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New York City, May 28, 2015

weather review sky 052815★★★★ The middle distance was surprisingly murky. Clouds kept the heat off the soggy-aired morning for a while. Then things brightened and warmed up into a pleasantly blinding, pleasantly crushing heat. The stillness was good to be out in, inert on a padded roof chair, the buildings blue-faded versions of themselves. The scattered blue was so intense that the shadows on red chairs were purple. The mobile phone was almost too dim to read and almost too hot to hold, and both facts seemed worth attending to. Another commute under menacing skies led to a view of a peaceable blue-and-white-streaked west and to a wavering shadow on the kitchen wall where full sun passed through the heat of a burner. The blue and white streaks turned blue and pink, sending a pink glow into the apartment and pinkening the scenery outside.

The Mind of a Teen Bot

olivia_1

Negroni Weak

13979819930_61a6c40bfa_zOn Monday, it will once again be Negroni Week. This is not to be confused with Negroni Season, which is a state of mind, not a time of year. Hashtag Negroni Week is a recent invention of Imbibe magazine that has since been wholly co-opted by advertising executives and branding consultants employed by Campari America, a subsidiary of the Campari Group, a large corporation that sells, among other things, Wild Turkey whiskey, SKYY Vodka, and its namesake aperitif. Campari is a pink, bitter liqueur, and the signature ingredient in the Negroni, a cocktail that has, in recent years, been adopted by preening gadflys who would like to portray themselves as sophisticated drinkers with a highly discerning palate that allows them to enjoy beverages that are “bitter forward”:

The subtext of the discussion at this mythical world’s-most-awful bar, which might actually exist on the Internet, is that anyone who enjoy negronis has an incredibly distinguished palate which allows them to fully enjoy negronis in a way that most people can’t appreciate. One person told the Times that the negroni is “a sophisticated cocktail, too, for an audience that appreciates the cocktail and the story behind it.” Bon Appetit described the negroni at one point as “a secret handshake, a sign to bartenders that you knew what you liked, and how to order it.” Serious Eats calls it “a serious drink for serious drinkers.” GQ says, “A Negroni, like black coffee or Texas, is an acquired taste.”

Never mind that there are now frozen Negronis.

The most terrible thing about Negroni Week is not that it will encourage these people to come out en masse to drink Negronis and tell you about how they’re drinking Negronis and that you should also drink Negronis, but that Negroni Week, which began as a fairly off-the-cuff charity drive, is now a full-blown marketing event heavily dressed in a booze-soaked garb of philanthropy when it is engineered to do little more than move bottles of Campari.

“Thirty years ago this month, Dire Straits released their fifth album, Brothers in Arms. En route to becoming one of the best-selling albums of all time, it revolutionised the music industry. For the first time, an album sold more on compact disc than on vinyl and passed the 1m mark. Three years after the first silver discs had appeared in record shops, Brothers in Arms was the symbolic milestone that marked the true beginning of the CD era.”
—If you are under 30 I bet the only word in this paragraph that makes any sense to you is “vinyl.”#

You know how, when you are trying to convey amazement at the sheer level of idiocy someone displays on a regular basis, you express wonder at his ability to even dress himself? Well now they’ve made it easier for you.#

Bryan Ferry and Todd Terje, "Johnny and Mary"


The sun is shining. Summer is here. We are now at a far enough remove from the endless savagery of winter that you may have forgotten altogether just how truly terrible life can be. It is quite probable that, as you wander about town in comfortable clothing, appreciatively observing all the joys that warm weather summons forth, your mind has tricked you into thinking that from now on things will be okay, that the future is as bright as the skies above, that everything somehow won’t end in failure and heartbreak and doom and recrimination and regret. In which case you should not play the video that Bryan Ferry and Todd Terje have released for their cover of Robert Palmer’s “Johnny and Mary,” which came out last year. It is a song designed to break your heart, if you have a heart which has still yet to break. And on a day like today your heart is probably completely intact. So don’t listen. Let yourself believe that things will wind up okay for you. They won’t, but when the sun is shining it’s awfully easy to pretend that happiness will last, or that you deserve it to. Those of you who have a more realistic appreciation of how life inevitably turns out, however, are encourage to enjoy the elegant sorrow.

