We Eat What We Like

A couple of weeks ago, my girlfriend and I were patiently waiting in a long line to get something that hadn’t been readily available in that particular form in our city for a long long time. That something was a staple of the area in which we grew up, and the line itself had nearly a hundred other people willing to wait for the exact same thing. Sure, it was a boring wait, but there was excitement in the air. People discussing for hours on end which items they were most eager to get. And I’m not kidding when I say hours. We waited over 2 hours in this line. “What for” you ask? Well, we waited over 2 hours in a line for the only Dunkin Donuts location in the Los Angeles area. This was the Sunday after it opened, and throughout the week we were hearing of long, hour or two lines from our friends on social media. We still went. Because Dunkin’ hadn’t ever been in Los Angeles, at least not during the period in which we lived there.

Dunkin’ Donuts, like any other regional super-chain, has the kind of cultural following that a band may have. If you move to a new area and the don’t know about Dunkin’ – it becomes this amazing, mythical experience that one cannot simply comprehend unless they’re from there. The fact that it is something so prevalent in Boston and other east-coast or midwestern cities and so non-existent in LA made the fact that the company has finally started opening stores back in the Southern California area that much more exciting.

Now look, I know Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t realistically the best anything. Despite being in the company’s name, the donuts are average but tasty. The coffee is very sweet and has a wide variety of flavors, often expanding during the different seasons. My favorite, and most other people’s favorite product is their coffee, most likely their iced coffee – which in a country increasingly concerned about health and watching what one consumes, may be too sugary and sweet for many people’s tastes. Especially in a very heath-conscious town like Los Angeles. However, as an alternative to the perceived “high class-ness” of chains like Starbucks, Dunkin’ is an anti-everything version of the Starbucks style of coffee shop. It’s barely a coffee shop – more along the lines of a fast food place that provides great-tasting coffee and perfectly fine donuts. And also is probably the best culprit of that particular spelling of the word “doughnut.”

But Dunkin’ Donuts is just one of those things that reminds you of home, and when you move away from your home, especially 3,000 miles away, you seek out those homely comforts on a regular basis. I have been purchasing Dunkin’ ground coffee for home for 5 years, and I had literally just been back to Boston the week before and had a Dunkin coffee in Boston, and yet I still wanted to and had no problem with braving a 2+ hour line to get some in LA.

Some people can’t accept that. When we had waited 2 hours and were about to actually enter the store, when a woman stops by and asks us how long we’ve been waiting. After telling her the approximate among of time, she asks us if we’ve actually every had Dunkin’ Donuts. And before we even get a chance to answer her question, she simply walks away saying “…it’s not worth it.”

This irked me. I joked to the people behind me in line who she was also talking to, that this woman basically said, to our faces, “hey – you guys are all idiots and you’re wasting your time. I’m better than you because I’m not stupid enough to do that.” Who the hell is this woman to tell me how I should spend my time or what is “worth” my time? What is it to her how other people spend their time? Would she walk by the line to a concert or sporting event and be like “have you seen basketball? it’s not worth it.” If I were on a bike driving by her while she was walking down the street, I wouldn’t say – “you’re wasting your time, biking is much better and quicker!” Just keep walking lady, pay no attention to the hundreds of people clearly crazy enough to wait in a line for a thing. We’re not giving you any trouble or inconvenience. Why the hate?

Now, the internet has become a great place not only for long-winded personal rants like this one, but for anonymous critique and negative energy. “Outrage culture,” “trolling,” and all those other negative words that cause a simple event or concept, put a negative spin on it and make it “the worst thing in the world (today).” So it may just be more prevalent in society today for people to outwardly express their discontent on things that don’t necessarily concern them much, they just always feel the need to have an opinion on. But it’s ridiculous. Why does person B have to put down person A for liking a thing? Aren’t we all individuals with individual tastes? Sure, a single Dunkin’ Donuts glazed donut you once had may have not wowed you, and you personally can’t imagine waiting more than 5 minutes for that item. So don’t do it. It was worth it to us hundred people that day, and the thousands that waited in line for similar lengths of time that opening week, and the weeks that followed. So why make a stink about it? Does it really make you feel superior to outwardly express your belief that a large group of people on a city block were wasting their time, and you were a better person for not wasting your time?

