Documentaries

I have been on a documentary roll. I have also been on a film roll. Documentaries examine facts—information for your brain. Movies tell creative stories.

I watched a few films this past weekend showing at the Jewish Film Festival at Lincoln Center. Watching films that tell stories that are about relationships yet in different countries is so eye-opening. Different cultures are the only thing that separates us. Everyone should see films that open your eyes to the other parts of the world.

The one documentary that I keep thinking about is Crazy Not Insane. It isn’t easy to watch, but Dr. Dorothy Lewis has spent her entire career examining people that society would just like to cross out. She is an expert in serial killers. What is clear is that nobody is born evil. Evil happens to people who are placed in circumstances that are out of their hands.

You can hold people accountable for the crime they committed, but you can’t always hold them accountable for the person they are.  Everyone’s makeup is different.  Being tortured daily, sexually abused, living in a drug den, eating no food, and having a drug addict as a parent.  These are real things that impact each individual so differently, and it happens. We should rethink our system. We can add Death Row to that. It is inhumane. It is time.

Even Indeed runs an ad of a company hiring someone who has been incarcerated.  It is a great ad and a real first. We can do better.  Some people can never leave jail, while some crimes should not send people to jail.  We need to stop just throwing people in jail but figuring out how we can keep them out of jail. It is time to change our system by putting money into social systems and safety nets that help everyone live to their full potential.

There has to be a better way of helping underserved or abused people who haven’t had the good fortune to live in a safe society.  We really need to take a much more humane approach to people who have been damaged. How many people who are in jail are harmful to society? How come we have got to the point where it just easier to throw away the key on someone’s life?

The movie is a worthy watch. Thinking about this topic is something we should all do.

MLK 2021

It took until 2000 for all the states to recognize a day to observe and remember MLK. Reagan signed MLK Day into law in 1983. The difference of 17 years for all to recognize the day speaks to itself.

King’s activism for Civil Rights created a foundation for any of us to bring people together for non-violent movements. The power of seeing people from all walks of life get together to march against one right, although subtle, speaks volumes. Black Lives Matters, Women’s Rights, Anti-Guns, etc. Not just in the US but globally, the surge of non-violent protests from public fury packs a powerful punch seeking change and transformation.

If only the people who have attempted to overthrow our Government on January 6th came to Washington to march in peace. To show their frustration instead of rioting the capital with guns, knives, and ropes with the desire to create havoc and spread hate.

As an eternal optimist, I believe we have got to a place in our country where we are finally coming to a reckoning with our history, especially our dirty history. It took Covid and Trump to get us there, but there are always silver linings.

Joe Biden has put together his top team of 25 people with a myriad of faces, and 12 of them are women, and his VP is a Black Indian woman. This is game-changing.

I want to believe that finally, MLK would be happy in the direction we are finally heading.

Chickpea Stew with Orzo and Greens

Lunch the next day with grilled cheese

Another winner from the NYTimes. What is great about this recipe is it takes less than 30 minutes to make. It gets better over time. Two lunches later, the soup is done!

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb or 2 celery stalks (I used fennel)
  • 1 medium onion
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2cups chicken or vegetable broth (or water, but the broth is better)
  • 1(15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup roughly chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
  • ½ cup whole-wheat or regular orzo
  • 1quart loosely packed baby mustard greens or spinach (about 5 ounces)
  • ¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, more as needed

In a large pot saute the onions, carrot, fennel and red pepper flakes. I usually put the olive oil on the bottom of the pan, then add the red pepper flakes and some salt before adding in the vegetables. Cook until soft.

Add the broth plus an additional 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Then add the orzo, tomatoes, and chickpeas. Bring down to simmer. Cover with a lid for ten minutes.

Add the greens and stir until soft and incorporated.

Serve. You can put a drop of olive oil over the top or some chopped scallions, but the key is really the cheese.

