Thursday, November 21, 2019

New York City | Lefsetz Letter

There’s nothing like it!

Although I’ve been all ’round the world and there’s no place I’d rather live than L.A. Sure, there’s the weather, but even more there’s the anonymity, and the phoniness, as a refugee from the east coast, it’s still refreshing, no one’s in my business and I’m not in theirs but I do miss the camaraderie, you meet someone one night in the east and they’re friends for life, you hang, in L.A…maybe you go out before you have kids, or turn forty, but after that all the entertainment takes place behind closed doors, and that tends to end early, since everybody’s got to get up with the sun to hone their bodies.

But there’s something about the pulse, the convenience of Manhattan, I mean where else can you walk a block at midnight to get distilled water for your CPAP machine? Then again, the world is changing, now it’s all about delivery, shopping only stands if it’s an experience, entertainment, but the truth is we’re moving away from consumerism, that’s the big story of the younger generation, one that the boomers refuse to acknowledge. Who needs a car? Who needs a big house? You want to be able to lock up and disappear…yup, that’s another thing the younger generation is into, travel.

But here’s where one gets blowback from the poor, the disadvantaged, those claiming poverty even though they’re doing quite fine. MUST BE NICE! What kind of country do we live in where it’s a badge of honor to be poor, and everybody who is poor thinks they’re one step away from being a billionaire. Cory Booker talking about all the disadvantaged wanting to be entrepreneurs, as if they’re not having trouble finding quality candidates for “Shark Tank,” a passe paradigm if there ever was one. Now it’s about society, the environment, not products. Suddenly we’re all in it together, even though that’s anathema for those who’ve got it, the winners.

Kinda like this thousand dollar hotel room. For that money, you’d expect the penthouse, but not in New York!

So I reserved a Lyft.

My flight was at eleven. I’m anxious, I don’t want to be late, I want to be there ninety minutes before, even though I’ve got CLEAR, I just never want to miss a plane.

But it was supposed to rain.

So I changed my reservation from nine to eight forty five. That’d be plenty of time. They say they’ll be there by eight fifty-five at the latest. But no, the guy who took the res squeezed in a ride before mine, I could see it on the map, and now it’s after nine and…


But the truth is the standard of living has risen throughout the world. And that’s just a way for people to feel better than you. That’s one thing that drives me wild, when people e-mail me…”you’re better than that.” No, I’m not! That’s exactly who I am!

So this guy is a documentary filmmaker, and an actor, and he’s filling time before he has to go to Germany after the first and he does it for the conversation, and despite being a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, he’s concerned about Me Too.

All males are concerned about Me Too, at least those who’ve still got their balls. You see you can’t discuss it with women. It’s black and white. And men are afraid. I’m not talking about the repeat offenders, with no knowledge of themselves, I’m just saying guys are always talking about this, fearful they’re going to say something wrong and get canceled. And today, one strike and you’re out baby!

Dennis Prager was in security before me. I recognized him because he’s so tall. Did you see him on Bill Maher the other week? You should watch it, to get the right wing position. Yup, the problem is the left, there is no racism in America…huh? And his bag got picked to be picked apart and…

The plane ride was bumpy, that’s rarely the case anymore. The paper was jumping up and down in my hands. Oh, there were a couple of good stories in the “New York Times.” The one about getting topless in the mud to find love in Australia. The one about the jihad at Syracuse. These stories don’t even make the L.A. “Times.” Oh, but the LAT had that story about T-Series, which eclipsed PewDiePie on YouTube. Maybe you’ve got no idea what I’m talking about, god, it’s so easy to be out of the loop these days, but that’s why I read all the papers, to try and get the pulse of the world. T-Series…started out as a record counterfeiter in India. The founder got shot to death by the Mob. As for that Australian mudfest in the NYT? Everybody’s looking for love, and you find it in the strangest places, at least if you look, too many people get older and are afraid to look.

And after I finished the paper and the hot nuts, that’s why you fly American, for the hot nuts, I dug into my book, “The Most Fun We Ever Had,” by Claire Lombardo. The story of a family. With four daughters. It doesn’t always work out. And these are the stories I get into, about people, after all, that’s all there is. And I thought I’d finish it, but it’s seven hundred pages and I’m barely halfway through. I’ve got so much I want to read. And then there’s TV, I ran into Jeff Garlin at Sirius Tuesday and he told me to watch his Netflix special, because it addresses Me Too. But does one stay home or integrate or..?

My Lyft driver on the other end drove one of those toaster cars. At about thirty miles an hour. And I wanted to get to the hotel to watch the debate. And her route was so circuitous, she was breaking the rules of WAZE, which was in Chinese. I called her on it, but then I got uptight about my rating. So I tried to make nice and talk, but she couldn’t understand me, she barely spoke English.

And the truth is I’m excited by the city, amped up, running on west coast time, I love that New York never sleeps.

But there’s a chilling effect in America these days. Not only with Me Too, but everything. Every time I think of writing, I get uptight about the blowback. You can’t be yourself anymore, people disapprove. And god help you if you make a mistake, it’s as if you killed somebody. And I get it, like that old Dylan song, everybody wants to drag you down into the hole they’re in. But what they don’t realize is there’s a whole set of people above us, living a life they are not privy to.

So everybody in America is self-deprecating. Say you worked hard and earned it and deserve it and you’re a pariah. Then again, in hip-hop everybody’s the greatest.

So everybody’s fighting for recognition and everybody feels lost.

Music used to fill this hole. It took you away, to a special place, where you felt safe and understood.

But now music no longer fills that need. Now it’s mostly commerce, almost pre-Beatles. It’s just a business, it’s not THE business.

But say that and you hear you’re too old.

And then Scorsese comes out against Marvel movies and he’s laughed at. But how about a debate. Spielberg was wrong about movies needing to be in theatres, especially when at home you’ve got a sixty five inch set with the film starting whenever you want, but we can’t debate the bigger issues anymore. You’re wrong and I’m right, or vice versa. Or else someone’s provably wrong and they’re entitled to equal time, which drives one just nuts.

And what is the race about anyway? Is it about money and family, status? One thing’s for sure, you can’t have it all, you’re lucky if you can achieve one thing. And oftentimes it’s at the sacrifice of something else.

And sometimes you feel in the swing of things and sometimes you feel horribly out of it.

And we’re all looking for safety. That’s in Lombardo’s book. Things just don’t work out. Then they do, then they don’t. You wonder when you can calm down and relax.

Probably never.


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