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A Comprehensive Collection of Comedians Tweeting About Their Flights

airplaneWhether we’re missing a flight, sitting next to an annoying passenger, or enduring bad customer service, flying is full of aggravations we’re usually powerless to avoid. Comedians, with their hectic schedules and tour dates, have it worse than most, and thanks to Twitter we know all about it. You’ve probably seen at least a few of your favorite comedians express their travel-related stress and frustrations 140 characters at a time — sometimes they get a good joke out of it, but other times it’s just pure anger, annoyance, and good old-fashioned whining. Really, it all comes down to this:

Nothing puts off one’s judgment like anger, so oftentimes comedians end up posting airline tweets without the kind of mental editing or restraint they give their usual punchlines. The result is a sometimes hilarious and sometimes shameless look at which comedians perform best under pressure — and not the kind of pressure they’re used to onstage. With that in mind, we decided to collect 350 airline-related tweets by some of our favorite writers, comedians, and filmmakers. So fasten your seat belts, turn off all electronic devices, and get ready for a lot of turbulence.

Mikal Cronin, "Turn Around"


This is my favorite track from Mikal Cronin’s great new record. Kristen Schaal in the video is just a bonus beyond which any of us could have ever expected. Enjoy.

Grill the Scallion

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For years, I grilled onions alongside burgers, hot dogs, sausages, asparagus, zucchini, and the other stalwarts of the American grill. Thick slices of onion, a dozen rings nestled within each other like a teary matryoshka, placed carefully on the grill so as to lay, with totally misguided optimism, over several bars of the grill-top grate. Of those dozen rings, perhaps one would survive, the others doomed to fall through the gaps in the grate and, infuriatingly, sit there beneath the propane burners, out of reach and covered in soot, or to land right on the charcoals, where they would slowly burn. The onion does not want to be grilled. It is not built for it. But some of its relatives are.

Some people skewer small onions, cipollini or pearl onions, and grill them. These onions are thick and dense, and without very mindful control of your heat, the outside will almost surely burn while the inside remains raw. Raw onions are gross. More recently, some people grill ramps, the small, wild, leafy onions that are among the first spring vegetables to be harvested. But ramps cost about a billion dollars an ounce. They are more expensive than cardamom and pepper during the peak days of the spice trade. They are more expensive than tulips in the Netherlands in the sixteen thirties. They are more expensive than an instant-messaging startup with five hundred million users in Poland. They are also kind of tricky to grill; any plant that has two distinct parts—in the ramp’s case, a firm, dense, white/pink stalk and a delicate green leaf—is hard to cook intact, because they have different cooking needs. Grilling ramps without ending up with either raw stalk or soggy burnt leaf is very difficult.

A better option is the humble scallion.

Blood Sacrifice

duck pressA week ago, I took a plane from Naples, Florida, to Chicago, Illinois. I spent a grand total of 24 hours in Chicago, and the only reason I was there was to eat a $350 dinner at a restaurant called Next. The highlight of the meal was the part where we were served a canard à la presse tableside. The idea is French and this: a smothered cooked duck is hacked to pieces; what remains is packed into a press, and the blood runs out of the press and is made into a sauce. The technique has been considered “the height of elegance.” Watching the blood flow, it felt kind of obscene.

Four years ago, I was living in a studio apartment in Lincoln Square, a neighborhood on Chicago’s far north side. I was sleeping on an air mattress, and my desk consisted of a top from a desk I’d never bothered to assemble straddling four milk crates, two on each side. That was in the spring. That fall, I met a guy on an online dating site. We got married nine days after our first date, and eloped in Vegas. It was all very romantic.

After that, I wasn’t living in a studio apartment, and I wasn’t sleeping on an air mattress, and I wasn’t working at a milk crate desk. Everything had changed. I was living in a townhouse in the suburbs, and I was a wife. But four days after we promised to spend the rest of our lives together, I was informed that I had early-stage breast cancer. And it wasn’t even the good kind. It was the bad kind: The tumor was large-ish, and while the cancer hadn’t spread, this type of cancer liked to creep, and everyone wanted to make sure that this wouldn’t be the thing that would kill me.

