Three New Holiday Pop-Ups: One Is Absolutely Fabulous!

Three New Holiday Pop-Ups: One Is Absolutely Fabulous!

I checked out three brand new retail pop-ups yesterday, literally as they were opening their doors for the first time. My nose for the new did not disappoint. Two of them will be open thru the end of the year. One is open only thru the weekend.

Let’s start with the biggest WOW.
Beams Concept Store 007 at Nordstrom (and at Fred Segal LA)

Until about a week ago I had never even heard of Beams. And now, as of yesterday, I’m crazy about everything this buzzy Japanese brand is doing. And even though they’re only carrying the men’s collection, I expect women will buy it in droves. It was hard to restrain myself from buying at least 5 items. It’s a genderless brand.

Observations:
  • Beams’ decision to collaborate with iconic but a bit over-the-hill American brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren and New Balance is a brilliant move. From what I saw, Beams has the juice to reinvigorate those brands. Seeing Ralph in this context made it look relevant for the first time in decades.
  • Beams’ art-influenced tees and hoodies with their funny wordsmithing feels very fresh, e.g., the F-LAGSTUF-F line invites us to “Enjoy Japanese Subculture” that they specify is “Not for children under 19 years.” But for “Ages 20 and up.”
  • The staff at the concept store is outstanding. Stylish, friendly, and knowledgeable. Special shout out to Kayla and the rest of the fab crew who helped me out.
  • Customers, likewise, totally awesome and fashion-forward!
  • And finally, the pop-up itself is very cool. And it’s location is perfect, right as you enter the Men’s Store near the Milk Bar. It immediately establishes the vibe for the whole store.
Scroll down for more photos from Beams as well as info on two other pop-ups that launched yesterday (November 7th).
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CAVEAT NYC: If Smart Humor Is Your Thing, Check This Out.

CAVEAT NYC: If Smart Humor Is Your Thing, Check This Out.

I discovered Caveat last year. Everything I’ve seen there has been fantastic. But Tuesday night’s event, “An Inconvenient Talk Show” takes the cake. One of the smartest, most hilarious shows I’ve ever seen. Can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. And each performer was funnier than the next.

“Caveat is a bar-cum-edutainment space that caters to the discerning nerd. What takes place nightly is an enticement of the intellect, e.g., a “Pregame Your Brain” happy hour to learn about famous female scientists or an “improvised ‘hip-hopera’ in the style of “Hamilton,” to “quench people’s thirst for historical raps.”

The New Yorker
More on Caveat and their programming

I was told they host An Inconvenient Talk Show monthly but have not found it on their schedule for December so who knows.

I am, however, absolutely confident in recommending any and all of their shows. I’ve been to half a dozen and they’ve all been outstanding (even open mic Saturday afternoons are fun). Tickets for most events are $10 – $15 making it the best inexpensive evening in NYC.

Here’s a sampling of upcoming events:

  • Literati with Colin and Michael: comedians in character performing hilarious readings from the greatest American novels never written.
  • The Nerds & The Bees: Comedy and Data. What’s really happening in modern dating.
  • VERSUS Bones Vs. No Bones: WrestleMania meets Debate Club
  • Political Circus: Do Protests Work – Comedy, lecture, and circus on the eternal political question: when do protests make a difference?
  • Masters of Social Gastronomy: Thanksgiving PIES!! Each month, Masters of Social Gastronomy takes on a curious food topic and breaks down the history and science behind it
Scroll down for photos and video from Tuesday night’s Show
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5 Things You Absolutely Have To Do Before Year-End

5 Things You Absolutely Have To Do Before Year-End

It’s that time of the year again! November and December is when I get in full-on planning mode to tie up loose ends from the current year while prepping for the start of the upcoming year. Getting these tasks out of the way always feels good.

Here are the top 5 tips to keep in mind
1. Review finances, expenses, annual contracts
  • I review checking accounts and credit cards. Two biggies this year were cable/internet and Amex points. I called Spectrum and ended up getting an upgrade on internet service PLUS saving $40 per month on overall service. With Amex, I had $1800 worth of points which I applied toward my next monthly bill.
  • I also reviewed all annual subscriptions to make sure I wanted to maintain them and if not, I opted-out of automatic renewal, e.g., Citbike.
  • At the end of the year, I always review my spending by category and make adjustments where necessary. I’m aware that my two indulgences are eating out and travel. Neither is problematic for me since all my other expenses are minimal.
  • I have done a monthly spreadsheet of my personal expenses and my credit card spending for the last 10 years which has given me a clear picture of my spending. And as much as I love eating out, I will scale back if I see I’ve gone overboard.
  • I am also the treasurer of our co-op and do a spreadsheet for the building every month as well.
  • I know – to a penny – where the money goes.
Scroll down for more.
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Grammarly Fail: Unusable With New WordPress Update

Grammarly Fail: Unusable With New WordPress Update

I’m a premium user and have touted the benefits of this app to my readers since May. No longer! As of October when I updated to the newest version of WordPress (Gutenberg), Grammarly stopped working. But it’s their response to the problem that I found most egregious.

