☕️ The failed city

Why Disney's utopian dream didn't work out...

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October 03, 2021 | View Online | Sign Up


Your Korean Dad gets a massage

An uncomfortable work situation

Disney's failed utopian dream


Editor's Note


Good morning. Today's Editor's Note is being replaced by a love letter to TikTok, an app that, while not perfect, has brought me a great deal of enjoyment the last few months.

What makes TikTok so refreshing is that it's one of the few places left where celebrity doesn't matter. Users respond most to regular people with extraordinary talent (like our very own Dan Toomey).

This says everything you need to know: The second-most followed person on Instagram is Cristiano Ronaldo. The second-most followed person on TikTok is Khaby Lame, a 21-year-old former factory employee in Italy who wordlessly mocks "life hack" videos. Your social currency on TikTok is your ability to create A+ content on TikTok—it doesn't matter whether you're a soccer star or an assembly line worker.

When I ask people why they're not on TikTok, by far the most common response is, "I fear I'd like it so much that I'd spend all my time on it." Well, I suggest you come up with a solution because you're missing out.

—Neal Freyman




Stock Watch

Stock Watch for this week

Eight Sleep




Icebreakers With...TikTok Star Nick Cho

Photo of Nick Cho

Nick Cho

Nick Cho, known as "Your Korean Dad" on TikTok, is a comedian and self-proclaimed "king of weird analogies." His day job is working at the SF-based coffee chain he and his wife founded in 2011 but, with almost 3 million followers on TikTok and a newly launched YouTube channel, making wholesome social content is starting to become a full-time job.

Morning Brew got deep with Nick.

What's on your coffee shop's playlist?

Back in 2001 or 2002, when I got my first iPod, I bought it at the store and when I got home I realized it already had music on it. Someone had bought it and returned it. When I looked at the playlist, it was all these hits from the '80s and '90s. And that has been my go-to coffee shop playlist for 20 years. There's Guns N' Roses on it. There's Van Halen, Paula Abdul.

Whenever I'm working at the cafes, it's only a matter of time before the baristas get fed up with the mix. We call it "Kwon's mix" because you know how you can name iPods or iPhones? The iPod was called Kwon's iPod.

If you didn't have to sleep, how would you spend the extra eight hours?

I would be driving to different places. So I could spend every day somewhere new.

What does your typical day look like?

I don't eat breakfast when I wake up. I make cappuccinos for my wife and for myself—mostly for her. Then I go to the gym. Then I start working on whatever I'm working on. Lately, it's thinking about what to make for my TikTok. I have managers now, like Hollywood management. It's very strange.

There's one thing in my daily routine I feel immensely guilty about, so maybe talking about it will help me process. But, I have to be able to make space to just sort of "be" and either go for a walk or go to the gym or just chill. For example, I don't get massages on a regular basis, but the other day, I was like, I think I need a massage. And I had this flood of ideas that happened while I was getting a massage. And that's super self-indulgent. But for better or for worse, I can't produce if I don't take this time. And it's something that I'm struggling with and trying to figure out right now. You know, it's like Korean guilt. Like, I'm not sweating enough or not working hard enough.

How do you manage that guilt?

The first thing for me is realizing that guilt is okay. But it's not probably productive or helpful for me to feel too guilty. It's almost like the Jiminy Cricket on your shoulder or this little voice in your head. We're not supposed to shut those away.

Are you someone that, when you are with people, you immediately start asking deep questions?

Yeah, I like to just get into it. That's sort of my style.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.




I Used to Call Them Coworkers. Now I'm Their Manager.

Make it work image

Each week, our workplace whisperer Shane Loughnane answers a reader-submitted question about work in 2021. Anything bothering you at work? Ask Shane here.

I just got promoted to a manager role within my department, and it will be my first time with direct reports. Since I've worked with this team for a couple of years already, it feels a bit strange; I already "know" them, and now I'm expected to lead them. How do I move from a peer to a manager successfully?Emily, PA

During a recent spiral into the depths of on-demand streaming, I found myself captivated by honeybees—as it turns out, a new honeybee is crowned queen only after defeating (via deadly sting) all other candidates in a series of head-to-head battles. That's certainly one way to assume a leadership role. Alternatively, you might find yourself in the potentially uncomfortable position of being tapped to manage your former peers.

Frankly, the reason it feels a bit strange is because it is—not just for you, but for your team as well. The best thing you can do is to meet it head on: Connect with each of your direct reports to reestablish roles and, if necessary, boundaries. Remember that it's OK to acknowledge that your relationships will change; indeed, they should if your goal is to best serve them as their manager.

Start building trust by being open about where you think you're going to need help. It's important for them to feel like they're still working with you as much as for you—explain that while you may have added responsibilities, you're still a part of the team and committed to its success. To that end, take advantage of the fact that you do know your directs. How will you utilize their strengths? What pain points can you eliminate for them? Use that "insider knowledge" to help you find some easy wins.

Remember that you likely have more anxiety about this transition than your team ever will. As a first-time manager, it won't be perfect. Learn from your mistakes, don't do this, and trust the instincts that earned you this promotion—the rest will take care of itself.

