Why I Haven't Deleted Uber Yet


If I have learned one thing as I get older, it is this fundamental lesson: don't be quick to judge or make a snap decision.

Hence why this past weekend I hesitated to cancel my account with an app I don't use that often to begin with. (I'm a lightweight when it comes to drinking, and I'm in love with my new car, so the need to rely on the kindness of strangers behind the wheel isn't as great.) While #DeleteUber was on fire across all of my social feeds, I read up on people's reasons for getting rid of the service and switching over to Lyft as their mode of transportation. At first, I understood the rage behind their rapidly spreading boycott.

The movement started after the New York Taxi Workers Alliance called for a temporary halt to rides heading to John F. Kennedy airport as a gesture of solidarity with visitors who were detained there after Trump's sudden order to restrict entry from seven predominantly Muslim countries. (Note how I refrain from using the word "President" in front of his name.) Uber continued to send drivers to JFK and announced it would NOT charge surge pricing.

Some people thought that was a crappy thing to do and saw it as blatantly capitalizing on a crappy situation.

Then it came out that Uber CEO Travis Palanick is on Trump's Economic Advisory Board. What an asshole! I thought. This added fuel to the boycott fire...even though Palanick had issued a statement opposing the travel ban. But people immediately decided to go Team Lyft instead.

I did not. And as of today, I'm kind of glad I did not.

According to CNBC:

...Competitor Lyft donated $1 million to the ACLU, which is fighting Trump's travel ban in court. For a lot of people, that was a clear reason to delete Uber and install Lyft instead.

Now Lyft usage is surging, and it's passed Uber in daily downloads, according to TechCrunch. But the #DeleteUber crew seems to have missed Lyft's own ties to the Trump administration.

In 2015, financier Carl Icahn made a $100 million investment into Lyft. His interests are represented on its board of directors through John Christodoro of Icahn Capital. And Icahn did a lot more than Kalanick to help get Trump elected. He was an early and vocal supporter of Trump during the campaign, claiming that the businessman would be much better for the economy than Hillary Clinton, and Trump appointed Icahn as a special adviser on regulation in December. 

Icahn isn't the only Trump adviser with a connection to Lyft. Founders Fund, the venture capital firm founded by Trump adviser Peter Thiel, led Lyft's B round and invested in the next two rounds as well.

Kalanick has made no secret of his libertarian political views, which are more closely aligned with Republicans. But if activists are upset about his support of Trump, boycotting Uber for Lyft isn't necessarily the solution.

So, the moral of the story? Everyone's got dirt on their hands. And what we have here is a tale of two companies vying for the spotlight in a game of optics, appealing to their customer bases in any way possible.

Who needs a taxi?

@TheFirstEcho

The Vegas Sessions 2017


A proper weekend trip to Vegas deserves a proper playlist.

I'll be heading to Sin City in about 24 hours, and I've thrown together a few tunes to provide a soundtrack for the hedonistic activities that will inevitably unfold over three nights.

Netflix Doesn't Want Us to Leave Our Couches


Netflix, the streaming giant that's on the verge of owning all of our souls, has apparently remade Norman Lear's seminal 70s sitcom One Day at a Time -- this time with a Cuban-American, Los Angeles twist. And the trailer (along with the fantastic new theme song by Gloria Estefan) is promising a good time to be had by all. (Vulture and The Los Angeles Times are already giving it rave reviews.)


Then there's Santa Clarita Diet, the Drew Barrymore-Timothy Olyphant dark comedy that MAY be about cannibalism. Luckily for me, I had the pleasure of watching the pilot and working on the fun promotional campaign (below) -- so I know what's up. So...start binging on February 3.


@TheFirstEcho

#TBT: Why 1997 Was My Favorite Year


WARNING: Major nostalgia ahead.

As unfathomable as it is to think that 1997 is now twenty (20!!) years ago, I can't help but travel back to a time when I didn't have to worry about rent checks, hereditary health issues, or contributing to a 401k.

1997, as I remember it, was a great year. Here's why...

The debut of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on The WB - Who knew the TV adaptation of a campy little film from 1992 starring Kristy Swanson (and Paul Reubens) would go on to become "one of the best television shows of all time"? (Rolling Stone, TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, Time...) What had attracted me to the show was its teen horror premise. To me, it was as if someone had adapted R.L. Stine's Fear Street book series into a weekly drama that I could enjoy. Little did I know how rich of a narrative Joss Whedon's saga would turn out to be.


The music video for Spice Girls's "Say You'll Be There" - It was a perfectly cheeky attempt to let the ladies play scantily-clad Barberella extras in the California desert.


The Lost World: Jurassic Park - After seeing Jurassic Park on the big screen for the first time at an impressionable age in 1993, it became my Star Wars. So when the sequel came along four years later, it became the first highly anticipated film of my adolescence.


I came in 2nd Place in the state of New York... in the Forensics category of Oral Interpretation at the annual speech-and-debate tournament in the capital city of Albany. My poetry and prose readings of Shel Silverstein and Stephen King killed. And my teammates at Iona Prep ruled back in the day.

Backstreet Boys arrived in the U.S. with their self-titled debut album - If you're like me, you remember where you were when you first heard "Quit Playing Games With My Heart." I'm pretty sure I was driving my dad's white Toyota Camry somewhere in Westchester County, New York when it came on the radio, and I asked myself, "Who are these Boyz II Men wannabes?"


And finally...

Why 1997 Sucked: Producers killed off my favorite TV character at the time, Sydney Andrews, on Melrose Place. At the end of the fifth season, she was mercilessly plowed down by a car -- in her wedding dress -- outside the church where she just tied the knot to Baywatch alum David Charvet. R.I.P.


@TheFirstEcho

Song of the Month: January 2017


If you’re looking for an anthemic track to get you pumped for the new year, open your ears to the lead single from new artist/producer Zayde Wolf (a.k.a. Dustin Burnett), “Golden Age.” The song is loaded with plenty of motivational lyrics (and epic electro-pop drumbeats) to get you going.

Listen here:

@TheFirstEcho

Obsession of the Week: 'Search Party' & 'Party of One'


So, to kick off the new year, I binged the entire first season of Search Party, TBS's mystery-comedy starring Alia Shawkat and the scene-stealing John Early -- in 2 days. That's a total of ten suck-you-in-quickly episodes filled with insufferable characters you'll grow to like, weird side plots, and a refreshing quirk I can't find anywhere else on television.

I had the opportunity to attend the show's premiere party in New York, but considering it was just shy one month of my annual holiday visit, I now wish I had jumped on that wagon sooner. This show is meant to be binged. Each 22-minute episode flies by, and I can't get enough of the ominous-cool theme song and score. Not to mention the retro-awesome Nancy Drew-esque key art for the show.


And you can catch the first episode to start your own obsession...here:


Then, another "Party" I'm obsessed with is Dave Holmes's Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs. The former MTV VJ brilliantly breaks down his childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood across chapters named after popular songs that punctuated his formative years. I'm only halfway through and intend to savor every pop culture-referencing page.

It's like he and I had similar adolescences -- mine in the 90s, his in the 80s.

Get on them - NOW.

@TheFirstEcho