I get this as a fan of Professional Wrestling a lot. Yes, I may not have publicly announced that on this site, but it’s all over my social media, and to my close friends and family it’s no secret. But Pro Wrestling fans get this automatic disdain all the time. “You know that stuff is fake, right?” is the common refrain. It’s not real sports, it’s pre-determined, so therefore it can’t be as exciting or entertaining as real sports, because you never know what’s going to happen. Sure, that’s a main draw of real sports – you never know the outcome. And that’s why I also love sports. There’s an excitement in witnessing something unfold before your eyes, and there can be surprises everywhere. That also applies to Pro Wrestling. Sure, SOMEONE knows the outcome, but as a fan viewing the product, I personally don’t know the outcome. So if tomorrow you found out that for the past 50 years, every single NFL game had been pre-determined and it was a huge rouse, would that take away from your prior enjoyment of football? For those fans who have been fortunate enough to see their team win a Superbowl, would that take away from the excitement and glee you felt when the final seconds of the clock wound down as your team secured victory? Of course not. Pro Wrestling at its best, can tap into that glee – when you have a favorite wrestler going through his trials and tribulations in getting to that World Championship. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of such a thing, because it’s manufactured to tap into that as a fan. The better parts of being a Pro wrestling fan is that you can also analyze the storytelling like a television show; which is also completely fabricated and a small group of people know the outcome in advance. Does that take away from your enjoyment of Breaking Bad? Of course not! That’s ridiculous. By the same token, when you get annoyed by a creative decision or direction of a favorite show, do you not talk to your friends about it and map out what you would have done? Don’t people also do that with sports? “We should have run the ball more, their defense was all over our receivers all game, that’s why we lost.” You as a fan have no control over what you’re watching and enjoying, you’re just along for the ride. Pro Wresting gives fans a chance to loudly voice their opinions about certain characters or storylines while in the arena. We don’t like a guy? “BOOOOOO!!! YOU SUCK!!” We love a guy? “DAN-IEL BRY-AN clap clap clapclapclap!” Pro Wrestling, since it is put on as live entertainment on a weekly basis, is made to cater to the audience in a way that sports can’t and television or other scripted entertainment can’t do directly. That’s the appeal. Sports-themed entertainment we can have a part in. Throughout the history of the industry, countless wrestlers have changed face (to sheepishly use some wrestling terminology) because fans have rejected the position or character being presented to them. You know Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? You know how popular and awesome he is right now? When he debuted he was this cartoonish, smiley guy with jheri curls and streamers on his outfit. People did not like it, and eventually boo’ed him so much WWE (WWF at the time) decided to turn him into a bad guy, to fit what the fans thought of him. He eventually used that to create “The Rock” character, someone who fans could boo because they loved to boo, and he was too entertaining not to like.

Yes, that’s the future lead of Hercules.

That’s a very long-winded way of saying that it is awesome being a fan of a thing. I’ve been using the vague term “a thing” because it can apply to anything. You’re a dude and you like My Little Pony? Sure. You’re a die-hard Menudo fan? Why not. You never miss a performance of Shakespeare in the Park? Have at it. Entertainment exists so that the millions (and millions!) of people can find what they like and go enjoy it. I have been working for the past 4 years in Reality Television. I like some of shows and I don’t like other shows. There are people who LOVE every single reality show in existence. There are those who don’t. That’s totally fine. If you’re in the latter category, you don’t have to tell me your disdain for what has been paying my bills and keeping me not homeless for 4 years. Clearly some people like it, which is why it is successful and exists in the first place. You can watch something you like, and don’t worry about stuff you don’t like.

This rant was in part sparked by wrestling fan and popular radio personality, Sam Roberts, in his recent podcast rant about Apple people vs. Not Apple People. As an Apple Person myself, I tend to agree with NotSam. I like Apple and have liked Apple products my whole life because there’s very little complications to them. Things just work and are convenient and easy. I’ve made my consumer decision, so I will stick with that ecosystem for as long as they’ll shell stuff out for me. I like their products, I like the user experience, it’s comfortable and uncomplicated. I don’t think about “the competition.” But the competition seems like all they do is think about Apple. I get that it’s business and consumer products that live or die by competition, however for a non-Apple user to perpetually hate on any and all Apple users for simply being an Apple user is the same principle of that lady telling us that waiting 2 hours in line for something we love isn’t worth it. Of course it’s worth it if you like it. Look at how many people wait for way longer than 2 hours for the launch of the new iPhones last week! Sure we’re all literally buying into a culture of die-hard fandom for products instead of entertainment like sports or wrestling, but if we as humans are inclined to geek-out over something that makes you happy, why discourage that? In the end, it’s all a luxury we’re all too complacent with. We should be thankful we have such “first-world problems” like being able to choose which awesome, amazing, incredibly advanced mini-computer we want to use on a daily basis for communication and entertainment. So let’s just high-five those people waiting in line at Apple Stores across the country, celebrate them expressing their excitement over one of their loves. Let’s flip channels, stop at Monday Night Raw, and instead of roll our eyes at how ridiculous and “fake” the product in the ring looks, and instead appreciate how happy those people in the arena are to just be there. Let’s give kudos to those sports fans who during the World Cup or Olympics, woke up at 4am just to watch their team play live from across the globe. We’re an advanced civilization and fellow humans invented or created all these incredible things we’re going crazy over. That’s something amazing. Just enjoy it.

