Under the Bus

leapIt is not wholly coincidental or unexpected that the same week it was declared that Uber-affiliated “black and luxury cars” outnumbered medallion cabs in New York City, a venture capital-backed private bus service began operating in San Francisco that directly competes with public transit for “regular commuters who are doing a predictable route every day.”

The niceties of the six-dollar-per-ride Leap bus“finished [reclaimed!] wooden planks adorning the back wall”; “soft mood lighting”; local “Happy Moose Juice,” whatever the fuck that is; Blue Bottle coffee; Wi-Fi and USB ports; and bar stools—are only just beside the point, which is that its handful of buses complete a circuit “from the Financial District and the edge of Soma to the Marina” and run during “morning and evening rush hours.” This, Leap CEO Kyle Kirchhoff told Nitasha Tiku, complements San Francisco’s existing public transit system, Muni, by “handling some of the overflow.” In fact, he told her, Leap wants to be “the best way to interface with mass transit” and “help mass transit infrastructure expand.”

The Unclenching Of The Season

I heard some birds on the way to work today. They had probably been there for a week, at least, but I hadn’t noticed, because cities unclench before their people do. Further evidence of unclenching? The office is too warm because the heat was set, by humans, to anticipate deathly cold. And look: Sunday might be the last day the air dips below freezing! At least until we all go through this serotonin deprivation ritual again in like seven months.

A few more signs:

— Watched The Slap yesterday and thought, “actually not bad!”
— This “rural pop” (?) song I just heard
— New Kendrick Lamar still good
— Jon Hamm out of rehab
— Shorts talk
— That whole Fran Lebowitz interview
— Left work before dark
— Yesterday coffee guy made iced coffee out of espresso and today he had it in a jug
— Gyms crowded again after customary Jan-March dip
— Some bugs

Friday was the first day of spring but it brought no relief. Now—just now, at this very moment!—it is time to unclench.

LoneLady, "Bunkerpop"

When something works this well all you can do is put it out there and say, “anyway, enjoy.” So anyway, enjoy.

Traditionalists consider the proper credentials for a Manhattanite to include a 212 home phone number and a 917 cell number.”#

New York City, March 23, 2015

weather review sky 032315★ It was time to focus maybe on the sun-flushed pinkish haze of buds in the crowns of the trees far below. Little phenomena. Not to listen to the women in the elevator commiserating about their heavy coats. The singing of the birds—or was that too agitated? The cold was the cold, the same defeating cold. Enough of the cold. Notice the blues of the sky and the river and the hills, subtly different, not unworth looking at. The blinding spark of an airplane. The sun could be transformative, if you were a thing made of metal. No denying, it was a good day to be ductwork on a roof. The edging of windows. Wonderful conditions for the shiny and insensate.

“I have to say that one of the biggest changes in my lifetime, is the phenomenon of men wearing shorts. Men never wore shorts when I was young. There are few things I would rather see less, to tell you the truth. I’d just as soon see someone coming toward me with a hand grenade. This is one of the worst changes, by far. It’s disgusting. To have to sit next to grown men on the subway in the summer, and they’re wearing shorts? It’s repulsive. They look ridiculous, like children, and I can’t take them seriously.”
This woman is right. This woman is usually right, but boy is she ever right here.#

5 Ways to Tell If He's Into You: Kingdom Animalia Edition

the-trouble-with-mergers-september-10-1994 If You’re A Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis):

Okay, I know how very fine this dude looks: long neck, those rogue-ish horns, but don’t rush it. Instead, try casually flirting with him by urinating close to where he’s grazing. You’ll know he’s into you if he approaches, sniffs, and helps himself. If he likes what he tastes, it’s on! Lift your tiny tail and get your booty down. But girl, if he’s not into your flavour and trots away, remind yourself that it is his loss. At times like this, it’s helpful to remember your mother’s favourite adage: there are plenty of necks in the savannah.

If You’re A Peacock Spider (Maratus volans):

Girl! This guy’s definitely feeling you if he’s waving his brightly coloured abdominal flaps and applauding you with his third set of legs. You might not be in the mood, but he’s certainly willing to risk it! While he avoids your attempts to maim him, stop to admire his smooth sideways dance. Remember to award points for effort. If you’re into it, (and he’s still alive) go for it and let your hairy palps down! But if you’re still not feeling it, don’t worry, you can always eat him.

