Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
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Dress Your Family In Your Lover's Shoes

I was asleep on the overnight train from Carbondale to Chicago, dreaming about snuggling with my boyfriend, Sam. I awoke to find myself reaching for my seatmate—a newly released convict who did not want to snuggle.

“No,” he said, crossing his arms. I knew he was a former inmate from his grey sweatpants, matching t-shirt, and prison-issued sneakers. The Pinckneyville Correctional Center is halfway between Southern Illinois and Union Station. The midnight train is the cheapest option for shipping freed men north.

He shook his head. “I don’t cuddle.”

“Sorry,” I mumbled. It seemed pointless to explain that I’d thought he was my boyfriend of one year, who I was on my way to meet. Sam and I were flying to Ireland and staying with his family for one month, which seemed like the most romantic thing ever.

At the time I was going to school in Southern Illinois. In retrospect I was clinically depressed. My evenings consisted of three beers, watching “Bones”, then to bed with the help of frantic diary writing and a Klonopin. Every diary entry that year was about Sam. I wrote about worrying if he liked me, if he would call me. I wrote to quiet the swirling within me—a swirling that happened when I thought about calling him—because he rarely answered.

Our decision to spend a month together in a foreign country felt auspicious. The fact that we were staying with his family for the duration was practical (we were both grad students with small stipends, and it made sense to leech off people providing food and shelter in a picturesque environment) but only complicated the delusion that he might really like me. The capacity for madness lives in all of us. The question is whether those who love us see it for what it is, or try to romanticize it into something else. READ MORE

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When a Man Grabs You on the Subway and Tries to Drag You Down a Flight of Stairs

People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, developer and editor Nozlee Samadzadeh tells us more about being assaulted by some jerk while exiting the subway station.

Nozlee! So what happened here?

I have a lovely subway commute—I really do. I take the L just a few stops and then transfer to a couple more stops on the NQR, which conveniently has staircase access directly from the L platform. Even on a bad day this never takes longer than 25 minutes!

Last Wednesday was normal: I got on in a specific subway car to most efficiently make my transfer and pulled out my magazine. The car was pretty empty but filled up at Bedford Ave, where the last person to enter was a white guy in his forties obviously ready to go on vacation—Guayabera shirt, salmon-colored shorts, overstuffed carry-on luggage. He was standing directly next to me in front of the car doors; I briefly imagined the $$ waterfront high-rise where he lived and the suits he probably normally wore when riding the L into Manhattan, then went back to what I was reading.

We pulled into Union Square and, ugh, it was one of those bad days: The NQR staircase was crowded up and down with other passengers. I was running a little late and needed to dash out, but as the doors opened Guayabera guy was taking up the entire doorway getting a hold of his luggage. I wiggled past him—I’m not going to say it was nice to maneuver past someone, but it certainly wasn’t a violent or sudden action—and walked toward the staircase.

I was trying to find a way up the stairs, which were crowded with people rushing in both directions, so it wasn’t until I was halfway up the first flight that I realized the yelling I heard was directed at me. "Don’t push past me, you bitch! Who the fuck do you think you are?" READ MORE

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Fall Preview

autumninnewyorkAutumn will start off with a series of false beginnings and vague feelings of dislocation as summer lingers longer than everyone expects, even though summer here always easily extends into the end of September and sometimes beyond. When the days draw down and the sun starts to set earlier and earlier you will increasingly develop an overwhelming sense of opportunities missed and chances wasted as each event you had hoped to attend or goal you had your sights set on achieving becomes another adventure you opted out of under the empty promise that there was something better going on, and this endless buffet of poor choices will eventually lead to a fatigue so heavy that you will soon stop making choices at all, relying on the default option of doing nothing and hating yourself for it. Suddenly it will be winter, and all around you will fade into darkness and depression and bitter, pitiless wind. You will realize just how empty everything is. The grave beckons. The grave beckons. The grave beckons. Look for a Saints-Broncos Super Bowl.

[Photo via]

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"Supposedly born on August 31, 1887–the year Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee–she has attributed her long life to eating well, snacking on chocolate, sleeping for days on end and never getting married, according to her family."

