Manhattan is over-stuffed with commercial real estate, much of it completely vacant.
According to a recent report in Crain’s, commercial vacancy rates for Class A buildings exceeds 10% and is above 16% for Class B buildings in 2011 in lower Manhattan alone (the most appealing area for office space in the city). Vacancy rates are even higher in other sections of the borough, including Midtown.
Brooklyn has a better mix of commercial and residential real estate, with few giant towers. This creates a more human scale for communities. Businesses can afford to serve smaller quantities of customers thanks to lower rents and a better spread of residential density. The smaller customer bases that they serve enable superior niche targeting, which develops greater customer satisfaction.
In Manhattan, commercial rents and the broad customer base make it so that if you open a coffee shop, you will probably fail unless you’re Starbucks. In Brooklyn, you can run a neat indie coffee shop and employ a cute barista with a nose stud and tattoos and still turn a profit.
Brooklyn also tends to be more youthful, at least in certain neighborhoods. Manhattan rents are too expensive for all but the children of the elite or mid-career professionals to live in. Young creative workers can only afford to take career risks if they live in the outer boroughs or in less expensive areas of Manhattan.
Manhattan could be cooler than Brooklyn one day if the city abolished zoning laws, allowing currently useless commercial real estate to be re-developed, increasing the supply of residential real estate.
Brooklyn has a slower pace of life than Manhattan. Part of being cool is not giving a fuck. Everyone in Manhattan must focus on making a great deal of money in order to avoid eviction.
Brooklyn is also more multi-cultural. There’s more cross-culture friction = than elsewhere in the city. Manhattan is gradually experiencing brown, yellow, and black flight from encroaching white yuppies, even in traditional strongholds like Chinatown. The same process is happening in areas of Brooklyn – especially downtown, now – but the population density and lower access to public transportation has retarded the process.
Since it’s Friday, I figured it’d be a good idea to give away a bunch of clear multi-million dollar ideas away for free. Is the rom-com dead, or do we just need some new ideas? (Note: take these ideas with a grain of salt movie theater butter)
1. Due to a slow “news” day, footage of a guy and a girl looking longingly at each other on the subway tracks goes viral. The guy discovers the video early on, and in conjunction with a blogger hungry for a big scoop, launches an internet-wide campaign to try and find the girl — who, mystifyingly, is impossible to locate. While searching for the girl, he ends up falling for the blogger — who, amidst all the craziness, realizes there’s actually more to life than the next big traffic spike.
2. A Prince from Nigeria must find a suitor to the royal family line. Due to a spell cast by some evil wizard played by Zach Galifianakis, the only way he’s allowed to find his suitor is through sending emails offering big returns on investments.
3. Two twenty-somethings with sky-high aspirations and even higher amounts of student debt fall for each other after meeting at a coffee shop. There’s no real plot, but that’s not really an issue when you have characters that are this passionate, driven, and uncompromising.
4. Two internet commenters from different walks of life get into a HEATED argument after argument in the comment section of popular online publication. A weird offshoot of Tosh.0 discovers the story, and invites both of them to the studio to extend their debate onto the screen. SoulCrusher666 and TSwiftFearless1989 slowly end up falling for each other, showing that love can overcome all obstacles — even terrifying internet vitriol.
5. A 27 year-old sales planner is forced to move out after “cheating” on his girlfriend. Somehow, there is 90 minutes of screen time devoted to the boyfriend trying to make up for his unforgivable blunder of watching an episode of House of Cards without her.
6. Two twenty-somethings, with sky-high aspirations and even higher amounts texts featuring the tongue sticking out emoji, fall for each other at a “drinks thing” that neither of them wanted to go to in the first place. There is a scene when the girl says “can I be honest? I really don’t want to be here right now.” — to which the guy defies all odds, and agrees with her.
7. An uptight, older woman from Darien, Connecticut moves to Venice Beach to take care of her wild and crazy grandson. She gets less uptight, and ends up dating an aging surfer. There are about 50 jokes involving dubstep.
