Maybe We Just Need Tails

Posted in Life's Ponderings on April 19, 2011 by Bright Lights

“Man is the only animal that blushes.  Or needs to”

– Mark Twain

Air, water and food are the metabolic requirements for humans.  Shelter and clothing provide protection from the elements and are strongly desired, but not required for humans to live.  As much as we don’t want to admit it, we are animals.  Sure, we may have split the atom and found a way to put a man on the moon, but we are still just animals.  In fact, there are many humans who have been born with a tail.  Humans have a “tail bone” (the coccyx) attached to the pelvis, in the same place which other mammals have tails.

Sometimes, a child is born with a “soft tail”, which contains no vertebrae, but only blood vessels, muscles, and nerves.  People, especially New Yorkers, like to believe that they are a cut above the rest and that “their” way of life is the best.  But if we slow down to analyze what we really need as animals, not just as the persona that is ‘I,’ then we may see a different side of ourselves and the people around us.

I have written in past posts that people generally tend to not go after exactly what they want for fear of failure.  Instead, they settle for something less, but generally which is also less of a hassle to attain.  How many of us wanted to be professional athletes but realized it was a long shot, so we played in High School or College but then never took the time to hone our skills to the professional level?

How many of us would like to write a book someday but have yet to even write ten pages of that book?  For some, the path of least resistance is to not try at all, and its certainly understandable.  Do we owe more to the part of ourselves that is purely animal?  What would happen if we acknowledged that our needs go beyond generally accepted protocols of interaction?  Would we be happier or less happy?

One thing is for sure.  We don’t really consider ourselves animals anymore.  We take pride in the many ways that we differ from the animals around us.  Whether it being delaying gratification through monogamy or by establishing a 401K, we take pride in all the ways that we are sophisticated, while repressing our animal instincts.

I fully understand all of the reasons that we, as a society and a species, would do such a thing.  The animal kingdom, while filled with honesty of character, is not what you would call democratic and protective of individual rights.  I’m sure a gazelle is not all that surprised when a lion tries to kill it, and a lion never pretends to be anything other than a lion.  It is a killer and unapologetic about it.  In our society, we don’t just say “Tommy is a killer.  Thats just how Tommy is.”  If Tommy started killing our citizens and eating them, we would lock Tommy up.

In conclusion, I think we live in a society where we repress our animal instincts and then like to act surprised when they come out.  I believe there is potential for us to lead happier lives if we own up to the fact that we are in deed animals.  Make no mistake, the answer is not to act with the same reckless abandon as your dog Fido.  The answer is to understand that you and Fido have a lot more in common than you think.   If you give Fido a doggie treat, he will eat it.  If you give him two, he’ll eat two.  So why should you be surprised when you have a hard time eating just one Thin Mint cookie when you have an entire box at your disposal.  You are just an animal and you are flawed.  Period.

Maybe if we had tails, we would better understand ourselves and the people around us.   Maybe we could truly accept each other as our true selves, not just the persona that is ‘I.’

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”

– Mark Twain

Bright Lights, Big City.

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You Can Find Me in the Club, Bottle Full of Bub

Posted in Life's Ponderings on April 5, 2011 by Bright Lights

For anyone who has ever gone out to a club in the Meatpacking district, one thing is clear.  The line to get in is filled with a predominantly good looking crowd, especially the ladies.  The women seem to have all gotten the same memo and are wearing some derivation of a tight little black dress, though it may be in a different color (you know…to show off their creativity).  As a guy, it can be very difficult to get into these clubs, especially if you are sans women.  But if you are a woman, you can likely get in even if you aren’t much of a looker.

Guy at Tenjune

So it struck me as interesting that there weren’t too many non-lookers ladies on the line.  Is is because non-looker ladies don’t want to feel out matched?  Typically, the ratio of non-looker men is quite high comparatively.  What are the causes that lead to this difference among the sexes.  Lets examine.

Men

Lets start with the men since they are much easier to figure out.  Beautiful women are a draw to men, so men go where the beautiful women are.   Yes, it really is that simple.  And considering what these ladies are wearing, window shopping is enough entertainment for most men even if their chances for romantic interaction are lessened.

Boom Boom Room - Standard Hotel

The Meatpacking District is dominated by bottle service, which means that it takes some serious coin party there regularly.  Most of the men are hoping to attract women just by showing up at these clubs.  Buying a bottle at a club is the bar equivalent of wearing a sign around your neck that says “I have money.”  Or at least, that would be the idea.  I ain’t saying that the women who attend these clubs are gold diggers, but they ain’t messin with (you know the rest).

