Friday, September 12th, 2014
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New York City, September 11, 2014

weather review sky 091114★ Not only did it not conform to any fixed ideas of what other day it might resemble, it would not even conform to itself. The morning sky was a softly rumpled gray, with cool air coming through the windows and the floors feeling damp under bare feet. Little openings of blue passed now and again, moving north fairly quickly. The ropes of the waterproofing crew's rig swayed darkly back and forth across the windows. A moment of sun passed, and the air got more and more stuffy. By the end of the school day, the cloud cover had come apart into streaks and ripples of white on blue. Then came near-full sun and sweltering air, hide-in-the-shade heat. That in turn gave way to a darkening sky, with a reddish tinge upriver, holding for a long menacing movement—and then surrendering too, till returning sun lit the sides of the rigging rope bright manila. Sunset was colorful, but nothing extraordinary.

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This Week in Lines

NYU 4:18 A.M. Monday, September 8 — NYU Orientation
Location: Bleecker and Mercer
Length: At least two hundred backpacked cattle
Weather: 75 and mostly sunny
Crowd: Literal fresh-faced fresh-persons
Mood: "Zomg so excited!!!1"
Wait time: Four or five years, depending on major
Lingering question: How many mansions could you purchase with the amount of student debt accumulated the occupants of this line? READ MORE

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Eat the Skin

kiwi

Before eating many fruits and some vegetables, some people—bad, or perhaps ignorant people—do something which renders the produce less tasty, less colorful, less texturally interesting, and much less nutritious. The worst of these offenses involves one of my favorite fruits: the kiwi.

California grows the vast majority of domestic kiwi, and California’s kiwi growing season starts in October, which is mere weeks away. This is exciting, because the kiwi is a spectacular fruit: its color is otherworldly; it leans wonderfully to the tart side of the sweet/tart scale; and it has more vitamin C than an orange. But an awful lot of people don’t buy them, because they are seen, incorrectly, as being in the grand tradition of difficult-to-eat tropical fruits.

Just as it takes practice to properly carve a mango (the first method here is the correct one, since you should never peel a mango before cutting it), or to remove the spiky, dangerous skin of a pineapple (like this), the kiwi has the reputation of a fruit that requires…work. Typical ways to eat it include skinning it with a vegetable peeler and slicing into rounds or cutting it in half and scooping out the insides with a spoon. These options require not one but TWO utensils. Jesus Christ.

I am about to blow your minds, friends. (Unless you already know this, in which case, cool, let’s make a salad together sometime.) The proper way to eat a kiwi is exactly the way you would eat a peach. READ MORE

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Disrupters, Disconnectionists, and Dicks

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On Tuesday, Nev Schulman took a selfie in an elevator. The photo shows him standing with his hand over his heart, staring all serious straight into his iPhone. In the corner, a bag of groceries and a water bottle rest against the door to block it from closing. The light in a closed elevator is rarely flattering; when you have upwards of 740K followers, there’s not much room to fuck around.

“Cowards make me sick,” read his accompanying tweet. “Real men show strength through patience & honor. This elevator is abuse free. #RESPECT.”

Schulman is the star of the 2010 documentary Catfish, a film about the time he fell in love with an impostor on Facebook, as well as the host of MTV’s Catfish: The T.V. Show, where he counsels people who fall in love with impostors on Facebook. The tweet was ostensibly inspired by his outrage over the recently leaked video of Ray Rice hitting his fiancée in a (different) elevator.

READ MORE

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7 NYC Nightlife Adventures That Will Remind You Why You Moved to the City

Brought to you by Heineken.

It’s been said that the essence of city life is the chance encounter—the idea that at any moment you could stumble upon something new and exciting you’ve never experienced before. The sheer number of people, places, neighborhoods and cultural attractions packed in to NYC can feel overwhelming in the best possible way. However, even with the city’s frenetic pace, it’s easy to get locked in to a routine. Before you know it you’re living your entire life along one Subway line and spending Friday nights in your underwear watching Netflix.

So how do you make the transition from jaded New Yorker back to enthusiastic city dweller? Just try your hand at these NYC adventures below.