Please rest assured our technical team is already aware of the problem you reported, but unfortunately, we don’t currently have a quick fix. I can’t provide you with an estimated timeframe because the developers need some time to analyze the cause of the issue, but please rest assured that we won’t forget about it.

Tiffany, Grammarly Support
This lame-ass response raises 3 major issues
  1. The Gutenberg update for WordPress was launched on December 18, 2018. While it took me 9 months to switch to the new version, it’s beyond me why Grammarly claims to have just discovered there was a problem. They’re the pros. How can they say, after 10 months, that their developers “need time to analyze the cause of the issue”?
  2. If you can’t deliver the service, don’t charge for it until you’re back up and running. They have 7 million active daily users. Many of us undoubtedly have pre-paid annual subscriptions. And many of us are WordPress users. We are being ripped off. Issue a credit to all the users that you’ve stiffed with theft of service!
  3. The work-around they proposed takes us back to the dark ages. What they suggested I do is revert to the “Classic” version of WordPress. Classic is no longer even supported by WordPress. How can they go on record with an idea that sucks so bad? It’s like suggesting we abandon electricity for candles. Beyond disappointing.

One other scammy thing I found. Grammarly is one of those apps that doesn’t give you the option to opt-out of renewing automatically. Why am I not surprised?

WEIRD UPDATE: As I finished writing this post yesterday, I got an email from Tiffany at Grammarly to say they had checked my subscription and if I wanted to cancel, they’d be happy to accommodate me – and provide a partial refund. But here’s the weird part. They sent me the email just after I wrote this post but before it was published! And they had “closed my case” a few days ago. Weird coincidence or are they spying on us also?

Bottom Line.

Grammarly fired me. The lesson for users: do not become too problematic or demanding otherwise they will kick you to the curb!

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Have You Heard Of The Amazon “Returns” Hustle?

Have You Heard Of The Amazon “Returns” Hustle?

I’ve written several times about “reverse supply chain” problems, i.e., companies having to deal with the waste and environmental impact of the billions of things we buy only to return.

A friend told me she knew people who were buying Amazon pallets of returned items for $300 in the hopes of reselling them through eBay for up to $5,000. As it turns out, they’re most likely not buying directly from Amazon. The pallet might be filled with things in Amazon boxes but it’s coming from a liquidator.

I had never heard of these liquidation pallet schemes so I did some research only to find that there’s an entire sub-genre of YouTubers who specialize in unboxing videos of their liquidation goodies:

  • Tucker Upper got 375K views unboxing his first-ever liquidation pallet.
  • FranchiseKicks paid $286 for $2,212 of MYSTERY Electronics + Amazon Customer Returns Pallet. He has great advice about picking stuff up in person to save on shipping costs. He also shares the downside – lots of busted returns in his reseller’s box.
  • Randomfrankp got 7.6 million views for unpacking an Amazon returns box of “Mystery Tech” for which he paid $250.

And it’s not just from Amazon. There are videos showing “mystery” merchandise from Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Lowe’s and Walmart.

Per the Atlantic, YouTube videos appear to have driven a noticeable spike of interest in anything related to “liquidation.”

Scroll down for more pros and cons.
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What Happened To Ageism (And Diversity) On The Campaign Trail?

What Happened To Ageism (And Diversity) On The Campaign Trail?

How did the 2020 presidential race come to be dominated by a bunch of 70-year olds? I’m not being ageist, I just really don’t understand why millennials and Gen Xers are so gaga over these septuagenarians while younger, more diverse candidates languish in the polls.

“People under 35 — we’re doing really, really well. We are not doing well with older people. We have a lot of work to do and I acknowledge that. …

Bernie Sanders, Oct 2019

As a 70-year old myself, I know I should be happy about this turn of events but I’m genuinely baffled. And full disclosure, I am a British citizen so I am not even voting in the American elections.

