Wednesday, May 24, 2017

No Car | Lefsetz Letter

The engineer got here early.

I’m a stickler for time, if it’s booked for 11, I’ll be there, maybe with only seconds to spare, but I don’t expect anybody early, certainly not in L.A.

But Anna was. She came at 10:40. I was dressed, but in the bathroom, preparing…

Now this was for a podcast, with a household name, so I said yes. And while we were waiting for the phone call, I got some info. Anna was freelance, a radio engineer/producer, she’d gone to college in Wisconsin, she lived in Koreatown with a roommate and then…

The call came in.

And when it was over, we talked music. Because everyone’s got an opinion, and I always want to hear what the younger generation has to say. She’s on Apple Music, she says when she lived in London she had trouble connecting to Spotify, and she liked Kendrick Lamar and Kid Cudi and…we talked equipment, headphones, recorders, and then she asked for the bathroom and when I got up to show her I noticed, there was no car parked out front.

Did she Uber here?


So, I told her it was best to call a car, because it can take the better part of ten minutes for one to arrive.

So I’m gonna forgo tackling the email, the triple digits that have accumulated over the hours, that have me antsy, and engage in further conversation until the car arrives.

And that’s when I ask her, DO YOU OWN A CAR?


She’s got a driver’s license, but no, she sees no need for  car, she’s got an Uber package. She pays ten bucks for a month of rides, twenty to be exact, and then it’s $6 if she takes UberX and $3 if she takes Uber Pool.


I dove deeper. She’s not committed to twenty rides, she’s just got to pay the ten bucks. And then she has the option of twenty rides, which she pays for as she goes.


No problem, she can go to the beach, she said she could go anywhere for $6.

And then I wondered why it paid to have an automobile at all.


There’s a market on the corner.

And she has a bicycle, and…

You’ve got to know, how does the song go, NOBODY WALKS IN L.A? Without wheels you were a non-factor, you couldn’t even exist, everything was too far away, but now…

There’s a whole generation living in spread-out Los Angeles without wheels. And Anna’s not the only one I know, Richard’s son has got no car, and Daniel’s son doesn’t either.

Talk about a change in generations.

I wouldn’t have to get my car smogged, never mind pay insurance. I wouldn’t have to worry about maintenance, depreciation…

I’m over the whole car thing anyway, if someone offered me a new machine I’d say no. Why, so I can be anxious about parking it, scratching it? As for impressing others, ever since Larry David drove a Prius on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” that paradigm was undercut. If you’re laying out tonnage for an automobile, other than a Tesla, you’re a joke, you don’t see the importance of the environment, your priorities are screwed up, that’s right, we’re judging you, especially if you’ve got one of those exotic sports cars.

Talk about a change in generations, there’s a gap as wide as the one between boomers and their parents back in the sixties. Boomers think they’re so hip, so knowledgeable and up-to-date, but they’re the first to e-mail me about CDs or files and acquisitions, whereas the youngsters know it’s all about on demand, you want to be footloose and fancy free, to travel on a whim, uninhibited, baggage is anathema.

Just like Snapchat, they get it and their parents don’t. But also, they don’t care about its valuation, its usership, it fulfills a function and then they’ll go somewhere else, they’re not locked into a format, they’re fluid.

Ford just fired their CEO, because the one they had wasn’t forward-looking enough, wasn’t into driverless cars and electrics. It’s a wonder no one at the record label was fired because of a lack of knowledge of technology.

You can fight the old wars or jump into the pool. You can complain about recording revenue, you can talk about piracy, bitch about Ticketmaster, or you can realize those issues are all in the rearview mirror, because today’s generations don’t care about them. They’ll pay for convenience, they’ll overpay if they desire something, they’re about building their lives as opposed to accumulating goods.

This is not only a sea change for generations…

This is a sea change for America.

First they came for our CDs.

Then they came for our retail stores.

Now they’re coming for all our assets, all the stuff we thought immutable and desirable, that we had to have. You might build a shrine to yourself online, but in the real world?

Forget about it.


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