Under Pressure

New York's last seltzer man goes all in.
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What Are You Buying For The Blizzard?

At about 4:30 in the afternoon, I stood outside my Brooklyn neighborhood’s Key Foods, as well as its fancy yuppie grocery store, and asked people what they bought to prepare for Winter Storm Juno. This is what they told me.

Gabriel, 35

Just staple items, you know, milk, eggs, well not milk, but eggs, bread. Just stuff to make us warm, not even like survival stuff. Just stuff to make hot food, you know, chili, soup, nothing fancy.

John, 64

I’m just buying regular groceries because I already stocked up. I’m just getting like extra stuff, like I ran out of tissues, and, what else do I got, I got some ground beef, beer, orange juice, lettuce, ice cream.

Jeannette, 30, and Afa, 39

Well, we did buy a bottle of water. But mostly vegetables, and salmon, something to make a nice meal. Mainly staples.

Sarah, 43

Just a lot of junk. That’s the funness of the storm, because you get to be inside, so I got like chips and salsa, fun stuff. Total junk that I wouldn’t normally buy.

Doug, 29, and Liz, 31

We bought stuff to make chili and tacos. And then we got some eggs, for breakfast. Snacks, popcorn, chips, salsa, but nothing crazy. Like we didn’t buy water. We’re not freaking out. Cider, to drink and be warm, and wine, but not from here.

Rich, 28, and Flora-Lynn, 30

Oooh, we were very unprepared. Some Bloody Mary mix, we thought that’d be good. Some meat. Essentials, lots of meat, lots of snacks, some juice. I don’t know why we didn’t prepare for this. The Bloody Mary mix is a new thing.

Udoka, 37

I bought snow bibs, for my kids, so we can go sledding tomorrow. I got some cherries, I got some strawberries, I got some other fruits, and that’s it.

Unknown, ?

I actually work in a press office, so I can’t speak to any specific brands.

New York City, January 25, 2015

★★★ There was something near-springlike about the brightish sun and the heavy drip from the scaffolds. The north was blue, the southern sky white and more whitening. Snow aging to slush lay in the planting beds around the trees or where a tree should have been. The three-year-old held the scooter handlebars with bare hands. A stranger girl scootered up behind him and announced she was giving chase. A boy came through the playground gate wearing a knit Seahawks hat and carrying a football. Hard unround snowballs went flying here or there. The three-year-old steered close to the line of scrimmage on the blacktop, then went off to crash into the plow-formed snowbanks by the fence over and over. He dragged a lump of snow under the footboard, nearly losing control when it broke free, then went and got another lump. Eventually he pitched over the handles into a slush puddle and asked for his mittens. “I smashed the snow,” he said. A referee might have scored it differently, especially after the snow had scored another knockdown or two.

Angela's Ashes

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In the early autumn of 1994, fuelled by a kind of defanged hubris, my friends and I dyed our hair Angela Chase red. To be fair, the particular shade was probably called something like Bordeaux Whimsy or Garnet To Hell. But when, moments into the pilot episode of My So-Called Life, Claire Danes’s 15-year-old Angela Chase looked up from the sink—bewildered and brazen with rivulets of Crimson Glow running down her neck—we found our lodestar.

Over the next 18 episodes, we lived My So-Called Life by proxy, parsing every lingering exchange, every painfully awkward faux-pas, every elbow-bruising, shearling-swaddled boiler-room makeout session between Angela and Jordan Catalano (to this day, the single greatest contribution Jared Leto has made to humankind—pace 30 Seconds to Mars fans), with manic zeal. Today, I can still recite from memory lines like: “People are always saying you should be yourself, like ‘yourself’ is this definite thing, like a toaster.” Whatever, roll your eyes—during our days of Bordeaux Whimsy, these were our koans.

So when the show was unceremoniously cancelled a mere five months into its so-called life, we were understandably devastated. We were swept up in the tide of the MSCL web community, reportedly the first such online movement. In the end, it wasn’t enough: They killed our psychic proxy. No Chase-ian koans could help us come to terms with this grievous wrong.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of that cruelest cut: On January 25, it will be two whole decades since My So-Called Life went dark, leaving a vibrating nexus of possibility and plot points in its wake. All these years later, even now that I have a kid, now that I have a job, now that I’m—ugh—basically the same age as Patty and Graham, the lovable but maddening Chase parents, Angela and Rayanne and Sharon and Ricki and Brian and Jordan hold an exquisitely dear place in my heart. What I find strange, though—what I never could have explained to myself back when I was a 13-year-old Gordian knot of anxiety and Crimson Glow-stained earlobes— is this: my love for these characters and their stories endures because of their short-lived tenure on the air, not in spite of it.

Why Is the Middle Class?

middleEveryone seems to agree that the middle class, the most hallowed constituency in America, is shrinking. The New York Times has the data to prove it. But our golden age of data journalism abhors ambiguity; in order to show us the data, while the Times wrestles ever so gently with the amorphous notions of who, exactly is middle class—households making between thirty-five thousand and a hundred thousand dollars, it turns out—it avoids the ontological issue, or to put it in the preferred language of our times, “Why are sources of wanting to be middle class?”

