The Uber Endgame

Why Uber (and Lyft) continue to look more and more like mass transit

New York City, August 26, 2015

★★★★ In the shade, the early temperature was somewhere between relatively cool and absolutely so. The sun established itself, and established some heat with it, provisionally. There in the open and down in the still-choking subway were summer’s redoubts; by late day, with the sun up in the treetops and the heights of buildings, scattering window reflections, there was only the subway. A plain straight railing atop a walkup building was a streak of fire. The tiresome rumble of the air conditioner could be turned off and the windows opened, to let in the breezes and sirens of night.

Everybody Is Flipping Out, Man

Distribution of a proposed one percent sales tax on flips in 2014

In real estate, “flipping” is the practice of buying a piece property and then selling it a short time later, often having renovated, rehabilitated, or otherwise upgraded it to increase its value. Despite being a risky and expensive proposition, this kind of thing happens all over the country. According to real estate analytics firm RealtyTrac, nationally, the average return for investors on a house flip in the first quarter of 2015 was 35.1 percent, up from thirty-five percent at the same time last year; returns on flips in the New York and New Jersey metro area—where flips made up 3.7 percent of all sales—however, were even greater: investors saw an average return of 47.1 percent in the first quarter of this year.

New York City’s most successful flip last year, the Post reported in December, was a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment on the Upper West Side purchased for just under two hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars in February; it was resold in September for nearly eight hundred and ninety thousand dollars. “The best neighborhoods for profitable flipping are those that come with a higher risk because of location and condition of properties,” Ivona Perecman, a luxury broker and real estate attorney, wrote in her summary of RealtyTrac’s analysis. Flipping is, in a word, speculation.

In Search of the Greatest Rum Cocktail Ever Made

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 11.29.58 AM

Welcome to the competitive cocktail circuit, where the world’s best mixologists unite with a singular goal: to develop the world’s perfect rum cocktail. In the video below, host Chris Kevin takes us on a journey through the exclusive and mysterious world of the Bacardi Legacy Global Cocktail Competition to find the world’s best Bacardi rum cocktail – and mixologist.

In front of an audience of the most exacting critics and judges, cocktail makers from Singapore to Ireland present their legacy rum cocktails. Each presentation calls for a description of the drink’s theme, followed by a live demonstration and tasting of the signature cocktail.

Can one intrepid mixologist make a drink that rivals famous forbears such as the mojito or daiquiri? Watch the video to find out.

The Traffic King of Reddit

lol

Last week, while avoiding work, I stared at a gif of an endless model train spiral for what seemed like hours, transfixed by the constant, seamlessly looping stream of miniature carriages, moving without end, going nowhere, yet constantly in motion. It’s one of thousands of Reddit posts I’ve seen from GallowBoob without knowing who he was or how he appeared on the site so often; if I had gone anywhere else on the internet to procrastinate, odds are, I’d still be looking at something he made popular first for millions of internet users around the world.

lolololol

With more than 5,546,795 link karma (Internet points given for posting popular content), GallowBoob is Reddit’s top curator of gifs, photos, videos, and clickable material. The average karma count for active users is just over thirty-one thousand (as measured back in 2011, when the number of users was far lower than it is today), and with a mere twenty-five slots on the front page reserved for the most popular content, few users ever get their posts within spitting distance. Getting to the front page for a typical user is a rare, serendipitous occurrence, if it ever happens at all. GallowBoob’s posts make it to the site’s front page on a near-daily basis, which means that the material he shares helps determine the viral content that spreads across the entire web.

A Poem by Robin Beth Schaer

Middle Flight

The baby’s feet never touch the ground.
Before now, he floated in dark water
so I hold him like an exile for months

until his own weight is no longer foreign.
Someday he too will chase his lost lightness
half-remembered toward the sky. History

is full of flightless falls: metal wings
and bird machines built without destination,
just to be loose of the anchor. No one

flew until a papermaker watched
his wife’s chemise swell beside a fire
and conjured a craft to ride the heat.

