Under Pressure

New York's last seltzer man goes all in.
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New York City, January 26, 2015

weather review sky 012615★★★★ The snow was going by the windows in every direction except downward—raggedy scraps at first, then smaller flakes. The apartment door had to be pulled shut against the air pressure. For a while, New Jersey emerged from the whiteout and a spot that was almost the sun flared in the mirrored glass of the tower across Amsterdam. By the early emergency pickup time for preschool, though, the snow was blowing again. A fuel oil truck was preparing to make a delivery to the mirrored tower. Some of the sidewalks were still bare; some looked bare but were slick with slush. At West End, the snow went from swirling to shooting hard down the avenue. The supermarket behind the preschool was overrun, the line for the registers reaching all the way to where the line for the bakery counter would ordinarily be. By two in the afternoon, the snow was white smoke streaming by. The steps down from the forecourt were well mounded with snow when the older boy’s school let out. On the storm blew, now thinner, now thicker. Now thinner. What was it amounting to? Out in the night, the fabric-belted line dividers of the Apple Store stood on the sidewalk, warding passersby away from the place overhung by a row of icicles that buckled away from the smooth glass top edge of the building. The cross streets were full of fluffy chunks of snow, each lump distinct in its shadows in the retained illumination. A shutdown warning on the subway speakers carried up the un-shoveled steps out of the empty station. The streets were pale and vacant but they were still the streets. Things held their usual shapes, with no real prodigies or perils yet in evidence. Surely it had snowed this hard before. Where the way had been recently swept clean, the prints of the soles of boots, with dragging heel marks behind, stood cleanly in the thin renewed accumulation. A wide circle had been cleared around the fountain in Lincoln Center Plaza, and the water was going, lit from below, sending up a mist to mingle with the flakes in the glow. A scant handful of people had closed in around the brightness—a couple, slim in their cold-weather gear, snapped pictures and put their heads together for a kiss. Then a security guard in a flapped hat cleared the plaza, and the barren isolation of the fountain was complete. But was it necessary?

A Place Like Home: On Being Black and Punk

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 6.19.57 PM-2The first year I went to Fest was on a whim, with a ticket bought while drunk. I drove down to the annual punk music festival in Gainesville, Florida, and crashed in a double hotel room with seven white dudes. Fest is a lost weekend of sloppy music and sloppier crowds, a beer-soaked vacation. I didn’t regret it.

On the second night—a particularly long one in which I found myself falling asleep in a dive bar as a loud band played—I wandered to the back bathroom to splash water on my face and wake up. Someone walked in while I was at the sink and suddenly a girl wrapped me up in a drunk, sloppy hug. When we were untangled from each other, she exclaimed, “I’m sorry, I’m just so happy to see another brown person at Fest!”

I had, as always, been aware of the sea of whiteness in the crowds and on the stage, but I hadn’t thought about it much until that moment when I realized that I was so goddamn happy to see her, too.

Eat the Can(ned Vegetables)

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I went to the farmer’s market this past weekend. It was depressing. The meats and eggs and prepared foods were all very nice, but the produce—the produce is dead: apples picked months ago, stored in giant industrial fridges; wrinkled, overripe pears; and a few sad, scattered bins of potatoes. It’s still possible to eat seasonally, if you opt for stuff that’s in season in warmer parts of the world, but we’re mostly stuck eating subpar produce from the grocery store. This time of year, we have to look elsewhere for produce.

Instead of eating awful hot-house tomatoes, yellowed cucumbers, and flavorless blueberries, winter can be a time to experiment with preserves: shelf-stable foods sitting in jars or cans, which, admittedly, have a lousy reputation thanks to a couple of decades of American cuisine that relied too heavily, and not smartly, on them, giving us the wonders of bland potatoes, grey-green beans, and mushy peas. But canning can be a way to bottle in flavor at its peak to keep for the entire year, and when canned foods are used properly, they can be much more flavorful than the bland, pale—or suspiciously vibrant—vegetables available in the middle of winter.

