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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gene Simmons of KISS on Obama, the UN, AND JUSTICE ! :-)

Gene Simmons of KISS on Obama, the UN, AND JUSTICE ! :-)

________________________ The MasterLiving Blog

Miami looks to Renters to Fuel its recovery

MIAMI—When the real estate market collapsed five years ago, this city's downtown soon became an emblem of the worst excesses of the building boom. Glittering new towers sat mostly vacant.
Those towers are filling up much sooner than some analysts predicted. The new arrivals, mostly renters, are spurring the establishment of restaurants, bars and shops. Streets that once grew desolate at the end of the workday now buzz with residents walking dogs and dining at outdoor tables.
"I never expected it would be as vibrant as it is today," said Andres del Corral, a 30-year-old commercial real estate broker who moved to the area three years ago.

Downtown Miami Rebounds

Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal
The Epic, a new residential and hotel tower, sits in the heart of downtown Miami.
A February report by the Miami Downtown Development Authority found that 85% of new condo units, those built since 2003, were occupied, up from 74% in 2010 and 62% in 2009. The residential population of downtown—which, broadly defined, stretches from the emerging Wynwood arts neighborhood in the north to the gritty Central Business District to the flashier Brickell financial district in the south—now numbers about 70,000, compared with 40,000 a decade ago. Another 10,000 people are expected to move in by 2014, according to the Development Authority.
Ambitious new projects are on the way. In April, Hong Kong-based Swire Propertiesunveiled plans for Brickell CitiCentre, a five-million-square-foot development with a hotel, residences, office towers and retail outlets. Construction is expected to begin next year. Last week, Genting Malaysia Berhad, of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, announced a deal to buy 14 acres of waterfront property where the Miami Herald building currently sits. The company plans to build a complex with restaurants, entertainment venues and, if the Florida legislature authorizes it, casino gambling.
Nationwide, the housing sector continues to suffer—figures released Tuesday showed that home prices fell 4.2% in the first quarter—and whether Miami's momentum will continue, leading to the 24-hour city that downtown boosters dream of, is unclear. Miami-Dade County's 13.2% unemployment rate, the second-highest in a state hard hit overall by the economic downturn, remains a drag on the local economy. And the region continues to reel from the mortgage foreclosure crisis.
"The [downtown] market on the surface appears to be doing really well," said Glenn H. Gregory, senior vice president at commercial brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle. "The question is whether that will be sustainable."
Many buyers are investors who plan to unload their properties eventually, said Peter Zalewski, principal at real estate consultancy Condo Vultures LLC. Mr. Zalewski's question is: "Will they dump at the same time?" That would depress prices, potentially reversing the area's revival.
Condo sales here began surging after property owners slashed prices about two years ago, sometimes by 50% or more. That lured hordes of international buyers, including Brazilians and Venezuelans, who often pay entirely in cash. Fewer than 4,000 out of the 22,000 new units built since 2003 remain unsold, according to Condo Vultures.
At the Icon Brickell, a luxurious three-tower complex that for many came to epitomize the height of the speculative frenzy, more than 80% of the units have been sold, according to Fortune International, which markets the units. Sales are averaging 47 units a month.
In the past year, prices for new condos downtown have begun ticking up, from $298 a square foot in 2009 to $304 in 2010, according to Condo Vultures.
Residents say downtown is more animated than ever. When Geri Fischman moved to the area from South Beach three years ago, the nightlife options were scant. Now Ms. Fischman, 28, has a slew of them within walking distance, including db Bistro Moderne, the new Miami outpost of famed chef Daniel Boulud. Coming soon across the street from her place: a Whole Foods supermarket and a luxury movie theater. "I can't remember the last time I went to South Beach," she said.
As young professionals and families move in, the area's vibe has changed. Bayfront Park in the Central Business District now has free yoga classes three times a week. Parents pushing strollers are a common sight.
"A few years ago, you couldn't be here at night without dogs and guns," said William Richey, an attorney who lives in the CBD, while dining one recent evening at Trë, a new bistro. "Now it's full of life."
The newcomers have encouraged new businesses to open—38 in 2010, according to the Downtown Development Authority. Another 27 are currently planned for this year.
Many existing establishments have changed their mix of merchandise to appeal to a younger, more affluent demographic. At La Epoca, a department store in the CBD, clothing racks that once featured Levi's denims now have Diesel jeans and Hugo Boss shirts. "Sales keep growing each year," said owner Tony Alonso.
Downtown still has a way to go, especially the CBD, which remains crammed with grubby storefronts. "It's a bit of a mud hole," said Tony Goldman, a longtime developer who helped transform South Beach and is now considering investing downtown.
Development Authority officials are working on a master plan for the district. They recently helped organize a gathering of business leaders in the CBD to hear a presentation by Mr. Goldman, who outlined his vision for a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood centered on its historic buildings.
"It could be this fabulous oasis," Mr. Goldman said in an interview. "I think it's never been more ripe."
Write to Arian Campo-Flores at

Miami Renters Fuel a Boomlet -

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Raising Children Is Heck -

May 21, 2011

Raising Children Is Heck

OF the many moments during the day in which parents and children operate at cross purposes, none are so fraught as bedtime. After a certain amount of hair detangling, into-your-pajamas-now cajoling, recitations of “Goodnight Moon” and singing of shopworn lullabies, the parent is done. Done! And this moment is precisely when the child gets started: the repeat trip to the bathroom, the urgent request for water, the sudden fear of the radiator, the artfully misplaced lovey.