Like putting a cloud in a paper bag, he filled
the first balloon with air from burning straw
and wet wool, and launched a rooster

above Versailles. The night my son takes
his first steps, I let paper lanterns go
in the dark and watch them soar from sight.

Gwenno, "Patriarchaeth (Ewan Pearson Remix)"


I’m not sure how you say “The summer is dying and now it’s dying fast. You’ll wake up in a week or two and realize what you wasted. You’ll wonder if winter will be as bad again this year but deep in your heart you know it will be worse,” in Welsh, but until I figure it out listen to this track from Gwenno while we still have some summer left to enjoy it in.

New York City, August 25, 2015

weather review sky 082515★★★ The sun was not too scattered to cast a retrograde shadow as it came back eastward off the mirrored tower. The MetroCard receipt stuck obligingly to a fingertip to be photographed for reimbursement purposes. A hot damp wind came up the sidewalk as the shoulders shuddered away the effects of the air conditioning. Objectively sweltering and foul as it was, it still took a bit of walking around to find a place that was genuinely uncomfortable—Union Square, as it turned out, with the sun battering the open plaza and a drummer banging away in a little bit of shade. A big bright cloud swelled over Fifth Avenue late in the day. The heat lost its grip when the sun did. Leaves stirred in Lincoln Square and a bagpipe carried from some unfixable location.

Where Is the Song of the Summer?

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 4.23.08 PMLast year’s putative “Song of the Summer” was a national embarrassment; as a result, American songs—and for safe measure, all songs in English—are no longer eligible. Each month, until summer has died, the Awl will present alternatives.

Matimba by Kabele Mabelane
#1 in Botswana (Gabz FM)

Pretty clear who is running off with Botswana’s summer—the South African rapper’s single came out in March and is at no. 1 five months later. But this is an ensemble piece, in the sense that he spends considerably less time in the spotlight he does than leading chants and choruses. Drum circles, too, presumably: The massive percussion backdrop has an unusually Latin flavor, but even more curiously, it starts out peppered with digital glitches that would be more at home sandwiched between EDM wubs—but then they seamlessly fade away and come back reincarnated as a horn section. This is precisely the sort of material M.I.A. absorbs and repurposes so effectively, so you can probably look for these same sounds to make it to the U.S. soon enough.

These Are Our Most Natural Musical Fibers, or, Hmm, Is This Morgellons?

As with the first noises of most Destroyer albums—the sandy processed reverb snare on “Kaputt,” the distortion power chords on “Rubies,” the tacky choral synth of “Your Blues,” to name just three albums that open impeccably—you will be welcomed to “Poison Season” reasonably convinced that Dan Bejar is just screwing with you. Like, oh noooo, he found another gnarly sound. A fresh ride around the crinkly lip of the roller derby rink of acceptable music!

Is music a joke? What does the sound of a group of instruments playing together now mean? Is emotion a joke? Most disgusting is that human bodies are brimming percolators of feeling—emotions kept hidden in secret, until they vomit overboard with a raised eyebrow or a fist or some gross tears. Actors are disgusting to society and are made fun of because they reach in for a handful of the acid and then splatter themselves AND they do it for money. Songwriters are celebrated too when they go for it, but they’re booed if they don’t go all in or not far enough. In the middle they are just treacle or pat or cheesy or gay. The main nasty feeling expressed by music for three decades has been lust. Banging was a Hot Topic of rock, sure, but sexy fuckability is pretty much all that inorganic electronica could support on the long road from Moroder to Skrillex. Knowing about camp made everyone a chilly sex bot, hiding away all that earnest horniness inside us. The computers won. The 80s gave up. But then finally the late great teen movement of emo came in to bring all the non-fucking feelings back. Goth the sequel came out with the great lady song-singers, and now we’re here at last on the far side of disco with music made by hand. Now even Skrillex wants you to feel.