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Monday, February 11, 2021

multiple copies
Not too long ago, I was tapped by marketing firm M80 to blog-review “T-Mobile Connected”, a webisode series created to entertain, captivate — and sell some Sidekicks, by the way.

I agreed, and delivered a somewhat(?) snarky writeup that basically equated “Connected” to a toned-down version of “Entourage”. That isn’t necessarily a put-down. If anything, I’d think an comparison with HBO’s hipster-phenom series would be a benefit to the fledgling Web campaign. Besides, I wanted to see how M80 would react to a review that was anything other than a gushing love note, because from past experience, I’ve found that marketing/PR people don’t expect actual critical contributions from the blogosphere — they generally really want nothing deeper than fan endorsements.

I was happy to learn that M80 was happy with my treatment. Maybe the prominent Google search ranking for “t-mobile connected” had something to do with it. But my liason there, Fred, said they appreciated the coverage, and that I’d be getting a prize pack for my troubles.

Today, I got that prize pack: An Amazon shipment of the first-season DVD set of “Entourage”.

Only problem: I already own that DVD set. I bought it when it first came out a couple of years ago.

I’m not put out by it. Frankly, the fact that the prize was so personalized in response to the work “commissioned” tells me that this was a true grassroots/handmade marketing campaign, versus some big-corporate cookiecutter job. So that’s refreshing. And I thanked Fred for the gift. I didn’t tell him about the double-discing, although I suppose he’ll find out soon enough…

I will, of course, be re-gifting this new “Entourage” copy at some point. I think the circumstances and the double-copy situation are covered by the re-gifting rules of play.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/11/2021 08:31:09 PM
Category: Internet, Advert./Mktg., TV
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After six years of rolling with T-Mobile’s HotSpot to power in-store wi-fi Web access, Starbucks has gone another way with an agreement to go with AT&T to provide a mix of free (with purchase) and paid wireless hook-ups, starting this Spring.

My initial reaction to this was “Sonofabitch!” — not because I’m a big T-Mobile fan, but because I landed a free yearlong subscription to HotSpot as part of the One Laptop Per Child donation program. So seemingly, I get screwed by this switcheroo.

But then I read the fine print:

Current T-Mobile HotSpot customers, who pay from $6 per hour-long session to $9.99 for a day pass to $39.99 a month for unlimited access, will get Wi-Fi access at no extra charge through an agreement between AT&T and T-Mobile.

So hoo-ray, I don’t get cut off, at least not until early next year. Which is good, because I’ve actually come to rely upon pitstops at random Starbucks outlets for quick checks of email and other info via my iPod Touch. Yes, T-Mobile has other HotSpot partners, but they’re nowhere near as widespread in Manhattan as Starbucks (which is why this development is a real problem for T-Mobile).

Theoretically, I shouldn’t be so dependent on the HotSpot link, given that there’s a big free wi-fi cloud over midtown called CBS Mobile Zone, which I was jazzed about upon announcement. But to date, I’ve never been able to connect to it. It’s definitely there — it comes up as an available wireless client when my iTouch is scanning an area, and I’ve seen ads promoting it. But until I’m able to actually use it, it might as well not be there.

So for the time being, I continue to be on the lookout for Starbucks shops. They’ll get my money, by design — the incidental purchase of a tea and cookie is part of the trap. But I like to stick it to the man half the time by just camping out outside the store and surreptitiously calling up the HotSpot login page.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/11/2021 06:20:19 PM
Category: Wi-Fi, Business, New Yorkin'
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Sunday, February 10, 2021

Nothing screams “meme” like the literary exercise of boiling your autobiography down to six little words.

You can add your super-succinct vitae over at Smith Magazine. However, considering they’ve already culled the most notable submissions — including celebrity contributions from Stephen Colbert, Harvey Pekar, Chuck Klosterman and others — into a book called “Not Quite What I Was Planning”, doing so now strikes me as anti-climactic.

So I’m going to script mine right here:

Here I am. Hard to believe.

