Category Archives: Trends

The Road to Hell is Also Loud

The trend of architectural minimalism as luxury means that many public establishments exceed a healthy decibel limit. Think restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, and stores. After decades of investing in high-maintenance soft surfaces, proprietor preferences have now put efficiency and disposability over acoustic integrity, and favor metal furniture, exposed ceilings, and open spaces.

To fool us, the claim they are recapturing mid-century modern styles: the last era when American exceptionalism went mostly unquestioned. Yet despite the advertisement, high ceilings and no cloth are actually NOT midcentury style:

According to this article,

“Trends that today’s diners associate with luxury, such as hard surfaces and open kitchens, were, in mid-century, mainly relegated to lowbrow spaces such as cafes, cafeterias, and diners. The finest eateries…were the most highly ornamented and plush. Even high-modernist interiors made extensive use of soft goods, including cloth tablecloths, heavy drapes, carpeted floors, and upholstered seating. Across the board, mid-century restaurants had low ceilings, often with acoustic ceiling tiles.”

Not only are loud restaurants cheaper to build and maintain, but they also encourage diners to spend more.

So, what is trendy is also noisy. So what? So, this admiration of din contributes to the erosion of civil society.  Noise pollution desensitizes us to coarseness in the other senses as well. There may or may not be any studies to back this claim up, but I believe that the more obnoxious the public space, the more likely violence is to follow. This is why people in bars and nightclubs feel free to get drunk, break bottles, punch faces, and grind on the dance floor: the loud DJ!

What’s next? Streakers at Chipotle?  

If you are or plan to be a business owner, I implore you to invest in noise reduction strategies. Or at the very least, use music that will subdue the masses.

Many thanks,

LIR

You Don’t Own Me

Apple’s lockdown on modifications to its products.  Netflix for DVDs. Uber/Lyft for auto transportation. Kindle for books (no, you do not own your purchases according to the fine print).

Americans now own less stuff, which leads Tyler Cowen to wonder if this phenomenon of surrendering the rights of ownership is a negative for society.  Many individuals find copious ownership to be out of reach, at least for the lifestyle that is both desired and readily available “for rent.” Housing is now just one piece of that trend.

We at MC do NOT think this trend of transient proprietorship is a harbinger of a collectivist state, but instead, represents the sum of individuals’ rational cost-benefit decisions in the internet-based economy. Would you agree?






The “Uncanny Valley” of Heterosexuality

Just how common it is for men to marry women, even have children with them, and then come out as gay later in life?  Consistent statistics on “lavender marriages” (when a man marries a straight woman, with or without her knowing that he is actually a closeted homosexual), or gay men with “beards” (girlfriends present to convince others and themselves they are not in fact gay), are obviously hard to come by, however there is much evidence to suggest that it is far more common than many straight people realize.  10% of the population is estimated to be born homosexual. It is a myth that gay men can’t or won’t have sexual relationships with women, even for decades.

Societal, familial, and religious pressure can be faulted for leading individuals to this sad and inauthentic outcome.  Yes, it is the individual man’s moral responsibility to not be pressured into a suboptimal relationship, however our society idolizes romantic love, partnership, and marriage.

The homosexual community has by necessity been built on very subtle messages to one another; in America and many other places in the world, it can still today be considered dangerous to be out.  Therefore, most gay men admit to having become very attuned to details and aesthetics, almost as a means of survival.  So, almost all gay men know how to successfully imitate straight masculinity via observation and study.

However, there is usually a line between The Real McCoy and a copy.

Gay men may successfully mimic straightness for the sake of female validation and companionship (cf: the signaling theory of behavior.  In the animal community, too much “dishonest signaling” actually threatens the species).  Fisherian runaway in sexual selection means metrosexual and dandies likely evolved out of female preference.

Many lavender relationships involve a female considered to be less conventionally attractive than the man, and/or is a female who gives of the impression of being superlatively sexual and plastic.  It is not what a straight guy would find most attractive, but is someone’s best guess of what they think a straight guy would find most attractive.  I call this the “uncanny valley” of heterosexuality.

“The uncanny valley” is a term that was coined in the realm Artificial Intelligence (AI): the closer something comes to successfully approaching our reality, the more repulsive the simulation becomes to us humans–this space is called the “uncanny valley.” For example, cute, non-threatening humanoid robots make us feel comfortable (think C3PO from Star Wars), but those sexbots that are covered in fleshy plastic and hair can be alarming to our senses.

