The city’s new privileged inhabitants would wear their city’s outlaw image as a badge of honor and even venerate it with fervor, fiercely proud of a history they had never experienced, let alone contributed to - like suburbanites living on a Civil War battlefield and boasting about Pickett’s charge.
In a sense, though, they earned bragging rights: the city’s premium rents and boutique prices came with this fantasy narrative. Ethnic cleansing would be accomplished via eviction: the mass deportation that had worked so well on the Native Americans.
The indigenous city people, who had survived urban blight, gangs, systemic unemployment, police brutality, the state-sponsored crack epidemic, and PCP, finally met their match when faced with Seinfeld Syndrome.”
-Ian Svenonius[via Young Manhattanite]
A long time ago on an internet forum I once frequented, a user posted a video he created. Below is that video. You should watch it because it is one of the best things ever on the internet ever:
If you didn't watch it, you really must. It's short, and if you're going to read any further, it is imperative that you watch the video. Go ahead. I'll wait.
This video is awesome. It's a perfect parody.
(It also captures the auteur David Lynch in rare form, cursing. Despite his films being as black as midnight on a moonless night, filled with weirdness and violence and plenty of shits, damns and fucks, the man himself rarely uses foul language. In fact, if you've ever seen interviews with him he has an Eagle scout, aw shucks demeanor that belies his macabre motion pictures.)
I asked the creator of the video if I could upload it to my YouTube account, I loved it that much. I credited him in the description by his forum handle because he did not want to be identified. He said that I could.
In three years that video has been seen 1,768,366 times. New comments are added daily. I wake up every day to new notifications from YouTube that someone else left a note. It became so popular that reporters began contacting me, wanting to know if I'd talk about the David Lynch/iPhone parody video I'd made.
After correcting those with inquiries, I asked the creator of the video if he wanted to talk to any newspaper or magazine reporters about the piece. He said no.
Once upon a time I moderated the comments that come in every day until I realized it would be a never-ending task. This video's popularity is going strong, as well it should.
It's one of the best thing ever on the internet ever:
"Use social media to be authentic. Use social media to show you are human. Use social media to show a little personality."
These are mantras, orders, directions, suggestions, broken records heard in corporate environments 'round the world, but bosses, managers, directors, head honchos are unsure exactly how to do that. What does one mean by "be authentic"? Hasn't his hard work day in and day out been authentic? He thinks it has. He isn't wrong.
Show I am human?, she muses. I am an on-air host for a TV station. I move and talk and walk and investigate in front of cameras. How could I be any more human than I am already? It's not a stupid question. And personality? Her title is television personality.
I think what they mean is this.
You see, The Today Show has a Tumblr. That's already a smart move. This Tumblr blog links to, among other things, videos on The Today Show website with short little quips or still images added, making it more micro-bloggy. These posts flow into Tumblr users' dashboards and Today Show videos these users would have never seen otherwise get watched. Why is that?
Because someone updating The Today Show Tumblr took a tiny risk.
That's funny. It's also brave for a morning news show. But they know that Tumblr users are not their traditional audience and by being familiar with the ways that people use that medium (by employing tags like "delish", etc.), they were able to endear themselves to an entirely different group of individuals than those who normally watch The Today Show.
The reaction was glee, lots of reblogs and plenty of heart clicking. When a Tumblr blogger jokingly asked, "OMG TODAY SHOW WHAT ARE YOU DOING," the Today Show Tumblr author didn't freak out and delete the post or apologize and backpedal. He or she responded with, "We’re just doing what you’re already thinking."
Which is honest and playful and further endearing these users to The Today Show brand, all because this author did something unexpected, a little brave and stuck by the post.
Newsweek even chimed in with "Media Tumblrs: WE ARE PEOPLE TOO!"
Which is true. Tumblr users know how Tumblrs get made. Even the ones for major television programs where the stars make many, many millions of dollars. It's one or two people, maybe a small team--maybe--deciding what to publish and how to do it and how often and how come. To pretend that the author of that Today Show Tumblr post doesn't have an opinion or a sense of humor or a mind of their own is dishonest. This is what they mean by "be authentic." It kinda just comes down to "don't lie."
We know that is an attractive actor. They know that is an attractive actor. Saying it aloud in the right forum--one where the audience can recognize and appreciate your tiny risk--is not a danger to your company's bottom line. It just isn't.
To the first set of mantras and orders listed at the head of this post I'd add, "Take reasoned, tiny risks." It's what people do. It's what people have to do as humans. In this way your company can be more like the people it aims to reach. And the payoff can be tremendous.
I made it to all four boroughs but Staten Island.
Color me unsurprised at the arrangement of these throw pillows. Ranked in order.
Once upon a time I said aloud to a couple of New Yorkers, "I've never been to Staten Island."
Someone quickly responded, "It's a dump. Literally. It's where the garbage goes. And the people aren't much different."
I'm sure Staten Island is lovely. I'm sorry I didn't give it a fair shake while I was in New York City. Well, 4/5ths of it.