“‘This is prime bighorn sheep territory,’ he says, looking beyond the plastic coyote on his dashboard toward the wide-open vistas. ‘There are no signs of people except for us.’ He points out the dust devils spinning off in the distance. This is his life now.#

Your Contribution to the California Drought and the End Times

cadoYou’re an ethical consumer, a responsible citizen of the earth. You’ve been known to reduce, reuse, recycle, upcycle, source locally, compost, trade fairly, and offset as needed. You’ve got a Greenpeace sticker on your Sierra Club sticker on the reclaimed cargo bike you use to transport dead nine-volts and used printer cartridges to your local center for reuse. You’re not perfect, but you do your best by committing twenty-three hours of each day to feeling guilty about the environment.

But hey John Muir 2.0, have you ever really stopped to consider your personal contributions to the destruction of our shared global ecosystem?

Let’s start with breakfast. Every eco-warrior needs a good cup of coffee to energize his daily commitment to the cause. On average, the beans for a single cup of coffee require about thirty-four gallons of water to produce1, and throw off massive carbon emissions as they travel over eleven hundred miles from tropical climates to your all-American LEED-certified bungalow. Add to that coffee a splash of almond milk and you’re contributing to a three-and-a-half billion cubic meter water footprint for almond production2, plus the carbon emissions from probably millions of servers running day and night to host and sustain the almond facts sensationalism industry itself. Grill up your daily free-range two-egg omelet and that’s a small kitchen’s worth of land use3, plus nearly half a kilogram of CO2 emissions4, not to mention fossil fuel for the refrigerated eighteen-wheeler that will carry the eggs from the farm to your fridge. Of course you don’t eat meat, but if you did, it’d be worth knowing that bacon farms in North Carolina alone produce fifteen-and-a-half million tons of groundwater-polluting5, greenhouse-gassy pig shit in a single year. That’s just one state, but it’s nothing compared to your daily slices of toast, which will waste twenty-three hundred gallons of water6 by this time next year, or enough water to sustain a human life for twelve years. In 2015, 2.7 billion people on earth will experience water scarcity7, so maybe consider that, Ansel Sadams, next time you’re struggling to decide between whole wheat or rye.

Here's Which Way Your Favorite Gawker Editor Is Voting in the Secret Union Ballot!

Meet one man who just dgafThis coming Wednesday, June 3rd, all Gawker Media employees—except foreigners, freelancers, two top manager-editors with whom the buck is said to stop, and of course the entire business side, because what would any of them know about how to conduct business or negotiate—will secretly vote on whether to join the WGA East and become a union shop. Because Gawker Media majority owner Nick Denton doesn’t oppose the union at all—it appeals to his trouble-making streak, and he thinks it’ll have interesting ripple effects towards places like Vice—the Gawker office hops directly from “hey let’s have a union” to a majority-rule vote in under six weeks. Pretty wild stuff! It’s the fastest thing anyone has ever done.

Fortunately, since none of us like suspense, Max Read, who is the top editor at Gawker, but who qualifies for this union as an equivalent to a TV-style “showrunner,” if you follow that logic, and I sort of do and sort of don’t, sent around a memo to encourage everyone to post on Gawker how they were planning on secretly voting. He wrote:

I’m hoping the post will be, in the true spirit of Kinja®, a open forum for discussion, not a rolling list of “yes” and “no,” and I expect staffers from all sites and in all roles to contribute no matter how they feel or how they’re planning to vote.

(At the same time, no one is required or ordered to share–this is, after all, a secret ballot, and you don’t need to justify your reasons to anyone.)

At the same time indeed! Unfortunately, Kinja, Gawker’s premiere commenting platform, is impossible to use, so you won’t have the time or energy to sift through 800 randomly threaded comments to find out what anyone said.

I, of course, have all the time in the world, so what follows is a summary of employee contributions to date.

Faith No More, "Superhero"

It was a little strange to discover that in this, the two thousand and fifteenth year of the Common Era, when Faith No More cruised through Webster Hall a couple of weeks ago to promote its new album, Sol Invictus, not only had tickets sold out almost immediately, but they were going for nearly two hundred dollars on the secondary market. The lead single from its first album in seventeen years, “Superhero,” like the rest of Sol Invictus—and apparently Mike Patton’s face, judging by the most recent round of press photos—has a similar ability to distort time: Most of it sounds neither old or new, like it could have come out anytime between 1998’s Album of the Year and today. It might even still sound that way in five years.