Matt Kibbe And The Liberteens

The former president of FreedomWorks looks to the youth.

New York City, October 19, 2017

★★★★★ Everything had highlights and textures. Sun glowed in the thin golden hair of a child being held up to a construction-fence window to watch a pile driver. Cirrus shreds moved like blowing snow. The fresh-hosed sidewalk was a mirror. Light passed under the quick-stepping feet of a tiny westbound dog as they lifted up from their shadows. A companionable warmth traveled up the sidewalk. A gull looked as high up as an airplane and an airplane looked as low as a gull.

Love Squares

Eastbound L Train, Manhattan

Illustration: Forsyth Harmon

I’m thinking of a throwaway line in a Noah Baumbach film. It’s Greta Gerwig’s character responding to a man’s compliment. Actually, I don’t think it’s even quite a compliment. It’s more of an admiring comment tinged with intimidation or even admonition  – he says something about seeing her in all these party photos on the internet. She responds by mumbling one of those deflections that’s also a kind of invitation, both a “please stop” and a “please tell-me-more” and this being Gerwig, she does it in a way that communicates both the wretched twist of her anxiety, and her simultaneous exasperation with herself for that anxiety’s ridiculousness: “Sometimes I look like I have fat arms…”

Every woman thinks she has fat arms in party photos. And who cares. Well, women care. The caring in general seems to have fallen so excessively to us, doesn’t it?

I was on an L train, late evening and it had been one of those hot autumnal days that fools a person into summer dressing and then betrays around dusk, when they’re ambushed with darkness and chilly air and are reduced to a small mammal keen to get back to its burrow. I was in a leather jacket, glad not to have been fooled, glad to be swaddled and armored. I was sitting directly across from the young woman beside you who was wearing a flimsy dress with tight thin straps that cut into her flesh.

Acronym, "What Could Have Been"

Let’s just set this week to “over,” please. Thank you.

Lockhart Steele Fired From Vox Media

In what appears to be the first and probably not the last repercussion of last week’s Shitty Media Men list, and the larger floodgates of assault and harassment survivors speaking out against their attackers, Lockhart Steele, Vox Media’s Editorial Director and former Curbed CEO and founder, has been fired, effective immediately. Vox employees were alerted by a message in the company’s CEO AMA slack channel:

Hi team, I am writing to let you know that earlier this evening Lockhart Steele was terminated effective immediately. Lock admitted engaging in conduct that is inconsistent with our core values and will not be tolerated at Vox Media.

Our investigation into issues raised by a former employee in a post on Medium continues.  Anyone with information should contact our external investigation leads, [redacted].

Vox Media is committed to fostering a safe and welcoming community, and appreciates everyone who has been willing to speak up and share information during the course of this investigation.

Last week when the spreadsheet was still circulating, several women I know remarked at the lack of Vox representation on it, especially given the outsize number of Buzzfeed employees who were named. The aforementioned viral Medium post by Eden Rohatensky alleges misconduct by more than one Vox employee; one wonders how many more firings are yet to come. I would be remiss not to point out that Steele would likely have been leaving the company within a month anyhow; November 2017 marks four years from the sale of his Curbed properties (Curbed, Eater, Racked) to Vox for a reported $20-30 million. Looks like the golden handcuffs are off, one month early to boot. I’d be further remiss in not noting that Steele was also the editorial director of Gawker Media, which had its own notorious “problem with women”.

The newest, wokest media conglomerates on the block are no more immune to the same kinds of abuses of power and workplace sexual harassment that we’ve been reading and writing op-eds about for the past two weeks since the Harvey Weinstein bubble burst than any other old company made out of women and men behaving badly. What a world!


UPDATE: In a previously scheduled hour-plus-long company-wide all-hands call, CEO Jim Bankoff told his staff, “I can’t stress enough this is an ongoing investigation.” He continued, “Even though there’s been a termination, it’s not concluded. There are still people coming forward, and I want to encourage people have not come forward to do so as well.” Bankoff effectively confirmed that the VP in Eden Rohatensky’s Medium post was about Steele, and also suggested there is at least one more person being investigated

The company is retaining the services of the law firm Gibson Dunn to run an external investigation, and Alexis Juneja, a Vice President at the company head of People & Culture, has been recused from the investigation due to her personal friendship with Steele. Bankoff also clarified that the company had not previously settled any harassment cases, and firmly insisted “unequivocally” that with any investigations that yield findings of misconduct, he would act swiftly to protect his employees. He brought this up as a proxy answer to the questions about “a previous investigation that was ignored” (per Rohatensky’s Medium post), which suggests the Medium post is the first Bankoff heard about it.

