Sold out – Empty shelves are common


I don’t know about you but at least I grew up at a time where empty shelves in grocery stores were long gone. Of course, there were my grand parents who told me about the care packages and the food stamps they’d used after WWII. But that was a long time ago – I supposed. But it seems I was wrong all those years. ‘Cause since I’ve been living in New York I see empty shelves in grocery store regularly. Every other week if you’d like so.

As many other New Yorkers I still take my bi-weekly trips down to 14th street to get some affordable groceries at Trader Joes. You can get some decent stuff there: For instance cheese that’s less then 9 Dollars. Which would be the regular price in many other stores within Manhattan. But you have to have the luck of the draw while stopping by at the American version of ‘Aldi‘. Cause if you are to late you’ll literally face empty shelves. And they are not empty because the service guy’s are lacy to fill them up again. They are sold out. Gone for the day. I took some pix there a little while ago just to convince you completely. Did you get these creepy goes-pumps already?

Maybe this matter of fact leads to the conclusion that to live in a capitalistic society that’s out of control is as bad as to live in one which had to deal with the aftermath of a cruel dictatorship. Just a thought.

Soup-er Bowl #45


It is one of the biggest sports events in the world with over 150 million expected viewers in 2011: The Super Bowl. A giant American tradition since 1967 when the first Super Bowl was played. Which had only 50 million viewers at the time. Meanwhile you’d need the entire population of Germany and France watching the same event to cover the current audience. But just to get this huge number a little bit more tangible: I’d estimate that more than 98 percent of those viewers don’t understand anything about the rules. Which narrows the audience down to the inhabitants of Berlin let’s say. ‘Cause most of the viewers just stick in front of the screen waiting anxiously of the guy with the white shoes. What’s his name – “Waterboy“, right. And honestly: I’m one of them. Cause the entire scenery looks more like a movie set to me. As a European I’m still not sure if this bowl thing truly is sports since they use radios to refine the games strategy while playing. Or is that because all those Americans can’t remember the purpose of the game after the first 15 minutes and someone has to tell them what to do? Just a guess.

Anyway, this soup bowl event is an interesting thing nevertheless. And that’s because it comes with these commercial breaks. And that’s when the 150 million viewers are on the same page again. Why? Clear cut: Everybody knows naturally something about consumption. And that’s why every year the rate of a 30-second spot mounts up insanely. When the Super Bowl started in 1967 the average fee to air a commercial was $42K. This year its $3 million even. But remember – you’ll reach 150 consume professionals at once. That means we are talking about a $20 cost per mille, which is almost the same amount you’d pay for an average newsletter campaign. But this only as a side kick for all of you who need to convince a client to put on a spot for the Super Bowl rather than to blow off another email blast.

I think I’ll have to change my name now since I made it official and compared the holy Super Bowl with email marketing campaigns for soup suppliers. Don’t judge me Americans, I’m a poor German lost in the futuristic surrounding of the new world. Radios, tz, tz, tz.

The Undercity


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.

The Proof – New York City Rental Index


“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


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.