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New York City, May 27, 2015

weather review sky 052715★★★★ The sun shone blearily through thick, smelly morning air. The cross street was pungent like feces newly stepped on. Even the fresh cooking odors being generated by a food cart had a note of rot. The gray in the sky burned away to a thin whiteness over blue. The light was lovely and the air was cool and there was a smell by the gutter that was nauseating after perhaps one glass too many, or too hasty, of iced coffee. People were gladly sunstruck, invigorated by it, trying out their body parts. The platinum bleach jobs going around were brilliant. The barber could not stop sneezing till the shampooist ran out and brought back an over-the-counter pill and a cup of water. The windowshades had been opaque from outside the shop but from the chair, the street was visible, with only the details of the sidewalk stains fuzzed out. The temperature was neither warm nor cool enough to call attention to the absent hair. At the workday’s end there was a purposeful wind, and then uptown a big, light gray cloud stood over Broadway. The apartment lobby was suddenly dark, and the living room window showed heavy clouds over the river. A figure like a giant dangling torso with clawed hands dangled by its waist from the bottom of the main cloud, arched its back, and broke apart. Then the turmoil was replaced by a smooth and featureless gradient of light and color: “I think it’s a mixed-up color,” the three-year-old said. “I think it’s brownish orange.” “Blue to purple to orange,” the seven-year-old said. The orange fraction, glowing at the bottom, brightened and grew. The clouds acquired texture and turned lavender, then pink. It was well after they’d faded again that the rain began at last to fall.

Watch Don Hertzfeldt's Profoundly Affecting 'World of Tomorrow'

You may already know Don Hertzfeldt from films like “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” “The Meaning of Life,” “Billy’s Balloon,” and “Rejected.” His work has played around the world, receiving over 200 awards, and most recently appeared in a special guest appearance on “The Simpsons.” Seven of his films have screened in competition at the Sundance Film Festival, where he is the only filmmaker to have won the overall Grand Jury Prize for Short Film twice.

“World of Tomorrow” tells the story of a young girl named Emily, who meets a clone of herself from the future. According to Splitsider’s Chris Kopcow, “‘World Of Tomorrow’ peers into the future to ask big questions about how we live and fail to live, how technology hurts and helps us, how there’s a possibility, however remote, that you may just end up alone and afraid.”

To watch “World of Tomorrow,” simply create a Vimeo account and rent or buy the new season by clicking the “purchase” button in the video player above. Or you can just go here.

The Juice Wars

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On the south side of East 9th Street, a couple of storefronts down from the corner, is a small juice bar called Bequ—stylized “beQu,” for “Beyond Quality.” Taras Strachnyi and his brother Peter opened it at the beginning of last year. Strachnyi has been in the juice business, he told me, for nearly fifteen years, learning his trade as a teenager and in his early twenties at the long-standing East Village juice emporium Liquiteria. Strachnyi’s family moved to the East Village from Ukraine when he was nine years old, and he grew up going to the Ninth Street Bakery that closed in 2013 after eighty-seven years in business, whose space Bequ now occupies. (According to the Village Voice, the landlord raised the rent by 38 percent.) “I’ve been coming to the bakery since I was a kid,” Strachnyi told me. “This location means more to me than just some juice bar.”

Bequ, Strachnyi said, sources all of its juices’ ingredients locally, makes them in micro-batches, and doesn’t pasteurize them. When a location of the East Village coffee colossus The Bean started selling juice across the street from Bequ a few months ago, Strachnyi took it as a personal affront. “We were building out for seven months, and then they just happen to put in a juice press?” Strachnyi asked. Then, in the winter, The Bean dropped its juice prices and put a sign out advertising that they had done so—a sign facing Bequ’s storefront. “It was cold, and I had to come in every day and see that sign,” Strachnyi griped. “As a consumer, even if you don’t care about Bequ, or The Bean, wouldn’t that piss you off?”

A Poem by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

“I was popular in certain circles”

Among the river rats and the leaves.
For example. I was huge among the lichen,
and the waterfall couldn’t get enough
of me. And the gravestones?
I was hugely popular with the gravestones.
Also with the meat liquefying
beneath. I’d say to the carrion birds,
I’d say, “Are you an eagle? I can’t see
so well.” That made them laugh until we
were screaming. Eagle. Imagine.

The 'We're All Going to Die' Candidate

The campaign for U.S. Senate candidate Mike Beitiks begins with a message of comfort to his prospective constituents: “ISIS. Obamacare. Russia. The NSA. Wealth disparity. Immigration reform. Gun control. What do all of these hot issues for the 2016 election have in common? None of them matter because we’re all going to die.” Beitiks’ platform is singular: Halt government action until climate change is addressed. While the San Franciscan native is certain this message won’t get him elected, he’s hopeful that his extremely narrow campaign will at least offer consolation to those who fear human extinction, if only by letting them know they’re not alone.

The other day, I spoke with Beitiks—a licensed lawyer and father of two—about his first foray into politics.

Where did the campaign come from?

I’m pretty much just a regular person. I have a law degree and I’m not completely unfamiliar with the political system. But, like many people, I have a certain level of unresolved anxiety about the climate crisis, and was not seeing any political reaction I found satisfactory, or even close to satisfactory. I just decided, well, if no one else is going to be the voice of reason, I’m more than happy to do this.

