Sponsored

The Twitter Question

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 6.00.38 PMJay Kang’s tight narrative of “the nation’s first 21st-century civil rights movement” is vital reading:

Since Aug. 9, 2014, when Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department shot and killed Michael Brown, Mckesson and a core group of other activists have built the most formidable American protest movement of the 21st century to date. Their innovation has been to marry the strengths of social media — the swift, morally blunt consensus that can be created by hashtags; the personal connection that a charismatic online persona can make with followers; the broad networks that allow for the easy distribution of documentary photos and videos — with an effort to quickly mobilize protests in each new city where a police shooting occurs.

We often think of online activism as a shallow bid for fleeting attention, but the movement that Mckesson is helping to lead has been able to sustain the country’s focus and reach millions of people. Among many black Americans, long accustomed to mistreatment or worse at the hands of the police, the past year has brought on an incalculable sense of anger and despair. For the nation as a whole, we have come to learn the names of the victims — Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Tony Robinson, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray — because the activists have linked their fates together in our minds, despite their separation by many weeks and thousands of miles.

In the process, the movement has managed to activate a sense of red alert around a chronic problem that, until now, has remained mostly invisible outside the communities that suffer from it. Statistics on the subject are notoriously poor, but evidence does not suggest that shootings of black men by police officers have been significantly on the rise. Nevertheless, police killings have become front-page news and a political flash point, entirely because of the sense of emergency that the movement has sustained.

Left unconsidered—in favor of issues like if and how the movement work should through the existing power structures of the current legal and political system—is the vexing question of whether the movement should rely so heavily on Twitter to publicly organize, engage, and spread its message. Twitter isn’t merely a profit-seeking corporation—it’s one that is, of late, in disarray, meaning that with each passing day it grows more beholden to anxious shareholders. The shift toward revenue generation has already produced some profound effects in the shape and flow of the network as it turns inward to more effectively capitalize on its existing users while it desperately attempts to acquire new ones. Beyond the loftier questions of like, what it means for the movement with respect to political economy and the media and whatever, in time, there could be practical consequences for using Twitter to sustain a social movement. If Twitter becomes no longer amenable to these kinds of voices, where can they go next?

New York City, May 3, 2015

weather review sky 050315★★★★★ Tulips lit up orange on the Broadway media. “What’s that white stuff over there?” the three-year-old asked on the subway platform, pointing to the sunbeams on the downtown express tracks. Everyone was out and chattering.  The train car had the hubbub of a restaurant; more hubbub carried across the bare sunstruck space of Union Square. Bicycles clogged the train for the ride back uptown. Breeze smoothed the long fur on the face of a terrier and sent a white-haired man’s hat rolling away at a pace for a leisurely walking pursuit. Treetops, half-leafed, were lacy in the late daylight.

A Blue Rush: Discussing "Bluets"

In 2009, poet Maggie Nelson dropped Bluets, the print equivalent of a mixtape that combines memoir, poetry, art critique, and personal essay. Bluets as a whole is a lyrical meditation on love, grief, obsession, and color, but any given stanza of it—it’s organized into numbered paragraphs—might consist solely of a detail about a nomadic tribe, or a quote from Goethe. You can read a substantial excerpt of it here.

The book continues to exert and accumulate influence as readers discover, re-discover, share, and publicly mull over their impressions of this unique investigation into a steadfastly broken heart. The advent of Nelson’s more conventionally formatted memoir The Argonauts felt like the perfect opportunity to revisit Bluets, though one never really needs an excuse. Here, Ana Cecilia Alvarez, Sara Black McCulloch, Meaghan O’Connell, and Anna Wiener talk about why Bluets remains so powerful, how certain books become incorporated into our lives, and what it means to be “dickmatized.”

Charlotte: I’m curious about the circumstances under which you each found Bluets. How did you end up reading it, and did you immediately recommend it to friends? Or did you savor it alone?

Anna: Bluets was given to me by a bookseller at McNally Jackson (“given to me”? Sold to me, by someone doing their job) sometime in 2010. I had never really read anything like it before—writing that was both academic and heartbreaking, that traded in brevity and never bordered on melodramatic, nebulous but focused, and so smart, intellectually and emotionally.

Sara: About two years ago, I was writing an essay on female desire and boy bands (stay with me), and Bluets came up while I was researching, but it was sold out everywhere and I didn’t have enough time to order it.