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Family Purged

Hmm:

This is an incredibly exciting time for all of us in media. The Washington Post is a crown jewel, exemplifying the finest in editorial quality and journalistic values. I am honored to follow four generations of Graham family leadership and thrilled with the opportunity to work with Jeff and the incredibly talented team at The Post.

Katharine Weymouth, the publisher of the Washington Post and Graham bloodline human, has "stepped down" from her role to make way for Fred Ryan, the founding President and CEO of Politico and former Reagan chief of staff. A year ago, after Jeff Bezos purchased the paper, Weymouth told readers: "Mr. Bezos has asked that I remain as Publisher and CEO of The Post. I am honored to continue in that role. Our mission does not change." Today, Bezos made a subtle frame adjustment: "I am so grateful to Katharine for agreeing to stay on as Publisher this past year."

"Crown jewel," says Fred Ryan, whose partners in the Politico project were mostly former Washington Post employees (who are surely enjoying some complicated feelings this morning). Crown jewel. As in… a ceremonial item taken from its case on special occasions? A beautiful object symbolizing an excess of wealth and power? An American crown jewel? A Jeff Bezos crown jewel?

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Memes and Misogynoir

On April 7, 2012, a fire broke out at the Chateau Deville Apartments, a complex located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Though no serious injuries were reported, one woman—in whose home the fire started—was treated for smoke inhalation and five units were damaged, displacing several families and depriving many more of electricity.

The story reported by NBC-affiliate KFOR-TV included a brief interview with resident Kimberly Wilkins, who ran for her life as the building as the building burned:

You probably know her better as Sweet Brown. Her closing line, "ain’t nobody got time for that," is sure to ring a bell.

How is it that a witness to an alarming event—a fire or sexual assault—becomes one of America’s favorite punchlines, a catchphrase, that proliferates everyday vernacular so thoroughly as to make her testimony unrecognizable?

Many have used the phrase "digital blackface" to describe the odd and all-too-prevalent practice of white and non-Black people making anonymous claims to a Black identity through contemporary technological mediums such as social media. It often involves masquerading behind the Black face of a fictional profile picture. These attempts, while hilariously transparent, take advantage of the relative anonymity of the internet to perpetuate decontextualized stereotypes and project an image of Black people that fits the desire of anti-Black individuals. READ MORE

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The Most Correct Way to Grill Vegetables on a Stick

2602959462_a22a75f5bf_zIn a few days, grills will be ceremonially set ablaze for Labor Day (“it’s the end of summer,” we’ll say, even though the first three weeks of September are still summer, technically and temperamentally). Many of those grills will be piled high with vegetables. Good: Direct heat and smoke can do lovely things to plant matter. But the most common technique for grilling vegetables, the kebab, is performed incorrectly by the vast majority of American grillmasters of the universe—even though most other countries mastered the technique sometime around the time it was discovered that fire hurts when you touch it.

Stabbing things with a skewer and putting them over open flame is just about as primitive as it gets, and we still do it because it’s 1) a convenient way to grill bite-sized pieces of food 2) fun and 3) delicious. Pretty much every culture has independently invented some version of the kebab, whether it’s brochette or yakitori or pinchos or satay or döner. For some reason, we Americans have chosen to ignore all of these kebab styles in favor of just one: shish kebab, a mutant version of Turkish şiş kebab that is a fairly simple riff on skewered grilling. If one had to pick a single way to grill vegetables until the end of civilization, it’s not a bad choice at all, with dominant flavors of lemon, oregano, mint, and olive oil.

Except. READ MORE

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Persona La Ave, "We Are"

Just one of a small handful of standout tracks on Persona La Ave's warbly, synth-driven twin EPs, out this week. Try "Cheers Big Ears" for something more upbeat, then "She Dances" to slow things down almost to a stop.