And just try Dunkin’s iced coffee, even if you prefer Starbucks. I don’t need you to get it, I just need you to try it without judgement. Thanks.

Defending your Fan Base! A Boston Sports-Fan’s request to all Sports Fans.

As a sports fan, you live and die by your team. We all know and accept this. Your team is the best one, no one else should care about anything but your team, and every other team should just get out of the way of your team winning the championship. Your team deserves the best free agents and trades, and you can’t IMAGINE why a player would sign with that other team, just for a couple extra bucks (okay, maybe if you’re a realistic sports fan, that part you can always understand).

BUT – here’s something I’ve been forced to come to terms with since moving away from the city in which my fandom is centralized around: Your Fan Base has a national perception. And most likely it’s not great. This brings me to my question – can you defend your fan base as strongly as you defend your team? I’m leaving this open to all fan bases, as I know a ton that are members of the more prominent/loud/obnoxious/angry/passionate fan bases.

I’ll offer my two-cents about Boston fans. I know we are widely considered to be among the most obnoxious and passionate fan bases in the country. I’m not going to say “best” or “worst,” because that’s just a matter of opinion (and if you pay attention to Deadspin now, as they tear apart each NFL team before the season starts, every NFL fan base sucks and doesn’t deserve anything). Boston fans can be loud, Boston fans can be over-the-top, Boston fans can be extreme – we’re either going all the way this year or we’ll never win another game again. We’re superstitious and negative, but we’ll stand by the Patriots through “SpyGate,” defend David Ortiz and his PED allegations, cheer for Brad Marchand whenever he does anything that makes you as an opposing fan hate him. Kevin Garnett was a smack-talking bully on the court, but he was OUR smack-talking bully. (And now Brooklyn’s smack-talking bully). We’ll argue that Nomar was better than Jeter, and Pedroia is better than Cano. Williams was better than DiMaggio. Bobby Orr better than Gretsky. Bird better than Magic. Not sure how many of those arguments we win in other states.

You can call us obnoxious, you can call us homers, you can call us never-satisfied, you can call us championship-hungry, you can call us shitty fans. Most of you do anyways.  But at least we care about ALL of our teams. Boston is one of a few cities that can call themselves a Baseball town, a Hockey town, A Basketball town and a Football town without any detractors. Most cities can only claim ONE of those sports, maybe two. I live in Los Angeles currently – they’re definitely a Basketball town. No doubt about that. The LA Kings won the 2012 Stanley Cup. Not sure I’d call LA a Hockey Town. I just went to the 3-game series between the Red Sox and Dodgers. The Dodgers are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now – still not sure I’d call LA a baseball town. LA doesn’t even have a football team, so that’s out of the question.

Growing up, I just missed out on the Celtics’ era of greatness, too young to really follow the Bruins mid 80s-mid 90s unsuccessful playoff runs. The Patriots weren’t good during that stretch until they somehow made it into Superbowl XXXI in 1996, only to get crushed by Brett Favre’s Packers. I only remember being interested in the Red Sox as a child. Maybe because we’d go to Fenway once a season. Maybe because big-name players like Mo Vaughn, Roger Clemens and Jose Canseco were on the team. And Nomah! I followed the Celtics when Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker came onto the scene, then quickly lost interest in the NBA (something that seems to happen with me in waves). But as a Boston fan I always had a connection to those teams, even if they weren’t relevant or I didn’t pay attention to the league at the time. I’ve conjectured recently that depending on what era in a team’s history you grew up in, whether they are relevant for greatness or relevant for never-winning, that’s the team you’re most connected to. I grew up between the Red Sox’s 1986 World Series loss (missed it by a month, thanks Mom and Dad!) and the 2004 “Curse-Breaking” Champs. What happened in Red Sox land during that 18-year stretch? Oh just 5 playoff appearances/exits and 4 Yankees World Series wins. That puts me in familiar territory to any generation of Red Sox fan in the prior 86 years.

