The Uber Endgame

Why Uber (and Lyft) continue to look more and more like mass transit

The Traffic King of Reddit

lol

Last week, while avoiding work, I stared at a gif of an endless model train spiral for what seemed like hours, transfixed by the constant, seamlessly looping stream of miniature carriages, moving without end, going nowhere, yet constantly in motion. It’s one of thousands of Reddit posts I’ve seen from GallowBoob without knowing who he was or how he appeared on the site so often; if I had gone anywhere else on the internet to procrastinate, odds are, I’d still be looking at something he made popular first for millions of internet users around the world.

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With more than 5,546,795 link karma (Internet points given for posting popular content), GallowBoob is Reddit’s top curator of gifs, photos, videos, and clickable material. The average karma count for active users is just over thirty-one thousand (as measured back in 2011, when the number of users was far lower than it is today), and with a mere twenty-five slots on the front page reserved for the most popular content, few users ever get their posts within spitting distance. Getting to the front page for a typical user is a rare, serendipitous occurrence, if it ever happens at all. GallowBoob’s posts make it to the site’s front page on a near-daily basis, which means that the material he shares helps determine the viral content that spreads across the entire web.

A Poem by Robin Beth Schaer

Middle Flight

The baby’s feet never touch the ground.
Before now, he floated in dark water
so I hold him like an exile for months

until his own weight is no longer foreign.
Someday he too will chase his lost lightness
half-remembered toward the sky. History

is full of flightless falls: metal wings
and bird machines built without destination,
just to be loose of the anchor. No one

flew until a papermaker watched
his wife’s chemise swell beside a fire
and conjured a craft to ride the heat.

Like putting a cloud in a paper bag, he filled
the first balloon with air from burning straw
and wet wool, and launched a rooster

above Versailles. The night my son takes
his first steps, I let paper lanterns go
in the dark and watch them soar from sight.

Gwenno, "Patriarchaeth (Ewan Pearson Remix)"


I’m not sure how you say “The summer is dying and now it’s dying fast. You’ll wake up in a week or two and realize what you wasted. You’ll wonder if winter will be as bad again this year but deep in your heart you know it will be worse,” in Welsh, but until I figure it out listen to this track from Gwenno while we still have some summer left to enjoy it in.

New York City, August 25, 2015

weather review sky 082515★★★ The sun was not too scattered to cast a retrograde shadow as it came back eastward off the mirrored tower. The MetroCard receipt stuck obligingly to a fingertip to be photographed for reimbursement purposes. A hot damp wind came up the sidewalk as the shoulders shuddered away the effects of the air conditioning. Objectively sweltering and foul as it was, it still took a bit of walking around to find a place that was genuinely uncomfortable—Union Square, as it turned out, with the sun battering the open plaza and a drummer banging away in a little bit of shade. A big bright cloud swelled over Fifth Avenue late in the day. The heat lost its grip when the sun did. Leaves stirred in Lincoln Square and a bagpipe carried from some unfixable location.

Where Is the Song of the Summer?

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 4.23.08 PMLast year’s putative “Song of the Summer” was a national embarrassment; as a result, American songs—and for safe measure, all songs in English—are no longer eligible. Each month, until summer has died, the Awl will present alternatives.

Matimba by Kabele Mabelane
#1 in Botswana (Gabz FM)

Pretty clear who is running off with Botswana’s summer—the South African rapper’s single came out in March and is at no. 1 five months later. But this is an ensemble piece, in the sense that he spends considerably less time in the spotlight he does than leading chants and choruses. Drum circles, too, presumably: The massive percussion backdrop has an unusually Latin flavor, but even more curiously, it starts out peppered with digital glitches that would be more at home sandwiched between EDM wubs—but then they seamlessly fade away and come back reincarnated as a horn section. This is precisely the sort of material M.I.A. absorbs and repurposes so effectively, so you can probably look for these same sounds to make it to the U.S. soon enough.

These Are Our Most Natural Musical Fibers, or, Hmm, Is This Morgellons?

As with the first noises of most Destroyer albums—the sandy processed reverb snare on “Kaputt,” the distortion power chords on “Rubies,” the tacky choral synth of “Your Blues,” to name just three albums that open impeccably—you will be welcomed to “Poison Season” reasonably convinced that Dan Bejar is just screwing with you. Like, oh noooo, he found another gnarly sound. A fresh ride around the crinkly lip of the roller derby rink of acceptable music!

Is music a joke? What does the sound of a group of instruments playing together now mean? Is emotion a joke? Most disgusting is that human bodies are brimming percolators of feeling—emotions kept hidden in secret, until they vomit overboard with a raised eyebrow or a fist or some gross tears. Actors are disgusting to society and are made fun of because they reach in for a handful of the acid and then splatter themselves AND they do it for money. Songwriters are celebrated too when they go for it, but they’re booed if they don’t go all in or not far enough. In the middle they are just treacle or pat or cheesy or gay. The main nasty feeling expressed by music for three decades has been lust. Banging was a Hot Topic of rock, sure, but sexy fuckability is pretty much all that inorganic electronica could support on the long road from Moroder to Skrillex. Knowing about camp made everyone a chilly sex bot, hiding away all that earnest horniness inside us. The computers won. The 80s gave up. But then finally the late great teen movement of emo came in to bring all the non-fucking feelings back. Goth the sequel came out with the great lady song-singers, and now we’re here at last on the far side of disco with music made by hand. Now even Skrillex wants you to feel.

PLEASE GIVE US FIOS

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Verizon had agreed to have fiber-optic cable for FiOS pass all three million homes in the city by the end of last year. Lawyers for each side, however, are arguing about the definition of “pass.” The company says it has met the deadline. The city’s response: not even close. FiOS remains unavailable in large swaths of the city, including the vast Co-op City complex in the Bronx, which comprises more than 15,000 apartments. “We’ve had some rather impassioned meetings with some of our residents who say, ‘We want Verizon,’” said Jeffrey Buss, general counsel for Riverbay Corporation, which manages Co-op City.

The city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications released a scathing audit report in June concluding that Verizon “systematically refused to accept orders for residential service.” By the company’s admission, nearly one-fourth of the blocks in the city have no buildings wired for FiOS, the report said.

The New York Times reports what many in New York City have already known: They cannot get FiOS and probably won’t anytime soon. The Awl offices are located on the third floor of a small building that is sandwiched between the tallest luxury condos in the borough on a bustling corner in the heart of a quaint neighborhood known as Downtown Brooklyn, which is the third largest business district in New York City. We would love to replace our incredibly slow Verizon DSL with FiOS so we can bring more of our Content to the People. But some for reason it’s just not available in our area? Please call us Verizon! (We’ve tried calling you.)

Small Black, "No One Wants It To Happen To You"


Want to feel old? The pictures of your hand you traced as a child and colored in to look like a turkey for Thanksgiving have all faded away and returned to the earth at the bottom of whatever landfill they lay in. The regulations that allowed the nurse to comfort you that time you left class in Kindergarten with a fever have all been updated to prevent any physical contact. The songs you sang at assemblies have very few plays on Spotify. The crossing guards who shepherded you across the street are all dead. There, you’re old. How’s it feel? Not good, right? Anyway, I like this track from Small Black a lot, what do you think? Enjoy.