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This Week in Lines

Colombe10:04 am Tuesday, August 26th — La Colombe Torrefaction
Location: Church Street and Lispenard Street
Length: Eleven people
Weather: 75 and mostly sunny
Crowd: Late risers with enviable office hours
Mood: Pre-amped
Wait time: Six-to-eight minutes
Lingering question: if you're getting your morning coffee after ten in the morning, what time do you have to be at your desk by? READ MORE

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We Can Be the Generation That Ends Smoking

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New York City, August 27, 2014

weather review sky 082714★★★ It was not hot yet on the way to nine in the morning, over wet, newly washed sidewalks. The air had gotten clearer overnight; the sky was a sharp blue. Cigarette smoke floated in the early light on 81st Street. The heat and haze came on, but with no power to chase people away. A group sat in the shade in the not-really public park with food, a stroller, a little dog in a harness. The tops of the honeylocusts in the sun were a green fluffy line going down the street. The clouds were blurry and discolored, even relatively high in the sky to the north. The warmth stayed in the streets after the direct sun was gone. Still, going up into it was more appealing than waiting on the hot platform for a 1 train for a forecast six minutes. A blinding shaft of light from the lower middle of One57 lit the faces of people sitting on benches on the Broadway median—three blocks up and more than a full crosstown block over—and went on to hit the sidewalk and building face on the west side of the street. Sewage smells came from someplace, or places. A light sweat came on, in proportion to the accumulated exertion of the walk. Bright orange spots appeared in the sky, maybe a half-dozen different possible cloud-screened suns. Then they resolved into a single thick pink streak.

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A Poem by Debora Kuan

Mantra

My husband didn’t like his mantra.
“Shirim” or “Shring” or “Schwing,”
something to that effect.
My own mantra was much longer.
“It is only money.” I chanted
it in the shower. I whispered it
into a mussel. I shouted
it from the fire escape to
the ramheaded gargoyle
across the street. I think
you’re doing it wrong
,
my husband said. Your eyes
should be closed and you
shouldn’t be shouting
.
I ignored him and continued
my diatribe, shaking my fists
at greedy little ghosts.
You don’t control me, money!
No, you don't!
Then I went
inside and fried up a $50 bill
with sauerkraut and ate it
with a side of buttered toast.
It didn’t taste like chicken.
I’d say more like manta ray.

READ MORE

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Do not adjust your feeds; they are working correctly. Rather than let pieces trickle out over the next couple of days while we sit by a pool or alone on a mountaintop and try to pretend that our lives, like the summer, are not rapidly collapsing into a single point of nothingness, we are trying an experiment in which we publish all of the day's stories at once. If it proves successful, we may consider an entirely new form of publishing, in which we bundle an entire day's worth of news and commentary into a single package that we deliver to your doorstep. It has never been done before. We're not sure what we are going to call it, but the sound of "hyperlapse publishing" has been bouncing around the office, and it has a nice ring to it.

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Every Sylvester Stallone Character Name That Is a Noun or Verb

stallooone17. Jack Carter
16. Robert Hatch
15. Henry "Razor" Sharp
14. Kit Latura
13. Stud
12. Robert Rath
11. Rocky Balboa READ MORE

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New York City, August 26, 2014

weather review sky 082614★★★ Haze stained the edge of the sky. The two-year-old decided he wanted a sweatshirt, and had to be talked into settling for putting it in his backpack. The air was thicker and more difficult to breathe than it had been for weeks. By any standard other than the blissfully anomalous one of the preceding weeks, though, conditions were still gentle. The subway platform was not quite stifling, but the blast of air from an incoming train felt refreshing. The air conditioning on the crowded 1 was up to the task, by a narrow margin. On the D, condensation dripped and puddled on a seat. Aboveground was nicer than below. The haze submerged the Empire State Building and the Freedom Tower, but at midday, an enormous pile of snow-white cumulus stayed pristine up above it all. Even as the western sky went gray-white, a little freshness lingered. A Japanese maple on a rooftop stood up purple-red against the sky. Heat ripples cast wavy, trembling shadows on the apartment wall as the sun slipped behind the neighboring towers. 

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A Decade Later, Whither the Metrosexual

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When was the last time you considered the metrosexual? If you are a reasonable person—not this guy—it’s been about ten years. Or at least I thought so, until, after a decade of silence, three people mentioned metrosexuals to me in the same week. Perhaps because it’s the twentieth anniversary of its coining and the tenth(ish) anniversary of Queer Eye.