Future Homes, Cities, Neighborhoods

We have all spent a ridiculous amount of time these past 10 months in our homes. We have created small communities for ourselves due to the pandemic. Our cities have struggled. Many have picked up and made moves to the suburbs or exurbs. How will all of these changes look when we get our get out of jail card?

The open homes don’t work so well during a pandemic. People need separation. Will architects start to think differently about how we live. A dedicated home office will become essential. Outdoor space is much needed just to breathe. Will the open kitchen, dining room, living room become more essential as a place where we all congregate? Will our bedrooms become places where we can retreat to for more than just sleeping? Have our homes become outdated in a year?

Neighborhoods can be anywhere, rural or urban; it doesn’t matter. In cities, there are thousands of neighborhoods. Communities are connected around those neighborhoods and Main street. Ecommerce is great, but there are certain things that you need to do and have an interaction with another human, like getting your shoes repaired. I don’t see myself sending that overnight to someone to get repaired, and then they send it back when the shoes are fixed. Although I am sure, someone tried to start a company around it. The numbers don’t work as many of the gig economy businesses we enjoy. Don’t fret; they will all be held afloat with public markets for quite a while.

We have an opportunity to rebuild our cities and neighborhoods which in turn create communities. We have changed our behavior during the past year. People can work from home and don’t need to be in the city all the time or even live there. Can’t say that for myself but I get it. What is the key to making suburban life better? Stores, restaurants, access to more art and culture…what?

Almost every other aspect of our lives has been propelled into the 21st century from the pandemic forcing us to use technological advancements that has not only helped our businesses but have filled the void for the needs of our society. The way we live has changed. We should all asking ourselves what is it we want from our homes, cities, and neighborhoods.

10 Months and Counting

I have always been looking over my shoulder. Over the years, I have come to understand myself better so I get it. I have managed to keep that desire to give a peek and run at full speed tempered. I now take more time, go through several processes in my head, before really making sure that any new directions make sense.

This past year is so fucking strange is it hard to make any decisions. I have got excited about a few things but as I spend time doing a reality check, I am not sure if any decisions or major changes should take place during a pandemic.

I want to get out of the malaise. I want to jump into something new. I want to also travel the second I can. I want to walk free and have dinner with my friends, indoors. I want to go to a museum, go to a movie, go to a gallery, go to a store and not freak out being around other humans. We all have our wishes when we are vaccinated.

I find myself doing Zooms, business projects, jigsaw puzzles, reading books, and making meals in the same environment every day.

It is hard not to contain myself from jumping into something feet first when I realize what I really want to do is engage in something else besides living through a pandemic. The worst is the social void.

There is definitely a light beaming at the end of the tunnel. I feel like it is burning a little brighter every day. Fingers crossed.

The Terminator…and now what?

Hats off to @Schwarzenegger for this speech. If you haven’t seen it, watch.

I keep thinking about the terrorist at the Capital wearing the Auschwitz Camp sweatshirt. You don’t want to believe that kind of thought process still exists, but sadly it does. Think about Germany. Merkel has been an incredible leader, but will we ever look at Germany without thinking about the Nazis? If you are Jewish, you won’t.

We elected someone who has brain-washed a huge segment of the American public, similar to a cult. Why? What is it that makes people glom on to lies? Are there any similarities between us and Germany when we put someone like Trump in the most powerful seat in the world? We should understand this so as a nation we can figure out how it never happens again.

The real question is “should America prosecute their ex-Presidents?” It is a slippery slope. There are too many countries that elect, prosecute, elect, prosecute. It isn’t pretty and doesn’t help nations move forward.  But what has taken place over the past four years and certainly the past week, I don’t think we have a choice if we never want this to happen again.

Charles Blow wrote “Now we have to ask a very serious question: What do we do now as a society and as a body politic? Do we simply turn the page and hope for a better day, let bygones be bygones? Or do we seek some form of justice, to hold people accountable for taking this country to the brink?