It actually wasn’t as hard to craft as I thought it would be. Surprisingly multi-faceted for such an economical use of words.

Not that I’m trying to hijack Smith, but feel free to contribute your own personal 6-word scribbling in the comments below.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/10/2021 05:48:22 PM
Category: Publishing, Creative
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To protest the de facto quota system imposed by newspaper comics-page editors upon minority-focused comic strips, a group of cartoonists have written and drawn essentially the same strip for today’s Sunday section to drive home the point.

Plans for the protest began with Cory Thomas, a Howard University grad whose strip, “Watch Your Head,” deals with college life at a predominantly African American university. Thomas, Trinidad-born and D.C.-bred, says he was frustrated by the number of times his strip was turned down by newspapers that didn’t feel the need to sign him up, because, well, they already had a black comic strip. Most editors, he says, only allow for one or two minority strips, viewing them all as interchangeable. Never mind that his strip is a world away in sensibility from the scathing sociopolitical musings of Darrin Bell’s “Candorville” or the family-focused fun of Stephen Bentley’s “Herb and Jamaal.”

So Thomas drew a strip addressing that, and then enlisted the help of Bell. From there, they got others to agree to participate: Bentley, Jerry Craft (”Mama’s Boyz”), Charlos Gary (”Cafe con Leche” and “Working It Out”), Steve Watkins (”Housebroken”), Keith Knight (”The K Chronicles”), Bill Murray (”The Golden Years”), Charles Boyce (”Compu-toon”) and editorial cartoonist Tim Jackson. Alcaraz, who says he found out too late to meet his deadline, will be chiming in on Feb. 11.

Ironically, that 1-2 minority strip allowance means that most readers won’t get the full effect of this protest — because they’ll only see one of the participating strips.

So here’s the online versions of each of the participating strips. The ones I could find, anyway. There could be more participating; I’m not going to scan hundreds of strips for verification. Also, despite being on the above list, and being acknowledged by strip artist Keith Knight, the K Chronicles strip that appears to be running today doesn’t match up with the rest of the group. But otherwise:

- Candorville’s take

- Herb and Jamaal’s take

- Watch Your Head’s take

- Compu-toon’s take

- Housebroken’s take

- Cafe con Leche’s take

- And Mama’s Boyz creator Jerry Craft provides a roundup of the rest.

Here’s the basic script (modified significantly in some strips, but with the same gist):

Old Guy: Bah! I hate this comic strip! It looks like another “Boondocks” rip-off! The newspaper got rid of the old goodies to bring in this tripe? It must be tokenism! This PC nonsense is out of control! They need to get back to the kinds of strips that everybody can relate to!

Person sitting next to Old Guy: “Everybody”, meaning you?

Old Guy: Ha ha. Oh, that Dagwood…

It’s funny how most (though not all) of the strips went with the same stereotypical gray-headed old man bitching about his favorite dinosaur ‘toon being displaced by something he can’t relate to. That gets to the heart of the matter, actually: Print newspaper readership is increasingly being reduced to older demographics, and they’re irrationally attached to comic strips that have been around for decades, regardless of whether or not those strips still have any gas left in them. From my past experience at the St. Petersburg Times (where, coincidentally, this event first got some traction, courtesy of Eric Deggans), making any changes to the comics page is guaranteed to bring a tidal wave of negative reader reaction.

So the upshot? I think it’s less a question of actively “balancing” minority respresentation on the comics page, than it is a situation where paralysis has set in. Declining readership forces the papers to be that much more responsive to their core customers, and ultimately it’s not worth trying to be innovative in an otherwise inconsequential section of the paper. The result is a patch of newsprint that’s perpetually hard to break into.

Personally, I don’t have a dog in this fight, as my paper of record doesn’t run any funny pages (other than a single avant-garde feature in the Sunday Magazine). I really thought I’d miss the strips more, but I don’t; probably speaks to the calcification of the medium.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/10/2021 03:42:40 PM
Category: Publishing, Society, Creative
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Saturday, February 09, 2021

What’s 105 stories tall, located in downtown Pyongyang, and an overpowering reminder of the dysfunctionality of the North Korean regime?

