Tonight, Big Bill de Blasio awards the winners in the NYC BigApps competition. That's a project of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. With mentors and judges from many, if not "all" walks of life, this project is one of the few rare ways that New York City might actually help a small business, while also helping to improve the lives of New Yorkers, or even making the city a better place in general. Cash prizes go to the best apps created out of city data.
But Mayor Bill will be treading on dangerous ground. Will the judges set him up for a disaster? Because among some great ideas and great executions in the finalist pool are some real nightmares. For instance, the infamous and much-derided app SketchFactor is actually a finalist in this program. Yeah, that's the thing that lets various forms of app-using gentrifiers rate neighborhoods for just how uncomfortable they feel whilst passing through.
Certainly less evil—even good at heart!—but still as annoying is Reported, which was founded by a man who was unhappy that people don't complain about taxis enough. ("There are 175 million NYC cab trips each year. Yet only 13,000 consumer complaints in 2013 about drivers," is how his mission statement begins. Uh… huh.) He's written an incredibly detailed piece (on Medium, of course) about how he kept a spreadsheet about all the cabs honking outside his house. He gives himself away early on when he says that Uber is a great experience because of the constant rider surveillance. His New York of the future: we're all narcs, and we're all customers.
★★★★★ Cool, fresh air through the window vied with frying bacon and won. The children were in long pants, newly sorted through to account for a summer of growth. The clarity out the window was prodigious, unreal, like eagle vision. A dignified old brown-brick apartment building, stair-stepping as it rose, stood out deep and solid among its flatter-faced neighbors. What was the light, the two-year-old asked, standing on the radiator cover, gesturing southward: six or eight blocks away, a tiny bright orange pinprick. It took binoculars to identify it as an ordinary sodium security lamp, burning in the dark shade of a rooftop superstructure. And far beyond that, what looked like the Newark Airport control tower was just that, and even past that, the National Newark Building. And a fat waning gibbous moon, like a painting of the moon, in among high cirrus clouds and little lower ones, now lavender-tinted, now peach, moving quickly downriver. And—yes, a dark shape flapping northward, presenting in the glasses the chocolate-brown body and wings, the white head and tail, an eagle itself. Out the door, bright streaks threaded the dark falling sheets of water in the fountain. Someone was wearing a puffy jacket; two other people, walking together, were in flip-flops. Clouds in the west briefly dulled the afternoon light. A wide battery-powered kiddie car, a red Mini Cooper, hummed slowly down the sidewalk. The playground was dreamlike, meaning a little bit numbing and unreal. Chalk had been scrawled heavily on the pavement, up and all over the kneeling concrete camel statue, and finally then just detonated into piles of colored powder. The two-year-old was subdued, clinging to the chain link or walking along a bench. Then a schoolmate arrived, and they mounted an assault on the slopes of the camel together, smearing themselves with chalk from collar to shoes. Sunset was total and overwhelming, the whole visible sky out the windows cycling from opulent through shocking and on to moody.
Three fictional madmen—two sociopaths and a narcissist—die on television. It's a strange worldview that would take this as a sign of "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture", but that is the premise of the lead essay in the New York Times Magazine’s culture issue, by film reviewer A.O. Scott.
The unfortunate endings of Tony Soprano of "The Sopranos" and Walter White of "Breaking Bad"—plus Don Draper of "Mad Men," whose elegant silhouette is likely to plummet off a skyscraper soon, according to some fans—signify to Scott the "slow unwinding" of the very idea of adulthood as it was formerly understood, a principle inherent in the patriarchy. "The supremacy of men," Scott writes, "can no longer be taken as a reflection of natural order or settled custom."
