall Street banks). There were all these junior guys there sitting with their notepads, writing down Lavagna's proclamations: we shall treat all debtholders equally! There will be renegotiation of the "traditional" haircuts! We will not negotiate with holdouts during this term! We will not repay any debt early! Etc. (This was an open session, and not on the special free-discussion rules that control reporting of who-said-what-and-where.)
April 20, 2004
Virgin Mobile actually speeds up in Q1?
In Q4, wholesalers were something like 554K of 1 million net adds to SPCS with 390K direct net adds by SPCS. This quarter, SPCS added 414K direct net adds but the wholesalers added only 420K. That's quite a bit less. But given the seasonality effect, and how weighted it should be against prepaid, maybe that's actually an acceleration of the prepaid sales (esp. if you were to figure out 2003 Q1's #s).
In the quarter, each of Sprint's business units contributed to the solid overall performance. The PCS wireless division reported strong financial results and added 972,000 customers, consisting of 414,000 net direct customer additions combined with 558,000 from wholesale and affiliate partners.
April 18, 2004
You are paying for number portability
Check your cell phone bill -- there is a $2.20 charge on mine for the two lines I have. It's for the wireless number portability service. Even if you don't *use* the number portability, everyone pays for it. $1.10/line for around 100 million lines is a lot of money per *month*.
April 17, 2004
9/11 failures and Iraqi failures
The 9/11 commission and 9/11 itself show that U.S. intelligence failed miserably when it was all on the line. U.S. intelligence was the basis for the Iraq war -- after this demonstrable failure and in contradiction of public evidence from other nations.
April 16, 2004
99% tax refund
Saw my tax return today, and my Dad/accountant did an amazing job. There are benefits to owning property (and losing money on it). Big tax refund. In fact, I think my net taxes to Uncle Sam this year were under $50. The rich get richer. :(
April 15, 2004
Torrents are coming
Filesharing so far has happened in aggregated networks. That's how you bust people -- by getting on the network and seeing what's being shared. But what if there are only "file level" networks. The network exists only insofar as people are sharing a single file with each other.
That's how BitTorrent works. You put a link to a file online (on a website, say). Everyone who clicks on that link suddenly starts sharing the file with each other. Some have 99% of the file, some have only 50%, some have 0%, and someone somewhere has 100%. So the remaining download waterfalls down to the remaining users.
The point is, though, that you are not sharing on the network at all unless you are actively downloading that one file. It dramatically reduces the individual network peer's profile when someone comes and scans the network.
April 13, 2004
"Complete" album archives on P2P
One of the new things on the filesharing networks: "complete" collections. 21 albums, all in one big zip file with cover art, b-sides etc. They're usually just a gig or so. Seen them for REM, Queen, Alan Parsons, etc. The steady march of filesharing continues.
April 11, 2004
Cleaning up your mp3 collection
Musicbrainz tagger is a handy tool for cleaning up the filenames and ID tags on your mp3s.
I've tried it on a few hundred of my downloaded songs, and it's only about 60% successful in identifying songs and renaming them. Now, that's better than nothing. But shouldn't it be even better, considering how thoroughly it is a network-effects application?
My Google Ads
After about 9 months of serving those Google ads on this blog and (more importantly) on the LICNYC site, I have served 99,300 impressions with a clickthrough rate of 0.8%. That's about 773 clicks yielding $220 in a year. It's not bad. Pays the hosting costs!
April 10, 2004
Have this new phone.
- the browsers crash a fair bit when rendering tough pages
- not always on, you have to let it "dial up" when you look for stuff
- battery life for the "slim" one with heavy use is about 1.5 days
- it's 25% shorter than the Treo 600, same on the other dimensions
- it's sturdy metal and feels solid
- the screen is really sharp and fits a lot of content though it's smaller than my old palm
- form factor overall is kind of like the old Startac, except it's made of metal. That's pretty small
- true Palm OS -- tons of cool apps for it like universal IM, mail clients, web browsers, etc.
- pretty fast internet, feels about like dial-up
- renders real web pages, not some clipping-type junk
- 16MB is plenty of memory for Palm-type uses
- focused, doesn't add in a camera or mp3 player to drain the battery
April 09, 2004
Ed had a baby boy on Friday!
My heart jumped like the old days
My heart jumped as I heard the first strains of Morrissey's new tracks.
I have forgiven Jesus
Retro 80s synth. The stuff he never did back then -- a blend of New Order and Stephen Merritt/Sixths sounds. His voice is all wrapped up in the soundmachine waves, like in a fur coat. But the pacing and phrasing is a blend of falsetto crooning and the staccato pacing of prime-Smiths era. "Oh I know she will."
More as I listen to the rest.
April 06, 2004
First post from phone
Warming up the new toy-a samsung i500.
April 02, 2004
How much fun I used to be
Brook said you gave him $20 -- but how would
Brook know the amount?
The weird part, I always think, is that it sounds
like the homeless man very conscientiously
fulfilled the job. Obviously, he could have just
taken the money and gone off to buy things
with it, but he first harrassed brook. I don't
know for how long, or what he said. I've asked
brook this, but I think, as he comes off as kind
of the jackass in the story, and I'm always so
gleeful, he really won't say.
> what did I pay the homeless man to follow
> what did the homeless man do?
> Amie wrote:
> > oh, lord. who knows? I work at the onion
> > was studying ancient greek for a while. I
> > thinking of getting an mfa from syracuse,
> > now I think I won't (I tell them Thursday, the
> > final decision)...
> > what about you?
> > Amol wrote:
> > > what's new?
March 31, 2004
Fixating on ironies
When someone dies young, it's necessarily tragic. Maybe one looks for ironies beyond that? But there are so many of them layered over and over the story. The how and where of his disease. The patterns throughout his life that eerily "presage" what happened later. His outlook in life before the disease almost expected the kind of ultimate disappointment he ultimately confronted - unimpressed, constantly pragmatic, calculated, darkly comic.
March 29, 2004
Someone asked a hard question that cut deeper than simply recalling the kind of guy he was. The question was, do you think he would have stayed an investment banker for the rest of his life?
What would be the answer about you?
For me, I think the answer is: no, I will not stay a consultant for the rest of my life. If I died today, people could say, "He would have left in a year or so to do another startup. He would have taken his chances with those, perhaps had some luck. He wouldn't have been satisfied with just one, or one size. He would eventually have wanted to run a large business too. And then he might have found a way to return to philosophy and writing. He was working on something like that even then." But then they might be wrong to say that. They'd have different opinions when asked.
Piecing together the guy he was would be impossible, a series of impressions from different audiences.
The wake is today
If you would like to pay your respects, calling hours are at the Fred H. McGrath and Son Funeral Home Bronxville, between the hours of 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 PM on Monday and Tuesday. Mass of Christina Burial will be held at St. Joseph?s Church Bronxville on Wednesday March 31 at 9:45 AM. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Little Sisters of the Poor, PO Box 1002, Bronx, NY 10465.
March 28, 2004
Throughout the ordeal, visiting James at his home, I was always amazed by his spirit and his family's. James was determined, low affect, depressed perhaps but not visibly unhappy or resentful of all he was going through. He was sick, yes, but not beaten. He was stoic but still funny, sarcastic, incapable of sentimentalism when he had never tolerated phonies and saccharine in his life before the illness.
His family was steadfastly optimistic throughout, but realist about the hardships they had been experiencing, and totally willing to see comic irony everywhere. Just as I sometimes felt self-conscious being near James, feeling inarticulate while he carried himself with so much dignity, I often felt energized by his family when I thought I was supposed to be offering my support to them.
He died today
After battling his cancer for 19 months, my friend died today. He made gutsy decisions in his treatment, fighting very long and until the very end. He was always determined, never letting us see him emotionally defeated by the ordeal, though it must surely have been overwhelming.
There will be a wake in Bronxville on Monday and Tuesday nights, at the funeral home near the Metro-North station. And on Wednesday morning they will have the funeral at the church there, across the street. If you knew James you should at least go up to the wake. I know his family would appreciate it.
This long process is over now and I think it has had a transformational effect on many of us who were involved. Even for people on the periphery, like me, who simply went to visit James and be with him over the months of his illness.
The illness transformed him. In the end, the deterioration was incremental and very steady until he was gone. Someone mentioned feeling uncomfortable that there wasn't any abrupt feeling of loss today; it felt a lot like yesterday. But little about today was abrupt. It had felt like a possible if not inevitable outcome for months. The news had been coming in. The guy we spent time with had changed slowly since last summer or the summer before.