It is little surprise, then, that “Go the - - - - to Sleep,” a picture book written by Adam Mansbach and illustrated byRicardo Cortés, has become an overnight sensation with the P.T.A. set. The beauty of the book — which would be slapped with a parental warning for inappropriate language in title and text were it a movie — is that it looks like something to read to your toddler. In rhyming cadences reminiscent of Mem Fox’s “Time for Bed,” the text gently mimics a parent trying to lull a toddler to dreamland. “The windows are dark in the town, child/The whales huddle down in the deep/I’ll read you one very last book if you swear/You’ll go the ---- to sleep.”

Mr. Cortés’s soft illustrations depict the genre’s standard lineup: rounded toddlers, moonlit landscapes, slumbering animals.

Shortly after Mr. Mansbach gave a first reading in Philadelphia on April 23, the book’s pirated contents swept the Internet. Message boards and Facebook groups shot up like a spontaneous nationwide gathering of Parenthood Anonymous. (“You’re obviously not a parent!” was the most common retort pinged at anyone who dared object to the book’s message.)

The hardcover quickly shot to No. 1 on Amazon. Fox 2000 snapped up the film rights. And the book hasn’t even been released yet. (It will be published on June 14, ahead of its original October publishing date, in response to consumer demand.) The publishers say the authors have been pursued by “Today,” CNN, “CBS Evening News,” and Time and People magazines.

What could account for the fervent embrace? After all, swearing is hardly new — unprintable words now grace the titles of Broadway shows and hit songs. It is surprising that a swear word “can still have any kind of transgressive power at this point, but it does — in certain contexts,” said Ben Zimmer, a linguist. “Given our current middle class culture, with its emphasis on exposing your children to positive influences, the book feels subversive.”

Children’s books have often pushed boundaries. Material once deemed unsuitable for children — sloppy manners, untoward language, families that don’t match the “Leave It to Beaver” rubric, disobedience — is now considered by many to be acceptable fodder for children’s literature, even in books for toddlers who have not yet learned what they should be doing.

But books for parents do not get the same leeway. Today’s draconian child-rearing guides are still intent on what mothers and fathers really absolutely must do. What makes this latest book seductive is not so much its profanity as its articulation of verboten parental thoughts: We are not supposed to not want to be with our children. We are not supposed to not want to be a parent all the time.

Jesse Sheidlower, author of “The F-Word,” said the book states what everyone secretly thinks. “The shocking thing is that you want them to go to sleep so you can watch a movie with your wife,” said Mr. Sheidlower, who is also editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary. “That’s more of a taboo.”

Mr. Mansbach’s book isn’t the first to make this point, or the first to do so as a children’s book spoof. In 2005, Lisa Brown wrote “Baby Mix Me a Drink,” the first in a “Baby Be of Use” series of books designed more as a tongue-in-cheek shower gift than as a read-aloud. Not all parents got the joke. “I do not really recommend it only because there is not story (sic) to read to the little ones,” reads a two-star Amazon review.

But letting parents off the hook for their self-recrimination and guilt over bedtime seems the most cathartic tonic. According to Barbara Jones, director of the office of intellectual freedom at the American Library Association, parents have long appreciated that message, even in (somewhat) child-friendly formats. “Down will come cradle, baby and all?” Ms. Jones said pointedly. “That’s for parents. That’s about please — go to sleep already!”

Comic material has always stemmed from our darker nature, something children understand as well. When the book’s publisher gave a highly censored rendition to his 5-year-old son, the boy was delighted. “Children get the wackiness and mischief of putting a kid to bed from the parent’s perspective,” Mr. Mansbach said. He is now working on a G-rated version.

Raising Children Is Heck -


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Why is it no one really wants to live in the most liveable cities?

Liveable v lovable

The FT asks a very good question, Why is it no one really wants to live in the most liveable cities? 

...The polls underlines the fundamental fault that lies at the heart of the idea of measuring cities by their “liveability.The most recent surveys, from Monocle magazine, Forbes, Mercer and The Economist, concur: Vancouver, Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, Copenhagen and Munich dominate the top. What, you might ask, no New York? No London? No LA or HK? None of the cities that people seem to actually want to emigrate to, to set up businesses in? To be in? None of the wealthiest, flashiest, fastest or most beautiful cities
“These surveys always come up with a list where no one would want to live. One wants to live in places which are large and complex, where you don’t know everyone and you don’t always know what’s going to happen next. Cities are places of opportunity but also of conflict, but where you can find safety in a crowd.
“We also have to acknowledge that these cities that come top of the polls also don’t have any poor people...” 