Most canned green vegetables simply aren’t worth bothering with; some of them, like peas and spinach, freeze well, so you should buy frozen. Others you’ll have to wait until they’re in season to enjoy them. Below is a list of reliably good canned products; most brands will be anywhere from fine to excellent, as long as you stay away from dented cans. Tomatoes vary the most, but for everything else, I tend to just buy whatever’s cheapest. Goya makes nice stuff. Even the Jolly Green Giant makes some good stuff, as long as you buy the vegetables that work well in cans, rather than the ones you wish worked well, like peas. And in terms of cooking, I tend to rely on long cooking methods, especially soups and stews, for canned goods. You don’t necessarily lose flavor in the can, but you definitely lose visual appeal, so you’ll have to set aside salads and other fresh presentations.

Cold Fury

only mildly terrifying when the rails are sparking and you're 50 ft up #blizzardof2015

A video posted by Alfred M Maskeroni (@digimatized) on Jan 26, 2015 at 1:54pm PST

So, the snowstorm wasn’t as violent as you wanted it to be. You wanted it to howl in your windows, to bury the homeless and freeze-scorch the earth. You wanted to cower in the face of its might. Aren’t you disappointed that you’re not trapped in your home, that you can’t carve one of those beer-shelves in the snow piled up outside the door? What a pity. Poor old you.

Stop yearning for it! Snow kills people. It’s like a dangerous animal. It will let you cavort nearby, but get too close and it’ll murder you dead. In fact, I hate snow. It hasn’t always been like this: I remember putting a tiny snowman in the freezer and opening the door every hour, just to check that my beautiful creation could truly be real, like everybody else. That was fine. It is magical enough in the paintings of Pissarro and the odd infant memory, sure. But snow causes disaster, and lusting after it is morbid.

Go to iTunes on Your Phone and Search for ‘Philip Glass’ in Ringtones! Orange Mountain Music is proud to announce the first volume of official Philip Glass ringtones available through Apple devices starting January 27, 2015 (Android soon to follow). These ringtones, drawn from original OMM masters, feature 22 tones including classic Philip Glass scores like Koyaanisqatsi, Einstein on the Beach, The Thin Blue Line, North Star, The Secret Agent, Fog of War, Candyman, solo piano works including Mad Rush, and Akhnaten. Tones include: Koyaanisqatsi from Koyaanisqatsi, various selections from The Grid from Koyaanisqatsi, Knee Play No.5 from Einstein on the Beach, Metamorphosis No.2, the Funeral of Amenhotep III from Akhnaten, two movements from the Concerto for Saxophone Quartet, Houston Skyline and Comets & Vegas from The Thin Blue Line, the perfect ringtone: Music Box from Candyman, and much more.”#

(Sugar) Baby's First Date

whiskeysour On a recent Wednesday, my friend Annie1 went on her first date with a man she met through SeekingArrangement.com, the self-proclaimed “leading Sugar Daddy dating site.” Annie, a “Sugar Baby,” has been looking for what the site calls a “mutually beneficial relationship.” In exchange for companionship, the perks for Sugar Babies can include “financial stability,” “experienced men,” and being “pampered.” A day after her date with a Sugar Daddy, she told me about her experience.

James2 was one of the first people I talked to on SeekingArrangement. There are a lot of guys who just trawl the site for the second there’s a new profile to instantly favorite and message; that makes you feel adored, because you’ve literally just made an account, and then you feel like, “Oh my god! I’m so popular already!” But James just looked at my profile and didn’t do anything. I checked his profile and thought it was funny, so I was offended that he hadn’t said anything to me. So, I messaged him; I very much pursued him because I was pissed that he wasn’t paying attention to me. His original messages were pretty removed and not the most authentic seeming, so I just kept chatting him and trying to tease it out. Then it became this thing where he was clearly being much more authentic than I was, or, at least, appearing to be.