that said, I’m fascinated by what’s going on politically and have some observations about the leading candidates.
  • They are all authentically “themselves” – including the incumbent, Donald Trump.
  • This may be the one thing that comes naturally to older candidates (and older people in general). Once you hit a certain age, you just become more comfortable in your skin and have a sense of who you are, a trait that sometimes eludes younger people.
  • All the leading contenders except Biden are strongly anti-establishment and left-leaning which aligns with where younger voters’ heads are these days.
  • Young voters are still “feeling the Bern” but they are also enamored by other progressive candidates especially Elizabeth Warren.
  • Ironically, Bernie Sanders’ biggest challenge is winning over older voters (only 6% of voters 65+ in Iowa favor Bernie)! They’re skeptical of his ability to deliver on any of his promises.
  • Demonizing billionaires is de rigueur for most candidates which ties in nicely with younger voters’ activism around “income inequality.” Although the candidates certainly appear to need that “filthy billionaire” money to fund their campaign promises of free college, Medicare for all, affordable housing and student loan forgiveness. Again, ironically, last time around, it was millionaires whose feet were being held to the fire. Now, as most candidates including Bernie Sanders have joined the ranks of millionaires themselves, they’re targeting billionaires.
  • In this political climate, middle-of-the-roaders like Biden are toast (although his downfall has more to do with his frequent bouts of out-of-touchness than being a centrist).
Scroll down for more on how these septuagenarian candidates have managed to dominate the field.
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Look For Kusama’s Balloon Masterpiece In The Thanksgiving Day Parade

Look For Kusama’s Balloon Masterpiece In The Thanksgiving Day Parade

Who’s joining me this year at the Balloon Inflation event on Manhattan’s UWS on Wednesday, November 27th from 4-7pm?

As many of you know this is one of my favorite “insidery” things to do in NYC. I’m there every year, rain or shine.

and This year will be major!

Yayoi Kusama, one of my favorite artists, has created a special balloon for the 2019 Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Other artists who have participated over the years include Jeff Koons with Rabbit in 2007, Takashi Murakami with KaiKai and KiKi in 2010, and KAWS with Companion in 2012.

artnet.com

I saw the KAWS art balloon in 2012 but had not been aware it was part of the Macy’s Blue Sky Gallery Series (founded in 2005 to highlight contemporary artists). The Kusama balloon will be the eighth in the series and the first by a female artist.

Kusama’s participation in this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off a massive year for the 90-year-old artist.

She has a show of new work opening at David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea on November 9. Expect lines around the block to see the debut of her new Infinity Mirrored Room. They’re anticipating over 100,000 people will be standing in line at some point to see it. Instagram will be blowing up. The show at Zwirner will be followed by a major installation at the Bronx Botanical Garden called Cosmic Nature. It is scheduled to run from May 9 – Nov 1, 2020. Pretty sure it will be breaking all attendance records for the Botanical Garden.

Scroll down for highlights from Balloon Inflation over the last several years.
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Great Celebration Of The Ace, My Favorite Hotel

Great Celebration Of The Ace, My Favorite Hotel

I’ve been smitten by the Ace ever since it opened in Seattle in 1999. I’ve stayed in virtually all of them and have even traveled to cities specifically because they opened there, e.g., Pittsburgh. And now coming full circle, Sister City, their newest offshoot, is my delightful new neighbor on the Bowery.

The Ace fundamentally changed what I expect from a hotel and where I will stay when I travel.

Before I discovered the Ace, I regularly stayed at boutique hotels, especially Ian Schrager’s, e.g., the Delano or the Mondrian. They were a step up from the Hilton or Hyatt but they never really clicked for me – too flashy perhaps?

When the Ace opened in Seattle in 1999, I fell hard for its design and aesthetics. My frequent work travel companion, Brandi Stansbury, and I were both bowled over by its awesomeness. It was the first time I felt I had found my “hotel” tribe.

The signature Ace aesthetic is design-comfortable. It’s homey, like a friend’s living room.

Wade Weigel, co-founder Seattle Ace

Seven years later, in 2006, they opened their next hotel, the Portland Ace. Of course, we finagled a trip to PDX to check it out. And to this day, I consider it my favorite. It was the first time I had experienced this kind of social lobby vibe that has now become ubiquitous at cool hotels around the world, e.g., Denver’s Ramble Hotel, all the Freehands, Stockholm’s Hobo Hotel. What the Ace did, which was new for hotels, was create a gathering place for a community of creative, freelancer-y locals. They obviously cater to their guests but locals feel the Ace and Sister City Hotels are equally welcoming for them.

The Ace Hotel scene predates co-working and clearly inspired WeWork, Neuehouse and even Soho House to develop areas where people can not only socialize but work in a new, more collaborative way.

To this day, when I travel on my own, I will spend days researching hotels to find the ones that offer Ace-style lobbies. It’s always where I feel most comfortable and it doesn’t matter if I’m in Scandinavia, Chicago or Boise, Idaho.

If you want to know more about the Ace, check out this great article from Inside Hook on their 20-year history.

Scroll down for more Ace locations.
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