Tag Archives: New York City

If you haven’t read Zadie Smith’s recent essay for the New York Review of Books, ‘Find Your Beach’, I think you should give it a look:

In it, Smith captures the lonely, Janus-like nature of the American self-creation myth – and that it’s often both false and effective. She focuses in particular upon the hyper-distilled version found in daily Manhattan life:

Here the focus is narrow, almost obsessive. Everything that is not absolutely necessary to your happiness has been removed from the visual horizon. The dream is not only of happiness, but of happiness conceived in perfect isolation. Find your beach in the middle of the city. Find your beach no matter what else is happening. Do not be distracted from finding your beach. Find your beach even if—as in the case of this wall painting—it is not actually there. Create this beach inside yourself. Carry it with you wherever you go. The pursuit of happiness has always seemed to me a somewhat heavy American burden, but in Manhattan it is conceived as a peculiar form of duty.

As a former New Yorker, so much of this essay feels real and spot-on to me… and it has an additional virtue: It’s funny.

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Autumn makes me miss New York City: The crisp air and the fall foliage, to be sure, but it always seemed to be the time of year when all the concerts and events that I wanted to see were passing through town.

In that spirit of vicarious enjoyment, I thought I’d share that BBC Future is putting on a new event in New York on October 21st. They’re calling the ‘World-Changing Ideas Summit’ and it looks like they’ve lined up some good speakers. With topics like ‘Can Technology Create a New and Better Renaissance?’, I think it’s probably of interest to many of you as well (and the ‘Why Everyone Needs a Drone’ session seems to have been especially designed to lure my pal Faine into attending).

Check it out… and jump in a leaf pile or something afterwards if you want to make me totally jealous.

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Hurricane Sandy. Evernote AppleScripts.

Veritrope-colored Lightshow as the ConEdison Substation Explodes

It’s certainly been a crazy week here in New York, dealing with Hurricane Sandy and her aftermath: My neighborhood was spared, suffering nothing more than a few downed trees and brief flickering of our lights when a power transformer down the street exploded. But just a short distance away from here, the storm surge did tremendous damage. Many people lost power, heat, water, and in some cases their homes.

I had planned to run another contest this week but, given the circumstances, I didn’t really feel like it.  We’ll do it once things start feeling normal again — hopefully in a few days. In the meantime, would you please consider giving a little something to one of these fine groups?

Evernote AppleScripts Update

A quick code-related update — Many people have been asking if there’s been any progress on fixing the AppleScripts which were broken by Evernote “sandboxing” their app.

Evernote recently announced a completely rewritten Mac app which is now in beta testing. Once it’s released, I’ll continue working on the AppleScripts for Evernote. One side benefit for all you early adopters — since the beta is being distributed outside the Mac App Store, many of the broken AppleScripts seem to be working again.

Feel free to send me a message on Twitter or on App.net if you want to let me know how the new Evernote is working for you.

Excelsior, My Friends

I can’t remember when I learned that the state motto of New York was “Excelsior”1, but it’s a nice word for us New Yorkers — everyone really — to keep in mind during difficult times.

Perhaps not coincidentally, it’s also the title of a Walt Whitman poem which, when it originally appeared in the second edition of Leaves of Grass, was called “Poem of the Heart of the Son of Manhattan Island”.

Like a true New Yorker, Walt couldn’t help but brag a little.
Okay — a lot:

Who has gone farthest? for I would go farther,
And who has been just? for I would be the most just person of the earth,
And who most cautious? for I would be more cautious,
And who has been happiest? O I think it is I—I think no one was
ever happier than I,
And who has lavish’d all? for I lavish constantly the best I have,
And who proudest? for I think I have reason to be the proudest son
alive—for I am the son of the brawny and tall-topt city,
And who has been bold and true? for I would be the boldest and
truest being of the universe,
And who benevolent? for I would show more benevolence than all the rest,
And who has receiv’d the love of the most friends? for I know what
it is to receive the passionate love of many friends,
And who possesses a perfect and enamour’d body? for I do not believe
any one possesses a more perfect or enamour’d body than mine,
And who thinks the amplest thoughts? for I would surround those thoughts,
And who has made hymns fit for the earth? for I am mad with
devouring ecstasy to make joyous hymns for the whole earth.

I’ve lived in Brooklyn for a dozen years now and I’ve come to believe that this “Nobody has it better than us” attitude is some of what gives my brawny and tall-topt city its resilience. Whitman’s poem — and New York swagger itself — perhaps isn’t so much boasting as it is a wish for happiness to everyone who lives here.

So let me sign off for now with this wish for you — No matter where you live or what kind of week you’ve had, I hope you are able to look ever upwards and smile.

  1. Often translated from the Latin as “Ever Upward” []