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Updated: 43 min 10 sec ago

Just Right

5 hours 21 min ago
Learning why your bear would eat someone.Photo: Rocklin LyonsA recent news item from my hometown: “DEC Monitors Kirkwood for Bear with Stuck Jug [on its Head].” Not too long ago, I was that bear. I felt for him. It may be that we’ll see more of these little tragedies as bear populations increase and come into more frequent contact with people and their garbage. After all, black bear population density is increasing alongside humans. The Ithaca Journal reported that it has grown to one bear per every three square miles along the Southern Tier of New York State.Even with all of this cohabitation, bears are patient with us — attacks on humans are rare, but not nonexistent. I need to know about the ones who attack.

This is the kind of research all writers should do: making your fictional bears more realistic.

If a Bear Shows Up in the First Act, He Better Eat Someone in the Second

Just Right was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Please See ‘Baby Driver’ At Least 3 Times In Theaters

5 hours 32 min ago
It’s a better investment than three salads.

Edgar Wright’s (Shaun Of The Dead! Hot Fuzz! The World’s End! Scott Pilgrim vs. The World!) new film Baby Driver opens in theaters tomorrow (or in some locations, late tonight), and it is my wholehearted and sincere recommendation that you see it three times in theaters. I know this sounds insane, and I know people will say, “Movies cost $12.” Yes, I know that, I am smart, but so do salads at Sweetgreen and I don’t hear you complaining about that.

See Baby Driver in theaters the first time because it is a great movie and a perfect summer movie. How often does someone you know who you only kind of like say something like, “Why don’t they make heist movies anymore?” Hm, a good point. I think most movies should be about heists, which is good because Baby Driver is essentially a heist movie. Well, a jukebox musical/not-pure-comedy-but-for-sure-some-jokes/action-crime-heist movie. Set in modern Atlanta, Baby Driver is about a young getaway driver, Baby (played by my biological EDM son Ansel Elgort), who scores all of his make-or-break drives to songs on his iPod classic. Baby is indebted to a crime boss named Doc (Kevin Spacey) and is nearing the end of his tenure in which he hopes to break free, not ever commit another crime, and settle down in a life where he wouldn’t steal, flirt shamelessly, and make, uh, remixes. Who among us cannot say “same”? Who else is there? Jamie Foxx (who is a genius) and Eiza Gonzalez (who is extremely cool) and Jon Hamm (who has never looked hotter). Oh, and Jon Bernthal from everything. What’s your favorite Jon Bernthal vehicle? (Baby Driver pun not intended). Mine is We Are Your Friends. Anyway. It’s such a fun movie (Baby Driver, not We Are Your Friends, which is actually a very sad movie), so go see it one time.

And then go see Baby Driver a second time, maybe three or four days later, once it’s marinated into your state of being, and you find yourself only wanting to talk about it with your friends who for whatever reason still haven’t seen it??? Now that you know the plot, you can look for everything else. Wright is an immaculate director whose work is filled with jokes and details and nuance worth seeking out that second time. There is a joke so elegantly laid out in Baby Driver that it made me want to quit comedy. And the soundtrack! The music will wash over you the first time — not because it’s not integral, of course, but because you’ll be so immersed in the experience of watching it — but you’ll be able to listen for songs you know, songs you don’t know. This movie uses “Tequila” in a context just as good as Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.

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mood: Ansel Elgort crying over a really good peach he ate in Paris

 — @wjthconfidence

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And then go see Baby Driver a third time because, Jesus Christ, what the hell else are you going to do? It’s good, it’s non-franchise, it’s under two hours, it takes place in Atlanta and some would call Atlanta its own character in the movie, it’s good, Edgar Wright is one of the best filmmakers alive, it’s good, Ansel Elgort has better Instagram stories than any other celebrity living or dead, it’s smart and detailed without buying in to its own mythology too hard, and it’s good. It’s the kind of movie that yanks you out of your sweltering home in 90-degree heat to sit inside with a big ol’ thing of popcorn and a Coke and pulls you in so hard that you emerge, fresh-faced, eager to start a life of crime (that, or just listen to “Radar Love” a lot).

Fran Hoepfner is a writer living in Chicago.

Please See ‘Baby Driver’ At Least 3 Times In Theaters was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Maybe It’s Time To Retire The Word ‘Straphangers’

5 hours 49 min ago
When was the last time you saw a strap?

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the subways in New York have been really bad lately.

Every day on the local public radio station, they say most of the beginning of the alphabet, and then those are the trains that are running with delays, signal problems, or other unspeakable horrors like gushing waterfalls or falling debris.

A favorite way to refer to subway riders is ‘straphangers,’ which is a holdover from a time when the subway cars had actual straps hanging from the ceiling that standing passengers would hold into. Now, as everyone knows, there are pols and bars and sometimes this thing called a “pivoted grab handle” which is NOT a bodily euphemism so please just don’t.

(Apparently fuming is one of the only things straphangers do):

Doesn’t it all sound a little old-timey and well, sort of British, to you? It does to me. Maybe we could use some new and different and ideally better words. Like “standees,” or just “commuters.” I’m sure the poor transportation beat reporters get sick of saying “riders” all the time, but “straphanger” just sounds so clangy and old-fashioned that I think we should retire it. Plus something about the construction seems so wordy. Ding-dongers and blank-blankers. We don’t say car-drivers or bus-sitters or cycle-pedallers.

