Connecticut

I’m so high on cookies it’s INSANE!

I sat down for the Wrap Up show and there was a bag with a note and I figured it was a gift from the Stern show but it turned out to be a bag full of Levain chocolate chip cookies, delivered by Judy Tint, and it made me so happy. I ate two for lunch and two after dinner and now I may never sleep again, high on sugar. The cookies are akin to cakes, thick, and the chocolate chocolate chip ones are to die for, I’d like to say you can stop eating them, but you can’t.

And a lot of people recommended their personal haunts in the city, and I’d like to try them all out, but alas I’m now in Connecticut, my homeland, where it is so…

Green.

That’s right, the leaves have not turned yet, or just barely. But if you live in Los Angeles Connecticut is a revelation, you take it for granted when you live here, but the foliage makes you feel warm and alive, cocooned, like the planet was made to be inhabited by people.

And my mother lives in an apartment on the sixth floor and from her balcony you can look over the Sound all the way to Long Island, and this may not mean anything to you if you’re not from the area, but once upon a time the Hamptons were not hip and the thought of taking the ferry to the Island…wasn’t exactly unthinkable, but you didn’t do it. This was before I went to summer camp and found out so many lived on that island known as Long, found out about the Five Towns, and once again you either know what I’m talking about or you don’t. And the truth is the east coast is one big club, with its own references, a bunch of culture, and if you live here it’s hard to move anywhere else, but some of us escape, to Florida, where the humidity will kill you, or Los Angeles, where the most important thing is what kind of car you drive, which is just phony enough for me. Hell, where I went to college never comes up in California, whereas in the east it’s a badge of honor.

So I woke up and went to the Stern show.

One thing you’ve got to know about New York is the security. You can’t make your way into any building without credential. And the elevators have no buttons, you can go to your floor and only your floor, and this used to seem like overkill but in this era of Las Vegas, of mass shootings every week, it’s good to be safe, hell, you get off the elevator and you still can’t get into Sirius, there’s a guard, you’ve got to be buzzed in.

So I was greeted by Steve Brandano, Stern’s young music expert. He talked about loving the Dead with Mayer, going to six of Phish’s Baker’s Dozen, and liking Daniel Glass’s Jade Bird and Durand Jones, I love picking people’s brains, seeing what they’re excited about, that’s where I get my best tips.

And then the show ended and we were ushered into the Wrap Up studio and that’s when I realized I was out of energy. I started to talk and…

I wasn’t gonna blow my big moment, was I?

Reminded me of the bar exam. The multistate. Whose cutoff point is higher in California than anywhere else. When I took the bar far under 50% passed it. And they say you guess on the multistate, multiple choice exam, BUT NOT BOB LEFSETZ!

Oh yes I did. It was about ninety minutes into an all day exam and I realized…

I was flunking. So I went to the bathroom, sat on the pot, pulled myself together, and passed.

So during the first commercial break I ate an energy bar, got up my gumption and…

Ran with it.

Gary wanted to talk vinyl. I told him I had all mine and was all for it as long as the records were originally recorded analog, i.e. on tape, otherwise it’s a fetish, hell, many people buy vinyl who don’t even own turntables!

And they asked me to beat up on Rahsaan for not liking the Beatles.

But I couldn’t. You see it’s a white boomer thing. And Rahsaan is black and thirty two and grew up in a household of funk. Everybody’s s ethnocentric, everybody’s so self-satisfied. But the truth is there’s a generation gap as wide as the one in the sixties, been happening for years, when you listen to the Spotify Top 50 and laugh, the joke is on you, there’s a culture in hip-hop, boosted not only by music but the clothing, and the oldsters just can’t understand it, and since white boomers have power they think they’re right, that their music rules, but they’re wrong.

Then again, Rahsaan loved “Led Zeppelin II” and the Beatles and the classic acts drove the culture in a way hip-hop does not, because we had so few outlets and we all listened to the same ones, radio ruled, and I’ll argue the old music was better because in today’s income inequality world the middle class does not go into the industry but we can discuss that amongst ourselves.

And the thing about the Stern show is it’s a family. And you feel included. We talked about Sal and Ronnie and it was like talking about someone you go to school with, we all want to belong and being at the Stern show feels like home, and you never want to leave.

But ultimately I did.