I say that we must prosecute all people who have committed crimes and punish all those who have broken rules. The rule of law can’t simply be for the common man; it must also be for the exalted man. Because only then will the ideas of fairness and justice have meaning.

Unfortunately, I agree.  We can’t just turn the page and move forward without shining a light on illegal, destructive, and dangerous behavior.  It is a sad turn of events in our country, but people must be held accountable for last week’s actions (and more) no matter what seat they sit in.

After the Pandemic Ends

We came back out east after a hot second in the city.  We have a cadence, and it works.  We leave at around 845am to drive back to the city, and it takes only two hours. On the way out, we leave at 1130am and stop at Katz’s to get a turkey sandwich to split.  Sometimes we go wild and have pastrami, but honestly, we can’t do that often at this point in life.  

On the way out yesterday, I saw something that chilled me to the bone.  If you have been driving or even walking around NYC, you see more homeless and street people over the past year.  When you drive, some people approach the cars asking for money at the stoplights. In the ’80s, many would clean your windshield for some cash. 

Yesterday I saw a young man who had nice clean worn clothes that had a sense of style like he could have been a hipster at a tech company or ran the front of house in a restaurant.  He could have been a friend of our kids. He was walking through the cars, just begging with his hands.  The look in his eyes frightened me.  He was definitely having a mental breakdown and was thoroughly lost.  Who knows how he got there.  After all, we are living in a pandemic in an insanely wealthy country created by the financial industry for themselves with zero safety net. 

The light changed, and we were in the middle of the lanes, so I couldn’t do anything.  We just drove on, but I can’t get his face out of my head.  It wasn’t good.  We need to amplify how we spend our tax money on mental health and housing. This pandemic is ten months deep.  Everyone is dealing in their own ways. This young man had obviously lost it.  It is upsetting to see anyone in these circumstances, but this young man chilled me to my core.

How many more people are in the same boat?  When the tide pulled out, we saw how many companies were naked. How many people were living hand to mouth. Unfortunately, we won’t find out how many more people got to the place this young man obviously has until the tide returns.  

Ssense

Net-A-Porter launched in 2000. I found it thrilling. What a smart idea of aggregating all of the designers online where I could go back all the time to see the latest and greatest. It was easier to find new merchandise there than going to a department store, particularly new designers.

I remember buying a red handbag on Net-A-Porter that cost me less, including shipping, because of the difference between the euro and the US dollar. I saw the same bag about six months later at a store, which was much more expensive. Now that doesn’t happen because the retail world has caught up to that.

Before that was Matches for Fashion, then there was MyTheresa, then Ssense, and Farfetch. What I love about Farfetch is that the front end is similar to Net-A-Porter but the back end is an aggregation of small boutiques worldwide. I have visited many of the boutiques on their site when we travel. It is also well run, simple to use, and return. Ssense, not so much.

There are only a few times where I have shared horrific experiences with companies on this blog but this particular experience is one I can not keep to myself particularly during these times when so many people are going out of business.

I made a purchase on Ssense. Simply put, I never received it. I tracked the package and it was noted as delivered in the Canadian Post system. I called Ssense. They said sometimes that happens, just wait a few days, it usually shows up. It never showed up.

I called again and then they began to look into it. I called a week later, they still had not begun to look into it, their bad, now they were going to start an investigation. I asked for my money back in the interim. They refused to do that and pleaded with me not to call my bank (aka American Express) so that the investigation would not be stopped. Questionable on why that would make any difference but I obliged.

Four weeks passed, I kept on top of it until finally, I received an email in my box saying that they looked into the issue and the box had been delivered and signed for. Did they provide who signed for it? No. Did they give me any other information? No. Do they believe me? No.

I had got some questionnaires over this time from the Canadian Post to understand the delivery situation. We have a doorman, and we also have four families living in our building, so nothing gets lost.

I found out that Ssense hands off their deliveries from Canada to USPS vs. UPS, FedEx, or DHL. That is the number one problem. USPS doesn’t deliver packages in NYC even if they are supposed to. They hand you a slip saying that they attempted to do it, but it is not with thousands of other boxes in a facility in Soho or Chelsea. I never got a slip.