The MTA refers to “customers” and “passengers,” which seems nice. Based on how things are going lately, I would also accept “victims.” Really all I’m saying is if we’re going to be reading about the subway a lot more it’s just going to get more and more noticeable that this word is in the news a lot, so why not just simplify?

As one of the greatest editors of our time is fond of saying:

Remember the banana rule: it’s never “the elongated yellow fruit.”

Maybe It’s Time To Retire The Word ‘Straphangers’ was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

How To Look Good Nude

7 hours 29 min ago
On Kim Kardashian’s new beauty lineThat’s the real thing about nudes: Do them wrong, and they look cheap as hell. Our eyes are attuned to the minute peculiarities of living human skin, and badly made facsimiles gross us out. The illusion netting on a figure skating costume might read beautifully from an arena seat, but seen by an HD camera it’s just mall-store stuff, rhinestone and nylon, nothing luxe about it. A well-done nude reveals but also effaces the wealth it took to create that look, the same way that it reveals and effaces the body that wears it. To be beautiful enough to truly not need makeup is its own kind of wealth. To be so wealthy that you can create beauty that appears natural is another.

Awl Pal Zan Romanoff has an excellent essay over at Racked about Kim Kardashian, skin, makeup, bodies, nudity, bodycon dresses, and colors. Read the whole thing here.

KKW Beauty Is the Latest in Kim Kardashian's History of Nudes

How To Look Good Nude was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Broken Social Scene, “Stay Happy”

8 hours 57 min ago
Let’s forget it in everything.Photo: Henry M. Diaz

Remember the early part of this century, when you were so depressed that George W. Bush had been appointed president and that the Republicans had control of both houses of Congress and we were being marched into a war for which we had no justification and prejudice against gay people was being put up for a vote? You ever think you’d be nostalgic for those times? I mean, I guess that Broken Social Scene record from then was good. Anyway, here’s something new from Broken Social Scene. I hope we never have cause to be nostalgic for now. Enjoy.

Broken Social Scene, “Stay Happy” was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

New York City, June 25, 2017

Mon, 2017-06-26 18:26

★★★★ Little curls of cirrus were supplanted by little pointy lumps of cumulus, of roughly the same size and aspect. The sky was bluer outside than it had looked from the window. The five-year-old held the sack of bread and cookies while three packets of sugar were being sprinkled into his iced decaf. The clouds got larger and stretchier. When they predominated, the breeze through the window was better than air conditioning. There was still enough sun coming and going to discourage most shooting at the basket on the south end of the playground, but the left block was securely in the shade. The five-year-old set up there to work on his scoop shot, the only shot available to his short arms. Over and over, the red-yellow-green-blue panels of the ball spun against the deep blue and white in the airspace above the hoop. Every now and then it dropped through.

New York City, June 25, 2017 was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

But Was It an Accident, Really?

Mon, 2017-06-26 13:20
America’s death rate is on the rise. So is dodging the blame.Image: Chuck CokerThe Mother of Their Children

Surprises after pulling the trigger in Pennsylvania

In Swoyersville, Jeffery Santee had a few drinks after work. His brother Christopher had been drinking Southern Comfort.

Then, Jeffery told the police officers, he and his brother got into an argument about “the mother of their children.”

Christopher Santee punched his brother in the head. Jeffery Santee threw a pot of chili from the stove. Christopher pushed Jeffery to the ground and kicked him.

In his bedroom, Jeffery found a shotgun. He ejected two shells from the chamber, returned to the kitchen and aimed the shotgun at Christopher.

Then, Jeffery shot Christopher in the stomach.

The gun discharged a third round he had forgotten about, Jeffery told the police officers. “It was an accident,” he said. “I cocked the gun and it went off.”

Source: The Citizens’ Voice — Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

Elective Contact

The council member is sorry she feels that way

In Louisville, Council Member Jessica Green shook hands. Council Member Dan Johnson kissed babies. Everyone waited for the mayor.

A handler nudged the elected officials onto the fresh blacktop of the newly refurbished basketball courts in Wyandotte Park. Someone set up a camera.

Then, Council Member Johnson grabbed Council Member Green’s ass.

“When I was putting my arm there, it touched her backside — not on purpose, just by accident,” said Council Member Johnson. “It was an accident, and I have apologized.”

In his apology, Council Member Johnson wrote, “I am sorry you felt I improperly touched you inappropriately on purpose, and that I was laughing when I said it was not on purpose.”

Last year, Council Member Johnson accidentally showed his naked buttocks to a legislative aide for Council Member Angela Leet in a parking lot. He does not plan to run for reelection.

Source: Courier-Journal — Louisville, Kentucky

Give or Take a Foot

The Pennsylvania State Trooper loved his wife to death

In 2014, JoAnna Miller sat on the floor of her home in East Norriton sorting clothing to be donated to charity. Her husband, State Trooper Joseph Miller, cleaned his gun nearby.

“I was about to clean my gun, and I didn’t realize there was a round,” Miller told the 911 operator. “I shot my wife.”

He was 8 or 10 feet away, he told police officers at the scene, when the gun accidentally discharged.

He was actually like 2 feet away, he later told police officers, when the gun accidentally discharged.

