Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Budapest: Day 2

Today we strolled the main pedestrian street of the city Váci Utca. The street was generously lined with decorative storefronts, cafes, and restaurants. Over head were bridges of Christmas lights between the buildings. It was pretty cold out, so I picked up a small bottle of Unicum, an herbal Hungarian bitter, to ease the winter temperature. We went to Központi Vásárcsarnok (Central Market Hall) and spent hours exploring this bazaar for fresh tasty bites, drinks and hand-cafted gifts. My eyes were instantly drawn to the bold cast iron skeleton of this structure and the light that poured through it. We ate some very filling nokedli, drank Traubi and ended with a warm cabbage strudel. We made our way back towards the famous Karácsonyi Vásár (Christmas Market), a spectacle so festive that it could replenish anyone's faded holiday spirit. Like the Central Market Hall, there were so many mouth-watering choices. We settled for a warm chimney shaped cinnamon pasty called kürtőskalács that was prepared over a glowing brick oven. After taking a nap to rid us of our jetlag, we went back out and had dinner at Central Kávéház, an inviting neo-classical-with-deco-flair styled restaurant with kind service and excellent food. So far, we've only scratched at the surface but so far I love this city.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Budapest: Day 1

We arrive in the great city of Budapest with much excitement. From the airport, we take the minibus to our hotel in central Pest. After getting settled in and resting for a bit, we decide to take a late night stroll within our immediate area, near the Blaha Lujza tér and Astoria stations. The architecture is beautiful yet tells of a destressed past and constant transformation, like any Eastern European city. A lovely pastel-colored building abuts a raw facade of a former glory, chipped away stucco that exposes her brick bones. A few more steps and we're stunned by the grandeur of the New York Palace Hotel. After stopping for a quick meal consisting of donor kebabs and heavily seasoned rice, with Coca-Cola to wash it all down, we jump on the next metro train to bring us closer to the Danube. We stop at one of the city's many landmarks, Parliament, for a visual tease of what's in store for tomorrow and call it a day.

Friday, December 19, 2008


On Wednesday, I was invited along to a holiday party for Social Venture Network in New York. SVN is a group of socially conscious entrepreneurs and investors that are doing big things. Later in the day, I left for Hartford to meet-up with my good friend Rob, founder of SocialK, to drive down to New Haven to take the train to Grand Central. When we arrived in New York, we grabbed a drink at the absolutely gorgeous Campbell Apartment, waited for a friend from UBS and then took a cab to Pipa Tapas, a place of with great food and enchanting décor. I'd highly recommend this restaurant, it's excellent.

After that, we made our way uptown to the SVN party at Cafe Notte where we reconnected with our friend and fellow western MA'er, Joe Sibilia. I can't say enough about Joe, he's one of those people that leave you with energy, ideas and inspiration. He's had a big impact on how I run my business and how I want to run my business.

Never judge a book by it's cover. To the untrained eye, Joe's outfit of an off-white one-piece jumpsuit, would led you to believe he is either a Ghostbuster or coalminer. He's known to be a pioneer and trendsetter in many capacities, so take notice!

I met a bunch of incredible people and made a few new friends. At the end of the night, Joe, Rob and I said farewell to the great people of SVN and then we headed back western MA.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bean Town, Part Two

The next day, I killed time at the Boston Public Library, designed by my favorite archi-hustlers McKim, Mead, and White. There was a great exhibit of Yousuf Karsh's photography. It was also a great place to charge my dead cellphone and read up some US population statistics (did I mention I was killing time?) After that, I explored the various galleries of Newbury Street while waiting for Elizabeth to come and rescue me. I saw some nice original Warhol prints and Picasso etchings at DTR Modern Galleries. Once she arrived, we had dinner and made our way to our friend Morgan's party at Eastern Standard. Good times. I hope my new car key comes in soon...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bean Town, Part One

On Thursday, I was in Boston to meet up with a bunch of exciting entrepreneurs that wanted to have more fun and do less formal networking. This was a last minute idea of Colin Angle, genius CEO of iRobot. We all unwound at Bar 10 near the lovely Copley Square. It was a great time - such a great time that my keys must have jumped out of my pocket somewhere in the Back Bay. With no way to get home, I canceled my Friday meetings and stayed over with a new friend and called it a night.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hit Song of the Year?

