Review of “Bleeding Edge” by Thomas Pynchon

I’ve been a hesitant fan of Thomas Pynchon since 2005, when I met a beautiful and way-smarter-than-me German woman in Prague taking a literature class with me in Charles University graduate school. She was talking to me about how hard “A Gravity’s Rainbow”by Pynchon was to understand and she seemed frustrated enough about it to make me curious if I could impress her by reading it.

So, I bought an English language copy at a local Prague bookstore and started reading it. I didn’t actually finish it before heading home to America that semester because A)  I had so much damn reading for my other classes and B) it was hard to read. Actually, the hardest thing I had ever read up until then.

Reading Pynchon isn’t for everyone. He’s won a National Book Award for Gravity’s Rainbow and his level of writing is said by some to be on level with greats such as James Joyce (who I’ve never tackled). It took me about 6 months to get through, bit-by-bit “A Gravity’s Rainbow” once I committed to it and it took the same amount of time this year for me to read “Bleeding Edge.”

pynchon_bleeding_edge

Considering that Thomas Pynchon is in his 70′s’s I was very surprised at how well he was able to encapsulate the early 2000′s where “Bleeding Edge” takes place. Also, the fact that he’s not a tech entrepreneur in any way that I know of is impressive because he really does get some nuanced bits of information about what it’s like to work in the information and tech based businesses. I can vet some of that just from my own experience working in tech throughout my career.

When reading Pynchon, I’m always cautious to critique him too harshly because I sometimes feel what he’s writing about and how he’s writing about it might just be over my head. Then again, I probably don’t give myself enough credit. “Bleeding Edge” does an interesting job of writing about a complex world of international embezzlement, 9/11 culture in the early 2000′s and the tech bubble of the time. I haven’t really read much around that time that felt appropriate and accurate, but this book does a good job.

I’d say that this book isn’t Pynchon’s greatest work. “A Gravity’s Rainbow” still is. “Inherent Vice” was a ton of fun to read too. “Bleeding Edge” wasn’t so much fun as some of his other books.

I might have to read it again, but as of now, I’d judge “Bleeding Edge” as a B- effort from Pynchon. I’ll be interested to look up some other reviews on the internet as I haven’t read any other opinions on it before writing this.

I hope Pynchon has another good novel in him at least. We’ll see. We’ve been lucky to have what he’s given us so far. I’ll keep reading what he rights in attempt to expand my mind and hopefully impressive the next impossibly smart women I meet at a pretentious cocktail party.

Posted in literature | Leave a comment

Your Social Media and Community Best Practices Are Bullshit

As I’ve spent a lot of hours interviewing with a lot of companies over the past few months, I’ve realized a trend in the types of companies and people I’d potentially like to work for and the ones I have to fight the urge to roll my eyes at.

boy-rolling-eyes

When I get pressed to discuss industry best practices in social media, I’ve literally started responding with “I don’t care.”

This might seem abrasive or arrogant, but frankly, people who ask these questions are the types of media professionals that don’t “get” the new waves of digital technologies that are constantly evolving. It’s like trying to keep up with SEO. If you introduce me to someone who’s been an expert in ever single change and best practice in SEO over the last 8 years, I’ll point out someone who is either full of shit or on some Rain Man level of information retention. You don’t want a historian who simply tracks changes over time running your social and community building programs if you’re trying to do anything interesting. You need someone who’s willing to learn, absorb and try new things, regardless if they are or are not in vogue with the rest of the industry.

Everyone is making this shit up as they go along. EVERYONE. I don’t care how much of a savant someone might seem in articulating the current state of social media, when it comes to predicting how tight behemoths like Facebook and Twitter make the collar on marketers, it’s anyone’s best guess until algorithms are changed and everyone sees how bad their marketing reach really is.

I suggest employers ask candidates what their thoughts are on specific problems. How would they solve them? Ask them what annoys them about the current state of affairs in marketing. Don’t ask them to recite what Brian Solis  Gary Vaynerchuk are going on endlessly about lately.

If I, or any of the other candidates can’t look at your product or service with a fresh, objective, un-biased set of eyes and figure out a unique marketing strategy or approach, their value to your organization is and always be limited.

The companies I have been most excited about are the ones who don’t want anything to do with the status quo. Those are the places to be.

Posted in career, social media | Leave a comment

The Happiest Moments Of My Life

For most people, when you ask them “what was the happiest moment of your life?” you’d probably wind up getting a variety answers that were likely based on another person or group of people. “When my first child was born” or “when my wife and I got married” or “that family vacation where we went to the Grand Canyon.”

It makes sense that those are the types of answers that come to mind. The other day I read a prompt from my favorite astrologer Rob Brezny. He suggested writing down the top 5 most ecstatic moments in your life and taking enough time to write them down and dwell on them so that you were able to really remember them and feel them through you.

Screenshot 2014-06-11 at 9.07.02 AM

I did this exercise and all 5 of my moments were based on other people or groups of people. Ex-lovers and family were at the center of my top 5 moments that came to mind.