NYC Night Cruise (AKA Party Boat)

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The oft-forgotten NYC Night Cruise (AKA “Party Boat” AKA “Booze Cruise”) is one of those magical opportunities that tourists seem to love but New York residents think they’re too good for. This is unfortunate because there’s nothing like a party-on-a-boat to remind you of the majestic beauty of the city you’ve been taking for granted. While there are plenty of amazing cruises departing from Chelsea Piers at any given night, here is just one: The Spirit of New York dinner cruise. The Spirit City New York outdoor deck is a perfect spot to gaze at the stars on New York Harbor. Grab a brew in the lounge or head for the dance club and move to the latest sounds. There’s a full food menu, attentive service and Broadway style entertainment. Not a bad environment in which to enjoy the world’s most dramatic skyline, right? Photo: vtravelled.com

Live Piano Karaoke at the Manhattan Inn

ManhattanInn

You’ve been to more karaoke nights than you can count. That’s all fine and good. But why not re-invigorate your sad spirit with a new variety of intimate, live piano karaoke? Every Tuesday at The Manhattan Inn in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, pianist Joe McGinty “holds court behind a grand piano, enthusiastically accompanying anyone with the desire to croon, sing, belt, or whisper their favorite song.” (There are over 200 to choose from). The Manhattan Inn’s dim, inviting atmosphere is the perfect spot to relax the nerves and prepare you for a night of pouring your heart out in public. Photo: The Manhattan Inn

READ MORE

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'Shy People' and the Consequences of Excavating a Lost Film

shypeople

-Look over there.

-I don't see anything.

-You don't see them. They'll see you.

Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky's Shy People opened in New York and Los Angeles in December of 1987 after winning the award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival and receiving a handful of rave reviews. The film was seen by few people and nominated for even fewer awards, even though its lead actors—Barbara Hershey, Jill Clayburgh, and Martha Plimpton—teetered somewhere on the mostly recognizable and well-liked edge of B- and C-list. In May of 1988, the film was given a slightly wider release, allowing it to take one final gasp of air before falling into the murky depths of forgotten films and becoming an official bomb.

Considering the fact that major publications failed to get even its general plot correct in their Fall movie previews, the fate of Shy People was unsurprising—most notably to Roger Ebert.

Of all of the great, lost films of recent years, "Shy People" must be the saddest case. Here is a great film that slipped through the cracks of an idiotic distribution deal and has failed to open in most parts of the country…If you want to see it, move decisively; it will be pushed aside soon by the big summer releases. With slightly different handling, "Shy People" could have been a best-picture Oscar nominee.

Roger Ebert

May 20, 1988

In 2014, Shy People barely exists. READ MORE

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Every Job I’ve Had: Indoor Bouncy House, Defense Contractor, Traveling Nerd

bouncy castleFront Desk at Surprisingly Sketchy Kids Indoor Bouncy House, 2007, $8.50/hour

My first and most colorful job. Also the only time I’ve ever been fired. I remember my mom dropping me off to fill out the application while she waited in the car. I’m pretty sure I was wearing a three-piece suit at the time, because that’s totally what you do for job interviews, right? Anyway, they were looking for people and I guess I looked eager enough.

Every weekday I walked about two miles round-trip in the Southwest desert heat for my never-more-than-four-hour shift. I liked hanging out with the families and kids even though I always ended up coming home smelling like feet. Usually I opened the store, blowing up the bouncy palace and obstacle course, before calling parents to finalize their kids’ birthday party plans. (“Chocolate or vanilla sheet cake?” “Yes of course we’d be happy to book Spongebob for little Suzie.”) Most of my downtime was spent doing data entry or cleaning up the back room where every once in a while I’d hide out and eat cold leftover pizza.

Working there, I quickly learned the first rule of kid-related employment: Everyone at these jobs are super weird. It’s a universal rule, like some sort of ISO standard for hiring that makes sure only sufficiently crazy people are allowed near kids (exceptions for schools and child care, maybe). Summer camp? The cook is feeding you stray cats. Build-a-Bear employee? Shaves his leg hair right into the cotton stuffing pools. Don’t even get me started on costumed cartoon characters. READ MORE

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Grouper, "Call Across Rooms"

There is depressive music that tightens the girdle of neuroses around your brain and then depressive music that loosens it. Music that forces you to stare at the ceiling and music that lets you close your eyes for a minute. Music to breath in, music to breath out. A whole rich taxonomy, probably, with fans too lethargic to write it.