Could this the hit song of the year? Maybe on my playlist. "Love Letter from Japan" by The Bird and The Bee. Their new album "Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future" comes out on my 21st birthday, January 27th, 2008.

Other wicked catchy songs, old and new, on my platlist:

- "Meat Market" by Everybody Else
Killer vibrato on catchy beach rock.

- "Ucieczka z wesołego miasteczka" by Czeslaw Spiewa
When Elizabeth sings to this... I try to sing to this in my broken faux-Slavic tongue.

- "Tango Till They're Sore" by Tom Waits
A classic by the master of song.

- "Feel the Bass" - Sa-Ra
When you throw one of Brooklyn's finest, Talib Kweli on Taz's track... you get magic.

- "Salute Your Solution" by The Raconteurs
Raconteurs for entrepreneurs. Well, not really, just tight riffs and breakdowns.

- "Ebolarama" by Every Time I Die
I have deadlines to meet - Hot Damn! Amazing music video.

- "Delivery Man" by The Cool Kids
The best thing out of Chicago since, hmmmm... Burnham and Root.

- "Freeze Up" - Operation Ivy
Who can forget about Operation Ivy?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Celebration at the State House

Today I spoke at American International College in Springfield and after that headed over to the State House in Boston. Tonight, Massachusetts celebrated some of the great businesses started by the state's young entrepreneurs. We got there a bit late because just like a song by The Walkmen, we got lost in boston. After getting there, we met some cool people from around the state. Elizabeth and I talked for a bit with Johnny of the killer brand Johnny Cupcakes... after chatting Houdini, he made Elizabeth's business card disappear with a good ol' magic trick. I think I'll make some dollars disappear and buy some a cupcake t-shirt or two, you should too. Anyways, it was a nice night in Boston.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Entrepreneurship in the "City of Firsts"

Last Friday, I spoke at the Grinspoon Entrepreneurship Conference at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, MA. I met tons of passionate young entrepreneurs and students that are interested in starting their own businesses. I gave my first ever keynote speech, to a room of 700 people... it was an exciting experience. Thank you to the Harold Grinspoon Foundation for putting on such a great event!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hanging in Chicago

I just got back from a quick trip to the beautiful city of Chicago. I was back again this year as a judge for the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards. It was very exciting to walk around Grant Park the day after American history was made with the election of Barack Obama, the energy was evident.

I spent the bulk of Wednesday afternoon re-exploring the city with my friend Fraser Doherty of the Scottish company SuperJam. We hit up Ed Debevics for lunch, smoked old-man pipes while getting our shoes shined by an ethusiastic scam artist, and everything in between.

That evening the judges, student competitors, and various entreprenuers were invited to Bill Farley's lovely Beaux-Arts residence for some good old stories and networking. Mr. Farley is a business icon who ran a couple multi-billion dollar enterprises and is also Oprah's neighbor. I had the great opportunity of meeting Bill Farley, talking with Robert Kiyosaki, and swapping cards with other ambitious entrepreneurs.

On Thursday, I judged a bunch of incredible presentations from the best student entrepreneurs around. After that, I talked with a couple friends, old and new, and headed to Midway for my flight back home. All in all, my trip to the "Windy City" was wonderful and I can't wait to go back.

Friday, October 31, 2008

82nd Official Houdini Seance

On Thursday, Elizabeth and I headed down to Madison, New Jersey for the 82nd Official Houdini Seance. It was an interesting experience to say the least. Elizabeth was invited to the "Inner Circle" which is an honor in the Houdini-world (she's the youngest person to be a part of it in all 82 years since Houdini's death). The circle was composed of such icons as Sidney Radner and Dorothy Young. After a hour or so of 'tapping into spiritual energy sources' by the psychic medium, the great Houdini decided not to show himself. Maybe next year?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Great Time in NYC

Last night, Elizabeth and I made our way to NYC for Inc. Magazine's "30 Under 30" party. We got into the city hoping to catch an early dinner at Veselka, a well-known Ukrainian place on the LES, but some new show starring Jason Scwartsman was being filmed in the restaurant so we temporally crossed that off our list.

