Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Erik Hassle, "Pathetic"

Out since February, this SOHN-produced song from Erik Hassle is exactly what I wish top 40 sounded like—the "I'm-so-e-mo-tion-al-ly needy, baby" part is one of the canniest little hooks of the year—and its new video, while relatively unremarkable, has gotten me singing this to myself all day all over again. (Previously, from Hassle, the absolutely killer Timberlake-ish "Talk About It.")


Ask Baba Yaga: I Recently Had a Personal Revelation But Don't Know What to Do With It

"chill out it gonna be fine"
Transcript after the jump. READ MORE


Rosés You Can Bring to the Ice Cream Truck

yumAnyone interested in rosé and/or ice cream (this "anyone" I assume encompasses 99.5% of the readership of this Web Site) will be deeply soothed by these rosé-and-cheapo-ice-cream pairings at Vanity Fair. No word on which wine I should drink with my Bomb Pop, so I'll just drink all of them.


Let's Pool Our Money and Buy John Cheever's House

....yes"Pool" our money, ha ha. The Westchester County property is on the market for $525,000, which seems, all things considered, like a bargain.

While Ossining has, over the years, ceded its lustrous suburban mantle to more sought-after Westchester communities like Scarsdale and Chappaqua, the Cheever house is set on its outskirts, in a section that feels more rural than suburban.

A brook meanders through dense stands of rhododendrons, and the sloping property contains various levels of grassy terraces and tall pines.

Inside, it feels as if Mrs. Cheever has just left for a doctor’s appointment. The four-poster bed in the salmon-colored master bedroom is haphazardly made, its pillows askew.

If like 25 of us sell our eggs or something, we can have a group country home just like that. I'll make cocktails, you reenact the "The Swimmer," and we'll live in a peaceful alcoholic daze forever. [NYTimes]


Birthright Still Sending Trips to Israel, Encouraging Participants to Tag Photos #YOLOIsrael

Miriam Berger's got the surreal details at BuzzFeed, including a recent trip participant who says, “We feel really safe, it’s almost as if we’re in this bubble."


Raury, "Cigarette Song"

Here is a charming, easy, summertime track from Raury, an 18-year-old from at Atlanta who's been tapped to open for Outkast in their mutual hometown in the fall.


Insufferable Parenthetical Asides, Ranked

( . )52. (the saying goes)

51. (well, not strictly)

50. (incidentally)

49. (it’s in the Pacific, somewhere)

48. (which I don’t normally do)

47. (which I’ve finally perfected)

46. (humility is underrated)

45. (consequently)

44. (practically speaking)

43. (if he’d remembered)

42. (as a matter of fact)

41. (which is no excuse)

40. (when they were still of quality)

39. (or was it ramps?)

38. (or so he claims)

37. (just like 1804)

36. (though no one seems to hear me)

35. (whoever still does that)

34. (which I’ve never heard of)

33. (or so it seems)

32. (she meant well)

31. (it’s a kind of nut)

30. (it’s not her color)

29. (she’s a winter)

28. (I’m an autumn)

27. (you can just tell)

26. (I’ve found it’s helpful)

25. (the European way)  READ MORE


Ambivalence: Always An Option

Our choices, apparently, are these: either damn any Serious Woman who's worn lipstick while photographed, or take her Chanel habit as providing serious insight into her intelligence and/or soul. How awful that sounds. Let's reclaim being ambivalent about fashion magazines, instead.

-I'm here for this and am furthermore always here for the cause of reclaiming being ambivalent about literally anything that makes us feel ambivalent: we've probably all got too many micro-feelings that don't amount to anything except for a carefully ordered set of personal stances like tchotchkes on a wall. But at the same time, tchotchkes can be comforting and hard stances make the world go round, and I guess what I'm saying is that I'm ambivalent about everything, including ambivalence, and I think that is perfectly okay.

Selfies from the 9/11 Memorial

selfiesOn a recent afternoon, an older man and woman self-consciously configured themselves in front of the south reflecting pool at the 9/11 Memorial. The man placed his hand on the woman’s hip in an awkward clasp and grinned broadly as another person took their picture with a digital camera. A girl in a Yankees cap took a selfie with her camera phone, the Freedom Tower soaring into the sky behind her, the reflecting pool draining into nothingness. She was smiling. An Ethiopian man asked me to take a photo of him and his family. They wore blank expressions, though the youngest girl with them hammed for the camera with her scooter.

The 9/11 Memorial, officially titled “Reflecting Absence,” is a superlative site. It is the most expensive memorial in America, at a cost of five hundred million dollars (up from a preliminary estimate of a hundred and seventy-five million dollars). The two reflective pools are built in the footprints of the twin towers, and contain the largest man-made waterfalls in the country. The contest for the memorial design yielded more than fifty-two hundred entries from sixty-three countries. Other ideas included towers built from Lego blocks and clocks stopped at 9:11. Michael Arad, an architect from New York, won the project, along with Peter Walter, a landscape architect.