Women

I believe that most women require three criteria for where they are willing to spend their free time.  Comfort, Friends and Fun or C.F.F.

Pastis

Comfort:  Women typically like to feel pretty, especially when they are all dressed up.  So it makes sense that the non-lookers would not want to feel like the ugliest duckling in the room.  The lookers have the confidence to feel comfortable around other lookers.

Gansevoort Hotel - Meatpacking District

Friends:  I’m sure we have all noticed how good looking people tend to have good looking friends.  And middle of the road looking people tend to have middle of the road looking friends.  So on and so forth.  With that in mind, these lookers go out in the Meatpacking district with their friends, and low and behold they are good looking as well.

Fun:  Girls just wanna have fun.  In truth, everyone does.  There was a recent study done by the University of Texas that concluded that beautiful people are happier than the plain Jane or even the ugly Joe.  Below is a testimonial from one of the readers of the study named Fermina:

“‘I’d agree with this. I’m a fairly attractive, feminine woman who helps herself out (figure flattering clothes, nice makeup, etc). I’m not a perfect 10 by any means, but I’ve also moved in circles in school/work that aren’t full of supermodels, and I’d say I’m usually one of the more attractive people in those groups.

I’m not hot enough to get by without work, but I do think the combination of being somewhat attractive with an outgoing personality has supplemented my accomplishments. I have a pretty good job for my field, considering that I’m under 25 and just starting grad school, I don’t have a problem finding attractive and interesting dates/hook ups, and I’m pretty happy with the little niche I’ve carved out for myself.”

As expressed by this testimonial, good looks can impact most areas of life including career.  I believe that it can generally be said that good looking people will generally have greater success, and generally more disposable income, and generally less worries.  Hence, they are more likely to go out partying in general.  Since the  Meatpacking District is on the higher end of the range, it makes sense that better looking people would party there, in particular, better looking women.

Dinner at Buddakan

Should we be surprised that Fermina admits that she hangs out in crowds where she is one of the better looking people?  Not really, because she is staying true to the C.F.F. formula.  It just so happens that the Meatpacking District women likely have a comfort level with people in their own looks bracket.  Perhaps that comfort level stems from the confidence boost of rolling into the club along side other lookers.

Club Griffin - Meatpacking District

In conclusion, there are many forces at play to explain the Meatpacking District phenomenon.  Some of these factors are ingrained in what makes us human beings.  We long to fit in, we long to feel safe, and we long to enjoy ourselves during our free time.  Most of us are not all that surprised that non-good looking people are not hanging out in the Meatpacking District.  Afterall, non-good looking people probably don’t go out as much in general.   But next time your ugly friend declines and invite to Tenjune, you can look them in the eye and say “I understand, it just ain’t in your C.F.F.”

Bright Lights, Big City.

Deviation and Standards

Posted in Life's Ponderings on March 28, 2011 by Bright Lights

It is commonly accepted that people have different likes and dislikes.  However, I have noticed that as we reach our thirties we become more steadfast in those likes and dislikes.  Priorities tend to change accordingly, and we settle in to who we are and who we will become.  The concept of our legacy becomes an ordinary thread that permeates our subconscious and affects our day to day decisions.

I’m sure we have all stood by and watched our friends make seemingly poor decisions.  I’m not talking about standing by while your friend develops a cocaine habit.  I’m talking about a decision to move somewhere that makes very little sense or to always put work ahead of their social life.

In light of my frustrations, I have tried very hard to understand people and their motivations.  I believe that most people fall into one of the following three groups:

1) Evolvers: This is a group of people who feel that there is a specific time period where it appropriate to do certain things, and then they move on to something else.  This group might have enjoyed attending a keg party in college, but by 25 years old they were over it.  This group has many interests besides starting a family and settling down.  But those interests change regularly and are not meant to please anyone but themselves.

2) Extraordinaries : This is a group of people who want to leave their mark on the world.  They want to be able to look back at their life and have some very interesting stories to tell by anyone’s standards.  Whether it be telling the story of how they invented a product or dated a celebrity, they want their life’s story to be worthy of a memoir.  One of the most important features of this group is that they feel like they are serving the world in some way by living an interesting lifestyle.  After all, somebody has to be the next reality star or socialite featured on Page Six.

3) Family Brick Roaders: This is a group of people who’s time at the clubs was always intended to be fleeting.  Drinking and partying hard are not their forte deep down.  They long for the life that they consider the American dream and can’t wait for their 2.0 kids and 1.70 pets per household.