Ballistic and forensic tests revealed that the gun that killed JoAnna Miller was fired 3 to 6 inches away from her head. State Trooper Joseph Miller was recently charged with his wife’s death.

On the night his wife died in East Norriton, Joseph Miller was interviewed by a police detective. “Did you intentionally shoot your wife?” the detective asked.

“I did not,” Joseph Miller said. “It was an accident. I love her to death.”

Source: The Morning Call — Allentown, Pennsylvania

Here’s What Happened After the Police Broke In

A jury ruled the mistakes were accidental

In Michigan, a 7-year-old girl was accidentally killed by police officers who had the wrong address on their no-knock warrant.

In Massachusetts, a 68-year-old grandfather was unarmed and lying on his stomach when he was accidentally killed by police officers who broke into his home with a no-knock warrant for someone else.

When Todd Blair woke up to someone breaking down his front door in Utah with a battering ram, he grabbed a golf club on his way out of the bedroom and was accidentally shot to death by police officers who had a no-knock warrant.

In Arizona, police officers broke into the home of former Marine Jose Guereña and accidentally fired 71 times in seven seconds, shooting him more than 20 times while executing a no-knock warrant for marijuana. No drugs were found. Jose died.

In Berwyn Heights, Maryland, police officers with a no-knock warrant accidentally broke into the home of the mayor and shot two dogs.

When Iyanna Davis woke up to the sound of her door being smashed open in New York, she hid in a closet. A police officer with an assault rifle accidentally shot her. He had a no-knock warrant for a different apartment. The officer “tripped and didn’t mean to fire.”

Ten police officers in an armored Humvee wearing body armor and Kevlar helmets and carrying Colt submachine guns, light-mounted AR-15 rifles and Glock .40-caliber sidearms, a door-breaching shotgun, a battering ram, sledgehammers, Halligan bars, a ballistic shield, and a flash-bang grenade broke down the door to a single-story ranch home in Wisconsin with a battering ram at 2 o’clock in the morning. Deputy Charles Long pulled the pin on the grenade and tossed it into a dark room.

The grenade accidentally landed in the playpen of 19-month-old Bounkham Phonesavanh, known as Bou Bou, who suffered burns across his chest and face, a long laceration that exposed his ribs, and a gash between his upper lip and nose.

The police officers had a no-knock warrant obtained at 12:15 a.m. by waking up a magistrate after an informant bought $50 worth of methamphetamine from a drug dealer in front of the house.

While paramedics attempted to stabilize Bou Bou, his parents and their three other children were detained by police officers. The drug dealer was not present and did not live at the house. No guns were found.

Bou Bou, now 4, recently underwent his 15th surgery. He wakes up from nightmares, holding his face, several times a week.

A jury ruled that Deputy Charles Long’s mistakes were accidental.

Source: The New York Times

A Nightmare for Everybody Involved

Briana’s mother is here to tell the other side of the story

On Walnut Street in Downtown Cincinnati, Briana Benson and Madie Hart got into a fight at 2 a.m.

Briana yelled. Madie pounded her hand on the hood of Briana’s car.

Then, Briana drove over Madie with her car and kept going.

A week later, an anchorwoman at WCPO Cincinnati played the recording of a call to 911 on-air. “She was just under the car for like two fucking minutes,” an unnamed woman can be heard telling an 911 operator, “like she was dragged under the car.”

Later in the broadcast, Aimee Benson, Brianna’s mother, appears on camera. “This is a nightmare for everybody involved. But there is another side to this story and it has to be told,” Aimee Benson tells the anchorwoman. “Someone’s life was taken, but it doesn’t mean that somebody’s guilty of murder. It was an accident, period. She was trying to get away.”

Source: WCPO — Cincinnati, Ohio

Stopping Work

They told his mother it was an accident

In Queens, Alex Santizo laid brick and made plaster smooth. The townhouse had been old. With the other men, Alex had been hired to make it new.

Then, the roof collapsed.

When the roof caught Alex, it pushed him through an air shaft and he fell all the way down. Alex started to die in the basement of the townhouse, and finished dying at Maimonides Hospital.

At the townhouse, a Department of Buildings inspector stapled a stop-work order to the door. The townhouse had seven open violations with the Department of Buildings.

Beatriz Velasquez, Alex’s mother, said she did not know how her son died.

“I heard it was an accident,” she said.

Source: New York Daily News

Jessie Singer is a writer and politics editor in New York City documenting American accidents on Medium and TinyLetter. You can sign up for weekly stories of Americans who would really rather not be the blamed here:

But Was It an Accident, Really? was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Jared Kushner Greatly Resembles an Evil Doll

Mon, 2017-06-26 13:00
Specifically, the one from a bad horror movie you didn’t see.

Jared Kushner is, by most accounts, a bad guy. He’s a slumlord, his business ethics have been questioned, and now he’s a key advisor/son-in-law to President Trump. He also looks exactly like the evil doll from the mediocre horror film The Boy, which definitely means something, I think?

Consider the similar blank expressions. The same preppy school boy’s haircut. The same stupid smirk that’s trying to give off a mix of menace and intelligence.

