This comes to us from a Riverside Green reader who would like to remain anonymous — JB
I am an industrial salesman. I sell metal. My company is a “boutique” outlet for specialty alloys and steels, and heavily involved in aerospace and oil & gas. Because of our niche position in the market, it is embarrassingly lucrative. In the last four months of 2017, I brought home more money than my father ever received annually throughout his 43 years of blue collar labor. I was 27. Those four months were spent in an air-conditioned office, a luxury that Dad did not know until very late in his career. I am deeply ashamed of this, and do not know how to reconcile it with my previously held notions about success.
“I hope you like it… it took me 90 minutes to make it.” That’s John Mayer’s pitch for the “New Light” video, which he teased on Instagram the day beforehand with endless discussions on “content”.
As usual, John’s on to something. We live in the era of “content” rather than “creation”. Creation takes time, but the Internet isn’t hungry for creation. It’s hungry for content, which is ephemeral by nature and by design. It takes a while to interact with creation, but content is the equivalent of the Burger King Mac N’ Cheetos. You consume it, perhaps glancing at an advertisement as you do so, then you move on.
This didn’t happen by accident. This situation was created by reasonably smart people who had some reasonably smart ideas regarding creation versus aggregation. For a meandering and fairly spergy but still perceptive insight into the gap between creation and aggregation, take a look at this article about the never-ending battle between Yelp and Google. Yelp was designed to take advantage of Google Search, but in doing so they made themselves hideously vulnerable to Google’s every whim. Furthermore, they serve as a living example of “the commoditization of content” in favor of aggregation.
John Mayer doesn’t need Google. He has a built-in fan base who pay attention to his every move, even when that move is eating hot wings while wearing a $75,000 watch. You can look at this video as an example of authentically aristocratic disdain for “content pushers”, or you can see it as his wink and nod to an aging fanbase. Hell, it might just be a chance for him to show off some rare and expensive pieces of Japanese street style. I don’t know. The rest of us out there aren’t so lucky. We need to keep generating content the way a child needs to tread water once he’s too far off shore to come home — and for the same reason.
Earlier this week, Starbucks made a hysterical, ridiculous, and plain ol’ stupid decision to allow people to loiter in their stores and use their restrooms at will, no purchase necessary.
Starbucks stated in their press release that “everyone who visits Starbucks is a customer.” Allow me to retort: HAHAHAHAHAHA. No, they aren’t. Customers are defined as people who purchase goods and services. People who sit on your couches, use your free wifi, and dirty up your bathrooms? Not customers. And anybody who has worked in retail for more than five minutes will agree with this.
Your humble author worked retail for well over a decade. I started in high school and college at a musical instrument store, working there for almost four years before I went on to work for Verizon, T-Mobile, Men’s Wearhouse, and Cricket in store and district leadership roles from 2001 to 2010. I can tell you, without qualification, that loitering customers are always bad news.
Richard Herriott at DrivenToWrite has a mildly caustic piece up regarding FCA’s — that’s FIAT’s to you non-automotive-space normies — decision to abandon its traditional focus on small cars. Citing fears that small cars are becoming “commoditized”, FCA will shift the majority of its development, engineering, and production efforts to vehicles from brands like Maserati and Alfa Romeo, which face no danger of commoditization because traditionally commodities are known to be in more or less constant demand.
Mr. Herriott worries that FCA is going to lose what we’d call a “customer pipeline” as a result of this. He points out, quite rightly, that buyers are statistically loyal to the last brand they’ve purchased and that FCA’s lack of small-car development will cost it customers for its large-car lineup. Twenty years ago, or even ten years ago, I would have agreed with him. Today, however, we live in the world of the 9.9 percent.
This month’s issue has all sorts of supercar and superstar stuff in it, most notably another sentimental and fascinating piece on Alois Ruf and his work by Sam Smith, but the dedicated reader will eventually work his way back to page 56 where you can read my investigation of a thoroughly diverse luxury trio. Each of them is impressive in its own right but it was the Navigator Black Label that made the strongest argument for a space in my driveway. It could replace the Silverado and a luxury car to be named later. Of course, for the $100,315 sticker price, you could get my Silverado plus a gently used Lexus LS460 or Mercedes S550.
Life is full of tough choices when you’re rich! Since I’m not rich, I’m going to keep the fleet just the way it is. My days of running a pair of brand-new full-sized Germans at any given time are long gone. On the other hand, one of my readers just alerted me to a couple of leftover 2017 Accord V6 6MT coupes in California. Surely there’s no harm in having three of those, right?
There’s just something about those old luxury cars-Cadillac, Lincoln and Chrysler. Those of you who’ve been reading my old car posts for a while can generally predict that I’ll probably be going on about some 1960s-1980s U.S. luxury sedan or coupe that most people under 30 will not recognize, nor care about. “Like, that’s old, I love my Prius/Altima/silversilvermist combover! Who cares about that ancient gas guzzling car dude?” Well, I do.
I didn’t know it was going to be the last ride of my ill-advised, midlife return to motocross, but that’s the thing about last rides – they don’t care about your plans. I had a long second over the finish line jump to ponder the fact that no part of my body was connected to my KTM, and that my children are likely to still need me around for a while longer. Why the hell am I doing this? My body survived the landing, but my hobby did not. I’d been riding beyond my diminishing abilities, and the risk was no longer acceptable.
The bike was gone after a quick wash and Craigslist ad, but the void that only speed and competition could fill remained. I’d been wanting to try autocross and track driving, but my Ford Flex wasn’t welcome at either. My girlfriend graciously offered to drive my dad-mobile so I could get a suitable sports car; it should come as no surprise she is now my wife. But I needed more than a track car, this was going to be my daily driver and kid hauler. I needed something that could do it all, and for about $20,000 used.
It’s been a pretty good two weeks for my kid. He made his BMX main and took second despite the fact that he was the youngest kid on the gate by almost two years. He set fast time of the week at our local indoor kart track. His flag football team completed an undefeated season in which he made a major percentage of the points and plays. We took our first “long” road ride together on our mountain bikes, covering 13 miles in about an hour and ten minutes.
Compared to what’s going on with this blog, however, John’s accomplishments are, like, totally boring, man!
It’s time again for another visit to the Chicago Auto Show, thanks to my friend Jim Smith. You see, he’s been attending the event for fifty years. And took quite a few pictures in that time. Lucky for us! So let’s dive into a world of Broughamage and wood-sided wagons, and see what kind of new rolling stock is on display!
It is widely acknowledged that creativity and inventiveness wane greatly in the face of youth. Einstein made his breakthroughs before thirty then famously stated that a scientist who had not made a great contribution before thirty would never do so. Writers tend to lose steam as they leave middle age, if not before. Then, of course, you have musicians, who often do their best work before they turn twenty-one and whose later efforts are often shambolic at best.
No surprise, however, that Bob Dylan is the exception to that rule. Love And Theft, recorded after his fifty-ninth birthday and slightly overlooked on its release date of September 11, 2001, stands easily among his most famous work. Most of the songs are musically simple, but that’s always been the case for the man who was born as Robert Zimmerman but whose reinvention as “Bob Dylan” was but the first of many such transformations. With Love And Theft it’s the odd rhythms of the storytelling, the wild swings between sentimentality and hard-nosed realism, the sly way in which the lyrics work their way into your ear.
Not all of the lyrics are his.