Which category do you fall in?  That is up to you.  I don’t think that most people consciously make a decision to live their lives in accordance with one category.  Rather, they just gravitate towards specific traits and values that they identify with per their upbringing and life goals.  If you take one person from each category at age 19, you would be hard pressed to tell them apart.  In fact, a Family Brick Roader might be the hardest partier of them all since the Family Brick Roader subconsciously feels like there is an expiration date on partying so hard.

Look around at your colleagues and friends.  Are they Evolvers?  Are they Extraordinaries?  What will be your own legacy?

Bright Lights, Big City.

The New York City Kool-aid

Posted in Life's Ponderings on March 6, 2011 by Bright Lights

Lord Have Mercy

Several years ago, my aunt and uncle from Florida were visiting New York City for a dentistry convention.  As the keynote speaker, my uncle did not have time to meet for a meal, so instead I them both in their room at the Hilton on 6th Avenue and 53rd Street.  Given my uncle’s status at the convention, they were given a suite on a high floor of the hotel.  When I arrived at their room, it was the middle of the afternoon and the curtains were closed as though they had never been opened.  My uncle was typing on his laptop and my aunt was lounging on the couch in the living room area.  After some small talk, I asked if they would like me to open the shades.  They both agreed it would be nice to allow some natural light into the room.  I opened the shades and quickly realized that the view they had was nothing short of amazing.  This was the angels singing, lord have mercy, dead on view of Central Park that so many New Yorkers are obsessed with.  I implored my aunt and uncle to have a look out the window and they both obliged for about 7 seconds.  I was perplexed.  How could they be so ambivalent about this amazing view?  Sure they were from Florida, but wasn’t this view beautiful enough to transcend a State of origin?

Reggie Jackson over Central Park

Status Symbol

After much careful thought, I realized that the Central Park view is not coveted by New Yorkers purely because of its beauty, but also for what it represents.  In most cases, to have this view is to have achieved a high level of success.  Whether it be from a fancy hotel room or a penthouse on Central Park West, this view is mainly viewed by the rich and successful.  As a renowned dentist and keynote speaker at this convention, my uncle was no exception.  It all fit, except that he didn’t care about the view at all.

Much the way that a college student might work a little harder so that she can someday own a Porsche,  I have found that many New Yorkers use the Central Park view as the inspiration they need to put in long hours with a smile.  They think “someday I’ll have a Central Park view and I’ll have really made it.”

Obviously, everyone has their own concept of “making it” so it should have come as no surprise that my uncle did not care about the view.  Maybe he had always wanted a house with a pool or maybe he had always wanted to own a boat?  I’m not sure what kept him motivated to achieve success, but it certainly was not that Central Park view.

“These are the dreams I’ll dream instead.”   Annie Lennox

My uncle’s  indifference allowed me to ask the tough question of “why do I care about the view?”  You see, it had never occurred to me to not care about the view.  All I knew was that I liked the view, most New Yorkers I knew wanted the view, and therefore it would be stupendous to have this view that I liked and (seemingly) everyone wanted.  I had absolutely drank the Kool-aid.

But did I want the view or just the status that goes along with that view.  Much the way that some people long for the status of owning a boat or a Porsche, having a Central Park view makes you part of an exclusive club where you can guarantee that scores of people will envy you.  A guarantee of envy is a powerful position to be in.

Conclusion

This post is a general message to my readers who may be killing themselves with long hours to guarantee that someday people will envy them.  My message is not to work less hard or to shun all material possessions.  Rather, it is to understand from the start whether its the Porsche that you are after, or the jealousy of others.  As for me, it never occurred to me that someone would have the chutzpah to not care about the Central Park view.  My uncle’s audacity has opened my eyes and allowed me to regurgitate the New York City Kool-aid.  Why do I someday need to possess that Central Park view?  I don’t.  Maybe you don’t either.

Bright Lights, Big Glass of Kool-aid.

Social Media Week Closing Party @ District 36

Posted in Events on February 11, 2011 by Bright Lights

From February 7th – 11th, New York City hosted Social Media Week.  The conference was established in 2009 by Crowdcentric Media LLC as a means to connect people, content, and conversation around emerging trends in social and mobile media.

The week’s activities, hosted by industry leaders, focused on five categories or Content Hubs: Arts & Culture; Science & Technology; Business, Media & Communications; People & Society and Entertainment, Gaming & Sports.

Every night this week, these titans of social media met to discuss the days’ events, network, and have a few drinks. The final day of the conference (February 11th) ended with a closing party held at District 36 located at 29 West 36th Street.

The event space was three levels with the basement level reserved for the step and repeat walls, while the 1st floor and 2nd floor were hopping with great tunes, comfy couches, and a large dance floor.  Signage boards were scattered throughout the event to build awareness for the impressive sponsorship of Social Media Week.  There were many prominent sponsors such as Nokia, Pepsico, Youtube, AOL, Google, and many more.