In reconsidering the metrosexual, we must first distinguish between the metrosexual’s imagined and actual properties. Like hipsterism, metrosexuality is an insult more readily slung than substantiated. According to canon, David Beckham is the ur-metro. Although Beckham initially goes unmentioned in the word’s first printing (in 1994), the word’s progenitor, Mark Simpson, introduced American readers to metrosexuality through the British football star in 2002, when he called Beckham a "screaming, shrieking, flaming, freaking metrosexual…famous for wearing sarongs and pink nail polish and panties…and posing naked and oiled up on the cover of Esquire." Other icons of metrosexuality of the time included Mark Wahlberg and P. Diddy. This was somewhat shocking to me, since I associate metrosexuality with men who resemble heterosexual twinks—your Zac Efrons, your Ryan Seacrests. Hair that swoops, cheeks that apple.

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 2.08.34 PM

From Mark Simpson’s first article on the metrosexual.

Unlike homosexuality, metrosexuality, one would think, is determined exclusively by artifice. But when I asked friends to delineate that artifice by describing "metrosexual fashion," there was no consensus (rings? v-neck tees? scarves?). There are also no obvious metrosexual products, and certainly no defining brands—like Sperry Top-Siders are to preppies or Herschel is to hipsters.

Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 2.09.47 PM

From The Advocate, December 2003. Metrosexuality was omnipresent, but vague.

Rather, it seems, metrosexuality is attitudinal and behaviorist: It isn’t about using a certain pair of tweezers, but by using them often. On Urban Dictionary, you just might be metrosexual if "you own 20 pairs of shoes, half a dozen pairs of sunglasses, just as many watches and you carry a man-purse." Attitudinally, we might ascribe it to what Simpson calls "narcissism" and what I would call, in heavy scare quotes, "indulgence." This is why it is so outrageously easy to lob metrosexuality at even the muscle-ogre-iest of targets; in 2003, Howard Dean was a metrosexual.

READ MORE

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Ask Polly: A Chilling Cautionary Tale About the Dangers of Getting Involved With Attached People

the futility of living Dear Polly,

Yesterday, I woke up to an email in my inbox with the subject "Uncontested Divorce Papers." I need to sign them and send them back to the lawyer, at which point she'll file them with the courts, and I'll officially be a divorcée. In order to make the process as quick and hassle-free as possible, the reason given for the divorce is "irretrievable breakdown of marriage over a period of at least six months." The problem is, as far as I'm concerned, that's a complete lie. 

I'd been married for fourteen months and twenty days when my husband told me he was in love with one of my close friends and that he didn't want to be married to me anymore. The day before he told me this, he'd sent me flowers at my office. The night before THAT, he'd texted me that he loved me so much. When friends say, "Well, there must have been signs," I ask if flowers and love poems and dates are signs of irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. Then they stop asking. 

I met my husband in graduate school, where we became good friends. Deep down, I knew I had developed feelings for him, but I denied them, because he had a girlfriend. When he moved to New York after graduation, we kept in touch, talking every day for hours on g-chat. When he told me he had feelings for me, as more than a friend, I was ecstatic.  He'd been telling me about problems with his girlfriend for a long time, but they were still together. I told him he needed to break up with her and then we needed to take a break before we could start dating. I assuaged my guilt by believing he didn't love his girlfriend, that she was possessive and boring. I never asked more questions because I was too happy. 

We dated long distance for a year, seeing one another almost every weekend, until I moved to New York to be with him. We adopted a dog and got engaged. After eighteen months of planning together, our wedding was by far the happiest day of my life. Though I'd felt isolated when I first arrived in New York, I eventually made friends of my own at my job (one of whom became the woman who is now my husband's girlfriend), and got closer with his friends. I loved our life together. 

One thing I knew about my husband, though, was that the same boundless ambition and creativity that made me love him was also a destructive force in his life. Nothing he did was ever good enough. My real fear was that nothing I did was ever going to be good enough either, but he assured me this was not the case. It turns out that I was right. Though he gave me no sign that he was unhappy with our relationship, I'd somehow missed the mark. 

