High Line Update #5: Blooms!

High Line SpringSpring is in the air and purple patches have blossomed on the High Line. Katie from Friends of the High Line tells us that these are “Rhapsody in Blue” flowers, from the Salvia family. While we’re enjoying our office view, we can’t wait to admire them up close, and eagerly await the official opening, rumored to be some time in June. As always, daily updates are available on the official High Line blog. –Kat

May 12, 2009 at 11:21 am Leave a comment

Have You Had Your “McGangBang” Today?

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It’s a simple recipe for a thoroughly unwholesome meal: one McChicken sandwich placed between a Double Cheeseburger’s two patties, both ordered off McDonald’s popular Dollar Menu for a grand total of $2.16. Crudely christened the “McGangBang” by Daytona Beach customers in 2006, the sandwich has steadily earned a voracious following. Today, McDonald’s diners consume the McGangBang both online and off, ordering the absurd sandwich from befuddled employees, while documenting their experiences via Flickr, YouTube and, dare I say, even Twitter. And yet, the way McDonald’s opts to address this public relations pickle will prove to be even more interesting than how their customers are customizing the dollar sandwiches.

To date, the company has issued a single statement on the McGangBang, using a typical smile, deflect and evade approach:

“McDonald’s loves to hear from our valued guests, especially when they customize and create meal combinations to fit their personal taste preferences – no matter how unique! Whether it’s requesting an Egg McMuffin without cheese or a Big Mac with extra secret sauce, McDonald’s is proud to satisfy our customers’ requests and provide them with a variety of great-tasting meals every time they visit our restaurants.”

Is it just me or is ordering a sandwich named after a group sex act slightly different than asking for “an Egg McMuffin without cheese?” (Unless I’m unaware of some naughty new move!)

(more…)

March 24, 2009 at 2:31 pm 2 comments

Motorcycle Federation’s Choppers and Capuccino

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One would think that a biker gear store would be on a little side street in Alphabet City. Newly opened NYC Motorcycle Federation disproves this theory, defiantly sitting on 6th Ave and Downing next to the hip 10 Downing restaurant and across from celebrity-ridden Da Silvano’s. Gleaming vintage bikes and racks of worn leather jackets are juxtaposed with an Illy cafe counter, and a signboard outside the store that cheerfully announces “Refueling station. The best espresso you have ever had”

It makes you curious about the espresso-imbibing NY biker community. To find more, I visited MF’s site:

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While I cannot claim to be intimately acquainted with biker culture, I’m not sure that the phrase “outlaw couture” would roll off the tongues of your traditional Harley-driver. But it’s a new world, and who says you can’t mix Italian espresso with rough and tumble, free wi-fi with rebellion, or energy-efficiency with an engine’s roar?

Rumor has it that  the store was conceived by the talented duo behind fashion-technology-super-trendy DDCLAB. Whether or not this concept hits the mark with bikers, I must admit that I already enjoy their coffee and wifi… and a leather jacket may be next. –Kat

March 1, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Battle Of The (Randomly Generated) Bands

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Before checking out for the weekend, we thought we’d share something silly and wonderful with you. A Flickr user going by the name of “Bishopia” has sparked a new viral trend with his “CD Cover Meme,” a challenge to create your own randomly generated album cover. Don’t have a drop of musical talent? Who cares!

First, click the random article button on Wikipedia. Voila! There’s your band’s name. Second, select the last line of the last quote on QuotationPage’s random option. Bam! There’s your album title. Finally, choose the third picture off Flickr’s “Explore the Last Seven Days” page. Ta da! You have a (fake) band, a (fake) album and (fake) cover art.

This meme immediately reminded me of my colleague Kat’s recent “random delight” post, only now, by inviting people to design and submit original artwork, the randomness phenomena has matured into something new: a call to creative action. Judging from the thousands of impressive submissions, people are taking this silly challenge quite seriously.