The closing party featured cocktails sponsored by Macallan, and Macallan made its presence known with mini-bars and lively interactions.  In addition, there were tasty tacos provided by Korilla BBQ.

As one drink turned into six, courtesy of the open bar, the dance floor filled up with hot media mavens and Tweeting hipsters.  Update Facebook, do a shot.  Update Twitter, do a shot.  Check in to Foursquare, chug a beer.  This group put the social in Social Media and they certainly knew how to party.

The night featured a performance by Chiddy Bang, and the DJ kept the crowd moving and shaking all night long.  While the party was crowded, the large space provided for dark corners where folks could have a few minutes of privacy and solace.  I’m not saying that this crowd was getting frisky, but after 10 drinks it wasn’t off the table.  After a long week of building connections, building contacts, and building rapport, I’d venture there was some poking going on outside of Facebook.

Thank you, once again, to Crowdcentric Media for a fantastic lineup of events all week long.  Social Media Week has a tremendous relevance that continues to expand, and I expect that next years lineup will be even better.  Keep it social New York.  And remember, if you don’t report it on Twitter, it didn’t really happen.

Bright Lights, Big City.

Meet my old friend Mediocrity from the 2nd Floor. Yes I think you’ve seen him before.

Posted in Life's Ponderings on February 4, 2011 by Bright Lights

“We’re constantly getting these messages to mind our own business and look the other way if we want to be well liked, to not tell the truth or speak our mind or say anything too intense. Well, I’m telling you here that this approach not only makes you party to other people’s crimes against themselves but is a prescription for mediocrity and delusion.”

– Kelly Cutrone –

Relative Mediocrity

Today I thought long and hard about the concept of mediocrity. In previous blog posts, I have given credit to rappers for living the good life, and urged my readers to seek out true adventure for the simple reason that I don’t like my experiences to be mediocre.

In New York City, the standard of living for the things that matter to most young people, is incredibly high. We may not have large living space, but the key to enjoying New York as a twenty-something is to enjoy the spoils of this great City. Eclectic dining options, nightlife to suit all tastes, and beautiful people are some of the natural resources of New York City.

In this town, there is plenty of thrive for the mediocre to appreciate. While the mediocre may not be dining at Nobu on a regular basis, you can be sure they probably have their own neighborhood sushi place that they like just fine. In short, NYC mediocrity is still pretty good on a relative basis.

The word itself, mediocre, means ordinary or average. By statistical measures alone, most people I know will have ordinary experiences as they go through life. That is what makes those experiences ordinary in that they happen quite regularly. For some reason, once I figure out a way to make an experience extraordinary, I feel the need to speak my mind and try to affect the change needed to help others find the golden path. It is unclear to me if I am doing this for them or for myself, but I figure its a little bit of both.

In Truth

It has taken me over 30 years of living to figure out some things about people. These are not pearls of wisdom ladies and gentlemen, but they are TRUTHS that eluded me because I see the world in a different way.

1) If an unattractive man or woman could push a button to become better looking, there is a good chance he/she would not push the button because they just don’t care.

2) Lets say there are two friends Guy #1 and Guy #2. Guy #1 has great game and has bedded 20 girls, and Guy #2 has no game and bedded 3 girls. Guy #2 may not be wishing he had better game like Guy #1, but instead may feel that “game” is not a virtue.

3) Not everyone sees him or herself as someone who can have a meaningful impact on the world. I can understand that people would be realistic and might think that it was unlikely to leave a mark, but I thought that most allow (and embrace) of the possibility of accomplishing such a feat. Sadly, this is not the case.

4) People don’t usually go after what they want most. Because by doing so, they know they will be more hurt if they don’t get it. So instead they go after things that won’t break their heart if they fail.

5) Many people in your life will want you to remain average, because it makes them feel better about their lives.

Conclusion

As we move forward in life, its easy to forget what is truly important to us. For many, the list of immediate goals is so long that certain life goals get put on the back burner. We may be too focused on a specific project at work to figure out that we haven’t thought about our overall career path in quite some time. I started this post with a quote that explores the idea of helping those around us to be all they can be. Being a ‘yes man’ is not always being a good friend, and I think that we owe a debt of gratitude to the people in our lives who are willing to toe that line and take on the consequences of telling us the truth.

Bright Lights, Be Truthful, Big City.