Now, I’m willing to admit this may not be a reference that immediately rings a bell with you. The Boy was released in theaters on January 22, 2016 and ended up making almost $36 million domestically on a $10 million budget. In other words, it was just kind of your standard genre filler that quietly comes and goes. Not a huge flop, but not a franchise-starter either.

The plot follows Greta Evans (Lauren Cohan), an American who moves to the UK for a nanny job on a family’s massive estate. She arrives to find a very strict and stereotypically British elderly couple, their charming delivery driver/potential love interest Malcolm (Rupert Evans) and, brace yourself, their son, a creepy-looking doll (Jared Kushner).

The doll’s name is Brahms, and he has been serving as the couple’s stand-in “son” for decades. We’re given a brief backstory via Malcolm monologue followed by a slow pan out from a headstone: Brahms, whom we’re told was always a weird little guy, got caught in a fire and didn’t make it out. This being a mediocre horror film, Greta never once seems to seriously think that maybeeee she shouldn’t take this job, an omission which is later justified via a brief allusion to her troubled past. (Back in America, Greta was in an abusive relationship with a man named Cory. She got pregnant, he promised he’d change and didn’t, beats her, and Greta to loses the child. She fills in that loss with a possessed doll who probably killed a little girl.)

The “parents” are going on a “vacation,” so they give Greta a Gremlins-esque list of rules Brahms requires every day: kisses before bed, snacks throughout the day, no “guests” staying overnight, and so on. Then the parents depart and you can probably guess where the plot goes from here. Doll-Brahms starts showing up in random places and stealing things—classic possessed-doll flick stuff. To drive the point home, there’s a whole lot of slow zooms in on doll-Kushner’s face as creepy music swells — very similar to all the “arty” photos of real boy-Kushner for some reason being the only person in focus.

After a day or so of now strictly following Brahms’s list of wants, Cory shows up and demands Greta comes back home with him. Greta whispers for Brahms to help, Cory eventually freaks out, smashes the doll and, SURPRISE, a fully grown man breaks out of a mirror with a Brahms-doll mask on, killing Cory with a shard of the broken doll. Spooky stuff?

The entire movie, to this point, has been one elaborate misdirection. This is not a good flick; however, it is an apt comparison for our current world. I contend we are all living in a reverse The Boy, with the unknowable doll (Kushner) hidden behind the walls, while the crazy wall man is very much front and center (guess who?! Trump. It’s Trump).

Horror films, at their best, tap into some kind of widespread fear or anxiety. The Boy sort of does that. When the movie first began filming in March of 2015, Donald Trump was still months away from announcing his presidential candidacy. Back then, I had no idea who Jared Kushner was; I’d wager most people didn’t. Yet, when the creators of the film sat down to design the Brahms doll—the linchpin of their entire horror film—who had to communicate evil and menace in countless close-ups, they settled on a dead ringer for Jared Kushner. The doll doesn’t even look like a child, really, it just resembles a shrunken-down Kushner in every aspect.

Everything about the doll and Kushner, both appearance and background-wise, communicates this fear of privilege going unchecked. If you were to open an illustrated dictionary to “spoiled wealthy males” you’d see an image of either Kushner or the Brahms doll, and I bet you wouldn’t be able to tell which one was the real boy. Consider how Brahms was able to get away with murder, burn a house down like it’s a write-off, and somehow convince his parents into hiding him in the walls/bending to his every need.

Kushner, on the other hand, had his dad buy his way into Harvard, inherited all his wealth (also from his dad, who spent time in federal prison for a laundry list of bad behavior, including trying to frame his brother-in-law by hiring a prostitute — it’s a long story), and appears to have generally done a bad job managing it to this point. Today, he’s charged with bringing peace to the Middle East, solving the Opioid crisis, generally reforming the whole government/criminal justice system, and so much more.

At the beginning of The Boy, the to-do-list associated with doll-Brahms comes off as necessary steps to keep an angry spirit in check. Instead, it’s an example of a petty exertion of power over another. The Brahms who’s been hiding in the walls wants to be treated as a child, sure, but he also wants his parents (whose vacation ends up being them walking into a lake with rocks in their pockets, which seems unnecessary — just move away!) and Greta to know that this world, inside his house, revolves completely around his wants and needs. Displease him, and your abusive ex will end up dead. Which doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, but this is a bad movie with an iffy moral compass, and murder is never really a great thing.

Sounds a lot like Trump and his weird power fetish to me! The handshakes, making Chris Christie go get him McDonalds, the intelligence reports that require his name frequently interspersed throughout to hold his attention and the whole matter of that loyalty pledge. All petty exertions of power over others, similar to his name being plastered all big and gold on the sides of buildings. Who could have seen this coming?!

So, here we are, living through a mediocre horror film. In an odd way, however, this makes me feel somewhat better. When Trump first managed to win the presidency (and when Kushner made the cover of Forbes for apparently making it all possible), there was a lot of palpable fear and grief. It was easy to see this as the birth of a evil empire, ready to carry out its self-serving and destructive policies.

There’s been some of that — the travel ban, Paris Agreement, rolling back protections for transgender students. But there’s also been tremendous pushback. What has truly defined the past several months more than anything else isn’t evil scheming, it’s gross incompetence and sheer stupidity. Like The Boy, this is not a well-written or logical script. The movie may have tapped into a coming fear of most Americans — Jared Kushner’s unknowable self and Trump’s erratic, narcissistic behavior — but in the end, it’s just not that scary.

