The Box Builder

Peering down from a penthouse on the High Line.
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New York City, April 30, 2015

weather review sky 043015★★★★ Daylight glowed through the thick curtains at the back of the restaurant. A man at the next table played birdsongs on his phone. Dogwood flowers were out beside the church. Pear blossoms met in midair to put a ceiling over the cross street. It was light-sweater weather, cool and fine in a completely different mode than the warm fineness the day before. A woman threw fistfuls of crumbs to the sidewalk, watched by pigeons on the post-office wall, among them a squab in its mangy new feathers. Out in the brick plaza, children hunkered down with magnifying glasses, trying to burn things. Above the thin silvery clouds ran a whiter contrail, straight and thick despite being an agglomeration of little round puffs, like something made with bursts of the old MacPaint spray tool.

The Ultimate Guide To Wearing A Jumpsuit

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Be Marisa Tomei. JKJKJKJKJK.

If you learn nothing else from my tenure at The Hairpin, I want you to learn this: jumpsuits are the best item of clothing in the world. Jumpsuits, rompers, playsuits, whatever let me explain. Every fall people come at me with this bullshit about how fantastic layering is, like how they have nothing better to do but stare at their closets and put a tank top under a t-shirt under a cardigan under a sensible jacket and how this is just so much fun and like, sorry but I’m busy. I am a modern woman on the go and I need one piece of clothing that looks fantastic because my brain does not work like Cher’s closet.

Dresses also serve this purpose. I love dresses too. I’m wearing one right now, I got it at a secondhand shop when I was in college and it still fits! If jumpsuits aren’t your thing, go with God and dresses. But the thing about dresses is that everyone wears dresses. “Oh cute dress” we all say to each other the first warm day of spring, and then we just live in a sea of cute dresses. Maybe I’m jinxing this by writing about it, but jumpsuits just make you stand out in a way that is entirely effortless. However, every time I’ve worn one I’ve been hit with a slew of questions about how exactly I wear one and, idk, you put it on and you leave the house is all, but I’m going to address some various concerns. Because you can do it!

1. How do you pee?
But Jaya, everyone inevitably whines, you bunch of whiners, how do you peeeee? Generally you just shoot it out your peehole, and you probably should have that figured out by now. No how do you pee in a jumpsuit??? Oh, well, it’s really not that hard, but there are a few things that make it easier. First, if you have non-flexible shoulders, look for jumpsuits with front or side closures, or a low back so you can easily reach your arms around there. Stretchy fabrics that you can just slip up and down also help here, but if you can do that thing where you put one arm over your shoulder and the other up from your back and can clasp your hands together, you will have no problem. Alternately, ask a friend for help. We’re ladies so we never go to the bathroom alone anyway right!??!?!?!

A Summer Lyric

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Perception Powerful

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A number of criminologists believe police homicides are near their nadir. In New York City, for example, 91 people were fatally shot by police officers in 1971 — and a record-low eight in 2013, the last year for which figures are available. In Los Angeles, officers used “categorical” force — gunfire, chokings and other violence that could lead to death — in 84 of nearly 149,000 arrests in 2012, down 17 percent in seven years.

That data suggests that any perception that higher numbers of unarmed African-Americans are being killed by the police in recent months is driven by citizens’ postings of unsettling cellphone videos and pictures, like that of police officers dragging Freddie Gray, his legs apparently not working, into a van.

Well, as long as it’s just a perception that the police are killing so many people in their custody.

Photo by SearchFunction

He's Not the Last Man on Earth Anymore and the Show Needs to Act Like It

lastmanonearthI have watched every episode of The Last Man on Earth, and I could not tell you why Melissa Shart (January Jones) is so, so angry at Phil Miller. This is a problem, but mostly because I can’t know if this is because she’s the most poorly drawn character on the show, or the only one who behaves like a real, complex human being.

The Last Man on Earth stopped being that some time ago. By the end of the first episode our Last Man, Phil Miller (Will Forte), was joined by a Last Woman, Carol Pilbasion (Kristen Schaal). The pair have since been joined by other characters, starting with Extremely Hot Woman (Jones) and Notably Obese Man (Mel Rodriguez). Eventually the show included such diverse survivors as Extremely Hot and Sexual Older Woman (Mary Steenburgen*), Extremely Hot, Black, Australian Woman (Cleopatra Coleman) and finally, Extremely Hot Man Who Also Happens to Be Named Phil Miller What Are the Odds? (Boris Kodjo). The show might now better be called Maybe The Last Group of People on Earth but Let’s Face It, Probably Not.

While the show has, week after week, added characters, it hasn’t added much in the way of character traits. On most sitcoms, you can boil your favorite characters down to some unchanging adjectives: Ron Swanson is libertarian and no-nonsense, Michael Scott is clueless but well-meaning, Liz Lemon is overworked and hungry for sandwiches. This how sitcoms work — if Monica Geller was suddenly messy without warning, we wouldn’t recognize our Friends. But there’s been a trend lately of shows that, beyond one or two main characters, operate on a New Yorker cartoon level of characterization. It works well on shows like Man Seeking Woman or Louie, where you know you will never have to see Josh Greenberg’s literal troll of a blind date again, or the smug 24-year-old store owner who speaks truth to Big Louie and makes him feel old. In these worlds, we’re following one hapless but ultimately likable character through a confusing and terrifying heightened reality where nothing ever goes their way. Sure, those guys make mistakes and treat people badly, but when you’re up against actual Hitler, who can blame you?