It changed us too, as we went along. I have deeply reconsidered my view of my life and what things mean. James confronted what we all must face, and while I'm getting older anyway, I believe James has spurred in me a far more pragmatic view of life's aims and appreciation for what I have. I believe my bonds to people I care about have grown much stronger. On those many trips to visit him and keep him company, I have been immensely grateful for his friends and mine who went along each week or month.
He wrote a brilliant play. Most people never will. To read it is to hear his voice in a dozen characters, and hear a complex perspective on the fundamental human situation of mortality. He was brave and steady in taking on the burden of his illness, and watching it was inspiring. I hope I could be so brave . I often felt embarassed being with him, without anything to say that properly expressed how I felt about what he was doing.
He had a pitiable situation yet some parts of it were enviable. He did things few of us will ever get to do as adults. He spent a year in New York, Paris, Brussells with his family and friends. We all have to die. But he had the chance to be with his family, to take time with his friends and family, and to take time with it himself.
By the end, he had changed so much. From walking to sitting to laying in bed, so many secondary conditions and infections, paralysis. The news earlier this week that the could no longer pursue treatment was very discouraging. I have felt a potent difference since. When we first heard the news I felt shock and grief at the scale of the cancer, anxiety and depression about his bad fortune. Since, I have felt regret and guilt about what more I could do to support him or what more I could have once done to be his friend. But this last week I felt sadness about the finality.
Today we were surprised that the slow downward slide had ended. We had grown used to the bad news that always made things worse, harder yet still not impossible to overcome. This week's news was yet another death sentence in a long parade of them. After all the struggle, James was still so tough and so strong that we were actually surprised to hear that he had died of cancer. We had gotten used to him beating it.
March 25, 2004
Bad news for my sick friend yesterday. There is a special and awful feeling about certitude -- though we all have certitude about final outcomes don't we? Yet, they have stopped all treatment now. That is certitude. It felt pretty bad.
Rocking out at the High Court
Atheist Presents Case for Taking God From Pledge - this is the kind of write-up any debater would dream of.
March 20, 2004
New new new phone, PDA, etc
Problem is, there is the "upcoming" i505 -- which has a camera, the newest OS, and and and a bigger screen.
Well, if I wait till June, then why not wait till Q4, when the breathtaking MPx from Moto appears. And by then....
well, a new Treo I guess.
NameGiant thinks they might be called bastards
In my logs I saw this referrer:
It looks like someone at NameGiant.com gets an email with subject field "what=bastards" when their crawler finds such mention out on the web. They then email the person who feels annoyed with their tactics (assuming they do to others what they did to me) and threaten sternly to take actions to defend their good name (giant as it is). Why don't they just give me my domain name back?
This last week has been quite nice, in terms of exclusive affairs.
I went to the Council on Foreign Relations and saw not only the chief central banker of Brazil, but Lee Bollinger and David Rockefeller. Later that day I got a chance to check out the Wednesday night preview of the Whitney Biennial. And a few days back I went along to hear from General Clark about his plans for the coming year.
And, while we're on news, my little company Virgin Mobile passed the 1.75 million subscriber mark.
I'd like to make some more news soon. I've been thinking about a theme that links a number of ideas I'm thinking about lately: cultural economics. Maybe I'll make some moves on that front.
March 18, 2004
Update on my sick friend
Since some of you read this blog for updates on my ailing friend:
I went to visit him in Bronxville again tonight. Hadn't been for 2 weeks because of various trips.
In January, there was a grave warning that time was running out -- maybe three weeks left. The MRI had been very negative and the tumor was growing. They started a last ditch round of intense chemo. We visited him and saw him totally incapacitated; on a couple of occasions in striking condition due to skin infections and thrush. He talked to us occasionally but only a few whispers. Mainly we hung out and tried to be friendly when he was up, otherwise enjoyed the company of his family.
It's two months later and he's still going at it. There was a good result last week; the latest MRI showed that the tumor might be smaller. Chemo could actually be working. His secondary infections etc seemed to have cleared up and a related issue from a drug side effect was solved. He was looking well compared to last time.
But please understand the overall situation. He is pretty much immobile on his bed. His muscles etc have weakened a lot from near-paralysis of the last months. He is awake only for little bits -- he is under heavy medication for pain, anti-nausea, etc.
The recent news was good and we are hoping for the best.
March 16, 2004
Kerry vs. Bush
March 15, 2004
Video-on-demand is hackable
Check online and you can read about how to hack video-on-demand. You can't really do it with digital cable (can't steal cable), but you can in fact do it with those pay-per-view type movies. They used a different standard for delivering that video. So you can get all the HBO shows you like if you're clever. Not too bad!
Network Solutions - criminal!
Network Solutions is set up to rip you off. It costs $35 to renew, and nobody warns you until it's too late to switch. Once the renewal time comes due, you are stuck with your carrier.
And if you wait the post-expiry 90 days -- it is highly likely that one of these NameGiant.com-style name-buying companies will snap you up and sit on the domain name. (Such tactics are vile! They seem to elicit so much disgust that I received an automatic email threatening a libel lawsuit within hours of posting a blog entry about them.)
Best to transfer off to Dotster or Gandi.net or GoDaddy now. Worth transferring before your time is up.
March 09, 2004
Back at Virgin, these guys came in showing off this nifty techonology. If you were listening to a cool song, you could call up this number on your cell phone and let the computer on the other end of the line have a listen. The computer would recognize the song! Wherever, whenever, etc. It would hear the audio fingerprint and save the song you heard. Later, you could buy it.
This technology has actually been around a while. One of the companies making money from this is Relatable. Shawn Fanning, apparently, has a startup that is designed to use this fingerprinting on p2p networks (to help music labels charge for the stuff being traded).
And finally, there is a nifty thing for mp3 users to clean up their music collections. This is pretty good - MusicBrainz. I'm running it on my 200 songs (on my work laptop) right now, and it's hitting about 50%. It cleans up the ID3 tags on all the files.
March 03, 2004
My 48 Hour Flu
Saturday, in New Orleans, my feet were really sore from walking.
Sunday, returning from New Orleans, I felt a little stiff from the workout the day before and my feet were really sore still.
Monday morning, it was clearly a flu-like situation. I woke up with a dry mouth and slightly stuffy nose; muscle ache in the calves as I walked out to work.
By afternoon was feeling chilly and feeling weak. I had some trouble staying totally concentrated for longish periods.
Evening I was feeling "zonked". Went to bed at 10 or so.
Tuesday morning, woke up a little later. Still feeling groggy but fewer aches. Sat down at my desk in the office and my nose was runny. But I was feeling much more energetic.
Over the course of the day, no aches or pains and lots more energy. Constant runny nose (not too much, but enough that I was using tissues that eventually made my poor nose feel a little sore).
By end of day, "feeling better".
Tuesday morning, I feel fine - but my nose is a little tiny bit runny still and I feel a tiny bit congested.
But that's it -- from Monday morning to Wed morning I had the whole min-life cycle of a flu.
It happens every year (Spring and Fall) though, so I think it's some kind of seasonal allergy. Anybody know? Send me an email.
March 01, 2004
I'm having my spring cold/flu. Yesterday I was feeling a little achy (from the walking...no), this morning I woke up tired and with my nose a little dry (dehydration....no), and now my muscles are more achy and I'm feeling chilly. I have a cold/flu!! Oh well. If the past is any guide, I will be well in a day or so.
February 29, 2004
In New Orleans
We had a fine weekend in New Orleans. The culture in the South is different! You have to see those folks singing to "Brown Eyed Girl" to understand it.
February 23, 2004
Language for Business
Those snotty Parisian office chaps kept saying "oh language language! it matters so much". They were pretty much telling me to forget about working in French and go home to Anglophonia.
My little colleague in the office is very much contrary to the point. Now, is my colleague where you would want to be? No, but my colleague is able to function and in a few months I'm sure the issues will be ancient history. But perfect English is far from critical.
February 19, 2004
You Are Your Profile
My friend fired up his online personals account recently and invited me to have a look. Just look for a blah blah in such-and-such ZIP code, he said. "You'll see my picture on there. It's funny."
So I search for the blah blah and I seriously can't find this guy. I add race, age, other stuff. There are still dozens and dozens of results that I'm browsing through. Yes they all live in the same city, within 5 miles, smoke, and like puppies.
I'm looking at the pictures in the thumbnail gallery and wondering, "wait, is this him?". I have to click on these guys to see who it is.