At the end of the film, after Cole is murdered, Greta and Malcolm make a break for it. Brahms finds them, and knocks Malcolm unconscious. Greta manages to get away but after thinking about it, comes back to save Malcolm. She tricks Brahms into letting her tuck him into bed, and once he’s all snug and cozy, he goes in for a gross kiss. Seizing the moment, Greta stabs him in the chest with a screwdriver. There’s a struggle, but eventually she manages to stab him again. Greta revives Malcolm and they escape, driving off into a happier future. Yay! Of course, the final shot shows the hand of the still-alive Brahms putting together the broken pieces of his doll-self. You just can’t beat Brahms/evil.

The Boy was pretty much universally panned by critics and disliked by the public — it had a 38% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As far as I can tell, there are no plans for a sequel, despite film’s best efforts. Trump however, whose approval rating hovers around 39%, has already begun raising funds for his reelection campaign. Now that’s scary.

Jared Kushner Greatly Resembles an Evil Doll was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

God Invented Headphones Because Other People’s Opinions Are Intolerable

Mon, 2017-06-26 11:58
And other answers to questions you didn’t ask.“How can I deal with dudes constantly mansplaining things to me?” — Fed Up BettyImage: Shiv Shankar Menon Palat

We all suffer tremendously, Betty, under the current proliferation of dudes. Bad opinions are at an all-time high and we’ve created so many delivery systems for them that we are constantly bombarding ourselves with less-than-hot takes. There are a million stories in the big city. And most of them are dudes trying to pontificate like Friedrich Schrietzche.

Is there something inherently insecure about males that makes them constantly have to prove themselves? Yes. In general, penises are small and only work for a few minutes at a time. We leave people generally unsatisfied, monstrously unfulfilled, and frequently preposterously frustrated. So the least we can do to distract from this is blabber away.

One of the biggest mistakes I make is thinking I can use both my smooth radio voice and my cereal-box charisma to smooth over any conversation. I will start sentences not knowing where they will end, hoping my dulcet vocal cords will do most of the heavy lifting. I’ve been told more than once that if I could just shut up for a second, I would get laid a lot more often. I just can’t shut up.

It’s a plague that has infected our entire age. The strong, silent type used to be the primary archetype for an admirable and heroic man. No one wanted a tweet from Batman, they wanted him to punch every criminal in the room. But since Reservoir Dogs and Tarantino’s regrettable take on Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” the archetype has fallen upon tough times. Now, every dude wants to tell you their dumb life story, their bad take on Chewbacca and mansplain the latest episode of “Twin Peaks” to you. (Actually, that one could use a little mansplaining.)

Unless you have a doctorate and I am paying to listen to your opinions and then regurgitate them on to a midterm, shut up. No one asked for your opinion on Radiohead. That’s not why we’re all here getting drunk. Surely Bernie Sanders would have won, but there’s nothing we can do about that now. Mansplainers, we cannot take back our last 20 moves in the game of Geopolitical Candyland—that’s not how that game is played, even if you get to ride the Fudge Trail of Hegemony.

You mansplain because there is something wrong with you. You want to hear your own voice. And you want to feel important in a society that is clearly moving away from the opinions of straight white dudes and into the opinions of people we should be listening to. Imagine if white men spent the next 100 years just listening, after dominating all conversations for decades. And not in a “what amazing thing can I say next?” kind of listening way. In a real-real kind of way. I mansplain because I’m deeply nervous about any breaks in conversations at all. People make me nervous because everyone is smarter than me and I am pretty much faking my way through adulthood.

You know where mansplaining is the worst? Twitter! Do women do this “twitter thread” thing? I mean, my God. It’s the worst thing to happen to twitter since that shrugging emoji. I have never gotten past 3/ on one of those threads. Go back to 2003 and get a blog I can ignore.

What can we do to stop mansplainers? Maybe we should adopt those occupy Wall Street hand signals for real life conversations? Down magic hands for when sentences end in “brah.” Hands in X when anyone mentions Slavoj Žižek. Wrap it up hands when anyone mentions how great it will be when Trump is impeached.

Headphones work insanely well, even when they’re not on. I don’t even like music much. I might just get worksite sound ear muffs. Because people’s conversations are so annoying. They are never about me, and therefore are boring as fuck. People only want to hear about themselves! Not about you! Unless the you is about them! If people just suddenly put on headphones and turned away during conversations, I think mansplainers would get it.

It should be socially acceptable, from this moment on, to just walk up to someone and be like, “What you’re saying is terrible.” Maybe there could be a code word: Chrysanthemum! That sounds nice. And not in a mean way. Not in a judgey way. In a there’s-spinach-in-your-teeth way. No harm, no foul. We all only have so much time left in the world. We don’t have time for this bullshit and we don’t have time for you to verbally stroll through the weeds. It’s like you’re poking my brain with a turd. And you just have to stop.

But seriously. What was that “Twin Peaks” about? I just hope I wasn’t the only one who sat through the whole episode.

Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City, NJ and works at a bookstore.