We talked for a solid month, at least, maybe a tiny bit longer. The original plan was to meet for drinks on Monday, go shopping, eat a nice dinner, and then probably get drinks at the bar of the hotel where he was staying. He messaged me to try to meet at an exceedingly fancy restaurant on Tuesday night, which I wish I could have done, except he ended up having a meeting with a celebrity. So, we just got drinks at around eleven on Wednesday, at the hotel bar, which was very chill and swanky. I walked into the lobby, where we had agreed to meet. I didn’t see him, and I was definitely the youngest person there. All of a sudden he appeared and was just like, “So, you’re here!” He was dressed really nicely, in a button-down shirt underneath a blazer, slacks and horn-rimmed glasses. He was very, very metrosexual, which surprised me because I’d imagined him as this pretty manly, kind of goofy dude. He was gentlemanly and pulled out my chair when we sat down at the bar.

I tried very hard to make sure we sat close, but also to make sure that ours knees wouldn’t touch—I didn’t want to do anything even remotely intimate, because at that point I had no idea how I felt about the entire situation. James kept complimenting me and telling me how glad he is that we could meet up because I’m always out doing something or meeting someone and how charming he thinks it is that I’m so social. The weirdest thing about it was how it was just like, pretty normal in terms of what we talked about. We talked about movies, art museums, the housing market, and his job. It came up that his real name wasn’t James, it’s Alan3. (I found out his last name as well, because he said it when he set up the tab at the bar, and it turns out that he’s totally Googleable: He’s really what he says he is on his profile and teaches at an Ivy League university.)

“It’s extraordinarily difficult to accept that you might be deeply statistically normal, and best advised just to do whatever most normal people in your situation have done in the past.”#

Look, I know you’re upset. I know right before you went to bed last night you looked one last time out the window at the falling snow and thought to yourself, “It’s just going to keep snowing and it’s never going to stop.” I know you slept better than you have in months, maybe years, contented in the knowledge that the city would be buffeted by the winds and blanketed by the storm and then buried deep and forever. Buffeted, blanketed, and buried. And yet here you are, wide awake, uninterred, probably not even needing to put on gloves today, slowly realizing that not only did the weather fail to put an end to everything, you’re going to have to spend the rest of the day hearing people argue about who got it wrong any why. Even about this there will be thinkpieces and explainers. The storm that was supposed to bring you peace at last will be one more fucking stop on the endless local line of idiocy in which everyone shouts out into the void to try to convince themselves and others that what they have to say has meaning, they they really matter. Everything you thought you’d never have to worry about again is still there and now you’ve got the added inconvenience of having to cope with it all while the cacophony of self-appointed experts asserts that they would have done things differently and also you’re going to have to go through the day with damp socks, which is fully the worst. Listen to me: I know your agony. I share your pain. I too ache from the same deep disappointment that weighs so heavily on your head right now. I cannot tell you that everything will be all right, because we both know that that could never be true; as terrible as everything is today you can be pretty sure that tomorrow is going to be worse. What I will promise you is this: The end will come. All the anguish and torment through which you suffer each day will eventually be brought to a close. It’s just not going to be from a snowstorm. It’s going to be fire. That’s one of the few things the Bible actually gets right. Keep your chin up and muddle through. We’ll get there. It’s gonna be so hot.#

How New York City's Monster Blizzard Became a Wee Snow Sprinkle

As you run to the window this morning, you will see that a world-class blizzard attempted and failed to destroy New York City overnight. It is now off brutalizing Boston, which is something we can all get behind.

Snowfall totals hit up to ten inches in Queens last night but were much lower in other parts of the New York. The city may get a few inches or a bit more than a few inches today, but no one cares. Now people are pissed at our emergency preparedness. Even the New York Times is getting in on the graph-snarking action. (To be fair, most people were extra-pissed because Facebook, Tinder and some other dumb stuff went down for a bit last night.) And now you can just stay at home and be pissed! Because we won’t find out about transportation options until 8 a.m., when that putz Andrew Cuomo starts yapping from his snow-bunker. And then you can prop yourself up in bed and watch all the pundits take it out on our poor dumb mayor.

It seems worth pointing out that 53 people in New York State still died in Hurricane Sandy, after a huge preparedness blitz. The death total from last night will, at least, likely approach zero. But people are mad. Like NY1’s Pat Kiernan! So mad, for a Canadian!

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.

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