madelinelaliberte


Wall Street #2
August 10, 2011, 1:20 am
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While I was reading the New York Post I strolled across an article named “East Village thugs beat pop star.” I was immediately interested in the story! As I began reading I discovered that the pop singer was Gavin DeGraw who I happen to be a huge fan of. Apparently DeGraw was viciously beaten by a pack of thugs in the East Village early Monday morning, and then hit by a taxi driver as he stumbled off. Honestly, I wasn’t too surprised reading this story because after living in New York City for a summer I’ve realized that you have to be extremely careful and travel in groups. You never know a persons intention late at night when you are walking home or at any point of the day for that matter. I thought this article tied in well with New York living because beatings like this happen on a daily basis but you don’t usually hear about a popular pop star being the victim!

I came upon many differences while learning about the diverse areas New York City has to offer. Throughout each of the locations such as Madison Ave, Broadway and Wall Street I saw a variety of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. The great thing about New York is that everyone is very diverse so it makes it very interesting to see everyone coming together into one place. Broadway seemed to be the most diverse. Many of the Broadway theatres I traveled too this summer were in Times Square so the people were from all different cultures. People come from all over the world to see Broadway plays such as Wicked and the Lion King so all the tourists that were surrounding the area didn’t surprise me. Even the actors and actresses were people of all different races. Wall Street was a little different then the rest because it was mostly businessmen. When we walked into the New York Stock Exchange it seemed like 90% of the people working there were white males, but when we walked along Wall Street I noticed a lot of Asians, which I found surprising. Through the Elon in NY program I have learned how important it is to understand the diversity that goes on all around you. I think it would be impossible to work in NYC and not have an appreciation for people of other races because it is a melting pot of people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

 

Reflecting back on all the visits, presentations and experiences throughout the summer I am very pleased with the turnout. I ended up learning way more about New York City and the real world than I thought was possible. Each Monday offered new insight into the business world and I now have a greater appreciation for working. It’s a lot of hard work but it is all worth it in the end. Some of the places and people our teachers hooked us up with were unreal. I also thought it was great how we were able to talk to Elon alumnae and see their current statuses and how they got to the place they are now.

 

My perception before coming to New York City is completely different from what I actually experienced. I thought NYC was going to be much more glamorous and convenient then living in my house in Rhode Island but I came to discover that there are in fact NOT stars that roam all the streets and that everything is ridiculously expensive. It seems pretty ridiculous to say this but I wasn’t able to go out that much either because I had so much work from my internship and then homework for class. During the week I would usually wake up round 8 and sometimes not get back until 9:30, the only thing I wanted to do at that point was go to sleep. I didn’t realize how stressful and hot it was going to be either. I tried walking to work most days to avoid paying for the subway but most of the time it was unbearable. On the weekends I went home a lot to see my family considering I don’t get to see them doing the school year. It ended up being much more hectic than I anticipated. Overall I absolutely loved it though, I thought it was an amazing experience and I am so lucky I was able to do this Elon In NYC program. My roommates were amazing and we made the most out of our time together in New York. My favorite part was watching the fireworks with them at BrassMonkey on The Fourth of July.



TIMES SQUARE TOUR
August 8, 2011, 2:47 am
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Key findings… The crossroad of the world
August 8, 2011, 2:12 am
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Times Square distinguishes itself from every other business area of New York and has become the “outdoor” version for new ways to communicate and advertise in a vast metropolis. Times Square brash and seductive signs reel in people from all over the world. The pedestrian environment has become a show in itself with the  hectic created public atmosphere. Times Square has always served as the commercial center of the city, where people gathered to share both good news and bad. It is the international center for culture ablaze in neon and filled with the excitement of opening negates.

As a first visitor at age ten I was taken in by the excitement and eye candy. Spending my summer interning at MTV, whose office house at Viacom is in the center of it, I quickly learned that visiting and working there on a daily basis was a completely different experience.

Initially I was completely invested in the district and decided to choose it as my ethnographic research area. I figured I would have the opportunity to explore the area every single day from commuting to work so I would be able to grasp a physical and mental sense of it. Hot, crowded, shoved, pushed, stopped to ask for directions and to take photos all became old quick. The mass media has a way of portraying unrealistic images and Times Square is no stranger to this. I remember watching Good

Good Morning America

Morning America and TRL growing up and thinking how I couldn’t wait to live in New York City so I could visit Times Square.

