I didn’t get it. In fact, I still don’t get it. First, why would anyone care where the hell I was? Second, who gives a crap about “badges?” And finally, what’s the point of being a mayor? Foursquare is “all the rage” and is quickly becoming the Twitter of 2010. But, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what the point of it was.
Then someone dethroned me as the Mayor of the Shake Shack on the Upper West Side.
There was a time, much to the chagrin of my heart, that I’d eat at Shake Shack three or four times a week. Once I started testing out Foursquare, I figured I might as well check-in to the restaurant and see if I couldn’t become the mayor. (The mayor is the person who checks in the most amount of times in a month) I was named the mayor rather quickly and held the title for almost four months. I expected the staff to recognize me, genuflect before me, and treat me like Norm was treated at Cheers. (None of this happened) But when some jackhole named “Jim M.” took my mayorship away from me … I was determined to get my title back, no matter what sort of detriment it caused to my cholesterol level.
And this is why Foursquare works. They give you virtual titles and badges, meaningless things that have no bearing on the real world. But once those things are taken away from you, the human condition known as “give me that back” clicks in. We want what once was ours, no matter how insignificant it is. So while it’s not why I started using Foursquare (that being pure curiosity), it is why I continue to use the service.
So if you see Jim M. out on the streets, give him a swift kick in the kidneys for me.
(Editor’s note: I’m getting really tired of getting dethroned from Kam Po…I ride my bike all the way to chinatown for that meal! Just let me have my mayor title damn it!)
An email that was going around Wall Street this morning
newleft: We are Wall Street. It’s our job to make money. Whether it’s a commodity, stock, bond, or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn’t matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn’t hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone’s 401k doubled every 3 years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I’ve never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas.
Well now the market crapped out, & even though it has come back somewhat, the government and the average Joes are still looking for a scapegoat. God knows there has to be one for everything. Well, here we are.
Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you’re only going to hurt yourselves. What’s going to happen when we can’t find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We’re going to take yours. We get up at 5am & work till 10pm or later. We’re used to not getting up to pee when we have a position. We don’t take an hour or more for a lunch break. We don’t demand a union. We don’t retire at 50 with a pension. We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we’ll eat that.
For years teachers and other unionized labor have had us fooled. We were too busy working to notice. Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping? We’re going to take your cushy jobs with tenure and 4 months off a year and whine just like you that we are so-o-o-o underpaid for building the youth of America. Say goodbye to your overtime and double time and a half. I’ll be hitting grounders to the high school baseball team for $5k extra a summer, thank you very much.
So now that we’re going to be making $85k a year without upside, Joe Mainstreet is going to have his revenge, right? Wrong! Guess what: we’re going to stop buying the new 80k car, we aren’t going to leave the 35 percent tip at our business dinners anymore. No more free rides on our backs. We’re going to landscape our own back yards, wash our cars with a garden hose in our driveways. Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours.
The difference is, you lived off of it, we rejoiced in it. The Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee might get their way and knock us off the top of the pyramid, but it’s really going to hurt like hell for them when our fat a**es land directly on the middle class of America and knock them to the bottom.
We aren’t dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to survive. The question is, now that Obama & his administration are making Joe Mainstreet our food supply…will he? and will they?
waxandmilk: There is, perhaps, no better summary of the capitalist mentality than this one. There is no possibility of genuine socialism here or even social democracy; the only alternative to capitalism as the bankers like it is the Democrats’ ineffectual redistributive policy. There is no possibility of voluntary cooperation; you are either a hard worker or a parasite. For a polemic, it’s brilliant. For a policy prescription, it’s a nightmare.
(Editor’s note: I’m glad I work in the creative industry. Come through wildin on some Ayn Rand shit and get sonned.)
