Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

The new health care:

Hospitals around the country are competing for newly-insured patients, and one way to increase patient satisfaction, they figure, might be to reduce the frustratingly long wait times in the ER. To that end, Northridge and its parent company Dignity Health started offering online appointments last summer; since then, more than 22,000 patients have reserved spots at emergency rooms in California, Arizona and Nevada.

Why stop here? Why not just rebuild the entire medical establishment from the emergency room out? One big door with the word "DOCTOR PLACE" above it, where anyone can walk in and be told quickly that it's either too early or too late to do anything; either that they're dying or they're not. "Emergency rooms are there to take care of people who have emergencies," some buzzkill doctor says, rudely. Every medical condition is an emergency when it's yours!


New York City, September 21, 2014

weather review sky 092114★ The air through the windows was cooler in temperature than the suffocating, humid air indoors, but it was too damp to ease the discomfort. A few outriders from the climate-change march were lined up on one side of Broadway, opposite the people still lined up to consume the new obsolescence-making, resource-intensive high-end mobile phones. The light gray thickness in the atmosphere was not really misty; there was nothing mysterious or enchanting about its effects, just a faded Empire State Building looking down toward the markets of Grand Street. Sweltering though it was, the TV personality crossing Broadway back uptown wore a trim glen plaid suit buttoned, with a necktie, as he would be expected to. Only at day's end did the gray end, the overcast breaking up into luminous pink clouds before the dark descended—no longer delayed, but seasonably punctual.



Prince is releasing two full albums before 2015, both of which will be granted, by default, rigorous consideration by people who have at any point prior cared about Prince. But what on Earth does a teenager make of this? Will the youngest listeners hear this song and think, oh, Prince, dad, whatever? Or will they wonder, who is Prince, I've heard of him somewhere, and then maybe Google him? Does he just get to reappear, no questions asked, his legacy venerated unquestionably, his singles made hits in whatever order planned? Or does Prince have to plead a new case? Anyway: a pretty fun song.


The Eternal Afterlife of Lonesome George

lonesome george

Lonesome George, likely the most famous tortoise in the world, was the last of his kind. He was the sole remaining member of his subspecies, Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii, from the northern Galápagos island of Pinta. He died two years ago. Last Thursday, his taxidermied corpse was unveiled at the American Museum of Natural History, where he will be on display until early January, at which point he will be moved to Ecuador. “I met George in Paris, walking down the Champs Elysees, in the rain,” Jan, a gray-haired travel and adventure writer, told me. “You can tell I make things up. The coffee is excellent!”



The Enduring Legacy of Phil Hartman

philhartmanAs much as Phil Hartman's work and influence lives on, the Ontario native has so far escaped the kind of mainstream legacy re-appraisal that so many other late standups and sketch players have enjoyed.

You Might Remember Me: The Life and Times of Phil Hartman, which takes its name from the catchphrase of The Simpsons mainstay Troy McClure (voiced by Hartman), aims to right that. The long-overdue appreciation of Hartman's genius, which will be published tomorrow by St. Martin's Press, looks at the arc of his career — from his little-known stints as a rock 'n' roll roadie and album-cover designer to his comedy work with the Groundlings and beyond — as well as the off-stage, off-camera details: Hartman smoking pot, surfing, writing poetry, laughing.

Given his tragic fate, it's tempting to reduce Hartman's personal legacy to a tortured artist with a smiling persona, a man who endured private agony and professional highs but never quite found his star vehicle — despite creating roles that no one else could fill on Saturday Night LiveThe Simpsons, and NewsRadio.

But author and Chicago Sun-Times journalist Mike Thomas paints a more symmetrical, often brightly-colored picture of Hartman's life. His detailed, reporting-driven approach yields a less sexy but far richer portrait of this consummately professional comedian who improved the prospects of every sketch, sitcom, and series he touched.

Hartman, who was tragically shot to death by his coke-addled wife Brynn on May 27, 1998, would have been 66 years old this year, so I also picked Thomas' brain about where he thought Hartman's career was going, what he would have been like in 2014, and more. READ MORE


The Perils of Assuming That the Flying Rodent on Your Porch Is Dead

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, ESPN the Magazine Senior Editor Megan Greenwell tells us more about being attacked by a bat that seemed to be dead but was really alive like crazy.

Megan! So what happened here?