After observing a sense of the area for two months I now know that it is an amazing place for tourists to come visit and sightsee, but not a place I would recommend being a local of. For some reason the quote, “You’ll never understand a person until you walk a mile in their shoes,” came to mind when thinking about Times Square. Before working in the area I had a skewed perception that it was all about

TRL

flashing lights, celebrities and endless opportunities now I realize that you need to know the right people and market yourself in order to be successful or else you will get sucked into the tourist crowd.

After all the in-depth research and personal experience of working in the area I would highly recommend a person to travel to Times Square just to see all the attractions but I wouldn’t recommend staying there for a long period of time or working there. It has its perks such as you see some pretty ridiculous things, for example one day while I was walking to work I saw a man trying to promote an album on top of a light pole. I’ll tell you right now, I wouldn’t find anything that bizarre sitting on my couch at home in Rhode Island.

When I was first explained the ethnographic research project I was very excited because this meant I would be able to explore the city and become aware of things I would have never recognized. Once I started my research and tried to get some valid information I realized it was going to be much harder than I thought. After work one day I decided to go around to different stores and see if I would interview some people. About seven of the ten people I asked basically told me they didn’t want to be bothered. I’m happy they denied me though, because it just made me realize the type of attitude people in Times Square have. Everyone is looking out for himself or herself. One day I went out to lunch with an older woman that worked in the Viacom building with me, as soon as we stepped out the door a man asked her to take a picture of him with his family. She gladly accepted than later told me that that was the nicest thing she has ever done for anyone in Times Square. She has been working on 1515 Broadway for fifteen years now and I couldn’t believe that she considered that the nicest thing she had done for anyone in the area since she started working there.

That was two months ago when that happened and reflecting back I realize now it makes sense. Everyone is stingy and in a hurry in Times Square. I’ve discovered that half the people are either tourists or work in the area and are trying to get by the masses of people in their way. I really thought people would have a better attitude than I experience but over time I just realized that it was the culture of Times Square.

This made me re-think every assumption I ever had of Times Square. I thought back to all the times I would run back from school to watch TRL and see Carson Daley overlooking the glamorous background or the ball dropping every New Years and seeing rosy cheeked people smiling on camera. I realized how my views were completely subjective back than because I had only been exposed to what the mass media was showing me. When I was ten years old my mom took me to Toys R Us, Hard Rock Café and the Naked Cowboy and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. After passing each of these landmarks on a daily basis I realized it’s all in what you make it.

Marketers and reporters portray Times Square completely different than what it appears. On TV they may only display the bright advertisements but they won’t zoom in on the thousands of people trampling over each other. This ethnographic research made me realize that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, which I think is an important lesson in life. For the past ten years I’ve been praying for the opportunity to work in the “Crossroads of the World,” but now that I have I realize there is so much more out there for me to take advantage of. It also gave me the confidence that proves to me I can do anything if I set my mind to it. After working in such a busy crowded environment where everyone speaks a different language I am able to communicate more easily with people and I have more patience.

I have realized that ethnographic research is both objective and subjective because you can perceive something as one way but then see it a completely different way based on the type of person you are. If someone were to have only observed Times Square for two weeks I can guarantee that their

subjective view from mass media

thoughts and views would be completely different than mine solely based on the fact that I have had more time to experience the area from all outlets.  I have been completely dedicated to my role as an ethnographic researcher and I have been breathing in morning and night the experiences I have encountered. I could easily tell someone that the busiest time for someone to be in the area is around 6:00 because that is when everyone is getting out of work so it begins to get really hectic. Everyday I see different faces and routines I’ve realized that you have to expect the unexpected but that’s the beauty of Times Square.

In conclusion, I realized that Times Square wasn’t as glamorous at MTV and other popular television stations portrayed it at but that it was much more that that, it has the ability to connect people from all around the world to a common ground. The diversity that I experienced just standing on the street during lunch break was breathtaking. There is something about the amazing advertisements that sucks in people from all different countries. That in itself is pretty spectacular.



