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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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2-4-6-8, Who Do We Appreciate? Donna Tartt.

Bless Nicole Cliffe for bringing this to my attention:

The year I was a freshman cheerleader I was reading 1984. I was fourteen years old then and failing algebra and the fact that I was failing it worried me as I would worry now if the Mafia were after me, or if I had shot somebody and the police were coming to get me. But I did not have an awful lot of time to brood about this. It was basketball season then, and there was a game nearly every night. In Mississippi the schools are far apart, and sometimes we would have to drive two hundred miles to get to Panola Academy, Sharkey-Issaquena, funny how those old names come back to me; we'd leave sometimes before school was out, not get home till twelve or one in the morning. I was not an energetic teenager, and this was hard on me.

That's Donna Tartt, in the April 1994 issue of Harpers' Magazine, writing about her time as a cheerleader for her high school basketball team. The whole thing is, predictably, perfect, but there was something about this section that I really can't stop thinking about: READ MORE

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Kanye West: Rapper, Father, Norwegian Rock Enthusiast

Same.

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Bow Down, Witches: The Beyoncé Jack-o-Lantern of Your Dreams

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All of us need to check in with ourselves about our Yonce-worship practices occasionally. Have you sung Bey’s praises lately? Have you updated your personal altar with a fresh candle or worked on your Everything Beyonce Pinterest page? Have you seen this brilliant gourd-based tribute to Her Greatness and thought, “If only I had an MFA and an extra set of thumbs?”

We’re here to help. As great minds in Williamsburg put their skills to work, we in Chicago have been busy brewing up the perfect how-to.
READ MORE

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The Witch In All Of Us

gracie lou freebush and satine
When I was 12 I cast a spell on my mom so she’d let me to go my friend Seth’s Bar Mitzvah. It was from The Good Spell Book, which I found in the sale bin at Barnes & Noble, and even though a few pages had been ripped out it still had instructions on how to bend someone to your will. I sat on the floor of my uncle’s old bedroom in my grandparents’ house, with a pink ribbon and a candle and some sort of scented oil and made my Intentions clear to whoever was listening. A few weeks later, she relented and said she’d send me on a bus back early from our beach vacation to go to the Bar Mitzvah, but by that point I felt too guilty about everything I had done to take her up on it. READ MORE

My Day Interviewing For The Service Economy Startup From Hell

HandyI was running to the interview, worried I’d get there late. My temp job was over as of a few days prior. Rent was due at the end of the month, and I needed a new source of income, fast. I was sending out multiple applications per day and I finally had a bite.

A new start-up company called Handybook called me quickly after I hit submit on their online application. I breezed through a phone interview and was invited to interview in person for a Customer Experience Associate position the very next day. Although it wasn't an ideal job, and I wasn’t sure how much it paid, it did promise full-time, steady employment and a standard benefits package—exactly what I needed to get by.

Sweaty and out of breath, I got to Handybook’s Chelsea offices moments before my scheduled interview time. I navigated my way through narrow hallways until I reached a nondescript door, and opened it to reveal around 15 employees at their desks, who all looked up in surprise at my intrusion.

"I’m here for an interview?" I smiled into the office space, trying not to feel uncomfortable by everyone sizing me up at once. Someone went to find the interviewer and I perched on a battered couch to wait.

The office was like a cliché of a start-up company: Everyone was wearing T-shirts and jeans, typing away on laptops and iMacs. The space was cramped and smelled vaguely like pod coffee, cleaning solution, and sweat. Every wall was a whiteboard full of cryptic notes and doodles.

Finally, Lindsay* came to get me, and we walked through a cluster of shelving and into a window-filled conference room with a long table and chairs. A LEGO set took up one end of the table and the walls were covered in more white boards. READ MORE

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Writers Writing About Writers (and Musicians, and Artists, and and)

9781558618671 I was in New York a few weeks ago and I did something truly outrageous—I walked into my favorite bookstore, turned to Anna, and was like, "I'm only allowed to buy one book, ok?", and then actually bought only one book. I hope you can appreciate the magnitude of this event because it has, quite literally, never happened before and will probably never happen again. READ MORE

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Nicki Won't Take Your Shit

Nicki, 31, grew up in Queens and attended LaGuardia, the high school from Fame. She says her father once tried to burn down her house while her mother was inside. She did odd jobs after school: She was a customer-service rep for a while, but that didn't go great. "I like dealing with people, but I don't really like a lot of bullshit, so maybe customer service wasn't the best job for me." She was fired from a waitressing job at a Red Lobster after she followed a couple who had taken her pen into the parking lot and then flipped them the bird. I asked her if it was a special pen. "No," she said. "It was the principle."