I grew up in the last 18 years of Red Sox franchise woes. We had the talent, we just never could put it together. But that’s the sentiment that overwhelmingly took over my young self as I grew into a Boston sports fan. That’s hard to shake. I’m not apologizing for every instance of a Boston fan complaining about a 3-game losing streak when we’re still in 1st place, or worrying about losing 1 game in the Stanley Cup playoffs because a couple years ago we lost 4 straight to lose the series after being up 3-0. But Boston fans are always VERY aware of our teams’ past history. Or recent history. No one would bring themselves to predict the 2013 Red Sox would be this good this far into the season, after the debacle that was 2012. It’s about managing expectations. Sometimes, we know we have a good shot – like the last 10 years of Patriots teams. We know when we don’t have a shot – like the upcoming Celtics season. Worrying and complaining is all part of what makes us Boston sports fans, and to a certain extent, sports fans in general. While the teams we root for may be different, we’re all sports fans at our foundation. We just want to see our teams do well and win championships. It’s something we have very little control over, but because it has such a community-bonding capacity, we let sports take over our lives and emotions. Our anxiety and stress levels shoot through the roof during playoff runs. We check standings every day as part of our morning routines. Sports are a water-cooler topic of conversation, before or after you’re done talking about the last episode of Breaking Bad. Nothing beats going to a live sporting-event; where else can you see 30,000-70,000 people from one community experiencing  the same thing? Non-sports fans like going to games for the environment. Maybe they’ll learn a thing or two from their super-fan boyfriend/girlfriend/family member/friend. Our biggest sports stars are legitimate celebrities.  We have a growing number of 24/7 sports television networks. It’s real-life drama, complete with scandals, redemption stories, “good guys” and “bad guys.” Being a fan is simply picking sides – something that you can’t really do in any other form of entertainment.

So that brings me to my request, fellow sports fans. Please comment, on here, on Facebook, on Twitter, wherever, with your thoughts on being a sports fan, and defending your particular fan base. Help me realize how similar we all are, we’re just rooting for different color jerseys.

**UPDATE – I was waiting for Deadspin to post their “Why Your Team Sucks” for the Patriots this season, and forgot they had real Pats fans write in and complain about themselves. So in the spirit of “Defending” your fan base (really the opposite), here’s some raw thoughts from real Deadspin readers/Patriots fans about why they hate other Patriot fans, and by virtue other Boston Fans.

Thoughts on Boston, Terror, and the Bigger Picture

An entry by my girlfriend, Anneliese Waddington, expressing her view on this week’s events:Image

This week has left me uneasy. I have felt worry, and I have felt anger. These feelings surface each time we experience a national tragedy at the hands of someone who intended to take innocent lives, and leave behind emotional and physical scars. Our nation as a whole has many scars. A flash of fear, of anxiety, when you board an airplane, or when you sit in a classroom, or when you settle into a seat at the movie theater, or when you pray in your place of worship. And now, when you gather as a community. That’s what hits hard about Monday’s bombings. This was not a routine flight, a routine day at school, a routine trip to the movies. This instills a fear of gathering together as a community in celebration. A day where we celebrate accomplishment, push ourselves to achieve something great, or simply cheer on thousands of people we will never meet, but who for that one day become our friends, our family. That is where my anger comes from. That the underlying intention was to destroy the safety of a community, to shatter at the most basic level, togetherness. In the aftermath, I have seen and witnessed an overwhelming sense of community, of the good people. And this gives me some peace. Our nation’s tragedies have shown us that there is more good than bad, and that no one is ever alone in their darkest moments. I am grateful to be a part of a country where we have this certainty. But then I think about nations where Monday’s horror is a daily occurrence. Where the victims become a number, not a face. Not a name to be remembered by 300,000,000 people, not a life to be celebrated. Simply a casualty. And as I see the enormous outpouring of support for those victims of Boston, of Newtown, of Aurora, I can’t help but think of humanity as a community. What makes the people of Boston any different from the people of Iraq, of Sudan, of Venezuela? A headline from the Huffington Post on Monday, April 15th, reads “Iraq Attacks Kill Dozens, Wound Over 100 In Several Cities.” And the headline goes by unnoticed by most, as we have become indifferent to headlines like these, because we see them daily, and we have adapted the ability to detach from it.  And when I think about it, that is a problem. I have no answer. I don’t know where the responsibility lies, where being part of a nation ends and being part of humanity begins. Millions of Americans spring to action when it’s one of our own, on our own soil. But I think it’s important, in times like these, to step back and take a look around. We are all human. We are all someone’s son, someone’s daughter, someone’s friend. For me, the Boston tragedy hits close to home, because I have been there, and been in those shoes. It could’ve been me. But the feelings surrounding it are no different than how I felt when I heard about the Aurora shootings, September 11th, the Newtown shootings. Because what I felt was for a fellow human being. For someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter, friend.

