Friday, June 24, 2011

How little we need, The Big Man, RCA's Rooftop Party

Recently, I packed for a business trip that was supposed to be four days.  I used my small suitcase which I typically don’t do, generally favoring to have too much stuff rather than too little.  So, left out were things like my sneakers (running shoes to Canadians) and other accessories that I could use to either exercise or just take a simple walk in the park.  But, for various reasons, the trip kept getting extended.  I washed my underwear in the sink, used the services of a reliable and reasonably priced dry cleaner to keep recycling my shirts ($2.00 per shirt delivered to my hotel!) and suits and pretty much made do.  Throughout this trip, which at its conclusion lasted 14 days, I realized how little I need to get by.  Of course, there were some exceptions.  Whereas I normally travel with my childproof bottles of a few daily drugs I take, this trip I just took enough for the trip+one day so my wife, on two occasions had to ship them to me.  Other than that, I bought a pair of walking shorts ($16.99), a t-shirt ($9.99) and a pair of sandals of sorts ($9.99) but also had to buy a box of band-aids ($3.99) as the sandals rubbed one of my toes (I know, “Poor baby”).  I refused to buy another pair of sneakers as I have four pairs at home (one cross-training, two tennis and one fashion (Hi-Black Cons) but in hindsight I should have and then left them in my office for future trips (I will be bringing a pair and leaving them in the office after this trip that I’m on).  Oh, I almost forgot that I needed to buy another t-shirt ($9.99) for the second weekend.  This wardrobe experience was both severely limiting and liberating at the same time.  It’s gotten me thinking about exactly how few things, of any type, I really need.  

Last week Clarence Clemons, sax player in The E-Street Band died.  Last week I watched my first Lady Gaga video-Edge of Glory -which includes Clarence.  He also performed the song with her on American Idol.  She salutes him, simply, a couple of times during the performance and at one point, it’s a little reminiscent of the cover of “Born to Run.”  But, it’s a great song and a great final tribute of sorts to “The Big Man.”  I have a tape somewhere of a show that Bruce did at The Bottom Line in like 1974.  He’s a great storyteller, that Bruce is.  So, with a simple drum click and piano behind him, he tells this story (shortened here).  “So, we finish a gig at The Student Prince in Asbury Park (NJ); we were told that the manager of The Byrds was going to be in the audience.  He didn’t show up.  We had a nine-piece band back then.  The band split $42 bucks that night. Two guys quit.  Next week I had a seven-piece band. I started walking home on the boardwalk.  It was a rainy, windy and foggy night.  I was alone, at least until, in the distance, almost too hard to make out, I see a figure walking towards me.  As the figure got closer I started to get scared.  It was a man, a large man and I could see he was dressed all in white.  I looked around but there was nowhere to go.  We got closer, closer, a little closer.  I saw in one hand he was holding what looked to be a walking stick.  But then, I saw it was a ….....Saxophone!” At that, the band breaks into “Tenth Avenue Freezeout.”  There are other stories about how Bruce and Clarence met and which one is true doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that they did meet and the serendipity of the moment and of the timing is what is important.  A lot has been written about the two of them, the impact he had on the band as a musician and as a person but right now, the loss to his family and friends is what is heavy.  That’s sometimes the problem with a public figure dying (the NY Times gave Clarence a three or four column obit) and for many of us, he was a public figure as his being part of The E-Street Band is part of our history, those of us who love music, who have driven with the top down and the radio on and who have danced in the moonlight.  A reminder, once again, of how fragile it all is.

Congratulations to my friend Mark Roberts who has joined RREEF as managing director and Global Head of Research.

RCA held it’s first “Rooftop Party” in New York the other night on the roof of the building where their HQ is located.  While tornadoes were circling around the suburbs, it only rained a couple of times but when it did, the crowd just huddled up under the tents and everything was fine...nobody left.  RCA’s get-togethers are always an eclectic mix of commercial real estate people.  But the thing that stood out to me was the number of younger people at the party; the future of the commercial real estate business.  RCA employs some of the brightest, most enthusiastic people I know and I’ve feel proud to have seen them grow as the founder, Bob White and I were introduced just a few months after he launched RCA almost 11 years ago.  Anyway, not to get too nostalgic....but it was not only a lot of fun but I got an education in the student housing business from one of the most active developer/operators and also my long-time friend, Rich Kelly who works for France Publications who publish Student Housing Business and also run Student Housing Conferences . It’s a very interesting niche.
Congratulations to a close friend who got accepted into the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) this week.

 Photo:  Baby frog in the pond at our house.

On the road….
June 25-29:  London
July 1-9:  Northern California
July 10-12:  Beverly Hills to attend the NMS Real Estate Roundtable
July 14:  Bistro Jeanty,Yountville, CA to celebrate Bastille Day.  A friend of mine plays the accordion to add to the festivities.  Sounds like it'll be a fun time.
July 18-21:  New York

These are my views and not that of my employer.

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