“The Buddha tells the people he can fulfil only one of their wishes. Someone asks: “Could you lower the price of property in China so that people can afford it?” Seeing the Buddha frown in silence, the person makes another wish: “Could you make the Chinese football team qualify for a World Cup?” After a long sigh, the Buddha says: “Let’s talk about property prices.””—The Economist
THREE years ago Pip Coburn left his job as an analyst at UBS, a global bank, in order to start his own investment consultancy, Coburn Ventures. At his first staff meeting, in a Manhattan café, he and his five colleagues drew up their to-do list. The most urgent item, everybody agreed, was to get BlackBerries. Then they needed to start contacting clients. And at some point they should probably find some office space, ideally in the chic area around New York’s Union Square.
Within three days they had their BlackBerries and were pitching their offerings to fund managers. That went well and kept everybody busy. All six were roaming around the city and country, working from wherever they pleased and meeting clients either virtually—via e-mail, phone or instant messaging—or physically wherever the clients preferred. “No client ever even asked me whether we had an office,” says Mr Coburn, “so the office space never rose to the top of the agenda.”
“People used to always joke that Eric Schmidt was merely the “adult supervision” who wasn’t responsible for much of Google’s success. But now that he’s gone and Page is in charge, it’s becoming apparent how important that adult supervision was.”—Sarah Lacy, Pandodaily
“It seemed too obvious to put into words, but Jack realized that when you’re happy—especially when it’s the first time in your life—you think of things that would have never occurred to you when you were unhappy.”—
““You remember my parents’ apartment in New York, don’t you, Jack?” he asked. She had placed her dead mother’s unwearable ring on the edge of her plate, where it seemed poised to eat the pizza. (The ring honestly looked more interested in eating the pizza than Michele did.)”—
“Here is something Lasse Ewerlöf taught me,” Mads Lindhardt said. “‘ Most organists become organists because they meet another organist.’ “ Lindhardt could see that Jack wasn’t getting his point. “Many women become crazy because they can’t get over the first man they fall in love with, Jack. What’s so hard to understand about that?”—
“With the first small change he made, which was not even as big an alteration as the choice of a different word—Jack used the contraction “didn’t” where Emma had written “did not”—he discovered how it was possible for a would-be writer to take at least partial possession of a real writer’s work. (And with subsequent changes, deletions, additions, his sense of rightful ownership—though false—only grew.)”—
“In this way, in increments both measurable and not, our childhood is stolen from us—not always in one momentous event but often in a series of small robberies, which add up to the same loss. For surely Mrs. Oastler was one of the thieves of Jack’s childhood—not that she necessarily meant to hurt him, or that she gave the matter any thought one way or another. Leslie Oastler was simply someone who disliked innocence, or she held innocence in contempt for reasons that weren’t even clear to her.”—
“That Jack Burns was the son of a tattoo artist, and that he’d never known his father—well, anyone could imagine how these things would figure in various interviews and profiles of the successful young actor. The movie media never tired of an exotic childhood; nor did entertainment journalists release their grip on every bone of dysfunction in a celebrity’s life. In the words of one reporter, Jack had a “tattooed past.” (The latter observation was made all the more intriguing by the fact that neither Jack nor his mom was tattooed.)”—
“A veteran cowboy actor is in town to promote his new film—what Emma calls a “nouvelle Western.” Lester Billings was born Lester Magruder in Billings, Montana; he’s an actual cowboy, and nouvelle Westerns offend him. It’s a sore point with Lester that Westerns have become so rare that young actors don’t know how to ride and shoot anymore. In the so-called Western that Lester is promoting, there are no good guys, no bad guys; everyone is an anti-hero. “A French Western,” Lester calls it.”—
“Finally, Johnny has a suggestion: Carol should have her own listing in the Yellow Pages. The best thing Carol ever has to say about a client is that he was “nice.” Nice means “normal”—hence Carol calls her escort service Normal and Nice.
Emma writes: “She might have attracted more customers with a service called Maternity Leave. Who calls for an escort service for normal and nice?””—
“Emma read Jack’s fan mail before he saw it, but he read all of his mail eventually—good and bad. He didn’t get a twentieth of the mail Emma received, and most of his was both vaguely and not so vaguely insinuating. Letters, always with photographs, from transsexuals—”chicks with dicks,” according to Emma—and letters from gay men, inquiring if Jack was gay. There was only the occasional letter from a young woman—usually, but not always, stating that she hoped he was straight.”—
“There weren’t any death threats; most of Emma’s mail was positive. The worst of it, in Jack’s opinion, was how many of her readers insisted on telling Emma their life stories. It was amazing how many dysfunctional people wanted her to write about them.”—
“You gotta understand their relationship in context,” Emma explained. “Jack’s mom feels that her life with men began and ended with Jack’s dad. My mom simply hates my dad—and other men, by association. Before my mom and Jack’s mom met each other, they had any number of bad boyfriends—the kind of boyfriends who are in the self-fulfilling proficiency category, if you know what I mean.”
“Yes, I know,” Claudia said. “You think men are assholes, so you pick an asshole for a boyfriend. I know the type.”
“That way,” Emma went on, “when your boyfriend dumps you, or you dump him, you don’t have to change your mind about what assholes men are.”—
““She’s fifteen, Jack—you’re eight. I’ll have a little talk with Mrs. Oastler.”
“Is Emma going to get in trouble?”
“I sincerely hope so,” Alice said.
“Am I in trouble?” he asked.
What a look she gave him! Jack hadn’t known what she meant when she’d said they were “becoming like strangers.” Now he knew. His mom looked at him as if he were a stranger. “You’re going to be in trouble soon enough,” was all she said.”—
“Jack’s audience of one was his father, of course. From the moment he imagined William, Jack could command every inch of the stage; he was on-camera for the rest of his life. Jack would learn later that an actor’s job was not complicated, but it had two parts. Whoever you are, you made the audience love you; then you broke their hearts.”—