And I went out to this restaurant Whelk with my mother, in Westport, I Yelped it, had eight oysters and a lobster dish, you can’t get this variety of oysters in the west, one from Norwalk, right next door, and another from Connecticut and the rest from Massachusetts! And they were all delicious. Did I tell you about the time Marc Reiter and I went out for dinner and ordered eighty oysters? Your man Luke may be able to eat fifty eggs, but we can eat…

And Paul Newman lived in Westport and the Post Road is the same but different. The Chinese restaurant is gone, but Gold’s Delicatessen is still there. And you drive past the haunts that were a staple of your youth, when you were not only young, but ignorant, yet thought you knew everything, and you feel a sense of connection and loss all at the same time. This is my life, but I know I’m never returning here anymore.

That’s what’s funny. All the things you leave behind, they’re not in the distant past. You run into an old love and the sinews start forming instantly, what brought you together is still there, and you have to hang for a while to remember what pulled you apart.

And today Gord Downie died. I knew him. He was an artist more than a rock star. But I never thought he’d pass before me, at fifty three. Canada is mourning and New Orleans is sinking and my mother is still living when almost all of her friends have passed. Weekends are quiet, but she fills up the days, she’s game, she uses a walker but she gets around, went to a play at Yale Rep this afternoon and she’s got me totally scheduled for the next two days and it’s like she’ll be here forever but I know she won’t and I don’t want to contemplate this.

And high on cookies I decided to tackle four hundred and fifty e-mails and in the middle I found one from Jimmy Kimmel, inviting me to the taping today, with Howard, but I left Sirius straight for Connecticut and missed out.

Jimmy did the show and then went to see Springsteen.

I saw Springsteen at the Bottom Line back in ’74, when boasting about seeing an act early was a thing, before Bruce was a thing, after I became enamored of “The Wild, the Innocent…”

But we’re neither wild nor innocent anymore. We tend to be complacent and living on our laurels. Hell, Bruce Springsteen is selling nostalgia. A notch on the belt for supposed fans. But the truth is he not busy being born is busy dying and it’s Dylan who’s the beacon, who never gives us what we want but follows his own muse and I no longer want to go but I get it, you’ve got to keep pushing the envelope, keep searching, keep going when everybody else gives up, not to win, but to be happy, for the stimulation, embrace the new and unknown and you’ll have disappointments but also the experiences of a lifetime.

So I cannot go to sleep. For some reason Henley’s “End of the Innocence” keeps running through my head, I don’t know why, but it’s true, like that old Canadian band once sang, I’m an adult now, I’m responsible for my own life, I’ve got to go where I wanna go, do what I wanna do, with whoever I want to do it with…

And so should you…

Me On The Wrap Up Show

That’s right, tomorrow, Wednesday, I will be sitting down with John Hein and Gary Dell’Abate to discuss the day’s Howard Stern show and more. And either this rings your bell or it doesn’t. Either you’re a fan of Howard or you’re not. But Howard is the king of his world, which includes late night TV, it’s the number one get in celebrity interviews, so…

I’m excited.

Tonight I went to Morton’s for the Lead Edge Capital dinner. Pretty fascinating, one is rarely in such a group, people who’ve made it in their various fields and now have money to invest. The M&A attorney whose son started “The Source,” the CFO of Dell who opened his own bank in Austin, the guy who started Playlist.com and even a headhunter for hedge funds, who knew there was such a thing?

Although Ilana Weinstein does have an undergraduate degree from Penn and an MBA from Harvard. Not that she’s airy. Once you’re in the club everybody’s relaxed, but everybody’s a self-starter, everybody saw the light and went their own way, it’s kinda like the music business before it was codified, before they taught it at school, Jay Marciano dropped out of college to open a music store and then became a concert promoter, while still a student Irving Azoff represented WLS deejays and even flew to New York for an ultimately unproductive meeting with Morris Levy, Mo Ostin was running finance for Frank Sinatra before he became a label head, and the hedge fund/investment world is still a little wild despite now getting so much attention.

Mitchell Green, now thirty six, started Lead Edge Capital seven years ago. He had a hunch that Alibaba was a winner, he was right. But before that he raised $17 mil for a friend’s business that turned into 80, quite a return, but Mitchell BELIEVED! That’s akin to a music manager, or the old independent record company heads, never forget, Jerry Moss started out as a promotion man.

And after a bit of steak and wine, the discussion opens up. But it’s not about the content, but the business. Kinda like in music, only in music the discussion is how many tickets Taylor Swift will sell, in this case it’s about whether Netflix stock will go up or down. I was sitting next to an analyst, who’d spoken at the conference, sounds a bit like school, you’ve got to grind it out for quarterly numbers, they work hard for the money, and if you don’t like it…

And I like being in New York.