The south reflecting pool of the memorial gets considerably more traffic than the north pool. Panel S-38, at the southeasternmost corner of the south pool, near the memorial’s entrance at Liberty and Greenwich streets, sees a bounty of visitors, probably because it's closest to the entrance. Children climb on it. Families pose for photos. Tired tourists hang their bodies on the marble slab, obscuring the panel’s names—Sebastian Gorki. Hernando R. Salas. Joni Cesta. The memorial, as it stands, often functions more like a tourist rest stop than a place of somber reflection. When I visited on an oppressively hot early July day, visitors dipped their hands into the reflecting pools and poured the water onto their heads and legs to cool off. They leaned on the marble panels with the names of the dead to eat snacks, even though there are no food vendors or trash cans allowed on site. READ MORE


Celebrating One Year of Prince George, My Favorite Celebrity

I NOW UNDERSTAND JOYExactly one year ago, the Royal Baby bravely maneuvered his way out of the Royal Birth Canal—today is Prince George of Cambridge’s first birthday.

I know this, because I love this baby. I love him. I’m normally pro-baby—I’m certainly not anti-baby—but I look at George’s pouty Winston Churchill face and feel inappropriately, irrationally attached, like I secretly birthed him and then was made to forget it by the powers that be in a convoluted Doctor Who subplot. I have no interest in I Wanna Marry Harry, but I’d seriously consider attending the casting call for I Wanna Kidnap Prince George, Rename Him Rusty Obama McFreedom, and Flee the Country, But Don’t Worry, I Would Never Actually Do This and There Is No Need to Pursue an Investigation, Interpol.

Let’s say you’re a celebrity journalist. When it comes to most stars, there’s no shortage of topics to cover: their controversial tweets and Instagram beefs and red carpet wardrobe malfunctions and sex lists and inexplicable lifestyle websites, to name just a few possible sources of inspiration. George, my very favorite celebrity, is inherently newsworthy by virtue of how wildly famous he is (those chubby, highly chompable cheeks don’t hurt, either), but he also happens to be a baby. He may be third in line for the British throne, but the Prince’s daily life isn’t exactly action-packed. Mostly, he poops, and looks at things. There’s a surreal delight to be found in following the sometimes bizarre headlines that result.

Here are 20 milestones that made His Royal Highness’ first year worth celebrating, some of which are distinctly more milestone-y than others. (George, when you’re 13 and grounded for talking back and come across this page after extensively Googling yourself to pass the time, know that a creepy American lady wishes you the best—and she won’t steal you, she promises, so you can tell Interpol that if they ask.)

He Was Maybe Going to Be Twins, But Then He Wasn’t
Early in her pregnancy, the Duchess of Cambridge was hospitalized with a form of severe morning sickness associated with mothers carrying twins and triplets. In reality, Prince George proved to be as spectacular as any three babies combined.

He Was Maybe Going to Be a Leo, But Then He Was a Cancer
George was born right on the cusp of Cancer and Leo, which—if you are the kind of person who cares about that sort of thing—is the sort of thing worth caring about.

He Was Maybe Going to Be Named James, But Then He Wasn’t
During the post-birth fervor leading up to the reveal of the Prince’s name, bookies set the odds for James at 2/1, with George a close second at 5/1. Before George was born, British gamblers bet that the baby would be a girl named Alexandra (7/4).  READ MORE


Because #VoicesHavePower


Dating and domestic violence in the U.S. is an issue that’s largely undiscussed and heavily stigmatized. As a result, victims often feel ashamed or are fearful of speaking out, and would be advocates don't know how to step in and help those in need.In both examples, the challenges of dating and domestic violence in the US, silence and stigmas, are only further perpetuated.

Our Campaign

'Because Voices Have Power' is a campaign designed to elevate the country's awareness of domestic violence and destroy the stigmas associated with the issue by calling people to share words of support and encouragement with the people who need it most.  READ MORE


The Love Song of Walter the Seltzer Man and Mrs. Blitz

The Atlantic spotlights an awesome old project:

In 2002, Richman, of Radio Diaries, and his colleagues, Emily Botein of WNYC and independent producer Ben Shapiro, decided to try and capture what remained of that era. They tracked down New Yorkers who were among the last—and in some cases, the very last—to hold jobs in industries that were dying. [...] They came up with seven people—a Brooklyn fishermana water-tower builder,a cowbell makera knife-and-scissor grindera lighthouse keeperan old-fashioned bra fitter, and a seltzer man—each more charming and quirky than the last. They talked to them, heard their stories, and created a series, "New York Works," which aired on WNYC's The Next Big Thing and on NPR's All Things Considered. In the years since, several of the subjects have passed away.

As Rebecca Rosen points out, Walter the seltzer man's story is almost unbearably wonderful. We join him at 2:30 in the afternoon, on his Bronx delivery route, as he tells us about the customer he's about to visit, whose name is Mildred Blitz. "Mrs. Blitz, she’s been on my route since before I was born," he says, "and she was buying seltzer from my father, and her parents bought from my grandparents, and now they’re gone, Mrs. Blitz’s husband’s gone, my father’s gone, and all that’s left from this story is me and Mrs. Blitz.”

