Five Pointz credits to Wikipedia
Five Pointz was a mural space in Long Island City, New York known as the mecca for graffiti art. The space was home to over 200 artists’ studios and its exterior was famously covered in graffiti.
In 2013, the owner made the controversial decision to demolish the factory and replace it with a residential complex. In 2014, the building was completely demolished and the street art tragically disappeared with it.
On San Francisco
I first lived in San Francisco in the Fall of 2019 for an internship, I’d never been to the Bay Area before that. I rented an apartment in Nob Hill and walked to Market Street every day on my way to work. I fondly reflect on my time in SF eavesdropping on technology-related conversations (though this got old fast), walking the steep hills, and eating mission burritos.
In Fall of 2021, I returned to San Francisco for my first post-pandemic visit and it was a ghost town. I walked along Market Street, one of the main streets in SF that I used to work on, and it was barren. Most storefronts were boarded up or vandalized, and I barely saw anyone walking except the occasional homeless person or city worker. From a distance, I’ve read the news that most shops near Union Square, which I used to live near, closed down. Westfield Mall, which I used to visit often, was vacating the city. It hurt to see a beautiful place like San Francisco in decline.
Today, I’ve returned to San Francisco for a week-long trip. Visiting a city you used to live in is like visiting an old friend: you reminisce on old times, catch up on how things have been, and see how you both have changed. I’ve changed a lot since I last visited SF and I’m curious to see how SF has changed too.
The Pursuit of Less
I’m kept up-to-date on the latest trends thanks to fashion influencers I follow on Instagram and YouTube. They constantly show off their huge collections of outerwear and footwear in their posts and videos, often reviewing the latest seasonal drop from popular brands. The abundance of content and relentless pursuit of new clothing is my biggest issue with the fashion industry.
It’s easy to believe that having style means owning a lot of clothes, but one can look stylish with a small wardrobe. Having style and owning few clothes do not have to be mutually exclusive.
For me, the pursuit of less means owning a modest wardrobe consisting of versatile, high-quality pieces. I’m aware of my style and what I want; when I recognize a gap, I am patient in finding the perfect, sustainable and preferably local piece. The pursuit of less encourages me to make the most of what I own, styling pieces differently and wearing them season after season. I nurture my clothing, caring for them properly, washing only when necessary, storing them correctly, and taking them for repair before replacing them.
Things I’ve Enjoyed Recently (12/1/2023)
Book I’m reading
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. This book alternates between two main characters: Kafka Tamura, a young teenage boy who runs away from home, and Nakata, an old man who lost his memory decades ago and has the ability to talk to cats. This is my second Murakami novel and it hasn’t disappointed so far.
Clothing brand I like
Asket. Asket is a slow fashion brand based in Sweden. They make no-compromise, ethical, and sustainable clothing. While their prices are on the higher end, their quality competes with luxury brands.
Song I’m listening to
In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel. I first heard this song sampled on a track years ago back when I was into breakdancing. After more than a decade, I heard it while working out of a Brooklyn cafe.
Blog post I’m reading
How I Read by Rob Henderson. Writer, Rob Henderson, shares his secrets on how he’s able to read so many books. This post is inspiring me to get back into deep reading.
Music video I’m watching
Now and Then by The Beatles. I wrote a few blog posts when this song was first released. I’ve re-watched it many times since. I especially love the AI generated avatars of George Harrison and John Lennon.
Meditation Makes You More Ambitious
Some people think that meditation makes you lose your edge. If your ambition is fueled by money, status, or power, then meditation will certainly break that illusion, making you less ambitious.
But from my experience, it’s the opposite, meditation has made me more ambitious. It’s allowed me listen to my inner voice. And once I began to listen to myself, and connect with my true nature, it helped clarify my big picture and I’m doing everything I can to make it happen.
How to Improve Your Style: How to Shop
This is part of my How to Improve Your Style for Men series
Now that you found inspiration, taken steps to identify your style, established a capsule wardrobe, and assessed your closet, you can start the fun part, building out your wardrobe.
