Monday, March 30, 2009

Moving: Lessons Learned

Well, the office move is complete, however, unpacking still goes on. Having moved over 25 times in my adult life, I've learned a thing or two about moving, and even learned a few new things this move about what to do (and not do) when you're planning an office move.

Here's our top ten moving rules:

1: EVERYTHING GOES IN A BOX or rental moving crate. Everything, really, without exception, unless it's furniture. Sofa cushions, put 'em in a box; small desk lamps, box them, umbrellas too. And, be sure that you use real moving boxes, not stuff you picked up from the grocery store or liquor store. Uniformly sized boxes makes the move go so much faster, and it's a false economy to cheap out on boxes. Invariably, at least one of those liquor store boxes will break, and it will have your favorite framed photos in it.

2: BUY PACKING PAPER. Again, this is not the place to cheap out. DO NOT save the Sunday papers for two months and use them for packing. Old newspaper get everything filthy, from whatever you are wrapping to your hands, clothes and face. It's a cheap economy. We spent about $30 on packing paper. What's leftover, we'll use for brainstorm sessions and fun.

3: CONTRACTOR BAGS ARE A GODSEND. Don't buy cheap garbage bags to dispose of packing paper, bubble wrap and old boxes. The bags will split every time. Invest in heavy duty contractor bags: they'll hold anything and can be compressed to hold 4-6x more than a standard garbage bag.

4: DO NOT MARK 30 CRATES "OPEN FIRST." That was a lesson learned this move. We had so many crates marked "open first" that we couldn't find what we really needed first (office supplies, paper, and stationery, current files). Next time, everyone will get one "open first" sticker and that's it.

5: WHEN THEY TELL YOU TO EMPTY ALL DRAWERS, THEY MEAN IT. We forgot one, and that was the filing cabinet that got destroyed in the move.

6: MAKE FRIENDS WITH BUILDING SECURITY BEFORE YOU MOVE: Some pre-move schmoozing is quite helpful, particularly if you need to get into the building during off hours and cannot find your building pass. A $20 helps too.

7: USE CRAIG'S LIST TO GET RID OF WHAT YOU DON'T WANT TO MOVE! Your trash really is someone else's treasure. Prior to the move, we listed all sorts of stuff that we didn't want (Old TVs, VCRs, furniture) and really didn't have the space for...we sold or gave it all away with little effort.

8: IF YOU HAVE UNOPENED BOXES FROM THE LAST MOVE, YOU SHOULD JUST TOSS THEM BEFORE YOU MOVE AGAIN. We had a couple of dozen boxes that hadn't been touched since our last move over 5 years ago. We tossed them and I feel fine.

9: BEER, WATER AND PIZZA, PAPER TOWEL. You cannot have enough of these when unpacking. Just be sure that the paid movers don't partake in the beer til they're done.

10: PRE-MEDICATE. Packing and unpacking kicks up oodles of dust. If you're prone to allergies, hay fever, or sneezing, be sure to start your medicate prior to packing.

To view our new offices and see out our unpacking progress, check out our Facebook Page. We also did a silly little movie video, see it on YouTube.

MAB Advertising Inc.
515 N State
Suite 1700
Chicago, IL 60654

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Big Empty Stores: the Next Big Opportunity?

Just finished Brian Ulrich's haunting photo essay, "Stores No More," of empty retail storefronts, many of which are in IL (one in my hometown of Riverside). There are so many empty "big boxes", and more to come (witness Circuit City, the most recent victim). It's a giant opportunity for someone to think of something to do with these acres of finished space...

iPhone 3.0 Bells and Whistles

The new iPhone 3.0 is coming soon, and finally fixing the annoying stuff in this uber-wonderful gadget. See full description from Gizmondo here.
-cut and paste! Whoda thunk it! Finally!
-full device search
-a landscape keyboard: and I thought I was the only one with chubby fingers!
-better calendar functions
-shake to shuffle in ipod function.

I can't wait. And there's so much more.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Guilty Pleasures: Naked City

Inspired by the 1948 film noir, The Naked City, the TV series "Naked City," is the most interesting, literate

"There are eight million stories in the Naked City—and this is one of them."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more."

So said soon-to-be-fired, ultimately assassinated news anchor Howard Beale in the 1976 movie, Network.

I tivo'ed the movie last week, and have now watched it at least 10 times since. It just gets better and better, thanks to Paddy Chayevsky's Academy Award winning script, with biting, literate, savage dialogue, that makes current movies seem just sodden and heavy-handed.

Everyone knows the line, "I'm mad as hell and not going to take it any more." But what about these gems? Some seems quite appropriate to our current state of depression, isolation, desperation and exasperation.

Diana Christensen: "Hi. I'm Diana Christensen, a racist lackey of the imperialist ruling circles.
Laureen Hobbs: I'm Laureen Hobbs, a badass commie nigger.
Diana Christensen: Sounds like the basis of a firm friendship."

"Howard Beale: [on the air] I just ran out of bullshit."

"The American people are turning sullen. They've been clobbered on all sides by Vietnam, Watergate, the inflation, the depression. They've turned off, shot up, and they've fucked themselves limp, and nothing helps."

"The American people want somebody to articulate their rage for them."

"The world is a business, Mr. Beale. It has been since man crawled out of the slime."

"I will not be an accessory in your life."

"This is not a psychotic breakdown; it's a cleansing moment of clarity."

Are we having a cleansing moment of clarity now, after a decade of mass psychosis?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Favorite Book So Far This Year: Resistance

Published in English for the first time last fall, Resistance is Agnes Humbert's first person account of her work in the French Resistance, her subsequent arrest, forced labor in German work camps, and work with the American troops bringing Nazis and collaborators to justice after the war. It's a vivid, searing account of hell that I could not put down—I read the book all in one day.

