The Songs of the Subway

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New York City, July 5, 2015

weather review sky 070515★★★ The sky was a little less than blue; the heat was bearable. The children went out to the Park and came back bearing overpriced lemonade and clutching green gingko leaves, used as miniature fans. The three-year-old burrowed under his comforter with his sunglasses at naptime, then lamented the lack of sunglasses when he went outside. A smell of tar rose from the scarified and patched roadway. The pedestrian-safety features, heavy planters and rugged stone blocks, had been shoved together into barriers to walking. Out in the open, the sun pressed on the back of the neck. Someone sunbathing or trying to relax on the expensive new building’s roof lay back on an outdoor couch, sat up, twisted, rearranged a cushion. There was light enough after dinner to bounce and boot a rubber ball around the forecourt. Jets of sunset color flared out from behind the superstructure of one of the aging apartment towers.

WeWork in Boxes

weeeeewwwoooorrrkkkkThese boxes—the only geometry in new New York City architecture right now—are mostly filled with venture capital that has been invested in WeWork, the co-working startup that was recently valued at ten billion dollars, and who will be the anchor tenant of this three-hundred-and-eighty-million-dollar development in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, occupying about a third of its six hundred and seventy-five thousand square feet of space.

It is not especially remarkable that WeWork, the fastest-growing company in New York by footprint, is acquiring another couple hundred thousand square feet of space. But until now, WeWork’s business model has been thus:

WeWork takes out a cut-rate lease on a floor or two of an office building, chops it up into smaller parcels and then charges monthly memberships to startups and small companies that want to work cheek-by-jowl with each other.

In some respects, this is firmly in the mold of so-called “sharing economy” startups: Taking existing infrastructure, parceling it out in a more efficient manner, then skimming off the capital excreted by the process.

Why Grandma's Sad

This Times series about ruined children and their terrible electronics is… useful:

Two of my grandsons, ages 10 and 13, seem destined to suffer some of the negative effects of video-game overuse. The 10-year-old gets up half an hour earlier on school days to play computer games, and he and his brother stay plugged into their hand-held devices on the ride to and from school. “There’s no conversation anymore,” said their grandfather, who often picks them up. When the family dines out, the boys use their devices before the meal arrives and as soon as they finish eating.

“If kids are allowed to play ‘Candy Crush’ on the way to school, the car ride will be quiet, but that’s not what kids need,” Dr. Steiner-Adair said in an interview. “They need time to daydream, deal with anxieties, process their thoughts and share them with parents, who can provide reassurance.”

Technology is a poor substitute for personal interaction.

Here is a professional rendering of a conversation happening between millions of people, a few paragraphs of research and structure that attempt to make sense of discussions that are unfolding in virtually any setting where multiple generations interact. Kids spend an enormous amount of time looking at a type of device that didn’t really exist ten years ago. Among some young people, looking at these devices is the central animating activity. This is weird. Truly! Younger people are cyborgs and older people are meat, more or less.

The Truth About Yogurt

19358719172_31cd60a08b_zWhen I was a young teen, my mother would sometimes try to make me eat yogurt. “Just a bite, for protein,” she’d beg. I’d stare at her, glassy-eyed, over a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Usually, I gave in. But I’m not a teen anymore. I dislike most things about this so-called “food” and I will not eat it.

To begin with, I hate the word yogurt. I hate that it is sometimes spelled “yoghurt,” an artifact of colonial British influence resonant even in 2015. I hate that the masses remain blind to the fact that the popularity of Greek yogurt has yet to improve the Greek economy, only further enshrining the power of the supranational bankers who control the Euro (not to mention, the Fed, the World Bank, and the IMF). Yogurt is an insidious hegemonic structure in which the fruit on the bottom is doomed to remain oppressed as a result of the totalitarian dominance of an elite cream top.

“Twitter and Facebook lit up Sunday evening and Monday morning after several cast members and audience members posted their speechlessness at a report that an audience member had clambered onto the stage of the Booth Theatre and tried to plug a cell phone charger into an outlet on the set of Hand to God.”
—I’ll be sad if this is actually some kind of devious social marketing campaign for Hand to God so I’m just going to not look into it any further and instead let myself bask in the enjoyment of another piece of news confirming my belief that everything is terrible and only getting worse. Also, I have a feeling that Playbill’s definition of “lit up” might be a little more expansive than the level of engagement to which we generally accord the term, but for such a nugget of delight on this Monday after a holiday weekend I am prepared to let it slide.#

Slim Twig, "Slippin' Slidin'"


Slim Twig’s A Hound at the Hem, originally released in 2012 but given more broad exposure after a reissue at the end of last year, was the kind of record a certain type of music lover (e.g., me) could not help but enjoy, stuffed as it was with obvious nods to Bowie, Bejar and The Birthday Party. This new track is something more… challenging? I’ll keep working at it and report back, but if it’s something you feel able to enjoy than by all means do.

“$6.49—one pint of Ben and Jerry’s at the bodega on the way over the first time you meet up again, because you are obviously just going to ‘watch a movie,’ so ice cream is a logical choice, plus one seltzer, to make it healthy”
—“The Unexpected Costs Incurred by Occasionally* Sleeping With Your Ex-Boyfriend#

Moments from True Detective Season 2 Episode 3, Ranked

CIxuA0CWgAEGpbV.jpg-large12. Man rips out another man’s grill, because “what kind of way is that to greet the world.”

11. Second plotline about male fertility emerges.

10. Man has trophy wife who is twenty-two, foreign, cuts out pictures from magazines, wears formal dress and vapes all day.

9. Man has son who cultivates a deep tan, close cropped hair, and “urban” accent for his Rachel Dolezal act

8. Man says, “Yeah, I’m a set photographer”—*takes pictures of mostly naked women in costume*—”best use of my time so far.”

7. Man says of a non-lethal gunshot wound, “Took one in the sternum, so my heart aches.”

6. Man tells man maybe his father made him nervous because he “lacked grit.”

4. Man is too distraught to be aroused by a blow job, which has “never happened to him in his fuckin’ life.”

3. Female superior says to her female employee of her male colleague, “I’m not saying ‘fuck him,’ but maybe let him think you might fuck him.”

2. Man drinks water: “Booze tends to take the edge off; I want to stay angry.”

1. Man tells another man he won’t be able to progress in his work with “this angsty cop drama you’re rolling.”

“Our children already have no stable baseline from which to calibrate the loss of all that lives. It’s game over. Bearing this in mind, I finally find myself reluctantly agreeing with the business community. There is no time for delay. Let’s build the runway. Let’s choke the Earth. Let’s get this damn thing over with, for what can be avoided, whose end is purposed by the mighty gods of business? Hasten our demise, let our children be the last of their sorry line, and spare their unborn descendants any further suffering. We will not save the rhino. We will not even save the hedgehog. How can we save the world? But, if you can purge cheap sentiment from your mind, how exciting and fascinating it will be to watch as the world becomes uninhabitable. It’s almost worth going on a health kick to survive another 60 years and see everything immolated. How many humans have had the awe-inspiring opportunity to witness such spectacle: the end of all that is?”#

Three Things To Read About Greece


Here is how I am choosing to understand the thing that is happening in/to/around Greece:

• “We should be clear: almost none of the huge amount of money loaned to Greece has actually gone there. It has gone to pay out private-sector creditors – including German and French banks. Greece has gotten but a pittance, but it has paid a high price to preserve these countries’ banking systems. The IMF and the other ‘official’ creditors do not need the money that is being demanded. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the money received would most likely just be lent out again to Greece.”