Everybody in L.A. wears sunglasses. But in New York the buildings are so tall and block so much sun that I was the only one walking with shades.

And everybody does walk. It’s good exercise. But when you bump into someone and excuse yourself you realize they’re not paying attention, do this in L.A. and the person turns around and glares, in New York they just soldier on.

And they talk to you. This is what I hate about Los Angeles, the lack of banter. Everywhere you go, people start up a conversation, it’s silent in the elevator in Los Angeles, but not in New York.

And speaking of elevators, I got into a conversation with a young woman from Mexico City. Her family spends summers in San Diego and Vail. You see there’s a rich circuit, and there’s tons of dough in Mexico, but most people are unaware, if you only saw how the other half lived, I went to Jerry Perenchio’s house and remarked that if everybody saw the property there’d be riots in the streets, it’s literally the “Beverly Hillbillies” house, there’s a long access road in Bel-Air, and it just went on the market for $350 million, and you don’t even know who Jerry Perenchio was.

He was an agent, and so much more.

And he hated publicity.

But the point is most business is not like entertainment, the movers and shakers are not in it for the glory, so you’ve got no idea who they are or what they’re doing or…

So it’s fascinating to be let inside.

I’m leaving tomorrow, going to visit my mother after Howard, so for those of you who e-mailed me about getting together, mea culpa, I wanted to do so much of it, but not as much as I wanted to go the cookie place recommended by attorney Judy Tint, the Levaine Bakery even has lines, I jones for chocolate chip cookies, my absolute favorite was David’s, I’m waiting to find something as good.

But there’s always next time.

Lead Edge Capital

Today’s one of those days I love my life.

I went to lunch with Daniel Glass and his wife Deborah. Daniel’s father passed a month ago. It’s his first parent to leave the planet. And you don’t know what it’s like til you’ve experienced it. You know they’re going, and then they’re gone. Forever.

We went to this restaurant Le Bilboquet, they don’t have places like this in L.A. Where all the tables are jumbled up close and the women wear skirts and the guys are all wearing suits, you can feel the hustle and bustle. Edgar Bronfman, Jr. sat next to us, and in this restaurant that’s inches away. And Daniel told me about rappers influenced by Chance, who think they can do it by themselves, but they need help, still, making a deal isn’t so easy. Then again, Daniel just sent a seven figure royalty check to Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, so when it works, it works.

Then I hustled to this place called Convene.

But I went to the wrong one, the one that came up on Google Maps, but the real one was just a couple of blocks away, so no biggie.

To speak at the annual convention of Lead Edge Capital.

Who are they, what do they do? Hell if I know! You offer to pay, you seem to have enough money to pay, and I’m in. That’s the power of the internet, that’s the power of e-mail.

Lead Edge Capital has a billion dollars under management. That’s how I knew they wouldn’t stiff me. Entertainment companies don’t like to pay, they want you to work for free, and endless invites appear from people who say they’ll pay but think I can spend the rest of my life eating at McDonald’s. I say no much more than I say yes.

To Lead Edge Capital I said yes.

So I met the partner Nimay. Actually, I spoke with him on the phone last week. Everybody wants to prep, but I always tell them I don’t like to rehearse, I don’t want to leave the good stuff in the green room, hit me with your best shot, I’m an open book, let’s have fireworks.

But it was hard to get ahold of Nimay. Or, should I say it was hard for him to get ahold of me, because he was going to London for the day. And I know that kind of travel seems more glamorous than it is, and from New York London is about as long a flight as it is to L.A., but if you’re doing that kind of hit and run, what you’re doing must be important.

So Nimay comes from a family of doctors. His mother is one of nine, all doctors or married to one. Nimay’s two sisters are doctors. His father is a doctor.

But he’s an investor.

His parents pushed him hard in school. That’s what educated immigrants do. Immigrants who settled in an underserved community in Maryland. How did immigrants get such a bad name? They work hard, they contribute to society, but they don’t measure up to the ignorant white people who’ve been here forever? Give me a break.

So Nimay went to Harvard.

That’s the difference between finance and the entertainment business, the barrier to entry is high. And it’s not that you learn anything in school, it’s just that there’s a thin layer of the best and the brightest and they come with a CV, not all of them, but most of them. I’m not saying you have to go to the Ivy League to break through, but I am saying you have to apply yourself, do the drudgery, your social media followers won’t get you into Columbia and they’re gonna fizzle out anyway, it’s good to build a good foundation.