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"In the war between a sensitive nose and the city streets, the streets have the upper hand, assailing the nose with the odors of urine, decomposing garbage and clammy armpits. Mouth breathing is not only acceptable, but often necessary."

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New York City, September 10, 2014

weather review sky 091014★★★★ Pigeons were bathing in the top of the fountain, getting into it, coming up drenched and ruffled. The sky was blue but with a discoloring haze low down it it. Some squares of the sidewalk had a shine on them. Long sleeves felt appropriate, though evidently so did shorts. It was too soon for jeans. Unexpected dirty gray cumulus intruded on the nice sky—looming to the east, lurking behind water towers to the north. A grubby cloud was nearly overhead while the grim fanatics and the agitated counterfanatics took up their positions on the street corners. Warm enough for skivvies, or for gender-nonconforming scanty things. The event moved on; the clouds went back to healthy white.

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A Poem by Lisa Cattrone

Trash Talk

Your mother could pull a fresh squid from a lumberjack.

Your mother took a train to Milpitas.

Your mother is so dumb she unearthed Spinoza’s glass joke box instead of Spinoza.

Your mother took a whole hour to run blue veins in a vinegar wash.

Your mother folded the liver of a sparrow.

Your mother couldn’t help me find Orion.

Your mother has a burnt-out black-light in her mouth.

Your mother came from the north where the geese run wild.

Your mother is not a stranger to me.

Your mother could have slit solar guts out of an alpaca.

No one’s ever seen your mother. READ MORE

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Truls, "TRVLS"

Soaring, almost presumptuously confident pop music. Pristine production, accompanied by a victory-lap tour video with huge, adoring crowds. But then: "Truls?" The answer to any questions you might have here is Norway. (Thanks, Jenna.)

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Objects Uncovered During the Excavation of Your Childhood Bedroom

found_1 READ MORE

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Aziz Ansari on Selling Out Madison Square Garden and the Business Side of Comedy

Aziz Ansari might be a TV star on NBC's five-year favorite Parks and Recreation and soon-to-be published author, but performing live standup has always been his main love. Ansari recently finished up several dates on the Oddball tour and kicked off his own tour, Aziz Ansari Live!, becoming only the seventh comedian to sell out New York City's Madison Square Garden in the process. I recently got the chance to talk with Ansari all about his new tour as well as what it feels like to sell out the Garden, how he's working to make buying tickets a stress-free experience, and what we can expect from next year's series finale of Parks and Rec.

Before I ask you about the tour, congratulations on selling out Madison Square Garden. That must feel pretty great.

Yeah, it's insane, I can't believe that happened. I'm very excited.

It's a huge accomplishment. Do you set specific goals for yourself and your comedy career, or are you more of a day-to-day type of person?

I'd say I'm more of a day-to-day person. I couldn't imagine that I'd get to play the Garden or something like that when I started out doing comedy. I didn't even think I'd get to do theaters or anything, so I feel fortunate enough to even have that experience. So to do the Garden is not something I had on a to-do list or anything. I could've done the Garden on my last tour because I ended up doing enough shows—I did a few shows at the Beacon, I did Carnegie Hall, I did Apollo—and when you added up all of those tickets it ended up being 10,000 or 12,000 so I knew I could've done at least one show. So I was thinking about whether I wanted to do it and I told a couple friends; I was like "I'm not sure if I want to do a run at the Beacon, or I could do the Garden…" and they were like "What!? You could do Madison Square Garden?" So every time I got that crazy reaction I was like you know what, I should do it—it would be such a crazy thing to get to do in my life. So I set it up, and then when I saw it sold out I was like "Holy shit." READ MORE

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A Week of Watching People Read in the Subway

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Books on the subway are increasingly like birds in the jungle: colorful, hard-to-spot, and of obsessive interest to the lonely and peculiar. Here are one week’s worth of sightings and speculations.

Monday, 5:20PM, Brooklyn-bound C train, 23rd Street:

Facts: Thin man with bushy black beard, in his late twenties or early thirties, wearing a tight shirt buttoned all the way to the throat, purple and yellow striped socks. In his lap are Cloud Atlas and The Stranger, both closed. They remain closed, almost defiantly, for twenty minutes. He’s not even looking at his phone; the empty space in front of his eyes is, apparently, preferable to reading these books.