The principle, the pickle juice — Nicki is a model for us all when it comes to Not Accepting Bullshit, especially with the author of your magazine profile tries to insert subtext in your art where there is none. On the video for "Anaconda":

"I don't know what there is to really talk about," she says. "I'm being serious. I just see the video as being a normal video."

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

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The Five Boro Cemetery Tour

Uptown Trinity Church Cemetery
Valentine Sillcocks is a ghost. He lives in the uptown Trinity Church Cemetery, on Broadway between 153rd and 155th Streets, high on a hill overlooking the Hudson River. Through a cluster of creaking maples he can just make out the eastern tower of the George Washington Bridge, which opened in 1931, the same year he was buried at the age of 43.

Valentine Sillcocks was a real person before he became a ghost. His name is etched in a piece of granite that marks the spot where he was laid to rest. His family included a silk hat maker, which may or may not have been Valentine himself.

Valentine Sillcocks, in truth, may or may not be a ghost, depending on whether you believe in ghosts in the first place, and, if you do, on your particular theory of how a ghost is born. This detailed explanation from the Spiritual Science Research Foundation, which refers to things like “subtle-sorcerers” and simultaneously uses the word “science” in its name, explains that a person might become a ghost if she has “many unfulfilled desires” or “personality defects, such as anger, fear, greed.” Meaning I’ll definitely be meeting Val in the afterlife. I kid here, because I don’t believe in ghosts. But then again, I really can’t know for sure. READ MORE

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Halloween Advent Calendar 2014: Estate Jewelry

Lalique ring
This ring, created by the great Art Nouveau designer René Lalique, was obviously commissioned by a sorcerer who would wear it while poring over alchemical manuscripts from the library of Dr. Dee. It's exquisite, of course, but also stupendously creepy. (Note: the Wartski site does not link to pieces directly, so click on “Jewellery” and scroll down.)

Featuring a central carved ivory face set in yellow gold and crowned with a cabochon emerald, the ring showcases the quality of workmanship so typical of Lalique jewels. Long, flowing hair of deeply engraved gold forms the shoulders of the ring, contrasting with the more formal engraved leaf patterns that run along the tops of the shoulders. Small accents of black enamel provide further contrast. READ MORE

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A Cool Hip Writer Who Has Definitely Had Sex Profiles Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz 11
It is always hard to know what to wear to meet an icon.

I imagine this is what Cameron Diaz is thinking as she heads to our meeting in a dirt hole behind a Chinese restaurant somewhere near the Lower East Side. I love this hole; it is dark and and wet and fecund, like…well. Wet holes, I write in my notebook, oooh. The actress enters the gaping chasm—like a mouth, like the void, like… well—and seems perturbed, a propitious beginning. READ MORE

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Dear White People: What Would You Do?

dearwhitepeopleI arrived late to Dear White People. Just a few minutes, but it was enough to make a million concerns run rampant through my head as I, the lone, young, half-black girl, entered a room sparsely populated with mostly older and white critics.

Why did I do this?

If anyone asks, I’ll blame the train.

Will they notice?

Am I a stereotype?

The last thought may be the most terrifying: becoming a stock version of yourself based off a single aspect of your identity that doesn’t even begin to define you. Yet the thought lingered and the “colored-people-time” jokes—about how black people show up late to everything—remained at the back of my anxiety-ridden head, taunting me. A few scenes into the movie, Samantha White, the protagonist of the film and antagonist of her Ivy League school, joked that “colored people time” didn’t exist when another African-American character, Coco, arrives late to a school assembly. The laugh I released felt cathartic. READ MORE

Your Ebola Halloween Costume: A User's Guide

So you're doing "Ebola" for your halloween costume this year. You've found a topical novelty outfit online, or maybe you've just purchased some cheap and readily available medical clothing, knowing that your peers will have no problem guessing what it's supposed to represent.

But "Ebola" is going to be a very popular costume this year. You're not the only person who heard about this epidemic on the news! If you want to stand out—if you want to be the star of the party, by evoking Ebola hemorrhagic fever—you need to study up. Here are some helpful facts that you can recite to your friends in order to give your Ebola costume that extra dimension of authenticity.