That would be the Ryugyong Hotel, a colossal failure in totalitarian architectural design:

Even by Communist standards, the 3,000-room hotel is hideously ugly, a series of three gray 328-foot long concrete wings shaped into a steep pyramid. With 75 degree sides that rise to an apex of 1,083 feet, the Hotel of Doom (also known as the Phantom Hotel and the Phantom Pyramid) isn’t the just the worst designed building in the world — it’s the worst-built building, too. In 1987, Baikdoosan Architects and Engineers put its first shovel into the ground and more than twenty years later, after North Korea poured more than two percent of its gross domestic product to building this monster, the hotel remains unoccupied, unopened, and unfinished.

Distressed real estate on this grand a scale just screams for an injection of Donald Trump! Maybe he can build a reality show around it; the losing contestants get hauled away by the secret police…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/09/2021 04:51:00 PM
Category: Political
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So I’m thinking about swapping out my current cellphone ringtone with that 70s-tastic opening theme from “The Love Boat”:

But despite the kitschy charm, I’m concerned that it may come across as too fruity. Then again, it’s close to Valentine’s Day, so I probably have a window of non-judgmental opportunity.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/09/2021 04:22:18 PM
Category: TV, Pop Culture, Tech
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Friday, February 08, 2021

Pictured above is a flyer from the Mariella Pizza on 8th Avenue and 57th. As you can see, they’re pretty proud of the blessing bestowed upon them by Oprah as having the “best pizza in America”.

As well they should be. I’m sure thousands of Oprah acolytes have descended upon the shop in the year since Oprah’s pal Gayle picked the winner. And personally, I stop by this joint at least a couple of times a month, because I like the thick crispy crust.

Here’s what I find curious about this honor. Notice the parenthetical note:

(just a few steps away from her office)

That office would be the Hearst Tower, which I’d admired before. It so happens that O, the Oprah Magazine is published by Hearst Corp., and indeed, the mag’s offices are directly across the street on 8th Avenue.

So you know what I think? I think Gayle was running close to her deadline for this little pizza contest, and looked out the window, saw Mariella’s, and figured, “good enough”. Presto, a winner is located, thanks to location!

I would say I’m disappointed in Oprah’s less-than-exacting competitive qualifications. But what the hell, like I said, it’s still good pizza.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/08/2021 06:35:44 PM
Category: Celebrity, Food, New Yorkin'
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avoiding the tank
If you’re tired of seeing teams dog in it Week 17 of the National Football League season because they’ve already locked in their postseason berth, then you’ll like this: the league is considering changing the playoff structure to make it more record-based:

[NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell wants to make it so that in the first round of the playoffs, division winners wouldn’t automatically have a home game. If they played a wildcard team that had a better record, the wild card team would get the game in their own crib.

The idea is that it gives teams more incentive to play hard throughout the end of the regular season, so we don’t end up seeing something like a Charlie Batch vs. Jim Sorgi matchup in Week 17.

This deemphasizes the significance of winning a division, making that crown nothing more than a playoff ticket. I suppose there are scenarios where a division winner would still make it into the postseason despite having a poorer record than another conference team, which would preserve some importance for the division win.

Normally I’m not in favor of the disregard for divisional alignments, but I admit this is a good idea. From an entertainment standpoint, it’s better for fans to watch a “real” matchup late in the season instead of a backups bowl. You could argue that it robs the No. 3 division winner of a functional bye for its starters, but those are the breaks.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/08/2021 05:42:52 PM
Category: Football
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Thursday, February 07, 2021

diaphragm-dandyA bit of news that originated in the Sunshine State, even though it has national impact: The recovery of Dick Vitale from potentially career-ending vocal chord surgery, and his return to his usual ESPN-hosted bombastity.