Kathleen Collins… An Expert In Retail
August 7, 2011, 10:55 pm
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My first interview was with an overly friendly girl who worked at Charles Tyrwhitt in Time Square. It was in mid June and I had just left work when it started raining cats and dogs. I had no umbrella so I was looking for somewhere to take cover until the rain let down a little. Fortunately I was right next to a men’s shop and father’s day

Charles Tyrwhitt in Time Square

was just around the corner. I began talking to the girl helping me and we ended up getting along really well. She picked out a beautiful blue tie for my dad so I figured it would be acceptable for me to ask for an interview. She was just about to get off of

Kathleen Collins (taken at Starbucks!)

work so she said she would meet me at Starbucks around the corner in ten minutes. It seems crazy but every little connection you make with someone goes a long way. We began chatting and I discovered that her full name was Kathleen Collins and she was a student at Laboratory Institute of Merchandising in Manhattan. I began asking her a series of questions such as what made her come to school in New York City down to what her favorite place to eat was. Kathleen told me that she aspired to be a fashion designer and thought New York City would be a great place to lay down a foundation. She began explaining her school schedule and it was very interesting to see how to find out how different Elon’s was. Each semester at school she is required to do an internship. Her first internship was at Bloomingdales in midtown but she said it got old really fast. She has been working at Charles Tyrwhitt since January of this year. I asked her what it was like working in Times Square and she had some very insightful answers. Monday through Fridays businessmen will come into the store looking for beautifully tailored shirts, suits, shoes and accessories. That all changes come the weekend because the only type of business they receive is from

Charles Tyrwhitt

tourists who can barley speak English. Kathleen said people would go into the dressing room without asking her and basically ruin the shirts by throwing them around and not taking care of the material properly. The businessmen come into the store knowing exactly what they want, but when the tourists come in they have no idea what they are doing. She has worked in the retail business for four years in New York City and she thinks Times Square is it’s own little world. The CEO of the company actually just wrote her a personalized birthday card thanking her for all of her hard work and offered her a job at the London location next summer. Katheleen just turned twenty-one and is entering her senior year of college. She is extremely fortunate to have this opportunity because she already secured a job before her senior year of college. Although Times Square has its perks such as running into opportunities like the one she just received, she told me that her friends will call her saying that they are going to stay in Times Square for the weekend so she should meet them but Kathleen can’t seem to understand why anyone would want to stay in that area. She said the last thing she receives when she goes to Times Square is a welcoming feeling so she doesn’t get why anyone would freely want to travel and stay there for an extended amount of time. When she first moved to New York she said the first place she wanted to go was the huge Forever 21 that just opened in Times Square. To people who aren’t familiar with the area Times Square seems like a fun attractive place but once you have experienced it you see it for it’s true colors, which is hectic chaos.

 

 

 

 

 



Broadway Week #2… Girls in Pearls
July 19, 2011, 4:27 pm
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I never thought I would have the opportunity to learn as much as I have in the past two weeks about Broadway. My favorite part of the Broadway experience this week was visting the William Ivey Long studio. William is a Tony Award winning Costume Designer. Naturally as a female I find fashion and clothes to be very high interest of mine. William showed us a number of articles of clothing from famous Broadway plays such as Catch Me If You can, Hairspray, Chicago and The Lost Colony.

Before having a behind the scenes look at how the clothes are created I would have had no idea the hard labor it takes to keep an outfit in tiptop shape. One girl asked the question, “How do you get rid of sweat stains after all the performances?” He responded by saying that they add a mixture of water and vodka to spray it. I would have never thought to ask that question but I found the response very interesting.

My favorite outfit I saw was the clear bodysuit with pearls all over it. It was absolutely stunning and I can’t imagine how the girls performing in it were able to move because it easily weighed fifteen pounds. This Broadway experience has completely changed my perceptions of the performing arts. I never realized how much hard work went into all of it to make it successful. The people I have met the past two weeks were very insightful and enthusiastic in teaching my classmates and I the ropes of Broadway from a different light.



Feels Like Home To Me…
July 17, 2011, 3:37 pm
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My full name is Max  Williamson and I live on 211 east 18th street between 2nd and 3rd. Many people come to New York City with high expectations of seeing tall buildings and flashing lights, but to me it’s just home. I have lived in New York City my whole life and can’t believe how much things have changed. The transformation from when I was younger to now has been quite significant. When the economy crashed a couple years back a lot of businesses were brutally affected. Looking back now I would say Starbucks got hit the worst. Realistically no one is going to buy a five dollar coffee when the economy is failing. I used to walk down the street and there would be a Starbucks on every street corner, nowadays there not nearly as common.

Growing up in New York City has been interesting to say the least. From kindergarten to ninth grade my parents sent me to a school where I was considered the “poor boy.” My classmates were big time names like the Rockefeller’s. My parents just wanted me to have a good education and stay away from trouble so they put me in a good school. At the time I hated it but looking back at my experience and the people I met, I wouldn’t trade it for a second.

