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Thanksgiving remix

Flickr photo

Thanks­giv­ing 2006 came and went, attend­ed by friends, fam­i­ly and the cus­tom­ary dra­mas. An East Coast / West Coast feud flared up in the week before the hol­i­day. Gabriel (East) sent what some in the West per­ceived as "a sal­vo across the bow" in the form of a Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tion (a slide of which is pic­tured below). It con­tained a finan­cial-style analy­sis of Thanks­giv­ing: how Thanks­giv­ing East has per­formed over the past decade, trends, pro­jec­tions, and out­lines for future growth. Some saw this as evi­dence of a dia­bol­i­cal plan; I was naive and asked for clar­i­fi­ca­tion on specifics:

Dear Gabe, TYs (Thanks­giv­ing years) 2003–2004 were char­ac­ter­ized by broad guest sec­tor diver­si­fi­ca­tion. What is the like­li­hood that a diver­si­fied strat­e­gy, with expo­sure to the Shana­han sec­tor, for exam­ple, will be pur­sued in the future? Sec­ond­ly, to what extent will "val­ue" guests (e.g., McClo­rys and Preslers) con­tin­ue to anchor the port­fo­lio? Will you pur­sue more (poten­tial­ly) volatile "growth" guests in order to boost per­for­mance in the com­ing years? 

Gabe replied:

Gabe's projection infographic

Like oth­er mis­sion-relat­ed offer­ings, we believe that diver­si­fi­ca­tion is impor­tant for ensur­ing steady, depend­able per­for­mance in any envi­ron­ment to pro­tect against sec­tor-spe­cif­ic risk. But our com­mit­ment to diver­si­fi­ca­tion goes beyond our con­cern for the bot­tom line: indeed, we believe that it reflects our group's core mis­sion. We are con­vinved that when we serve a broad range of atten­dants and when our offer­ings range across the geo­graph­ic and social spec­trum, our Thanks­giv­ing is ulti­mate­ly stronger.I want to empha­size that we con­sid­er all of our par­tic­i­pants "core" can­di­dates. Alas, our com­mit­ment to value–illustrated by our proven track record of offer­ing Thanks­giv­ing at a deep dis­count to its intrin­sic value–means that we are not always able to serve as broad a con­stituen­cy as we would like. For exam­ple, many of our sought-after par­tic­i­pants fall out­side of our geo­graph­ic uni­verse; we are par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in oppor­tu­ni­ties in California. 

Need­less to say, this kind of talk elicit­ed skep­ti­cism and cries of region­al pride among the West Coast­ers, feel­ings which became even more acute when addi­tion­al news arrived: The East Coast guest list had grown so large, so ginor­mous, that the hosts scram­bled to find larg­er accom­mo­da­tions for their dinner. 

Now [East Coast Thank­giv­ing] reports that their 2006 expan­sion plan has been so suc­cess­ful that they're relo­cat­ing to a BAR for their fes­tiv­i­ties. clear­ly the bar has been raised. are we going to let presler corp. out­do us at what we do best? we have to ral­ly around the turkey and show the east coast who rules this holiday.

Would cool­er heads pre­vail? Some West Coast­ers called for "focus."

i hate to say it, but this whole thing reeks of a ploy to take us off our game. start chas­ing the presler-yamadas with this whole thanks­giv­ing at the bar thing, and next thing you know you'll be doing blow off some stranger's anato­my at 5am while real­iz­ing that you for­got to even *buy* a turkey. we have to stick to what got us here. the fun­da­men­tals and an easy-going atti­tude that there's no rea­son to get stressed out because our moms are at least like a thou­sand miles away … focus, people.

Laying on of hands

Of course, Thanks­giv­ings of yore were char­ac­ter­ized by spon­tanae­ity that often resem­bled chaos. (See right. More here.). To this end, there were appeals to pull together: 

If Robert Alt­man taught us any­thing it's that great works of art are NOT cre­at­ed with scripts, busi­ness plans or Pow­er­Point pre­sen­ta­tions. We will hon­or his tra­di­tion and fol­low our usu­al free-flow­ing, impro­vised pat­tern. We will cre­ate a rich­ly lay­ered Thanks­giv­ing that will touch on all of the major themes of mod­ern life in a heart­break­ing, at times com­i­cal, at times vio­lent, but always inci­sive way. Like Alt­man, we are not afraid of fail­ure. How­ev­er, it's also true that some great works of art were cre­at­ed with blow (John Belushi, the DeLore­an, Dwight Gooden) …

In the end, there was focus and togeth­er­ness on the West Coast, and, by all accounts, steady growth with div­i­dends in the East. A wise man once said: "Let love rule." It shall.