I read their little quotes ("dreamer seeking his muse", "it was on fire as I lay down on it", "Not a foregone conclusion", "Straight guy with a queer eyes") to no effect whatever. Could my friend say any one of these things in his online chick-fishing persona? Of course. This crap is meaningless.
Though I'm sure these guys spent long minutes crafting the perfect lines, choosing the images, etc etc. And yet they are indistinguishable at the 40x40 pixel scale. They are the same as each and indeed the same as my friend.
All of which leads us to the conclusion that I am some search result too, not so easily distinguished, in the end.
February 17, 2004
Using Trillian with Firewalls
My firewall at work was making it tough for me to use IM (with the Trillian universal client).
For AOL in particular I had to come up with an alternate solution. I actually installed AIM and used its "auto-configure" function. It basically searches through typical ports to see if it can use them -- it settled on 23. I guess my firewall has an opening there. I un-installed AIM and put 23 as the connection port for Trillian to AOL. The default is 5190 but I guess 23 is open on the AIM servers as well.
Yahoo and other clients automatically avoid this problem. I think Yahoo's IM actually uses the web port (80) to route the IM inquiries. AOL is not so clever but finally it's solved.
And by the way, hopster and other http firewall gateways didn't work for me.
February 16, 2004
Getting into a Museum
The nice thing about art as a career is that you can mark your progress with milestones that culminate in measures on an immortal scale.
This may or may not be what you're after, but if you are this is the profession for you. All old guys start thinking "legacy", so the old guys heading companies also think about immortality. But for them this amounts to naming buildings for themselves or naming-rights from grants. People remembered for doing their occupation are often artists and statesmen, and for artists there is a helpful set of institutions that wait around for eternity to pass.
My point is just that you can aim to get into museums when you are an artist, the way a philosopher can aim to get into university libraries or freshmen curricula, and this can be a measure of success.
But how does it happen these days?
The answer is: commerce. The artist sells, interests a gallery, moves up the food chain from Williamsburg to Chelsea to Gagosian and then, only then finds interest from the MoMA buyers, then the MoMA major shows committee, then the canon coronation committee that puts you in the room next to Cezanne, Rousseau, the Demoiselles, etc. I am told that this is how it works.
So if you want to be in a museum, don't labor under the notion that history will somehow find you. You need to sell first, which is interesting, since that's how it works in the other professions -- literary, academic, etc. Your sales in the free market, though it be a specialized niche, are the indication of your prospects.
February 15, 2004
He Keeps On
My friend is a very strong guy -- he was a cross country runner in college and it must be that his spirit is much stronger than his steady personality admits. We had some bad news a few weeks ago but he's still hanging in there. He looks better this past week or so since some ancillary stuff cleared up.
February 09, 2004
Quick test of a referral system
February 08, 2004
Getting the Apartment's Every Detail
Here you can see what's happened to my old laptops (new life as a/v modules):
Pictures of James
Some pictures of James I dug up over the weekend.
February 07, 2004
Amol's Email Address Is Changing
I'm changing my email address. Use the "as" on the "drwn" dot com server address rather than "amol" at the traditional servername. I guess I'll have to move to blog.drwn.com if I'm to give up drownout entirely. Sad! Anyway, follow the link on the right for an address that will work.
January 25, 2004
Kronos and Krainos
Yesterday was a very difficult day. We spent it up at my friend's house, with his family and with many of his friends, doing a reading of his play, "Kronos and Krainos". It's a good play and it's sometimes an incredible play. In totality it is a very hard hitting piece and most of all a long, complex message from him. I haven't had much opportunity to talk seriously with him in a long time, and this is a very deep, conflicted elaboration of regrets, anger, courage, optimism, cynicism, and so much of what he must have experienced these last months.
They told me to read the Narrator's part, which made me nervous because we all seemed to think this was obviously the role he associated with the most closely. But as we read the parts and saw the conflicted characters -- we saw the bond trader, the uncertain Christian, the angry victim, the reflective old Irishman, the anonymous artist.
January 23, 2004
Dean drops to 3rd in NH
The future is now
Can You Gain Anything from Sadness?
What do you get out of a calamity that follows you around for a few months or years, a slow and drawn out sad thing that sneaks up on you from time to time. What do you get out of crying about it or brooding about it or just staring blankly about it? Of course it's wonderful to laugh and be happy. But why are we sad and miserable for bleak things we can do nothing to fix? Why bother doing it and why would nature have made us this way?
January 22, 2004
I think I just got some pretty bad news. Got a voicemail about my friend. He's been sick. Need to find out the details but it sounds bad.
January 20, 2004
Clearly, the day after the big Iowa primary, the guys who sit out must take a hit. They are not in the news that day. Let's see what happens over the next 7 days. Call with Wes this afternoon.
January 19, 2004
Prognostication in Print
Kerry, then Edwards have trounced Dean. Gephardt is clearly out.
Implications for Clark? I think it's good that Dean didn't win. But it's bad that Dick Gephardt wasn't the guy to make that a reality. Kerry is clearly a guy with position in New Hampshire, so winning in Iowa makes his play stronger in NH. Looks like Dean is gone, but it doesn't look like this guarantees a Clark win there. Instead, it looks like it would boost Kerry from 3rd upwards. Maybe we still take 2nd.
Edwards took a strong second though, and that's not good for Clark. Edwards is way behind in NH, and perhaps this showing will push him up. This will draw from Clark. Maybe it leaves Dean enough support to finish 2nd ahead of Clark. That would be bad.
So the nightmare scenario is Clark ends up third after sitting out the Iowa round.
The ideal case is Dean drops like a lead brick and Kerry can't carry his momentum in NH because Clark is there to sop up the anti-Dean sentiment. Clark wins, Kerry 2nd, Dean somewhere behind. Going into South Carolina, you see a confident Clark against an alient, distant Kerry. Clark sweeps the Feb 3 round and we're done. Handsome Edwards preens for the VP job.
January 18, 2004
Bush Sinking, Remember Saddam?
People were too quick to draw conclusions from the Saddam capture. Support is fading; I was right.
January 16, 2004
Funny Google (bomb?)
Maybe somebody is google-bombing to get me. If you search for for related pages for drownout.com, you will find an odd result -- an enlarging result.
January 07, 2004
Today is a moment to gloat to all those oh-so-naive Deansters. Clark has gained 14 points in 2 weeks on Dean, says the latest CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll. And Clark now holds the #2 spot in New Hampshire - ahead of Kerry. I think we're on our way here!
December 30, 2003
My side projects are back on my mind, nary a week after the last all-consuming extra-curricular has wound down.
There is a line of thinking I've been doing on government subsidies and capitalism relating to the arts. I read this book last summer, you see, and am now reading a manuscript from the same guy. I really disagree but I figure I should do some research and put together something good. Sets a good goal to work that way.
Another thing I've just started is Guns, Germs, and Steel.
Buy Guns, Germs and Steel and read it yourself.
December 28, 2003
When Will Kerry and Edwards Go Away?
According to the 12/21-22 CBS News polls, Carol Moseley Braun is ahead of both Edwards and Kerry in national Dem polls. Please go away, you guys!
The dynamics of a crowded field are different than the head-to-head we had in 2000. As the laggards drop out, and each with not insignificant polling numbers, their support will flop over to one of the leaders - and the lead should shift around a bit.
Taking Dean as the strident left wing of the party, the field at the center is crowded. As Kerry, Lieberman, Edwards start stepping back, we should see support pile into Clark's camp. It's a game of chicken though, since they are surely thinking similar things. The different is that Clark leads them.
The black candidates are harder for me to guess about. I figure they are not likely to fall in behind the most liberal-sounding candidate but rather the one with the best party chops. For now that's still Dean, but Charlie Rangel and Southern Dems have been coming out for Clark.
December 25, 2003
The Year in Review
My dear friend from college started the year rather ill. He was coming through the first round of chemo. And while he had a very promising summer, he is ending up the year in worrying condition. We all feel very sad about what he's been going through and it is an awful pall across this year and all my years to think about what's happened these last 18 months to him.
We were in Paris last September when we first heard that news, and we were still there to start 2003. In the unfriendly job environment of last winter, I learned that I had been fortunate enough to land a promising consulting job that actually compared well against the jobs I had been considering at Vonage and Cometa Networks and some other startups.
It was last January that Ursula and I had our first trampings about in Long Island City, and first found this building for sale in the shadow of the 7 and the Citicorp tower. It was nearly 8 months later before we finally closed on the property, after researching, offering, financing, and negotiating.
