"Now the energy is different: the underground has almost entirely disappeared. (You hope there are still young artists in Washington Heights, in the Barrio, or Stuyvesant Town, but how much longer can they hang on?) A twisted kind of energy radiates instead off the soulcycling mothers and marathon-running octogenarians, the entertainment lawyers glued to their iPhones and the moguls building five “individualized” condo townhouses where once there was a hospital.
It’s not a pretty energy, but it still runs what’s left of the show. I contribute to it. I ride a stationary bike like the rest of them. And then I despair when Shakespeare and Co. closes in favor of [...]
"The curtains are drawn. Some light comes through, casting a small glow on the top left of the air conditioner. It’s daytime. The wall is an undecorated slab of beige. That is the American room." —Paul Ford observes the species through the eyes of the machines, and it is fantastic.
"But let’s stop here and register the proper cautions and caveats: There has been no investigation, no conclusive proof. (And there won’t necessarily be a proper and convincing investigation, either, considering the deliberately chaotic and militarized state of eastern Ukraine these days, and Russia’s clear interests.) We shouldn’t pretend to know for certain what we don’t." —Here is the moment at which you can tell that you're reading the right piece, or at least not the wrong piece, about Ukraine, today. (Since publishing, the incriminating tapes mentioned have appeared online.)
"If you’re a person whose perception of the world is shaped by literature, Dublin can feel less like a place that James Joyce wrote about than a place that is about James Joyce’s writing. The city of his fiction exists in ghostly superimposition over the actual city, such as it is, and every street corner, every landmark, every fleetingly glimpsed stranger, can seem haunted by some Joycean revenant. If you’re already thinking about Joyce to begin with, Dublin will continually provide you with reasons to continue doing so. Joyce will not be escaped. He inheres in the city’s bones."
If you can't listen to that amazing Todd Terje/Bryan Ferry cover of Robert Palmer's "Johnny and Mary" without being overcome by a sadness so intense that your heart feels constricted and you need to look away from anyone nearby so they don't see your eyes starting to water up then you are either me or someone just like me, which puts you in a world of tragedy even without having to listen to the song. The rest of you can probably just appreciate the song for what it is. Either way, here's a pretty good interview with Todd Terje that [...]
"We fancied ourselves renegades, rejecting the path well trodden by the herd, but we were never above accepting the lucre therein. Against a backdrop of buzz words and obscenely expensive launch parties and former IT guys partying like rock stars, we were alternately envious and disgusted, egocentric and self-loathing. We knew lots of people who would get rich for reasons as stupid as registering the right domain name, and people who would go broke for reasons as stupid as getting hired by the wrong company at the wrong time. We stayed late at the office and savored the excitement and tried to feel grateful and [...]
"When I was young, my mother had a feverish conversion and started a church in our living room. I’d always been a tiny bit anxious that I might one day follow suit, hear the calling myself, start roaming the streets, preaching salvation. A committed but fearful agnostic, I’d never intended to tempt fate by visiting the Holy Land." —Awl pal Maud Newton tempts fate by visiting the Holy Land.