Miles Klee: I think I have a little bit of a crush on Generation X. And seeing Pavement play a concert in an apocalyptic Central Park thunderstorm last night took it to a whole new level. It also didn't hurt that Cece and I ran into you, Dave, an authentic Gen X-er (if my math is sound)-by the way, you do the meanest air guitar I've seen in ages. But the point is, I pretty much swooned when I heard the opening bars of "Spit On A Stranger."
The company is moving its headquarters downtown, from Madison Avenue to a building on Broad Street, next to the New York Stock Exchange, that is bristling with security checkpoints and biometric thumbprint scanners-devices that, to judge by the expressions of suited security personnel repeatedly mashing their thumbs into them, have yet to catch up with science fiction. Thursday, July 29, 2010, was our last business day in the old space, which had already been stripped of cubicle decoration, shelves, filing cabinets, plants and, we were horrified to discover as of 10:40 a.m., vending machines. No light snacks this particular Thursday, or soda; the booze at our last happy hour [...]
Late last month, it very nearly ended: a meme that had, weirdly, endured for years. When the copyright notices finally came to YouTube, and some of the videos were removed–well, they came far too late, and too few. Many of the videos survived, further extending the life of a joke that was never that funny to begin with.
If, as Mark Twain contended, nothing can stand against the assault of laughter, then the "Hitler Reacts" meme was tantamount to poking a dead horse. And yet, for years, everyone felt compelled to pick up their poking sticks and get to work on it. The conceit is one of shallow [...]
In 1793, France's revolutionary government decreed that the Louvre Palace, a much-remodeled Parisian fortress, should serve as a museum to house and exhibit the nation's 537 greatest available works of art-mainly stuff ripped from the clutches of kings and clergy on their way out of power and up the blood-slicked steps to headlessness. Circa that same year, also in Paris, an aging portrait painter named Joseph Ducreux completed the 18th-century equivalent of a charmingly douchey Facebook profile picture, Portrait de l'artiste sous les traits d'un moqueur. The piece would later become part of the Musée du Louvre's vaunted collection… and so much more.
I know you're bursting with assorted creative juices, but let's face it: your masterpiece is likely to end up on a garbage barge where not even famished seagulls will peck at its fearless yet wholly inedible vision of this world we call â€˜real.' Why? Because you tried to go it alone! Nobody who tackled their craft with brains and passion and monastic discipline, aspiring to be the lone inventor of something splendidly next, ever got further than, like, the theory of relativity. So just stop thinking outside the box-that is no path to glory in the year 20now. Instead, think inside another box that hasn't been assembled yet.
No, I'm not some joyless prude. I was once like you, even. Remember when we were sitting around your apartment and decided to watch the trailer online? How we laughed! Someone had tried to adapt early 90s Trapper KeepersÂ® for the screen! And they'd spent a small nation's GDP to make it happen! If, some months from that point, James Cameron Trips Over A Fanboy Wishlist Into The Uncanny Valley wasn't going to be the flop of our young century, jeez, it really should've been.
Then we went about our admittedly terrestrial lives.
At the end of Gary Shteyngart's near-future satire Super Sad True Love Story, I sank into a curious exhaustion. I had impulsively bought the discounted hardcover while battling a poisoned haze of emotions-an agent is peddling my own near-future novel to publishers; I wanted to demonstrate the commercial viability of near-future-based literature; I wanted assurance that what I've written and rewritten over the past few years had not been made redundant overnight. I was afraid to discover better, streamlined permutations of my own ideas, and I was further afraid that Shteyngart's rich voice would alert me to the holes in my not-as-meticulous alternative universe. I came into the thing [...]
Have you visited the saddest IMDb page in existence? It belongs to Anne Sellors, a woman just barely featured in the 1984 BBC television play Threads, which imagines the aftermath of nuclear armageddon in England. What role did Ms. Sellors play? "Woman who urinates herself." She did not receive a credit and understandably never acted onscreen again.
Twenty-six years later, that lone performance is being recognized.
Yeah, no, I bet whatever album you're trying to tell me about is great. It's not even out yet? Ooh, a leak! So you've got, what, a 160 kbps transcode ripped from NPR's live stream or something? Then we're definitely not listening to that. Also, my iPod speakers stopped working.
Nah. Doesn't bother me. Honestly? Best thing that could've happened. See, I've still got my old stereo, and I've been hoarding all the CDs I bought or burned between the ages of 13 and 24. Sure, they take up a lot of space. Was a pain to move them out of the old apartment, too, but it's worth it. [...]