Liveable usually does not mean the most dynamic...

... can someone coming from somewhere else improve themselves, reinvent themselves? Is there upward mobility? The top cities score badly again. London and New York are magnets for immigrants precisely because they allow those kinds of new beginnings
The common criteria of What makes a city great for all these surveys are:

Blend of beauty and ugliness – beauty to lift the soul, ugliness to ensure there are parts of the fabric of the city that can accommodate change.
Diversity – if lots of people are wanting to come to a city, there must be something there. 
Tolerance – the only way diversity works but also an accommodating attitude to sexuality (gay communities are famously successful inner-city regenerators) and religion (there are signs of increasing intolerance towards religious minorities all over the world). 
Density – density of habitation is crucial in ensuring density of activity, a vibrancy of commerce, residential and cultural activity. 
Social mix – the close proximity of social and economic classes keeps a city lively. 
Civility – impossible to measure and slightly against my stated notions about the benefits of friction but critical nevertheless. I once criticised the ingratiating politeness in the US and was told by an American who used to live in Paris that “it’s better to be told to have a nice day by someone who doesn’t mean it than to be told to go f*** yourself by someone who does”. Discounts any Israeli or Russian city from ever getting on the listEH

Monday, May 9, 2011

A new ball game for Brazil’s Ronaldo

A new ball game for Brazil’s Ronaldo / Management
By Vincent Bevins
Published: May 5 2011 23:12 | Last updated: May 5 2011 23:12
Off the bench: Ronaldo tackles business

On his way to a game between Brazil and Scotland at the Emirates Stadium in north London, Brazilian football legend Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima is not wearing the national jersey that made him famous. Nor is he on the team bus. He is wearing a dark suit, seated in the private car of his new business partner, Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP Group.
Since retiring from the sport at the age of 34 this year, Ronaldo has been hoping his experiences and connections as an athlete will help him succeed with his new São Paulo-based sports marketing company, 9ine, which manages athletes’ images and develops sports advertising strategies for brands.
“I wasn’t just going to stop working, and I never wanted to be a coach or a manager,” he says. “But I wanted to take advantage of my connection with football . . . After all these years I have very good relationships with many of the biggest companies and lots of athletes.”
With Brazil’s plans to host the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, while experiencing a boom in consumption, it is a good time for Ronaldo to use those connections. The market for advertising in the country is growing faster than gross domestic product.
It is this timing and Ronaldo’s unique position that earned 9ine, named after his jersey number, the vote of confidence from Sir Martin’s WPP Group, which holds a 45 per cent stake in the company – Ronaldo also owns 45 per cent. “Economic growth [in Brazil] has been colossal, and there is a young population, strong new media and good internet penetration. Brazil is under-advertised and under-branded,” Sir Martin says. “We’re looking for new ways to connect with consumers in a tangible and emotional way, and working with Ronaldo is a really interesting opportunity for us.”
Brazilian sports stars have a mixed history entering the world of business. Carlos Arthur Nuzman, a former Olympic volleyball player, became a successful lawyer before heading the Brazilian Olympic Committee and bringing the games to Rio. Football legend Pelé headed a campaign for Viagra and now for the BM&FBovespa, the country’s multi-asset exchange, to convince Brazilians to invest.
It is difficult to overestimate Ronaldo’s status in his own country – boosted by the fact that he has a reputation for managing his fame with good humour, despite some famous personal scandals. But his touch will not necessarily turn 9ine into gold. “I generally think if a celebrity has a decent idea, they tend to believe that idea or business can become a great idea just because their name is behind it,” says Matt Delzell, account director at The Marketing Arm, an agency with significant sports operations based in the US. “Having celebrity stature helps in many cases, but the product or service ultimately has to be good for the business to flourish.”
In its first months, 9ine signed contracts to manage the images of up and coming Brazilian footballer Neymar, indoor-football celebrity Falcão, and world mixed martial arts champion Anderson Silva. On the corporate side, its first contract is with GlaxoSmithKline, for which 9ine will develop sports marketing strategies for consumer products.
Ronaldo’s own brand power is at work in establishing such connections, but he is also assisted by his friend, the São Paulo entertainment entrepreneur Marcus Buaiz, 9ine’s executive director, who holds the remaining 10 per cent of the company.
Ronaldo says he recognises that there is no easy transition for him between the two worlds, no matter how well he may be placed to connect with the right people. “My biggest difficulty so far is with strategic planning, which is what marketing and advertising really consist of. It’s for that reason that I’ve been studying so much – not so much in classes, but with my team here,” he says. “I suppose I will have the day-to-day life of a normal executive,” he adds, before pausing and smiling: “But maybe I won’t start so early in the morning. I’ll want to do some exercise first.”


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