Saturday night in Boston, and I’m too tuckered to take advantage of it. Between late night discussions the last two nights and early morning start times each day (OK, 9am, but it felt early), I’m worn thin.
So I’ve settled for a few moments in the hotel bar. I love hotel and airport bars, the feeling of transience and the little ways we spoil ourselves when we’re away from home. I’m able to pick up the hotel wi-fi here, and I’m watching the various couples and groups, and the cabs and others cars struggling through the construction and pedestrian traffic outside.
The bar stereo is playing John Coltrane, but I also hear The Hollies’ "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" leaking down from a party in the mezzanine. A couple on a couch in front of me has had an argument and is trying to find common ground. A guy behind me is telling his female companion about what he does, explaining why it’s so very hard and how something he accomplished recently is important.
I’m sitting at a table by the window. A guy walking by just gave me the thumbs-up — I’m guessing because he saw the glowing Apple logo on my computer.
I’m sipping on a Sazarac.
1 1/2 oz. Bourbon (in this case, Old Overholt Rye)
1/2 tsp. Pernod
3 dashes Peychaud Bitters
2 tsp. Sugar Syrup
Coat rocks glass with Pernod. In shaker (no ice) mix Bourbon, sugar syrup and Bitters. Shake and pour into glass. Add lemon twist.
It’s a classic New Orleans cocktail. I’ve never made it because I can’t easily get Peychaud bitters — so I was thrilled to see this drink on the menu. This is a perfect example of what makes hotel lounges great: they make the classic cocktails, and they make them right. In this case, I feel like I’ve found my ideal cocktail. It’s sweet (not too sweet), it’s tart, it’s spicy, it’s red, It’s eccentric, it’s grand. This drink is perfect, and every now and then I hear the bartender shaking up something else delightful for some other patron. So nice.
Outside, the trees around Faneuil Hall are clothed in lights — holiday season. At Starbucks yesterday I heard my first Christmas music for the year. It’s still too early for this stuff. Wait until next Friday at least.
Since I was cooped up in the Media Lab building for the last two days and missed walking through the MIT campus in daylight, for tomorrow morning I’m planning to head back over the Longfellow Bridge and wander a little. My back is a nest of knots, from the tensions of travel and from sitting in auditorium seats for hours on end, and I need to move around more. Then I’ll head to the airport, try to catch some of the Steeler game on a TV somewhere. Not likely though — the Patriots are sure to be playing at the same time. Then I’ll be back in Pittsburgh, then Butler.
Much to do in the coming weeks. Lots of work for clients, a new venture to move ahead, plus Thanksgiving and another trip — to Baltimore for another event.
Now from the event upstairs coming the unmistakable sounds of Numa Numa. I boggle at the convergences coming down on me. (Here’s a detailed history of the Numa Numa phenomenon.)
‘m listening to the conversation to my right: It’s a couple of generations, mostly sisters in their (I’m guessing) 60s, with a spouse and a child or two, describing a past event in classic Boston accents. I should know which neighborhood they’re from — I’m tempted to say South End but I’m unsure.
Now from upstairs we’ve got "You Shook Me All Night Long," and it’s clear that I need to wrap it up for the night.
But I feel a need to come up with a final thought.
(Now the upstairs DJ has mixed together Guns and Roses’ "Sweet Child of Mine" and something else that’ll come to me in a minute. It might even be a cover of "Sweet Child." Gotta wrap this and retire for the night, or I’ll have to crash that party for the sheer ridiculousness.)
The hotel lobby has made a transition from wayplace for the weary traveler to gathering spot for eager visitors. I dislike drawing a labored parallel with the discussions of the conference. but it’s so easy to see disparate groups of people within the same physical markets, ships passing in the night. The trick of this lobby is making everyone feel welcome, and to a great extent it succeeds. That’s what each online space wants to do too. And to make money along the way, if possible.
But that’s not a final thought … because each time the environment changes, our expectations change. The key skills become agileness, nimbleness, adaptability. Great companies are those that are able to focus on the bottom line while fully supporting their clients.
Is that different from the rest of the world? No. My lasting thought for the night is that everything has changed, yet I need to continue on the current course. The thoughts can’t be reconciled, but they have to be.
The fun bit is that this is a world in which I’m completely comfortable. For me, that’s the best result of all.