I live in Hartford, Connecticut, in a huge house built in 1920 and since subdivided into three apartments. It’s easily the most beautiful, charming apartment I’ve ever occupied, but there are occasional reminders that the place is old. Such as: I have to prop up one leg of every single thing I own, because the floors are quite slanted. Also: my heating bills are out of control, and last winter my furnace broke on a day when the high temperature was twenty degrees.
The latest reminder came when I returned home one night after taking a walk around our neighborhood with my friend and his dog. I began walking up the back stairs to my second-floor apartment, then stopped when I noticed a bat lying peacefully on the third step. Until this moment in my life, I had never seen a bat, but I didn’t have too much trouble identifying it: black, surprisingly furry, and pretty disgusting/terrifying/generally horrifying-looking even when ostensibly dead.
A dead bat on my stairs seemed like a problem, but not the kind of problem that I needed to deal with right then. So I decided to step over his creepy lifeless body (yes, I assume all horrifying creatures are men, because misandry), go up to my apartment, and either a) figure out a bat disposal system, or b) assume that my neighbors would leave the house earlier than I did the next morning and thus feel compelled to deal with it. (Let’s be honest: I was always going to choose b.)
As I began to step over the bat, I realized that he was not, in fact, dead. READ MORE


Incongruity Noted

What happens if you strip away most of the connective tissue in this New York Times article about sexual assault in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn?

1. By day, the handsome block of Irving Place that runs between Gates and Putnam Avenues in Brooklyn projects a vibrant wholesomeness. Women push strollers past the red-brick Mount Zion Tabernacle Church; young couples tote Trader Joe’s bags past a photo gallery; and watchful neighbors walk dogs in front of Public School 56.

2. It might seem incongruous, then, that this area would be the setting of two violent crimes: A 31-year-old woman told the police that she had been sexually assaulted twice on Aug. 31, the attacks coming one hour and a block apart in the near-dawn of Sunday morning.

3. Many residents of this section of Clinton Hill said the assaults had occurred amid a broader pattern of crime that taints these blocks on the weekends.

“You come out late at night, early in the morning, you see three, four prostitutes,” said Benny Allen, 30, a youth sports coach who grew up and still lives in the area. “Two years ago, I saw a man and a woman going at it right there on that sidewalk. I had to run them off.”

4. Standing in the doorways of multifamily buildings valued at $1 million to $3 million, residents told of their encounters with prostitutes and their clients.

We can keep going:

1. wholesomeness, strollers, Trader Joe’s

2. incongruous, sexually assaulted

3. broader pattern of crime, prostitutes, "run them off."

4. $3 million, residents

The GENTRIFICATION STORY lens is so narrow and distorting that a report about sexual assault in a changing neighborhood becomes a story about a "broader pattern" of crime; just broad enough to include and implicate both the people perpetrating sexual assault and their victims. But no broader!



The Best Time I Thought I Was Going To Die In The Italian Woods

romanhol-final-amendedbilling-emailable“You don’t have to speak Italian, it’s completely fine. Non ti preoccupare.”

The fact that my boss couldn’t get through the entire reassurance in English should have been a tip off. But it wasn’t. I accepted the job, an offer almost too good to be true: myself and my first-ever Serious Boyfriend would be working in Italy for a now-defunct government program that sent Italian government officials’ children away from them for a few weeks every summer.

A regular summer camp in most of its programming, we would teach English for three hours total each day. In return, we would be housed, fed, paid, and free to roam the Italian national park where the camp was located. “If you’re working, try to keep it professional, you know. No more than three glasses of wine with lunch,” my future boss—a British man named Peter who sounded like he was kind and handsome—had said on the phone. It was really and truly too much. READ MORE


"Marketers talk about 'paid media' (advertising they have to buy), 'earned media' (from press coverage to word-of-mouth buzz) and a growing category called “owned media” (their websites, blogs and social media feeds). The attraction of 'owned media', by definition, is that brands neither have to pay a media outlet for it nor earn it by convincing a reporter that the story is worth covering."


New York City, September 18, 2014

weather review sky 091814★★★★ Denim and sunglasses everywhere. Cartons and backpacks and other baggage were lined up in the morning sun against the side wall of the Apple Store. It was abundantly bright, bright enough for some eyestrain, and fully qualified as warm. In the middle of the afternoon, a gray-infused mass of cloud wandered into the scene, cooling things for a while. Then it wandered off somewhere, and left Washington Square Park in strong sun again, for the drummers and the shirtless. A pigeon fluffed its feathers and contemplated a flock of fabric pigeon-sculptures feeding on invisible food. By evening, the Apple Store line was populated and stretched around the block. The sun went down in a cloudless west, without theatrics. READ MORE