And then Nimay went to sell. Well, not exactly, he cold-called tech firms for a big outfit for two years, they wanted to leave no stone unturned. And sales is a great background, when Daniel Glass ran SBK Records way back when it was a prerequisite to work at the label, working retail, because that’s where the money changed hands, that’s what the business ultimately comes down to, THE TRANSACTION!

And then Nimay gets hooked up with this slightly older guy Mitchell Green, barely more than a millennial, and they start Lead Edge Capital.

And Nimay was cold-calling again.

Lead Edge Capital is a conglomeration of experienced, educated investors. Not passive people, but those who can add insight and help to the companies Lead Edge invests in. And Lead Edge specializes in late stage investments, i.e. they’re not the first. So they have positions in Uber and Spotify, and a bunch of companies yet to go public that you probably haven’t heard of. And those companies were testifying today.

Yup, the annual meeting for the investors to hear about their investments.

And this was not the shaggy west coast, everybody came in a jacket, well, almost all. That’s the entry price in New York. You can buy a Ferrari in ripped jeans in L.A., but still not in New York.

And everybody was bright.

Which is a change from entertainment.

There were women too. Once again, dressed in finery one step more formal than you’d see in L.A. One from the Netherlands, another from the U.S. talking about a real estate platform, which had $44 million of investment already, entitled Compass. And the game intrigued me, because they were playing for real, too often in Hollywood people are jive-ass jerks who want to waste your time, selling their pipe dream.

So, money is building things.

But still…sit there long enough and you yearn for the freewheeling music business.

Then again, it ain’t so freewheeling anymore. There used to be six major labels, a ton of independents, now everything’s been rolled up and opportunity is scarce. Still, a person without portfolio can triumph in music, by thinking outside the box, by force of personality.

But you can’t make that much MONEY!

Daniel Glass’s son’s girlfriend made 17k working for Morgan Stanley during the summer between her junior and senior years at Princeton. Think about that, it’s hard to turn down. It’s sad that the best and the brightest go to work in finance, but in a skewed world you can’t make that kind of money anywhere else.

And to make the really big money you’ve got to be an adventurous entrepreneur with chutzpah. Same as music.

Life is just a game.

You choose the one you want to play.

I sat next to a thirtysomething investor who quit, who was burned out, could no longer work every day in the financial sector. Whereas in music it’s hard to keep your job, few quit, the rest get squeezed out.

But it’s fun to see how the other half lives.

And, unfortunately, the world has divided into winners and losers. It’s a result of the internet, of globalization. You hate that you can’t make it in music, but you love that you can record and communicate via the internet, you can’t have it both ways. The successful acts are richer than ever before and the rest are…poor, with barely a middle class.

So how do you get ahead?

Damn hard work, there’s no other way. Hell, Edgar Bronfman, Jr. inherited his money, but lost most of it. Money is hard.

So it leaves us in a world where the poor and left out are revolting, ignorantly, believing they can jet us back to the past, but that’s impossible, you can only go forward. So decide who you want to be, don’t wake up decades later saying you took the wrong path. Not that money is the only reward, but you can’t bitch about money if you chose a hard path.

But we have to have a safety net for those left out, maybe even in a guaranteed income.

Meanwhile, you’ve got your whole life in front of you. Skills are transferable. Educate yourself. Read. Write. And if you’re like me, the doors may open on a heretofore unknown world that will be so satisfying.

My goal is to meet people in every walk of life.

I met a bunch today.

P.S. China. It’s happening. Kinda like digital photography, it was gonna eclipse film for years and didn’t, and then it did, overnight. China is a bigger market than the U.S., with sophisticated players. Alibaba has more people to reach than Amazon.

P.P.S. Speaking of Amazon, their Web Services division dominates and belief is the spike will continue. We’re only at the beginning of the interface of mobile and the cloud. Revenue is gonna rain down.

P.P.P.S. That’s the kind of stuff I learned today, with statistics to back it up, not b.s. You see the world laid out before your eyes and you say…LET’S PLAY!

New York City

It’s cold here!

When I left L.A. it was nearly ninety. Right now Dark Sky says it’s forty nine, and it feels like it. I put a fleece over my short sleeve shirt and the wind was blowing through my arms on the way to Halal Guys.