While shopping may appear simple, there’s an art to it. Over the next few weeks, I’ll cover the following topics:
- How much to spend on clothes
- Shopping without buying
- Brand recommendations depending on your budget
- Assessing garment quality
- How to shop online
- How to thrift
- Getting your clothes tailored
- On fast fashion and shopping consciously
Reading, Projects, and Conversation
You will not learn anything of lasting importance from TV, movies, podcasts…they’re junk food. Successful people converge on 3 ways to learn: lots of reading time, some exercises and projects, and conversations with people who are slightly ahead of them. - Byrne Hobart
I agree that little to nothing of lasting importance is learned from TV, movies or podcasts.
I’d add that from personal experience that I learn not only through reading, creating, and conversation but also through writing. Writing helps me evaluate, analyze, and apply an idea and clarify my thoughts on a topic.
Committing to New York City
My welcome to New York City moment came on my first day in NYC. I first moved here in the Summer of ’22 renting a family’s Bushwick apartment while they were on vacation. That first evening, my Puerto Rican neighbours were throwing a block party blasting reggaeton until 4am. I couldn’t sleep at all. I didn’t mind it though, that first day was special and I wanted to savor it.
From when I first landed here, I knew that NYC was special, but after living here for more than a year, I understand what makes NYC special. New York City is the internet but in real life. It’s vast, it’s diverse, and it can be distracting at times, but whatever you are looking for you can find it in NYC.
Many people talk about New York as a phase, but not me, I want to live here long term, maybe even my entire life. I love everything about this city: the food, the energy, the diversity, and the people. Inevitably the New York City I fell in love with will change. But to commit something means to accept it for who it is and who it’ll be.
How I Find Time for Creative Work While Working a Full Time Job
During the day, I work as a Product Manager for a construction technology startup. On nights and weekends, I write and I organize a writing community. My full-time job can be demanding but I’ll always find time for my creative work.
It’s common for creative people to feel they lack time and energy for their work after a day job. Many creatives in the past have proven it’s possible to still pursue their art while having a job - Einstein worked on the theory of relativity while employed as a patent clerk, Dana Gioia worked as the VP of Marketing for a large food manufacturing company while being a nationally recognized poet, and Ted Chiang wrote Story of Your Life which became adapted into the movie Arrival while working as a technical writer at Microsoft. There are many more examples of prominent creatives working on their craft with a full-time job, it almost seems like it’s more of the norm rather than the exception.
For myself, my job and my creative life are complementary. My job provides stability and finances while my writing offers a creative outlet and meaning. If my life was just my job, it would be dull and unfulfilling. On the other hand, if I only made art, I would be financially insecure and may need to compromise my creative integrity in order to monetize my work. I view my work as a patron to my creative life, and I can use the money provided by my job to take more risks with my art and save up for when I want to take the leap or invest in my craft.
Making time to pursue creative work is a matter of prioritizing it. If a friend claims they don’t have time, that indicates to me that it’s not important enough for them. No one says they don’t have time to eat dinner; if something is a priority, we make time for it. Balancing the two means making sacrifices and having self-control. You’ll need strong time management skills to stop addictions like doomscrolling on social media or watching Netflix. It means you’ll also need to be selective when you go out instead of saying yes to everything.
Setting Boundaries with Work
During my work hours from 9-6, I’m completely focused on my job. Fortunately, my team is mostly on the West Coast, so I have my mornings free from 9-12. I use this time to accomplish most of my work and condense meetings into the afternoon. Working after hours is a last resort since it takes away from my creative work.
Knowing my priorities and saying no when I have too much work are important for making sure I don’t exceed my boundaries. During my weekly 1:1s with my manager, I’ll discuss how a new task fits into my priorities and whether it’s okay to remove something from the bottom of the list. When I receive an invitation to a meeting that I do not have much to contribute to, I ask the host about the purpose, the agenda, and whether I’m actually necessary or not.