A Poem by Dorothea Lasky

The Static Nature of It All

I wake up in a house full of trash
And eat some cheese before I go out in the heat
Everything just doesn’t move
When you can’t make it to
Another day, another let me think about this
But you don't call you don’t write you don’t care
You don’t want to see me
I want to see you so bad
But what is the trees that give shade
Even in my own voice I am calming
But what are the glowing yellow bunnies I kick around
You know what is going on
Still you stand there stand there
Even though I am the one from the other world
Who is in love with you
It’s hard for me even to defend you
To the legions of seers, crazy birds and bugs
That I call my “friends”
Even as they try to mix the potions for me
They can’t help but ask me why why
Why this one
And it’s hard for me to say anything
When you just sit there every day, so still and boring
Just the static nature of it
And I go looking looking for you in the streets
And I never find you
I never find you at all



I first heard the words "My friends are gone and my hair is grey/I ache in the places where I used to play" when I was sixteen and, at that age, I assumed it was some sort of sorrowful commentary on the failings of the flesh. Now that I am older and all of those things are happening to me I realize that it is a rueful acknowledgment of how even the spaces which memory marks as the scenes of your happiest occasions are freighted with accumulations of sadness and regret. But also the thing about the body breaking down, because what doesn't hurt at this point, right? Anyway, Leonard Norman Cohen, who wrote that song and so many others that have meant so much to me in my own moments of sadness and regret, turns 80 on Sunday. He has a new album out next week that people are saying terrific things about and you should for sure get it, but if you are unfamiliar with his work I have recently been re-immersing myself in Ten New Songs and I can strongly recommend it as the piece that puts him at the pinnacle of his ability to remind those of us prone to darkness that we are not the first ones to feel that way and since nothing's going to make much of a difference anyway you might as well try to take your joys where you can, even in the places where the pain is the most pronounced.


How to Freeze Summer and Use It to Make Things Taste Fresh All Winter

pestoooo“Pesto is the quiche of the eighties.” Haha, that’s a line from a movie I just saw for the first time. The pesto of this decade is…other kinds of pesto.

Pesto originally comes from Genoa, in northern Italy, where the specific ingredients and preparation were codified sometime in the sixteenth century. That kind of pesto—made with basil leaves, garlic cloves, pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino sardo, along with a fair amount of olive oil—is still by far the most popular, though its proper name now, in a world of many types of pesto, would be pesto alla genovese.

Most Italian dishes have, like, four ingredients max, but if one of them is even the tiniest bit different from the way Caesar liked his, it is no longer correct. For example, the Pecorino sardo in pesto alla genovese is not the same as Pecorino Romano, and only a fool would use Romano in place of sardo *shakes fingers as if trying to fling drops of water onto whoever is in front of me*. Anyway, pesto is made in a mortar and pestle, traditionally. (“Pesto” comes from the same root as pestle, as does the word “paste.”) The Italian mortar and pestle, like the French, is typically marble, and the ingredients are crushed in a circular grinding pattern, unlike, say, the “pok pok” smashing method of Thailand.

Now that you’re up to date on the true history of authentic pesto, let’s cheerfully cast that all aside. Pesto, to my modern, non-Italian mind, means nothing more than a paste of herbs and oil, sometimes with other things added, and I always have at least three or four kinds in my freezer; I rarely cook anything without some form of it. Right now, as the summer turns to fall, we are in the dying throes of herb season. Herbs are summer to me, and their aromatic compounds are most potent when they are fresh—not grown in a greenhouse in Argentina, not after a few days of wilting in your fridge. Raw leaves do not normally freeze well (they become soggy and gross when defrosted). But, when mashed into a pesto, they freeze SPECTACULARLY. So now is the time to get out the food processor (or mortar and pestle if you want, but I certainly don’t) and make enormous batches of several kinds of pesto, which you can use to add a hit of summer freshness to food all through the shitty awful nigh-endless winter we’re sure to have, again. READ MORE


What Does Music Look Like?

This story is brought to you by UE BOOM.

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While we each can express ourselves individually through music, what happens if music is expressed socially? With a troupe of dancers, a few buckets of paint and UE BOOM, this video explores how individual, unique styles can collectively contribute to a sensational experience.

Watch this video to see the colorful results and head over to makemusicsocial.com to check out fun ways to #MakeMusicSocial with UE BOOM.


This Week in Lines

5BBFAADF-FC89-4F97-8665-8D01221EB40B5:26 PM Thursday, September 18th — iPhone 6 launch
Location: Greene and Prince
Length: An entire block
Weather: 75 and sunny
Crowd: Two hundred or so professional line-sitters, with a few fanboys scattered throughout
Mood: Undercharged
Wait time: One. More. Day.
Lingering question: Does the apple fall far from th… oh, fuck it. READ MORE


A Man Walks into a Bar

A man walks into a bar. He takes a seat at the bar, nods to the bartender, orders a Corona. The man is alone. He is the joke.

