Letter From New York
March 30, 2005
The value of low batteries
Today, when I went to the gym, I forgot to plug my phone
in to recharge and so I had to ration myself when I left home
to limited use, which is difficult for me as I am now addicted
to my crackberry, the combination phone and e-mail
device from Blackberry that has become de rigueur for smart
executives which I like to think I am. [Please no comment
from the peanut galleries.]
Today, I had to keep it off for periods of time to conserve
juice, for occasional e-mail orgies and desperate phone calls
where are you? Our MTV meeting is starting in 5 minutes!
However, I couldnt indulge myself in constant conversation
or power e-mail interchanges.
What I did find myself doing and, oh my, enjoying
-- was the fact it was a beautiful day in New York, the first
real day heralding springs arrival. My appointments
were all New York close, thus I walked the city too, enjoying
the pleasures of the citys riot of smells and parade
With a few minutes between appointments, I wandered into
Shakespeare & Co., an old fashioned bookstore on Broadway,
which I first became aware of when I would buy books in its
Paris branch during a brief, youthful sojourn there. I had
lunch in a superb French bistro in the Village run by Japanese
I am one of those New Yorkers pounding the streets, earpiece
in place, talking and gesturing at the same time, conversing
with the universe, providing cover for our citys crazies.
Talking to oneself seems no longer strange: everyone does
it, its just some of us are using technology, others
It gave me precious time to think and to savor my city and
Mitz, our cat, continues a slow and, we think, comfortable
fade into the eternal nap a friend wished for him. He was
in my thoughts as I wandered.
I took time to read and not just scan the newspapers.
Johnnie Cochran has died. The Iraqi Parliament seems locked
in dissension; the toll of the Indonesian earthquake was great
but not as great as Decembers and was not followed by
a deadly tsunami. Annan was criticized but not indicted. And
I read the whole story!
Often I find myself doing rather than thinking. As an independent
entrepreneur, there is never a lack of things to do, calls
to make, meetings to schedule or e-mails to do. Occasionally
I find myself jumping in taxis because it allows me time to
continue conversations and maximize the all too short days.
In the morning, after crawling to the coffee pot, filling
a cup thoughtfully placed there the night before by Mr. Tripp,
I lurch to my desk and begin downloading the days e-mails,
feeling compelled to see what might have come in over night.
My work world is filled with people who send me e-mails at
the most outrageous hours. What is the CEO of a cable network
doing sending me e-mails at midnight?
Technology has freed us from the tethers of the office and
it has enslaved us to the freeing technology. It seems impossible
to walk the streets of New York or even Hudson for
that matter and not find almost every other person
with a phone glued to their ear, almost oblivious of everything
around them. At its best, walking in New York City is a bit
of a game of dodge em, but when half the world is on
the phone, including you, its more like a baffling ballet
of chaotic balance. When in car oriented cities [and what
city in America isnt?] it makes driving an even more
exciting adventure. How many gracious, royal waves have I
received from a cell phone clutching driver who has nearly
broadsided me? Those who are talking and doing e-mail strike
terror in me.
Today, no battery life gave me a chance to taste my own life.
It gave me pause; perhaps I should declare a crackberry
free time in my life on a regular basis and force myself into
the natural world for a few minutes to see its wonder and
to visit my own soul.