The Riff – Thoughts on running, LeBron James, mega-trends, New York City culture and things my brother says


Responding to the quick hit/whats on my mind post that I wrote the other day,  I feel it's time to make it into a recurring post.  The Riff will be  quick thoughts on what I think is going on and what's important in my life at the moment.  Plus,  it's easier for me to riff on a few little things rather than try and make posts out of one thing.  I suppose it's sort of a mind dump but… so what.  It could be a good time and you will let me know what you think of it anyway.  That's what an audience is for (all 700+ of you!)

– I'm back running!
My surgery is healed, my foot can take the pain and I could not be happier.  Not only that,  I just finished 'Born to Run' and I'm all fired up believing that running is fundamental to life and happiness. Personally,  the book reinforced what I already believe.  Running of some sort, be it though playing sports, jogging or horsing around is fundamental to being human.  There is no way it could be as wonderful as it can be without it being part of our developmental history.  We're wired for running. Get out there. Run! Oh and read Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen 
p.s Thank you Tony for recommending the book.
p.p.s I. Ran. Barefoot. In Central Park. One of the coolest things I've ever done.

– LeBron James is going to be a tragic figure and not a transcendent one.  
He may win an NBA championship,  he may rack up stats, but I think fundamentally,  he is flawed as a basketball superhero.  There is something missing in him that stops him from becoming all he should be. (And he already is a LOT!)  Everything about going to Miami,  shunning the big markets of Chicago and New York tell us that he will never fulfill his potential.  As sports fan, that is tragic.  We all want him to be more and I think that is why we hold him to a higher standard.  He should be dominating basketball the way no one ever has and instead he is afraid. Maybe there is too much on him? Who knows.

– Big changes are happening in our country and we're missing them.
The more I read the news and pay attention to the way things are covered the more I sense that we're in a constant state of missing the big picture.  Our news and society is so completely focused on the here and now that we miss the big things that are happening. (See Weiner-gate as opposed to to income disparity)  I am so fascinated by societal changes and the 'why' things become they way they do.  A quick hit on some of the changes and mega trends: we're doing less driving, no one wants to live in the suburbs anymore, the rise of cities, the rise of global capitalism, the United States hasn't declined everyone else is going up, the Internet is still very young and changing the world fundamentally, the complexity of things is understated, the disparity of wealth is staggering in the US and more…. (feel free to add)

– New York City is in a new Gilded Age.
You may think New York is great, but I think we're about to enter another big boom.  Culturally, we're becoming more significant in the United States.  For 20-30 years there was a slow shift to the West Coast and generally out of New York City. It felt like more of a dispersal than a single area growing.  But I think we're seeing another shift back east.  New York with finance, media and advertising industries are sucking talented people back to the City. We have great public transport and, jobs (remember, flat is the new up!) and smart talented people are arriving daily. Think about it?  If you meet a kid who was getting out of school? Where would you tell them to move? SF, NY or LA? The jobs, opportunity and physical set up of New York City put it in a unique position as a 21st Century city.  Cities grow for a reason and the way they are laid out is one of them. There is still an energy in New York City that is unmatched in any city in America.  Sure,  its loud, dirty and crowded but those problems are a sign of it's strengths. It's people, the human multitude that make New York City work. It's a living breathing entity that will be the economic engine of the next decade.

– My brother, Bernard is nuts, but not that nuts.
So my brother was in town from Seattle this week looking after my sister who has an illness. (Another post for another time)  Anyway,  he rants and raves about
– How much he doesn't like Seattle.
– How lucky New York City is to have what it has (Sensing a trend here? It runs in the family) 

He talks a lot, never listens and just talks louder if you are talking (I do the same thing)  He has a few things he wants you to know:
The New York City transit system is amazing.  You all have no idea how good it actually is. (He's a systems engineer for the SEATAC transit system in Seattle)  For $2.50 you can go ANYWHERE in New York City, ANYWHERE!
Public Utilities seem terrible but then you have to think about what they do.  They have no margin for error.  There is no beta system for having electricity in your building.  It has to work, all the time, always.  The fact that when it goes down people have breakdowns goes to show how reliable it actually is.  Water is always there.  You turn on the tap and the water flows.  You take it for granted.  So yes,  customer service may suck,  yes, they rip up the streets and make things a living hell,  yes, it takes for ever to get going but IT WORKS ALL DAY, ALL THE TIME, NEVER GOES DOWN.  Give the people some credit.

Please leave comments,  call me a dick and generally be a loud mouth.  That's what comments are for. Enjoy them!

Originally appeared from

By Laurent Courtines

I'm here and I am ready to go. Been doing my homework and I have things to say.

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