What is a girl to do?  Simply be aware that our society has placed enormous pressure on us all to live out expected roles.  Straight ladies, just because a guy asks you out does not guarantee you will be able to make him happy for life.  But if he is self-actualized first (sexually or otherwise), the chances of success increase dramatically.

*There is a special place in hell for people who out people before they are ready, or who even start rumors.





Where Have All the Gay Bars Gone?

Many long-running, successful gay bars around the world have been closing over the last few years, and the rise of homosexual online dating apps are supposedly to blame.  However, the prevalence of straight dating apps has exploded as well, and yet the business of traditional, heterosexual bars remains stable.  In fact, many straight bars are finding new life as safe meet-up places for first dates, even for non-drinkers.

Gay bars provide purposes the dating apps cannot entirely replace, such as spaces to hold fundraisers and political events, plus a safe and organic way to make friends, network, and date within the same sex.

So if not for apps, then why are these centers of civil rights disappearing?

The theories include:

  1. Gays are more accepted in general and can congregate more freely in “normal” establishments.
  2. Gays have more straight friends than in the past, and so often spend social nights out with them.
  3. Gay clubs are stuck in an EDM and drug-based loop, which is very unappealing to gay professionals.
  4. Gentrification: rising rents are pricing the clubs out.

#1 is the most supported by evidence.  While points 2 and 3 are based on published anecdotal accounts, and also by nature cannot be easily quantified, #4 gentrification has been well-documented.

Most gay bars have survived for years in second-tier parts of the urban landscape, and so join many other businesses that are getting caught in the cycle of economic progress.

The placement of gay bars is determined by the residency  of gays.  Up until the 1980s, gays were liable to face loan discrimination, and so often chose places “less-desirable” to live that were cheap enough to be paid for in cash.

According to an article by the UK’s Guardian,
(Gays) choice of where to live is not limited by money alone. As Michaels, a transplant to New York from rural Oregon who still subsists on a below-average income, puts it: “I didn’t leave the country[side] because I wanted to, I was pushed out. As a queer person in America growing up in the country, I did not find rural areas to be safe, welcoming or financially viable – it was only in the cities where I was able to make a stable income.

Some say LGBT residents, especially gay men, cause most gentrification, bringing with their residencies artisanal food and coffee, expensive furniture and boutiques, and remodeled apartments.

In addition to their vulnerable geography in the face of gentrification, gay bars are also less likely to be able to adjust to the rising rents.  By only seeing business at night, they cannot diversify like traditional bars can with food and happy hours, to draw some daytime revenue.

Yet, if cost is such a concern for a struggling gay bar, and existence so crucial, then why not relocate to another part of town, even knowing the cycle may repeat in a couple decades?

This brings us back to point #1: while gay bars are an endangered species, that fact indicates a promising phenomenon: the declining need for such exclusivity and protection.  More bars are now “gay-friendly,” and can serve as meet-up spots for any gender combination of couple.  Just as sexual orientation no longer defines a person, so patrons no longer define an establishment.





Trump ≠ Conservatism

“Somehow an explanation of Donald Trump’s political success has to incorporate the fact that Trump won a higher share of the Latino vote and black vote in the presidential election of 2016 than Mitt Romney did in 2012.”

David Frum argues that Trump’s ascendancy is less about something old (racism, nativism, protectionism), than about something new (discouragement, political exploitation).  Do you agree?

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/04/perlstein-trump/523170/





The Life Cycle of Our Treasures

The retirement, downsizing, and death of baby boomers has created a huge glut in the marketplace of furniture antiques, especially midcentury modern.

Unlike with past generations, the contemporary elderly of the Western world were a part of the post WWII boom in consumerism and the rapid acquisition of goods.

In the last 50 years, average home square-footage has doubled, and people filled these spaces with artifacts bought both at home and abroad.  As the years have gone on, many of these pieces have lost 75% or more of their value, regardless of how well they have been preserved.  The lack of resale value–or even ability to sell–can feel like a personal rejection to the owner, because these items were carefully curated over decades.

Why is demand not keeping up with the sudden supply?  In addition to the basic economics of scarcity, people (especially millennials) want and expect brand-new, self-chosen possessions.  Having a family member’s taste foisted upon you can feel oppressive if the aesthetic is not shared.

