Photo by Tony Webster
★★★ It was impossible afterward to remember in what order things had even happened: the flash-flood warning blaring on the phone in the dark, the purple stroke of lightning so bright it shone through the blinds, the bursts of rain clashing against the windows like gravel. By the groggy morning all that was left was dampness and muck, thick air and thin sun. People steered around puddles on the Park walkways. Shiny confetti lay submerged on the sidewalk downtown. All day the clouds were like a finger on a hair dryer’s trigger button, cutting the heat off and turning it on again. The sun went down with cotton-print stripes behind it, cheerful and harmless.
Two weeks ago, office cleaners at WeWork locations throughout New York City began protesting unjust working conditions. WeWork is an international co-working startup recently valued at ten billion dollars that is based in New York, where it is, by footprint, reportedly the fastest growing company in the city. The janitorial staff at WeWork’s New York locations are demanding higher wages, benefits, and vacation time; they are also considering joining a union. On Wednesday, they, along with sympathetic union workers from 32BJ (the local chapter of the national Service Employees International Union), and a drum and bugle corps marched from one WeWork location, at 222 Broadway, near Fulton Center, to another, at the Charging Bull, in Bowling Green Park. Speeches were made; the band played; confused tourists looked on.
WeWork cleaners are not employed by the company, but by the Commercial Building Maintenance Corp., which is a non-union shop. They make eleven dollars an hour or less, without benefits; the prevailing wage in New York for union workers is twenty-three dollars an hour, with full benefits. According to 32BJ, ninety percent of commercial office cleaners in New York City—and ninety-eight percent in Manhattan—are unionized. Union members from 32BJ—which claims to be the country’s largest property service workers union, with a hundred and forty-five thousand members, including seventy thousand in New York City—leafleted outside WeWork locations in Boston, Washington, D.C., and Miami, where WeWork just opened. If CBM’s cleaners vote to unionize, they will likely join 32BJ. “Everybody wants to join the union,” Bolivar, a WeWork cleaner, told me.
Bolivar works the night shift at the WeWork space at 120 East 23rd Street. He and two other cleaners have five hours to clean the two kitchens, take out the garbage, mop the hallways, and dry mop the cubicle and office spaces. “We can’t do everything they want us to do,” he said. CBM also expects its employees to cover for absent co-workers whenever and wherever necessary, without paying overtime. “They love to add more work,” he said. For Bolivar, the organization effort is not only about fair compensation, “It’s respect that I would like.” Nobody inside WeWork has said anything to him about the union drive. “It’s business as usual,” Bolivar said.
I don’t drink, but if I did, then here’s what I’d say to every bartender in the county: “I’ll just have a glass of anything that’s cool.”
That’s my favorite drink order, and also my favorite pick-up line. It’s a gift Cal Smith gave to the world in 1974. The song was called “Country Bumpkin” and the album was audaciously titled It’s Not the Miles You’ve Traveled. Smith was already a superstar, and this single went into the world between “An Hour and a Six Pack” and “Between Lust and Watching TV.”
“Country Bumpkin” spent a few weeks on the country charts, and
the song won Smith both an Academy of Country Music award and
Country Music Association award. The quiet ballad of a bumpkin and
a barmaid was also my favorite version of love for the first ten
years or so of my life—two people who meet and make a family
without much fuss. It’s an American love story: A man walked into a
bar and “parked his lanky frame upon a tall bar stool” while “a bar
room girl with hard and knowing eyes slowly looked him up and
down.” Eyes and voices are all it takes to fall in love, and the
man’s “long, slow southern drawl” does all the talking. Within a
verse, the woman confesses, “I’ve seen some sights, but babe,
you’re something.” And then Smith tells us “just a short year
later” they’ve married and are welcoming a son into the world, the
“cuddly boy child” laying on the woman’s chest while she looks down
with “a raptured look of love and tenderness.”
if you put a bed on stage
you have a bedroom
if you put a sink & two chairs
you have a kitchen
what if there’s only a child
applying foundation to his pristine face
what do you have then?
when a person’s dead onstage
does the audience burn
the scenery or applaud?
does the lighting designer kill
all the lights? though the words
may be the playwright’s
the framework is the inferno’s
furnace dressed in her paper
paper gown. what if the child
disappears into wings
the curtain rising finds
no one left to applaud
what if the child learns
to dance, what if he can’t
my god, what if he tries to sing?
8. Woman says of man’s grisly anecdote, “Sometimes I wonder how many things you have like that that I don’t know about.”
7. Man says, “I’m a piece of shit but that boy is all I have in my shitty life.”
6. Man says to female co-worker, “You pull off that e-cig. A lot of people don’t. …Maybe it’s too close to sucking a robot’s dick.”
5. Sane and caring wife who was raped frets about why her husband is so messed up.
4. Detective stands in ransacked house and says, “Somebody was looking for something.”
3. Psychiatrist wears sunglasses inside, at his desk.
2. Man says to woman, “Sometimes a good beating provokes personal growth.”
1. Man says to woman, “Well, so you know, I support feminism. Mostly by having body issues.”
This comically incorrect
ranking of the Songs of the Summer reminded me that is the
twentieth anniversary of
the New York Times Magazine’s “The No. 1 Summer Song of
Love,” which, if you don’t remember (or weren’t yet literate),
goes a little like this:
What becomes a Summer Love Song most? That is a tricky question, for like love itself, the song cannot always be measured by traditional means; both science and intuition play a role in its creation. But there are certain patterns. For instance, the song is usually a ballad and addressed to a universal lover, so that any teen-ager can fill in its “I love you” sentiment afresh, like a blank Valentine card. The song will become a hit, of course, but not necessarily the biggest hit of the summer. It will be neither a dance track (too impersonal) nor a novelty song (too goofy) nor a song with a message (too earnest). If it is a country song or a rap song, it must transcend its genre, because the Summer Love Song turns up at high-school proms and weddings in every kind of American neighborhood. Crucially, the song will feature at its core something indescribably sublime — a bone-deep groove or a lover’s moan — that helps it survive over time. For the Summer Love Song’s true role is to carry the moment into the future, not as history, but as a madeleine of pleasure and heartbreak.
Okay! Anyway, it says here that nothing is going to unseat “Trap Queen” this year and I don’t care how many money-deficient bitches Rihanna has to eviscerate to unseat him.
“But the younger Grier’s star is rising swiftly in its own right: His Instagram account, whose shirtless pics and up-close selfies rocketed him to fame less than two years ago, has roughly as many followers — 3.9 million — as those of Neil Patrick Harris and Michelle Obama combined. All told, his Vines — which tend toward Jackass-lite stunts, innocuous physical comedy, and brief snapshots of life on tour — have been looped more than 300 million times. At this point, the Grier brothers are so famous that they can’t go to a mall or amusement park or high school football game without being mobbed. They are so famous that the rest of their family has become famous too, osmotically and apparently without even trying: At the L.A. stop of the tour we’re currently on, dozens of girls (and a not-insignificant number of moms) clamored to take pictures with their father, Chad, better known as “Dad” to many of the fans. Hayes and Nash’s half sister, Skylynn, who’s frequently featured in their videos and photos, has more than 1.3 million Vine followers. She’s 5.”#