Lately, I've been depressed and obsessed about my dwindling savings and bank balance...reading this book put everything back in perspective for me.

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Favorite Things to Do in NYC: Part One

So many people have asked me for this list, thought I'd post a couple of my favorites, and spots you might not find on your own...

780 Lexington Ave.
(bet. 60th & 61st Sts.)

If I had time for only one meal in NYC: it would be here. It's northern Italian place, right near Bloomingdales, cash only. A unique combination of mobsters, locals, socialites and the B&T crowd. (Bernard and I had our first date her and continue to return every time we’re in NYC.) Get the paglia e fieno pasta! Most waiters have been here 50 years or more: spot is famous for zebra (with a missing striped) wallpaper. Truly an original.

Campbell Apartment
15 Vanderbilt Ave.
(bet. 42nd & 43rd Sts.)

Completely fabulous and hidden place actually in Grand Central Station. Cocktails only. A hidden gem, you’ll feel like you’re in a speakeasy. Doesn’t open until 3pm most days. There’s a hidden elevator off the main station that will whisk you up to this private apartment-turned-bar.

Da Silvano
260 Sixth Ave.
(bet. Bleecker & Houston Sts.)

Best Tuscan food in NY. Great people watching right in the heart of the Village. Many celebs, fashionistas and the like. Rustic, tres chic, with adorable Italian waiters. I prefer it in the spring and summer, when you can sit outside, but it's wonderful anytime. While casual, it's quite pricey too. Great for lunch too (they own Bar Pitti next door, more casual, much cheaper and cash only.)

A Relaxing Day in LA

Just got back from a super-fast, but relaxing weekend in LA. I used to hate the place, but now I adore it, especially when it's a balmy six degrees here. And, I can't help it, I adore celeb-laden spots in NYC folks are too cool to want to be recognized, there's really no one interesting to recognize in Chicago, but full of people who think I should know who they are. And they're so happy to tell you their screen credits, BFFs, and agent's names. Much too fun.

If you're looking for celeb sightings, read US, People and In Touch? Here's where you want to go.

Grill on the Alley: Right in the heart of BH, and the lunch canteen for William Morris, CAA, Endeavor, etc. Agents, directors, producers, galore. It's impossible to NOT see some gazillionaire, studio honcho or other mover and shaker. Not a great spot for the 20-something crowd however.

Giorgio Baldi: In Santa Monica. Our best sighting have been here hands down, and many on a single evening. A tiny-tiny spot with no more than 50 jammed together seats. Quite intimate, and it really doesn't matter who you are: if your table is not ready, you wait on the sidewalk. Outside. Best single evening: Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw at one table; Don Rickles, Bob Newhart and wives at another table; George Hamilton, Cher and an entourage at another table, and Liev Scrieber and a pregnant Naomi Watts waiting for a table outside. Ethereal tuscan food. Worth going even without the eye candy.

Shoe Department at Saks: Best sales, best sightings, best shoes. I occasionally get a great deal here, but only rarely, as the average heel is now 4-5 inches. Runner up is shoe dept. at Neiman, which is about 1/2 block away.

The Polo Lounge: There is still only one Beverly Hills Hotel, and only one Polo Lounge. You walk in and instantly expect to see Jimmy Stewart (who we did see there once years ago), Lana Turner, and Clark Gable. Still old Hollywood, old money. And still gorgeous.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Good Time Was Had By All...

An earlier entry detailed my New Year's Resolutions. One of them? Invite Interesting People to Dinner Once a Month. Well, we did and they were.

Many thanks to Randi and Brad, Michelle and Jeremy, Daniella and Steve, Lindsay and Robin, Leslie and Gene, Kate and Dick...conversation ran from home remodeling and redecorating, travels to Italy and everywhere, the joys of Facebook, and so much more. I learned a new phrase from Jeremy that will be incorporated into my lexicon immediately: "voluntold." Ex: "I voluntold him to pick up the dry cleaning."

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti

Bernard put out an amazing spread as always. The photo above really doesn't do it justice. One of his strengths as a chef is strategic purchasing. He traverses the entire City of Chicago and burbs to source the tastiest and most authentic stuff. Some of his secret spots that showed up on the table last night were:

Hagens: For smoked fish and smoked shrimp
Caputos: In Elmwood Park, for artichokes, cheeses, eggplant, San Marzano tomatos, olives, etc.
Veseckey's: In Berwyn, for that amazing strawberry pie, called Kolac.
Fox and Obel: Best meat counter in the city. He picked up a tenderloin that was just luscious...
Costco: Yes, Costco. For shrimp and crab. And wine.

My favorite dish was the aubergine-tomato salad from Giorgio Locatelli's cookbook, Made in Italy. Locanda Locatelli is our favorite restaurant in London, when we can manage to get a reservation (their phone number is unlisted).

There were many requests for B's pinenut/apple tart. It's an incredibly easy recipe and always comes out right. I believe that it came from The Silver Spoon, the bible of Italian cooking and only recently translated into English. If you have room for only one Italian cookbook, this is the one you should get. Here it is (it warbles between metric and US weights, but that's how he wrote it down):

1 Kilo Golden Apples (about 5 medium)
2 lg. eggs
1 cup + 4 oz. flour
4 oz. butter
1 cup +4 oz. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
Lemon Zest
4 oz. pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350. Peel, core and thinly slice apples. Mix egg, flour, butter, sugar, and baking powder in bowl to make batter. Add apples and 1/2 of the pinenuts. Pour into buttered 8 inch round pan. Top with remaining pinenuts. Bake for 40-50 minutes.