Under Pressure

New York's last seltzer man goes all in.
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New York City, January 29, 2015

weather review sky 012915★★ A line of brown haze in the northwestern distance spread up onto an ever-graying blue sky. The snow was still white, in general, but smudged with gray or pockmarked with yellow; the cold was damp and seeping. The children getting out of school lobbed a desultory snowball or four back and forth across the sidewalk. Snow-weighted bamboo hung low over the garden wall of the fancy apartment building, making it necessary to duck under or steer around. Trash bags were piled on top of the snow on top of the older piles of trash bags. A broken saucer sled lay beside them. It was not so cold that the garbage didn’t reek. 

A man who writes on the internet for a living receives an email message from a colleague of his with the words “the irony” in the subject header field. He clicks it open and it says,

“…of writing something you think is going to piss people off and then almost no one reads it.”

“that happens a lot,” he replies.

In a few moments another email comes from the same colleague. “I need to institute a plan of lowered expectations.”

“did i tell you the story,” he writes, “of when i went with my mom to her mother’s funeral and we missed a plane so were like an hour-and-a-half late for the funeral and then the speech my mom gave at the funeral about expectations?”

He sends.

He receives: “No.” #

David Cross on Kickstarter, Millennials, and His Directorial Debut 'Hits'

david_cross_hits2015 is off to a great start for David Cross. Not long after launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund distribution costs for his new film Hits, the project met its $100,000 goal with eight days to spare, ensuring that the film will premiere in at least 35 markets across the US next month. Written and directed by Cross, Hits debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last year and marks a big push for Cross not just into filmmaking but finding new ways to get low-budget indie films into actual theaters in small towns across the country, rather than just a VOD and limited theatrical release. While Hits has plenty of funny moments and a fantastic cast (Matt Walsh, Meredith Hagner, James Adomian, David Koechner, Amy Sedaris, Michael Cera, Derek Waters, and Wyatt Cenac, to name a few), at its heart it’s a darkly caustic journey into the pathetic depths of viral videos, internet fame, and the insatiable vacuum of lowest-common-denominator post-reality culture. I recently spoke with Cross about making Hits, why he turned to Kickstarter, and when we can expect the next big Mr. Show reunion update.

“Through adorable animated characters, kids can watch videos that are appropriate for a young audience. Swiping right or left shows a new Vine, and you can tap the screen to hear quirky sounds.#

Career Dilemmas Present in 'The Sims 4'

Sim working lateDifferent types of Sims players have different types of goals: The Architect wants to build beautiful homes. The Murderer likes to create Sims only to watch them die slow, painful deaths by trapping them inside their homes and watching them starve. Then there is the type that I fall under: the Careerist whose goal is to get to the top of whatever career their Sim is in.

I’ve been this way ever since I played the first generation of The Sims. I usually play as a woman, which makes things a little more complicated—just like in my real life. Things in the new Sims 4 are simpler and more progressive, but even in a simulation game the following finance and career dilemmas still pop up:

Struggling for a work-life balance
In previous generations of the game, you might have to work to increase your skill set, and maybe schmooze with some people outside of work to get a promotion. Now every position has a daily task to do once you get home. Were you looking forward to your Sim hanging out after work? Well if you want a promotion anytime soon then that’s too bad; get on that computer and start filing reports for several hours until it says you’ve completed them!

Take a long look at what may be the last generation of Manhattan-raised twentysomethings for whom Brooklyn will seem like a place that is far, far away—so far that they needed to convince all of their friends to move into the same terrible building with them:

All three couples were planning to move out of their Manhattan apartments by summer, and although the idea of Brooklyn was appealing — they could potentially get more space for the money — it was also unnerving. None of them had lived in Brooklyn before. Each worried that if the others did not follow, he or she could end up living in an unfamiliar borough without friends nearby.

“One of the issues that people my age have about moving to Brooklyn is that you think that the second you live there, you are moving to a foreign country and will never see anyone again,” said Woody Wright, 27, who grew up on East 58th Street and, at the time of the Hog Pit gathering, was planning to move in with his girlfriend, Britaania Poppie, who is 26 and works in finance.

Ms. Abrams’s enthusiasm proved infectious. By August, all three couples had moved into one-bedroom apartments at 388 Bridge, paying around $3,200 a month in rent for apartments on the 23rd, 24th and 25th floors.#

One day we might use the same faintly eulogizing tone to talk about Old Manhattan, a glorious island city that seemed to float in the clouds before the ocean reclaimed most of it, leaving just a handful of soaring skyscrapers which were abandoned and then slowly gentrified by a new wave of young people, pushed out over the water by the soaring rents in waterfront neighborhoods like Prospect Heights and Clinton Hill.#

Courtney Barnett, "Pedestrian At Best"


We’ve been big fans of Courtney Barnett since “the paramedic thinks I’m clever ’cause I play guitar/I think she’s clever ’cause she stops people dying,” and we are pleased to report that we have no need to change our status in that regard. Although you should probably steer clear of this one if you are disturbed by clowns.

All the Exposed Men's Ankles in the February "GQ," in Order

New York City, January 28, 2015

weather review sky 012815★★★ A few elongated clouds arrayed themselves on the sharp morning blue. The light on the slushy crosswalks was blinding; the puddles were a sinister clayey gray-brown. Mostly, though, the snow was enduring, still presentably white. The wet floor of the subway made it too risky to rush and jump into the open car at the warning tone, but the down parka made it relatively easy to take the blow of the slamming doors and squirm through. The sidewalks were everything from open pavement to solid packed snow, on opposite sides or even different lengths of a single block. An oncoming stroller bore down down along a channel just wide enough for its wheels. The paint of the window frames diffused generous portions of daylight into the office. Walking at dusk, small muscles in the lower legs tensed and ached a bit from making constant minor corrections on the slippery ground. The crisp-cut half moon, barely turning gibbous, was startling.

Fred Armisen on the Evolution of 'Portlandia,' 'SNL,' and American Accents

fred_armisen_spikePortlandia’s fifth season premiered on IFC earlier this month, and for longtime fans of the show, the newest crop of episodes have been the perfect culmination of four years’ worth of exploring the many characters, small businesses, and human idiosyncracies in the magical world of Portland. But Portlandia isn’t the only thing that’s evolved and changed over the past few years—co-creator and star Fred Armisen has moved from his SNL roots to be the new Late Night band leader and has a brand new IFC show set to debut later this year, so it looks like 2015 will be another busy year for one of TV’s favorite punk rock/comedian hybrids. I recently spoke with Armisen about how he approached the new season of Portlandia, NBC’s upcoming SNL 40th anniversary special, and his hopes to one day master every American accent since 1930.

The last time we interviewed you was almost a year ago, right after you started at Late Night. How’s your year been?