• Ebola kills quickly and painfully. There is no known cure, or vaccine, and the best available treatment in most cases, according to the CDC, is "providing intravenous fluids (IV) and balancing electrolytes (body salts)."

• Ebola is characterized, early on, by fever, weakness, headache and diarrhea. This is followed by hemorrhaging and near-total loss of responsiveness.

• Direct contact with infected patients is the primary mode of transmission for Ebola. Therefore, this disease is most dangerous to the people who choose to provide treatment to the afflicted. Many, many medical professionals have died trying to give care and slow the spread of this terrifying disease.

• Ebola has spread most profoundly in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, where a paucity of medical and emergency infrastructure has allowed the disease to spiral out of control. (Don't worry: These places are all at least 4,000 miles away from the nearest American Halloween parties.) Facilities that do exist have been largely overwhelmed, creating hellish scenes of suffering.

• Many of the people fighting this disease do not have access to the equipment and clothing required to protected themselves, such as the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that you will be wearing to a sports bar or fraternity party on October 31st. (Careful: The CDC says that proper PPE "significantly reduces the body’s normal way of getting rid of heat by sweating," increasing the risk of dehydration and heat-related illnesses.)

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Reasons To Get A Dog

Bodhi, of the Tumblr Menswear Dog fame, is a perfect dog. Fast Company has an interview with his owners, and it's an article as ripe for a 'Reasons To Get A Dog' list as I've ever seen.

Reason 1: Dogs are always dogs, even when they're models, which is great, because dogs are perfect.

“We went to Stetson’s New York headquarters, and they had John B. Stetson’s vintage rug on the floor...” says Kim. “It was this really beautiful old oriental rug,” Fung adds, “and as soon as we go in, he starts drizzling. I was like, ‘This is the most unprofessional thing ever.’” To Bodhi, though, it was no big deal. "He’s always been kind of a dick," laughs Fung.

Reason 2: Sometimes dogs can make you a fortune just by being cute.

Between the photo contracts, guest appearances, and sponsored posts on Tumblr and Instagram, a good month for Menswear Dog earns the couple somewhere in the ballpark of $15,000. When I asked what a bad month looks like, Fung and Kim say they haven’t seen less than $10,000 in "quite some time."

Reason 3: Dogs have probably gotten to the end of Zoolander without falling asleep, something you cannot say for yourself, and they get all the jokes.

“When we first dressed him up for fun [in spring 2013], he started posing for us, and doing like Blue Steel and Magnum,” says Fung, 29, a graphic designer naming modeling poses from Zoolander. “We originally posted his photo to Facebook as a gag.”

Selling Sexless Sex at Abercombie

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One day in college, on what would have otherwise been a forgettable afternoon, two attractive people approached me outside of my department. The man, with his bionic back, parabolic pectorals and arms fixed at right angles, cut an intimidatingly precise figure. The woman was an implausible series of distends, curves and stares—all unnervingly suggestive. There were no introductions or pleasantries; instead, they presented me with a pristine white card. Looking down at it in hope of an explanation, I read, "Abercrombie and Fitch recruitment." They stood back proudly and expectantly, letting what I suppose they thought was an honor sink-in. When I showed no response, they resorted to their pitch. They told me that they needed someone like me and that I would really enjoy working at the company. Everyone was exceedingly "cool" and, in fact, it "wouldn’t even seem like a job."

Their company-supplied rhetoric was far from compelling, and had I received this pitch alone, such an afternoon would have inevitably meandered into the anonymity it had once been headed for. However, I slid too easily into the Hollywood high school cliché where the popular, beautiful kids invite an unsuspecting and shy outcast to sit with them at their lunch table. This was in London, and Abercrombie was still relatively new in Europe and carried little of the baggage of its domestic travails; it wasn’t cool, but it was still attractive.

I joined, out of a pitiful vanity and because I thought I would get laid. READ MORE

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Letters to Wednesday Addams

morticia-anjelica
Wednesday, fearest,

I hope you’ve had a haunting first week of studies. I can’t tell you how much we miss you at home—the mansion feels far less creaky without you looming in the corridors.

How are things in your dormitory? Have you found a way to poison that loathsome residence advisor? Seeing the enthusiasm glint behind her eyes made my stomach drop. How can parents be expected to feel comfortable leaving their children so far from home under the care of someone so maniacal? Honestly, these institutions grow less and less reliable every year. It’s nothing like it was when I was a young girl away at embalming school. READ MORE