I am too short to work in a kitchen. Or! Are kitchens built for people who are tall?
At 5' 4", I am the average height of a U.S. woman. More women in the United States are 5'4" than are not. Still, working in a restaurant, I feel exceptionally short.
I can't reach the glasses on the top shelf, I have to grab a chair and climb to get linens stacked above and one night a box of organic English breakfast tea busted my lip when I couldn't reach it and used brute force to punch it down from its perch.
"Would you get this down for me? I can't reach it," I once said to a co-worker over 6 feet tall.
"That is a common refrain around here," and I don't think he's wrong. If I were tall I'd be pissed about all the extra work I had to do for "shorties" who can't reach. But, if 5'4" is the national average of US women, then who are these commercial kitchens made for?
I'll give you one guess.
Going back as far as I can remember, I was always a slave to ever-present anxiety. I lost friends, never made them, avoided events, stayed in bed, flaked, backed out and wasted more time that I can really wrap my mind around on worry. Incessant, gut-grinding, sometimes vomit-inducing anxiety.
It ruled my life. I self-medicated with this and that. Spent three years in therapy. Did two stints on SSRIs, the last prescription of which I genuinely believe saved my life. But, still, most of the time it kicked my ass. The anxiety almost always won. Sometimes I would get a glimpse of the way things were with clarity, without the cloak of worry, and I would see for a second what it could be like. Those fleeting moments pushed me onward. That and a survivor's will.
Sometimes the worry would be about nothing at all. A gnawing nervousness in my belly, my throat closed, my heart beating so quickly I swore it would skip beats sometimes. Other times it would be about something very specific, very real in my life and something I was deathly afraid of. Then there were the times I was scared to leave my house. Or answer the door. Or take a phone call.
I write this in the past tense not because I have completely erased my anxiety, but because I now own it. It doesn't direct the moves of my life anymore. It still rears its nasty, powerful head, but I understand it for the facade it really is, nothing but a creation of a mind that has the power to reverse its very existence.
I just moved in with a good egg named Beth. She allowed me and my two cats to move in to her beuatiful home, and I want very much to cultivate a respectful roommate relationship. This involves making sure that the cats don't shit or piss on anything, claw at precious items or get too much cat hair on anything.
Just a couple of days after I plopped down my things and set out a litter box, my new roomie flew to New York for a trip. It was just a couple of days after that when I noticed a rip in the lovely, fragile curtains that shade the living room. "Oh God," I thought. "One of the cats leapt for a bird on the other side of the pane, got a claw caught in the curtain and tore it. Obviously, this is an heirloom curtain that her great-grandmother sewed just before the birth of her beloved grandfather."
I began down a familiar road. I locked the cats out of the living room, sat down and began to freak out. Two days in and I'd already let the cats ruin something precious. I was such a shit head. What was I going to do? I would buy her new curtains, obviously, but how could I replace the sentimentality now lost to my bad cat parenting?
Then I remembered something that keeps me sane. The thing essential to battling anxiety and worry and fear: Don't be a part of that story.
Our minds are wired for storytelling. We create story lines to make sense of so much scattered and random sensory input that we would go mad without the beginnings, middles and ends that we create. And at any time we can change the story.
What is done is done, there is nothing about the past you can change. I considered how I would rectify the situation and any other narrative like "Those were irreplaceable," or "She's going to hate me and want me to move out," popped up, for sure, but I realized I was the author of those narratives.
I wasn't going to bother Beth with this on her vacation and that I would just have to wait until she came back to handle it. Years ago, this would have eaten me alive. I would have worried, stressed and belly-ached for days on end, perhaps even becoming so tortured that I would have called Beth on her trip to let her know about the rip against my better judgement, knowing that it was unnecessary, but wanting relief from my overwhelming anxiety.
This time, I just kept my mind on the present: folding napkins, washing my hair, reading a book, rather than let my mind become consumed with dread and fear.
There was no grand epiphany or magic drug or breakthrough psychology session that allowed me to own my axiety, but a slow, steady, constant drip of effort to find relief. Over time, with lots of help and a tremendous amount of patience of the part of people I hold dear, I just got better. I believe the SSRIs helped me get where I am today, in control, but they are no longer in my system. My utter owning of my reality, and therefore my anxiety, is something born of years of intense amounts of trying. Eventually, for me, thankfully (and I am so, so thankful), I kicked anxiety's ass.
For the record, Beth got back last night when I broke it to her about the curtains.
"There has always been a rip there," she said, still casually flipping through a week's worth of mail.
There has always been a rip there.
All along there was nothing to worry about.
It feels amazing to know I didn't waste valuable time on something I need not be. It feels amazing to have kicked anxiety's ass. It feels like nothing I've ever felt before to be the author of my own existence.
I am back in the city that fits.
But this time I come to it with fourteen months of urban combat training under my belt.
Before San Francisco used to feel majestic and overwhelming. Now it feels majestic and ready to bend to my will.