Assumptions: He, George, is coming from the apartment of a friend on the Upper West Side, whom George, slowly, and then all at once, realized that he no longer likes. They met during their first year of an MFA program at Columbia and initially formed a bond over mocking the work of their classmates. (“OK, you’ve read Cormac McCarthy. We get it.”) George, who dropped out after the first year, has since come to regret these conversations. He recently noticed that his friend’s much-praised wit consists almost entirely of repeating things stolen from Twitter. This friend—who actually enjoys George very much—has loaned George a couple of books (“You haven’t read Cloud Atlas? Take it! Seriously!”), thinking this will guarantee at least one more encounter. It will not. The books will migrate from key table to a bedside table to under the bed to moving box to stoop.

READ MORE

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A Brand Remembers 9/11

Where was I? It was a clear morning on the conceptual plane where all brands exist, and I was staring into the blue, repeating my own name. It was like any other day. I don't remember who told me. Probably one of the people who constantly manifests me into media for a living.

They all seemed upset. So I mirrored their emotions back at them, with some added optimism and aspirational imagery, which seemed like the right thing to do.

READ MORE

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A Song of Spice and Fire

Starbucks

The night's chill lingered into the early morning, coming through my window, rustling my curtains in their wake. Birds hooted from their branches: It's time, it's time. Bodega cats crawled from beneath their milk crates and yowled at the rising sun. In the distance, like on Coney Island where there's space, a tumbleweed rolled through a yard.

I awoke instantly, and I knew my call had come: Today I would drink my first Pumpkin Spice Latte. READ MORE

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In ordering a sustained military campaign against Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, President Obama on Wednesday night effectively set a new course for the remainder of his presidency and may have ensured that he would pass his successor a volatile and incomplete war, much as his predecessor left one for him…the widening battle with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will be the next chapter in a grueling, generational struggle that has kept the United States at war in one form or another since that day 13 years ago on Thursday when hijacked airplanes shattered America’s sense of its own security.

Happy 9/11, everyone.

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New York City, September 9, 2014

weather review sky 090914★★ Whatever else it was (gray, principally), here was something new for the season: an intimation not of sparkly autumn but of the deep damp chill behind it. A flight of purple clouds in the west lingered a good while after sunup before yielding to a general overcast. Then a soaking undramatic rain fell in the middle of the afternoon. The smell of wet live greenery, available still, was on the air at rush hour. Shoe soles slipped on the pavement. Uptown it was drier underfoot, the clouds darker but looking less like rain. 

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Whitman College and the Decline of Economic Diversity

Whitman College, the gem of a small private liberal arts school in Walla Walla, Washington, has long been a mainstay of the Colleges That Change Lives lineup, along with schools like Antioch, Cornell and Marlboro. Whitman is an excellent, beautiful, and fairly safe college that students are lucky to attend. If you are applying there now, it just might be the right fit for you.

The school is also now in the middle of a search for a new president. At the same time, the college is being strangled by a long-serving, insular and controlling board of trustees, a weak and poorly rated president who inspired a faculty revolt, and an intentionally toothless board of overseers, mostly alumni. The school has turned its back on needs-blind admissions and on any reasonable commitment to diversity. Because of this, the school has gotten its comeuppance in a New York Times analysis of private schools that places the college absolutely dead last in terms of economic diversity.

This ranking was no accident. This was Whitman's goal. An analysis of the school's common data set from 2001 to 2013 shows how they did it.

You can see two things here. In blue is the number of incoming freshmen that applied for need-based financial aid and were also judged to be in need each year. Back in the previous decade, the school was attempting to join the club of colleges that practiced "need-blind" admissions. In 2010, the school moved to describe itself as "need-sensitive." The number of students who required financial aid was, on the whole, steadily growing. In 2011 and 2012, the school admitted fewer students who needed financial aid to attend college—and increased aid to students without need.

In red is the number of those students who had their need met at 100 percent. (The other students had their need met partially—often substantially.) In 2007, 81 percent of students with financial need had their need fully met. In 2013, only 53 percent did. READ MORE

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