8. After hitting it off at a function for all the other entry levels, Mark Bridges, 23, decides that the best course of action would be to write a short, funny email to Meredith, who told him to send her that article he was talking about. The entire movie is just him trying to figure out how to word the email.
9. Two twenty-somethings with sky-high aspirations and even higher amounts of tweets that were carefully composed and then quickly deleted fall for each other after seeing each other perform at an open mic on Orchard Street. Through their incessant love-making and aggressive PDA, they resolve to form a band — the tone of which is Owl City meets Thursday meets Drake meets Tegan & Sara meets Savage Garden. The band takes off, but will their love remain in perfect harmony?
10. Channing Tatum and Jennifer Lawrence get paid a lot of money to be in the same movie.
A friend of mine was looking at the images and while she found many of them beautiful and intriguing, she kept looking for the original creator. Why doesn’t he include the source of the image? she’d ask, repeatedly and with increasing urgency. She began almost to get angry. She needed to know who created the image in order to judge it. Just looking at it was not enough.
When I pushed her, she insisted that art begins with drawing. The artist, she maintained, should be able to draw what’s there. I didn’t push her on where ‘there’ is. What if it’s that mood there? Or happens to be a sensation way over there? Anyway, she maintained that then, and only then, can the artist move into concepts and abstraction. The implication was that whoever created the so-called original image was the true artist; Lafia’s images were just reproductions.
I once believed the same thing. I’m not sure where I got this idea from or where my friend got it from. It’s some kind of strange Platonist ideal that must float through the ether and into our skin. Of course, many art schools used to believe this and, I suppose, many still do — hence the insistence of studio classes as the core curriculum.
Why Platonist? Because this literally antiquated belief conceives of art as mimetic. First comes the world, then come images of the world. There is an implied hierarchy of the real: the real is real, duh, and images are references to the real, coming after the fact, paling in relative comparison.
This prejudice is repeated in a different form in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. First comes bodily survival — food and shelter. And then comes a whole lot of other stuff — safety, family, self-esteem— before you get to creativity and art. While Maslow might feel art is an apogee of human existence, he still believes, like Plato, that it’s fundamentally unnecessary. Art is ornament; it’s secondary. There’s first the so-called real world and then, and only then, can we move into representations of the world, into images, into art.
Nietzsche gives us a very different view. Art, he argues, is primary. Man is first and foremost an artistic being. His first creation is himself as a continuous being, as a social being capable of making promises. This first artist used his body as a canvas, whipping it and marking it into something more interesting, at once a kind of body art, sculpture, and conceptual art. For Nietzsche, man doesn’t emerge from the state of nature through reason. He leaves his beastly ways because he has an instinct to create. And that is the birth of man as a social creature — not his drive for safety, security, and survival, not his considerable cognitive reasoning, but his instinct for art. (For Nietzsche, the entire edifice of science and knowledge is an elaborate sculpture that’s forgotten it’s art.)
As Derrida would say: there is no raw food, no culture without writing, no pure humanity. Food is always already cooked, writing is always already happening, and humanity is always already enculturated.
Drawing, then, is not the basis of art. Creation is the basis of art. There is in fact no correlation between one’s ability to draw the world as it is — to draw realistically — and art. In fact, I might go so far as to say they’re opposed! It’s a nifty skill, for sure, and not to be poo pooed at all. But the ability to draw a vase that looks like a vase is just not art. It’s copying. And art, by definition, doesn’t copy. It creates the new, even if always from within the life of the old. (Art repeats, it doesn’t copy, and the definition of repetition is the introduction of difference, of living through what has been in a different way, pace Deleuze. But that’s a longer discussion.)
We come to the world of images as images. As Henri Bergson says, all is image. We can use the word matter or the word image, it’s the same. All there is is all this stuff we are always perceiving. Everything is experienced as an image — my face, these words, that painting, these photographs, that idea, my love, your needs and desires. They’re all images.
This is why I don’t call Lafia a photographer. Photography is haunted by Plato. After all, isn’t a photograph just a copy? Photography has been cast as a way to capture the real — to find those key moments in life and monumentalize them. Think about the ‘great’ photographers — Ansel Adams, Weegee, Diane Arbus. They all are loved for how they capture what is. This is not to knock them at all; I love much of their work — not because they capture the real but because they take the real and create something new. I only point out that photography is still premised on the real, even as photography’s very existence undoes the sanctity of the real.