Time Borrowed

“In recent months, Facebook has been quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content inside Facebook rather than making users tap a link to go to an external site,” reports the New York Times. The writers add: “The Times and Facebook are moving closer to a firm deal.”

Posting journalism directly to Facebook will be great for those publishers who do it early. They will enjoy a set of small privileges that will express themselves in major ways: their stories will load faster than links to outside sites; their posts will merge more seamlessly into the addictive News Feed. Engagement, views, sharing, time spent—pick whatever metric makes you feel the best!—will increase.

A Facebook that treats native posts without favor will still inherently favor them because they are closer in form to the things that Facebook users share the most—and any link that would be widely shared on Facebook would be more widely shared if it weren’t a link to a website. Publishers early to accept Facebook’s proposition will enjoy an additional, larger advantage: For a short and glorious time, they alone will reap enormous the benefits of this heightened context. Their presence in News Feed will seem slightly easier and more natural than the presence of their competitors, whose manipulative headlines—which have been carefully optimized to convince you to leave Facebook to go to another site—will read an awful lot like spam. By serving as shining examples to those on the outside, they will create additional pressure to come in, given the opportunity. Publishers who join later will enjoy a perpetually diminishing advantage, gaining access to an audience pursued by ever more publishers instead of a few. Eventually, publications that once competed with each other for Facebook’s audience from the outside will find themselves doing the same from the inside, using Facebook’s platform not just to reach their audiences but to turn those audiences into revenue.

Eat the Tomato Soup


Tomato soup is the chicken noodle soup of non-meat-based soups: an overlooked and underappreciated as a cornerstone of American comfort food. Though its frequent partner, the grilled cheese sandwich, has received its due in the cyclonic world of food trends, tomato soup has yet to be really embraced by food bloggers and Good Morning America hosts. This is fine with me! Get away from my soup, you awful swooping buzzards.

Spring is the worst season. Its only positive attribute is that it isn’t winter, and even winter, in its early months, is festive and pretty and you can go skiing and there’s a long vacation for Christmas and New Year’s. When we “look forward to spring,” we are actually looking forward to summer. Anyway, there’s basically nothing to eat in March, but I’ve been making tomato soup like a couple times a week lately and it’s done a pretty decent job of blunting my seasonal depression. It’s a perfect dish for this season: It’s warm and soothing and soulful to get us through the cold dampness, but it isn’t actually all that heavy of a dish; it’s a transitional food, reminding us that times will get better.

There are many famous tomato-based soups—minestrone, gazpacho, cioppino—but these differ fundamentally from what I think of as the classic American tomato soup. For one thing, in minestrone and cioppino, the tomato is a broth to support the real focus of the soup—either vegetables and beans and pasta or seafood. And gazpacho is, of course, cold and also very rustic: big chunks of tomato and cucumber and who knows what else. American tomato soup instead draws its inspiration from—I think—the Polish zupa pomidorowa, a strained or pureed tomato soup often served with rice. But it really came into its own with Campbell’s ridiculously successful canned tomato soup, which is basically just tomato paste to which you add water. I love Campbell’s tomato soup; most canned soups suffer from the process of either removing water to create a concentrate or overcooking ingredients to become shelf-stable, but tomatoes take to concentration just fine. That said, we can very easily make a tomato soup that hits the Campbell’s notes but packs more, or different, flavors.

An Interview With a Wealthy Retiree About His Taxes

monopoly flickr George (not his real name) is a 47-year-old retiree living on investment income.

So, George, tell us a bit about your taxes this year.

My adjusted gross income was $502,000 last year, mostly in the form of long-term capital gains. I had about $169,000 in deductions, and owe $61,000 in federal and $29,000 in state taxes.

Both my income and deductions are unusually high this year; the income because I sold a lot of stock to pay for an apartment purchase (triggering capital gains), and the deductions because I made a large charitable donation to a donor-advised fund this year, in order to bring my taxes down.

That’s incredible. I assume at this point you are well aware of your yearly tax burden; finding out that you owe $90,000 in taxes is not a surprise to you?

Having a high tax bill is always good news for me, because it means I had high income.