Urs got the good news on her UN post last spring as well, and that combined with the building and the NY consulting gig set us on a clear path back to NYC. The whole rest of the year was a vast procedure of moving from the 4th arrondissment to LIC.
Hanging around in Paris, running around the Jardin de Luxembourg, reading Le Monde, is how I whiled away the months up to my thesis defense and finally to submitting my dissertation. I finally received my Ph.D. this May, only 5 years after getting underway but still a full year after I'd done the main work.
Dr. Sarva then went back to Little Neck where real estate dealings occupied my time through the summer. It's not easy to take over a commercial building etc etc. I spent August at my company's training institute, and then finally undertook the simultaneous projects of kicking off my new job and substantially renovating the apartment through the fall.
The first months on the job have been successful and I'm only worried that the work isn't "intellectually challenging" enough for me. It's all a bit rote, I keep saying, perhaps to come off a bit too cool for it.
Late in the year, Roy and I decided to pitch in politically for Wes Clark and I spent the last 8 weeks frantically putting together a major fundraiser. We raised a major 5 figure-nearly-6 figure sum for the candidate. The process was hugely rewarding itself, and I hope I'll still be in touch with them in the future.
This year's achievements, then, are rounding out the year in Paris, completing the Ph.D., buying and renovating the property, starting the new gig, and the Clark event.
No big writing accomplishments this year, nor anything too playful. But I'm pleased overall at the balance my new work permits me with outside interests, and hope to make more of next year.
And of course, I'm still worrying for my friend.
December 21, 2003
A Banner Evening
Clark 04 Dot Com
Looks like we did 60+ tonight. A huge night.
December 18, 2003
The Clark reception is breathing down our necks. We've got an absolutely breathtaking set of artist contributions -- huge names all around. And the collector number is getting there, getting there, getting there. 42 of 50 confirmed as of now with 6 more looking very live on the hook. As of Thursday night. Only problem is that I'm signed up for 2 myself, and I'm not so sure about that!
December 16, 2003
The blog is suffering since I'm so busy with:
- Art For Clark this Saturday
- this client we're serving, had a big review Monday
- had a little party at our place a week ago
- snow and leaks at the building to deal with
December 07, 2003
A blizzard on the night of our little housewarming ensures that we will have to do a Take 2. But it was very nice having people over -- even if Urs was in-flight to Brazil in the meantime. Clearly, this was a dry run (though that is not the right metaphor, given the snow and all). The neighbors came by with their dogs, though, and that was hilarious.
If you missed it please attend next time -- when there will be a gimmick in addition to a good time. Just trying to work out what gimmicky whizbang to offer.
Also, I learned that Yahoo's Calendar has an evite feature that crushes the miserable and annoying evite.com. I can't tell you how annoying those Evites are when they don't include any of the important information in the email itself.
November 30, 2003
About 55,000 Americans died in Vietnam over 7 or 8 years (right? or longer?), which makes about 7,000/year. The current campaign is less bloody, but I have to say comparable.
November 26, 2003
Wes Clark Fundraiser, Can I be more geeked?
I highly recommend putting together a 7-figure fundraising event for a hot Democrat in NYC, early in the primary season. I can't believed I just talked to this guy that I more typically read about in the WSJ.
And another thing, he was kind of pleased to hear where I worked. Put that on the list of niceties when I next reflect on the exit strategies from this nest.
November 15, 2003
Art World Superstars on 12/20
Lots of extremely important artists are agreeing to be part of the Clark fundraiser. I'm thrilled. It's turning into a truly stunning scale event.
Blogging has its limits. I can't say who they are though. Blog life is only really possible when you have nothing particularly identifiable to say. If it's too public, it's unsustainable. You can't say what you really mean because you know just anyone can read it.
November 05, 2003
T-Mobile Hotspot Promotion Code
300 free minutes using code ATIB30043
October 21, 2003
After a painful week off the air, looks like this blog is back working. Still have no clue why it went down. Just re-installed everything. Reminds me of the windows world, sadly. Except on a hosted linux server.
October 13, 2003
Went to a lovely wedding this past weekend in Malibu. Late return to NY. Pretty zonked today -- because the bathroom wasn't ready for us! Rough one. Return, go home to find the work incomplete, then go home to Little Neck, sleep a few hours, then finally to New Jersey for work. Rough da. Hopefully I can get back on my game over the course of the week.
Still missing those burritos.
One of my concerns with my dad's involvement in our little building (his workers are the guys doing the renovations) was that he might meddle a bit. I think that happened this weekend. They didn't finish. We came home to a mess. Argh.
October 10, 2003
New York has some better burrito places these days but nothing will match the amazing stuff here in CA, like at La Salsa last night. There were 6 different kinds of salsa! I found out what they call my favorite one -- salsa chemada (sp?). It's roasted tomatos. And the burrito -- chicken was just juicy enough and not dry, the salsa inside was dry so it didn't leak all through the tortilla, the tortilla was slightly toasted on the outside to be crisp. Enough cheese, guacamole. Yummy!
Today we are going to see the Gehry building here in LA and perhaps also another thing or two.
October 08, 2003
Tom and the Major Media
Tom Sanford made it onto NPR yesterday and today he is in Time Out NY. (It was just last month that Chris Ruggiero's band, The Fever, was in there. Things must be blowing up.) It's all in his Thug4Life project.
October 06, 2003
Wes Clark's War
The contrast with the controversial NATO campaign in Kosovo, in which I served as military commander, could not be more stark. There, international authority was invoked in a diplomatic effort to resolve the prospect of additional ethnic cleansing. For months the negotiations and planning continued apace. The UN was engaged early and continuously. NATO, rather than the US, took hold of the problem. First, there was discussion about issuing a threat; then the actual threats were used to exercise diplomatic leverage. There was no preconceived timeline for action; indeed, NATO went to extraordinary lengths to avoid having to act. Several countries' leaders tried individually to broker a solution, and all this diplomacy complicated the military planning.
Force was used as a last resort, and then only after planning and commitments for the period following combat had been made. The application of force was measured at the outset. And after seventy-eight days of bombing, and the threat of a ground invasion, Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic gave in to all of NATO's conditions. Some 1.5 million of the brutally expelled Kosovar Albanians were allowed to return to their homes. Serb forces withdrew, and a NATO-led force entered (with the United States providing only about one fifth of that force). Today, Milosevic is standing trial for war crimes at The Hague, and Yugoslavia is an emerging democracy. No American soldiers, airmen, or Marines were killed in action during the campaign.
Beat that, Rumsfeld!
October 03, 2003
Sanford on the Air (Part 2)
We were on East Village Radio this past Sunday, but check this exciting bit as well:
As the opening for our exhibition "Bling" - featuring Derek Lerner and Tom Sanford - nears (Sat. October 11, 7-10pm), below is an update on Tom's progress on his http://www.thug4life.org project. You can also hear an interview with Tom by Madeleine Brand on NPR's "Day to Day" this Friday (Oct. 3, 2003) at noon on WNYE-FM 91.5 or you can catch it after 3 pm on the NPR website http://www.npr.org/programs/day/index.html
31 Grand St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
September 27, 2003
On the Air
19 1st Ave #1 buzz up - above a restaurant. Call 212 254 7108 or 254 7104
September 21, 2003
We have now completed exactly 1 week in the new place. It's a provisional week, keep in mind. There is nothing in order - we are sleeping on the inflated mattress and keeping all our junk in one little corner of the place.
The rest of the place is full of plaster dust and lumber. The Wilsons are well underway in their work. Replastering is pretty much done. The wacky staircase has been ordered. This week I believe they will prime and paint on Mon/Tues; begin the flooring and baseboards on Tues/Wed; deal with the electrical issues on Mon or Tues; and perhaps even get to work on the deck door and bathroom changes. You have to see it to believe it but the early stages went well and I feel positive about the quality of their work so far. Pics to come (I can't find anything - it's all still packed up).
May I comment that many difficult debates have been settled with relative ease: the refrigerator choice, do we keep the existing range?, the colors for paint, for tiles, lighting, and more. Home Depot, Ikea...it's quite surprising how narrowly they define the choices in certain categories. If you want a wood floor, you've got about 3 choices. Anyway, we decided on an LCD TV without too much trouble. Let's hope things keep going so smoothly.