To see so many people come together, to hear the stories of heroism, help to restore my faith in humanity after a tragedy. But I find myself wondering about the potential in this, why it’s brought out only when we are faced with a tragedy that touches something personal in us. Think of what we, as a nation, as humans, could accomplish if we applied this multitude of support for all of our fellow humans facing terror at the hands of others. It is easy to block it out, to ignore it, to distance yourself from what is happening beyond our borders. But is it right? Or does the burden simply become too great? I choose to have faith in the potential that someday the good can be spread equally. That our sense of community is defined by coming together not just as Bostonians, not just as Americans, but as humans. Humans who take pride in humanity. #WeAreAllHuman

We Are All Boston Patriots

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Like many other displaced Bostonians, the past 4 years Marathon Monday/Patriot’s Day has been a day I missed my hometown the most. Memories starting from when I was a little kid, driving to Wellesley or Newton to catch a glimpse of the city-wide event, cheer runners on as they trek toward their 26.2 mile goal, waiting in the heart of the city, to my college years, gathering on Beacon Street, cheering on the runners, some of whom may be friends or fellow college students, but in a much more mature, outdoor party-like atmosphere. I remember going to the 11 AM Red Sox game, peeking toward Kenmore Square as the game drew to a close, seeing the runners on their last few miles toward the end. Then going into Kenmore to cheer them on and give high fives to the tens of thousands of brave, strong-willed and no doubt tired people with numbers on their bibs.

That’s what Patriot’s Day in Boston is supposed to be about. That’s what it always has been about. And in the wake of yesterday’s horrible tragedies at that same finish line that for over 4 hours after the start of the race this year, and every previous year of the Boston Marathon, meant the final goal of those runners from all across the globe, I have been having a lot of trouble collecting my thoughts. Since moving to Los Angeles, Marathon Monday is a day every year as it approaches, I wish my schedule allowed for a quick extended weekend trip home, just to enjoy in the culture and festivities of the day with my fellow Bostonians, as if I never left. This year, despite the tragedy, I feel no different. I wish I could be there in Boston this week to support those affected by this tragedy by donating blood at the hospital, going to candlelight vigils and walking from BC to the Finish Line. I wish I could go to tomorrow night’s Bruins game and show the country and the world our unified Resilience, as President Obama so rightly characterized our city. I find myself struggling to focus at work, feeling so disconnected to the city I still consider my home. Hours staring at news coverage yesterday, and hours reading stories of the aftermath, hearing our sports radio hosts drop all coverage of sports and discuss how close this city is. Hearing personal accounts, including that of The Sports Hub/Toucher and Rich’s Rich Shertenlieb, who’s voice trembled on the radio as he explained how he doesn’t know what to do with the anger he feels after having to rush his family, including two young boys and a wife undergoing chemotherapy, out of his apartment building right where the second bomb exploded.

In a city where all you hear about is Sports, especially living in a city that holds one of it’s teams biggest basketball rivals, it’s hard to explain to people who aren’t from Boston, WHY Boston is such an incredible place. You hear people chide and berate the city and it’s sports fans for being ourselves – loud, obnoxious and passionate. And that’s all people know about Bostonians. But a tragic event like yesterday’s explosions really shows how tight-knit a community Boston is. Strange for such a large metropolitan area to seem so small and close, but living in the Boston area throughout all my pre-college life, and living in the city for 3+ years during college, I really felt the sense of community. I saw it most prominently after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 – a community of people coming together for a joyous occasion, a shared elation sparked from 86 years of disappointment and agony. You could see it in every subsequent Championship Parade during our decade of winning. A city where you may not always smile or high five the stranger you walk by, suddenly is all smiles and high-fives when a unifying event brings us together. Yesterday’s attacks wasn’t about sports, but it was centered around one of the Nation’s and certainly the city’s biggest sporting events. Sports brings people together – to cheer for a common team, or to cheer on runners going after a common goal like crossing the finish line after 26.2 grueling miles on city streets. And in a city where sports bears such a strong importance, it is no surprise to me how strong and resilient our citizens can be in the face of adversity.

