Fuchsia, The Pinky Purple of Victorian Gardens and "Miami Vice"

Cultural histories of unusual hues.

New York City, December 10, 2017

★★★★ The snow, clean white in the sun, still crisply traced balcony rails and building tops. A lilac haze prettified New Jersey. Someone had built a decently orthodox three-ball snowman on the middle of one of the rooftop tables across the way. Downstairs the snow had held its place and its whiteness even down in the shrubbery. The light found little unpatterned ripples in the undisturbed surface on the top slope of a construction fence. Despite its stretched-out low angle, the sun still could modulate the cold. The wind that was hurrying the ivory-tinged fractus clouds along overhead was not reaching down into the streets. There was enough slush off toward the curb to walk through for peace of mind after dodging along a dog-spattered stretch of sidewalk. From the apartment, enough of the playground was visible to tell there’d be no point in bringing a basketball. Up close, yesterday’s delightful snowfield was now pocked and puddly, no good for snow play or anything else. The only clear option was the swings, though the six-year-old’s parka tail kept slipping off the rubber seat. When the swinging palled all that was left was snowball fighting. The snow from the foot of the fence could be packed into a perfect-looking sphere, but its true and greatest virtue was that it could also not be shaped at all: an unmodified handful of it, once scooped, would stay stuck together, heavy enough to fly true and loose enough to explode and spray on contact.

The Greatest Gift We Can Give at the Holidays is Zero Fucks

Image: optische_taeuschung via Flickr

“I’m terrible at shopping for gifts. What should I do?” —Giving Gary

The holidays aren’t really about getting and giving great gifts. At least I hope not. Because I am one of the lamest gift givers in the world. I do my best shopping on Christmas Eve, when there’s only a few things left and I am at an airport news stand. Last year, I wrote Ben a poem—that’s how lame I am. I also bought him some weird Christmasy things at the local Goodwill. One was a weird foam reindeer. The other was a weird plush frog nutcracker with a paperclip sword.

He rarely likes the kind of things I buy for him. Usually some version of fleece hoodies from the university bookstore I work at or Detroit sports team loungewear. My only holiday hope for Ben is that he is warm. This year I bought us Christmas Eve tickets to The Phantom Thread which will be weird for me because I don’t think there are any super heroes in that movie at all. But it’s supposed to be beautiful and during the holidays when the days are short and dark we could all use a little beauty. Falling snow, shimmering lights, fancy costume drama.

Russian Nesting Dolls

Fuckthegovernment.Ltd, "(I've Seen) Love From Tokyo" (Boo's UnderWorld Remix)

Weren’t we just here? Wasn’t it moments ago that we were waking up to a new week, full of dread and barely able to drag ourselves to the starting line? Didn’t we just complain about how exhausted we were and wonder how much more we could take? I guess the good news is I can copy and paste this exact block of text over and over again until it finally all comes down, because we live in a world where it’s always like this now. Here’s some music. Enjoy. [Via]

New York City, December 7, 2017

★★★★ A plump gibbous moon hung somewhat surprisingly in the sky. The air and the wind had sharpened. Blocks of reflected light added themselves to the light and dark of brownstone on the tower of the First Presbyterian Church. The sun was warm and abundant, so much so that walking into it was hazardous. Once it was gone, it was time to start thinking about which of the coats might have the gloves in the pockets.

Jared Kushner Left The Office

Image: Alan Kotok via Flickr

JARED’s wreaking havoc in the Middle East, upending decades of American foreign policy, all to appease an unholy alliance of Evangelicals, who believe the world ought to end so they can reunite with God, and kleptocrats, who believe the world ought to end so they can finally begin pillaging Mars and other heavenly bodies. IVANKA is at the White House, playing Snood on an old computer she found from the Bush Administration. HER DAUGHTER is reading a Seth Abramson Twitter thread via her mother’s social media feed. She’s not allowed to sign up for her own accounts because she’s so young, but she also needs to know what’s happening. IVANKA permits her thirty minutes a day to peruse the toxicity. HOPE HICKS and SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS are saying “Merry Christmas” to each other repeatedly, until the words become meaningless. They’re having a blast. GARY COHN is blatantly doing nothing. If someone asks, he’s waiting around for the 3pm HQ Trivia game. There’s barking and swearing in the hallway. It’s probably STEVE BANNON training CHICKEN FINGERS, the former K9 dog he plans to run to fill either Al Franken or Tom Cotton’s Senate seat.

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [to HOPE HICKS]: I guess what I don’t understand is, what else would your purpose have been? Like on the campaign. What was your role?

HOPE HICKS [lying]: I was managing the President’s communications.

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [condescendingly]: You weren’t on staff for the sole purpose of reading emails aloud to my grandfather, so he wouldn’t need to be carbon copied on anything that could incriminate him?

[HOPE HICKS fidgets.]

Flat Earthers and the Psychology Behind Conspiracy Theories

Image: Pixabay

Where did you first hear about the “Flat Earth” movement? Was it rapper B.o.B’s twitter crusade, in which he demanded to know why he is unable to see “the curve”? Or maybe you stumbled across news of the flat-Earther ‘Mad’ Mike Hughes, who wanted to launch himself and his $20,000 steam-powered rocket into the air to prove the Earth’s flatness. Perhaps you even heard on NPR that certain middle-schoolers got the idea of a flat planet from basketball star Kyrie Irving and couldn’t be convinced otherwise by neither teacher nor science. But why is interest in flat Earth increasing in popularity? Why now?

The readily apparent answer is that the surge in interest is aligned with online celebrity endorsement and bolstered by ensuing media coverage. Flat Earth, according to Google Trends, has had several obvious peaks in the last year, like in August when flat-Earthers were asked to explain the solar eclipse and in February when Irving insinuated that he believed the Earth was flat on the Road Trippin’ podcast. But why the interest in the first place? Would it be entirely wrong to suggest that the notion of a flat Earth is perfectly reflective of this nonsensical, fact-and-science-bashing time we’re living in? And that the theory’s visual “evidence”, though absurd, makes for irresistibly shareable memes?

Subway Sizing

Richard Luke, "Beachcombing"

Are you excited for snow this weekend? I am! I hope it snows and snows and snows. I hope it snows until the snow covers the streets and the cars and the trees and the houses and the buildings and the bridges and the rivers and the oceans. I hope it never stops snowing until the whole world is buried so deeply under a blanket of snow that there is nothing but a thick covering of gleaming whiteness that is the only thing on the earth to be seen from space. Sure, they’re only predicting 2-4 inches, but a boy can still dream, can’t he? After everything they’ve taken from us please tell me that they haven’t also taken our dreams. Anyway, here’s music. Enjoy.

New York City, December 6, 2017

★★★★ The gray was just a little stonier than the gray of the previous morning, but the air was completely different. Cold wind spun the leaves in tight circles or sent them high into the sky. The wind pushed back against the effort to walk westward, then shoved the body through its turn around a corner. Finally the wind pried away the clouds, and everything was bright and appropriate.