Posts Tagged: Conversations
1

The Body Counter

Michael Lansu has been a crime reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times for the past decade. Since October 2013 his role has been more specific: editor of the Sun-Times’ Homicide Watch blog, where he reports on every homicide in a city which had five hundred murders in 2012.

Each victim receives a landing page on Michael’s blog. Some are bare-bones, just a news brief on their death. Others—where the victim’s family was more talkative, or the prosecution more successful—are elaborate, Facebook-like pages, with in memoriam posts and updates on suspects’ court dates. The overall effect is strangely human: part crime reporting, part obituary.

Summer is [...]

8

What Time Is The Revolution?

There were a number of reasons to be skeptical when I arrived at a very expensive bar in Fort Greene to talk with Benjamin Kunkel about Utopia or Bust, his new collection of introductory essays about contemporary leftist theorists, ranging from the literary critic Fredric Jameson to the anthropologist and prominent Occupy personality David Graeber. The most obvious reason to be skeptical was that we were meeting at a very expensive bar in Fort Greene to talk about Marxism. “An important part of Marxism is blaming others,” Kunkel said—explaining that this bar was the suggestion of a friend. “At least, in good proletarian fashion, we’re just eating French fries.”

[...]
9

Will The Real Zodiac Killer Please Stand Up?

On Wednesday, the identity of the Zodiac Killer was finally revealed: It was Louis Myers, only 17 when he began the killings, who confessed from his deathbed back in 2001. In 2012, the identity of the Zodiac Killer was finally revealed: It was George Russell Tucker, a pseudonym for a then-recently-diseased 91-year-old former real estate salesman from Fairfield, California. In 2009, the identity of the Zodiac Killer was finally revealed: It was Guy Ward Hendrickson, a carpenter who brought his 7-year-old along for the ride during the killings.

It's worth pointing out that last year, Dick Van Dyke also confessed.

Every cycle through the calendar brings [...]

3

All The Drunk Dudes: The Parodic Manliness Of The Alcoholic Writer

It’s difficult not to romanticize a link between writing and drinking. Wisdom hurts, so the more wisdom a writer has, the harder the writer will try to drown it with alcohol. Or maybe it isn’t wisdom that needs to be drowned; it’s the inner editor. Or maybe the great passion that leads to great writing also leads to great drinking. Or maybe… anyway, there must be some connection, so can we please put down our horrible manuscripts and pour ourselves some bourbon already?

There is no romanticizing in The Trip to Echo Spring, British journalist Olivia Laing’s new group biography of six alcoholic writers—Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams, [...]

2

Also Included In The Teaches Of Peaches Is This Music Documentary

If you've ever wanted to know how a nice Jewish girl like Merrill Nisker became Peaches, the new feature film slash documentary "Peaches Does Herself" won't exactly connect the dots for you.

If you'd like to see Peaches and her Fatherfucker Dancers reenact her rise to fame—complete with a giant bed that looks like a vulva, dancers in pink zentai that are orgiastically unzipped, and a surgery gone awry, then Peaches Does Herself offers all of that and more. Besides Peaches and her dancers, "Peaches Does Herself" stars Sandy Kane, of New York City public access fame—she's a former stripper in her sixties who wields a dildo [...]

3

An Incredibly Long Conversation With Tim Rutili Of Califone

If you don’t like reading interviews about musical performers taking mushrooms, washing meat out of semi trucks, and about biblical figure Moses creaming his robe, Billy Corgan’s friends, Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock’s jaw, or first girlfriends dying way, way too soon, then just don’t click on this, or touch it or however you were planning on interacting with this, just stop.

If you like Califone, you know that their new record Stitches is very good, and you love how the music they make is an amalgamation of organic, folksy-type string instrumentation combined with technology (and by technology, I mean broken, misused/abused technology or often just the sound of electronic [...]

1

Stoya on Sex, Sexing, Sexism, Sexuality And Cleaning The Cat Box

At the 2013 Adult Video Awards, I had the good fortune to meet the woman who calls herself Stoya. She’s mercurial, striking, and staggeringly smart—by turns a writer, lyra acrobat, and wildly successful adult performer. She’s also a busy bee. The other day we talked about privacy, sexuality, the Internet, feminism, pizza delivery guys and doing porn when she’s 50. Her Instagram is entirely cat-related.