After 6 pm, I’m done with work. I don’t think about it anymore and I won’t respond to Slack messages or Emails until the next day.
Deep Rest and Deep Play
During the day, I’ll focus on my job and immediately afterward I’ll take time to rest. Resting is just as important as working, but it should be a restorative and regenerative type of rest. Scrolling on Instagram or watching YouTube videos does not provide this kind of rest for me, but going for a walk, to the gym, or reading does.
Working on a creative project should energize you and bring a sense of purpose. Don’t start a project because you think it’s what you want to do; make sure it truly inspires you. Otherwise, you’ll only exhaust yourself.
Making Time on Nights and Weekends
Monday to Friday after 7:30 pm is my creative time. Even if I’m tired from work, I find that I’m able to get into a productive “flow” shortly after starting. It’s like running; it can take a few minutes to reach that “runner’s high” but there’s always more energy to be tapped.
On the weekends, I dedicate my mornings to my creative projects. I head to my favorite coffee shop and write from 9 to 12. Maybe even spending more time that day depending on the project.
To add to this tweet, the richest inheritance our parents can give is showing us what love and understanding looks like.
Against Black Friday
It’s the job of the retailers to convince you that you need to buy this sweater and you need to buy it now because it’s 50% off and will sell out soon. It’s their job to create FOMO, and persuade you that you won’t be happy unless you purchase more.
I’m here to tell you that you have everything you need. Don’t let them scam you into being unhappy.
More than ever, we need to consume consciously. This means owning less and consuming less. This means taking care of your items and repairing them instead of replacing them. Consuming consciously is a mindset shift where we take pride in the garments we already own instead of buying into the culture of mindless consumption. Garments aren’t disposable and every purchase we make has consequences to the environment and the people that create it.
What’s Black Friday?
A coworker asked me what exactly is Black Friday? I didn’t know so I decided to do some research.
Black Friday occurs the day after Thanksgiving and has historically been one of the most important shopping days of the year as this marks the start of the holiday season. The narrative created by retailers and merchants was that they traditionally operated at a loss for most of the year but Black Friday is when they begin to profit. In accounting, negative amounts were written in red ink while positive amounts were shown in black ink. Thus, Black Friday is when businesses move from the “red” and begin to turn a profit.
How to Improve Your Style: Assessing Your Wardrobe
This is part of the How to Improve Your Style for Men series
Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle. - Marie Kondo
Before changing up my style this summer, I had maybe 20 pieces in my closet that I wore regularly. Out of those 20 pieces, I only truly enjoyed wearing half of them. When I cleaned out my wardrobe, I ended up donating or throwing out over 80% of my wardrobe.
Decluttering my wardrobe was a therapeutic and symbolic exercise. Practically speaking, letting go of old, worn-out pieces decluttered my closet, made it easier to decide what to wear in the morning, and helped me figure out the gaps that existed in my wardrobe. But on a symbolic level, cleaning out my closet meant letting go of the past. There were many pieces I’ve had since high school. Some were over 10 years old. Other pieces were gifts that I felt obliged to keep even though I didn’t wear them.
How to assess your wardrobe
Spend an afternoon or evening analyzing your clothes.
Sort your clothes into two piles: clothes worn in the past month and those not worn.
The clothes you wore in the past month you’ll keep.
For the clothes you haven’t worn, sort them again:
- One pile is for pieces that you like but don’t fit you
- The second pile is for pieces that are worn out or you don’t enjoy wearing anymore
For items that don’t fit, take them to a tailor; sell, donate, or throw out the rest.
Branding means adding your personality to every interaction of your product, business, or community. Every interaction either strengthens or diminishes your brand.
Branding goes beyond name, logo, and social media presence. For example, when a community hosts an event, the brand is built on the details: guest lists, event descriptions, pre-event messaging, dress code, marketing strategy, venue selection, and the beverages and snacks you decide to serve.