In the past 24 hours, a clip entitled "Worst Wedding DJ EVER!" has crossed my transom multiple times, usually accompanied by an exhortation like "Too Funny!" or "OMG." In the clip, some guy in an ill-fitting suit is inspired to use some… unconventional percussion while he's leading a conga line through its motions from the stage. As with many funny videos that just happen to surface on YouTube, I had one important question: Was the thing real, or was it just stealth marketing for some TV show coming to a high-numbered cable channel this summer? I put my head together with Awl Internet Expert Miles Klee and [...]
The Good News: Nielsen Co. has completed study on efficacy of targeted social network ads using 800,000+ Facebook users, 14 brands. Found that in cases where Facebook homepage ad incorporates the name of a user's friend, ad recall/awareness/purchase intent levels improved strikingly over those generated by non-"social" ad. Overall click-through rate quadruples from generic banner ad to organic impression.
From time to time, The Awl likes to explain to Internet denizens what the world beyond the great inside is like. Here is one such explanation, describing a recent trip to locations on the Eastern seaboard of the United States.
We had missed the parade. Or maybe it was somewhere else. The sidewalk was packed with bad faces. A guy had his pants down and was trying to walk. The cops were wearing long leather jackets. I grew up in Jersey, and I remembered bad faces, but I couldn't remember cops ever wearing jackets like that, leather and big gold buttons. Every bar had a line out the door. [...]
Ben Quayle: Competing to represent Arizona's 3rd congressional district. Figured that enough people would have forgotten his blithering not-Jack-Kennedy father to make his unfortunate genetics a non-issue, yet had the paterfamilias announce his candidacy on Fox News' "America Live" (a factless daytime chat show hosted by Greta Van Susteren's understudy) because he is a sniveling and fearful child. Tried to compensate for this transparent cowardice with the ad above attacking Barack Obama-who is not one of his nine Republicans opponents in the upcoming GOP primary-as the "worst president in history," and delivered his lines as though he were trying to convince an underage hooker to run away with him [...]
Miles Klee: Becky! I was half-watching Fellini's Satyricon last evening, and there's this mini-rant from a Roman poet about how Nero's empire doesn't produce art or theory, or anything to stimulate the national synapses. Where have all the philosophers gone? Pretty sure they're writing for Futurama, our animated authority on matters of bioethics, transhumanism and quantum fates. And as luck would have it, my DVR was recording the Futurama reboot at that very moment.
The port-a-potty situation is universally humbling. The brand is Honey Bucket, which is so gross and psychosexually radioactive a name that the excreta deposited and vacuumed out of them gains a strange and terrible power over our imaginations. Retching sounds and maniacal laughter alike drift from the banks of plastic shitboxes scattered throughout the camping area. A mysterious chalk homage to the waste receptacles appears at the venue gate. Legends spread of Honey Buckets where the filth rises above the level of the toilet seat. Pissing in the thick heat of one, I'm suddenly able to hear, from some far-off stage, the distinct and chipper chorus of Avi Buffalo's [...]
Sleep. Go on, sleep. Rest easy. I want your muscles relaxed so I can peel them cleanly off your bones. Then I'm gonna cut your bicuspids out and carve the Greek alphabet into the softest part of your belly. Afterward I'll sit you on my deli meat slicer and make myself an ass and Swiss cheese club sandwich. Or maybe I'll do that first-I get excited in the moment and who knows what sick inspiration will strike me like a ball-peen hammer strikes a fingertip that's been tied off and isn't getting any circulation? Point is, I'm pretty sure I have enough syringes of adrenaline to keep you from [...]
The conditional clauses that come packaged with April 5th's trending hashtag #DeleteYourTwitterIf are as varied as the reasons one might choose to delete one's Twitter account even without the advice proffered by someone whose avatar is a close-up of their tramp stamp. With bass notes of generalized-turned-personal rage, it provides a perfect framework for passive-aggressive claims on digital turf, as users stuck with second-choice handles quickly discovered.
We know that humans-especially popes-are fallible. Any logician worth her adorable sweater vest will tell you that random philosopher p endorsing premise x affects a deductive conclusion in the amount of not one whit. Still, debaters are happy to hang their hats on dusty quotes and arguments from authority, the nastiest result being a communal tolerance of sickly ideas propped up by rhetorical parlor tricks. If only there were some credible source (preferably dead and/or otherwise unable to clarify himself) to which you might ascribe your toxic viewpoint… what? No, sorry, God is taken. But here are a few other ways to make the fallacy take wing; all remain [...]