It’s indicative of how much my sports-television viewing patterns have shifted that I honestly wasn’t aware that Dickie V was off the air. With NHL games long gone and SportsCenter having morphed into more of an endorsement platform than a news service, I’ve had scant reason to tune into ESPN, other than a weekly limited dose of “Sunday NFL Countdown” during football season. On top of that, I’m not a college hoops fan anyway, so I’d rarely seen Vitale in action; but his stature as a network personality pretty much transcends his specific beat.

But anyway, he’s back, after an extended recovery period in his home base of Sarasota. That residency is enough reason for me to yank out this accompanying image of a long-ago Florida Trend cover, from when Vitale headlined a feature piece on the most influential Floridians.

I’m sure the link to that article rotted away long ago, and I’m not going to fish for it now. But I will recount the Dickie V photo-shoot experience, as related to me when I was at the magazine:

The Art Director told me he was a lot of fun to shoot. The goal was to get Vitale to keep up the animated look for the camera. When he would start to flag, the Director would do a terrible Dickie V impersonation, saying “INFLUENCE, BABY!”, and that would recharge Vitale for another several minutes.

I was hoping to get a nice Floridian recharge myself over the next few days, somewhat in parallel with Vitale’s. But I had to cancel at the last minute. At least I won’t run the risk of some baldheaded ex-coach yelling in my face, with the need for a V-Speak Glossary to translate what a “PTPer” is.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/07/2021 09:22:49 AM
Category: TV, Sports, Florida Livin'
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Wednesday, February 06, 2021

It’s funny, the attention some random post in this space attracts. Mere hours after I wrote a little something about Web video distributor iAmplify, I got an invite from one of their sales reps to join their affiliate network.

And I did, as signified by the little javascripted video-ad box in the upper-left sidebar of this page, and the larger version of that box at the bottom of this page/post.

The little box represents the carving out of new advertising territory on this blog. The big box displaces the YouTube-AdSense video ad unit that Google rolled out last October; my willingness to toss that one should tell you how poorly it was performing, in fact contrasting the other AdSense placements I run here.

In any case, iAmplify is appearing here on a trial basis. I’m curious to see if it’ll bring in any money. I’m not optimistic: Not only does someone have to actually buy a video through iAmplify for me to see any coin, but the product selection is limited and not synced at all to specific page content. For a generalist blog like mine, that means someone cruising here via a Google search for, say, iPod information won’t be served up an offer for instructional videos for best practices in using your digital media player. The reason AdSense attracts clicks is precisely because it matches up relevant keywords in content and ads. So first task for iAmplify is to figure out some way to achieve that.

On top of that, the boxes don’t seem to be screwing with the blog template. If they turn out to do so, or somehow slow down loading times, they’re gone.

All that said, you never know. It’s worth a month or two of testing to see if it yields anything.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/06/2021 07:58:01 PM
Category: Bloggin', Advert./Mktg.
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There’s no getting around it: I hate packing a bag for a trip.

Because I suck at it. If I’m taking a short trip, I tend to overpack. If I’m taking an extended trip, I tend to underpack. I’m heading out of town tomorrow for a little under a week — which I’d characterize as a medium-sized sojourn. So maybe I’ll hit the just-right baggage capacity for this one.

But I doubt it.

And of course, there’s always the fear of forgetting the phone charger or some other can’t-live-without item. Even though I never do. Or when I do, it’s something easily replaceable like toothpaste. It’s a peculiar strain of traveler’s anxiety, I know.

The ideal would be for me to head for the airport with nothing but the clothes on my back (and whatever’s in the pockets of the same). For that to work, it’d have to be pretty much a 1-2 day trip, which negates the purpose of traveling for pleasure in the first place.

Still, I’m tempted to go that route tonight, despite the length of my time away. Anything to avoid this odious task, represented by the still-empty travel bag. Or at least pack super-light, then just buy whatever I need during my stay in Tampa Bay. My itinerary is loose enough that I could conceivably wing big chunks of it. The temptation is there…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/06/2021 07:30:02 PM
Category: General
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Tuesday, February 05, 2021

Photoshopping together clearly incongruent images to create an absurd visual mashup can be effective in delivering a no-nonsense public service announcement.