Snow

A photo posted by SNOW (@snowshelleyjackson) on Jan 25, 2015 at 2:16pm PST

Why Your Dad Will Always Be Your Hero

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Brought to you by Toyota.

1. Your Dad Was Always There for You
After waking up early, clocking in 10 hours at work and driving home in traffic, your dad still found the time to talk to you about your day and help you with your science fair project. Your dad was always there through thick and thin.

2) Your Dad Taught You the Value of Hard Work
Your dad taught you that any job worth starting is worth finishing. Work hard and never give up — it builds character and always pays off in the end.

3) Your Dad Taught You How to Grill the Perfect Hamburger
Finally — after 15 years of practice — you can finally grill up a perfect hot dog or hamburger. But it still won’t ever taste quite as good as your dad’s.

4) Your Dad Taught You the Important Things in Life, Told You Hard Truths and Always Looked Out for You
Your dad taught you how to be selfless and respectful to others — even when they didn’t agree with you. He’s also responsible for half of everything important you’ll ever know about classic rock, raising a family and making sacrifices for the people you love.

Check out the video below honoring dads everywhere. Honor your dad. Tweet us photos of him using #OneBoldChoice to join our big game celebration.

From Books to 'SNL' to Pixar to a Sitcom with Simon Rich

simonrichThere are a few observations critics almost always make about Simon Rich: how young he is, how much younger he looks, and how much he’s accomplished regardless. The next move usually is to list his accolades: when Rich graduated from Harvard (having served as president of the Harvard Lampoon) he already had a two-book deal from Random House as well as an offer to be the then-youngest writer on Saturday Night Live. After four years working at SNL, Rich spent the next two at Pixar. During this period, he published a total six books—the most recent a short story collection, Spoiled Brats, that features an alternate history narrative in which Herschel Rich is preserved in a pickle vat long enough to meet his great-great-grandson “Simon Rich.” Herschel is a little miffed to learn that his legacy has resulted in no medical doctors, but only a (to be fair to Herschel) misleading termed “script doctor.” More and more, you see Rich explore the trajectories that lead him to where he currently is—a 30-year-old writer with a resume so astonishing that he’s frequently been accused of nepotism (his father is notable theater critic Frank Rich). But one glance at his work and it should be clear to even the worst cynics: Rich’s talent and, moreover, sheer work ethic is undeniable.

These days, Rich is focused on his new comedy series, Man Seeking Woman (loosely based on Rich’s 2013 collection The Last Girlfriend On Earth), which premiered last week on FXX. Among its creative team are individuals such as Lorne Michaels, Jonathan Krisel (Portlandia), Ben Berman (Jon Benjamin has A Van), Tim Kirkby (Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle), and writers Sofia Alvarex, Dan Mirk, Ian Maxtone-Graham, and Robert Padnick. In many ways, serial television comedy seems almost a perfect medium for Rich’s approach to narrative, where loosely related premises are collected under the arc of a shared theme. In this case the theme is—what else—love in your 20s.

I spoke to Rich over the phone last week, during which he was visiting Los Angeles where he was promoting Man Seeking Woman while also — what else — hard at work.

I Gave My Cat to a Robot

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Rob! So what happened here?

Like anyone afflicted with toxoplasmosis, I care about my cat. His name is Fernando. We share a one-bedroom place, and I felt like he was getting bored with his small arsenal of feather wands and self-articulating lasers. He used to do these huge, four-foot X-Games backflips going after the feather thing, but those kind of stopped once he realized climbing up a chair would give him most of the benefits of jumping.

He was getting a little lazy, and I wanted to get him back some edge, you know? Fernando was a rescue but not like a mean-streets rescue; someone had left him and his littermates in the basement of a nice Upper East Side building before calling the Upper East Side of animal shelters. It wouldn’t shock me to learn they’d nursed him on tiny bottles of almond-butter smoothie, like the protagonist of a children’s book sold exclusively at Barneys.

Anyway I’d heard about Sphero, a (you guessed it) spherical toy robot that rolls where you tell it to with your iPhone. I liked Sphero for Fernando because its creators had made a promo video of spooked cats casting side-eye as it rolled past them—and when a cat is properly suspicious of something, it takes over their brain and leaves them incapable of creating their own mischief. Which seemed, at the time, like more than enough reason to spend $120 on a robot for my cat.

Quarterbacks, "Pool"

About a minute of restrained pop punk: just long enough for light mood-altering purposes, but not long enough to trigger the realization that this is, if you’re honest with yourself, music for teenagers.

Blizzard-Hoarding at the Gowanus Whole Foods

The scene last night:

It was not pretty.

“We don’t have lettuce—all we have is spinach and kale” is something I heard a hot dad say last night in the Gowanus Whole Foods regarding the state of his groceries. Hurry, hot dad, the blizzard is here! You’ll just have to make do!