All the other competitors in this area use the best mail and delivery services. What are the cuts into their margins? I have no idea, but it works for the consumer. I wonder if the powers that be at Ssense have been watching the slow destruction of USPS over the past year? Where is the coat I purchased? I have no idea.

What I do know is that I will never buy from Ssense again….and I called American Express.

Residential Reinvention: Frame Home

©Marketer, The Journal of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, December 2020, www.smps.org

I did a fireside chat with Rita McGrath this past year. She is amazing and our conversation was thought provoking. Truly enjoyed chatting with her. There were many on Zoom watching our chat and asking questions.

One of the many wonderful things about those conversations, I have met the most amazing people. Marjanne Pearson emailed me afterward to discuss real estate, construction, architecture, and everything else in that bucket.

She introduced me to her colleague, Brien McDaniel, who works with her and writes articles about the industry.

Here is the article below.

283 Frame Home

Recognizing the next trend, innovation, or client need in order to stay ahead of the curve (or your competition) is a constant in the A/E/C industries. As a marketer, you’re tasked with looking ahead and projecting the future of various markets and directions of your firm. But how can you move your marketing and business plan from the printed page into action and innovation? “It’s easy to do easy. It’s not easy to do hard,” says Joanne Wilson, entrepreneur, angel investor, and co-founder of Frame Home. And that’s exactly what she has done—pushed herself and global companies to keep changing and evolving. Whether a flourishing economy or a recession, it’s this attitude and forward-thinking (and doing), that’s fueled her many careers.

Sustainability Is Key

In 2007, Wilson left the corporate world and reinvented herself as an angel investor. Since then, she started Frame Home, a real estate development firm, with her husband. Frame Home was created from the ground up to be nimble and meet the needs of the time, now and later. This meant developing projects that invested in New York City, particularly Brooklyn, that were more creative and lower risk, with long-term positive impacts on the city and the environment. By using sustainable materials and processes, and state-of-the-art, eco-friendly technologies, Frame Home embraces integrated health and wellness, and a carbon-neutral way of living that empowers the most efficient lifestyles.

Frame 283, their flagship rental apartment building in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, comes to market at the end of this year, and it’s unlike any other project in the city due to its unprecedented features. These technologies include:  Passive house design to create energy efficiencies  Highly efficient electric cooling and heating  Triple-pane windows and doors  Insulated concrete (exterior)  Cross Laminated Timber  Solar arrays  Connection to New York City’s energy grid for resiliency  Private keyed elevators that open directly into each unit

Flipping the Script

The building has two commercial spaces in its base. Instead of finding tenants for these spaces, Frame Home decided to turn them into 26 workspaces—8’ x 8’ pods (each equipped with bipolar ionization in the ducts) that can be rented month to month. Frame 283 sets a precedent for sustainable building practices to move expediently through the city’s regulatory bodies, enabling more sustainable building of this kind.

The building has a move-in date of January 2021 and the next Frame Home is planned for 118 Waverly Place, also in Brooklyn. Wilson says, “So much has changed since COVID-19. What it really did was accelerate the direction Frame Home is heading. We’ve realized that backend technology in every single vertical project is essential, now more than ever. We can’t run smart businesses without it.”

She acknowledges the pandemic has opened her eyes wider when it comes to the climate and has helped with the price of real estate in New York City. She notes, “We need housing desperately, particularly in cities, so there is more equality in creating better and smarter communities.” Wilson believes she has a pulse on the future, and so can you. She acknowledges we’re never returning to the way things were, and while many of us will continue to work at home, others will still need a main office or headquarters. She says, “We need to be thinking differently now more than ever.” She gives this final advice to marketers, “The best way to be ahead of the curve is to invest in and/or direct where you believe things are going. Think forward. Do forward … If you have a great idea, go do it. If not now, then when?”