Heathered Pearls, "Interior Architecture Software"


Some songs just sort of roll along in the background for a bit before you suddenly snap forward and say, “You know what? I think I like this.” I had this new one from Heathered Pearls going earlier this morning, not particularly calling attention to itself but simply setting a sound, and you know what? I think I like it. Perhaps you will as well. Enjoy.

New York City, May 26, 2015

weather review sky 052615★★★★ The indoor air had held a minatory heaviness, but outside the humid breeze was forbearing, the plaza under its translucent green awning of trees was busy with people gone out to face the day. The twin subway stairs downtown inhaled fresh currents from above. Up on the roof the bone-tinged glare hurt the eyes and made them water, but the rest of the body sank into the warmth. A new birdsong sounded, and something barred and dun—a house finch, most likely, in the blurry light—tugged at the wine-colored maple leaves. The way home was not the least bit hot. One white-brick facade, on the daily route, somehow now stood out luminously from its neighbors.

Rachel Grimes, "Transverse Plane Vertical"


What? You don’t think you can really get behind the emerging wave of neo-classical music that, thanks to the diverse set of influences embraced by its creators, has finally shed the staid, pretentious parlor-room associations with which it was so easily dismissed in the past? Well, fuck you. Be an idiot, what do I care? The world gets dumber every day and the acceleration by which that overwhelming stupidity encroaches has probably reached escape velocity, so if you choose to live a life of gleeful fatuity you can be sure at least that you will have plenty of compatriots with whom to spend your remaining days of drool discharge in agreeably innocuous company. If, on the other hand, you are willing to give something a little less obvious a try, please press play and, if possible, enjoy. You can stream the whole of Rachel Grimes’ excellent The Clearing here.

Dead Sites Posting

My favorite view of the web is a list of stories that have, according to analytics company Newswhip, achieved “Highest Velocity.” It’s essentially an of-the-moment collection of the most-shared stories on social media platforms (you can see a similar public page here).

The headlines, taken together, tell a familiar story: publications’ sensibilities have conformed to the platforms that send them visitors; their sites have adopted the tone and language of social media; news and entertainment, mixed as ever, now mingle according the demands and preferences of the feeds into which they are deployed. It’s a brutal and honest list: sparse and vital breaking news next to aggregated news so partisan as to transcend the concept of truth; TV casting news next to celebrity social media updates; a first-person video of a man firing two double-barreled pistols next to a story about “The Beautiful Origin Of Memorial Day Conservatives Don’t Want To Talk About”; a story about Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti below a remembrance of American Sniper Chris Kyle; a clip from the reality show “Street Outlaws” followed by flood news from Texas followed by an interview with Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas. “15 things you should do with wine this summer. Number 11 made made me drool!” sits a few stories above “Studies Find Ginger To Be More Effective Than Chemotherapy At Fighting Cancer Cells” just up from “Muslims Say Fallen U.S. Soldiers Should NOT Be Honored on Memorial Day.”

It’s soothing, almost, to see these items together in a list. Yes, they’re formally and ideologically disparate, and, like Most Popular lists in nearly any context, they are not a flattering reflection of their audience. But these stories are not mysterious. They share a teleology: this is a list of things that people consume and engage with most vigorously on social media; this is a list of links that very different people share on platforms to tell other people about themselves.

A Most Popular list created by everyone makes a publication for no one. But it’s easy to see where these stories, even—especially?—the terrible ones, find traction. Some of this garbage is my kind of garbage, the kind of stuff that I might welcome into my feed and even cram into other people’s feeds. The kind of stuff the companies that operate my feeds might deem appealing—or at least engagement-probable!—for me. The rest belongs, just as recognizably, to someone else.

More interesting than the headlines is the list of places that produced them.

Don't Call Me 'Mama'

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The loudest and clearest message delivered to prospective parents is that “your whole life is going to change.” It comes from family, friends with kids, parenting books, and websites. Fair enough. But after a couple of months of actual parenting, you realize that, in some ways, your whole life didn’t change so much: You’re still the same person. You still have the same interests and goals in life, even if you have less time to squeeze accomplishing those things in every day. I’m still me. Wonderful, sometimes miserable old Laura. I certainly didn’t change my name.

Our culture has an extreme love-hate relationship with parents and their children. We deify the cult of motherhood, proclaiming that there’s nothing more inspiring than the sight of a mother with a baby in her arms. What a beautiful thing! And yet, as a society, we don’t do much to actually support it: Paid leaves are non-existent in many workplaces; childcare is expensive; and the world around us generally seems to be designed to cater to the childless, with its lack of quiet spaces to breastfeed or pump, changing tables in restrooms (especially if you’re a man looking to change a baby’s diaper), high chairs in restaurants, or ramps into subways. We talk a big game about parenting, but sometimes, talk is all there is.

The first time I remember being referred to as “mama” was months before my daughter could even attempt the word. My husband and I had brought Zelda to a cardiologist’s office to check for a suspected heart murmur. Though our pediatrician assured us such a thing was very common and nothing to worry about, we were stressed out. And Zelda, nude but for a diaper on an exam table, didn’t seem to like it either. The nurse who was there to help us attach the little sticky things with the wires to her body leaned over her. She seemed frustrated that Zelda didn’t want to comply with her request not to move while she attempted to take her blood pressure, as if this were the first time she had worked with infant. In the midst of the ordeal, I was annoyed by this: “Mama, if you can try to hold her body, I will get her arm.” Mama.