We’ve all got our pilgrimages. I don’t want to sit down and eat dinner at ten p.m. And I’m not a room service guy, I’ve never had a great room service meal. But I love the dives. The carts. My belief is you’ve got to eat to the best of your ability! No, that’s not right, that’s not clear, all I’m saying is you’ve got to get the best at the price level you’re at. No, that’s not right either, what I’m saying is everybody can live like a king in certain genres. We can all afford the best chocolate chip cookies. And go to In-N-Out instead of McDonald’s. The key is to be at the zenith of your chosen genre, and sometimes that genre is something everybody can afford.

Like Halal Guys.

I go every time I’m in New York. God, the only restaurant I know open til 4 A.M. in Los Angeles is that Thai dive on Hollywood Boulevard, east of the freeway, and the Pantry is open 24/7, but beyond that, not much. Whereas here in Fun City they expect you to wanna eat long after midnight. And I won’t say the line at ten was as long as it is during the middle of the day, but there was a line. And the guy taking the order had a big wad of cash, right there in the open, as if he was saying MUG ME! But ever since Giuliani the city has been safe. Not sure I’d endorse his methods, but Bloomberg made it even better and now it’s on the tipping point, will it go downhill once again? Elayne Boosler had that great joke, about her date asking if she wanted to go for a walk by the river. She said if you’d told me before, I WOULD HAVE LEFT MY VAGINA AT HOME! Elayne was the equal of Seinfeld and the rest of the men, she just never found the right venue, other than standup. Funny how you can remember a punch line, but the point is New York used to be unsafe. There were places you never walked, never mind after dark, and it is dark, it’s that time of year, when the sun goes down right after work and you know the winter is coming. Put on Joni Mitchell’s “Urge For Going” to get the feel.

And when I went to college in Vermont October was bad and November was brutal. When it was cold and gray and rainy, before the snow came. And I’m not sure quite why you snow-haters live in this environment, but there are many appealing elements.

Like the guy taking the order who expected me to know what I wanted. There are no questions in New York, they betray the fact you’re a newbie, that you’re not up to speed, you’re supposed to know what you want, it’s all hustle all the time and if you’re not plowing ahead, you’re falling behind.

And it used to be they asked you if you wanted sauce, now there are a zillion squeeze bottles on a rack on the side of the cart. And, since I was getting my chicken and gyro combo to go, they threw in some squeeze packets of white sauce. They literally said WHITE SAUCE! It’s the ethnicizing of America, salsa outsells ketchup and even babies have rich palates.

So I squeezed some white sauce on myself and then sauntered back to the hotel. And nobody walks in L.A., but if they do they’re a king, they have the right of way, I don’t know what the law says in New York, but it’s every man for himself, you’ve got to be totally aware. Who cares if you have the right of way, that ain’t gonna help you much when you’re dead. So you’re never quite sure when to walk and when not to. Everybody jaywalks and the cab drivers are so busy getting to where they’re going that if you live in California long enough, you’re confused.

I used to live on the east coast. Came to the city all the time. But you had to be hyper-aware, on high alert at all times, for fear of muggings, crime, even my mother had a necklace ripped right off her neck, in broad daylight.

But as I was walking past the skating rink, which my ex insisted we glide upon, I know no native who has otherwise partaken, a feeling came over me, that this time was different, that I was finally an adult.

And the great thing about New York is no one’s famous. Oh, you’ll see a face here and there but it’s not like L.A., where you’re guaranteed to see celebrities at certain haunts. And there are so many ethnicities and races. A family was riding down the elevator with me and I wondered where they were going at this hour, then they started speaking Spanish and I got it, that’s a late night culture. And I saw beturbaned men in Rockefeller Center. As well as some tourists watching the big screen, you come all the way from the hinterlands to watch television, what’s that about?

And L.A.’s all entertainment. But the rich in NYC could be in finance, a lot goes on behind closed doors you never know.

And Wendy Waldman’s “Wind In New York City” is playing through my head as I walk through the concrete canyons. And I get back to my hotel room and it’s baking, that’s how cold it is outside, and then I break the seal on my Halal Guys dinner and…

I take a bite and then cannot stop. The chicken is moist, the meat is roasted the way I like it, it’s crisp on the end, but the reason it all comes together is that damn white sauce.

So I’ll probably be up for hours because of the damn time change.

And then tomorrow I’ve got lunch and a gig, and I’ve learned that the key to travel is to stay busy, life is just about people, and I’m lucky enough to know someone seemingly everywhere I go so it’s less about place and more about party but the truth is there’s only one New York, and every time you come back you ask yourself why you ever left.

“Urge For Going” (the original, Tom Rush definitive version)

“The Wind In New York City”