God Invented Headphones Because Other People’s Opinions Are Intolerable was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Supreme Court, In Perspective

Mon, 2017-06-26 11:30
Photo: YeeChao, Koh

A prediction for the future:

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Seems likely that by end of Trump/Pence's first term there will be a 6-3 very conservative SCOTUS blocking progress for another generation

 — @DavidKlion

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If you are depressed about the fact that several different methods of electoral manipulation and a shattering of Constitutional norms has resulted in a Supreme Court that will spend many more years preventing even ameliorative action to the deliberate damage done against the popular will, I want to remind you that as of today we are less than six months away from Christmas. Now how do you feel?

The Supreme Court, In Perspective was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

What If

Mon, 2017-06-26 11:01
Slice of life

Liana Finck loves these types of animals.

What If was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Jay Shepheard, “The Hot Button (Original Mix)”

Mon, 2017-06-26 10:06
At the start of every week it’s another week.Photo: Shane Taremi

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]

Jay Shepheard, “The Hot Button (Original Mix)” was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

New York City, June 22, 2017

Fri, 2017-06-23 18:00

★★★ The morning light was ransacking upper-floor apartments but the playground was shaded and cool. Spirits were up; the five-year-old was moved, for the first time in memory, not to loiter by the far fence but to play on the climber. Two children collided at the gate between the inner and outer playgrounds, with an audible thump and then tears. There were enough clouds to mellow the midday light. An ice cream truck jammed its way through the crosswalk, making a turn. The late afternoon was comfortable in the forecourt, but upstairs the lowering sun and the stove combined to make the air conditioner necessary for the first time all day. A pearly glare covered the west, and when that subsided, the darkening sky was scrawled with pink tracery.

New York City, June 22, 2017 was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Jared and Ivanka Plan a Summer Trip

Fri, 2017-06-23 13:37
And consume a year’s worth of fiber in the process.Image: Rosemarie Vogtli

JARED has just returned home from his afternoon of leisure — Bocce club at the local Whole Foods. He is thrilled that IVANKA, has suggested they leave D.C. without clarifying that it’s just for the summer. JARED hates their lives as high-level pols. IVANKA, typically very calm, is zealously juicing in the kitchen. She has sent her staff home for the day, with strict instructions to return tomorrow morning and not nose through the trash or the recycling or the plumbing, whatsoever. Her butler, before he emigrated to America, was a plumber for Carlos Slim, and IVANKA is nothing if not extremely careful.

IVANKA [chopping kale]: Did you speak to my father about reducing your workload?

JARED [searching the refrigerator for a bottle of water]: I emailed him.

IVANKA [chopping rhubarb]: He doesn’t have email.

JARED [giving up his search for bottled water and pivoting to the sink]: I emailed Reince.

IVANKA [chopping asparagus]: You should’ve spoken to him directly. He won’t like that you used an intermediary to avoid confrontation.

JARED [turning on the faucet and drinking directly from the stream]: You said — fuck. [JARED has burned himself on the scalding water from the tap. He can never remember which direction to turn for cold.]

IVANKA [evening out a stack of paper]: I said no such thing. Do you want to get out of here or not?

JARED [rubbing his mouth]: Of course I do. I never wanted to move here. I thought we had no choice. [JARED picks up a carrot stick, takes a bite, and immediately gets the hiccups.] What are you juicing?

IVANKA [criminally]: Documents. [IVANKA hands JARED a pair of scissors and a stack of paperwork that confirms she and her husband profited immensely from collusion and money laundering.] Get cutting.

JARED and IVANKA snip away. There are reams and reams of documents, each one more incriminating than the last. JARED removes the pen from his ear and edits one of them.

IVANKA [taking her Vitamix down from the cupboard]: We’re blending them into the fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t matter what they say now.

JARED [accidentally papercutting himself]: You can finally host your conference about women interrupting men.

IVANKA [handing JARED a Band-aid]: The keynote speaker can be whichever male comedian has most recently been booed off of a college campus stage. What should we call it?

JARED [affixing the Band-aid]: The politicization of the word ‘actually.’

IVANKA [violating her own rule to never validate a loved one]: That’s fun, Jared.

JARED and IVANKA continue their cycle of chopping, snipping and juicing. For the first time in a long time, they are happy and balanced and enjoying each other’s company. There is a loud clanging in the hallway. It’s STEVE BANNON, too lazy to walk, gliding along on a motorized scooter he ordered from TOM PRICE.

STEVE BANNON [wistfully]: Look at you two. A couple who destroys evidence together. Our very own Bill and Hillary. Who will be punished for whose sins though?

STEVE BANNON drives his motorized scooter directly at JARED.

IVANKA [playfully, for her]: That’s so smart of you, Steve, to learn how to ride one of those before your feet are amputated.

STEVE BANNON runs over JARED’s cool sneakers as JARED yelps.

STEVE BANNON [sniffing the air]: Why do you smell like the inside of a Subway franchise?

JARED [sniffing his armpits]: It’s body odor.

IVANKA [raising her voice]: Jared!

JARED [feeling strong, for once]: I was at the Bocce court.

STEVE BANNON [awkwardly]: I rode in here to tell you that I’m taking off for the summer. [STEVE BANNON extends his hand to JARED, and does not yank it away when JARED naively offers his own.] Your hand shake is firm, wow. [to IVANKA] How have I never shaken his hand before?

JARED [feeling weak, again]: Why wouldn’t I have a firm handshake?

