Chris Hardwick has made a career out of being a nerd. Well, actually, he has made several careers out of being a nerd, as the host of "Web Soup" a writer for Wired, an author and the host of The Nerdist podcast. Paste Magazine and Rolling Stone both named The Nerdist one of the ten best podcasts of the year, which means that it's now a TV show, with a special airing tomorrow night on BBC America. The podcast has also spawned a community of tech, science and nerd culture enthusiasts on Nerdist.com.
Years before he created Nerdist Industries, Chris was already sowing [...]
It was never easy being a Pearl Jam fan. The explosion of hype and overexposure that came with Ten and Vs. fueled an instant mainstream backlash by the "cool indie kids." If you were going to listen to grunge, Nirvana was the band you were supposed to like. The experimental, less radio-friendly Vitalogy and No Code—as well as the annoying rise of Eddie Vedder sound-alikes—slashed the fan base even further. In terms of popularity then, they occupy a strange, contradictory place in music: They’ve been one of the biggest bands in the world for two decades but comparatively little is known about them. Which is why the Cameron Crowe-directed love [...]
With all the hoopla that seems eternally to surround WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, one might easily have formed the impression that WikiLeaks is a thriving concern, and that Assange himself is still the world's most powerful and effective champion of press freedom. While it's true that WikiLeaks has accomplished great things, initiating a powerful worldwide movement toward transparency and free speech, a closer look reveals that recent defections have badly crippled the WikiLeaks organization and that the increasingly erratic, mercurial Assange may have shot his bolt. The defectors have moved on and are developing a successor site, OpenLeaks, which seems likely to take up where WikiLeaks left off.
In his striped shirt and conservative suit, Eddie Einbinder doesn't embody the kind of dishevelment that PSAs like to project onto drug users. But as the author of How To Have Fun And Not Die, which won the New York Book Festival's grand prize in 2008, Einbinder is a staunch proponent of drug use— the safe kind, that is. The book's second edition will be released May 1, and in November, Einbinder will debut a related documentary at a Drug Policy Alliance conference. Both the updated book and film incorporate lessons Einbinder culled while observing (and sometimes participating in) the young-adult party scene as he's traveled and lectured [...]
The Awl: So the founding of BabyCakes is actually fairly well-chronicled. You were allergic to wheat and dairy! You borrowed some money and started up a bakery, and you did it on a shoestring, and your finances were really tight. But what doesn't get mentioned in all this is: why! Why did you want to become the cupcake and cookie and muffin gluten-free, dairy-free queen?
Erin: Thank you for not asking the obvious. You are the first on record. The reason I wanted to open a bakery was pretty simple: I wanted to open a place I'd like to go to. I've never been a big partier—going to [...]
Das Racist (America's best rappers? You decide) recently played at Carleton College and of course hijinks ensued: "After their show I walked up to Victor who was being accosted by fangurls and I was like, 'Hey these chicks are weird come hang out with my friends our hotel room is right by yours' and he said, 'Okay' so we went back to our hotel and did a bunch of fun and weird stuff like playing chicken in the pool and watching The Nanny and four-way spooning and jumping on beds." Naturally. And then an interview ensued on the nature of philosophical problems with Das Racist's Victor Vazquez: [...]
Robert Sullivan is almost certainly the only man in the country with a holiday greeting card from Anna Wintour on his fridge and a bestseller about rats on his resume. The former exists because of his 20-year gig as a contributing editor at Vogue; the latter comes as a result of the year he spent observing and chronicling the urban creatures as they lived their lives in an alley near Ground Zero.
In the Brooklyn apartment he shares with his preschool teacher wife and two teenage kids—one who recently took off for college with most of his father's drum set in tow—Sullivan explained how a life spent crisscrossing [...]
Things I don’t understand about activism, the short list: • Sleeping in a park if you have an actual bed somewhere to sleep in; • Willingly being in a place where you increase your risk of being arrested/maced; • Being uncomfortable in a crowd when you can just, you know, read coverage on blogs; • How crowds of people with signs change anything, ever.
Amount I’m willing to concede ignorance on matters of activism: • Oh, a lot; • I’d go so far as to say "total."
What I decided to do about it: • Not take an eight-hour bus ride to New York City, that’s what; • Get someone [...]