So, within six months of our marriage, I’d had a chunk of my right breast removed, I was bald from the chemotherapy, and the radiation had seared a sunburn that would linger for years across my chest. For a year I had some terrifically expensive drug pumped into my system that made my bad kind of cancer not want to come back to the terminal party that it had hoped to host in my body.

One of the tougher things about growing older is making peace with the fact that you’re never going to get around to doing most of what you put off under the delusion that you’d have plenty of time and energy for it at some indeterminate point in the future. It’s a long list of abandoned aspirations but, for me, one of the easier things to accept is that I’ll never properly appreciate art or its history, since there seems to be so much involved and also who can be bothered to learn the secret language art-types have created to make you think that drawing pictures of naked ladies or placing a piece of literal doody atop a theremin as the center of a “light-themed installation” is somehow more transformative than your bourgeois mind could ever comprehend? I mean, I get the naked lady stuff but the doody-topped theremin thing is like, come on, you’re never going to make me insecure enough to think I’m missing out on some sort of conceptual brilliance there. Does that make me a philistine? Sure, why the hell not. Thank God, then, for Julian Barnes, who helps you feel like if you don’t get art at least you’ve got someone smart who’ll tell you what you’re missing.#

Shamir, "Darker"

A perfect song with a video to match, from an artist who doesn’t usually sound much like this at all.

Leaving New York and Also Technology

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It’s hard to pinpoint the moment when New York and also technology started to feel like such a chore. Maybe it was when I urinated in a slim-fit adult diaper while waiting in line for the iPhone 4 for ninety-three hours and pronounced the experience “worth it,” or when I found myself testing out tweets on my wife during foreplay, or when a rat scurried across my face and into my mouth while I was checking Facebook and waiting for a C train that never arrived. But a few weeks ago, on a gray April day, as I ambled by the Duane Reade where my favorite dive bar McHurlihan’s once stood, while joylessly scrolling through my Twitter feed in between reading a saved Instapaper article about how to live in the moment, I realized I had to leave New York and stop using the Internet for a while.

When I moved to Williamsburg in 2002, scraping by in the center of the universe seemed like a grand adventure. I’d drink until dawn at places like The Station, Whirlybird, and JJ’s Good Time Emporium on the Lower East Side (now closed); I’d do lines off the grimy concrete of McCarren Park Pool (now clean); and then take the L to Bushwick and try not to get mugged on my way to a warehouse party (now safe). Instead of staring at my phone compulsively, I’d smoke a cigarette. Inside. I didn’t yet know what a “meme” was. I became passing acquaintances with the guys from TV on the Radio, but I didn’t feel the irrepressible need to share such information with everyone, because social networking hadn’t yet transformed us all into greedy approval-seekers. When I began face-to-face conversations with “I know the guys from TV on the Radio,” people looked impressed, and that was enough for me.

The Twitter Question

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 6.00.38 PMJay Kang’s tight narrative of “the nation’s first 21st-century civil rights movement” is vital reading:

Since Aug. 9, 2014, when Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department shot and killed Michael Brown, Mckesson and a core group of other activists have built the most formidable American protest movement of the 21st century to date. Their innovation has been to marry the strengths of social media — the swift, morally blunt consensus that can be created by hashtags; the personal connection that a charismatic online persona can make with followers; the broad networks that allow for the easy distribution of documentary photos and videos — with an effort to quickly mobilize protests in each new city where a police shooting occurs.