What’s beautiful to me about photography is that it uses the real as samples, as fodder, to create a new real, another real. This is precisely what Lafia does: he takes images from anywhere, from everywhere, all the images making their way through the ether, and uses them to create new images (he does more than this for sure). The original image doesn’t matter; what matters is the new image.
The artist is not the one who accurately depicts reality — whatever that is — but is the one who can spin, hedge, juxtapose, fold, maneuver in such a way as to create some kind of new perceptive and affective experience. That is, the artist creates new things to see, new ways to see, new ways to feel and experience the world. This has nothing to do with drawing. Yes, it sure helps if the artist has some technical skills — painting, coding, thinking, writing, drawing, exploding, filming, lighting, doodling. But these are all modes of something more elusive, something more mysterious: creating the new from within the old.
Listen, we all have our days when we’re not sure which way is up or down and we wind up asking the people we’re closest to if we’re acting “totally crazy.” (Spoiler alert: You’re probably not.) Here 10 “crazy” things all women do that are 100% normal. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
1. Thinking you’re crazy
If the guy you’re seeing is constantly calling you “crazy”, he may be gaslighting you. And don’t worry – I didn’t know what gaslighting was until I personally experienced it. Its actually a form of mental abuse that makes you question your sanity or memory of an argument or situation. Do you constantly feel like your mate has selective memory? Is he/she saying his accusations are “jokes”? Are you confused in general? Then he’s gaslighting you and playing mind games. So, no. You’re not crazy.
2. Wanting commitment
If you’ve been “nagging” him for a few months about making it official, you’re not actually nagging. You’re asking for what you deservebased on your time and investment. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a commitment, and you shouldn’t be ashamed for wanting to take things to the next level with a guy you care about. If he doesn’t give it to you in a fair amount of time, walk away. You should be with a man who’s excited to call you his girlfriend. And trust me, you’ll be happy that you did it.
3. Doubting your appearance from time to time
We all know how to “sex up” our look when the occasion calls for it. But some days, self-doubt gets the best of us. YOU ARE NOT ALONE, but it’s temporary. When I’m in an appearance rut, I spend some extra time pampering myself with a new outfit, changing my hair or color, and sometimes just a pedicure will do the trick. Sprucing yourself up a little bit always helps to boost your confidence!
4. Wanting the wrong guy
Sometimes we want the wrong guy. It’s like craving pizza when you’re on a diet—deep down you know you’re not supposed to indulge, but it’ssogood. But, stop! Get out of a bad situation before it gets worse. If your gut tells you he’s wrong—then let your feet match it and walk away. Better yet, if your friends and mother tell you a guy is no good, run!
5. Social media stalking
To quoteCruel Intentions, “EVERYONE does it, but NO ONE talks about it.”
It’s not unusual for women to check out an ex on Facebook or Instagram to … see what they’re up to. But while it may be normal, it’s not healthy. When I find myself doing this, I’m more likely to unfriend them or unfollow to avoid the obvious temptation.
6. Hurting when you learn your ex has moved on
It doesn’t matter if you’re in fabulous new relationship or getting married, there will always be a slight twinge when you hear that your ex has a new love. As strong as you may be, it’ll still sting. But don’t worry! You’re normal for feeling that way. And the pain of feeling a little ‘replaced’ is certainly real.
7. Being opinionated
Do your views (particularly about the opposite sex) sound, well, morefeministthe older you get? Do new dating norms offend you? This is totally normal because the world has literally changed before our eyes in the last decade—and so has dating. So if you feel like the men you’re encountering are chauvinistic and sexist, chances are, there’s some truth in that statement. I promise for every 10 guys I meet, there is a chance that half of them will ignite something inside that makes me become that know-it-all girl you remember from class.
