Don't Win Arguments, Win Elections

And other answers to questions you didn't ask.

The State of Shane Smith's Disunion

After today’s all-hands “state of the union” meeting, many editorial staffers emerged furious from what they thought was going to be some sort of cathartic elephant acknowledgment. Brandy Zadrozny reported on the anger and frustration in the Daily Beast:

“When the fuck are they going to address sexual harassment? We are all waiting for it, are we not?” one senior-level employee stood and said during the all-hands, according to two sources in the room. The audience erupted in applause.

The whole propagandizing/self-aggrandizing tone of the meeting, which included a documentary-style video about Vice’s cherry-picked pros and cons, was very clearly an unsatisfactory showing for anyone looking for answers or any reassurance whatsoever. The Hollywood Reporter, meanwhile, took a slightly different tack, naming the star-studded cast of the recently enlisted advisory committee (Roberta Kaplan, Alyssa Mastromonaco, [cones hands for amplification] GLORIA STEINEM, Tina Tchen, Maya Harris, Susan Tohyama, and Ariel Wengroff), taking care to note, “Sources inside Vice say that the efforts laid out in the staff meeting were in the works prior to the Daily Beast article’s publication.” Ok then!

But it sounds like senior management at least received some part of the signal that the editorial staff was not pleased, because Shane Smith sent out this company-wide email at 8:23 p.m.:

Hi VICE,

My apologies for the Friday evening note, but I wanted to address some of the feedback we have been getting on today’s State of the Union. While we attempted to cover a wide range of issues impacting the company, I’m sorry that we missed the mark, especially when it came to clearly addressing issues around sexual harassment at VICE.

I’d like to make it abundantly clear here and now: the behavior outlined in the recent Daily Beast article is unacceptable, and the fact that anything like this could happen at VICE is my and my senior management’s responsibility.

VICE does not tolerate sexual harassment, abusive behavior, assault or retaliation, and just as we have in connection with the allegations in the Daily Beast, we will investigate and discipline inappropriate behavior of any kind. We will continue to investigate all allegations brought to the company’s attention, enlisting outside independent counsel when necessary.

We’ve built this company by hiring the best and most talented voices of a generation. It’s my job to make sure that everyone who walks through the door is treated respectfully and has a chance to thrive without intimidation or harassment.

Following the State of the Union, I spoke with the heads of editorial to express that going forward we are committed to working lockstep with all of you to improve VICE’s workplace culture. This includes enacting everything that we outlined today, continuing to communicate with you about these issues in the coming days, and discussing how we can best solve them.

Yes, we can change the world, but first we have to start at home.

Thank you for your time and your patience.

Shane

New York City, November 16, 2017

★★ The lower, grayer bits of cloud were lively to look at from a position slumped helplessly in the armchair. The radar said the rain was gone in time for school. The street sweeper drove by with an extra-wet noise and whisked up whitewater from a puddle. Under the gray a sudden flood of light came from the east. The half-day of school was not enough time for the dampness to be off the sidewalk. By morning’s end the sun seemed to have won its pushing match with the clouds, but then a rush of gray came on, and with it a sharpened chill. Unexpected rain came, and then more full sun. Up and down the length of Fifth Avenue at least four different things were happening in the sky.

Jared Kushner Fills Grant's Tomb

Image: momentcaptured1 via Flickr

It’s nighttime in New York. JARED and IVANKA have schlepped to Riverside Park to hide in Grant’s Tomb the documents that prove JARED colluded with a foreign adversary. IVANKA is not being as nasty as she could be considering her husband bought a snow shovel when she sent him to the hardware store to get something to dig with. There is a park bench nearby and out of the corner of her eye IVANKA can see an insane person pecking away on a keyboard. The light from his laptop reveals it is STEVE BANNON, and he is playing Mahjong. There’s also someone lurking in the darkness. He’s taking notes with a number 2 pencil, wise enough to know any screen would emit enough ambient light to give him away. It’s ROBERT MUELLER. 

JARED [exhaustedly]: Couldn’t we have found, like, a kid from the neighborhood to do this?

IVANKA [powerfully]: A Columbia student?

JARED [wiping sweat from his face]: From a neighborhood?

STEVE BANNON [back cracking as he stands up]: That’s a fucking snow shovel, Jamie. We changed the climate so we wouldn’t need those anymore.

Who's Ready For A Frankie Muniz Comeback?

On a summer day in 2013, my brother and I made a trek to the San Fernando Valley to go see the house where “Malcolm in the Middle” was filmed. When we arrived, we saw that the iconic house had been replaced by a sleek, modernist cube. Nonetheless, we felt like we were standing on sacred ground. Growing up, we would joke that “Malcolm in the Middle” was our Torah and the cyclical reruns on Fox were our weekly Torah readings. Every time we would rewatch, we had a fresh interpretation. The Fox sitcom, airing from 2000 to 2006, was about a quirky suburban family relishing in mediocrity. Frankie Muniz starred as Malcolm—a neurotic, genius middle child with a penchant for breaking the fourth wall. Years after our failed pilgrimage to Studio City, my brother told me that two Australian teenagers had been making a podcast titled The Weekly Muniz, that was devoted to the lead actor’s life. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of regret that we didn’t think of this idea first.