Three Ways to Support Sustainable Fashion
Credits to @lingerie_addict
The fashion industry is one of the most destructive and unethical industries in the world, much of this harm is driven by fast fashion. Yet, I was raised in a generation were fast fashion is the norm.
Much of my learnings and unlearnings around fashion this Summer centered around changing my perception on fast fashion and embracing slow fashion instead. The tweet above is a reminder that we can all participate in sustainable fashion.
Prove Yourself Wrong
I thought I wasn’t a marketing guy.
I thought I wasn’t a branding guy.
I thought I wasn’t built for this.
But when you truly care about something, you’ll bypass all self-doubt and limiting beliefs and you’ll do whatever it takes.
That’s the magic of doing hard things. You prove to others that you can do it. But more importantly, you prove it to yourself.
Make Something Special
After a month of planning, last night we hosted the Wholesome Writing Party. I usually feel a mix of anxiety and excitement on the day of an event but yesterday was different, I strangely felt calm. We spent much of our waking hours for weeks preparing for this day and we were ready.
An hour and a half prior to the event we began set up. We laid out the tea and mocktails at the bar, sectioned off a cozy, carpeted area with a couch, organized a few tables with word-based board games, hung up writing excerpts, dimmed the lighting, and played some upbeat music. The space came to life.
It was then 8 pm, it was now showtime and guests started to trickle in. It was endearing seeing new, regular, and old OTWC members all in one space. Out of the nearly 100 people who attended, I knew more than half the people. It means a lot when friends come to support you at an event that you worked hard for.
The vibes of the event were everything we hoped for. Guests were vibing, we cleared out our supply of drinks and snacks, and guests enjoyed the different activities that we laid out.
We made the intentional decision to not serve alcohol and instead served tea, mocktails, and liquid death. We were worried that maybe it wouldn’t be as lit without alcohol but that wasn’t the case at all. We successfully organized a Friday evening party without alcohol that was probably more lit than any other party happening that evening in the city.
As the end of the event approached, many of the guests said how much fun they had, how proud they were of us in growing the OTWC, and they were excited for what was next. The post-event high was an amazing feeling. We dreamed big. We put in the work. And we made it happen.
A friend today told me that I had a confusing impression.
When I host a writing session, I seem assertive but when casually talking to me I seem chill.
I take that as a compliment. I find the most interesting people are walking juxtapositions.
Why I Host Events
I read an article recently that claimed that event planning is the most stressful job. The past few weeks, as we were organizing the Wholesome Writing Party, I was reminded of that. There’s lots of work involved behind the scenes in organizing an event. First, you have to get people to attend: social media/email marketing, personal reachouts, partnerships, etc. The second part is the event experience: venue, food and drinks, sponsors, programming, atmosphere, decorations, etc.
I’ve organized events both big and small in the past and what makes it especially stressful is most of the work is done at the deadline. Many RSVPs arrive close to the date, sponsors and partnerships typically close by then, and everything often comes together at the last minute. The day of the event is chaotic. There is a lot to manage and coordinate. Unexpected issues usually crop up.
So why do I keep organizing events? Because it’s rewarding, organizing an event is like world-building. You get to create your own little universe with your own laws. You curate the guest list, the vibe, the music, the drinks, the dress code, and you can add your own unique spin to it. Organizing events is another creative outlet for me. The best feeling is when guests leave your event with one more connection, one more memory, and one more smile than when they first arrived.
Tomorrow’s Wholesome Writing Party is the event that I wished existed, an event that I’d love to attend myself, and it’s surreal to see it come together.
Collaborating with Friends
Creating something together is one of the best ways to bring you closer to others. For example, you can plan an event, cook a recipe, record a podcast, create a product, or make music together.
I like to think of the Olive Tree Writing Club as a platform to collaborate with my friends. I have a friend who runs another creative community to host a co-creation event. Another friend runs a podcast and I pitched him the idea of hosting a live podcast event. The opportunities are really endless.
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