Patriot’s Day is supposed to celebrate everything that Boston is about, and by extension, America is about (for those uninitiated, Patriot’s Day is celebrating those who fought in the first battle of the Revolutionary War, in Lexington and Concord.) We wouldn’t call ourselves Americans if that first battle never happened. And that’s what’s so hard to grasp about this attack – they didn’t just attack the Boston Marathon, they didn’t just attack The City of Boston. They attacked the IDEA of celebration Freedom and Patriotism. It makes me sad to realize that going forward, of course we will continue to host the Marathon every year, on Patriot’s Day. But now, there will be this tragedy looming over everyone’s associations of this day, a day that is supposed to be the best day the city has to offer. Sure, future Marathon’s will still have a sense of celebration and accomplishment, but the institution of Patriot’s Day will now forever be scarred. And I hate that such a happy and joyous event has to be associated with such sadness.

Boston, you’re my home.

*I would like to send out my condolences and thoughts to the 3 families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy; The Cambell Family, The Richard Family, and the Lu family in China.

Thinking Different: My Thoughts on Steve Jobs

Yes, those are all my Apple devices, in one big family

It’s not often that a huge news story affects so many people. And it’s not often when that news story is about one person’s passing. AND it’s definitely not often when that person is a CEO of one of the most successful companies of the past 25 years. Today, a very rare occurrence happened, when we all learned that Steve Jobs had passed away at the age of 56.

A friend asked earlier, “when was the last time such a phenomenal CEO passed away?” I took it further – when was the last time such an influential CEO passed away? When was the last time ANY CEO’s passing made front page headlines? When was the last time a CEO’s passing deeply affected this many people, this quickly?

Regardless of your stance on the company itself, everyone I know has been affected by Steve Jobs’ vision in some way. Be it as little as using iTunes to listen to your music, or as big as standing in line outside an Apple Retail Store a week before the new iPhone comes out. Whether or not you were actively thinking about Mr. Jobs when doing these tasks, his influence was there.

I personally have been using Apple products my whole life – my dad has a Macintosh Classic that I used to play an early disk-based RPG program called “Spelunx” on. It was on this computer where I first was exposed to the Mac OS, back in version 6 or 7. We then upgraded to a bigger desktop, the Performa. Being part of the generation that essentially grew up with the first “modern” desktops, this computer took a huge part in my formative years. I learned how to type on it, wrote early school papers on it, and it provided me with my first glimpse of this new-spangled thing called the “INTERNET.” In fact, we were one of the few families that tried out Apple’s failed online service, “E-World.” Some of these names and programs may be foreign to you reading this, and I totally understand. This was all pre-iMac, when Apple first began its ascent into uber-success.

We had a Bondi Green iMac, and it was amazing. I remember being wowed by the concept of getting to see INSIDE the computer. Not to mention the first “why?” moment in realizing this computer did away with the floppy drives. Apple has always been a company who SETS the trends, rather then waiting for them to pop up. Floppy disks are a memory now, a punchline. Back in 1998, people were outraged by this “oversight” on Apple’s part. All programs were installed via floppy. People’s backups and storage were on floppys. How dare a computer company that was near-floundering in the industry make such a bold move? Obviously this was the first of many similar decisions that at first were umpopular, but in retrospect turned out to be genius moves, headed by the genius at the head of the company.

The iMac was a success for Apple fans and helped put the company back on the map, but the upward spike in popularity really came with the introduction of the first real consumer MP3 player, the iPod. This started Apple’s trend of creating a new device or technology that everyone would want. With the easy of use of iTunes already becoming a success on the Mac OS, the iPod followed suit with a portable version of your entire music library. I remember the day when I first got my iPod – I sat eagerly waiting for it to charge so I could sync it up to my ever-growing library of songs. No longer would i have to choose what CD I wanted to bring to school to listen to in study hall on a particular day. I could have ALL my CDs with me in one, card-deck-shaped device. It was brilliant. Steve’s vision was brilliant.

During these days, when Apple was finally gaining some ground in the Mac vs. PC wars, Apple pride was rampant with Mac users. In fact, if you scoured the internet during those days, you might commonly find an image saying “Made on a Mac,” kind of a “See what I can do?” fist in the face to PC users who commonly shrugged off Macs as viable computing machines. I certainly represented my Apple Pride on my old personal website. Apple users would defend their hearts out on their beloved machines, I remember trying to convince my PC-using cousin of the merits of the iMac.  Apple later mirrored this sentiment when they came out with the “Switch to Mac” ads. In fact, all of their modern ads to date, especially the Justin Long vs. John Hodgman “I’m a Mac/I’m a PC” ads, showcased Apple’s intent on appearing “cooler,” and easier to use when compared to their rival PCs. With their new slew of sleek-looking, high-functioning computers and iPods, the success started coming.

