Sunday, December 23, 2007

A few random links & thoughts...

  • Yes, it's the same crap everywhere.

    Today, Chelsea Premium Outlets operates in dozens of locations in the U.S. and abroad, including the sprawling Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, about an hour north of New York City. Current Woodbury tenants include Jimmy Choo, Tory Burch and True Religion.

    Generally, such brands and designers at least attempt to cultivate an air of exclusivity, which would seem to be at odds with a mammoth outdoor mall that cultivates an air of low-price treasure hunting. But consider True Religion. While the broad story of luxury’s fate in the contemporary market is often told as a steady decline from class to mass, the brand is an example of an equally pronounced countertrend: lux-ing up previously workaday products, like jeans. True Religion has been a star of the high-end denim trend, with its jeans retailing for $150 or more in boutiques and pricey department stores. The company describes itself as a “premium aspirational brand.” ...

    Most every upscale brand is now engaged in this dance with the mass market. “The stratification of retail doesn’t exist anymore,” says Paco Underhill, the founder of Envirosell, a research and consulting firm, and the author of “Why We Buy” and “Call of the Mall,” books that examine the science of retail. Ever-increasing consumer access to goods of all kinds makes it harder for an exclusive brand to actually exclude and makes competition among both brands and stores that much more intense. Shunning the outlet setting doesn’t insulate premium brands from these trends. “Department stores discount them anyway,” Underhill says. At least in an outlet mall, the brand owners can control their own store environments, staff included; that’s better than having their wares in the sales-rack jumble.

  • I've been perhaps a wee bit to hard in my thinking on the folks that run those Sambokyodan centers. (Although perhaps not on Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi, that "Big Mind" thing is an issue, because you can drop acid if all you want is an experience; that's not what Buddhism's about. ) But I think I've been a bit to hard on many of the Sambokyodan folks because they've got a lot of hurtin' people, and they've got to serve them amidst the hurt that the folks who come to them display, and within their own enlightenment.

  • Dispersion of people has been a human existence thing since we dispersed out of Africa. Someone tell the NY Times.

    The loss of such intimate connections could potentially help redefine family and what anthropologists call “social fields.” Far-off relatives become strangers, while relatives and close friends living nearby cocoon themselves for the holidays, creating new rituals.

    It’s back to nuclear families.

    Establishing a Thanksgiving tradition of having dinner with friends, e-mailing or sending a webcam greeting instead, seeing your parents every other holiday season — these are all signs of new familial constellations in the 21st century, experts say.

    On the other hand, if traditional holiday plans are not canceled or modified and the traveling remains grueling, visitors may have high, if not unrealistic, expectations of their hosts.

    “With the enormous amount of money and effort it takes to get together with people you barely see, all of the tensions will be exaggerated,” said Vered Amit, a professor of anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal. “I can see people saying, ‘I spent all this money, I came all this way and for what?’ It’s supposed to be a certain way. It puts an enormous amount of pressure on those kinds of contacts and connections that wouldn’t be there normally.”

  • Buddhists will be in New York for quite some time.
    You can fit in one more major world religion just a couple of doors down from the synagogue, at the modest temple run by the Buddhist Association of New York, one of the many Buddhist temples in Chinatown. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch orange-robed monks chanting.

    But if not, take in the relaxed atmosphere and wonder if in 50 more years it will be a Buddhist temple, not a synagogue, that will be under restoration as the latest newcomers help transform the neighborhood.

  • I saw this on a link from the Oregonian, how somebody was in a forum saying "See! This proves the US was founded on Christianity. And I couldn't help but think "slavery."

  • I'm glad Danny Fisher has the space to be concerned about the stuff he's concerned about.

    If you start a family, your concerns will change. Your entire practice will change. Totally. Updside. Down.

    Seriously, Danny, keep up the good intentions. One day I woke up, had a wife, a Ph.D., and a wonderful son, and there were completely different exigencies than what you have, not in ethics or morality, but of style. There's a lot right in front of one's nose when one has a family.

  • And appropos of that last point, and as a pointer to how not to do family practice, it's Festivus...

    I don't have many grievances this year and I've forgotten what they were; besides, I've been to busy to nurse 'em...

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