Monthly Archives: June 2006

Post-its for Myself

The hours at work have been pretty rough in the past month, especially with three deals closing in consecutive weeks. Not that it’s been so miserable — I’ve actually felt good about some of my contributions to the group, and I recently had a year-end review which turned out much better than I had expected. Nonetheless, I need to remind myself that certain passions and interests await and that they will soon be indulged. Some notes – for myself, if not for the few who trek the vast webscape to read my entries:

* moving to Astoria next week. goodbye to the luxurious high-rise of 420 west 42nd street. i’ll miss the doormen, the ridiculous view from the 36th floor, and the convenience of major subways nearby. but paying half the rent and getting a quieter, different look at life slightly outside of New York will be very interesting. and to be exact, my address will read Long Island City. my roommates will be Andy Ni and John Jung.

* will make films again. i have a craving for making motion pictures. yes, i studied film in school and even made a few movies for fun (check out this one about a kid who decides to do banking and regrets it) – and i think when time becomes available, I will definitely look to write, direct, film, and edit some shorts. i’m a huge fan of Hou Hsiao-Hsien, especially his films starring Shu Qi and hope to make films similar to Three Times and Millenium Mambo.

* it’s called Barrel LLC. wook, dan, and i can finally call ourselves small business owners. we’ve been incorporated in the state of New York, although we still have a ton of paperwork to complete and fees to pay before we can whip out our company cards and company Blackberries. design, branding, marketing, e-publishing, and consulting will be our primary service offerings. we hope to make lots of money, learn many things, and be proud of our work – and not necessarily in that order.

* melanie comes back from Taiwan in a few weeks. she never writes about me in her blog though.

* write. it’ll be about a bunch of korean american kids who grow up with their awesome Christian names. i swear, i’m going to write it.

* re-entry into social life. care about columbia again, host dinner parties, seek out old friends/acquaintances, try to organize an HBA event.

* take things slow, don’t have a plan, and stop being so anxious.

Balcony Blues (2 of 10)

note: the original fiction series continues!

I saw a very attractive Asian girl today at my bookstore – the East Village one – and I regret not having approached her while she flipped through the latest issue of ID Magazine. She wore faded and slightly torn jeans with a white t-shirt and a white Adidas warm-up jacket with red stripes. She also wore a gray-colored beret over her ponytail, which I thought was very cute. She must’ve been in her early twenties, either a college student or just recently graduated.

As a shrewd businessman, I usually avoid checking out my customers, but occasionally, I’ll give in to my vanity and open dialogue with a stranger by mentioning that I am the owner of the store. The targets of this egotistical exercise are usually pretty young women who tend to browse through art, design, or literary publications. I once approached a girl who was reading Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies and asked if she had tried Brideshead Revisited. We ended up dating for a few weeks, and we might’ve had something serious if I hadn’t attended a conference for independent bookstore owners in San Francisco and met a foxy 26-year old who was trying to launch an online shop for rare first edition books. I stayed in San Francisco for five more days and had frequent (and amazing) sex followed by thoughtful conversations about rare collectibles. I haven’t talked to either of them since, and I doubt that anything more could’ve developed from trying.

I read this fiction piece by Jonathan Franzen in the New Yorker called “Breakup Stories,” which is an interesting take on the various ways that couples might part – a mix of infidelities, miscommunication, and angst that contribute to separation and divorces. Trying to get my creative juices flowing, I started writing a series of scenarios about how couples get together called “How They Met.” Nothing too original, but it’s been fun exploring the possibilities. A dog-walker who ends up dating his client, a wealthy Wall Street banker; a photo store clerk falling for a photographer with every new roll she drops off; a married man who spots a beauty half his age in Union Square and posts a Missed Connections entry on Craigslist only to have it answered, leading to a full-blown extra-marital affair and eventually, a second marriage; a hip bookstore owner – wink – who hosts a touring bestseller author and wins her heart over a cup of coffee after the Q&A session. Well, it was really just for a night, but in this piece, they get married. And so on. I felt like I couldn’t stop, but I got tired and decided to have a beer.

Which I’ve just about finished. Sam Adams goes down smooth in the summer. Time for forties noir on Turner Movies Classics!

A Game of Numbers

Reading Malcolm Gladwell’s review in the New Yorker about “The Wages of Wins,” a look at how the value of a basketball player can be determined with a complex statistical formula rather than gut-instincts scouting, I couldn’t help but to reminisce the good old days of the Hoching Basketball Association – a local basketball league in Edison, NJ that I founded with my friends in 2000 and ran until 2004.

Like the book’s complicated stat that determines the number of wins a player has contributed to his team, our league was very serious about the HBA Point system. The HBAP was a weighted average of various statistics which took into account a player’s contributions on offense as well as on defense. It even measured the efficiency in his ability to score (FG %). The HBAP was always a great indicator of who the impact players were in our league and our aggregate HBAP stats for teams never failed to correspond the HBAP leader with the best record.

Gladwell’s article made me think hard about how it is that people, across various professions, can be so overrated based on the tendency of others to focus and glorify certain figures over others. The greatness of a pastor based on the size of his congregation, the effectiveness of a managing director based on his P&L, the legitimacy of a president based on his — oh wait, this one has surpassed statistical rationale. But then there’s the concept of “clutch,” where you’re not really that great all the time but you somehow give off the sense of “stepping it up” when “things count the most.” A Reggie Jackson in October, a Michael Jordan in the playoffs, a Joe Montana in the fourth quarter — sure they all had great career stats, but it was because of their clutch performances that we still revere them. Does the analogy carry through to life outside the sports arena? I’m sure we’d all like to think so from time to time, but how much of this is media-induced myth (our nonstop comparisons to the sports heroes) and how much of it is a self-awareness of our everyday mediocrity with occasional attempts to surpass the routine?

If only there was a statistic to measure the value – nay, the meaning – of life.