He asks old Mrs. Blitz if she got all dressed up just for him, and Mrs. Blitz laughs and confides, "I mean, the seltzer is great, but it’s Walter. The seltzer isn’t the product, he’s the product.” Oh my god, it's so good, and so touching, and sad. More at the Atlantic, and at the Radio Diaries site.


Hudson Mohawke, "Chimes"

Did you listen to Yeezus all day yesterday after reading that Kanye interview? Did "Blood on the Leaves" make you crave another incursion of the trap horn tornado? Hudson Mohawke, half of the now-split "Blood"-sampled duo TNGHT, brings it back hard at :50.


The Hairpin Rom Com Club: It Happened One Night

gorgeous poster

Welcome back to the Hairpin Rom Com Club, where every two weeks we watch a different rom com together. It’s like a book club but without the passive aggression over which host has the best snacks.

This week’s movie is It Happened One Night, directed by Frank Capra and released in 1934, and widely acknowledged to be the point where Hollywood romantic comedy begins in earnest. It stars Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, with a major supporting role going to The Great Depression.

A quick plot summary for those of you who haven’t seen it: Ellie Andrews (Colbert) is a rebellious heiress who, against her father’s wishes, has married a similarly filthy rich person by the name of King Westley. When her father threatens to have the marriage annulled, Ellie jumps off his yacht and swims to shore, then runs away, determined to make it from Miami to New York to be with her forbidden love.

Then we meet Peter Warne (Gable), a journalist with a talent for getting a good story and a habit of drunkenly mouthing off to his boss. He gets fired, but when he finds himself on a bus sitting next to Ellie Andrews, whose her father has sounded the alarm and promised an enormous reward to the person who finds her, Warne calls his boss and promises him the story of the decade. He makes a deal with Ellie: if she consents to give him an exclusive, he’ll help her get to New York. If not, he’ll turn her in to her father and collect the reward.

From there, it’s your standard we-dislike-each-other-but-we-have-to-work-together rom com. Along the road, they have to pretend to be husband and wife, and in doing this they come to not-hate each other, then like each other, then love each other. But they have a falling out, and Ellie runs back to Westley. On their do-over wedding day, Peter shows up to claim his money from her father: not the reward money, but reimbursement for all the things he had to hock to get the two of them from Miami to New York. Ellie pulls a runaway bride at the very last minute, and she and Peter live happily ever after.

Throughout the movie, the central tension between Peter and Ellie is that she’s rich and he’s broke. She’s a spoiled brat, and he’s a man of the people. On the road, with no sense of how to budget her money or fend for herself financially, she needs Peter to survive. He, of course, needs her in order to keep his job. This tension makes a lot more sense when you consider the larger context in which the movie was made and released. It’s 1934, it’s the middle of the Great Depression, everything is shit, everyone has a hangover thanks to Prohibition and its recent repeal, most Americans are miserable. Little wonder, then, that Peter gives Ellie so many resounding verbal beatings, and takes her to task so often for being spoiled and out of touch with real people. Little wonder that he takes so much satisfaction in seeing her brought financially low on the road and relishes the fact that he knows how to live on a tight budget, while she doesn’t.

Peter is meant to be a stand-in for the 99%, Ellie for the 1% who screwed the country over and were still barely dented by the Depression. READ MORE


We Sent Flowers Into Space

not pictured: flowersWell, less "we" and more Azuma Makoto, a 38-year-old artist from Japan who recently launched two "botanical objects" into the stratosphere above the Nevada desert:

The expedition started in the dead of night, at 2 a.m. One hour later, Makoto was already building a bouquet with about 30 varieties of flowers. He started with an aerial plant tied to a six-rod axis and studiously added peace lilies, poppy seed pods, dahlias, hydrangeas, orchids, bromeliads and a meaty burgundy heliconia. “I am using brightly colored flowers from around the world so that they contrast against the darkness of space,” he said. The scent of the flowers was stronger and more concentrated in the dry desert breeze than in their humid, natural environments, and the launch site was redolent with their perfume. Makoto worked quietly, until the metal rods were covered completely with plants. Then he directed his attention to his bonsai. For this particular project, Makoto chose a 50-year-old pine from his collection of more than 100 specimens, and flew it over from Tokyo in a special box. While readying it for space, he kept it moist and removed a few brown needles with a tweezer.

The New York Times has some crazy-looking photos and more details on the flowers' successful flight.

Both devices had roughly the same flight path. Away 101 went to 91,800 feet, traveling up for 100 minutes until the helium balloon burst. It fell for 40 minutes; two parachutes in baskets opened automatically when there was enough air in the atmosphere to soften impact. Away 100, which held the arrangement, made it up to 87,000 feet. Both devices were retrieved about five miles from the launch site. The bonsai and flowers, though, were never found.