The Undercity

01/07/2011

There is always something underneath something. Which, of course, most people are not interested in because they don’t like to dig through the greasy and muddy surface to unveil the treasure underneath. Fortunately, there are some people left who do care for treasure hunt. And if this treasure hunt takes place in, or more precisely, under New York City it’s even more exciting. So if you’ve been always wondering what’s under the most popular and precious landmarks of NYC you should definitely take a glimpse at Andrew Wonder’s video below.

The documentary starts with a short visit at the abandoned City Hall Subway Station which, by the way, can be visited by taking the 6 train to Brooklyn Bridge Station and not getting out of the car. ‘Cause MTA is using the old station as sort of a roundabout for its trains you’ll have the chance to drive through. But in contradiction to Andrew Wonder and Steve Duncan you won’t be able to literally take a stroll on the platform.

Another thing you’ll probably never experience by yourself is the incredible few from the Williamsbourg Bridge to the skyline of Manhattan. A truly stunning end of this revealing clip. Oh, and if you don’t believe that there’s some community life going on underneath fun city, you should take a deeper look to the mid section of this video. Steve is interviewing some ‘Tunel Residents’ who’ve been living in the underground for nearly 30 years.

It’s not always about what you’ll see in the first place man.

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The Proof – New York City Rental Index

12/20/2010

“Where do you live? Oh New York, great. But probably very expensive, isn’t it?” That’s a typical phrase I’m hearing every so often while talking about the current city I live in. And it’s true, it is expensive. But most people don’t realize how expensive it really is. Why? Because talking about cost of living also means talking about relativity. For instance, just a couple of weeks ago a friend of mine was visiting from Zurich, Switzerland. And he surprisingly said, “Oh, it isn’t really that pricy I’ve supposed it would be.” Of course it isn’t, coming from Switzerland with a paycheck three times as much as an average New York City salary. But most people who have to make a living with a decent job in town struggle with the tremendous cost of living. As a proof just take a look at the current rental index below. Almost §3.000 for a decent One-Bedroom-Apartment is ridiculously expensive. And it explains very well why New York City is probably the capital of shared apartments.

I’ve never encountered more people, outside of a student community, living with roommates. It’s the only way to deal with the upscale rent at least in Manhattan. Except you are a fellow of Gordon Gekko. A couple of month ago I had the chance to talk to one of these legendary Wall Street bankers. And he told me frankly, that the spooky salaries you sometimes hear of are not part of a conspiracy theory. It’s the truth. Their salaries range actually from 300 to 350 thousand Dollars a year after graduating from a notable business school. But honestly, even for this amount of money: Who wants’ to work in this kind of boring industry. “Where do you live” is probably an important question. But the more important one is “what do you live for”, isn’t it?


Off Broadway

12/14/2010

It’s Christmas again. And what happens on Christmas in NYC? Right, the city is getting crammed by lots of Tourists. Mostly Europeans. And what is a typical European going to see once in a boozy Christmas mood? Yep, a Musical. Basically some performance of the Lions King, or the thing with the Phantom. You know. The one featuring an unknown black masked guy. Some very fast forward fellows probably will try to get tickets for the brand new Spiderman Show. A performance which is under hot discussion lately because of its budget deficit and the complicated rehearsals with injured stuntmen. But it’s on now. And the financiers are save since they could get some bankable stars such as Bono of U2, who functions as composer and Julie Taymor, who is directing the entire spider magic. It guarantees surely a mainstream performance. And if you are supposed to belong to the mainstream please feel free to blow your money for one of the mentioned shows.

But if you are the kind of guy who likes to visit more off beat places you should definitely give this show a shot. It’s called Fuerza Bruta and comes originally from South America. It’s a fantastic show that incorporates the audience as well. It’s a mixture of club and theatre experience combined with improvisational acts. The show is certainly nothing to lean back and enjoy the made up Christmas mood. It’s more like carnival in Brazil without being there rather being in a dark basement somewhere close to Union Square. For only $75 it’s even less expensive than watching a guy who claims to be a spider. Actually this reminds me even more of carnival. The kind that takes place in Cologne, Germany.


The land of opportunity: Rules

11/23/2010

Yep, you are right. When you think of America you think of a country of freedom and less rules in the first place. But when you’ve been living here for a while you find out that people literally begging for rules and role models here. For instance: To feel good at the register of any store Americans need the area in front of the cashier cordoned off. And don’t break the “in line” rule – how dare you. Stay in line, shut up and freeze. I know, it sounds like the most German accuracy you’ve ever encountered. But it isn’t. It’s American live daily.

