apple

[025] Apple Store Selfies

My first job (or, the first job that didn’t require me to push a lawn mower or dab zinc oxide on my nose) was in an ad agency perched high above the Plaza on Fifth Avenue. The General Motors Building gmbldg.cornerwas (is) one of the most prestigious business addresses in New York City, anchoring the southeast corner of Central Park – directly opposite the fabled Plaza Hotel, and flanked by the Sherry-Netherland Hotel and Bergdorf Goodman. It is a soaring, 50-story skyscraper in vertical stripes of blazing white marble and smoked black glass. Most people will recognize it from countless media images of that corner of the park. The building’s shape and stripes always reminded me of a pack of cigarettes upholstered in seersucker.

One strange thing about this magnificent office tower on the Plaza with all the swanky neighbors: the lobby was a car dealership. Of course, it was the General Motors Building… but it was just bizarre to be walking through this cavernous white marble lobby, surrounded by all these Chevrolets and Buicks and Cadillacs. And it was a working dealership! Eventually, FAO Schwarz took over most of the vast lobby as the flagship of its toy empire, vacating a space across 58th Street that was taken over by Bergdorf Goodman for its Men’s Store.

Atila

Atila

Another weird bit was the sunken retail space in the wide plaza between the building’s facade and Fifth Avenue. I think it was meant to echo the sunken space at Rockefeller Center (where tourists skate on a rink in the winter). There was an old barber shop down there where I’d go for my regular haircut and shoeshine. I still love old-fashioned barber shops. The person I now entrust my hair to here in LA is not an old-fashioned barber. His name is Atila. Nicest guy. He was the official hairdresser of the punk movement in Hollywood in the 80s. He has hair the color of a robin’s egg, and he must die of boredom granting my unadventurous hair wishes. But that’s another post.

The subterranean retail space of the GM Building on Fifth Avenue where I used to get my haircut was repurposed in 2006 to become the flagship Apple Store in New York. It is accessed by glass stairs or glass elevator through a now-iconic 32-foot glass cube at street level (à la I.M. Pei’s Louvre Pyramide, but worse).

Which brings me, at last, to the topic at hand. A couple of years ago, I invented a brand new cultural activity called Apple Store Selfies. You can do it alone or in a group. As with most things, it is more fun with a friend or two. It is simple. Whenever you find yourself at an Apple Store, anywhere in the world, go to any of the iMacs or MacBooks. Open the PhotoBooth app and take a selfie, saving it to the desktop. Then, open the Mail app and send yourself an email with the photo attached. (Don’t send it to someone else directly; the email will come from a weird numeric email address ARS023.050 or something like that, and will inevitably end up in a spam filter.) I should probably start an Instagram / Twitter hashtag for #applestoreselfies. Feel free to take the initiative.

Here are some of the selfies my friends and I have taken in Apple Stores. Now it’s your turn.

Apple Store at The Quarter in Scottsdale

Apple Store at The Quarter in Scottsdale

Apple Store at The Grove, Los Angeles

Apple Store at The Grove, Los Angeles

Apple Store at The Grove, Los Angeles

Apple Store at The Grove, Los Angeles

Apple Store, South Beach

Apple Store, South Beach

Apple.LA.Thom.Mandy.070613

Apple.LA.L+M

Apple Store Selfies make me happy.
Day 025 #100happydays

[018] Macintosh

Do you remember a world before Macintosh?

If not, it looked like this:

ms-dos

Dark days, indeed! The MS stands for Microsoft. And while Bill Gates was on his way to becoming the world’s richest man, Steve Jobs changed the world, with this:

mac.smile.icon

30 years ago this week, Apple Computer ran its first television commercial for the first Macintosh. That commercial is remarkable in many ways. It was directed by Ridley Scott (who was fresh off Alien and Blade Runner at that point in his career) who created a nightmarish vision of a world enslaved by Orwellian technology. Apple paid $900,000 to run the spot during the Super Bowl – and it never had to show it again. Mac had grabbed the world by the eyeballs and never let go. Here’s the commercial, titled “1984”.

While I had the opportunity to use Macs on various jobs, it would be more than a decade before I bought a Mac for my own use. But I’ve never been without one since. Why do I love the Mac? Every iteration of Mac has defined the cutting edge of design for that moment. The Macintosh operating system (Mac OS) is incredibly stable, sophisticated and adaptable. Did I mention how stable it is? They can keep all the crash dummies over at Microsoft.

It is powerful and elegant, like the most seductive sportscar – you just want to take it for a spin. Even 30 years later. My current Mac is the MacBook Air. I can only describe this as alien technology. It makes me believe that Steve Jobs had a crashed UFO in the basement in Cupertino, and Apple has been reverse engineering its materials and systems. Or, you know, maybe they even have a few aliens on the payroll. Because, c’mon, could humans be this clever?

Here are the Macs I loved through the years:

The first iMac

The first iMac

iBook (dubbed the "clamshell")

iBook (dubbed the “clamshell”)

iMac G5

iMac G5

MacBook Air (alien technology)

MacBook Air (alien technology)

Mac is as close to religious fervor as I’ll ever get. I don’t think of Mac as a computer. I think of Mac as its own category of technology; and then there are those things called “computers”. Other, lesser things.

Now, time for a true confession. I don’t buy into the cult rule that everything Apple makes is therefore the best of that sort of thing. Heresy! But there, I’ve said it. I took the above picture of the Mac I’m typing this on… with my phone. Not an iPhone. My Android-powered HTC One X. It is 18 months old, and it kicks even the newest iPhone in the iAss. Also, as mobile operating systems go, Android blows Apple’s iOS out of the water. IMHO. I haven’t got around to the whole tablet thing yet. Frankly, I can’t imagine where tablet usage would fit between my phone and my Mac. And I’m just in no hurry at all to have another device that needs charging.

So, there you have it. Happy 30th birthday, Macintosh.
Mac makes me happy. Day 018 #100happydays