We often think of online activism as a shallow bid for fleeting attention, but the movement that Mckesson is helping to lead has been able to sustain the country’s focus and reach millions of people. Among many black Americans, long accustomed to mistreatment or worse at the hands of the police, the past year has brought on an incalculable sense of anger and despair. For the nation as a whole, we have come to learn the names of the victims — Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Tony Robinson, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray — because the activists have linked their fates together in our minds, despite their separation by many weeks and thousands of miles.

In the process, the movement has managed to activate a sense of red alert around a chronic problem that, until now, has remained mostly invisible outside the communities that suffer from it. Statistics on the subject are notoriously poor, but evidence does not suggest that shootings of black men by police officers have been significantly on the rise. Nevertheless, police killings have become front-page news and a political flash point, entirely because of the sense of emergency that the movement has sustained.

Left unconsidered—in favor of issues like if and how the movement work should through the existing power structures of the current legal and political system—is the vexing question of whether the movement should rely so heavily on Twitter to publicly organize, engage, and spread its message. Twitter isn’t merely a profit-seeking corporation—it’s one that is, of late, in disarray, meaning that with each passing day it grows more beholden to anxious shareholders. The shift toward revenue generation has already produced some profound effects in the shape and flow of the network as it turns inward to more effectively capitalize on its existing users while it desperately attempts to acquire new ones. Beyond the loftier questions of like, what it means for the movement with respect to political economy and the media and whatever, in time, there could be practical consequences for using Twitter to sustain a social movement. If Twitter becomes no longer amenable to these kinds of voices, where can they go next?

New York City, May 3, 2015

weather review sky 050315★★★★★ Tulips lit up orange on the Broadway media. “What’s that white stuff over there?” the three-year-old asked on the subway platform, pointing to the sunbeams on the downtown express tracks. Everyone was out and chattering.  The train car had the hubbub of a restaurant; more hubbub carried across the bare sunstruck space of Union Square. Bicycles clogged the train for the ride back uptown. Breeze smoothed the long fur on the face of a terrier and sent a white-haired man’s hat rolling away at a pace for a leisurely walking pursuit. Treetops, half-leafed, were lacy in the late daylight.

A Blue Rush: Discussing "Bluets"

In 2009, poet Maggie Nelson dropped Bluets, the print equivalent of a mixtape that combines memoir, poetry, art critique, and personal essay. Bluets as a whole is a lyrical meditation on love, grief, obsession, and color, but any given stanza of it—it’s organized into numbered paragraphs—might consist solely of a detail about a nomadic tribe, or a quote from Goethe. You can read a substantial excerpt of it here.

The book continues to exert and accumulate influence as readers discover, re-discover, share, and publicly mull over their impressions of this unique investigation into a steadfastly broken heart. The advent of Nelson’s more conventionally formatted memoir The Argonauts felt like the perfect opportunity to revisit Bluets, though one never really needs an excuse. Here, Ana Cecilia Alvarez, Sara Black McCulloch, Meaghan O’Connell, and Anna Wiener talk about why Bluets remains so powerful, how certain books become incorporated into our lives, and what it means to be “dickmatized.”

Charlotte: I’m curious about the circumstances under which you each found Bluets. How did you end up reading it, and did you immediately recommend it to friends? Or did you savor it alone?

Anna: Bluets was given to me by a bookseller at McNally Jackson (“given to me”? Sold to me, by someone doing their job) sometime in 2010. I had never really read anything like it before—writing that was both academic and heartbreaking, that traded in brevity and never bordered on melodramatic, nebulous but focused, and so smart, intellectually and emotionally.

Sara: About two years ago, I was writing an essay on female desire and boy bands (stay with me), and Bluets came up while I was researching, but it was sold out everywhere and I didn’t have enough time to order it.

I met with my editor a few days later and she brought up Bluets and asked if I had read it; I told her what happened and she pulled it out of her bag. I read it on the train from Toronto to Montreal, and read it over again on the way back. I couldn’t annotate my friend’s copy, so I took notes in a journal. When I got back, I ordered my own.

I recommend it to every woman I know only to discover they’ve read it already.