September 19, 2003
Pardon Our Dust
I haven't been online much lately because of my job plus the sad state of my home. We just moved in and there is plaster dust everywhere as they rip apart walls etc etc. No internet yet. But that's coming on Saturday. Look for changes then. And look for pictures from the process which I will post. But I don't think we'll be done with the work for another week or so. Long time. :(
September 13, 2003
Collapse and Reconstruction
It was pretty much 9/11 this week when my hard disk emitted the "click of death". Chetan's brilliance rescued most of the My Documents and Outlook pst files (though we still have to see if I got it all), but the disk is now cat food. It was a traumatic occurrence: after an entire year of living off this laptop, on the day I got my new work laptop, and days before I was to setup the old workhorse desktop at the new house -- well, the old workhorse carrying years of dissertation research, 1000s of emails, web sites, etc etc etc went out lik e Chernobyl.
Backing up religiously and the cleverness of my brother may have saved a lot. I'm currently reinstalling Windows on what was once the extra HD. Now it's the main HD. But you may see some very depressed posts from me about the things I actually lost in this, my own personal doomsday.
It is interesting how old and new collide.
September 09, 2003
Good things come...in threes? The closing was today, I start my new gig in the morning...and what's the third?
Not much time to feel anxious about the new changes since I've been so busy hustling. Complete reports as details develop.
Toasted the new property tonight. Hope to enjoy it properly soon.
The buliding is closed. The property is ours. We have the deposits from the tenants and the money for the rent. And so on. We start moving in now.
I cannot tell you how frustrating the actual closing was. Not because it has to be. Most of it is mundane. You sit there. There were two loose items to deal with as we worked through this:
1 - the hazard insurance on the property was obtained as a last minute affair. It's more expensive than we expected, about double.
2 - the idiot selling the place has been incapable of moving all his shit out of the building in the 6 months we have been "working" on this deal. He insisted on 5 extra days of occupancy in our apartment before letting us in. That pissed me off.
Yet, we will take over the building now and start using it as an owner might. I'm going to take some of my stuff over there this week. Pack a few bags. That sort of thing.
The Big Day
Today is the closing. Made a list. Checked it twice. Heading over there in an hour. (Tomorrow is also a Big Day. But more on that then.)
September 08, 2003
The LIC Real Estate Market
The housing market in LIC is badly undersupplied. Part of the attraction is that the stuff is generally less expensive than Manhattan. The turnout for the space we rented was huge.
There is reason to be suspicious of a scheme to build luxury stuff. The services that make this a good idea develop in an environment of low rents, and partly spurred by the folks that move into the area for its low rents. The owner of Ten63 lives in the area, but I'm guessing she doesn't live in the high-rises. What you need is zoning and subsidy to encourage the transformation of the commercial zones into housing, but on a medium scale. Then open up the big projects.
This may in fact be what they are doing. They've only built two of a dozen planned buildings. It's a matter of mixing it up a little.
House Ups and Downs
The closing is tomorrow. The headaches and successes continue. It's unbelievable. The guy thought he had an extra five days in the place -- after the closing. What?
Plus, apparently, he bungled his tax planning and will have to pay several hundred thousand more in tax than he expected. Understandably, he's on the edge of a nervous breakdown. But its implications on me are what are annoying.
September 06, 2003
Quarter Million Miles
September 05, 2003
The Gang in CT
That picture is hard to come by these days (since Tom is controlling his media exposure), but there it is: us, in Connecticut, shortly after the old girl in the back passed the quarter-million-mile mark. The other girls are almost as cute!
My friend Tom's Tupac project is blowing up. The major media have caught the scent. I hope you'll check out the site and pass word along to your friends before they hear about it on MTV. Thug 4 Life.
September 02, 2003
Cleaning Up the Rental
Spent the day yesterday scrubbing down the apartment for rent. The crew is coming back in tomorrow to start painting etc, but we were getting a head start on cleaning the cabinets and appliances in the kitchen, and also the bathroom and the floors. It's looking much better. It was also a chance to get to know the apartment. It's a pretty nice place, I think.
Closing should be in the next couple of days; possibly Wed or Thursday. Need to nail that down this morning.
August 31, 2003
Walk a Mile in His Shoes
Spent the weekend in Connecticut with Tom-cum-Tupac and actually tried to keep up with his workout. It is absolutely devastating -- it crushes your abs, lower back, chest. And your heart runs a bit too. All you haters better think twice before you comment on the seriousness of the Tupac project. It's a self-brutalizing process. This thang called Thuglife.
August 29, 2003
The closing is when you legally transfer ownership of the property, but the seller can usually stay a few extra days if he wants. As a practical matter, they also often let you move in early. In our case, both are possible, since there is room for everybody.
Three groups need to be assembled for the closing: the seller, the buyer, and the buyer's bank. Each party has an attorney. In our case, the seller's attorney is a real drag on this whole affair. They bungled the sale contract at the outset, delaying us for weeks, and now the guy is on vacation the week of the closing.
He may end up delaying us some more. Of course, that is not to say our own attorney is not an frustrating. It's just that ignoring him and moving ahead ourselves has been possible. We cannot ignore the seller's attorney since we really do need him to do certain things.
Roughly, this is the paperwork you need to buy a commercial or mixed-use property:
- sale contract b/w buyer and seller
- this includes a deposit of around 10%
- then you need to get a bank loan, which requires paperwork from you
-- personal financials and tax returns for the last 2 years, and for the business that's buying the place
-- now you find a bank that will lend to you. Maybe use a broker.
- the bank provides a committment letter
- you pay them a few thousand for this committment, plus a processing fee
- you pay for a survey of the property (couple thousand)
- for an appraisal of the price of the property (same)
- environmental assessment for pollutants etc. (a thousand or so)
- possible second environmental if they are worried about chemicals or something (same)
- a title search that looks for any possible legal problems with the property like back taxes, contested ownership etc
- the title company will then provide the bank with "title insurance" on this basis, being confident that the title is clean and the seller can actually sell this thing
- the title company may also "guarantee" the survey to the bank
- if there are current tenants, you need copies of their leases
- and you need them to sign "estoppel certificates" saying they will keep paying rent to you after the sale, and even to the bank directly if necessary
- there are many small affidavits and documents saying things like "I have never been bankrupt" etc that the title company will have required
- a bunch of checks for various amounts as dictated by the attorney
- then I think you do the closing.
This last part is a bit speculative since the closing is next Tuesday. The work is already underway though.
In the last few days, I've added the following types of people to my address book:
- a windows company (two brothers) that will replace some windows
- a general contractor -- really just a handy guy that will do about 90% of the work
- a carpets guy we'll use to replace the yucky stuff upstairs
- a question mark for the guy we'll need to find who puts in the door
- an architect to submit the change plans to the city
- several tenants who want to see the place
August 26, 2003
Renting Your First Apartment
These are exciting times in many respects, and these last few days I've been shifting from consultant-mode to landowner-mode.
Last night we showed the first apartment. We advertised it on craigslist for a pretty low price (which we thought might have been optimistic). We got a big turnout, and 3-4 very good candidates. We will close a deal with one of them in the next day or so, I hope. I would love to say more about this, but I think it should wait a bit. I wouldn't want one of them to be reading this post.
Let me just say this: 50 strangers trucking through real quick exposes all segments and niches in culture. There were the streaky-dye-job Long Island types that walked in and right back out in shock at the place. There were the hipster artsy types recently from college or currently working in a studio down the street that love, love, loved it. There were some professionals that work in the nearby bank building, or something similar. The guy with his beautiful girlfriend that can't take a place with a hint of raw (since she expects the best). The lesbians that need to have their dog whatever the pet policy. The gay guys with measuring tape crawling around in the bedroom estimating positions for their china. Etc!
The other big coup today is that we agreed on terms for the current commercial tenant to stay. I'm pleased about that. I was just launching my marketing push for that space, but didn't need to push too far with it. The current guy will stay at a reasonable price.
That takes the "business risk" out of this deal. We have found customers for the product. Now only remains the "transaction cost" of completing the final paperwork with all parties, and the ongoing financial risk of making the cash flow required by the mortgage. But it's major progress.
Now for dog names. Ultra, anyone?
August 20, 2003
The News Score
I'm sure you're watching the news, where the gloom and doom is mounting:
- Bomb at UN facility in Iraq
- Bomb on Israeli bus
- Blackout fallout continues
- California recall contest heats up
- Economic news still mixed
- Surprising pictures of flash floods in Las Vegas
- 1000s die in heat wave in Europe
- Scores of hostages just freed in Mali
- Liberia tossing in the hands of rebels (now off the headlines)
- Congo civil war continues
- Add your own stuff!
The politics must take implications from this.
