We Are Not Your Friends

Why no one wanted to see Zac Efron’s dark EDM movie

Stripped

kjashkgj

The car I’m borrowing during my visit home comes complete with tape deck and telescoping radio antennae that I broke by listening to NPR while going through the car wash. I listen to NPR constantly—not so much because of intellectual curiosity these days, but for the soothing distraction of other voices. I avoid my music because almost all of it is sad—Sharon Van Etten, Perfume Genius, Cat Power, PJ Harvey sad. Only the what-I-refer-to-as “bad bitch anthems” have the ability to momentarily snap me out of my forlornness, and I’ve overplayed Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money,” so that it no longer serves its purpose.

Driving past the STI clinic where I was tested before having bareback sex with my first love makes my sinuses throb. I am pre-cry, which is similar to pre-vomit in its emotional and physical discomfort, and in the semi-relief that comes post-purge: relieved it’s over; anxious it might happen again. He was my first real relationship: first love, first person I would do almost anything for, first one over a month long. I was his first love too, though I’m not sure what that means to him.

It should be noted that I initiated the breakup. I was being forced out of my ridiculously cheap home, and it didn’t make sense to stay in Sonoma County, engaged in the adjunct teaching struggle where I had no intentions of laying down roots. When I informed Shayne of my decision to relocate, his reaction was downright rosy: “I think it’s a good idea for you”; “I always thought you belonged in L.A. (backhanded compliment?)”; “I support you in whatever you do”; “I love you.” His cliche, preconceived notion of LA prevented him from even considering coming along.

The next morning at breakfast, he remained unaffected, as always. I marveled at his beauty and attempted to revel in what was left of our coupledom that I had often been flip about. Being valued romantically had enabled me to move through my days with the air of a beloved actress, with a kind of arrogance I quite enjoyed. Over an omelet, the tears began—I am not a regular crier (well, at that point I was not a regular crier)—and I hid my face behind a menu. “Aw, babe. It makes me so sad to see you cry,” he said.

A few days passed and I was noticing that Shayne seemed completely unmoved by the fact that this was ending. “I don’t see the point in wasting time dwelling in bad feelings. Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” he said, all but quoting Dr. Seuss.

Telekinesis, "Sleep In"

A great song to play while you pay your rent. Take it from me!

Frozen Dinners Are Just Molecular Gastronomy for the Common Man

5905155607_db1fe93bfc_z

“There’s been a lot of baggage in this industry with consumers thinking we use a lot of preservatives,” said Rob McCutcheon, president of ConAgra’s frozen business. “But we usually don’t need to add preservatives to our frozen products, because freezing is like nature’s pause button.”

Products like Luvo’s are helping reinvigorate a category that still generates a handsome piece of grocery store sales. Frozen foods accounted for more than 6 percent of $810.8 billion in sales in the 52 weeks that ended June 27, according to Nielsen — or more than four times the revenue generated by the deli department.

“When you think about millennials who are just learning how to cook, building that skill set, frozen foods are perfect for them,” said Bob Nolan, senior vice president for insights and analytics at ConAgra.

The factory-to-table food movement continues to sweep the nation.



Photo by Daniel Oines

Ice Broken

New York City, August 30, 2015

weather review sky 083015★★★ The act of applying sunscreen brought on the consciousness of having to do it again tomorrow, the future obligation draped over the present one. The balance bike went wobbling past or disconcertingly tangent to a drying spray of vomit chunks on a grate, a fresh trickle of dog urine, baked patches of once-runny dogshit raked with finger marks. The hot dog place was uncrowded. The afternoon grew less and less inviting-looking as the blue leached from the sky, but with that the sun’s heat faded too, till there was nothing wrong with being out in it.

The Rise of Armchair Marketing

Here is something worth staring in the face:

Burger King sent McDonald’s an open letter proposing that the two fast food chains team up to create a hybrid “McWhopper” burger to celebrate Peace Day on September 21st. Burger King suggested that the “ceasefire” would take place at a single pop-up shop halfway between the corporations’ headquarters, with all proceeds going to the Peace One Day charity.