I met with my editor a few days later and she brought up Bluets and asked if I had read it; I told her what happened and she pulled it out of her bag. I read it on the train from Toronto to Montreal, and read it over again on the way back. I couldn’t annotate my friend’s copy, so I took notes in a journal. When I got back, I ordered my own.

I recommend it to every woman I know only to discover they’ve read it already.

Real Loves, in Order of Realness

20. Stephanie Mills

About as real as you’re going to get rolling down the frozen aisle or waiting in a doctor’s office, which is likely the only place you will hear it, ever.

19. Lisa Stansfield

Real, but not nearly as real as “All Around the World.”

Apartment Cheap

showerrrThe Awl’s real estate columnist recently visited that perhaps unfairly maligned apartment with a shower in the kitchen, which just might be a good deal in the current market. Or at least that’s what the broker argues (and she’s mayyyyybe not wrong?):

The apartment had originally been listed, in January, at $1,995. “It was on the market for over a month, and nobody called,” Dippolito said. Even when the rent went down two hundred dollars, he received only one application. After local media picked up on the listing and poked fun at the shower-kitchen situation, that applicant tried to negotiate. Dippolito recalled, “The guy e-mailed me and said, ‘We really don’t want to pay more than sixteen-fifty.’ And I said, ‘Guys, I can’t get you an apartment in Queens for sixteen-fifty!’”

How a Freelance Illustrator Who Makes $16,000 a Year Does Money

somerville flickrElizabeth (not her real name) is a 28-year-old freelancer living in Somerville, Massachusetts.

So, Elizabeth, tell us a bit about your finances.

I’m a freelance illustrator and part-time art educator, living in Somerville. I teach at a progressive independent school during the academic year and at an Oxford, U.K.-based program during the summer. After taxes, I made $16,000 in 2014. Where the bulk of my income comes from changes annually, but last year it was mostly teaching. I’m debt-free.

You make about $16,000 a year. That’s above the poverty line for a single person, but not by much. Are you satisfied with your earnings? Do you want to earn more, and are you planning your career so that you can earn more in the future?

I’d certainly enjoy more money, but I have a high quality of life already. I work enough to maintain a balance of freedom and comfort. If I earned more, most of that would go to savings, since that and retirement is where all of my extra money goes now anyway. I maxed out my Roth IRA for 2014 and 2015 recently. It was a wrench, but my rate of return was at 9.1 percent! I had to!

Sometimes if I look at the actual earning/spending numbers I feel baffled and distressed, but if I look at my practical day-to-day living I feel content. It helps that most of my friends are also either low-earning, or have a lot more financial commitments than me (student and medical debts particularly). Ideally I’d be doing more prestigious, better-paying projects, but I really love the combination of changing freelance work and a consistent part-time job. If something meaningful changes—if I get a crazy baby-craving or break my wrist, or something—I’ll probably have to revisit this plan, though.

Let’s get right down to it: How do you do it? How do you live on $16K? Tell us everything you can: what percentage of your money goes towards rent/overhead, how much you spend on food, how much you spend on entertainment, whether you have a retirement account, whether you have emergency savings, etc.

Okay, hold onto your butts.

How to Beat a Ticket for Running a Red Light on a Bicycle When You Are Very Definitely Guilty

asfhjk

Dan! So what happened here?

Oh boy. So, last August, I was riding my bike to go feed a friend’s cats while he was on vacation, which I only mention because I am about to become pretty unsympathetic and I want to start things off on a good note. I am a pretty safe cyclist; I always wear a helmet, I only bike in bike lanes, I never go the wrong way up a one-way street. I do, or did, at least, routinely run red lights, though. Not in a particularly unsafe way, just in the same way a pedestrian does. Look both ways, etc, etc. Anyway I was running a red light while on Washington, crossing from the south to the north side of Fulton, and there was a cop parked on the north side of Fulton, behind a van so I couldn’t see her. 

She whooped her siren and for whatever reason I decided I would try to make it as difficult as possible for her to write me a ticket. The first thing I did was pretend I didn’t hear the siren and turned right onto Gates, through another red light, which was out of the way to my friend’s house but looked like a pretty good escape route. The cop was not fooled and chased me down, at which point I couldn’t really pretend I didn’t hear the siren anymore, so I stopped. The cop yelled at me for a while about running two red lights (I wanted to, but did not, mention that I only ran the second red light because she caught me running the first red light). 

We’re basically the white version of Odd Future.#

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

you can look like diiiiiiisssssss

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!??!?!?!