While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this, it made me take pause. I didn’t have any solo moments of ecstasy that came to mind. No examples of great joy or pleasure or happiness while I was by myself. This caused me to take time and space to actually contemplate this. I tried not to force it or be convoluted in thinking up moments where I was mindfully happy without the input of others directly on the moment.

I’m glad I wasn’t too hard on myself for not coming up with these moments, because out of the blue a few just came to me as I came across a Charles Bukowski quote posted by my jiu jitsu idol Renzo Gracie.

I realized those moments were incredible. I was a full version of myself at those moments. I was giving more of myself to others and to myself at those moments. I was my best self. I was healthy. I was strong. I had energy for the world and I received the worlds energy as well. I was living fully.

So all of this is to say, maybe these solo moments should take up a few more places on my top 5 all-time moments. Maybe it needs to be a top 10, rather than 5 so I don’t feel like I’m excluding any dear memories. Or maybe it’s about prioritization of myself.

I’m not sure, but I love when exercises like this lead to sharp moments of perspective like this.

Posted in personal development | Leave a comment

Well, I’m 30

I really wanted to write a super long and articulate blog post about turning 30, but I simply can’t find the words. Too much has happened, too much is in the process of happening and it’s just bigger than me right now. I accept it.

So, Happy Birthday to Me! I am one tough, creative, resilient son of a gun. Time for cake and ice cream!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mom – My Biggest Advocate

A lot of people say “I wouldn’t be where I am without my mom,” or “I owe my mom everything.” I think a lot of us agree with that sentiment, but I really, what does it mean?

There are too many examples of this sentiment for me to list. I can think of several of the most important, risk-filled, half-brained moments in my life where I had the choice between an un-fullfilling, easy, steady path and something I was passionate about but scared to hell of doing.

To name just a few…

Embracing my love for writing
Going to Saint John’s
Deciding to go to college
Leaving UMass Dartmouth and moving to Boston
Learning how to treat a woman and be vulnerable
Moving to Madison to work for a startup
Moving to Colorado for love
Moving back to MA to start over and finally live my truth, wherever it takes me and in whatever form

God knows, I’m a stubborn son of a gun and have done whatever I wanted a lot of times, but as much confidence and bravado I might show in the face of uncertainty, much of it has to do with knowing that I have the support of my mom. Even if she doesn’t agree with what I’m doing or it makes her nervous (a lot of the times, this is the case), she has always put my personal, professional and health growth ahead of what is safe, easy and comfortable.

Life has been one hell of an adventure so far and I imagine it’s only getting started at this point. I have grown more from just the Worcester boy I knew myself to be than I could have ever imagined. As all-over-the-place as I may seem, the love and support my mom has always shown me throughout my life has shaped my world view and grounded me more than every new piece of art, every book I read, every new place I travel to and every new person I meet does.

Thanks for everything, mom!

Posted in family | Leave a comment

“Reduce your elements and become more efficient in very small details.”

-Rickson Gracie

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I don’t do perfect

“You know, the whole thing about perfectionism. The perfectionism is very dangerous. Because of course if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything. Because doing anything results in…it’s actually kind of tragic because you sacrifice how gorgeous and perfect it is in your head for what it really is.” 
― David Foster Wallace

Posted in quote | Leave a comment

Because… Science!!!

Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of my favorite humans, ever.

Posted in humor | Leave a comment

That Time I Became A Substitute Teacher

I’m not sure being a “teacher” was every on my bucket list. It’s not for a lack of respect… that’s for sure. I’ve known several teachers very well in my life and I know that the amount that they go through, what they contribute to our society’s children and what they are compensated financially and otherwise is completely imbalanced. To be frank, I never thought I was cut out for the job.

However, as I’ve moved back to MA and have been in a career/job transition period, my cousin who is a senior administrator at a local high school asked me to substitute while I was figuring out my next job. I was hesitant at first but figured I’d give it a try. So, I applied.

Driving back from a promising job interview this week, I got a call that I sent to voicemail. The local high school wanted me to come in and substitute this week.

My first reaction was “Sweet! Adventure! Extra money!” Then I thought about what a shit head I was in high school and thought about the load of karma I was about to receive. I got very nervous!

However, today I went in, covered a full day of Biology for a bunch of sophomores, and it went great! Pretty easy. The kids respected me for the most part and when I needed to check them, it worked.

It just goes to show… sometimes you just need to say “yes” to what life brings you.

Posted in personal development | Leave a comment

My New Music Obsession: The National

Now for something a little bit.. darker… maybe less sentimental…. or sentimental in a sweet way.

I was watching SNL, which I normally don’t do so much anymore, because Lena Dunham was on. I really enjoy the show Girls on HBO, so I decided to tune in to see how she did. I suppose her performance as a host was pretty good, but I really was struck by The National. I am ashamed to have never heard them before!

I tweeted to my friends on Twitter to see what songs I should listen to. So many people responded with their favorite songs. I saved all of them on Spotify and I really like them all.

If you haven’t listened to The National yet, here’s your chance. Enjoy!

Posted in music | Leave a comment