A Prison for the Dead

When Millie died last year, her foster mother was in a nursing home and her pimp was in jail. Nobody came to collect her body.

New York City, November 20, 2014

★★★ Blue patches moved fast among the morning clouds. There were wilted plants in the raised bed, collapsed and stringy. The cold was less definitive, the wind strong but not freezing. The blue took over the sky, and the more clouds blew in—round puffs, then some that the three-year-old maintained looked like spaceships. The sun descended, round and red, and bars of color shone through the blinds onto the wall, as solid and saturated as something from the middle of a paint chip. Floating garbage wended its way among the balconies a third of the way up a tower. Sunset left a smooth spectrum on the sky, with the first band flipped: a bottommost layer of violet giving way to red, and thence up in order to deep indigo.

PC Music Forever

“Are you ready to experience this unlimited experience?” asks Miss 2.0, a PC Music avatar, as she stares out from a chat window, an unblinking green-lit icon declaring that she is eternally online. She is the promise of the infinite scroll and unlimited data personified: hit “x” and she does not die.

Like the very first pop song I ever owned on cassette, most of the online underground label PC Music’s “hits” are based around the idea of an unspecified yet definitely totally blissful “forever.” For the past year, the label has had London club-goers raising their collective WKDs at sweaty basement parties, and filling their social timelines with its accelerated pop sound. It feels like an allergic reaction to the gloomy head-nodding that has dominated London’s electronic music scene in the last few years, which itself provided a counterpoint to the glossy, hyperreal feeling of chart pop. It instead wields hyperreality as an ethos: online, it’s a cast of airbrush-skinned characters reciting all-you-can-download excess; at intimate and rowdy club nights, it’s a bunch of young, uber-enthusiastic DJs who entrance equally young crowds with banger after banger after banger.

A Poem by Mark Conway

in the underside

eternally midgety soul –
insertable – duct-
taped to my arteries (mon semblance
mon squeeze) little shade
who called shotgun
on our dirty ride through this too-
too flesh – better grow a home because
this one’s leaving you
(bland) immortal vegetable / left to rot
out in the sun ::
now watch me drive my spirit–mule –
old bones I beat
and hide inside – over yon hill
where I’ll scrape you off on the singing soil /
then they’ll force me down
the trail of dried-out eyes

How To Fuck A Cooking Steak

shutterstock_13982140Turn the lights down low and pour a glass of wine for the steak and a glass of wine for yourself. Candles aren’t strictly necessary but they do help set the mood. Ask the steak about its day, letting it talk for as long as it likes, only stopping the flow of the steak’s conversation when it seems like the steak wants you to ask it another question. Occasionally offer compliments. (If it’s a handsome steak tell it it’s smart; if it’s a smart steak tell it it’s handsome.) Every now and then brush your fingers against the steak absent-mindedly, but don’t withdraw those fingers too quickly. The steak should feel your heat. As the evening progresses and the steak warms up to you, continue to laugh and be close to one another. Offer the steak another glass of wine but never serve it more than it seems like it wants. When you feel ready to make your move, ask for the steak’s consent to perform an abbreviated butterfly maneuver. If and only if the steak fully and enthusiastically agrees, lay it flat on a cutting board and use your sharpest knife to make an incision in the steak’s middle that is roughly the size and thickness of what you plan to put inside the steak. Be firm but gentle, slicing rather than hacking or sawing. Once you’ve completed slicing the steak and the steak indicates that it still is willing to proceed, take it to the bedroom, crank up My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, and bring it to as many heights of ecstasy as you and your steak can handle for the evening. Afterwards, tell your steak you will call it again even if you don’t plan to. The steak will know that you’re lying, but will still appreciate the effort.

Previously: How To Cook A Fucking Steak

The Web is a Millennial. It was first proposed twenty-five years ago, in 1989. Six years later, Netscape’s I.P.O. kicked off the Silicon Valley circus. When the Web was brand new, many computer-savvy people despised it—compared to other hypertext-publishing systems, it was a primitive technology. For example, you could link from your Web page to any other page, but you couldn’t know when someone linked to your Web page. Nor did the Web allow you to edit pages in your browser. To élite hypertext thinkers and programmers, these were serious flaws.#

— Paul Ford on the history of the Web and HTML5, the “markup we deserve” #

Men Explain 'Cars' to Me

Cars 2In the summer of 2011, a friend convinced me to try make a profile on OkCupid. I filled my profile with jokes because I wanted project a certain personality: “haha look how not seriously I am taking this, I am a carefree and fun girl, please date me.”

When OkCupid asked what I spend a lot of time thinking about, well. I did not hesitate:

okcupidcars

I went on exactly two dates with two different men within the first month of creating the account before I lost interest. And yet I never got around to deleting my profile. Every few weeks I would log on and my inbox would be filled with messages: a couple of them would just be stock lines (“hey ur cute wanna grab a drink?”). The rest were all theories about the movie Cars. Some made me think, some made me roll my eyes, others brought up existential questions in other animated films; all of them entertained me. I finally deleted my OkCupid account, having never found love, but instead something much better: a deeper insight into the Pixar movie Cars.

SZA, "Sobriety"

If you haven’t heard SZA, this song, a subtly produced showcase for her voice, is as perfect place to start. You can also listen to the entirety of last year’s excellent S EP on SoundCloud.

Get me off your fucking mailing list.#

A Prison for the Dead

Millie

Millie, the last time I saw her

When Millie died last year, her foster mother was in a nursing home and her pimp was in jail. Nobody came to collect her body, so the city buried her where it has interred a million other unclaimed bodies: in a massive trench on an inaccessible, desolate dot of land in Long Island Sound called Hart Island.

Millie had spent New Year’s Eve walking the track—the empty part of Hunts Point in the Bronx, where the older prostitutes who liked the quiet worked. She stayed out until daybreak, alternating between getting into cars and walking up the hill to buy drugs with the money, then slept most of New Year’s Day. The next evening, she collapsed in the Tub and Tumble Laundromat, a place she often wound up when she didn’t have anywhere else to go. Before falling, she apologized to Ana, the manager and her friend, saying she was feeling ill. She was taken by ambulance to Lincoln Hospital.

She had no identification—she kept it with other important papers, mostly pink slips from the police, in an old Ziploc bag that was stashed in a small fence post on the empty street she worked. Nameless, she was admitted as a Jane Doe.

In the Trenches of the Facebook Election

For a profession locked in a perpetual psychodrama with Facebook, I think journalism underestimates Facebook. It’s not that journalists don’t pay enough attention to the site (god no, lol), just that, as a journalist, your perspective is obscured, and it’s difficult to conceive of Facebook from the outside. You experience it through your profile, your site’s official page, your stories, or your analytics suite. It feels both unfathomably more powerful than you and yet somehow all about you; your experience is acute and personal but so are the experiences of other users, which are therefore inaccessible. David Carr’s characterization of the media as wary of working as “serfs in a kingdom that Facebook owns” is doubly apt for its implication that Facebook’s kingdom can only be as large as the publishing world it is apparently subjugating.

This, maybe, is why journalists are so bad at seeing where they fit into the grand scheme of social media feeds—that is, that they now compete, head to head, with videos and games and comedy and posts from friends and family for a limited amount of attention. Believing that the dominant social software does not think you are in any way special is difficult to reconcile with the conventional wisdom that it also controls the future of your industry. Together, these ideas are fatal to the ego, and so they cannot both be true.