Burger King’s marketing campaign included a video, some social media posts, a special website and full-page ads in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune. In response, McDonald’s posted this on Facebook:

The campaign took the work of “seven agencies,” including David, which helped Burger King create its “Gay Pride Whopper” campaign. (Someone who worked on that project described the process to me, shortly after the ads ran and between drinks at a party so maybe not precisely, as a difficult fight against extensive market research suggesting many of Burger King’s customers would be unhappy with the concept. A large contingent within the company agreed, but were eventually overruled by the company’s fairly new and unusually young CEO, who insisted he saw a major advertising opportunity. Anyway!)

The campaign seems to have been successful in at least one way. It garnered lots of media coverage, most of which adhered to the spirit of the campaign—jokey, but not too jokey, because there’s a charity involved—and which inherited its legitimizing verbs. “McDonald’s politely declines Burger King’s offer of world peace” is the title of the story quoted at the beginning of this post.

We Are Not Your Friends

FRIENDS

We Are Your Friends, the Zac Efron EDM movie, had one of the worst wide-release opening weekends in history. Bringing in only 1.8 million dollars, it made only four-and-a-half times what Calvin Harris will reportedly make per night at Hakkasan in Las Vegas. It made four hundred thousand dollars less in its debut moment than All Dogs Go To Heaven 2.

This excessive tanking is theoretically unexpected: Efron is bankable (you saw Neighbors, right?); the procedural arts-striver movie (Center Stage, Pitch Perfect, etc.) is an evergreen format; and EDM as an industry is worth a global 6.9 billion dollars a year. But in practice, it makes perfect sense. We Are Your Friends is only good inasmuch as it’s willing to be uncomfortable and embarrassing and existentially complicated, three things that go exactly counter to what a teen who would pay to hear EDM music—which is to say this movie’s target demographic—wants.

Speedy Ortiz, "Hanging Around"

A very fine cover of a very fine song to kick off the last week of the year before things abruptly start mattering again!

New York City, August 27, 2015

★★★★★ A general thrum of the city came in on the fresh air. There was a gag back in college, a premise completely forgotten till now, that the weather and guitar pop could share adjectives: thrumming. Down on Amsterdam, a parking-enforcement cop in short sleeves eyed an insulation-company van. Summer clothes were a matter of welcoming the breeze, not escaping the heat. “Oh, my gosh,” the eight-year-old said, “that cloud is so bright white.” An unnecessary downblast from an air conditioner hit the top of the steps where people were following the cookie smell, one stair at a time, down into the bakery. In the afternoon, out the window, clouds darkened and began to close together. Then, having issued the warning against taking the day for granted, they relented and separated again. The three-year-old argued that it was chilly enough for his Batman costume to be practical for the playground. Some note of solvent on the breeze brought back model paints in Philadelphia summers three and a half decades before. “Super Bad” played out the window of something in traffic, most likely a clean white Land Rover. Home plate was open for wiffle ball; the concrete drinking fountain was being used to fill water balloons. Once the batting was over, Batman shed the costume for the Superman t-shirt underneath. Outside the playground again, a lively wind came along 70th Street and the three-year-old went running off into it.

Travis Kalanick on The Uber Endgame

IMG_0304 Earlier this week, the Awl posited how Uber might metastasize into mass transit and potentially privatize public transit along the way, at least in some cities. That piece found its way into Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s Facebook Newsfeed, where he commented on the post of the person who shared it; a screencap of his comments was shared with us. We’re presenting it here because even though his comments were made in a limbo between public and private—someone’s Facebook wall—which makes us feel not a little weird to share it, Kalanick is possibly the single most important person in the world with respect to the future of transit, so we think people should be aware of his thinking on the matter:

IMG_0304Points one and two speak for themselves—we agree! although it seems like many people who need public transit but are ill-served by it also probably can’t quite afford Uber yet, either?—but it’s worth looking more closely point three (which our piece didn’t really discuss, but anyway). Kalanick’s point is that Uber pays, on average, four times the taxes that a yellow cab does on a per trip basis. This is a very specific word choice! (The implication though, I believe, is that Uber is in fact better at funding public transit than yellow cabs.) That assertion, which the Uber NYC Twitter account also made a few days ago, is based on two things: a fifty-cent surcharge on every yellow cab ride, and the approximate eight percent sales tax on every Uber trip, which, according to Uber, averages out to two dollars per ride.