And it gets even better. I took this picture a couple of days ago in one of the City’s recreation spots close to 5th Ave. First I thought it might be a marketing joke trying to get awareness for an animal shelter or something like that. But it turned out, that it is the bitter truth. So to all of my German countryman: When you are planning ever coming to New York, please notice not to bring more than three of your sidewalk shitting quadruped. Because otherwise you have to look for a Nanny who is waiting outside of the dog run with the rest of the team members of your personal dog sledge.

There might be a chance to go for a stroll with your beloved in one of the fitting rooms at Saks or Bloomingdales. ‘Cause they allow approximately five pieces at a time as far as I remember. But I don’t know if your German shepherd can pretend to be some sort of a European fur coat. But maybe it is worth it to try. ‘Cause creativity rules! Even in the land of ruled opportunities.


Bride with a Beard

11/05/2010

I don’t know about you, but I truly like this ad. Because it’s more obvious than you might think. And it is obvious, isn’t it? It’s a great job from a professional agency perspective. I mean we could start arguing if this mustache looks great on her or not. But the more interesting part on this is why only a few American companies breaking the social rules in their advertisement. While it is a common thing in Europe to put on campaigns that really go under the social waist, most American competitors are very polite and respectful. Matter of fact this is the first time I’ve seen such kind of social incorrectness in advertisement. Do you remember Diesel’s last campaign “be stupid?” Amongst others they displayed this tasteful little boob-shooting in the shop window at the Store on Lexington and 59th. After two days the display was still there. But they’d covered the visible boob with a pink label.

Come on, what’s the point. Isn’t it a little narrow-minded to believe that you have to cover boobs in New York City because of social reasons? Do Americans truly think because they beep out the f-word during the Saturday night movie and blur all nude scenes people getting better in a religious sense? I didn’t get it yet, but I’m still working on it. I would be thankful if somebody could enlighten me on this. But until the penny has dropped I’ll recommend my American friends to work on the advertisement beside as sort of a mutual mentality approach. Have a great weekend fellow Yankees.


The Tower of Babel

10/14/2010

There is no town in the world where you’ll hear more different dialects and accents than in New York. The entire scenario reminds me every so often of the biblical story about the tower of Babel. Because lots of people in town don’t understand each other but try nevertheless to reach higher and higher goals at the same time. And it’s working out somehow. And the truly nagging question is why?

Americans are used to botched jobs
So in my opinion it’s because especially Americans aren’t that picky about language than Germans are for instance. And, to draw a slightly bigger picture concurrently, this attitude is part of the whole American lifestyle. Matter of fact Americans aren’t used to be very precise. They have a much lower level of quality standards for what you’ll get proof of in your everyday life. What Germans would call botched jobs is for Americans still ok. Let me give you just one tiny example: The TV cable providers, at least in New York, have the problem, that their bandwidth isn’t sufficient anymore for millions and millions participants. So it’s part of your daily New Yorker TV life now, that during a TV show the pictures are going to stuck regularly. Sometimes the picture is flickering up to 20 seconds. And you know what: They don’t care. The people here know about the issue and they live with it. Nobody would call the customer service line because of this little broadcast bug. Can you imagine watching your beloved ‘sportschau’ and miss every other goal because of a bandwidth issue?

New Yorkers are more liberal than people elsewhere
But as annoying it is sometimes to deal with this quality level we are not accustomed to, it has its advantages as well. Because it means that people here are much more liberal in a sense. They don’t judge you because you don’t speak the language very proficient or you don’t know a certain business term exactly. They just go with it and try to get it done anyway. That’s at least when we are talking about New York. This assumption probably isn’t quite true for the rest of the country, especially not for more rural areas in the mid west.

In that sense just watch the video below and imagine that you have to deal with so many dialects and accents in your daily professional live. Would you be that liberal and patient as they are? Oh, and after you watched the video it should be sort of self-explanatory that you can’t be 110 percent precise when you only can catch up with 75 percent of the content that is thrown on you. Don’t you think?

Video via Alvin Harrison


It’s all about the nuance

09/29/2010

It’s been a little while since my Toastmaster buddy Adam Kornfield was visiting Zurich for a quick stop over on his journey to South Africa. Matter of fact he flew over there with his friends to see the cup of course. So you might think that they got trapped by one of the widely known tourist traps in South Africa. But you’d fail on this. Because the actual tourist trap they were caught was waiting in down town Zurich. In the form of an ordinary tap water.

To catch up with the video below you have to know that it’s been a standard all over America to get free water if you order a dish somewhere in a restaurant. So escepially in very pricy environments like New Yorks it’s part of the daily grind to sip on some tap water while having dinner or lunch somewhere. And believe me, at least Europeans suffer on this chlorine flavored something and its usual ice cube decoration.

So just lean back and enjoy the video. It’s very funny and explaines the nuances you have to deal with while going abroad. Thx Adam for sharing this piece.