The Awl: So, how long have you worked in the industry?

Stoya: Mm…since late 2007. So, six years?

The Awl: What are you doing in LA right now? Are you shooting stuff or just visiting or…?

Stoya: Well, it’s gonna be [...]

8

Death of a Denim Wizard

A couple of years ago, I went to get my jeans mended at a store in my neighborhood called Kill Devil Hill. It mostly sold New-Old Brooklyn tchotchkes—nice soaps, pharmaceutical brown bottles, fancy combs—but in the back of the shop was a tiny denim repair business. When I mentioned being embarrassed about the crater-sized holes in the crotch, the person behind the counter told me that, actually, crotches on jeans fail all the time; most jeans, if they fail, fail in the crotch. Since the repairs are cheap—twenty dollars or so—there’s a small army of people walking around with mended, reinforced, double-strength, nearly indestructible crotches.

So last week, [...]

5

"Do What You Love"—Oh, But Not That! On Recognizing Sex Work As Work

Astra Taylor’s forthcoming book The People’s Platform, about who has power and who gets paid in the age of the Internet, mentions the following quote about the virtues of “open-source” (read: unpaid) labor from Internet guru Yochai Benkler:

“Remember, money isn’t always the best motivator. If you leave a fifty-dollar check after dinner with friends, you don’t increase the probability of being invited back. And if dinner doesn’t make it entirely obvious, think of sex.”

That quote, unsurprisingly, is from a TED Talk. The talk's audience chose to reflexively laugh rather than actually think about sex or about work. It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone in the audience [...]

8

They're Watching You On Email, On Reddit, On The Phone, At The Mall. What Are You Going To Do?

In addition to her work on privacy at ProPublica, Julia Angwin's Dragnet Nation is available today wherever booksellers are spying on you.

Amazon

McNally Jackson

Powell's

B&N

An independent bookstore near you

You are being tracked. Besides comprehensive government spying, there are hundreds of data brokers compiling and selling information about you: Phone records, texts, phone location, computer location, web history, social networking use, background checks, credit history and now even entrance to some retail stores, with facial recognition linking you to your online data.

Julia Angwin, a reporter for ProPublica who was on a Pulitzer-winning team [...]

16

Maybe Sex Is The Least Fun Thing Two People Can Do

Kirin McCrory is 25, lives in New York, and doesn't like sex. At least, not that much. She's normal insomuch as any of us is normal; she happens to like boys and she likes dating, but as for sex? "I'd rather analyze a good book," she said to me one night at a bar. Kirin is my friend, and when she said this I thought she was out of her fucking mind. Or that she had a weird hormonal imbalance or was living a PTSD-crippled life. The sky is blue, water is wet, and everyone likes sex.

Kirin isn't traumatized, isn't ill, and isn't asexual. Asexuality is a [...]

6

The World's Most Terrible Alarm Clock And Other Intentionally Uncomfortable And Hilarious Objects

When Lydia Cambron was tasked with interpreting the word ‘ruffle’ for a group show at Portland’s White Box Gallery this summer, she started thinking about daily disruptions. Outside of the tech world, disruptions usually have negative connotations—a flat tire, a stain on a white shirt, a smashed iPhone case. But Cambron, a Portland-based industrial designer, prefers to think of these disruptive ruffles as beneficial. She believes that being aggravated, pained even, can force us to address our more deep-seated anxieties and insecurities. Once you can wrap your head around accepting, and even appreciating, discomfort, imagine three products that facilitate it. That’s the idea behind Twice Daily, Cambron’s three-pronged [...]

7

And How Was Your Summer, Amy Sedaris?

What has Amy Sedaris been up to lately? We sent her a bunch of annoying questions to find out!

Mark Allen: I loved your books, I Like You and Simple Times: Crafts For Poor People. You've helped me rediscover googly eyes, politically incorrect ethnic food, elderly party advice, drunk guest tips and star wands. Is there a third book in the works?

Amy Sedaris: There isn't a third book in the works, but there is a fourth book. I've learned a lot since I Like You and Simple Times. I need a new grieving chapter with a few ceremony recipes. Also, I need a chapter on dental care [...]