8. Wondering if you can be with a man you’re not physically attracted to
There will be a time when you like a guy, but aren’t totally into him physically. Does the fact that you don’t want to be with him make you shallow? No. You’re not alone here. The question has crossed my mind more than a few times in the last several years. While I may stick it out for a little bit—especially if others think he’s good looking—truthfully, if he doesn’t tickle my fancy, he must go. Attraction is key in a relationship.
9. Questioning why your friend got married before you
It’s totally normal, believe me. Just know that your opportunity will come, too. Thanks to social media, I’ve had many head-scratchers that I couldn’t quite understand. But I’ve learned that the best thing to do is to be happy for the couple and know that the best is always last.
10. Questioning whether marriage is right for you
It’s normal—more than that, it’s OK—to question whether or not marriage is right for you because it encourages you to examine the WHY behind your life goals. Reasons other than “I’d always wanted it” will help you affirm those life goals and work toward achieving them. When you’ve finally decided that you actuallywantto get married, you can start looking for what will actually work for you. I’ve seen many marriages fail because people wanted a wedding and didn’t actually want to be wives or husbands (a lot of times because they didn’t know what that meant). Questioning if it’s for you will give you a new lease on your life goal (because chances are, it is totally what you want, and it will happen for you).
Most people are afraid of success to some degree, if not only for themselves, but for those around them. Whether they realize it or not, they’re rooting for others to fail.
The people who do the most criticizing, taunting, judging, and trolling are the ones who are the most terrified. They’re usually the ones who have done the least and have tried the least. And their way of dealing with it is trying to bring you down with them.
It’s time that you stopped listening to the people who know the least, but yell the loudest.
Life is hard enough as it is. You’re unsure about yourself to begin with, having to navigate a job and friends and being an adult and paying your bills and everything in between. You are in a strange stage in your life and you often feel like you have no clue what you’re doing. Like there’s no solid ground to stand on right now, and very few things that you can say you’re certain about.
So on top of all the things you’re already worried about, why add trolls to the list? Why bother with their opinions? Have they done something worthwhile with their lives? Have they mentored you or taught you something? Probably not.
Trolls can be anyone, anywhere. They’re not limited to the internet. They can be friends, enemies, co-workers, even family members. And a lot of the time, they’re disguised as someone else – as someone who “just wants the best for you” or someone who “doesn’t want to see you get hurt.” There’s another way to say this: they don’t believe in you. They don’t think you can do it. They don’t want you to do it. They want you to sit back and play it safe, with them. They don’t want you getting up and doing things and leaving them in the dust.
It’s not like you’re the only one that is scared. Every person who’s ever done anything worthwhile has been scared at some point. But they did it anyways, because they were more focused on accomplishing their dream than they were on what other people might think of them if they failed.
What if Oprah had believed that she wasn’t talented enough to have her own talk show one day? What if J.K. Rowling had listened to the people that told her that she would never publish a book? What if Hilary Duff had decided that collaborating on a Disney-produced Christmas song with Lil’ Bow Wow in 2002 was a bad idea? One of those three examples was a joke, but I won’t be clarifying anything further.
The point is, you’re going to be scared your entire life. You’re going to be uncomfortable. That’s how it should be. If you reach a point where you’re completely comfortable and nothing scares you ever again, it means you’ve given up. Life should be about putting yourself out there and pushing yourself to limits that you didn’t think were possible.
This is not to say that you should always walk around being petrified and uncertain. It just means that if you don’t open yourself up to the potential of failure, you’re never going to get anywhere. You’re never going to grow.
For a long time, I was terrified of publishing my writing. Because writing is where trolls flourish. They can hide from behind a computer screen and make judgments about what you have to say, without ever having produced anything themselves. It’s terrifying to write your thoughts down and then lay them out, without defense, for the world to read and pick apart. But it also makes you feel the blood in your veins again.
Putting yourself out there makes you feel awake in a way that hiding from the world never could. Plus, if I hadn’t decided to start sharing my writing, I would have never received an email from my Grandmom that said “Good job on the article you wrote for the internet.” That’s a gem of a Grandma-sentence right there, and it was worth all the trolls in the world.
Each minute that you spend questioning yourself, the trolls are winning. The longer you’re afraid to try, the stronger they get. You’re never going to be able to completely shut them out, but you can keep them at bay enough to start trying.