“I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be. I thought maybe I wanted to be a writer… but I hate what I write, and I tried taking pictures, but John’s so good at that, and mine are so mediocre… and every girl goes through a photography phase, like horses, you know dumb pictures of your feet…”—Lost In Translation
My Romantic Life: A Walking Tour of San Francisco by J.P. Lacrampe
All right, if we can just get the people in the back to bunch up a bit so I don’t have to shout. That’s better. Welcome, everyone. First up on our tour is scenic Dolores Park. Check out the panoramic views of San Francisco! How picturesque! Off to the right we have two landmarks: the Bay Bridge and the Transamerica building. And to the left you can see the filigreed dome of City Hall. Now, if I can direct your attention to this patch of dead grass next to where that homeless man is sleeping. Yes, there, by the trash can.
It was at this exact spot, in the summer of 2006, that Jessica Patterson and I engaged in a spirited debate lasting three hours about whether she really wanted me to meet her parents or was just pretending to. An argument—and relationship—that ended with a clump of grass shoved into my mouth.
Feel free to stand near the spot and smell the grass. Imagine the acidic taste. As you do, let me list a few fun facts: Dolores Park was first established by the city in 1905; only a year later, it served as a makeshift shelter for victims of the 1906 earthquake; currently there are six tennis courts; and my friend request to Jessica on Facebook is still pending.
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On to our next attraction! Here we are at 16th and Mission, beside the famous Roxie Theater. The Roxie is San Francisco’s oldest continuously operating movie house. Its first spool of film rumbled through a projector in 1909. This historic projector is still on display in the lobby.
So let’s head two doors down to this dilapidated bar where in March of 2002, Kaitlin Talver—my dating companion of six weeks—asked me during a drinking game if I could have sex with any one of her friends, who would it be? And when I answered a little too quickly, a little too breathlessly, a little too repetitively, “Caroline Wilson!” she flushed our relationship down love’s all too clogged drain. Legend has it that if you listen closely enough you can still hear that flushing sound.
OK. Please check out the Bloody Mary brunch special they serve here. It’s a winner. Also, now is a good time to use the restroom.
Point of historical interest: Caroline Wilson will also not speak to me.
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Soaring up from the top of Nob Hill is the magnificent Grace Cathedral, which was completed in 1964 after thirty-six years of construction. What a spectacle of engineering! Today it stands as the nation’s third-largest Episcopal cathedral, as well as the location of Molly McDougal’s wedding last summer to an ugly moron I used to manage at DSW. This June wedding occurred despite the fact that Molly told me on several occasions that she didn’t believe in marriage as “an institution.” Also despite the groom’s early baldness and his being three inches shorter than me.
The happy couple have since suggested via their attorney that I “move on.” Before we heed their advice, let’s notice those beautiful ornate church doors. What a fantastic wedding that must have been!
More fun facts: The entrance doors are an exact replica of Florence’s “Gates of Paradise”; and, technically, Molly and I never dated. Let’s continue on!
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Ladies and gentlemen, our walking tour ends right here in the Italian neighborhood of North Beach. We’re currently standing at 1866 Mason St. Just down the street from us is City Lights Bookstore, the famed publisher of Allen Ginsberg’s influential manuscript, Howl. But here, on the third floor of this nondescript mid-rise apartment building is where my girlfriend of three months, Emily Burcyde, lives with her best friend, whose name I forget.
Last week, following an awkward attempt at homemade tapas, Emily expressed doubts about the trajectory of our relationship, using such phrases as “personal growth” “emotional maturity” and “none.” She’s asked me here today to talk. The nature of this talk will undoubtedly involve her regrets that our relationship has run its brief course. She might suggest she needs time for herself. She might also say that she’s sorry, though if we look at it, it’s probably nobody’s fault. It is at this precise moment that I will then emit my famous Doleful Yawp. A yawp that I will now demonstrate. Feel free to take pictures. Afterward, please join me inside for some patatas bravas.