0

The Pines Pavilion

Matthias Hollwich and Marc Kushner are the cofounders of HWKN. Their just-completed (barely completed!) project is the third incarnation of the Pavilion, which is the primary dance hall and bar of the gay community of Fire Island Pines. When proposed images of the building were first floated on the Internet, no one believed that the building would come to pass. Now the building, as envisioned, has a temporary certificate of occupancy, and has been open for the last two weeks. Permanent exterior railings will be installed shortly.

The Pavilion consists of a small ground floor, a large open upstairs deck, and an interior dance hall. The dance hall [...]

37

How Should We Deal With The Worst Of The Internet?

"We’re bombarded with poorly written and braindead pieces of content that are engineered to go viral for the sake of virality, not to educate and improve the individual or society," wrote "Roosh V" on his blog the other day:

The internet has become a machine to fill gaps in your ego and self-esteem so that you receive the emotional benefits of validation…. The content you read now has moved from being primarily intellectual from the time of the Gutenberg press to primarily emotional. In the past, it was just too expensive to publish something with the intent to piss someone off or to gather lulz. Like with the first [...]

1

Riding That Train, High On Terrain

With the writers abuzz with talk of securing Amtrak Residencies, Tom Zoellner's concisely titled Train comes at a good time. The Los Angeles writer rode the rails in six different countries on three continents to research his new book. He also traveled from New York to Los Angeles on our often-embattled national carrier.

Amtrak appears to have recently scored a rare PR win, after managing to turn an offhand remark from Awl-pal Alexander Chee into an as-yet-unnamed but perhaps-soon-to-be-formalized program aimed at giving writers free or low-cost rides. Writer Jessica Gross has already done such a rolling residency; Chee will take to the rails [...]

2

Meet Susan Orlean's Best Friend (It's Her Phone)

A work in progress. pic.twitter.com/0KCnUGcPRs

— Susan Orlean (@susanorlean) December 6, 2013

"I spend a lot of time on Twitter," Susan Orlean wrote today in the New Yorker, in her story on Horse_ebooks. But how? Recently, I asked her quite a bit about her relationship with her phone.

Has there been some kind of astonishing addition to your home screen recently? Oh, I wish. Nothing astonishing.

I saw you recently took Settings off your homepage and replaced it with Messages. Well, with the new software, you can flip up from the bottom for the most typical settings stuff. It’s almost like, you know, with [...]

1

"Celebrities Are People Too": Meet The Folks Behind "Snark Free Day"

The PRConsultants Group (slogan: "National Strength. Local Power.") has declared October 22nd to be "Snark Free Day." We emailed with the members behind the endeavor—Atlanta-based restaurant publicist Melissa Libby, of Melissa Libby & Associates, and Louisville-based Nicole Candler, of Nic Creative—about their hopes and dreams for the national discourse.

What started all this? Nicole Candler: The idea developed out of a discussion among our PRCG Directors. Melissa and some others were commenting on how ugly online communication has become and the role that PR consultants must play in helping clients prevent it, monitor it and respond (or not respond) to it.

Melissa Libby: It kind of [...]

8

Weiner Takes All: A Panel Discussion of People Named Weiner and Wiener

I. On The Battle

Brett Weiner (WHY-ner), director/writer/producer: WEE-ner is a much more make-funable name than WHY-ner. WHY-ner is also not great. Because any time you complain, you get it used against you. But WEE-ner's like… it's a dick. So, your last name means “a dick.”

Scott Wiener (WEE-ner), politician: When people pronounce it WHY-ner, that drives me nuts. Whatever challenges there are around WEE-ner, WHY-ner is worse.

David Weiner (WEE-ner), creative and editorial director: I did a piece a bunch of years ago that was picked up by some right-wing blog. And that Fox News show Red Eye, with the host Greg I-forget-his-last-name, he did this [...]

1

How Your Book About Books Gets Made: Boris Kachka Tells All About "Hothouse"

In Benjamin Anastas’s 2012 memoir, Too Good to Be True, he writes of how he viewed Farrar, Straus and Giroux when he was an unpublished writer "prone to bouts of romantic longing": "It was not just a publisher in my eyes. It was more like the Promised Land." A poet who had caught a glimpse of the office had once told him on a fire escape in Queens, "National Book Awards? They paper the fucking place. It’s like a shrine in there. You whisper."

A certain mystique, whether you buy it or not, surrounds FSG, publisher of 25 Nobel laureates since its first slate of titles appeared in 1946. [...]