And as long as you are trying, the trolls will lose.
One of the most common misconceptions regarding behaviour change is relying on motivation to begin new, positive behaviours and willpower to refrain from old, negative behaviours.
The problem is (1) Motivation is unsustainable in the long-term and a lack thereof can be used an excuse not to start. That’s why habits trump motivation: Once a behaviour becomes a habit, it becomes automatised and you become less dependent on motivation to begin.
And (2) Willpower is like a muscle. The more decisions you make in a day, the more fatigued it becomes; to use a strength-training analogy, think of your willpower as “training to failure”. And when that happens, you’re more likely to succumb to the temptation of bad habits. This is known as “Decision Fatigue”.
However, what if you could bypass motivation and willpower entirely when implementing new behaviours? You can – once you understand “Choice Architecture”.
Carolyn was a director of food services for a large city school system and was in charge of hundreds of schools, with hundreds of thousands of children eating in her cafeterias every day.
One day, after a conversation with a friend, Carolyn decided to conduct an experiment. Her hypothesis was as follows: Without changing the menus, would manipulating the way the food was displayed and arranged in the cafeterias, influence the children’s purchasing decisions?
Carolyn gave the directors of dozens of schools specific orders on how to display and arrange the food. For example, in some schools, the deserts were placed first, in others, they were placed last and even in a separate line. French fries were placed at eye level and in others, carrot sticks.
Carolyn’s prediction was correct: The consumption of many healthy foods increased by as much as 25%.
Thaler and Sunstein commented:
School children, like adults, can be greatly influenced by small changes in the context.
The big lesson here is small and apparently insignificant details can have major impacts on your behaviours. And those details are often a result of how you design your environment.
The Fogg Model
According to B.J. Fogg, a professor at Stanford University, in order to do a behaviour, you need three elements:
In order for a behaviour to happen, a trigger, and the ability and motivation to do it, must all converge simultaneously. 
For example, let’s suppose you want to lose 14 pounds and start running every day after work. You may have the ability and motivation to run, but if you don’t identify a suitable cue – like running as soon as you return home – you’re unlikely to resist the temptation of a bad habit like watching television because it’s easier. The path of least resistance is hard to resist.
However, what if you were to remove the ability to watch television?
Become a Choice Architect
Decision makers do not make choices in a vacuum. They make them in an environment where many features, noticed and unnoticed, can influence their decisions. The person who creates that environment, is, in our terminology, a choice architect.
– Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. 
To become a choice architect is simple: You need to make behaviours you want to do accessible and behaviours you don’t want to do inaccessible or at the very least, lessaccessible.
If we return to the previous example, if you removed the batteries from your remote control and placed them in another room; repositioned your living room furniture and unplugged you television; you’re removing your ability to do it with ease.
In other words, you’re designing that behaviour to be lessaccessible. You may still have the trigger and the motivation to do it – and if you really want to do it, go ahead – but because your ability to do it has been reduced, you’ll feel more resistant.
Similarly, if you placed your running shoes by your front door, your running clothes out and shrunk the self-compliance hoop so you didn’t need motivation – say, only committing to running one mile – you’d be forging a new path of least resistance. That new behaviour would become moreaccessible than the former, watching television.
Here are a few more examples to think about:
If you’re dieting, removing any ingredients from your cupboards that aren’t on your diet plan; serving smaller portions on smaller plates and planning your meals in advance, will reduce willpower failures.
Deliberate practice, as a musician, can sometimes be a burden, but placing your instrument in the centre of your living room, like Shawn Achor did, can vastly increase the likelihood you’ll practice daily – even if it’s a mere 20 seconds closer.
You want to go to bed earlier? Set an alarm to trigger your nightly ritual, leave your laptop and mobile phone in another room; and leave a book on your bedside table. In other words, make sleep an easier option that checking emails and social media.
A Final Word
If your default behaviours are decided in advance, a lack of motivation and decision fatigue become the least of your concerns. Remember, when a positive behaviour becomes the path of least resistant, it becomes an easier path to forge in the future. Can you imagine the possibilities?