The New Normal

Posted in Life's Ponderings on January 25, 2011 by Bright Lights

Money Money Money

New York City has always been story of “Haves” and “Have Nots.”  However, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen.  According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, “income gaps in New York are greater than those of any other big American city.”  Based on the statistics, the top 1% of New York City residents earned nearly 45% of the city’s income in 2007.  Compare this to national data where the top 1% of earners earn about 23.5% of all income.

It is no surprise that the “Have Nots” and even middle class would like a taste of the so-called good life.  Further, we may find it hard to believe that the “Haves” are not perpetually happy.

Many of us have heard about a celebrity suffering from depression and thought “what does he/she have to complain about?”  Media and popular culture would have us believe that money solves all problems.  It was recently romanticized in this popular song:

In August of 2007, we learned that Owen Wilson had attempted suicide in his Santa Monica home.  Time magazine did an article (written by Rebecca Winters Keegan) called The Darker Side of Owen Wilson as quoted below:

“…the hospitalization this week of Owen Wilson, 38, after police responded to a report of a suicide attempt at his Santa Monica home, astonished anyone who knows him simply as the affable, blonde man-child from Wedding Crashers and You, Me and Dupree.  To us outsiders, Wilson’s partying seemed to be of the happy-go-lucky, nobody-gets-hurt variety. While other stars got DUIs, Wilson always appeared to have a ride home with one of his cool actor-brothers, Luke, 35, and Andrew, 43, or someone as blonde, pretty, rich and famous as he, like Kate Hudson.”


We all know that celebrities have problems just like us normal people.  But for a long time, I couldn’t quite reconcile how a homeless man eating out of the trash can find the strength to push on for another day while Celebrities (who have mansions, nice cars, and can rub elbows and other body parts with models) might decide to commit suicide.  I believe the this can be explained by a concept called The New Normal.

I believe that humans, as a species, are quite resistant to change.  Further, I believe that most of us lead our lives in a bubble, and that bubble has expected parameters of what makes a good day, and what makes a bad day.  It is when our bad day falls below the expected parameters that humans have a problem coping with reality.  As such, for a homeless man, a good day may be when he eats one meal, a great day 2 meals, and a bad day no meals.  All of those probably happen on a regular basis and he is able to keep within his expected parameters.

With the high and mightly (like celebrities), there is seemingly endless room to fall on the downside.  But also, they already live a life of luxury, so the upside becomes less exciting.  For example, if you already have a BMW and a Porsche, will you be that excited if someone gives you a Mercedes?  A Mercedes might be a dream come true to a woman living paycheck to paycheck, but it is within the realm of normality for a celebrity.

What Does This Mean

As people reach a new plateau, they eventually recalibrate their own personal new normal.  Along with that, parameters are adjusted as well.  For example, a homeless person can accept not eating a meal for one day because that is part of his/her parameters.  But if a professional (like an accountant) couldn’t afford a meal for one day, it might shock her to the core.  The realization that she could not afford basic needs would impact her basic sense of security and likely cause a severe reaction like panic or depression.

In a New York Minute

New York City is regarded by many as the financial capital of the world.  As many of you know, Wall Street firms were amongst the hardest hit during the early stages of the great recession with firms dropping like flies on a daily basis (Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and AIG to name a few).

Many firms found a way to stay alive via acquisition or bailout from the government, but the landscape was dramatically changed seemingly overnight.  With that, the New Normal for many thousands of New Yorkers also changed.

* Job security.  What’s that?

* A decade of profits in my 401k.  Where did all my money go?

* Christmas presents for the kids.  When did money get so tight?

The New Normal had changed so dramatically for so many people at once that it could be described as a paradigm shift.  We all learned either through out own situation, or our friends and family, what it is like to fall below our parameter floor.

Conclusion

In understanding the concept of the New Normal, we can better understand the human condition.  From Luke Wilson to the bum on the street, we can recognize the patterns of their reactions.  I believe that the state of our society is best summed up in a quote by Tyler Durden, the character in Fight Club.

“I see all this potential, and I see squandering.  God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars.  Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man.  No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives.  We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars.  But we won’t.  And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”

I believe that by embracing the concept of the New Normal, it can help us (as a society) recognize that there is no perfect life.  Millionaires, movie gods, and rock stars have problems too.  They have further to fall and their pain is real.  Happiness is truly not a function of a number in your bank account.  It is about a complete picture of being accepted and knowing that the people in your life actually care about you.

Lets be honest, Tiger Woods tapped it ten ways till Tuesday but pretty much none of those women cared about him.  And if they did, he’ll never be sure.

To my readers, as you climb the ladder of society, I wish you nothing but happiness.  Just remember not to look down because you may have a long way to fall.

Bright Lights, Big City.