EU Faux Pas in the USA

I used to work with a lot of Europeans and can tell you firsthand that Vincent Vega had it right in Pulp Fiction in explaining the differences in Europe… “It’s the little differences. I mean they got the same shit over there that they got here, but it’s just – it’s just there it’s a little different.”

Here’s a handy guide for all you EU ex-pats living in America. My favorite is:

Be aware too that most Americans are fascinated by the effects of anti-depressants, and will happily talk about multiple types of drugs and their benefits/side-effects with great interest and relish. If someone tells you an experience about their time on Prozac, ask something like “did it help?” and then share a similar experience of a time when you were really depressed.

Link via Instapundit

Schultz Warns of Brand Dilution at Starbucks

Hmmm, I seem to recall writing something to this effect recently. Actually, the real story here is how customers and employees who feel a strong bond to a brand are holding those companies accountable to the cultural values they espouse and thy name is blog. I admire Schultz for looking beyond the bottom line to highlight the meaning of the Starbucks brand. Clearly he has the luxury of doing so when his financial performance is as stellar as it has been, but good leaders don’t wait until problems materialize before addressing them.

Why Schultz has caused a stir at Starbucks – Financial Times – MSNBC.com:
Mr Schultz warned that the increasing ubiquity of Starbucks was making it more difficult to differentiate the company from competitors, including fast-food retailers.

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Architects and City Planners

There are two paragraphs in this article in the Chron that nicely sum up why San Francisco is architecturally stale as a result of conservatism among city planners and historical types who seem to suggest that the only acceptable structure in San Francisco is a 1907 Victorian. The newly constructed Federal Building on Seventh and Mission is drawing mainly positive reviews, except from city officials who probably are more tweaked about the fact that city zoning and planning regulations had no jurisdiction over the federal project and the feds pretty much told them to go pound sand when they complained.

When Mayne was selected in 1999, he was little known except among architectural insiders. No longer. Morphosis has completed a series of highly praised public projects and is now at work on a jazz center for New Orleans and a Paris high-rise that would rival the Eiffel Tower in height. In 2005, he became the first American in 14 years to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the profession’s highest honor.

However, the article begins by pointing out that city officials were not too happy with the design.

If they’d had a choice, city planners wouldn’t have allowed either the slab or the imposing design, because the complex sits across Seventh Street from the U.S. Court of Appeals building, a Beaux-Arts landmark from 1905. But city zoning doesn’t apply to federal projects.


So on one hand we have an internationally celebrated architect behind one of the most exciting buildings in SF, both from the architectural aspect but also for the engineering and use of eco-friendly materials. On the other are city planners who are on a mission to hermetically seal San Francisco structures from any modern influence…. and I thought SF was “progressive”.

The Transamerica building was scorned in it’s time too, but has since become a fixture that defines, literally, San Francisco’s skyline. I doubt it could be built today though.