Eulogy closes

Eulogy Belgian Tavern in Old City, Philadelphia closed suddenly:

After shutting down for what was to be a week’s renovations, Mike Naessens has chosen to close Eulogy Belgian Tavern for good after 15 years at 136 Chestnut St. in Old City. In short, he’s concerned for his safety.

Over a two-year span, Naessans said Friday, three employees at the bar — known for its collection of 400 beers and its quirky decor — became caught up in drug or criminal charges and either walked off the job or were fired. Naessans said he worked with prosecutors on all three cases, which he said prompted threats from the people involved and no police protection.

Naessans said one employee, fired after submitting a false résumé, was growing marijuana in Kensington. Naessans filed an affidavit in the case detailing the threats he said he received. A second employee, who Naessans said also struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, was fired and charged after stealing checks from Eulogy. Most recently, Naessans said. a female employee who was a heroin user stole nearly $5,000 and Naessans’ gun from the bar. The employee and her boyfriend were released on bail, Naessans said.

“I just got tired of this,” he said. “More and more, people you try to get in for interviews, you can tell they’re on something, and it’s just not worth it anymore. You’ve got a vetting process, but not too many people are applying as it is, and when you do get them in, your sense is it’s going to be a problem, but you need a warm body, and then, sure enough, it causes chaos.”

Naessens, a certified public accountant, said he had moved out of state and would return to the finance world.

Eulogy was a great place; the second of two of my favorite Old City taverns that have closed in the past few years. I always enjoyed grabbing the second floor table at Eulogy near the coffin with plastic skeleton and nursing a few good beers with friends. Memento mori.

Driving Tesla

Yesterday afternoon after mass, Eric and I were sitting in his apartment when he turned to me and asked: “Do you want to rent a 2014 Tesla Model S for $45?” I stared at him for a moment before answering, “Of course.”

He had found an incredible deal with a company called Get Around that let us rent for three hours, so we Ubered to the downtown San Francisco parking garage where the car was waiting. Everything was controlled through the app, and the car became available for unlock at the start of our rental time. We drove down the coast, past Pacifica toward Moss Beach where we had a beer on the deck of Moss Beach Distillery before turning around and heading back to the city before our rental time was up. It was a great way to spend a few hours on a Sunday evening.

If you haven’t driven a Tesla, you can’t imagine why any of this even merits sharing. If you have driven one, you’ll know how distinct the experience of driving a Tesla is from any combustion-engine vehicle. Both a Ford and a Tesla are cars, but the former feels much closer to the Model T and the era of the horse than the latter, which feels much closer to the era of space flight and autonomy.

Words should reflect realities

“If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success. When affairs cannot be carried on to success, proprieties and music do not flourish. When proprieties and music do not flourish, punishments will not be properly awarded. When punishments are not properly awarded, the people do not know how to move hand or foot. Therefore a superior man considers it necessary that the names he uses may be spoken appropriately, and also that what he speaks may be carried out appropriately. What the superior man requires is just that in his words there may be nothing incorrect.” —Confucius on the doctrine of the Rectification of Names

I’m probably as guilty as anyone, but a good place to start to reform the names we give things, the words we speak, would be to start with the simple things. “Disrupt” often simply means “change.” “New and improved” often means “different.” And “the more you spend, the more you save” is simply a non sequitur.

When we speak more carefully, it becomes easier to share a common vocabulary—and sharing a vocabulary, where most things have a commonly understood meaning, is a great way to change the world for the better.

Center City skyline

I was in Washington today for a conference, and arrived back in Philadelphia at 30th Street Station just after 7pm. As I left the main doors of the station a wave of warm summer air hit me, and the still-lit city sparkled with life.

Spur of the moment, I decided to text a friend and we met up shortly after for a run past the Philadelphia Art Museum at Fairmount, and then along Kelly Drive behind Boathouse Row. Since neither of us had our wallets on us, we were grateful for Apple Pay that let us eat dinner at Whole Foods afterwards.

That’s it; just sharing some highlights of a day’s experiences. It was just one of those “perfect summer evenings” that sticks in your mind when you think of summertime in the city.

Crunchy, brittle, crackly words

Roy Williams writes with a clarity and spunk that I wished the entire ad industry could channel. The Wizard of Ads was something of a revelation to me when I read it a decade or so ago. (But writing that arrests the reader, that transports him, shouldn’t be limited to ads. Roy is worth reading if you want to be a great writer, because he has this talent for conveying the spirit of a thing.)

His Monday Morning Memo is usually good, and one of my all time favorites is this one:

We won’t take the time to talk about Robert Pirosh as a writer for The Waltons, Hawaii Five-O, Mannix, Bonanza, My Three Sons, Family Affair, Combat! and The Fugitive. Our interest is directed at the letter that started it all, a letter blindly sent by 24 year-old Robert Pirosh to every producer, director and studio executive in Hollywood:

Dear Sir:

I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.

I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.

I have just returned and I still like words.

May I have a few with you?

Robert Pirosh
385 Madison Avenue
Room 610
New York
Eldorado 5-6024

I think this is a contender for inclusion in Letters of Note.

Reflecting, then acting

David Leonhardt writes on George Shultz and living intentionally:

When George Shultz was secretary of state in the 1980s, he liked to carve out one hour each week for quiet reflection. He sat down in his office with a pad of paper and pen, closed the door and told his secretary to interrupt him only if one of two people called:

“My wife or the president,” Shultz recalled.

Shultz, who’s now 96, told me that his hour of solitude was the only way he could find time to think about the strategic aspects of his job. Otherwise, he would be constantly pulled into moment-to-moment tactical issues, never able to focus on larger questions of the national interest. And the only way to do great work, in any field, is to find time to consider the larger questions.

The psychologist Amos Tversky had his own version of this point. “The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed,” Tversky said (as Michael Lewis describes in his latest book). “You waste years by not being able to waste hours.”

Likewise, Richard Thaler, the great behavioral economist and a Tversky protégé, self-deprecatingly describes himself as lazy. But Thaler is not lazy, no matter how much he may insist otherwise. He is instead wise enough to know that constant activity isn’t an enjoyable or productive way to live.

Two things I love about my role with the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network: (1) that my impact and performance are judged based on accomplishment rather than clocking in and out and (2) I have plenty of latitude to thoughtfully consider what we’re doing, and what we should do next.

Snooze buttons

I don’t think the problem with snooze buttons is the buttons, or that we’re pressing them. It’s that we’re not getting enough sleep.

This is related to the idea that, “Everyone wants more time, but few of us know how to spend it when we have it.” It speaks to how difficult it is to do things with intention or even clarity about why we’re doing something other than ritual or habit.

Rituals and habits are important when they’re repetitions of the right things. But even the right things can grow stale after a while, and in those times we need to reassess. When it comes to sleep, I think it’s fine to sacrifice sleep for limited periods of time if we’re sacrificing it for a good reason.

Watching another episode of some television show or binging on YouTube or beating the next game level? Those are bad reasons to wake up groggy and reluctantly, smashing the buttons on your alarm machine and cursing the world.

When you find yourself in that place, it’s time to reassess and make a change.