The Smolker Letters, Letter No. 3 ( The Best Places in the World Are the Hippest Places, November 5, 2011)

“The Best Places in the World Are the Hippest Places” by Gary Smolker

Smolker Letter No. 3, November 5, 2011

Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011


I look forward to reading “The Triumph of Cities.”  thank you for recommending it to me.

I ate dinner with my 23 year old daughter Leah tonight at Sushi Roku in Santa Monica.

A couple (a man and woman not married to each other) sitting next to us were from London.

We (that couple, myself and Leah) started talking about the “world” after I asked, where he was from and he told me “London.”  I then asked, “Does England make anything except financial products?”

They both replied that it was too difficult for entrepreneurs to start a new business in England and that relatively speaking nothing was being manufactured in England anymore.

[ Aside: I realize Britain is still a cultural and fashion center and exports cheese, scotch whiskey, clothing, Rolls Royce cars and engines and good nannies and butlers.  It has an excellent worldwide airline with superb first class service.]

During this conversation, the woman sitting next to us (from London) was very emotional and highly animated.

She said:  Highly talented large money earners in England are so highly taxed that they leave England to live in other countries, because even if it is possible to for them to avoid the high taxes it is too much trouble.

I then mentioned that according to a recent article in the WSJ, half the millionaires and multimillionaires in China want to immigrate — leave China.

Then, Leah explained how dreadful it is to live in China: Even for rich people there is no quality of life in China; restaurants are not exciting and are empty; architecture is not exciting; life is dreary for everyone.  
[Many visitors to mainland China find it depressing because of all the pollution. Because of all the pollution, the sun does not shine through the haze and they do not see any birds flying anywhere.] 

Leah also said, “Although China has skyscrapers and bullet trains, China is not a 21st century country.  It is not even a 20th century company.  It has just started laying train tracks.”

[It is true that China just started laying train tracks, however, a friend reported to me that the train from the airport into Shanghai is the fastest in the world.  When he was on it, it ran at 431 kph.]

Leah then said, “Seoul Korea is a very impressive city.  It will be difficult for any city in China or Europe to be as impressive.”  Leah went on to explain how modern and update date Seoul is and how you can see an ancient palace in the same neighborhood as a modern building while explaining that statement.  Leah also commented on France when I told her about the jaw dropping architecture.  Leah’s comment: France is living on the past.  It doesn’t do anything now except serve as a  Disneyland like place for tourists to see what France did in the past.

I am a fan of Richard Florida’s books “The Rise of the Creative Class” and “Who’s Your City?”

Florida argues that “where you live is the most important decision of your life” and that “great cities attract the creative class.”

By the way, in “Who’s Your City”, Florida states: Toronto is a significant economic center with superb universities, leading arts, entertainment, design and culture industries; it also has what is arguably the most diverse population in the world. Like London, but unlike most major U.S. cities, Toronto offers schools that work, low crime and safe streets. Unlike London, New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco, it also remains reasonably affordable, which allows it to retain a wide mix of social and economic classes. Nearby, Waterloo in Ontario provides a major technology center, housing Research in Motion, the BlackBerry company. Montreal is home to Cirque du Soleil and a world-class music scene that produced the Arcade Fire, one of the leading and most successful bands of the early 2000s. On the U.S. side of the border, Rochester, though losing residents, remains one of the worlds leading centers for optoelectronic and research-intensive companies such as Xerox, Kodak and many of their key suppliers.

[ Aside: Kodak and Xerox are 20th Century companies.]  

 In “Who’s Your City?” Florida explains what a mistake it is to conceive of the U.S. economy as composed of fifty states.  In reality, the core of the U.S. and North America economies is made up roughly of a dozen mega-regions that stretch from Canada and in some cases Mexico, and generate the great bulk of the country’s economic output.

At dinner, I mentioned to Leah that the people in the restaurant where we were are so much more stylish than people I see wherever I go.  

Leah replied, “L.A. is the ‘hip’ center of the world.”

Leah, herself, was looking very hip. 

Before driving to Santa Monica to join Leah for dinner, I had coffee (actually I had Chai Tea Latte) with a very charming lady, who told me story after story about people in the entertainment industry’s purchases of houses in the areas in which I now  live and work, and in areas surrounding where I live, including Malibu.

I like where I live very much.  I live in Woodland Hills.  There are lots of trees, very big trees including many orange trees.  There are many flowers, including many front yard rose gardens.  When I go for a walk, sometimes the smell of the orange trees is overwhelming. Sometimes the smell of the roses is overwhelming. Chip monks and rabbits run across everyones’ yards and in the streets.  Birds are everywhere.  My office is 15 minutes away in Encino.

All of the above reinforces my basic belief that the “value” of real estate is directly related to the productive value of whomever is occupying the real estate (the value of what they produce); that “productive” creativity is HIGHLY rewarded and the most important component of success. Not coincidentally very productive people want to and do live in very beautiful places (whether the beauty be physical setting or culture or hipness) as well as places where they are close to other creative skilled talented and productive people.