How do you deal with the Sunday scaries?Anonymous, Singapore

Have you tried picturing Monday in its underwear? On the off chance that old show biz trick doesn't cure your anxiety, perhaps our readers have some more practical advice they'd be willing to share. Anyone out there have a remedy for the Sunday blues?

Have a tip for our friend in Singapore or a question about work you want to ask Shane? Write in here.

And coming tomorrow...HR Brew. Be one of the first subscribers to our upcoming newsletter on all things human resources.




Walt Disney's Failed City of the Future

Painting of original EPCOT with monorail


The Magic Kingdom at Disney World opened its doors 50 years ago this week. That's great and all, but let's talk about another Disney World anniversary with far more intrigue—the opening of the EPCOT Center on October 1, 1982.

Thing is, EPCOT wasn't supposed to be an amusement park. It was originally proposed as a fully fledged "city of the future," or, more precisely, an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT).

The backstory: Walt Disney was often frustrated with modern city living. He reportedly grumbled about being woken up by garbage collectors in the morning, and rolled his eyes at the general dirtiness of Los Angeles.

So, being the guy with the golden ideas (Snow White with seven dwarfs? Brilliant), Walt Disney conceived of a master-planned city that would exist as one pillar of the Disney World complex in Florida. As he explained in a 1966 presentation made for Florida legislators, this city would be a "planned environment demonstrating to the world what American communities can accomplish through proper control of planning and design."

So what would the city look like?

  • It would be circular in shape. In the middle you'd find a central hub with a convention center. From there, four other rings of development would fan out with businesses, houses, apartments, and green space.
  • The rail would have mono. Disney was obsessed with the monorail, which he introduced in 1959 at a much smaller scale at California's Disneyland, and was eager to take to his new city.
  • It would be a "company town." All citizens of the Jetsons-esque city would be working for the Disney company or businesses that worked with Disney.

Dreaming of utopias

Walt Disney was not the first nor the last ultra-wealthy person who tried to harness the latest technology to create an urban utopia in his vision. In fact, several folks are having a crack at it right now.

  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as "MBS," has proposed a $500 billion city-state in the desert, called Neom. If MBS's plan is realized, employees will take drone taxis to work and Neom's tech prowess will make Silicon Valley seem like a backwater.
  • And then there's Telosa, the $400 billion city being planned by billionaire e-commerce mogul Marc Lore on the principle of a "reformed vision of capitalism."

Most urban policy experts are skeptical that these utopian dreams will become reality, given the extreme logistical hurdles (and price tags) of starting a city from scratch. After all, Walt Disney's project fizzled after he died in December 1966.

The Disney team pivoted to a theme park that, while not itself a city of the future, celebrates human achievement, technological progress, and the promise of dreaming big. —MM





Open House

Welcome to Open House, the only newsletter section that dares find out how to really be a Disney adult. We'll give you a few facts about a listing and you try to guess the price.

Disney House in Orlando, Florida

Golden Oak Realty

In honor of Disney World's 50th anniversary, we're heading down to the luxurious Golden Oak neighborhoods on the premises of Disney's resort in Orlando, Florida. If you thought the soft pretzels were expensive in Magic Kingdom, this two-story, 4,405 square-foot custom Disney home will blow your mind. Amenities include:

  • 6 beds, 6 baths
  • Lanai and a heated, screened-in pool
  • Unhinged entertainment room where you sit back-to-back with loved ones
  • Requirement to join the very expensive neighborhood country club

How much to live, breathe, and sleep the Mouse?




1. The definitive Sopranos episode rankings (The Ringer), and why is every young person in America watching The Sopranos? (NYT Magazine)

2. We got a new garage door. It came with an epic story. (Situation Normal)

3. Mick Jagger went to a dive bar in Charlotte and literally everybody missed him. (North Carolina Rabbit Hole)

4. Inside America's broken supply chain. (Washington Post)

5. A table designed specifically for jigsaw puzzles. (Simone Giertz)

6. On the internet, we're always famous. (New Yorker)

7. What it's like to work 8–10 hours a day in virtual reality. (Immersed)

8. Chernobyl: How it happened. (MIT OpenCourseWare)

9. How Twitter decided to open up its image-cropping algorithm to the public. (Emerging Tech Brew)

10. The McDonald's Hot Coffee Case. (You're Wrong About)

More classes than countries. With Babbel Live, you can take live online classes with top language teachers (max 6 students). Plus, you get access to Babbel's podcasts, games, and more. Sign up today and get 65% off unlimited classes for one monthly price.*

*This is sponsored advertising content




Meme Battle

Welcome back to Morning Brew's Meme Battle, where we crown a single memelord every Sunday.

Today's winner: Josh Arkin, Chicago, IL. We deserve it.

Who wants to be a milionaire meme

This week's challenge: You can find the new meme template here for next Sunday. Once you're done making your meme, submit it at this link for consideration.




$4.5 million


Written by Matty Merritt, Jamie Wilde, Max Knoblauch, and Neal Freyman

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