It's been three months since he told me he didn't want to be with me anymore, and since then, we've had very little contact. Every time I've tried to reach out for answers or to express any emotion, he hasn't responded. When I asked him why he never gave me a chance, he responded that our "marriage was my chance," though he'd never expressed his unhappiness to give me a chance to try and make things better. 

I've moved back to where I lived before I moved to New York and I'm doing my best to move forward. I'm seeing a therapist. I'm keeping busy. I'm doing yoga and talking to friends and taking care of myself.  We had many mutual friends, many of whom are still his friends, which is another difficult situation. 

My question to you, Polly, is how do I continue to move forward when it feels like I've failed at my marriage, my love, the life I loved? Though rationally, I know it was his actions that destroyed our relationship, it's still difficult to keep from feeling like I messed up somewhere along the way and that no one will ever love me again. I'm torn between anger toward him (and her) and devastation for the huge loss I feel.

And I don't know what's better—that sadness, or the anger? The anger feels better than the sadness but I don't want to become bitter. Is there a middle ground? 

Looking for Balance

Dear LFB,

I know this is going to sound harsh, but bear with me, because it's necessary: You did mess up somewhere along the way. You engaged in an ongoing flirtation with a guy who not only had a girlfriend, but had the bad taste to complain about his girlfriend to you, his attractive female friend. And what were his complaints about his girlfriend? That she was possessive, and boring.

Attention, Every Single Human Reading This: If you're flirting with someone who's currently attached, and they start to badmouth their partner? That is a giant red flag. Even if the partner in question is verifiably not so great, it's fucking weird for a person to hang out and whine to attractive others, rather than simply, say, dumping said malignant partner and THEN bagging on his/her irredeemable ass with vim and vigor (and with other dickish friends with weird lowercase names). READ MORE

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The Cost of Bringing a Person Into The World Via C-Section

Screenshot 2014-08-26 11.11.15 The claims section for my personal account on my health insurance provider's website gives me great anxiety lately. This is why.

CLAIM ONE: $24,254.25
$14,489.90 Allowable
I OWE: $500 Copay

A few notes:

Did I go to the emergency room ($500)? I did not! I went to triage in Labor & Delivery, which is I hope what they mean. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, though I have no idea why I would do that.

Did I get an ultrasound ($480)? Okay I did but it was for like two seconds in triage when they checked to make sure he was still head down. That should have cost like, $20 tops.

Anesthesia, $338? My first epidural didn't work so they had to give me another one. Then they did more stuff to me in the OR, don't really know what. This relatively conservative amount only makes me fear there is another claim coming from the anesthesiologist, and that the anesthesiologist doesn't take my insurance. If you pray, pray for me.

The line item I take the most umbrage with has to be $14,400.00 for three nights in a 8'x5' section of a hospital room, cordoned off by puke green curtains. My neighbor—yes I shared a room—did not want to use air conditioning, as it was presumed to be bad for the baby. She wailed to the nurses when visiting hours were over, not that I blame her, and demanded that her husband be allowed to stay. They said no but he stayed anyway. No one had the energy to forcibly remove him. I told the nurse, who insisted I could say no, that I didn't care. I wanted my person there, too, desperately, but I am, I guess, more desperate to follow the rules. In the middle of the night, after days of no sleep, I'd wake up and hear her husband snoring. The curtains would billow open and various family members of hers (of which there were many) would catch sight of me, sweaty, wrestling with my sweaty baby, tits out, on the verge of tears. $4800/night. Cool. READ MORE

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As a child, one might have imagined counting to ten billion in the course of reckoning with the seeming infinitude of enormous numbers. This is actually impossible to do in a human life time, since it would take over three hundred years. But, as an adult, one might discover that he can simply will himself from zero to that number, or even more—at least as long as he is counting in dollars, as the founders of Snapchat and Uber have discovered, whose companies are now valued at more than ten billion dollars. A lingering question: now that the ten-billion-dollar frat has become a little less exclusive, who will be the first to reach infinity?

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Jay Prince, "Polaroids"

Jay Prince, the East London rapper, tells The 405: "I don't know, I mean it wasn't really much else, there was no big thing that happened behind it—it was just me getting back into the swing of things and just trying something new." Good enough for me!

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