But is it "masculinity" that is in decline, or "maturity"? How tightly are the ideas of "manhood" and "adulthood" tied together? Not very. A closer look would suggest instead that adulthood is only just beginning to come to American culture. READ MORE
Over the past few years, an aesthetic we like to call "snackwave" has trickled up from Tumblr dashboards. Now a part of mainstream culture, snackwave is everywhere: it's printed on American Apparel clothes and seen in Katy Perry music videos. It's the antithesis to kale-ridden health food culture and the rise of Pinterest-worthy twee cupcake recipes. It’s the wording in your Instagram handle, a playful cheeseburger selfie, Jennifer Lawrence announcing on the red carpet that she’s hungry for a pizza. In snackwave world, everyone is Claudia Kishi, and your junk food drawer is also your blog.
What we’ve written here is merely a guide to understanding the rise of this very Internet 3.0-specific aesthetic. Snackwave is no longer a lowbrow joke bonding tweens across Twitter feeds and Tumblr blogs. It’s being co-opted by corporate Twitter accounts and fashion companies, both of whom are seeking to talk just like their ‘net-savvy young consumers.
Both of us are very much a part of this scene—in fact, we’ve got McDonald’s Sweet 'n Sour sauce IVs hooked up to our veins right now. We know snackwave inside and out. So grab a bag of Funyuns, a sleeve of Oreos, and get ready to ride the snackwave. READ MORE
People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, Business Insider assistant editor Hayley Hudson tells us more about a note she wrote to her grandmother as a young child about the prospects of having only four toes on one foot.
My mom sent me this today. Note I wrote to my grandma before her surgery. Shows the human capacity for empathy. pic.twitter.com/6xsAncQ9BM
— Hayley Hudson (@hayhud) September 3, 2014
Hayley! So what happened here?
When I was eight, my family learned that my grandma—my mom’s mom—needed surgery on her foot. She had skin cancer, and it had started to spread. Her doctor caught it early enough that operating would take care of everything and she would be fine, but as you can gather from reading the note, she was going to be losing a toe.
So my mom sat me down to write a card to mail to my grandma’s house in Iowa. I don’t remember the exact instructions she gave me, if there were any. She probably assumed that I’d say something sweet, and the whole thing would be effortless. Instead my words came out sounding like an answer to a test question at a medical school for sociopaths. READ MORE
I have not asked my parents for very much, mostly because they've never had much, financially, to give. As a child, if you grow up with not that much, you don’t know what you’re missing. For so long, your worldview is only as big as the two-block radius you’re allowed to travel, and since you return home every night like a little boomerang, you only understand what it is that happens inside your house. You only understand the world within the context of what you’re living with, so when I was growing up, I understood on a very basic level that we had enough to get by.
After college, I had a few friends who always seemed to struggle a little less, friends who would be unemployed for languorous stretches of time, drifting through the mire of our early twenties with ease. "Their parents are paying for everything," we would whisper into happy hour beers. "Must be nice."
I found jobs with tenacity, because I was responsible for my rent and my bills and the looming spectre of student loans—the latter of which I generally ignored, stuffing the unopened envelopes into the back of various day planners. I had to pay my own way, because there was no one there to help me, really, and that was just fine. I have always valued the independence that comes with knowing that every wrinkled dollar I paid my rent with was with money I earned. I didn’t want help, because I knew that we didn’t have it, but I was proving that I could at least support myself.
That said, I have asked for parental help, but it has been done grudgingly and only in times of great need. READ MORE
NPR is streaming the whole new Perfume Genius album. For those who like to try before they buy, I suppose.
★ Not only did it not conform to any fixed ideas of what other day it might resemble, it would not even conform to itself. The morning sky was a softly rumpled gray, with cool air coming through the windows and the floors feeling damp under bare feet. Little openings of blue passed now and again, moving north fairly quickly. The ropes of the waterproofing crew's rig swayed darkly back and forth across the windows. A moment of sun passed, and the air got more and more stuffy. By the end of the school day, the cloud cover had come apart into streaks and ripples of white on blue. Then came near-full sun and sweltering air, hide-in-the-shade heat. That in turn gave way to a darkening sky, with a reddish tinge upriver, holding for a long menacing movement—and then surrendering too, till returning sun lit the sides of the rigging rope bright manila. Sunset was colorful, but nothing extraordinary.