Which is why I think this downright disturbing ad campaign against statutory rape from the Family Violence Partnership of Milwaukee, featuring headshots of little girls superimposed onto bodies of buxom women, misses the mark: The necessary unreality of it got lost. To me, the head and bodies seem to blend together just a little too seamlessly, resulting in imagery that uncomfortably edges close to real life. If I had to guess, the designers did too good a job of polishing the final product — if the head-body positioning were made to intentionally look obviously grafted-on, the message would have been clearer.

And there wouldn’t be concerns about the ads promoting the very behavior they’re meant to warn against:

Well, I guess we can give them credit for not using a too-subtle method to visualize the problem. Buuut, super-fetishizing young girls, maybe, is not the smartest approach?

Actually, I think there is an element of subtlety at play, but it’s almost wholly lost in the overwhelming visuals. Serve, the agency that cooked this one up, must have a faulty vetting system to have let this one go through.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/05/2021 11:52:01 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Society
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The Homicide Report is a crime-beat blog from the LA Times with a simple theme: Record every reported murder in Los Angeles County.

Reporter Jill Leovy handled those blogging duties until the end of 2007, and now provides some perspective on the act of online commemoration of some victims, and the need that fulfilled.

One could know the numbers in the abstract yet still be unprepared for the sheer volume, similarity and obscurity of the victims…

At a crime scene in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Newton Division, lifelong friends of a victim said they knew him only by a nickname. At another scene, a family had no recent photographs of their 19-year-old son. For some of those victims, a police mug shot was the only record of their presence in the world. A detective in Watts once asked me to run a photo of an elaborate norteño-style belt buckle, the only clue to the identity of a victim whose body had been burned.

Detectives routinely admitted that the names and ages they had recorded for victims were, at best, conjecture: Many victims, including illegal immigrants or career criminals, had lived entirely underground.

Ironic that a life in the shadows doesn’t get exposed to light until it ends.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/05/2021 11:09:52 PM
Category: Bloggin', Society, True Crime
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Monday, February 04, 2021

Here’s an intriguing monetization prospect for content-driven websites, e.g. blogs: iAmplify is a startup online training-video clearinghouse that’s offering distribution channels for selling video content, with sizable revenue-sharing for publishers who host their ads:

Say you run a yoga website. You can pick from a variety of yoga videos on iAmplify’s site. If one of your readers buys, you get 20%. If you blog about gambling and happen to sell poker star Phil Hellmuth’s course on how to play poker in 46 short video lessons, you’ll get $30, your cut of the $150 price. It takes a lot of AdSense hits to equal that.

Or if you have a faith-oriented website, perhaps you’ll sell a subscription to Marianne Williamson’s weekly lecture series, which goes for $20 per month. That’s $4 monthly for you.

Depending on the presentation — I assume they’re a mix of text ads and Flash teasers — this could indeed be pretty lucrative. I know much of the traffic on this blog comes from searches for specific topic-oriented research; and much as AdSense links here attract a fair amount of clickthrus, I’d imagine dynamic links for video would pull in continuation surfing.

The X factor is how determined those searches are: Will they lead to actual purchases of those video pitches? I do know that the market for instructional videos has blossomed via the Web, so this play could be riding just the right trend. The publishing background of iAmplify’s decisionmakers also gives me cause to be cautiously optimistic.

Wonder if they’ll accept blog applications… Could be seeing a new ad widget in the sidebar here pretty soon!

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/04/2021 11:58:28 PM
Category: Internet, Media
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Here’s a bookmark worth keeping track of: Legal professional newspaper Metropolitan Corporate Counsel is running an overview on the current status of major professional sports stadium jockeying in the U.S., with a particular focus on the New York metro area. The current installment deals with the public financing of these stadia deals, and the use of governmental eminent domain to secure building sites for those facilities.

