Friday, August 31, 2007

US Open 2003: Fish Heads

Back on August 25th in 2003 I needed some cash. Thats it plain and simple.

Junior year at Columbia was about to start in the next few days when looking on Craiglist under miscellaneous jobs I saw a particularly interesting post entitled "Fish fans paid for Tennis" or something along those lines.

I was never a big tennis fan, but the opportunity to see the US Open AND get paid was mighty appealing. Showing up around 11am near one of the entrances a group of six guys haphazardly took form. We weren't really sure who the other paid "fans" would be, so it almost became like an awkward blind date where you think you see the girl you're waiting for, but aren't really sure who is who.

Our sponsor told us to take off our shirts. Thats when it got interesting. We would be representing Mardy Fish that afternoon. We each had a large letter painted onto both our chests and our backs. I had the letter F brilliantly written across myself.

Having walked through the crowds and past our awaiting seats in Arthur Ashe stadium we strode to the very top of the bandstand. The match was miles away.

The six of us began the match with some light hearted banter. Yelling at the opposition while shaking plastic fish in the air and manufactured signs that the PR company had created.

Initially we were met with stares and glares by tennis fans. After the first set things had changed dramatically. Fans were joining us in our otherwise desolate section of stadium and chanting and yelling alongside us. Television cameras and reporters were similarly interested in our antics.

Who were these guys?

The PR company did not do a decent job of prepping us for questions whatsoever. The first reporter wanted to know our names. The second reported wanted our names and why we had come. The third reported wanted our names, background and the association which we represented.

It was pretty funny to watch as our conflicting stories baffled the press. Were we PR stuntmen or genuine fans? After a while I wasn't sure if I was a fan at this point or just a guy getting paid to sing songs about Mardy Fish.

Through the third set and onward we had our shirts off. Burning in the sun we showed our pride - "G-O F-I-S-H".

He won the match much to our happiness. We all had our pictures taken at the end of the match with Marty. It was a great way to not attend orientation for my senior year of college. I made $80 and had my picture taken a bunch. I was interviewed. Best of all I was able to attend the US Open for free. I would do it all over again too if I had the chance.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Murray vs. Bjorkman

Murray vs. Bjorkman
Murray vs. Bjorkman,
originally uploaded by KristianHansen.
At the US Open today. Pretty damn hot out, but the tennis is great. Rooting for Sweden, but its not looking so good.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Yanks vs. Red sox

Yanks vs. Red sox
Yanks vs. Red sox,
originally uploaded by KristianHansen.
The yankees and sox are pitching it out. Not too much action yet in the top of the second.

Beer, hot dogs and yapping in the loge box.
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Couric Invades Iraq

Well its great to hear that CBS's embattled hostess is heading off to Iraq. We will finally find out the truth about the Iraq War. However, Its sad that the only way to boost ratings for the Evening News is for the CBS to send its $15M/year host off to a war zone.

Not really sure where CBS is trying to go with this. Do they really need the ratings that bad? Don't they already have a bunch of foreign correspondents already reporting away? Didn't one of their translators get dragged out of his home and murdered a couple of days ago?

Its one thing to put the celeb reporters in front of the spotlight and a million paparazzi, but another to throw them in front of a firing squad.

What appears most interesting to this reader is what kind of a story is CBS attempting to create? In so far as I understand it, the only story here is that Katie Couric is heading over to Iraq. Unfortunately, unless something amazing happens during this foray into the unknown, I will not be watching a single second of it. I do not have a TV and the only way I"ll be viewing Couric is if funny or disastrous clips show up on youtube.

Howard I fear for your well being. What if wallstrip is not a hit? Will you and Lindsay be sent to Afghanistan, or maybe even worse, Canada?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Venture Capital Forces Investment

The Wall Street Journal today announces that major venture capital investors are "forcing" universities, pension funds and foundations into racier investments in an article Venture Firms vs. Investors.

Its fun to read these headlines. This kind of article makes the front page, which if you are not involved in the industry makes you think twice about how the general public reacts to private investments on the whole.

Venture Capital is not a sure-fire means by which to make money. It is a business based on risk tolerance. Every single person who invests in a venture capital fund (like Sequoia, DFJ, Accel, Greylock, etc) or a start-up company, as a friend, family member or angel investor, inherently takes on the risk of that businesses and its business model. This is not for the faint of heart. If you want a low-risk investment I suggest looking into T-bills, bonds or stuffing money under your mattress (scratch that, what if you're house burns down?).

The theory that an $18 Billion dollar Yale University endowment is being bullied into risky investments is hilarious. There are so many investment vehicles available to these minted Ivy Leaguer's that I find it hard to fathom just how much pressure one of these venture funds could possibly be exerting on one of these behemoths. With billions in wealth there should be plenty of funds out there that are not pushing for investments in shaky portfolios which would make the University much happier.

Secondly, LPs play an important part in shaping a fund. The fact that an investment partner chooses to not trust (or in this case invest) in a fund because it is "more risky" than they are accustomed to does not mean they should be automatically allowed to invest in only low-risk venture funds. The true partners are those who are willing to take the risk in untested territory as well as in "normal" investments. The risk appetite of the investors and the managers of the fund must be in sync.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Summergarden 2007 Closing: Cyro Baptista's Anthropo-Fagia

Last night I attended a really great concert at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). It was the end of the Summergarden jazz music series which has been held in the sculpture garden for the last two years.

Cyro Baptista and his group Anthropo-Fagia (roughly translated as "eaters of culture") led the free concert through an enjoyable hour-ensemble of Brazilian world music. It was fascinating to watch Cyro layer the sounds of whistles, bike bells, drums and pvc pipes to transport the audience into the rain forests of Brazil.

Further, it was a wonderful way to close the weekend. The ambiance of Baptista's music surrounded by the ultra-sleek modern lines of the museum was further supplemented by Richard Serra's beautiful installation.

If you haven't seen Serra's work yet, better hurry up, it will be featured at MOMA only through September 10th.

Go see Cyro Baptista if ever you get the opportunity. He rocks!