— Johnny

Click through for People Are Amazing’s CD art… (more…)

February 20, 2009 at 8:22 pm Leave a comment

Recessionary Thoughts: The Consumption Quandary

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This weekend I walked past the John Fluevog store in Soho, and was struck by their “Buy Better, Buy Less” promotion. In a time when shopping has ground to a halt and 70% sales are the new 30% sales, retailers are looking for new ways to connect with skittish consumers, an especially tricky thing for the luxury industry. One beacon of hope in high-end retail is the concept of buying higher quality, more durable goods, but fewer of them. While not an original thought (just ask your depression-era grandparents about the wastefulness of the past decades), durability has hardly been the backbone of the retail sector, or of pop culture as we know it. In fact, planned obsolescence is key to most business’  long-term strategies.

The “Buy Better, Buy More” wave of green products and free-trade-everything, has been followed by the harsh realities of the economic collapse. So while counter-intuitive from a traditional business perspective, I wonder if culturally, the time has come for companies to redefine their relationship with consumers on fundamental level: asking people to consume less. One viable way to do this would be to offering a more durable product, but augmenting revenue with service/maintenance add-ons. Fluevog for example, could offer re-soling services by cobblers who are experts at working with their designs, thus adding another year to your shoes. Skeptics will balk at this idea, pointing to the direct decrease in replacement shoe sales. But it’s a new era, and perhaps customer loyalty, the knowledge that resources are being maximized, and fresh revenue streams will become necessary differentiators. In most cases, keeping your customers may better than losing them all. –Kat

February 4, 2009 at 12:33 pm Leave a comment

High Line Update #4: On The Fence

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Last week, my colleagues and I noticed the addition of an oddly imposing structure atop the High Line. Upon closer inspection, it appears that workers have installed a security fence on the section directly above 20th Street. While I couldn’t find any information addressing the fence specifically, the High Line’s website informed me that, “the first section of the High Line (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street) is currently on budget, and is projected to open in the spring of 2009.” Using my cunning deductive abilities, I’ve concluded that this is a temporary border fence to keep this spring’s visitors from stumbling onto the construction of the second section.

Other progress since our last update includes new park benches (one is pictured above, covered for winter) and, in the background, the emergent shell of Cary Tamarkin’s 456 West 19th St. building. We’ll be sure to update you with any new progress!

–Johnny

Previous High Line updates: #3 – At Last Grass, #2 – High Line Sunshine, #1 – Our Dependence On Foreign Soil

February 3, 2009 at 3:39 pm Leave a comment

TV On Our Own Terms

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Once upon a time, in an age before TiVo and Netflix, colleagues would gather around the watercooler to chat about the previous night’s popular TV shows. The shared experience of critiquing the latest episodes was a social blessing–or for those unable to tune in, a recurring curse. Whether watched or discussed, TV shows were immoveable objects around which lives were expected to revolve. Over time, however, the opposite became true.

Today, the very questions we ask each other about televison have changed. As programs break free from their allotted timeslots and onto Hulu, iPhones and Xboxes, the question “did you watch _____?” has become “are you watching _____?” Fixed broadcast content is on its way out, with viewers instead watching shows whenever, wherever they want. Take AMC’s breakout hit Mad Men. Judging purely by its weekly viewership, one wouldn’t necessarily deem the show a tremendous success. And yet in the past six months it seems as if the Don Draper and his misogynist creatives are on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Did your friends watch last night’s episode of Mad Men? Not necessarily. But are they watching Mad Men? Damn right they are! Only now, it’s on their own terms, their own schedule, their own pace and their own devices.

As a result, weekly watercooler conversations have all but evaporated. Barring the Superbowl, the Oscars and certain major political events, today’s audience no longer experiences TV en masse. Unbound to a prescribed way of watching, viewers have turned online to discuss shows, where they can sort and sift through specifically what’s relevant to them. But god forbid they catch up to real-time! Fan websites, for instance, must now post “spoiler alerts” when discussing up-to-date episodes in order to prevent their readers from learning untimely plot points.

Our clever culture will no doubt adjust to these time-shifting technologies, but not without a heavy dose of nostalgic protest. “I remember when my friends used to watch the same shows, at the same time, and talk about them afterwards,” they’ll say. With any hope, the same technologies behind our liberation from broadcast TV will rekindle the faded joys of tuning in together.

— Johnny

January 27, 2009 at 5:14 pm Leave a comment

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