In their own way, without saying so directly or indirectly, Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum are saying the same thing in their new book “That Used to Be Us.”  In their book they dwell on the need for education, a good educational system, and the need to have a government that can get large scale things done.  

They introduce the concept that “Average Is Over.”  They dwell on how fantastic certain schools are in China. According to them the Shanghai school system creates the best prepared for the future 15 year olds in the world.  

Friedman and Mandelbaum’s mantra is “the country that out-educates us today will out-compete us tomorrow.”  They make it very clear that education and “good government” are economic issues because companies will locate their factories where they find the most productive workers.  This is not just about cheap labor.  It s about skilled labor.

 Friedman and Mandlelbaum realize that having a transparent legal system, strong property right, modern infrastructure, n big and efficient financial system, modern infrastructure and a government that works efficiently and is capable of putting together and accomplishing big projects is also important.  

Additionally, it is also important to have affordable housing, a pro-growth government and a government that isn’t corrupt.

If you wonder how Chinese parents raise stereotypically successful kids, read Yale University law professor Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  According to professor Chua, “Studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they are capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that on one can ever take away.  Friedman and Mandelbaum remark: When children come to school knowing their parents have high expectations, it makes everything a teacher is trying to do easier and more effective. Self-esteem is important; but it is not an entitlement. It has to be earned.”

I can’t wait to discuss all of the above with James at Runway Enterprises, Runway Magazine, Runway TV etc.  

James considers his publication to be the cultural barometer of America.  

James spends a great deal of his time breathing in the parfum of life.

As a result, James is expert in putting “style and fashion” in the context of the bigger world we live in.

That makes James qualified to know “hip” when he sees it and in some respects to be one of those persons who define  “hip” and elegance.

My philosophy of life is: It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others,  to embrace life as feast where all wines flow, and to pay attention to the fundamental changes in the world in which Americans are living and the need to adjust to them.

Where the creative people are is where I want to place my money.

A good friend with a cosmopolitan background and analytical gifts recommends New York, Hong Kong and Toronto and not necessarily in that order.  That friend recently asked me: Have you been to Hong Kong lately?  Not where you’d expect, but you can get a view of the new Apple store in Hong Kong at in their long presentation on the iPhone 4S.  I think it is more interesting than my neighborhood Apple store that is two blocks away on Fifth Avenue.

As you might have noticed, I see life through rose-colored glasses and try to spend my time with the best educated and most energetic, cosmopolitan and talented people.

Warm regards,


—–Original Message—–
From: JF
To: gsmolker <>
Sent: Sat, Nov 5, 2011 11:23 am
Subject: Re: Your Order with

If you start reading this book, you’ll want to continue.

—–Original Message—–
From: Gary Smolker <>
To: JF
Sent: Sat, Nov 5, 2011 1:32 pm
Subject: Fwd: Your Order with

Book ordered at your recommendaiton

—–Original Message—–
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Sent: Sat, Nov 5, 2011 10:19 am
Subject: Your Order with Logo

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About Gary S. Smolker

PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY: No enterprise can exist for itself alone. Every successful enterprise ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others. Otherwise, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist. Imagination, open mindedness and flexibility are the most important factors in unlocking potential. Those who embrace innovation, improvisation, continuous learning, time management, are action oriented, high energy, passionate, creative, purposeful and intense individuals are best equipped to succeed. We all have ideas and the ability to make progress by sharing information and our ideas and also by changing our ideas when appropriate. We should always be on the lookout for teaching and mentoring moments. We hold time like water in our hands; however tightly we clench our fingers, it drips away. But, if it falls on a seed, a seed may grow to become something that will have a positive social impact. PERSONAL INTERESTS: I have a passion to learn, to innovate, to lead, to mentor and to teach. I seek to write things worth reading and want to do things worth writing about. I enjoy (a) driving a fast car, (b) having intense conversations (c) teaching/mentoring, (d) reading and (e) being involved in productive activity. PERSONAL: I believe in cultivating and backing passionate people, innovation, and old fashioned good ideas. I love making human connections and spreading good ideas. I am strongly motivated to achieve in situations in which independence of thought and action are called for. PERSONAL GOALS: I want to live life vibrantly, to be as sharp as a tack until my last breath and to change the world by being me. My personal goal is to be fully engaged in life, to lead by example, to set high standards and to continue to amass firsthand experience and knowledge in all that interests me. PERSONALITY: I love fun and mischief. I relish absurdity. I have an irreverent, facetious and satiric disposition. I dread boredom. I have spent a lifetime reading. I have no bias against people who have lived successful and/or complicated lives. I write to release tension, to get things off my chest. SOCIAL MEDIA: I post articles on the "Gary S. Smolker Idea Exchange" blog at, and "Dude's Guide to Women's Shoes" at I also post images and comments on Instagram @garyspassion. CONTACT INFORMATION: Gary Smolker, Smolker Law Firm, 16055 Ventura Blvd., Ste 525, Encino, California, 91436-2609, USA. Phone 1-818-788-7290, e-mail

Posted on November 6, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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