“We hated Bauhaus. It was a bad time in architecture. They just didn’t have any talent. All they had were rules. Even for knives and forks they created rules. Picasso would never have accepted rules. The house is like a machine? No! The mechanical is ugly. The rule is the worst thing. You just want to break it.”—Oscar Niemeyer
SOUTH BEND, IN—Despite having no natural enemies and belonging to a species that completely dominates its ecosystem, local IT manager Reggie Atkinson opted to consume the processed corn snack Bugles Monday. “I was in the mood for something salty and crunchy, and it’s a little early for dinner,” said the ultimate predator, whose ancestors’ bipedal locomotion, toolmaking abilities, and advanced spatial recognition developments allowed them to hunt animals 10 times their size. “These are original, but the other flavors are pretty good, too.” Acting on an impulse from an incredibly complex forebrain that has evolved over millions of years, Atkinson then took note of the Bugles’ amusing conical shape and placed one on each of his opposable thumbs like little wizard hats.
By JAMES COLLINS NY Times Published: April 25, 2010
JUST like everyone else, I was overjoyed that a doorman strike was averted last week in New York. But as I read the articles leading up to the resolution — an arc as dramatic as that of the Cuban missile crisis — I found myself asking a disturbing question: Are doormen necessary? Necessary? Why, the very thought could only be the product of a troubled mind. You might as well ask if the Holland Tunnel is necessary! You might as well ask if the Knicks are necessary! (Actually, never mind about that one.)
Think about it, though: everyone knows that a doorman’s most important job is to provide security, but if security is the object, wouldn’t it be cheaper and make more sense to use some combination of security guards and technology? There have been several beloved doormen in my life, but it’s pretty hard to imagine any of them single-handedly disarming a gunman.
Doormen sort the mail and receive deliveries — true. But office buildings handle a huge volume of these items without putting anybody in a striped waistcoat and white gloves. Doormen take in the dry cleaning and hail taxis and bring tenants their takeout food. Please. Millions of New Yorkers manage their dry cleaning and takeout every day. And it looks almost silly to see a tenant standing next to a doorman who has his hand raised to hail a cab — it takes two people to do this?
If doormen aren’t necessities, then are they luxury items? Yes, that’s correct to a degree. And as descendants of the liveried porters and doormen of grand private houses, hotels and clubs of the 19th century, they are also displays of status.
But neither luxury nor status can explain the devotion that tenants feel for their doormen; they can’t explain why tenants provided doormen with coffee and doughnuts on the picket line during the strike in 1991 (or why, against their own interests, the doormen worked so hard to prepare tenants for running their buildings).
Why then does the institution persist and thrive? Tenants value their doormen, I believe, because they provide an extra layer of face-to-face social connection that is not strictly “necessary,” but is tremendously gratifying nonetheless. As the sociologist Peter Bearman points out in his fascinating book, “Doormen,” the doorman knows the tenants; he knows their comings and goings; he knows their friends; he knows what kind of food they like; he watches their children grow up; he may gossip to them about other tenants; for tenants he likes, he will break the rules.
Radical class distinctions no longer exist — not even the best buildings can provide them anymore — so the doorman, while still socially distant from the tenants, has risen from the status of a servant. Rather, in the big, indifferent city, he is like a small-town shopkeeper or postman or cop who knows your (and others’) business, looks out for you, helps the community cohere and talks mostly about the weather. (Mr. Bearman’s statistics confirm this.) As with those small-town figures, the doorman’s knowledge of a person can be worrying, but it is comforting, too. The doorman is a touch of Gemeinschaft in an ever more Gesellschaft world.
In my own case, I grew up in a doorman building on the Upper East Side, and I have fond memories of the sweet but dim Chris, whose dream it was to return to Greece and start a restaurant; Javier, the rabid Mets fan; way back, old Joe, who sailed a fully-rigged, five-foot-long model of a clipper ship at the boat pond. I liked knowing these men and the routine of seeing them day after day; they provided an extra element of humanness to my urban upbringing.
So maybe doormen aren’t necessary, but that is no criticism. To the contrary: it is a great compliment to say that rather than serving a merely utilitarian purpose, doormen serve a social one.
Oddly, in discussions of doormen’s tasks, the one most rarely mentioned is the one they perform most often: opening doors. This is almost purely ceremonial, and while it may smack of servility, can a tenant be blamed for taking pleasure in this show of respect, and the familiar greeting and smile that accompanies it? Anyone can open a door; only a doorman can make it mean something.
James Collins is the author of the novel “Beginner’s Greek.”