There’s a loud honk outside. It sounds like a chorus of beached sea lions whose ocean home is inhabitable because of dangerously high concentrations of carbon dioxide. It’s CLARENCE THOMAS announcing his arrival.

STEVE BANNON [making an obscene gesture popularized by pro wrestlers]: Justice Thomas is here. We’re taking a road trip across the fatherland, converting his RV into an opioid clinic, and saving this country ourselves.

[IVANKA says “Yeah right” with her eyes.]

STEVE BANNON [truthfully]: We’re tailgating in the Redskins parking lot until football season. Now that he and his buddies saved the mascot we don’t have to become Chiefs fans.

[The KUSHNER CHILDREN enter, happily singing songs from Hamilton, and unaware that their mother has misrepresented to their father that tomorrow they’ll be moving under the cover of night to an undisclosed location.]

KUSHNER CHILDREN [in unison]: Colluthies!! Yay!!

[IVANKA feeds her children the smoothies containing the paperwork, because someone has to drink them, and because if the children are drinking they can’t discuss their field trip tomorrow, the Smithsonian with Karen Handel. They can’t trigger their father.]

IVANKA [lying, and directing her children to the sun porch where they will play chess until bedtime]: Jared, what country should we move to?

JARED [his own Dog Days just beginning]: Wyoming.

IVANKA [delighting in her own sociopathy]: Wyoming isn’t a country.

STEVE BANNON’s motorized scooter is stuck in the doorway leading out of the kitchen. He backs it out, to renegotiate the frame, and hits the stool where IVANKA is keeping the stack of documents. Paper flutters everywhere, including an email about James Comey’s October’s surprise letter.

JARED [feeling panic as he remembers Election Day, what he and his mother and brother refer to as Hell Day]: Why do you think James Comey sent out that letter?

IVANKA [telling the truth]: Why would I care what Jim Comey does? His letter was only pretext for racists who were never going to vote for her anyhow. [IVANKA pulses the email noting the Comey letter’s timing.] And who taught the children to say ‘colluthie’? You know we want them to use non-abbreviated, intact language wherever possible.

[STEVE BANNON, frustrated his motorized scooter is wedged in the KUSHNER doorway, decides to use his legs, for just a few steps. He gets up, kicks the scooter, and then unplugs the carbon monoxide detector he notices on his way out the door. The device sounds an alarm, briefly, but JARED and IVANKA are too busy arguing about who taught their children to shorten collusion smoothie to ‘colluthie’ to hear it.]

JARED [ingesting a muscle relaxant]: I’ll tell Kellyanne she’s not to shorten words in front of our children ever again. [JARED dumps the last of the shredded documents into the mixer.] I’m going to go lie down. We have a big move tomorrow.

IVANKA [calmly, and then powerfully]: You’ll sleep when you’re dead.

The muscle relaxant hits JARED’s bloodstream, and then his brain, and though he thinks to clarify what his wife means by sleeping when he is dead, he doesn’t verbalize the thought. Instead, JARED walks upstairs, picks up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone from his children’s bookcase and calls his mother’s cleaning lady STEFA, to ask her if she will read to him while he follows along. He can’t get through, because IVANKA has also phoned STEFA, to ensure that she has prepared their Hamptons home, before the KUSHNERS arrive the weekend of the Fourth of July.

Jared and Ivanka Plan a Summer Trip was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Two Roads Diverged In A Yellow Wood

Fri, 2017-06-23 11:53
And Donald Trump was elected president.Image: Gary Millar

According to a huuuuuuuge report in the Washington Post today, everything that could did go pretty wrong in a way that is hard not to find maddening because it’s all in hindsight: some Democrats held back, worried that coming out hot might read as too political; many Republicans were skeptical of the widely corroborated reports of Russian meddling in the election; Comey refused to sign a public warning about Russian interference on October 7, “saying that it was too close to the election” for the FBI to be involvHAHAKDJFHLSDKHFKSDJLSDKJFLSDKJFLSDKFJLSDKFJLSDFKJSLDFKJSDLKFJSDLKFJLSDKJFLSDKJFLSDKJFSLDKFJSLDKFJLSDKFJSLDKFJLSDKJFSLDKFJLAKJDSLDKFJDSLKFJDLSKJFLDSKFJLSDKFJSLKDJFLDSKJFDSLKJFLSKDJFLSKSDLFKJSLDFJLSDKJFSLDKFJLSKDJFLSKDJFLSKDJFLSKDJFLS; Mitch McConnell is basically the man behind the curtain; one senior Obama official says of his difficulty processing what (didn’t) happen, “I feel like we sort of choked”; it was never entirely clear if Russia was hacking just because they could create chaos and/or whether there’s really a difference between mucking things up and doing things explicitly in the name of discrediting Hillary Clinton and getting Donald Trump elected. The Obama administration debated dozens of options for sanctions and punishment measures, and perhaps most maddening of all is that Obama was very Obama about it—measured, resourceful, calculating, leading from behind—right when you wanted him to be kind of illogically superheroic about it and save us from this mess. The only positive thing I can say about that is that the whole thing was a bit of a Catch-22 and we should all be grateful that Trump wasn’t the one navigating these choppy waters because LORD KNOWS he’d have gone for the “embarrass him” option, thus spiraling us further into a world of hypocritical geopolitical cul-a-cul. The WaPo piece has passages like this that will make your eyeballs spontaneously fall out of your head and run away:

In political terms, Russia’s interference was the crime of the century, an unprecedented and largely successful destabilizing attack on American democracy. It was a case that took almost no time to solve, traced to the Kremlin through cyber-forensics and intelligence on Putin’s involvement. And yet, because of the divergent ways Obama and Trump have handled the matter, Moscow appears unlikely to face proportionate consequences.