I discovered Kate Christensen’s work several years ago, when I read The Great Man, and then all the rest of her books, in one weekend. After I praised them on the radio, she emailed me and we became friends, which is great because she's a wonderful, smart, funny, generous person, but it's also weird, because she's one of my favorite living writers, and here she is, flesh and blood, moving through the world like the rest of us.
Her latest novel, The Astral, is about poet and sometime lothario Harry Quirk, 57, whose wife has just destroyed all the sonnets he’s been working on for years [...]
Here is a much more effective and fun way to donate to the Japan earthquake relief cause than sending a bunch of text messages: a series of upcoming benefits organized by John Zorn. The first has sold out, it looks like (on Sunday March 27 at Columbia's Miller Theater), where Sonic Youth, Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto, Marc Ribot and a bunch more are performing. At that benefit and at least three more to follow, 100% of the money will be going to the Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund. For-real charity + free radical music = good deal all around, right? Last night, The Awl emailed back and forth [...]
The Awl: Dan Shanoff! Not long ago, after some scheming, you left a job and started your own company and its first publication, Quickish, which is sports-oriented, and in beta, and provides immediate, quickly done news and views and updates. You plan to expand beyond sports in the future. Dan, why did you do this?
Dan: I have wanted to create my own company since I had my first job, where I was employee No. 1 for a couple of MBA drop-outs that got some seed funding from AOL to start a content site to keep AOL subscribers enthusiastic and engaged to be paying by the hour [...]
Last night at Le Poisson Rouge, Ben Lear was wearing a wetsuit that made him look like a Starfleet Medical Officer and shaking hands. The 23-year-old son of 89-year-old television mogul and activist Norman Lear (you might know him for producing "All in the Family" or founding progressive advocacy group People For The American Way) had just finished performing Lillian, a show that's like an epic blend of Arcade Fire, Feist, a Muppet adventure and rock opera (although Lear prefers the term "folk opera," for its lower pretentiousness quotient). The story, which is by turns touching and bizarre, follows a young man’s search for his lost love, [...]
Duke Riley postponed our first interview because he was freight-train hopping across the country. The Rhode Island School of Design- and Pratt-trained artist needed to be in San Francisco for meetings so he and a friend worked their way west. They made it, eventually.
Jumping on trains is usual behavior for someone who lives a highly unusual life. Riley moved to Brooklyn in 1997 and meandered his way into the city's art world by doing his own thing. He threw parties in abandoned buildings on the Brooklyn waterfront, made art, and ended up owning a tattoo parlor, essentially by accident. Jerry Saltz credited the 38-year-old as [...]
When I was in eighth grade, I was madly in love. But the girl, who I wanted to marry and sometimes wrote sad poems about, didn't feel the same way. So I decided to prove my love with a mixtape. For me, music was (and still is) the most intense force in the world, so I thought this would truly make her reciprocate my affection. I set my plan in motion by stealing my oldest brother's Motley Crue cassette, putting pieces of tape over those tiny holes so I could record over the screeching of Vince Neil, and adding songs to my mixtape that would show just how great I [...]
There's more than one way to start a business. You can straight up just quit your job, and take loans and go for broke—but that's not something we're all in a position to do. There are ways to segue into proprietorship, supporting yourself part-time while you grow a business. We talked to our favorite coffee roaster, Jen St. Hilaire, of Scarlet City Coffee Roasting, who is based in California's East Bay and makes our favorite coffee ever, about how and why she's doing it.
The Awl: Why is your coffee so insanely delicious? I swear, this is the best coffee I've ever had in my [...]
We've published a lot over the last couple weeks about the battle in Wisconsin over labor, and nearly always been critical of Scott Walker and the Republicans. So I found a reasonable 20-something Wisconsinite named Sarah Helms, who was willing to explain her support for Scott Walker and his bill. Her answers have not been edited at all.
The Awl: Where do you live, work?
Sarah: I'm currently unemployed since returning from my tour in Afghanistan. I'm planning on starting school next semester. I live in Madison, WI.
The Awl: How would you sum up your reasons for supporting the bill?
The Awl: Mark Armstrong, you had a perfectly nice job as the Director of Content at Bundle, and presumably before that you had other real jobs, and then you went and quit your job to really focus on developing Longreads, which, duh, draws attention to longform writing. Why did you do that?
Mark Armstrong: So, here's the thing: I've worked in the Internet coal mine for more than ten years now. I moved from Los Angeles to New York in 2001, and in that time I worked for both giant companies and tiny startups. During this time I noticed that the stuff that works best is [...]