An Episode Guide for Netflix Presents: Marvel's Daredevil of Hell's Kitchen

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Netflix Presents: Marvel’s Daredevil of Hell’s Kitchen follows the journey of attorney Matt Murdock, who, in an improbable boyhood accident, was blinded by toxic waste and imbued with extraordinary senses. Murdock sets up practice in Manhattan Hell’s Kitchen, once a pit of crime and despair, but now among the toniest neighborhoods in the safest city in America, replete with cultural attractions, nightlife, vibrant streets, and abundant free Wi-Fi. As an attorney, Murdock struggles to build a practice that will finance a two-bedroom two-bathroom apartment in a pre-war building that was a “real bargain” at just under a million dollars. As the crime-fighter Daredevil, he struggles to find something to do.

Episode 1: A Room of One’s Own

When Murdock finds out that criminal real estate developer Wilson Fisk is illegally running an Airbnb out of a rent-controlled apartment on 48th street, Daredevil uses his freakish martial arts skills to force a pair of European tourists out of the building and into legitimate accommodations at The Standard in the Meatpacking District.

New York City, April 29, 2015

weather review sky 042915★★★★★ No need for a jacket in the morning. Quilted reflections of light lay in the dark space between an SUV and a truck. A rear collar button shone; trees on a stepback roof five stories up leaned out of their own building’s shadow to catch the light. The line of Sabrett umbrellas and the steel globe outside the Trump International Hotel and Tower were equally blinding. A woman in a phosphorescent white suit, whiter than her hair, rested her bag on a bollard. On the eight-block walk down Broadway, looking at the phone never entered the mind. Piled garbage on Prince Street was starting to smell. A worker dabbed new black paint on a violently bent and leaning railing around a planting bed. The little viola sounded at least as good out in the brightness of the roof as it ever had sounded indoors.

The Penthouse Derby

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20 East End
Available units from $4,535,000 to $11,950,000
From 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms to
4 bedroom and 5.5 bathrooms

From 1,912 square feet to 5,201 square feet
Nearest subway: 6 train at 77th Street

Last night, the Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group hosted a Kentucky Derby Celebration at the 20 East End sales gallery. The 2015 Kentucky Derby is on Saturday at Louisville’s Churchill Downs; the 20 East End sales gallery is at 744 Madison Avenue, between 64th and 65th Streets, while 20 East End is at 20 East End Avenue, between 80th and 81st Streets. Attendees of the Kentucky Derby Celebration—mostly brokers, and some press—were invited to “don your finest derby attire.” There were a lot of hats.

A sales gallery is a kind of model home for fancy apartments. It is hard to get someone to agree to spend millions of dollars on an apartment that is still under construction! To one degree of detail or another, a developer who is trying to sell such units may build out a replica of what one of those condos is anticipated to look like. “It was very important that the building not look like it’s in Epcot,” Nicole Siciliano-Trazzera, sales director on the project, told me as we took a tour of the sales gallery.

20 East End was designed by Robert A.M. Stern and developed by the Corigin Real Estate Group. In September, the New York Times described the building’s aesthetic as “Scaled-Down Luxury.” According to the Times, at 20 East End “you don’t have to own a 20-room apartment to live as though you do.” A few months later, the New York Observer sneered at this claim: “The very term ‘luxury,’ has in the last few years grown so inclusive as to be quite nearly meaningless.”

The Twitter Withdrawal

A short series of tweets helped remove about eight billion dollars of value from Twitter’s stock this week. They were posted before Twitter’s official announcement by a firm that uses software to crawl the internet for financial information, and, as breaking primary materials, it’s possible they exacerbated that rate and depth of the stock’s decline. Twitter proved its purported value by wounding itself.

For years, the story of Twitter was about the people who used it: who they were, what they did, and how they did it. It was strange and fun to watch millions of people figure out what to do with this weird site; it was strange, and maybe less fun, to watch the company gradually capture and integrate its users’ ideas and habits into the service’s growing superstructure (“new” Twitter features, including hashtags, shortened links, and its entire mobile app, are often not Twitter’s ideas). It was something that a lot of people used a little, and that a few people used obsessively. Like many products, it was something people used in vastly different ways. Like fewer, it was something people figured out very much in public.

The company took its time making money. The last year before going public was a year of consolidation; it was about taming, grooming, and streamlining. Apps were pruned, ads were tested. It became a story of people versus platform, of a company trying to take back control of an intrinsically disorderly service (but not so much as to ruin it). This stage was never completed—the question of what Twitter is, or should be, was never clearly answered. More realistic questions regarding what Twitter users could expect were never addressed. People who use Twitter the most were there to stay, for a while at least, but the site was not much easier to join, or to make sense of, than it was one or two or five years before.

Twitter’s IPO changed its story in the most obvious possible way: Like any other public internet company, its narrative recentered around a single line, the direction of which is determined by the market’s blunt but pragmatic understanding of how many people use Twitter and, just as important, how much they’re worth.

How Tom Green Was Born Again on the Internet

tomgreenLike the entire crew of Jackass shoved into a suit and a late-night show format, Tom Green has zero problem taking people into weird, disgusting, and uncomfortable territory. From public access to MTV to the ill-fated Freddy Got Fingered, Green has stuck to his own brand of Canadian lunacy for two decades.

It’s this writer’s opinion that Green was ahead of his time, and continues to be in a small respect. And having seen him recently, I can tell you with absolute confidence that he puts on one hell of a show.

I recently spoke to Green via phone about his latest efforts with touring as a standup and his “Webovision” online talk show.