4:18 A.M. Monday, September 8 — NYU Orientation
Location: Bleecker and Mercer
Length: At least two hundred backpacked cattle
Weather: 75 and mostly sunny
Crowd: Literal fresh-faced fresh-persons
Mood: "Zomg so excited!!!1"
Wait time: Four or five years, depending on major
Lingering question: How many mansions could you purchase with the amount of student debt accumulated the occupants of this line? READ MORE
Before eating many fruits and some vegetables, some people—bad, or perhaps ignorant people—do something which renders the produce less tasty, less colorful, less texturally interesting, and much less nutritious. The worst of these offenses involves one of my favorite fruits: the kiwi.
California grows the vast majority of domestic kiwi, and California’s kiwi growing season starts in October, which is mere weeks away. This is exciting, because the kiwi is a spectacular fruit: its color is otherworldly; it leans wonderfully to the tart side of the sweet/tart scale; and it has more vitamin C than an orange. But an awful lot of people don’t buy them, because they are seen, incorrectly, as being in the grand tradition of difficult-to-eat tropical fruits.
Just as it takes practice to properly carve a mango (the first method here is the correct one, since you should never peel a mango before cutting it), or to remove the spiky, dangerous skin of a pineapple (like this), the kiwi has the reputation of a fruit that requires…work. Typical ways to eat it include skinning it with a vegetable peeler and slicing into rounds or cutting it in half and scooping out the insides with a spoon. These options require not one but TWO utensils. Jesus Christ.
I am about to blow your minds, friends. (Unless you already know this, in which case, cool, let’s make a salad together sometime.) The proper way to eat a kiwi is exactly the way you would eat a peach. READ MORE
On Tuesday, Nev Schulman took a selfie in an elevator. The photo shows him standing with his hand over his heart, staring all serious straight into his iPhone. In the corner, a bag of groceries and a water bottle rest against the door to block it from closing. The light in a closed elevator is rarely flattering; when you have upwards of 740K followers, there’s not much room to fuck around.
“Cowards make me sick,” read his accompanying tweet. “Real men show strength through patience & honor. This elevator is abuse free. #RESPECT.”
Schulman is the star of the 2010 documentary Catfish, a film about the time he fell in love with an impostor on Facebook, as well as the host of MTV’s Catfish: The T.V. Show, where he counsels people who fall in love with impostors on Facebook. The tweet was ostensibly inspired by his outrage over the recently leaked video of Ray Rice hitting his fiancée in a (different) elevator.
Brought to you by Heineken.
It’s been said that the essence of city life is the chance encounter—the idea that at any moment you could stumble upon something new and exciting you’ve never experienced before. The sheer number of people, places, neighborhoods and cultural attractions packed in to NYC can feel overwhelming in the best possible way. However, even with the city’s frenetic pace, it’s easy to get locked in to a routine. Before you know it you’re living your entire life along one Subway line and spending Friday nights in your underwear watching Netflix.
So how do you make the transition from jaded New Yorker back to enthusiastic city dweller? Just try your hand at these NYC adventures below.
The oft-forgotten NYC Night Cruise (AKA “Party Boat” AKA “Booze Cruise”) is one of those magical opportunities that tourists seem to love but New York residents think they’re too good for. This is unfortunate because there’s nothing like a party-on-a-boat to remind you of the majestic beauty of the city you’ve been taking for granted. While there are plenty of amazing cruises departing from Chelsea Piers at any given night, here is just one: The Spirit of New York dinner cruise. The Spirit City New York outdoor deck is a perfect spot to gaze at the stars on New York Harbor. Grab a brew in the lounge or head for the dance club and move to the latest sounds. There’s a full food menu, attentive service and Broadway style entertainment. Not a bad environment in which to enjoy the world’s most dramatic skyline, right? Photo: vtravelled.com
You’ve been to more karaoke nights than you can count. That’s all fine and good. But why not re-invigorate your sad spirit with a new variety of intimate, live piano karaoke? Every Tuesday at The Manhattan Inn in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, pianist Joe McGinty “holds court behind a grand piano, enthusiastically accompanying anyone with the desire to croon, sing, belt, or whisper their favorite song.” (There are over 200 to choose from). The Manhattan Inn’s dim, inviting atmosphere is the perfect spot to relax the nerves and prepare you for a night of pouring your heart out in public. Photo: The Manhattan Inn
-I don't see anything.