Towards the end of the call, COO Trei Brundrett “jumped on” the call to go over the company’s new Slack retention policy. He announced that all channels would now have deletion policies instated, per the following:

  • Public channels: 15 days
  • Announcement channels: 60 days
  • Open working channels: (can be left open)
  • Private channels: 60 days
  • Direct messages: 90 days

The new policy was supposed to have begun yesterday, but due to the ongoing investigations, the messages won’t begin deleting until Next Friday. Brundrett said this feature was requested by several teams so they could have open conversations in Slack, but then quickly doubled back to say, “this is not a cure-all for this…this does not fix everything, technology rarely does.”

New York City, October 18, 2017

★★★★ Light was in the leaves of the plane trees; a smell of bacon was on the air. The southwest corner of Union Square was full of birdsong. A man in a sportcoat and faintly tinted glasses stared at the chess players for a moment, then made his way down to the Citibikes. In the mesh side pocket of his backpack was an apple. A fine springlike haze crept over everything. A sunbeam was no wider than the yellow sweatshirt of the figure walking in it down an otherwise dim street. The top of a polished stone bench by Lincoln Center pulled the eye vertiginously down into the inverted heights of reflected sky and building. Sunset was a smooth, darkening full spectrum, part rainbow and part bruise. The forecast had specified a starry night, and so the children clambered up by the bedroom window—lights off, doors shut, blinds raised—and stayed there till Altair had revealed itself high up and certain. Other, fainter stars were with it, off and on, for the eye to catch if not hold.

NFL Haiku Picks, Week Seven

Image: Dave Parker via Flickr

10/19 8:25 ET Kansas City -3 At Oakland

The once-defeated
formerly undefeated
Chiefs probably win



10/22 1:00 ET Tennessee -6 At Cleveland

These teams play once a
Week against each other in
Hell’s hottest circle



10/22 1:00 ET Jacksonville -3 At Indianapolis

Instead of watching
This game take some little kids
to the library


Meet Sebastian Kurz, the 31-Year Old Opportunist In Charge of Austria Now

Wiener Wiener Chicken-Diener. Screengrab: WIENER ZEITUNG

Well, I guess “congratulations” are in order to everybody’s most annoying freshman roommate who never left his Ayn Rand phase, 31-year-old Austrian politician Sebastian Kurz, who has just (presumably) become the youngest national leader in the European Union—a thing he probably hates, or is at least pretending to hate to appeal to the new far-right base of his revamped party, the ÖVP, or Austrian People’s Party.

On Sunday, Kurz and the ÖVP won the Austrian Nationalratswahl (NOTT-see-oh-NOLL-rotts-VOLL), or national legislative election, with 31.5 percent of the vote. On the surface, this doesn’t seem too bad. The ÖVP have long been the Austrian center-right sister party to Germany’s CDU, headed by your mom and mine, Angela Merkel. Alas, Mutti-Style centrism wasn’t winning elections in the land of Mozart (perhaps it just had too many notes). So, what better thing to do to Austria—a country where it legit still feels like 1910 many places, and an impressive portion of the population still spends 5 hours a day nursing a single cup of coffee and reading print newspapers in a Kaffeehaus whilst still somehow being gainfully employed—than “disrupt” that motherfucker with some good old Millennial populism?

A Poem by Matthew Zapruder

When I Was Fifteen


When I was fifteen
I suddenly knew
I would never
understand geometry.
Who was my teacher?
That name is gone.
I only remember
the gray feeling
in a classroom
filled with vast
theoretical distances.
I can still see
odd shapes
drawn on the board,
and those inscrutable
formulas everyone
was busily into
their notebooks scribbling.

D.K. / S.K.

You know the part of the Bible where it talks about how terrible things are gonna get and it’s like, “In the morning you will wish it were evening and in the evening you will pine for the day, because everything your eyes see around you will be so fucking horrible all the time”? I am not by any means a religious man but I can’t help feeling like we might have pissed off God or something. Anyway, here’s the new collaboration between Suzanne Kraft and Dang-Khoa Chau. Pitchfork is lukewarm about it but if you’re looking to Condé Nast for music recommendations that’s on you. Anyway, enjoy.