After exploring the neighborhood, we headed up to midtown for the Inc. party at D'Or. The club was packed full with many interesting entrepreneurs, guests and the great people who make the magazine happen. I met lots of great people, had great conversations - it was a blast. We headed back down to Veselka for a late dinner of pierogi, golumpki, and blintzes... and then made our way back home.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Breakfast Roundtable at MIT

Today I had breakfast at the President's House at MIT.

Rewind: towards the middle of last week, I received a phone call from Governor Deval Patrick's office - an invitation to the Technology Roundtable at MIT. My initial reactions were that of shock and excitement...

At the table: MA Governor Patrick, Susan Hockfield (president of MIT), Jack Wilson (president of UMass), and CEOs: John Chambers (Cisco), Paul Sagan (Akamai), Joe Tucci (EMC), William Green (Accenture), Colin Angle (iRobot + actor in the movie, 21), and some kid from Western MA with a pseudo-dutchboy haircut, me!

As the discussion moved forward, many points were made about the future of the tech industry in Massachusetts, impact on the state economy, and promoting entrepreneurship.

When the issue of focusing on green energy (as it applies to tech) arrived... I commented that Western MA's most valuable resource for the tech industry is abundance of power: renewable hydro-electric power. At the moment, Google is in the process of building a major data-center of in The Dalles, OR (population: 12,000) because of the cheap and renewable energy from the hydro-electric dam. Holyoke has 16 hydro-electric sources, the most of any city in the state - by almost 3 times as much as the runner-up. Holyoke also has the Mt Tom Power Plant and ISO as an added bonus. You have the bargain, clean hydro, multiple sources of energy and water for cooling the data-center... it's data-storage/processing company's dream.

Is there a chance that a company like Google might look at Holyoke for there next data-center? From some of the CEOs and other experts I've talked to... Yes, it's very likely.

Well, enough of my rambling. Today was unforgettable and it was a great honor to meet some of the world's most brilliant thinkers.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Art Invades the Canal District

Last night Elizabeth and I checked out another show at The Canal Gallery in Holyoke. Today we checked out Paper City Studios and Parsons Hall, two galleries/studios that opened up to the public for the weekend. The spaces are situated in beautiful old buildings that overlook the 2nd level canal. I was blown away by the Parsons Hall building and the artists and art that filled it. Ornamental plaster cast ceilings, hallway corbels, and tile mosaic floors - beautiful details. We saw lots of great audio and video work and hope they put on more shows.

Everything in this city is a constant reminder that, in the words of Jane Jacobs, "Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Las Vegas in Springfield

Last night, I checked out The Rat Pack is Back show at CityStage in Springfield. The YPS hosted a wonderful pre-show gathering and hooked me up with a ticket. I had the expectation that the show was going to be lame - but was pleasantly surprised, I had a blast!

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Bird and The Bee

I just got back from checking out The Bird and The Bee at Pearl Street in Northampton, MA with my buddy Rob of the design super-group Rob & Damia - the show was a blast. The venue was filled with Inara George's warm voice and Greg Kurstin's brilliance on the keys. Their debut full-length or EP are definitely worth picking up. If you'd like to treat yourself to the audible form of sweet candy, euphoria, and guilty pleasure, this group is for you.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sasquatch Spotted on the Cover of Inc. Magazine

Be sure to check out the October issue of Inc. Magazine in stores and on newsstands everywhere. This issue showcases eighteen entrepreneurs under the age and influence of 30. It profiles my business, Ten Minute Media, mentions one of my future projects Holyoke, and references my mentors (one being a "social responsibility guru" from Springfield).