-You don't see them. They'll see you.
Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky's Shy People opened in New York and Los Angeles in December of 1987 after winning the award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival and receiving a handful of rave reviews. The film was seen by few people and nominated for even fewer awards, even though its lead actors—Barbara Hershey, Jill Clayburgh, and Martha Plimpton—teetered somewhere on the mostly recognizable and well-liked edge of B- and C-list. In May of 1988, the film was given a slightly wider release, allowing it to take one final gasp of air before falling into the murky depths of forgotten films and becoming an official bomb.
Considering the fact that major publications failed to get even its general plot correct in their Fall movie previews, the fate of Shy People was unsurprising—most notably to Roger Ebert.
Of all of the great, lost films of recent years, "Shy People" must be the saddest case. Here is a great film that slipped through the cracks of an idiotic distribution deal and has failed to open in most parts of the country…If you want to see it, move decisively; it will be pushed aside soon by the big summer releases. With slightly different handling, "Shy People" could have been a best-picture Oscar nominee.
May 20, 1988
In 2014, Shy People barely exists. READ MORE
Front Desk at Surprisingly Sketchy Kids Indoor Bouncy House, 2007, $8.50/hour
My first and most colorful job. Also the only time I’ve ever been fired. I remember my mom dropping me off to fill out the application while she waited in the car. I’m pretty sure I was wearing a three-piece suit at the time, because that’s totally what you do for job interviews, right? Anyway, they were looking for people and I guess I looked eager enough.
Every weekday I walked about two miles round-trip in the Southwest desert heat for my never-more-than-four-hour shift. I liked hanging out with the families and kids even though I always ended up coming home smelling like feet. Usually I opened the store, blowing up the bouncy palace and obstacle course, before calling parents to finalize their kids’ birthday party plans. (“Chocolate or vanilla sheet cake?” “Yes of course we’d be happy to book Spongebob for little Suzie.”) Most of my downtime was spent doing data entry or cleaning up the back room where every once in a while I’d hide out and eat cold leftover pizza.
Working there, I quickly learned the first rule of kid-related employment: Everyone at these jobs are super weird. It’s a universal rule, like some sort of ISO standard for hiring that makes sure only sufficiently crazy people are allowed near kids (exceptions for schools and child care, maybe). Summer camp? The cook is feeding you stray cats. Build-a-Bear employee? Shaves his leg hair right into the cotton stuffing pools. Don’t even get me started on costumed cartoon characters. READ MORE
There is depressive music that tightens the girdle of neuroses around your brain and then depressive music that loosens it. Music that forces you to stare at the ceiling and music that lets you close your eyes for a minute. Music to breath in, music to breath out. A whole rich taxonomy, probably, with fans too lethargic to write it.
★★★★ Pigeons were bathing in the top of the fountain, getting into it, coming up drenched and ruffled. The sky was blue but with a discoloring haze low down it it. Some squares of the sidewalk had a shine on them. Long sleeves felt appropriate, though evidently so did shorts. It was too soon for jeans. Unexpected dirty gray cumulus intruded on the nice sky—looming to the east, lurking behind water towers to the north. A grubby cloud was nearly overhead while the grim fanatics and the agitated counterfanatics took up their positions on the street corners. Warm enough for skivvies, or for gender-nonconforming scanty things. The event moved on; the clouds went back to healthy white.