August 18, 2003
Tupac for life
August 17, 2003
Went today on the 1-day weekend provided for us here. Urs came in last night and we drove out to Beacon today. It's a great visit. Beacon the town is very disappointing (though I picture an explosion of antiques shops in the next 12 months). The Dia center, however, is awesome. Lots of great ideas for our own place from the way they did the renovation, not to mention from Ryman, Lewitt, Flavin, and Judd.
August 01, 2003
Bush the Phony
A "choice snip" (as TPM would call it):
The poseur in chief
Democrats can't win in '04 by fighting Bush on the issues alone. They have to convince Americans that their warrior president is a phony in a flyboy suit.
By Jeremy Heimans and Tim Dixon
Okay, not really a snip. But publicity. Go read it!
Thank you, buyers!
Some reader of my blog clicked through on "The Thinker's Toolkit" and actually bought an Amazon book (2 actually)! That's my first sale from that method. It hasn't exactly been a goldmine, I must confess.
July 27, 2003
Packing It In
Friday I had my consulting homework call, finished coding this crazy voice XML app I'm working on with Matte, hurried to Little Neck, hit a bucket at the driving range in Douglaston, did the laundry at my parents' house, filed the loan application for the supplementary money for the new place, had a huge lunch (including Oops Oreos), and rode to Carroll Gardens to meet Joe and Urs for Thai food. We ate my favorite, yellow curry, and headed to Red Hook to meet Megan and company for a beer. It was nice place with a great view of downtown, but then we went to Sunny's. Sunny's is tied with the best experiences I've ever had in NY. An inimitably genuine portside well full to the gills with beatnik hipsters at the edge of the known world. We stalked out through the gated waterfront to within yards of Lady Liberty and the lapping shores. Maybe Ikea is coming to Red Hook. Leaving the gutted warehouses and the view of the Verrazano we drove back to Harlem for a long circling for parking.
When we woke up on Saturday we hustled to get ready while watching Fellini's 8 1/2, then drove upstate along the Palisades to Target in Nyack, then Storm King Art Center where we picnicked and spent the afternoon rolling down grass hills. Came back via Woodbury Commons. Then to Brooklyn to see Oliver Mtukudzi during the Prospect Park festival. Drove Matte and Tomo home, then to the East Village. Met Roy and Sanket at B Bar and some ex-debaters, then Yong too. And finally, leaving there very late, drove the car to 125th street where I bought 2 $1 chicken sandiwiches from McDonald's in desperation. Nothing else was open. The woman ahead of me ordered one McChicken, then finding that there were no chicken fajitas from the dollar menu available, said "man, I don't want no greasy burger. Don't you have any nuggets or fish filet on that dollar menu?" I was amazed to hear it, I tell you now honestly. She went with a double cheeseburger (on the dollar menu; salads and other stuff are not on that menu) but without the cheese.
And now I am eating those chicken sandwiches, my dinner.
Plus a bonus feature from me to you:
McDonald's Items Calories/Fat
McChicken 430/23g (I'm eating 2 of these)
Double Cheese 480/27g
Large Fries 540/26g
10pc Chicken McNuggets 510/36g.
(Note the sad facts here. She wanted the nuggets because she thought they were more healthy. Oops!)
July 24, 2003
These last few days I've been driven mad by a bolt of lightning I received from Matte. What if you could make a phone call and...?
Oh I won't say what it is!
But we were both gripped instantly and set to sketching out the application in VXML on the Tellme developer's environment. We've got it just about there now. In fact, we'll take it beta shortly. Maybe today? Oh would that be grand.
Sadly, the state of VXML these days is weak. You can't publish your apps for free Geocities-like onto the network. I need to figure out a way to make the beta available. Puzzled.
July 20, 2003
New in Mozwiki
July 17, 2003
Three Days in NYC
My friend Tim was visiting and I tried to show him a good time. Here's what we did:
* Monday evening, visited the Philosophy dept at Columbia, took a look at Barnard, brief architectural tour of Morningside
* Slice from Joe's Pizza on Bleeker
* Pint on Bleeker near Washington Square at the four-cafe corner
* Fairway cheeses, breads, bruschetta, hummous for a picnic in Central Park
* Shakespeare in the Park's Henry 5 at th Delacorte.
* Beers on the UWS at Brother Jimmy's
* Late-night march up Broadway, complete with another slice and donuts
* Tuesday morning, ride to LIC and tour of waterfront
* Coney Island, ride on Cyclone, hot dogs from Nathan's
* Shopping voyage in Soho for a Manhattan Portage bag up to the Strand
* Dinner in the East Village at Raga (it's the best!)
* Italian ice from one of those pizzerias on A
* A beer and the jukebox at Holiday on St. Marks
* Another round and some okay live jazz at Detour
* A late-nite burger from the divine Blue 9.
* Walk across 14th street in the breezy night air
* Classic misery on the uptown 1/9
* Wednesday morning, ride down to Brooklyn Heights and walk along the Promenade
* Pepperoni and mushroom pie at Grimaldi's
* Chocolates from Jacques Torres's shop in Dumbo
* Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge
* Eyeball City Hall and the WTC site, as well as Century 21.
* The Museum of Natural History, the Rose Center and the space show in the Hayden Planetarium
* Took a walking tour of Belvedere Castle in Central Park
* Sent Tim downtown for dinner at Union Square and a beer nearby
* Rejoined at the Boat Basin for another drink in the open air
* Another few drinks at High-Life
* Cheesecake at Cafe Lalo
* Cab home to Harlem
July 11, 2003
Loan is going ahead, it looks like. Send flowers and greetings to 3440 Broadway Apt 5E. No boxed gifts please.
July 03, 2003
Is the Cowboy Hat Political?
Horyn in the NYT has it badly wrong today, as she marvels over the overly pro-American messages on the runways in Paris: cowboy hats, preppy tennis sweaters, Wall Street banker pinstripes, and US Army camouflage. She pitches the whole article as turning on the political divide over Iraq. Somehow, it has been miraculously healed in the minds of designers. Why else would they be featuring American power so prominently?
The camouflage stuff has been in the windows at Christian Dior since at least last spring -- before Iraq, but well after our world took on a martial mood with wars on terrorism and against Afghanistan. This year it's all over the streets, for sure. That it appears prominently again this year isn't too surprising.
Taking the rest of the imagery--tennis clothes, banker's suits, etc--as specifically pro-American and political, is ridiculously solipsistic. It is in fact possible to evoke the iconic images of 80s fashion without weighing in on George Bush. Indeed that's what it is -- if you look closely at the street incarnations of these trends, you'll see Lacoste along with Polo, Burberry along with "American" banker pinstripes, and so on.
It can be more than neutral too, since the dominant role lately for "le cow-boy" in the European press has been to mock the shoot-first Bush style of foreign policy.
July 02, 2003
I'm trying a new secure filesharing means called Waste. You can create a group of your "friends" with a crypto entry that no record-exec can crack.
Here is what you need to know:
* install the app as it prompts you.
* remember your "passphrase" when you create it. You need it to log back into the program.
* after it's done installing, launch the app. Go to the file|preferences|network|private key from the little master window, copy the public key to your clipboard and send it to a friend (me). Get their public key and enter it into the public key window.
* Launch the Network Status window by hitting Alt+N. Get your friends IP address and enter that into the textbox and connect. You'll be connected.
* Now hit Alt+B for the Browser, and you'll see your friend on there. Browse their files.
* You can chat with your friend too, or open chatrooms.
July 01, 2003
New Email Address
I'm soft-launching my new email address. It's scary! Once it's on a s-p-a-m list...it's all over. So I'm trying to be strategic in using it. But I do have to cutover everything or I continue to be burdened by s-p-a-m to the old address. Ugh.
June 30, 2003
New in LICNYC
Been busy with LICNYC.com and with LIC the real thing. Spent some time this weekend checking stuff out--like PS1's summer shows and Sculpture Center--as well as posting stuff to the site. Check out LICNYC and contribute.
June 26, 2003
Spam Wars, June 2003 Update
My spam solution is working for me. The SpamAssassin POP3 Proxy tray application I mentioned a while back combined with the (still free for now) Vipul's Razor/SpamNet filter for Outlook is getting maybe 99% or better of my spam. I see maybe 1 spam per day.
As a result, I'm postponing my changeover to a new email address for a while.
June 25, 2003
When You Start Your Real Estate Career
Real estate is messy and full of complex practical details. I think you ought to buy two things before you consider serious real estate investments: a property textbook and a friendly for-dummies real estate book. Do not buy any "get rich with real estate" books.
I say this because I have been learning all kinds of practical things as I move through this process with our little building. The light of pure reason is not sufficient, I must warn you.
