Pricing, availability, and safety aren’t what they used to be

Uber and Lyft toy cars in a traffic jam
Uber and Lyft toy cars in a traffic jam
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

When I moved to Los Angeles in late 2019, many were surprised to hear that I wasn’t planning to buy a car—at least not immediately. It’s been nearly two years and I still don’t have one, though the itch to do so has gotten stronger.

Pre-pandemic was the golden age of riding with Uber and Lyft. I could get across the sprawling city for $15, and less if I was just going a few miles. It never felt too painfully pricey because of the pooled ride-sharing options, which brought the cost down to $6 or $7. I daresay it felt…

It’s about putting your existing customers first, and meeting them with genuine connection

Man at point of sale smiling at woman paying. Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash.

What does a great customer experience feel like? I have thought about this for a long time, both professionally as a consultant to several retail startups, and as an individual consumer, surveying the landscape from Target to Tiffany’s. And it’s been fascinating — and disheartening at times — to observe the retail landscape changing. So beyond online vs. offline, what is at the core of a successful merchant vs. one that is struggling? I am convinced it is largely driven by a great customer experience (or lack of one).

For retailers that deal primarily in commodities (i.e. products which are…

Some things you might not think about

It may seem elementary and perhaps a bit presumptuous to write a post about how to buy shoes — I’m sure you’ve all bought plenty of shoes before and been just fine. But in my lifetime of shopping and amassing many shoes (and then paring back down again), I’ve learned a few things that now guide me whenever I’m buying footwear.

For any amount of walking, no hard leather soles

In dense cities, we all walk a lot. Even if we drive from place to place (or catch Lyfts or take mass transit), there is an increased amount of actual walking than in places that are truly car-oriented. …

(and not lose them when you get them)

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Sunglasses are like anything we attach to our body — a wearable art form and an extension of ourselves — so we should all take a bit more pains to find ones that really complement our personal style and frame our face…such that the check-out clerk at the supermarket comments on them and year after year and in picture after picture, they don’t grow boring.

When the time comes to buy new ones, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Where to go

Online? The mall? Warby Parker? The eyewear industry is in flux just like every other, so there are…

And it will help you too

Photo by theformfitness from Pexels

I know it sounds like hyperbole. How can something as simple as twisting and folding a body around on a foam mat make such an impact?

But during the most challenging, emotional, hopeless days of my life, I turned to yoga. Each time I felt anxious or frenetic, like my life was spiraling, I took the step to click “reserve spot” at an evening yoga practice and am so happy I did.

Yoga, I’ve learned, is so much more than stretching and power poses. In fact, it’s almost wholly not about getting aerobic exercise. Its value lies where it impacts…

“Luxury” is often mistaken as synonymous with “cost”

Bialetti Moka espresso pot
Bialetti Moka espresso pot
Day 57 of 365: mom and daughter by Arek Olek on Flickr

During the year and a half that I lived in Italy, I learned about what truly constitutes a luxurious life. One lived in plush surroundings, without stress and worry, with the funding and resources to acquire anything desired certainly qualifies as luxurious in the traditional sense. But Italians have a different outlook. Luxury is often about the quotidiano.

That is, everyday bits of existence and ritual that are a pleasure and delight, to use, handle, experience, or ingest. …

It serves an important role in the urban fabric

Photo by from Pexels

Here’s my theory about trendy neighborhood markets, with their artisanal cheese selections and arrays of local produce: they’re great. They’re well-lit and efficiently arranged, with elegant, dignified options at every glance of the eyes. Cheerful, joking employees, and all sorts of things that could double as classy gifts for friends back home or for dinner hosts.

OK so maybe this isn’t an argument that needed making. But as recent entrant to the urban fabric of San Francisco, with all the upstart housing and home costs associated with that (plus a new gym membership and the feeling of constantly needing to…

Alt title: the comedy and tragedy of gay online dating

In the gay male dating world, Tinder is the most vanilla of the online apps. It doesn’t allow sending pictures back and forth, and many profiles are connected to Facebook and Instagram accounts. It feels friendlier than Grindr or Scruff, which tend to have a sex-first, transactional feel. It’s like walking into a gay sportsbar rather than a bathhouse.

I’m 32, single, and consider myself somewhat old-fashioned, so I tend to prefer Tinder because it feels as close to a real connection as one can get online. It’s conversation first, body ogling and dirty talk second (if ever). And, the…

And jarring juxtapositions

Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room at Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, through June 30, 2019

I started this post intending to critique Las Vegas. Call it fake and off-putting. Excessive and bleak at the same time, lacking in any real culture other than money. And it is all that.

But the truth is, I sorta liked it. I had a lot of fun there and found it curiously charming — a place where there is little pretension and few social norms, just a price of entry. No matter where you’re from, who your family is, or where you were educated, Vegas only cares that you can pay.

Though, true to most of the advice I…

Are we at a consumerism inflection point?

Photo by it’s me neosiam from Pexels

I keep seeing it: instances of circularity in the zeitgeist, where older and simpler is preferred in lieu of the latest and greatest. Viable, lucrative businesses being built on the exchange of contemporary preowned or plainly old things. An overarching cultural fondness for a rewind (Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, anyone?). A push for cutting out modern noise.

Sure: cars are safer, we have infinite knowledge and abilities at our fingertips, and there are about 10,000 options for protein powder on Amazon. …

Alex English

Writer, thinker, aesthete. Website:

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