 Looking back at elementary school, I remember all my friends would have their birthday parties at Laser Park in Times Square. It was considered the best laser tag place in New York City. The arcades and game room were epic.  A couple of weeks ago I was trying to look up the address of the place and I discovered that it had been shut down due to the economy.

That’s the hard thing about living in the City, everything is twice as expensive then it would be anywhere else. Unless you’re receiving a consistent paycheck to pay the bills it is impossible to own your own place here. I have met many people who have tried “living the American dream,” by starting up their own business but it didn’t work out in the end. I remember this one place called H&H Bagels that apparently just got shut down. I remember begging my mom to bring me to get a plain bagel with strawberry cream cheese every morning. It’s weird to think that a place that once had so much life is now shut down after being in business for so many years, but you have to have thick skin when living in New York City because you never know what is going to happen.

Besides H&H bagels and Laser Park, I was also very interested in the main attractions like Hershey’s and Toys R Us growing up. Although Times Square can be extremely overwhelming there are attractions and entertainment that can really satisfy anyone’s needs. To this day riding the Ferris Wheel at Toys R US never gets out.  I will admit though, now that  I am older my interests lie in different attractions. An ideal day for me would be taking a walk around Central Park and then going out with my buddies at night. The possibilities in New York are endless so I never get bored.

Out of all the places Ive been exposed to over the years, I can truly say Times Square has stayed pretty consistent in terms of its shops and consumers throughout the years. The whole idea of Times Square and the famous quote “The Crossroads of the World,” has been catchy for decades and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Although it was once the place I admired the most I now find the flashing lights and billboard signs to be quite tacky.

Considering its popularity over the years there has been an increase in tourists. I can’t walk through the streets without getting bumped in the shoulder or snickered at and most of the time the person isn’t even speaking English. Fenders will get in your face and tell you anything to buy their product and get you into their shops. Nothing has changed in recent years.  Unless you are mentally prepared for it, Times Square can be extremely overwhelming. However I will say that it has become a much safer and clean area then it has been in previous years. With so many tourists walking through each day it is important to keep the area as clean as possible.

I tend to stick to the areas with the low apartment buildings and town houses. I figure I need to savor places like these because everything else is being replaced by tall glass buildings. I like the feeling of old-fashion things but Times Squares offers the exact opposite. Everything is very modern and flashy. I have seen an increase in chain restaurants in the area recently. Places such as Hardrock Café and Olive Garden lay in the middle of all the attractions. Nail and spa saloons have rapidly expanded throughout Manhattan as well. Whenever I walk through Times Square foreign people are shoving flyers in my face for eyebrow threading and deals on manicures. I have to laugh at all this because I’m a guy, but it is still interesting to me how persistant some of these people can be.

After living here for twenty two years I don’t see it changing anytime fast. New York City is still going to continue attracting tourists and it is still going to be considered a dirty place. Although others see it as a tourist attraction, it is my home. I couldn’t picture myself growing up anywhere else and I consider myself to be very street smart from all the encounters I’ve had with strangers around my area. Although I wouldn’t voluntarily go to Times Square on a day off, I would highly recommend it to anyone else who is not from the city because it has so much to offer and so many different people.



“I Have Been Changed… For Good”
July 17, 2011, 3:49 am
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Lights, Camera, Action! I couldn’t contain the excitement I was feeling Wednesday afternoon as I was about to attend my first ever Broadway play. My younger sister saw Wicked two years ago and has not stopped talking about it. Unfortunately I was stuck in a horrendous rainstorm for twenty minutes before the play so I was nervous I was going to be late and miss the opening. Five dollars later with an umbrella in my hand I was dodging traffic and basically trying not to die. Although it looked like I just jumped out of the shower, nothing was going to stop me from enjoying the play.

As the play started I was in awe with all the flashing lights and beautiful costumes. Once the actors began singing I was in amazed. Chills literally came creeping up throughout my body. The excitement didn’t stop when the play was over because Bill Webb took up backstage to see all the props. I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, what a once in a lifetime opportunity.” Most people dream about being on a Broadway stage and there I was with my fellow classmates looking at all the seats. I was amazed by how small the actual stage was because from my seat it looked much larger. Backstage they told us how everything was put together in order to make the show work. It was very interesting to see the different types of roles and responsibly that go into making a Broadway play successful. Overall I am so fortunate to have been given this opportunity to not only watch a Broadway play (especially Wicked!) but also go backstage and get a gist of how it all works.