For example, NYC property tax is expensive stuff. But it is highly biased against commercial property ownership. If you have such a building, the tax is assessed against 45% of the building's market value; and the tax rate is about 9%. But in the case of residential 1-,2-, or 3-family homes, it's assessed against only 8% of the value, with the tax rate around 14%. (You can read about this on NYC's website.) The effective difference then, is about 4.1% of value for commercial buildings and about 1.1% for residential.
Say you have a $1M property. If it's commercial or an apartment building (many unit), you are paying 40k per year in tax. If it's a fancy house, you pay only 10k. Big difference.
Presumably, this makes sense because the property owner is drawing income off his commercial building. How much?
Prices are often conjectured to be 6-8x annual rents. Take the 7x multiple. If the building is worth $1M, the annual rent imputed is about $140k. So the rent is like 35% of the income. Heavy. Of course, if you live in the thing you are not so burdened.
It's in a dry tone that the NYT reports McDonald's (and others) program to ask animal product suppliers for reforms. The two big changes are a) a recent request from Mac Do to reduce antibiotics in US beef, and b) an increasing program of interest in animal welfare.
The flat delivery is interesting because I would put the New York Times Magazine along with Eric Schlosser among the two most influential sources of coverage and analysis agitating on this subject in the last 2 years. Schlosser's book (Fast Food Nation) and a very similar series of features in the NYTM about vegetarianism, animal rights, the meat industry, etc. raised the arguments for moral concern, and the causal responsibility of the fast food chains in these practices. McDonald's has changed key features of the industry in the past at low cost, can do it again, and knows full well about these problems and their moral implications.
It's welcome to see these changes, and of course they included political and marketing calculus as regards consumer acceptance and the reputation of fast food businesses. But as this is inseparable from substantive moral considerations, it is unfair to issue the cynical, Kantian verdict that this doesn't merit praise. Good job Mac Do. And by the way, the McCafe's in Italy really kick ass -- watch out $bux.
June 24, 2003
Reader request series
I have a fair bit of 'free" time before starting work later this summer. Following the advice of my colleagues there, I am taking it easy.
Yesterday, I mastered Lemonade Tycoon. This is that old standby from my early Apply IIGS days - an updated classic.
The tricks to this game:
- Tasty lemonade has the following formula: 2:1 lemons:sugar per pitcher. Start with 10:5 when you don't have ice. If you add ice, make sure you have 0.5 ice for every sugar. On a cold day, 10 lemons, 5 sugars, 0 ice/cup. Depending on how hot it is, use: 12:6:3, 16:8:4, 20:10:5.
- Tasty lemonade needs to be cold enough on hot days.
- To maximize sales you need enough stock for the day. Early on, you'll be buying ice daily. Don't worry about wasted ice since it's cheap.
- AFter the stock-out threat, speed is the key to high sales. Save desperately for the juicer and cash register. Then you can hit the big time parts of town.
- "Popularity" is the key to high prices. Early on, charge low prices to move high volumes. The more you sell, the more the popularity meter goes up.
- In general, Downtown people pay high prices, the Beach offers high volume at medium prices, and the Mall offers rainy day volume at lower prices. Adjust prices accordingly!
- All prices can go up as your Popularity meter goes up.
- Hotter weather means higher prices and volumes, but only about 30% higher in my guesstimate.
- Advertising really works, but not as well as low prices. That is, don't think advertising can attract higher-priced sales.
- Neighborhoods do have threshold prices, above which nobody buys. In the Suburbs, nobody will pay $2 at first even when many are paying $1.90.
Go get 'em! Maybe you also can by the giant lemon-shaped lemonade cart and be declared Mayor of your town.
Hong Kong Fashions
I bought this great new wallet -- it's a Louis Vuitton fake men's wallet. It's pretty authentic-looking and leather, etc. It's a bit of a relief since I ordered it from some moderately sketchy source on the Internet.
Oddest of all, it came all the way from Hong Kong, meaning I paid an unbelievable price for it. It was about $45, around the same as my old wallet (which happened to be one of those crappy "major designer" wallets that's really the same as any other wallet, in this case it was a DKNY wallet with a small yet gaudy metal plate announcing that name on the outside).
Anyway, US$45 is like 700 Hong Kong Dollars. Plus, the shipping was like $11. Now, the postage on the package said only HK$25, which is a mere US$4 or so. All told, I paid this person in Honkers a whopping HK$800 for this thing. I wonder what that buys in Hong Kong? In the US, it will get you dinner at a medium-nice restaurant.
What's New in Magazines
The New York Review of Magazines is out.
June 16, 2003
What MIGHT Be
This building thing might happen, but there is a fair chance that it won't. So please listen when I say "we are working on getting this place" or "if it all works out, then...". So watch this space for updates.
Rescue Ring, a bastard?
My former Virgin Mobile colleague, Robbie G, was kind enough to point out what may be an error in my recollections about VM's Rescue Ring.
He says it's unfair for me to claim credit for inventing it since he and DW had the idea for years before joining VM. Indeed, they imagined using it in quite the same way we built it--for bailing out of bad dates etc. If so, then he surely would have brought these ideas to the meetings when we discussed various proposals for the VM Xtras (data apps).
I have no reason to doubt what Robbie says. I do recollect certain things very clearly, though:
So I think I get at least partial ownership of that nifty idea. Of course, keep in mind that Robbie G isn't lacking for great things from his time as creative master of the VM product! This guy was the spiritual and rational force behind very many crucial features of the service, all the way down the line. So it wouldn't be too surprising if he thought of Rescue Ring too.
June 10, 2003
Hello Friends and Bloggers, I Am Asking Your Advice
Soon I'm going to start working for a well-known company, and I'd like to blog about the experience. What I like most about my blog is when I get to read it. Though semi-public as it is, it's a marvelous record of my experiences for me. (I hope you guys like it too.)
Life at this company is famous for being difficult and the experience is something to which many people accredit much lore. For example, I wish I had started logging my experiences in Stanford's PhD program sooner. I think there will be similar formative encounters and revelatory expereinces.
My question, though, is one that the semi-public format makes vivid. While the format forces me to keep things up, think things through coherently (rather than assume they make enough sense and leave them inchoate), and write clearly, the format is also dangerous: it's public. I'll never be able to use detailed names in my experiences at this job. I probably shouldn't talk too much about who the employer is by name. But maybe I shouldn't blog it at all, since it will be too obvious.
One solution to this I considered was to keep the blog as a rigorously anonymous item, hosted on a public server etc. But this undermines some of the beneficial considerations I discussed above. I'm not doing investigative journalism here, nor am I writing about this line of work in the abstract as some people do for their business school application process or their struggle with alcoholism (or whatever).
I do want to write about my experience. So what do I do? Wise? Unwise? Please use the comment link.
New in LICNYC
Contribute to LICNYC!
News about LICNYC:
It's about a month old now, and getting 400-500 visitors per week. There are about 25 registered users, and 3 people have submitted news stories besides me. The forums are still pretty dead. A number of institutions are responding to my prodding to send along events information, and there is a good stream developing. LICNYC is allied with the Greater Astoria Historical Society. The Crane St Studio artists are at least somewhat interested in posting info about their work and listing stuff. People are voting regularly in the polls. Comments are not forthcoming at a high rate, yet. So far, it's a good start.
June 09, 2003
Friends on the Radio
Last night, driving home late and listening to a college radio station in NY, I heard them announcing concert dates. "Next Saturday, June 14, at the Bowery Ballroom, James Chance and The Fever." I know the guys from the Fever! It's an important milestone. Though I think their getting signed by Columbia is also a milestone! Anyway, things are happening in life besides the usual boring weddings and stuff.
June 06, 2003
Kazaa really isn't living up to its heritage as post-Napster, post-Morpheus inheritor, so I have been looking into alternatives.
I'm pretty pleased after a day of trying Ares Galaxy. It has three very good features:
A bonus feature:
Of course, the user base is still growing and the hashing takes some processor time on first use.
June 05, 2003
Inventory of the Rescue Ring
I love that everything I ever read about Virgin Mobile always includes reference to my one PR-oriented moonshot idea, the rescue ring. From today's Times: The service includes optional features like a Deep Sea Thought of the Day from SpongeBob SquarePants, the star of an animated series on the Nickelodeon cable channel, and the Rescue Ring, which permits users to arrange to receive a call at a time when an escape might be handy ? say, two hours into a blind date.
But cute gimmicks and tie-ins to MTV content, also a major part of Virgin's plans, will pale in importance compared with transparency and consistency, said Austin McGhie, a managing partner for strategy at the San Francisco office of the Sterling Group, a brand consulting company.