Weezing in Lowell

Last night, Elizabeth and I along with a good friend went to see Weezer in Lowell, MA. This city, just like Holyoke, was planned for industry and manufacturing - the Merrimack and various canals are lined with beautiful red-brick buildings. When we got there, our buddy at Interscope brought us inside to meet Tom Delonge (ex-Blink 182) and his band Angels & Airwaves. Elizabeth mentioned her museum and surprisingly the guys all wanted to know more about Houdini and Holyoke! She's turning into to quite the museum elevator-pitcher. All in all, it was a nice adverture.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Art on the Canals

Last night I stopped by The Canal Gallery in Holyoke for a bit. It was the opening reception for a major installation piece by New York City artist, Jonathan Bee. The art brough you into a surreal world of colorful 'junk' that rivaled that of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory in the ways of a multi-sensory experience.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Another day in NYC

I just got back from another day in New York. I was there to have lunch with Chef Jeff. If you haven't heard of Chef Jeff - he's the New York Times best-selling author of "Cooked," "bad boy of cuisine," and one of the top chefs in the country. His new show, The Chef Jeff Project, premieres on October 12th on Food Network. Check it out!

On the way back I decided to explore Yonkers for a bit. This city has a great character, charming architecture, and a socially responsible brownie factory - I'm sold! It reminded me very much of Holyoke (minus the brownie factory). I was on the search for Greyston Bakery, a business that was founded with a positive social mission. You can read about what makes Greyston so special here. I was under the impression that I could stop by and buy some chocolaty sweets to bring back home - but when I got there, it was only the factory.

I guess I'll be ordering some brownies online. Anyone want some brownies?

Friday, August 29, 2008

My Street, High Street

I finally moved into my new office today. I'm in historic downtown Holyoke on High Street.

From my window, I can see the majestic City Hall which was designed by C. B. Atwood and Hadley Falls Trust Building, designed by McKim, Mead, and White. When the weather is nice, my lunch spot will be the lovely Heritage State Park, overlooking the canals and the city's wide array of 19th-century industrial buildings. I have multiple Frederick Olmsted designed parks at my doorstep, who wants to have a picnic?

Holyoke was called 'The Queen of Industrial Cities' - in the early 1900's, she was the richest city per capita in the United States. It was a dense city of industrial entrepreneurs, diversity, culture, and innovation. During the industrial revolution, the streets here overflowed with energy... but that feeling has sadly died away over the last few decades. I won't get into the details, it's very complex.

The city of Holyoke has tremendous potential and the next 10 years are key for it's revitalization. Investing here (this is building #2) and moving my business here, are some of the steps I'm taking.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New life for the Old building

I'm getting closer and closer to the complete renovation of my first building. It's a 2,500SF 2-story brick commercial building from circa 1770/1870. The stone foundation for this building was laid in 1770 - it was originally constructed of wood. At this time it was a pharmacy, one of the first recorded drugstores in America... damn right! In the 1870's, it was rebuilt and expanded using brick.

When I bought the property last year, it was hideous: water damage, rotted out walls, and tons of other surprises. After almost 6-months of renovation, I'm happy to say it's close to completion. Original maple hardwood floors, pressed tin-style ceilings, and a charming facade that brings a smile to the face of the passerby.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I've never been a math person

But I can tell you that Inc Magazine + Kareem Black behind the lens at Gary's Loft in NYC + some young, beautiful entrepreneurs = something spectacular.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Off to New York

Tomorrow morning, I'm off to New York with my girlfriend for a few things. We plan to check out the Tenement Museum on the lower East Side, Smith St. in Brooklyn for food, and sketch comedy at Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre on Monday. On Tuesday, I have some business to tend to.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gogol Bordello in Providence

Yesterday I went to Providence, RI to see one of my favorite bands, Gogol Bordello. I always look for a reason to drive out to Providence as I'm a fan of the city's interesting architecture and emerging art's scene - maybe I just love seeing the Turks Head Building. Gogol Bordello played at Lupo's and put on an amazing show, probably one of the best shows I've ever attended. Elizabeth had a quick chat with with Eugene Hutz, in Russian of course.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The First of Many...

Welcome to the musings of a young entrepreneur, digital media producer, and urbanist.

Many people have made the suggestion that I should start a blog. If you know me, you know that I can talk for hours about anything... this is both a good and bad thing.