A man walks into a bar. His girlfriend is at home, alone, watching a Parks and Recreation rerun. She would love to have a drink, relax with a beer at the bar, but the man seems to have forgotten to invite her. Just like he forgot that they made plans to go to IKEA last week. READ MORE


Independence Day

YESCAR#On Wednesday night, the haar descended over Edinburgh, moving east from the sea until it covered the whole city in a filmy fog, blurring the street lights and rendering anything more than a metre ahead nearly invisible. I left my glasses in the pub after my boyfriend's birthday drinks, and had to run across The Meadows to retrieve them at one in the morning. It was Referendum Eve, the chilliest day yet this September.

The benches where, earlier in the day, YES campaigners had given me a bumper sticker— "But I don't have a car!" "Take one anyway!"—were now filled with men shouting about communism, trying to drown one another out. Even the trees and bins wore blue YES stickers, the brightness of which cut through the mist.

Earlier that day, I had interviewed Lindsay Jarrett, a woman who scaled the eighty-metre cliffs below Edinburgh Castle to put a foil YES poster in place, despite needing a double lung transplant. Having cloistered myself away for a whole day to work on the interview, she had become huge to me, a symbol of the passion of the YES campaign. I'm English, but apart from brief spells in France and London, I have lived in Scotland for the past ten years.

To cross either box seemed cruel to my friends and people I had interviewed on both sides; I was so torn about what to vote that I almost didn't. READ MORE


How to Be an Ex-President

expresSeptember, 2014:

At the Smorgasburg food fair in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Mikheil Saakashvili motored in fluorescent green sneakers among bearded men with tattoos and women in revealing overalls. They lined up for Cheese Pops, Dun-Well Doughnuts and other local delicacies. He ordered a coconut. … Mr. Saakashvili is in self-imposed exile on North Seventh Street — plotting a triumphant return, even as his steep fall from grace serves as a cautionary tale to the many American government officials who had hoped he would be a model exporter of democracy to former Soviet republics.

Since leaving office last November, this George W. Bush favorite — whose confrontation with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia led to a disastrous war in 2008 — has commandeered his uncle’s apartment in a tower on the Williamsburg waterfront, where he luxuriates in the neighborhood’s time-honored tradition of mysteriously sourced wealth. When not lingering in cafes, riding his bike across the bridge or spending stag evenings with friends on the Wythe Hotel rooftop, Mr. Saakashvili seizes on the Ukrainian conflict and his experience with Mr. Putin’s wrath as a lifeline back to political relevance.



"I Stopped Carrying a Wallet When I Became Homeless"

george wallet seinfeldMaybe I should start carrying a wallet again. Maybe a nice, grown-up wallet would act as a talisman, attracting wealth and prosperity. The pink vinyl change purse I got at Target seems to only attract change. It’s not big enough to hold more than several bills and cards. Maybe a nice, leather upwardly mobile billfold would change my luck.

Since I was old enough to carry my own lunch money to school, I have had a wallet. Usually, I carried them until they fell apart, transferring them daily into whatever handbag matched that day’s outfit. Having a wallet felt like being a grown-up.

My father carried a wallet. Having lived through the Great Depression, he didn’t have full faith in banks, so at times his billfold was thick with over $1,000 in cash. My mother didn’t have a wallet. She placed her meager money in a delicate hankie, folded up into a tiny square and pinned inside her bra. Loose change went into one of those plastic oval holders that opened like a mouth when both ends were pinched. Momma didn’t work, but Daddy would always give her a few dollars for incidentals, nothing more. Early on, I learned that he who had the thick wallet had the power.

And when I got old enough to wear a bra, I never felt secure with a hankie and a safety pin.

When I became an adult, with a real job and responsibilities, I got a nice, fancy wallet to match. I remember the pride I felt when I placed by very first credit card in my wallet. As the years passed, I filled all of the slots in my wallet with every credit card known to man, while the amount of paper money dwindled. Even though all of those accounts are closed now, either by choice or by default, I still keep some of those cards, like photos of old friends that I used to know but have lost contact with over the years.

I stopped carrying a wallet in December 2011, when I became homeless. READ MORE


"The channel's new name is intended to suggest something that pops, or stands out from the rest. 'It’s something that rises above the noise … a one-of-a-kind maverick,' Schwartz told The Times. 'We’re going for a new audience that we are calling ‘the modern grown-up’ … people in their mid-to-late 30s that have pushed off emotional maturity.'" TV Guide, the channel that was always there, will become Pop, a channel that is still there.