Drink the Brand


Although the big three soda companies all sell bottled water, they are not that excited about the trend. Bottled water is a less reliable line of business for them. Single-serving bottles of water, like Aquafina from PepsiCo and Dasani from Coca-Cola, earn margins similar to those of soda, but customers appear to have less brand loyalty to water brands than to Coke or Pepsi. It’s harder for the companies to compete in the grocery store, where low-margin companies that specialize in water are able to price large multipacks much lower than the soda bottlers want to sell them.

Generally, these companies worry about holding on to customers. The companies are expanding sales overseas, which has helped buoy their stock performance over the period. But in the United States, they all worry about losing even nontraditional drink sales to a competitor. Someone might be a die-hard Coke fan, but prefer Snapple iced tea to Honest Tea, which is a Coca-Cola brand.

It’s almost as if the Soda Brands are anxious about the power of their less established brands to compel consumption of a commodity product in this, the Year of Our Brand 2015. Not unlike some other industry right now! Hmm.

Photo by Daniel Orth

How to Beer Can a Chicken

Choir Of Young Believers, "Jeg Ser Dig"

Do we need a Scandinavian Sade? I will admit that there is no place for one on my list of requirements and that, prior to being informed about this track, it would have never occurred to me that such a thing even existed. And yet here were are. As they tell you in grade school, you get what you get and you don’t get upset. And, actually, in the scheme of things, a Scandinavian Sade might not be an absolute requirement for a fulfilling existence, but on a cold and rainy Friday heading into a wet weekend there are plenty of less enjoyable experiences one could encounter (and no doubt eventually will) so it’s probably best to allow this one in and enjoy.

New York City, September 30, 2015

★★ Drops were on the windows, but the showers had stopped in time for the trip to school. Only out in the sweltering hallway did it become clear how much the air conditioners had been doing. More rain fell and stopped. Over the brick forecourt it was dripping, or still raining, or beginning to rain once more. On the benches were new wet spots, or old wet spots slow to dry. A bright circle in the clouds, not the sun but an indication of the sun, was reflected in a gutter puddle. In between the noises of the Times Square BMT platform came the patter of falling water. Downtown the crosshatching of the metal stair treads had been impressed into trampled soggy newspaper. Back uptown, in the time it took to finish early pre-K checkout, the wind kicked up from the river and carried a chill. In the mirror, the end of each strand of hair was hooking upward like the handle of a cane. It had gotten cool enough for the rain jacket, but there was no new rain. The ice cream truck was still out on the corner.

The Awl Podcast: Food

This week’s episode is about the sci-fi future of food. And the science-fictional now of food. Why are we eating these things? Is the decade-plus rise of foodie and celebrity chef culture culminating in something… much weirder than anyone expected?

Helen Rosner of Eater and Felix Salmon of Fusion join us to talk about the rise of the neo-chain, the arrival of the hipster food venture capitalist, and the frothy intersection of capital, consumption and status in 2015.

Also: An interview with the chef of the hottest new restaurant… of 2081. (Based on this piece; thanks to Emily Fleischaker and Haley Mlotek for reading.)

How to listen:

Subscribe in iTunes
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Or just search for The Awl in any popular podcast app.

Thanks, as always, to the delicious Williamsburg Pizza.

The Sad, True Story of the Ground Zero Mosque


Five years ago, a local land-use issue here in New York City became the subject of national debate. Two Muslim men—a real-estate developer and an imam—proposed to build a Ground Zero Victory Terror Mosque two blocks away from the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center. Haha, no: They proposed to build a fifteen-story Islamic cultural center. Still, while many New Yorkers were ambivalent about this (although it seems worth noting that the local community board voted overwhelmingly in favor of the project), people outside of New York were stridently against it (because dog whistles work). Anyway, demolition at the site began earlier this year, and, if all goes according to plan, a seventy-story ultra-luxury condominium tower will have risen there by 2017. Wait a minute, what happened to the cultural center, you ask?

“Superb widely available cameras, often on our phones, have turned us all into ‘artists’. But the art we make, coo over and share on Instagram is often unbelievably corny, sentimental, vacuous nonsense. The more easily created and universally visible photography becomes, it seems the more flesh-crawlingly stupid its aesthetic values. We are turning into a world of bad artists, cosily congratulating one another on every new slice of sheer kitsch.”#

Emotional Labor and $400 Work Dinners

Screen-Shot-2015-09-30-at-7.17.35-PMSheila McClear on the emotional labor she performed once for a terrible man:

He didn’t say $400 straight out. He didn’t name any sort of price and I knew it’d be gauche to ask; it would ruin the deal. I had just started a two-year career in the business of fleecing men for money, in strip clubs and peep shows, and sometimes guys would offer me more money to hang out with them in various ways, many of them quite innocent. I’d never taken anyone up on it, except Greg, because I had the feeling he was harmless. I met him hanging around the front of the club, drinking a Heineken. He was 20 years older than me, handsome enough, with salt-and-pepper hair, and was wearing a crisp white button-down shirt, the kind the guys I dated never owned.

Read the rest at the Billfold.

A Poem by Sina Queyras

Little Fugue

                         The world has become a mewling baby
                                                                     —Lisa Robertson

Bloody world, greedy little marketplace,
How you have flooded
Our minds with the bodies of women,

So many they are clogging the feeds.
The sea churns up its warrior dead too,
Says, enough, enough,

Spits out your plastics, your
Your replicas, your portion
Control. Where will your Beethovens

Thrive in this new Century? How
Will you hear them with your ear
Buds in?

While we were busy
Following someone’s dead
Link, the world has transformed.

I used to fear the empty
Shopping mall,
Its dead arteries

And veins that close
In upon themselves,
Without grief.

Now I log on
Every morning
And see strangers

Planting their aspirations,
Sweet and leafy
For me to read.

Health, "Flesh World (Kenton Slash Demon Remix)"

Have you started panic-buying provisions for the hurricane yet or are you going to try to coast by with the stuff you picked up after Sandy a few years back? It’s a real dilemma, and your urge to shop hysterically will only increase over the next few days as every idiot with a Twitter account suddenly becomes a meteorologist. You know who’s terrible? Anyone on social media. Maybe some kind of biblical deluge would be an improvement. Anyway, until the flood comes and wipes us all away we’ve still got power and light and music. So enjoy.