The interaction generates info sharing, which leads to robust coverage.
I bump into Bloomberg himself, the self driven money machine, who had just published his memoir, modestly titled: Bloomberg by Bloomberg. Our biz is opposite to sex, he notes, when its good, its still lousy. His face pinkish and perspiring from the perpetual orgy, he was accessible yet watchful, and I joke about the office turbulence. It may seem like chaos, he says ,but every single thing that goes on here is carefully planned. Like an explosion."
I hurry for the exit, observed by an aquarium of relaxed tropical fish. Surely theres at least one downside to working here, I prod the pr lady, while reaching for a sliver of red capsicum . She whispers: Its impossible to do any reading.
To counter the threat of declining literacy, I visit Barnes & Noble, the book chain credited with killing the independent bookshops and cannibalising the function of the public library . Sure enough, its packed, though late in the evening. The aroma of coffee draws me up the escalators, my heart sinking at the sight of so many books - too many to contemplate ever absorbing - yet cheered by the scholarly types sprawled on couches, armchairs and carpets, leafing through pages. Ever higher, past the stacks of self help cassettes, CDs and software to the fabled cafe surrounded by a clutter of global magazines.
I hate the place, confides a powerful publishing figure. Everyone reads, but nobody buys. He warns me not to invest in Barnes & Noble. A high profile dynamo, he offers a dire view of the publishing scene brilliant books with rave reviews and wide promotion sell less than 20,000. The dumbing down of our culture is depressing, he said, but its the future.
Oh well, Im sick-to-death of the cerebral. It just gets in the way. I head for Laser Park, a cyber-playground in the heart of the New Times Square. You better not have a weak heart, brother, says the doorman, his smirk framed by a drooping moustache, as he directs me to the barracks, where Im put under the command of a Zulu warrior in Star Trek fatigues and black boots: the drill sergeant. He hurls me a luminous flack jacket.
Any allegies, man, or dizzy spells?
Im fine, I spit, how many rounds?
Ten bursts - then ya gotta reload. He hands me the gun; so heavy it crashes to the floor. Two hands, man, okay?.
In the semi darkness, I can see a score of dreadlocked gangsta rappers strapping on their vests, the flashing lights front and back are targets. The TV monitors blare: no running, no jumping, no crawling, no gettn within five feet of another combatant, no pregnant women, no diabetics, no elderly....
The sergeant divides us into teams, bellowing names from a clipboard: Rambo, Black Death, GutKick . These are taken from aliases submitted at the registration desk. Thrill Kill, Vomit, MegaBlood... Not realising their purpose, I had scrawled the password used for my hometown video rentals,: Hey, check this out... Frangipani. Gasps, catcalls. Thats me, I said weakly, wishing I wasnt wearing baggy green corduroys, earth shoes and a sensitive new age t-shirt, as I lined up behind a dozen homeboys in Ninja gear. The object of laser-tag is to reach the opponents base and blast their power source, along the way annihilating the enemy.
Goodluck yo-all, barks the sergeant as he pushes our team onto the ultra violet battle field, a smokey maze of plastic pillars and pulsating re-load beacons. A swipe of a card activates the weaponry. You guys come with me, snarled Rambo, beckoning his mates, lets kick ass. These guys must fight every night. GutKick and his cronies elect to defend our base: Shoot to kill, he hisses. Frangi-blossom - you do yo own thang.
Creeping through the haze, feeling hot and sweaty, lugging the machine pistol, hearing the ping of laser snipers, I tried to calculate the time of my last medical check-up. Does insurance cover cyber-death? A green commando lurks near the pillar and I cock my pistol. Splat! Ooops, it was already cocked. Shit, Frangipetal, Im on YOUR team. Shoot the Reds. Mega Bloods chest flickered and beeped, but he was otherwise unharmed.
Sorry, I squeak.
The Red militia was creeping behind him, so I rushed forward, letting out a yell that had remained dormant since cadet camp, and sprayed my pistol into their guts.
A compu-voice crackles from my webbing: Wow! Good shootn Frangipani!. This is fun. I rush to homebase and reload in time to rescue GutKicks platoon from a mass assault - ping, ping, ping - reload and bolt back to the field, nose twitching from cordite, eyes smarting from tear gas - ping, zap, pow!- crawl on all fours to the enemys base, blast their power source, slaughter a dozen Reds, run out of ammo, clip on a bayonet......
Hey man, the games over. The drill sergeant was pulling me off a luminous red pillar, which I was slashing with my credit card, watched by Rambo and the rest, wide eyed and drop jawed, like I was some kind of mad dog war nutter. The Horrror. The Horror. I said, as the marshalls led me back to the front desk and stripped me of military regalia.
How was it? asked the doorman, as I headed for the subway. I spat, It sure beats the hell out of reading a book, not mentioning that Frangipani was now from Laser Park for life.