Image via Instagram

Until I listened to “The Weekly Muniz,” I had assumed that other than my brother and I, nobody really bothered to do a weekly welfare check on Frankie Muniz’s IMDB page. Hayden Bleechmore, now 20, and Duncan Peat, 21, have been recording their podcast for the past two years in Melbourne, Australia.  They grew up watching “Malcolm in the Middle” reruns on network TV, where it enjoyed a prime-time slot. The two met at a high school drama club, and later formed a comedy duo. Their first foray into Muniz-related content was “Agent Cody Banks 3: Trouble in Iraq”—a spoof trailer they made for a film studies class. While the obvious approach to a Muniz-themed podcast would be to ruthlessly mock his fall into obscurity, The Weekly Muniz does something a lot more special by taking a deep-dive into the minutiae of his existence—“Malcolm in the Middle” trivia, Muniz’s TV cameos, his open-wheel racing career, his social media presence, various rock bands he’s been in, and most recently, an appearance on “Dancing With The Stars.”

Wearing Heels: A Diary

Where's The Vice Story?

Last night, Vice’s gaming site, Waypoint, went rogue and posted a statement in light of the recent allegations of sexual harassment at the company detailed in a Daily Beast article published on Wednesday.

When we came here, each of us had our own reservations about VICE. We have all, publicly or privately, spoken about our desire to be a force of positive change at VICE, a company which we believe has both a torrid history and a great deal of journalistic excellence. In light of the Daily Beast’s story, we have realized how important it is that we not only push for change in private, internal meetings, but that we also must use our platform to publicly hold accountable our own workplace.

Vice’s editorial union posted a statement on Twitter in response:

It doesn’t take a tea-leaf reader to see that these, along with a very odd (and previously unbylined, now attributed to Oliver “Oli” Coleman) Page Six item lightly threatening Shane Smith, plus a lot of rumors I have personally been hearing for WEEKS, portend a big story is on the way, almost certainly in the New York Times, detailing a larger investigation into the company’s less than stellar record in the workplace sexual harassment department.

Würden + Pfeiffer, "Panorama"


Remember when I was like, “The only good thing about November will be the new Kompakt Pop Ambient collection“? Well? Was I wrong? Anyway, it’s here, enjoy.

New York City, November 15, 2017

★★★ Everything was clear except in the far distance, where a muddy haze smudged into the purple hills. Workers were planting ornamental cabbages in the forecourt. The breeze came in the door and flapped at the elevator-out-of-service notice taped to the lobby wall. It was cold enough for a real coat but safe to leave it unbuttoned. The light mellowed and colored on its way out. The six-year-old bounced around in the night so excited to have his new gloves that he somehow cast off a shoe.

Tom Clancy Made Us Idiots About Terrorism

There’s terror going on in the world and we need hard men, the right men. Men with Heckler & Koch MP5s, silencers and holographic sights. Men who know how to wear a balaclava and fingerless gloves. Above all, we need men aware that the only thing protecting us from the be-bombed madmen of the world is the judicious application of extreme violence and a little enhanced interrogation. At least, that’s what Tom Clancy taught me.

But Clancy’s takes on terrorists and on terror were backwards at best and are what makes us morons on the subject at worst. Despite being 16 years into the War on Terror, the U.S. is still bumbling around as if the causes of extremism and ideological violence were unknowable, and as if the only tools to fight them belonged to the Pentagon; as if Patriot Games and The Sum of All Fears were our operating manuals. Every new attack meets with fervent calls for more action, more military response. Terrorists are enigmatic figures waiting in the wings of Clancy’s books, but in the real world, terrorism arises from causes that are always political and knowable.

A Poem by Tracy K. Smith

Eternity

 

           Landscape Painting

It is as if I can almost still remember.
As if I once perhaps belonged here.

The mountains a deep heavy green, and
The rocky steep drop to the waters below.

The peaked roofs, the white-plastered
Brick. A clothesline in a neighbor’s yard

Made of sticks. The stone path skimming
The ridge. A ladder asleep against a house.

What is the soul allowed to keep? Every
Birth, every small gift, every ache? I know

I have knelt just here, torn apart by loss. Lazed
On this grass, counting joys like trees: cypress,

Blue fir, dogwood, cherry. Ageless, constant,
Growing down into earth and up into history.

 

           ______

 

           Yong’An Temple

It was a shock to be allowed in, for once
Not held back by a painted iron fence.

And to take it in with just my eyes (No Photos
Signs were discreet, yet emphatic). Coins,

Bills on a tray. Two women and then a man
Bowed before a statue to pray.  Outside

Above the gates, a sprung balloon
And three kites swam east on a high fast

Current. And something about a bird
Flapping hard as it crossed my line of sight—

The bliss it seemed to make and ride without
Ever once gliding or slowing—the picture of it

Meant, suddenly, youth, and I couldn’t help it,
I had to look away.