Exhibit A includes a high-level breakdown of the public-till pricetag for the New York Mets and their soon-to-rise Citi Field, along with the comparison dollar figure for their cross-town rivals:

In total, the direct subsidies, exemptions, and bond financing will save the Mets approximately $276 million, while costing New York City $155 million in lost revenue and the State of New York $89 million. The Yankees received a very similar financial package from the city and the state, with the team receiving $276 million in benefits over a thirty-year period, at a cost to the city and state of $170 million and $85 million, respectively.

Not a bad business to be in. Underlining all that: Since 1996, 65 franchises in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB have engineered new or substantially renovated arenas/stadia, with government money paying the lion’s share of that construction.

Part two of this analysis will deal with the naming-rights end of the sports-biz equation. I’m hoping the law reporters will bear in mind this qualifier for why prices for such corporate christenings have increased lately:

The chief reason why the naming-rights prices are super-sizing is that they’re being applied to brand-spanking-new buildings. That’s key. Instead of slapping a new name onto an old building — that comes with an entrenched name and tradition that, sometimes, never gets completely supplanted — the naming-rights holder gets virgin territory. So there’s no chance of [the NHL New Jersey Devils’] Prudential Center being referred to by its “old” name, because there is no old name for the stubborn voices to hang onto. That’s worth an extra couple hundred thousand per year, I figure.

I’m crossing my fingers on landing one of those coveted law-talkin’-guy footnote citations…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/04/2021 11:30:58 PM
Category: SportsBiz, New Yorkin'
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Sunday, February 03, 2021

The dearth of creative impulse that went into the headline of this post should tell you how little regard I’m giving today’s Super Bowl clash.

And yet, I will be watching the game, set to kick off in a bit more than an hour. Go figure.

It’s not like this is the first time I’ve felt underwhelmed by the NFL’s championship spectacle; I’ve experienced this feeling for the past five or so Super Bowls. If I had to define it, I’d have to agree generally with Deadspin’s Will Leitch on how the overload of hype has taken a lot of the charge out of the game. But it’s not like anyone has a gun to my head — if I’m really so put off, I could just opt to ignore the game altogether.

But I’m not. I’ll be heading to a Super Bowl party shortly, and while it’ll be intimate, it’ll be Giants territory. I’m not going to join in the fervor, because I’m not a Giants fan. I’m not a Patriots fan either, but I guess the prospect of the historical 19-0 run prompts me to root for New England. And while I’ll be shocked if the Pats don’t seal the deal, the Giants have already defied paper odds by making it this far, so who knows what the final tally will be.

Anyway. Enough of the game itself. It’s hardly the focus of this Super-sized secular holiday, right? The TV commercial front has been (from my perspective, which I admit hasn’t been especially attentive to the pre-hype from that corner) uncharacteristically subdued, despite a new-record $2.7 million pricetag for the 30-second spot. But in other Super Bowl-related economic viewpoints:

- The overall money picture for Super Sunday impacts sales of television sets, furniture, and even snack foods.

- And on the heels of an unusually weak holiday season to wind up 2007, retailers are counting on those same football-generated sales to offset earlier shortfalls.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/03/2021 05:17:59 PM
Category: Football
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Don’t look now, but a pocket of the East Side is turning into a veritable guild-based village for young professionals:

As Ariel explained to me, his [financial services] firm had negotiated a deal with the building’s real estate agents, and every employee who rented an apartment got a 6 percent discount on the brokerage fee. Each weekend, and especially over the summer, the young bankers moved in, while families and elderly people moved out.

The apartment building next door, meanwhile, was filling up with lawyers. Doctors lived in a third building, the one closest to the river. “It’s like special-interest housing, but for professionals,” Ariel said.

It was Friday night and Ariel’s hallway was busy with pre-party chatter. One guy no one had ever seen before knocked on the door, inviting us to a party on the next floor. An hour later, two women showed up asking whether we ourselves were having a party.

