Tag: boring

The Sadness of the Suburban City

Pubs In England

Over the past 20-25 years, cities around the world have been under assault from the “Starbucks Effect”. You know what that is…when you are in a city on the other side of the country or the world, and all you see are generic Starbucks Coffee shops on every corner. It makes you wonder why you even took the trip? The serendipity of discovery in a new city has yielded to the presence of the multi-national franchised brand. Years ago, going to a different city (here in the States or Internationally) enabled you to truly soak in the unique flavor and atmosphere of that region. Without a doubt, that experience is still present around the world, yet it is discernibly muted when there is a Starbucks on “every” corner, and popular brands everywhere else.

Media outlets like the NY Times have written about how a pillar of British culture, the local pub, is being impacted and becoming (gasp) an endangered species (be sure to read the reader comments). I’m heading to London later in the year, for the first time in more than 15 years, and I’m worried about what I’m going to find there. When the NY Times is writing about it, you know it’s a thing, while frequent visitors to worldwide cities know that this is just a piece of a much bigger transformation.

When I traveled to Paris and Amsterdam in 2014, what stunned me was not the prevalence of US brands in those cities (Starbucks, McDonald’s, etc) but how packed they were with French and Dutch customers! I mean, here we were in Paris, the city that practically invented the sidewalk cafĂ©, and yet the franchised, vapid, American Starbucks Coffee (sacrebleu!) was packed. Parisians, who have such legendary disdain for America’s lack of culture, seem ready willing and able to fully embrace these American brands (Let’s not lose sight of that irony).

This is not even an International transformation either. Today’s NYC is a shell of it’s gritty, former self. I regularly, and ironically, refer to it as “The Mall of America” due to the prevalence of so many brands and franchises that you find in the strip mall landscape of suburban America. The truly unique elements of what made NYC so special (how many folks under 25 know how big a deal CBGB’s was?) have been rapidly eroding. At least McSorley’s is still around!

The irony of all of this is that when a country, city, town, neighborhood does want to keep hold of it’s independence, keep it’s unique cutlure intact and forge it’s own path (see: Britain, Brexit), the world freaks out because of the financialization of the Global economy. To be clear, I don’t think Britain leaving the EU is the right thing to do, but my broader point is that the desire of cities, countries, and neighborhoods to keep control of their own path is up against some monumental headwinds.

Clearly, we are living in a vast multi-national world today that is much different than it was 20, even 10 years ago, and it is one that continues to evolve rapidly – train has left the station, the toothpaste is out of the tube, so to speak. That is something we should all welcome and embrace. But with all that is changing, let’s not lose sight of those true, unique attributes of a neighborhood that make it special!

Image and ‘motivating article’ via the NYTimes.com

What’s In A Movie Name?

Not much creativity, it seems to me.

A couple of years ago, the breakout movie of the summer was The Hangover. Fast forward to this year and Hollywood’s summer of sequels and regurgitated ideas, and what does Warner Brothers deliver but the amazingly drab named “The Hangover: Part II“.

I mean, really? That’s the best name for the sequel to the “largest grossing R Rated movie ever” that they could come up with? For the audience they are trying to target – young men in college through their late 20’s/early 30’s (and maybe men in their late 30’s through mid 40’s who WISH they were back in their 20’s :) – they couldn’t figure out a catchy phrase to represent the sequel? Really?

Without much thought, here are a few exceedingly average, but better than “Part II” names, that I thought of.

The Hangover: Another Round?
The Hangover: Come on, one more.
The Hanover: Back For More
The Hangover: Relapse
The Hangover: Full As A Monkey (Since a monkey is part of the story line)
The Hangover: Double Fisting
The Hangover: Another Bender
The Hangover: Overserved
The Hangover: Served Again
The Hangover: Thai One On (Since this one is based in Thailand)
Another Hangover

Its no wonder Hollywood can’t make a decent movie to save their lives and don’t know when to leave a classic alone. Here’s a stretch – The Hangover: Part II is probably going to be terrible; it will probably try to play off of the same unpredictability that made the original so, well, original. And when the movie is done, we’ll probably walk out of it saying “I liked the first one more.” And maybe then, we will appreciate how funny, original, and unpredictable “The Hangover” was.

UPDATE: I rest my case