“Most work emails are purely defensive missives. They seek to shift effort, hide omissions, or provide cover against future blame. Emails simulate work: Rather than getting something done, you create a futures market for excuses and rationales for not getting them done. Thanks to precarity, the modern workplace demands the construction of layers of protective virtual ramparts to shield the worker from possible future reproach. Email has become the primary brick out of which such fortresses are fashioned. An email is a one-sided agreement made in secret. Once sent, it takes on the air of accord. This is why “Didn’t you get my email?” is a workplace trump card. ‘Hey, I did my part. It’s not my fault if you dropped the ball.’”#
These are real text messages to Alex, the super of my totally normal building. He’s great.
Hey Alex, we have a small leak under the sink! Can you come check it out when you get a chance?
— September 29, 2013
Hey Alex there is a REALLY weird chemical smell in the apt… Not gas, more like paint or plastic? It is too strong to stay here. Can you check it out tomorrow??
— December 4, 2013
Did you get a chance to check out that weird smell yet? I have not been back yet and I am worried about the apt exploding
— December 5, 2013
I dropped out of college the first time in a bright kind of fall. The college, because I’m Canadian, was actually called university, and the university was of Western Ontario, a great, big, unevenly beautiful school at which both of my parents had matriculated. It would have been nice if that’s why I too had enrolled, or why my decision was forcibly encouraged; the real reason was that the U. of W.O. was a 12-minute drive from our house, where as a stay-at-home student I’d cost a lot less, help with the chores, and continue to attend our evangelical hell-hole of a church.
Resigned, I spent my first year of an undeclared major wearing comfortable shoes and riding the city bus to school. I remember making very few friends. One of them I kissed for 20 minutes by the light of a neon Sublime poster, and when my mother read my diary to find this out, she not only sat me down for a long talk with my dad, but also, the following Wednesday, showed up at 3:10 p.m. to an even longer lecture on Hegel. Five hundred students of Modern European History turned to look at her. I looked for a sharpened pencil. She just had a feeling, she said to me later in the van, that I was doing something here besides learning.
People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, photojournalist Daniella Zalcman tells us more about what it’s like to drive your car into a moose.
Daniella! So what happened here?
So I’m driving north on Highway 11 in Ontario, about four hours into my trip from Toronto, and it’s around 7 p.m. I was on my way to North Bay for a story I’d been working on for the past month that had taken me all over Canada, and this was my last week of travel. I was pretty exhausted, and a little burned out, and not super happy to be driving—I’ve only had my license for about two years, and between living in New York City and London for nearly a decade let’s just say I’m not the most experienced motorist.
Anyway, it’s 7 p.m. in November in Ontario, which means that it’s completely dark out, and Canada is not great about putting in lights on its highways, so outside of the twenty-foot circumference of my brights I can’t see a damn thing. I’d just had to pass this truck in the right lane that was spewing some really disgusting dense black smoke and was speeding slightly, about 110 km/hr or so, when I see this THING in the middle of my lane. For a split second, I think it’s a person, and then as I get closer I realize just how fantastically large it is and HOLY SHIT THERE IS A MOOSE IN FRONT OF ME WHAT DO I DO AND WHY ISN’T IT MOVING AND GODDAMNIT CANADA, is more or less what went through my head. I have just enough time to look in my rearview mirror and realize there’s a little time to brake before I make contact with the black hole of animal matter in front of me.
So I brake, and then I hit the moose.
The primarily physical symbols of the tech boom are: huge sprawling campuses that you can only really get a sense of from the air; weird anonymous towers overwhelming an iconic city skyline; conference centers viewed from the inside. I would add to the list “anonymous three-bedroom ranch houses built in the 50s that cost two or more million dollars and are located in one of the following California towns.”
These are the most expensive real estate markets in the United States, according to Coldwell Banker, excluding New York City. The ones in Northern California are unremarkable in housing terms except for their proximity to large tech companies—they are strange physically contingent resource-driven boom towns built around data instead of oil, and Chinese manufacturing contracts instead of natural gas.
Anyway, here is probably the most surreal and affirming page on Zillow.
★★★ Blue patches moved fast among the morning clouds. There were wilted plants in the raised bed, collapsed and stringy. The cold was less definitive, the wind strong but not freezing. The blue took over the sky, and the more clouds blew in—round puffs, then some that the three-year-old maintained looked like spaceships. The sun descended, round and red, and bars of color shone through the blinds onto the wall, as solid and saturated as something from the middle of a paint chip. Floating garbage wended its way among the balconies a third of the way up a tower. Sunset left a smooth spectrum on the sky, with the first band flipped: a bottommost layer of violet giving way to red, and thence up in order to deep indigo.
“Are you ready to experience this unlimited experience?” asks Miss 2.0, a PC Music avatar, as she stares out from a chat window, an unblinking green-lit icon declaring that she is eternally online. She is the promise of the infinite scroll and unlimited data personified: hit “x” and she does not die.
Like the very first pop song I ever owned on cassette, most of the online underground label PC Music’s “hits” are based around the idea of an unspecified yet definitely totally blissful “forever.” For the past year, the label has had London club-goers raising their collective WKDs at sweaty basement parties, and filling their social timelines with its accelerated pop sound. It feels like an allergic reaction to the gloomy head-nodding that has dominated London’s electronic music scene in the last few years, which itself provided a counterpoint to the glossy, hyperreal feeling of chart pop. It instead wields hyperreality as an ethos: online, it’s a cast of airbrush-skinned characters reciting all-you-can-download excess; at intimate and rowdy club nights, it’s a bunch of young, uber-enthusiastic DJs who entrance equally young crowds with banger after banger after banger.
in the undersideeternally midgety soul –
insertable – duct-
taped to my arteries (mon semblance –
mon squeeze) little shade
who called shotgun
on our dirty ride through this too-
too flesh – better grow a home because
this one’s leaving you
(bland) immortal vegetable / left to rot
out in the sun ::
now watch me drive my spirit–mule –
old bones I beat
and hide inside – over yon hill
where I’ll scrape you off on the singing soil /
then they’ll force me down
the trail of dried-out eyes
Turn the lights down low and pour a glass of wine for the steak and a glass of wine for yourself. Candles aren’t strictly necessary but they do help set the mood. Ask the steak about its day, letting it talk for as long as it likes, only stopping the flow of the steak’s conversation when it seems like the steak wants you to ask it another question. Occasionally offer compliments. (If it’s a handsome steak tell it it’s smart; if it’s a smart steak tell it it’s handsome.) Every now and then brush your fingers against the steak absent-mindedly, but don’t withdraw those fingers too quickly. The steak should feel your heat. As the evening progresses and the steak warms up to you, continue to laugh and be close to one another. Offer the steak another glass of wine but never serve it more than it seems like it wants. When you feel ready to make your move, ask for the steak’s consent to perform an abbreviated butterfly maneuver. If and only if the steak fully and enthusiastically agrees, lay it flat on a cutting board and use your sharpest knife to make an incision in the steak’s middle that is roughly the size and thickness of what you plan to put inside the steak. Be firm but gentle, slicing rather than hacking or sawing. Once you’ve completed slicing the steak and the steak indicates that it still is willing to proceed, take it to the bedroom, crank up My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, and bring it to as many heights of ecstasy as you and your steak can handle for the evening. Afterwards, tell your steak you will call it again even if you don’t plan to. The steak will know that you’re lying, but will still appreciate the effort.
Previously: How To Cook A Fucking Steak