Ariel and his roommates were elated. They finally had their own place, and one within walking distance of work. Everyone else on their hall was young, friendly and new to the city. It was like freshman year again.

Indeed, like freshman year in the college of life. I guess. I mean, these “students” are working for a living, but they’re surrounded by a slightly unreal environment, almost as cloistered as the college campuses from which they had just left. I’m thinking the social interactions within this zone are barely distinguishable from college — thus providing a continuation of school life and further deferment of full-fledged adulthood. (How much you wanna bet there’s at least one keg party ragin’ every weekend here?)

More interesting is the socioeconomic conditions in Manhattan that makes this clustering necessary. True adult dorm-style living has been around for a while now, but this is the first I’ve heard of active employer facilitation of the trend. It injects a corporate subsidy into young professionals’ work-life balance, beyond paying a high enough salary to make it possible to live close to the workplace.

Is this how future New York City neighborhoods will take root? Not that like professions haven’t grouped together before, at the top and bottom of the economic ladder, but this seems like an extreme strain of a natural tendency.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/03/2021 04:32:05 PM
Category: Society, New Yorkin'
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This quote by 19th-century British poet/social critic Matthew Arnold resonates with my personal worldview:

“The freethinking of one age is the common sense of the next.”

It also comes across as timely in this political season. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which side of the political divide it more closely hews toward.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/03/2021 02:42:57 PM
Category: Politics, Society, History
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Saturday, February 02, 2021

Any time $44 billion gets tossed around, it’s going to generate some noise. But amid the news-noise concerning Microsoft’s more-or-less hostile bid to buy Yahoo!, announced Friday, not an awful lot of consideration has been given to the possibility that the deal might not go through.

Yeah, Yahoo! is vulnerable, still mired in a slump that culminated in the end of the Terry Semel era. But it’s hardly on its last legs, and most of its board is determined to remain independent. Indeed, the prospects of a protracted takeover are pretty good, and even with the high premium the Big Redmond Machine is offering, it could become more struggle than benefit, even with the long-term payoff.

The extreme buzz has come about merely from the rampant speculation of what a done deal might yield: Operating systems even more tightly-integrated to online components, some sort of amalgamation of Hotmail and Y! Mail, etc. Fun exercises, but definitely putting the cart before the horse.

I’m not seeing this as a slam-dunk. My bet is that Microsoft and Yahoo! will still be standing where they are a year from now, both still attempting to catch up with Google in the online advertising business (and the Web services game, although that’s more of an MS-Google tussle).

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/02/2021 04:17:55 PM
Category: Internet, Tech, Business
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Even within the context of the often-outlandish output that is the exercise-equipment industry, the Hawaii Chair stands out as a particular oddity.

Rather than describe it myself, I’ll defer to this succinct killer sum-up from BuzzFeed:

Chair simulates hula allowing you to exercise while at your desk. Finally, a workout that combines lewd movements and sitting on your ass. All we need now is a coconut sports bra.

And a steady supply of mai tais. Better yet, Hawaiian mai tais.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/02/2021 03:52:14 PM
Category: Tech, Comedy
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Kate is visiting Manhattan, and she’s having trouble fitting into the groove:

I honestly can’t get comfortable in this city. I feel like everyone knows the moves to an intricate ballet and I happened to miss the particular dance class that taught balance and self-awareness. New Yorkers seem to have an extra sense- a sense of movement, speed, and intuition.

Yup, if you don’t pick up those dance steps in short order, it’s a rough ride.

I’m still impressed I managed to re-learn all the right moves necessary to navigate the everyday foot traffic. I was afraid I’d be bumping into folks every two minutes, especially in the subway. Instead, it’s almost scary how quickly I adapted. I think you do develop some level of innate awareness that keeps everyone from pinballing into one another. Could be simple survival instinct, honed into the appropriate direction.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/02/2021 02:07:42 PM
Category: New Yorkin'
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