I went to a communications school in college, meaning there were a lot of what we like to call “creative types.” Typically, at least for the bulk of my generation, that meant Macs had an extremely strong presence in the hallways and classrooms of Boston University’s School of Communications building. Walk through a dorm hallway and count how many iBooks/ Powerbooks  and later MacBooks you see in each room. Even if someone didn’t have a Mac laptop, I BET you they had some form of iPod. I know freshman year we all took advantage of the dorm-network sharing options provided by BU in being able to view and listen to our floormates’ iTunes libraries. This was around the time when social networks like Facebook were really starting to blossom into the lives of students my age.

Even now, as a working 20-something in the entertainment industry, Apple provides a huge influence over my day-to-day life. Not only do I work on a MacPro using Final Cut Pro and Apple’s XSAN Servers, but half of the company I work at has iPhones. Occasionally we’ll get requests to compress a video so it can be watched on an iPad. Sometimes, more often recently, we have some fun complaining about and making fun of the shortcomings of Final Cut X. I come home from work and jump on my MacBook Pro, as I am doing right now, sitting in bed. I might also have Final Cut open on my own MacPro, with an Apple Magic Mouse wirelessly linked to either computer. I’m sitting here preparing to pre-order the new iPhone on Friday. I may not think about Steve Jobs every time I open up Final Cut or turn on my computer, but I certainly know I’ve been on board with his vision for 15 years.

In thinking about Steve Jobs’ death today, and in collecting my thoughts for this post, I couldn’t help but be surprised at my own emotional reaction to the news. I was legitimately sad about this. I almost teared up when I saw the CNN headlines when I was at the gym earlier – just seeing the words on television was still unbelievable. It’s such a strange thing, trying to justify why I’m so upset about someone I’ve never met passing. I think the best explanation is that Steve Jobs is one of those rare examples of a CEO truly putting his heart and soul into his company. Steve Jobs IS synonymous with Apple. That’s why you don’t have to consciously think of him when you use an Apple product. That Apple product IS him. Everything the company does IS his vision, like it or not.

The questions arose a couple months ago when he stepped down as CEO – will Apple be the same without him at the top? CAN Apple be the same without Steve Jobs? I personally feel that if anyone could impose his vision on an entire company, it would be Steve Jobs. That’s why I am not worried as an Apple user, stock-holder and straight-out fan, about the company’s future. Steve’s vision will still be seen in future products, the people he left in charge have been a part of the “Think Different” machine for a long time. But despite this, losing someone at this level, there has to be some drop off. Something will always feel different about Apple without Steve and his black turtleneck explaining how simple their new product is – “it just works,” sounds different coming out of Tim Cook’s mouth, despite seeing how something “just works” still looks the same.

I’ll sign off with a popular quote from Steve, from his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech, that many are quoting today, explaining Steve’s thoughts and advice on facing death:

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?”

For a man who’s life was his company and his company was his life, I think he could look at himself in the mirror every day and answer “Yes.”

Made on a Mac

“Drop the ‘The.’ It’s cleaner.” Reminiscing about old Facebook, my sort of review of “The Social Network”

After seeing “The Social Network,” the story about how the originally programming and company of “Facebook” came about and succeeded, I couldn’t help but be reminiscent of “The Facebook’s” early days, when I first joined in 2005.

One of the major pluses t0 being accepted into a college was getting your “.edu” email address, which meant you could sign up for “The Facebook.” When I joined, it had expanded a good deal from its Harvard-only exclusivity, but nowhere near as open as it is nowadays. It was a couple of years before they let high-schoolers sign up, and then eventually everyone. It was a part of my college experience even before I got to college. I “met” and talked with people who were on my freshman year floor, some of which I would actually become friends with. In REAL life. Although, there was always the awkward “This person is being a little stalkery,” even in the early days. After seeing the movie, at least in the view of the filmmakers, the idea behind the social tool was to be able to find out information about people you knew, or kind of knew, without necessarily having to speak with them directly. This dynamic was already present in existing social networks, especially in Myspace’s case.

Not only did Facebook coincide with my college experience, it really came into my life when I first got my own computer. I’m sure I’m not the only one with this milestone, and it’s an interesting insight into the simultaneously privatized and publicized lives of young college students 5, 6, 7 years ago. We became independent with our own computers, moving away from home into our new lives, which allowed us a more private computing use – no need to worry about sharing a computer with family members, everything you did on your laptop was yours. But at the same time, we began expanding our online lives, sharing various bits of information about ourselves – our interests, our relationships statuses and sexual preferences, who we associate with, what we say to each other, etc.