My idea is the cute gimmick he's talking about, by the way.
June 02, 2003
The College Reunion
The highlight of my 5-year college reunion this weekend was the steady downpour, the aspect of the evening that made sense of the limpness of the turnout and the general lack of charm to things. It felt much more like a first-day-of-school environment, where everybody jockeys to make first impressions and you stake out your buddies for the evening for want of any real friends turning up.
Totally different than my 5-year high school reunion, but I'm not sure why. At the Stuy reunion, I actually knew at least dozens of the people there. The other night, there might have been a handful of people that I had talked to for 5+ minutes in my four years of college.
Regardless, the reunion strategy I pioneered for the Stuy event served me well this time around as well. I refer to this strategy as "rocking out". It consists in getting my money's worth at the open bar, requesting high octane rap songs from the bewildered DJ, and flexing my moves on the dance floor as illustrated here.
Tom Sanford smiles politely while I demonstrate just how little things have changed since college.
I didn't like the "what are you doing now?" line of questions, but it's just one of those things. You do want to know what people are doing and this is how you find out. I have a pretty good answer to that question, and even that is annoying, since people make slightly uncomfortable sounds and talk to you weirdly. There were too few charming surprises.
It was definitely a fun time, don't get me wrong, but mainly for reasons unrelated to Columbia College. What can be done? Evidently my lame cheerleading has not turned the tide among the Class of 1998. I got signed up to help with some NY-area alumni stuff, which I will do. But I don't know what difference it all makes.
June 01, 2003
May 26, 2003
365 Days in Paris
The IM Wars
Not much seems to ride on "the Internet" anymore, but it is interesting to note Microsoft's progress against the great enemy of 2000: AIM. The NYT today reports that AIM/ICQ's share is down to 60% from it's 1999 100% share, and that MS is up to 22% of the "IM market" (with Yahoo at 19%).
My guess is that the AOL vs. MSN status has tipped even more in Redmond's favor. I'm going to email my friend to ask him.
Other MS battles underway that aren't yet decided include: mobile phone OS, handheld computer OS, mobile phone web browser, video game console, personal financial software (Quicken), email/userID, ISP, portal, web search, database, datacenter server OS, web server OS, ... lots more presumably.
May 25, 2003
I've been running into these à la SixDegrees networks lately. My friend James suggested Friendster. Some blogger discussions of "social software" brought up Ryze and LinkedIn again. They look to be about 1 year old (Ryze does anyway). I decided to join them.
That is what I do all day, isn't it? Sign up for stuff. My page on Ryze, which anyone can see. The other pages you have to be a member to see.
May 24, 2003
Nouvelle Vague at Forum Des Images
Went to the Forum Des Images in Les Halles today and saw: Vivre Sa Vie by Godard, Une Histoire D'Eau by Truffaut/Godard and (in fast forward to the good bits) Pierrot Le Fou by Godard.
May 23, 2003
My Private War on Spam
I've been using Cloudmark's SpamNet for a while, and I think it's really good. It's an MS Outlook plugin, so it's zero configuration. It sticks two buttons on your toolbar -- block and unblock. When a spam message comes in you click block instead of delete. One click. It gets moved to a graymail folder. More importantly, that message is distilled into a signature and sent to the SpamNet server. Almost 500k people are using the service, so most of my spam is blocked. I get some anyway.
The fundamental network was created as a freeware project named Vipul's Razor. SpamNet is a private company, and intends to begin charging me $2/month for this.
This highlighted another flaw. The client-side application takes processing time. All the messages (50-100 in each account) pour in, then are one by one moved out of my inbox. Maybe the laptop I've been using is just a little too slow. But the processing time is like watching your computer delete a bunch of videos, or rotate a large image. It's slow. Though I'm not clicking anything, I'm still wasting some time with the spam.
Others might complain that it only works with MS Outlook, though that's not an issue for me.
So I have investigated alternatives. A free project that is highly recommended is SpamAssassin. In the past, I couldn't find a front-end to plug into my Windows/Outlook environment. Now there is one, called SpamAssassin Proxy. It's a very simple concept, really, but now somebody has made one for me to install easily and use.
The neat thing about SpamAssassin is that it plugs Vipul's Razor into its spam ID toolkit, as well as a range of other tools. So we'll see how well it works! I've just shifted one of my accounts over to it.
A final strategy, the nuclear option, is changing email addresses. I've been considering this for a while now. Three of my addresses seem to be all over the spam lists: amol and asarva, both at drownout; and amol again but at howtoburn dot com. I think the howtoburn thing happened due to my profile listing on Salon. The asarva happened due to Network Solutions listing my email address in its registry for anyone to see. And the amol started happening at a strange time, when I was very carefully protecting the address. I think someone gave it away on purpose, but that's just me being paranoid. A final address, the one I put up on my websites and stuff is amol at plural dot org. It has started getting some spam, and no doubt will continue to. I'm just going to accept that reality. You need to have at least one email address publicly available.
So I am still contemplating an address change. But I still have to work out the most elegant method. Stay tuned.
May 22, 2003
The greatest debaters in Stuy history, at least whilst we were busy admiring them back in high school, were Hanna and David. As good as we were, it's hard to say we clearly surpassed them. Then again, they had the benefit of myth on their side, and we had yet to accumulate our legend. We did some legendary things too I'd like to think, like bowing out of the semi-final of the TOC.
Anyway, I was surprised by the brutally potent scorn in this letter today, from Hanna Rosin to the pre-Jayson Blair falsifier extraordinaire, Steve Glass.
I'll comment on the personal aspect, which is that it reminds me of some other guy I once knew, was friendly with, and was shocked to find had betrayed me. At which point my reservations about the guy became primary complaints. In the ensuing dispute he expressed a lot of the feelings you see Rosin accusing Glass of here. And I was amused to find that I had the same ultimate judgment on the dude as Rosin wants to keep as her closing shot: that in all his best efforts to act contrite and help me move past my anger, he left it evident that he wasn't all that different than before (and still had that 'disease to please' thing going). The difference, I guess, is that Glass didn't stalk Hanna around for a couple of years.
But it's nice that things vary. A recent reconnection with an old chum seems to have taken a completely novel form, where there are one or two polite exchanges...then nothing. As if there were a legal commitment involved. Elsewhere things have developed to totally supersede the chilled period. Yet elsewhere besides there are people that never seemed to warm back up.
It feels bad to lose people that you were friendly with, but I guess that's just one indication that time is passing. Your oldest friends start meaning more and more as they get rarer.
May 21, 2003
French Beef Parts
Cuts of Beef have been on my mind this past year, as the most popular in France is the entrecote, or sirloin. You also get filets as in "filet mignon" and sometimes steak haché (ground beef patty). Not too much else turns up so regularly on the menu. No mad cow either.
The English Isn't the Problem
Sorry my very very late reply........
I very very appreciate for you very very very much!!!!!!!!!!!!
I received e-mail from Ralph Heimans!!!
I think he is very new sense artist too. (His sense is similar with Tom)
I will visit him surely if my visiting France will be sure.(90% sure visiting beginning of June,)
You or Ursula has some artist friends of art relation business man?
I want to meet many art relation man.
Please ask to Ursula too.
(I met Ursula in NYC's bar and Green gallery. She is very very very wonderful and beautiful girl. Because she has kindly and good humor sense and wonderful thinking. I think she is SURELY good girl. Her character is wonderful and I think she is very very important girl friend to you. I love her good spirit too!!!!!!!!!)
I want to meet Ursula too SURELY!!!!!!!!
Please tell me her cell phone.
I guess she is very busy with her business, but I want to meet her one or 2 times....
(If she has good art relation friends , I want to be introduced by her good friends...)
I will send e-mail to you again soon!!
Please tell me your home's telephone No,!!
I want to call to you about 10PM(Paris time) from Japan!!! (10PM is OK and no problem for you?)
I love your SPECIAL SMART brain and your very kindly and beautiful and humor sense.
I and Tom are very very strongly Hoping your SUCCESS!!!!!!
I hope your SPECIAL good luck!!!!!!!!
And enjoy life too!
I believe you will spend happy life.
Please relax and success!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
See you soon.
Thank you very very much when you are very busy time...
PS Very very appreciate your many kindness about hotel in Paris and everything ......... Appreciate....... Please advice about very very cheep hotel later.
PS Do you know "BHV"? That is painting material shop in Paris. And many artists is living around this. Do you have friends in this area too?