Want a Culture War? Trying Having a Culture First.

David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

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27 Responses

  1. Bad-ass Motherfisher says:

    That is some fascinating shit.    Thank you.Report

  2. BradK says:

    So the point here is that since Gentiles don’t take as many faith-based holidays each year we lack culture, and therefore aren’t entitled to engage in culture war?

    I’ve done a fair amount of business with B&H and it does always seem as though they’re shut down for one holiday or another.  They don’t even accept orders when closed.  Apparently their web servers are observant as well.Report

  3. dhex says:

    bh is a fun place to visit and a decent place to shop provided you know what you’re looking for and it’s relatively early, but i admit to being a bit baffled as to what mr. ryan is stabbing at here.Report

    • sonmi451 in reply to dhex says:

      Too many Jewish holidays, not enough Christians. But IT IS in New York City, no? If you’re looking at a store in Kansas, say, it won’t be the same, right?Report

      • sonmi451 in reply to sonmi451 says:

        I don’t have time to Google this now, but it also depends on who the owner is, no? The owner could be an observant Orthodox Jewish. I don’t think it should be an issue if someone wants to close his/her store how many times a year. Religious observance only becomes an issue when it collides with other ights – if the store won’t hire female employees, for example, or forces female customers to line up at a separate counter at the back of the store.

        But of course Mr Ryan probably had a more high-minded, intellectual idea in mind with his post, rather that mundane things like that. I’m not smart enough to understand him, most of the time.Report

        • David Ryan in reply to sonmi451 says:

          As mentioned in my bio, I am/was a professional photographer and filmmaker for 25 years before turning my fulltime attention to my maritime pursuit. B&H is hands down the best combination of price, selection, and service. The. End.

          You are not too stupid, Sonmi. I am using my writing here at The League to work things out; and that means A LOT of the stuff I post here is incomplete and/or dependent on something I wrote last week, or last month, or last year. To wit:

          “Where the red-meat issues of the (so called) “culture war” are concerned, I have no trouble labeling myself a liberal, so I found plenty to get agitated about [at Culture11]. But what I found compelling about the editorial stance of Culture11 was the assertion that culture matters; that our society is not merely the sum total of marginal economic effects; that we are not merely amebas responding to stimulus; that we are human beings.”

          B&H photo runs their business in accordance with an observant calender, and (still) manages to run a thriving business. Freddie should be taking notes.Report

          • James Hanley in reply to David Ryan says:

            what I found compelling about the editorial stance of Culture11 was the assertion that culture matters; that our society is not merely the sum total of marginal economic effects;

            Just to add to the mix in working things out, the quoted statement errs in distinguishing between culture and economics.  Economics is not about business, nor is it about money, labor, etc.  Economics is about choice.  We do make marginal choices relating to culture.  So culture is the sum total of marginal economic affects…but good economists understand that doesn’t demean culture. It is in fact the reality of marginal choice that is what distinguishes from mere “amebas responding to stimulus.”Report

          • sonmi451 in reply to David Ryan says:

            Ahhh, I see. My apology for being intemperate. I didn’t know Freddie subsribes to the whole “What’s the Matter with Kansas” theory. Or is it more the Walter Benn Michaels’ “let’s stop talking so much on diversity and talk about class instead” theory?Report

          • dhex in reply to David Ryan says:

            the crowds at b&h are kinda deadly these days (they run overflow lots for their overflow parking lots during the week sometimes now!) but it’s still the best place to demo a mic in nyc.

            that said, stuff like this isn’t surprising either:


  4. Rose Woodhouse says:


    • Chris in reply to Rose Woodhouse says:

      They have two cultures! Most stores only have one.Report

      • Christopher Carr in reply to Chris says:

        Some have zero. Most foreigners struggle with this I think.Report

        • Chris in reply to Christopher Carr says:

          I’m being facetious. I’m not really sure what “culture” denotes here, particularly since it appears to be represented by taking off more holidays than most, and if David’s previous comments were about the same thing, also having more children and not borrowing money.


          • Christopher Carr in reply to Chris says:

            Don’t get me wrong. I definitely interpreted your snark. My point is that it’s difficult for foreigners to maintain their own traditions in the United States, and this is something that needs to be said on this thread. In my own life, when I mentioned that I had to work on Thanksgiving this year, several people close to my family said that this wasn’t a problem because my children were Japanese and wouldn’t care. Surprise, surprise, this happens in reverse in Japan. Foreigners in the service industries over there are expected to work on Japanese holidays because they should have no reason to want those days off. And of course, there’s nothing special about December 25th there, so businesses operate as usual. More often than having two cultures, the reality is that immigrants are allowed none. I’m sure that the situation at B&H Photo arose as a consequence of several institutional eccentricities – one being that it’s initial clientele was probably comprised of the fellow observant. Now, the company can compete because it’s an established name, and even its unconventional scheduling practices serve as a sort of free pr.Report

            • Chris in reply to Christopher Carr says:

              Sounds right to me.Report

            • BSK in reply to Christopher Carr says:

              My father was a firefighter in a town with a large Jewish population.  It was SOP for Jews and Christians to trade-off shifts so that each could be home on their respective holidays.  The schedule was never structured this way officially (and probably couldn’t have been), but the system always seemed to work.  If scheduled to work Christmas, my dad would get coverage from a Jewish colleague.  He’d then pay him back and pick up a shift on a Jewish holiday (or whenever else the guy wanted).  Guys without family close by or with grown children would often volunteer to take on Thanksgiving.  Etc.Report

            • David Ryan in reply to Christopher Carr says:

              The eccentricity is that they came up with a way to sell grey-market Nikons that provided their customers enough surety and savings to justify the risk, and tolerate B&H’s idiosyncratic hours. This was a transient advantage that disappeared when international price differentials disappeared (think DVD region encoding). B&H was able to parlay their first mover advantage in this area into a thriving and sustainable foothold in the market.Report