Once pictures came into the mix, it became a whole new scenario. Suddenly you had to be careful what was posted of you and how you were shown in pictures – underage drinking at college parties, drug use, being in photos with members of the opposite sex when you had a significant other stalking your page. Very quickly, the freedom we had to express ourselves and share our lives with peers online had a shadow cast over it – there were consequences to our online actions, oftentimes dire ones – relationships ruined, jobs lost, parents upset.

Speaking of parents, once Facebook was opened up to the general public, where anyone with an email could join, many of our generation’s parents started joining, as they had obviously heard so much about it from us, because it was as much a part of our lives as college and high school kids as music, movies, comedy, fashion, drinking, partying – any and all of our interests.

Through the whole time, Facebook was expanding and quickly becoming the biggest social network out there, and making Mark Zuckerberg the youngest billionaire in the world. This is where I found “The Social Network” very interesting. Having been on Facebook from its earlier stages (not the earliest obviously, but within a year or so of its inception), it was interesting to see what was happening behind the scenes with Zuckerberg and his business partners throughout my own personal experiences with Facebook. I remember when they dropped the “The” from the title. I remember when it expanded worldwide, and when it reached 1 million members, and it’s so amazing to think that now, only a few years later, they’re at 500 million members and still growing.

A good way to conclude this pseudo-review would be to imagine what life through college would have been like without having this social tool to help us through it. Sure, there would have been other venues of communicating with each other – perhaps AIM or G-Chat later on would continue to carry online communications between college kids. Perhaps texting would have taken off a few years earlier. Of course, another new thing would eventually have to come along, clearly the idea was thought of in similar senses in similar circles, had Zuckerberg not created what he created. But despite all those “what-ifs,” the fact remains that Facebook exists, and is pretty much in everyone’s lives, whether they use it every day, or just check it every so often. It’s helped college kids make new friends freshman year, it’s helped people find former high school and college classmates, years after they’ve lost touch. It’s allowed us to share anything and everything with each other, its helped craft both the course of our personal lives online, and also the course of social media in general. Now, you can log in to almost any site with your Facebook profile, there isn’t a site out there that doesn’t allow you to share things on Facebook. “Facebooking” and “Friending” are in our collective vernacular, (and in our dictionaries, at least in the case of the latter). Facebook is as much a part of our lives as television or movies are, it’s even social water-cooler talk – “did you see what Jim said on his Facebook? He caught a foul ball at the Sox game yesterday, and was on TV!”

I was thinking a bit about brand loyalty while watching “The Social Network,” and I came to this conclusion – there are very few companies that have such a strong hold on their consumer base as Facebook does. Apple comes to mind, but it’s slightly different, because Apple creates tactile products that cost money. Facebook is a free, extremely useful tool, and I think it may be safe to say it goes beyond seeing Facebook as a brand. I really think that it’s clearly not a fad, and may even overtake our use of email as the primary source of online communication. If not Facebook specifically, than the various social networks that exist – Facebook for primarily social forms of communication, Linked-In, or something similar for our business networking, Twitter for real-time updates on news, events, traffic conditions, whatever.

It’s an exciting time we’re living in, in terms of technology and social media – things that haven’t always garnered such strong attention, and in the case of social media, didn’t exist a decade ago. Just look at the box office numbers for “The Social Network” after this weekend is done. The movie isn’t even necessarily an entirely fact-based account of the beginnings of the Social Media giant. But everyone is going out to see it, because everyone is on Facebook, and everyone is interested in its story. And it’s a good story to be told.

Feel free to Facebook your comments.

Oh yeah, and my quick review of the movie itself – Aaron Sorkin wrote a great script, extremely well-shot and directed, thanks to Mr. David Fincher and his DP, Jeff Cronenweth, and the interpersonal drama between the main characters, despite being almost entirely based on legal issues and testimony, which many find tedious and boring, was compelling throughout. While no one actor really shined off the screen, perhaps Justin Timberlake could be mentioned just for the fact that he’s proving himself to be more talented than any of us thought from his “Bye, Bye, Bye” days with *NSYNC. While Facebook may or may not have started in exactly in the way that the movie portrays, the tension sifts throughout the heavy dialogue and business/legal jib-jab. You leave the movie not really sure whose side to be on, aside from maybe just Facebook’s side. We use it. We like it. We’re addicted to it. We don’t necessarily care one way or another whose original idea it was, or who screwed who out of the company. I for one, am content with simply clicking the big “like” button on “The Social Network.”

The Social Network 2010
I have 660 friends – how many enemies does that mean I have?