In our disposable society marked by renting indefinitely, Ikea furniture, and Forever 21 clothes, we have not planned for the entire lifecycle of stuff.

Estate sale businesses are unregulated and murky, because few people have the forethought to consider this need until it is upon them.

Personally, I have been benefitting handsomely from the high supply.  In recent weeks, I have bought 1940s-1960s designer clothing and unique midcentury home goods for a few dollars.  The guilt of so easily acquiring someone’s long-cared-for treasure is offset by the thought that if I were not giving it a new life of appreciation, it would likely be gathering dust in the dark.  Or tossed.  I encourage you to take a walk through an antiques shop the next chance you get, to connect yourself with the march of humanity and to pay respects to what was once enviable, and can be again.





PSA for the Men of America

Men of America, your clothing options are not limited to black, gray, navy.  If a sport coat is your idea of “mixing it up,” then you need to get out more: possibly to a One Direction concert.

Pop star Harry Styles, 21, is living up to his name and reminding us of what menswear can be, by routinely stepping out in patterns, glitter, florals, and textures.

 According to Timothy Mitchell in the New York Post:

     Styles, like the ’70s rockstars he seemingly idolizes, exists outside the confines of…decidedly stale masculine modes. No, he’s not exactly reinventing the androgyny wheel. Mick Jagger, to whom Styles is often compared, was rocking graphic suits with blouses eons ago — and let’s not even broach the topic of David Bowie.  Still, given his absurdly high profile, it’s hard not to appreciate Styles for riding a wave of individuality in a sea of Ken-doll haircuts and cookie-cutter suits.

This too could be you.  Never again do you need to quietly resent your date for getting all of the stares and compliments.

Harry glitter





Come Float Into the Future

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The hottest new way to unplug is in a sensory deprivation tank.  These are personal, indoor floating pools of saltwater meant to boost mood and alleviate physical pain.

While they have been around since the 1970s, the industry is finally rebounding since the AIDS crisis has passed, and since scientific knowledge and increased cleanliness have soothed people’s fears of catching disease.

The increase in connectedness and and digital demands has made the pools popular with a whole new generation.  They can be found in spas, gyms, and independent floating clubs in big cities throughout Europe and America.  Or, you can build your own for less than $3k!

 





Social Network Salespeople

There is a unique type of betrayal that seems to hit females* like myself in their 20s.  Friends join a multilevel marketing company, where they often get nominal payment for direct sales, sales by recruits, and simple outreach, and suddenly I am no longer seen and valued for my friendship or internet wit, but for the hard-earned money I will potentially give to them. Social media becomes awash in advertisement — not from a corporation, but from a friend I already follow out of interest for her life.  The exploition of my friendly attention for its sale potential is the betrayal.

I think I am being invited to hang out and have dinner, but really you have your regional director conveniently call mid-meal, and they want to know if I want to make more money. Luckily, I have yet to fall for the wine night party where the men have been sent to a ball game and you have turned your living room into a store floor.

Some of the most common groups I have come across:
Rodan + Fields (skincare)
It Works! (weight loss)
Perfectly Posh (skincare)
Juice Plus (nutritional supplements)
Genesis PURE (nutritional supplements)
CAbi (clothing)
Avon (skincare)
Premier (jewelry)
Younique (makeup)
Stella & Dot (jewelry)

While I have mad respect for a female’s right to hustle, I am given pause by the aboutface on our preeixisting friendship.

Aside from the fact that some of these organizations are barely on this side of the law of pyramid schemes, if something seems too good to be true it probably is.  And yet, these types of organizations have been around for years now, so the model obviously works for some people, both sellers and buyers.

So my advice for anyone reading this and wondering if they should start or continue working with a direct sales company: you should be truly both interested and cut out for a career in sales.  Also, continue to expand beyond your acquaintance network, and especially beyond your close friend network.  When someone I know starts hitting me up about their products, the message I cannot help receiving is, “You are not my close friend, and I am fine ensuring you never will be, since I am willing to put my sales numbers ahead of your feelings.”  Whether that is fair or not, that is how the move is perceived by those of us who do not like mixing money and friendship.

So, best of luck with your business venture, but take it as a compliment that I do not want to do business with you.

Direct sales party
Photo cred: New York Times

*If there are male parallels out there, please comment below or email the blog!