Anyway, not to worry, because here we are, and this is the way that history happened; the road we farted our way down to a Trump presidency doesn’t so much matter in any meaningful way except it reveals in greater relief what did not happen. (Remember: the Robert Frost poem does not mean what you think it means; or as David Orr might prefer it, it does and it doesn’t.) Anyway, you can read the whole, essential thing here, and I hope you don’t enjoy it.

Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault

Two Roads Diverged In A Yellow Wood was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

> Tiny kindnesses

Fri, 2017-06-23 11:16
From Everything Changes, the Awl’s newsletter. Subscribe here.

You had a mission this week: to notice people doing tiny kindnesses for each other.

Here’s what some of you saw:

My toddler and I were waiting in a long line at Russ and Daughters this morning, and a guy gave me a much earlier number. He’d somehow ended up with an extra number right after his, and waited until he saw someone he thought needed it. I gave my number to the last couple in line, and if they did the same, it might still be going. — AnnieA guy let me and my friend pet his two corgis and instructed the shy one to “please be a gentleman.” — C.Driving to work one morning I saw some cars stopped ahead in the road. An older gentleman in a big truck had stopped to move tree branches out of the road so folks could drive through. He got back in his car and pulled away. As he pulled away a smaller car stopped and a much younger man got out to keep clearing the smaller debris. After seeing these two guys one younger who looked like he was coming or going from a job where he was painting houses and an older retired gentleman in a big car both stop I stopped too. Either of these cars could have driven around or over the branches that were there when they stopped but they didn’t. The truck could have manged the big stuff that was there when he stopped. The sedan could have managed the small debris. But they stopped thinking that the next car coming through that might not be able to. — Megan M.First of all, here is the sign outside my local Tube station today (below). Secondly: as I was waking to this same Tube station I saw a woman duck into a Pret, buy a croissant, duck back out and hand it to the elderly homeless man and his dog sitting in the shade beside the station. That was all — she just gave him a croissant, told him to have a nice day, and walked on. — AnneAbout a week ago I was taking the bus home after a long day of working my two jobs. My stop is the very last one and all other patrons except for me exited, leaving just me and the bus driver. The driver called me up to the front and said that this was his final route of the day and offered to drive me a little closer to my final destination. It was only a few blocks — but in those few minutes we shared about our days and talked a little about yoga (I was wearing the iconic stretchy pants as I had just left the studio that I work at). I thanked him for his kindness and we wished each other good weekends. — CarolJust yesterday, a stranger found my ID in the park near my office and actually took the time to rescue it, call my number, and offer to mail it to me. It’s my court ID (I’m a lawyer), and I would have been screwed next week without it. She turned out to work on the next block, so I picked it up in person, and when I met her she seemed bemused by how grateful I was. But, especially given this week, it was such a gift, not just to get my ID back, but to be reminded that people are sometimes pretty great. — Sarahoh man, in brooklyn boro hall on the sidewalk, saw a homeless elder beardy standing and trying to light a cigarette with thumbs only and then a young guy passing by brings out his lighter and lights the thing as he walks by without breaking stride even. — LolaI was in the parking lot of a mall and saw a big, white expensive car hit and run a parked vehicle. No one really noticed (not even security!) except this young couple (early to mid 20’s) that was waiting to park in the spot that was being vacated by the offending car. (Keep in mind that this is a very, very popular shopping center and parking spots come at a premium as you usually have to wait 30-to-40 minutes for one). So, they change their plans, ignore the newly opened spot and go on a brief chase of the white car to try to get its registration. After a small circuit, they pull up behind the car and seemingly take a photo. The white car’s driver didn’t even notice this. Then, they went around, left the car at the curb, took out pen & paper, wrote down the color, model and registration of the white car and left the note on the hit car’s windshield. I bet it was anonymous, too! — CRMMy friend is moving and selling a lot of her furniture and appliances. She’s been lowballing the prices a lot just to move the process along, like selling her pretty new washer and dryer on Craigslist for $50 total. The family that bought the washer and dryer hugged her they were so happy. My friend could have sold those appliances for hundreds of dollars, and she would have made more money. But, I don’t know, maybe that family wouldn’t have been able to afford that? This might seem like a longshot example, but it’s made me reflect on what tiny kindnesses can be. People often assume that “doing good” has be a difficult or profound choice, like you have to “sacrifice” something. Really, it’s just about being mindful of what our priorities are and, when and to the extent we can, prioritizing general greater good over personal profit in your everyday decisions.Perhaps a bit more than opening the door. Two members of the United States Air Force take part of their Saturday to honor the memory and service of one of the Greatest Generation, a total stranger to them but one very near and dear to our family and my father. — RonaClimbing out of the subway I saw two women ahead of me. They did not seem to know each other. The woman ahead on the stairs tripped and her shoe twisted off. The other woman behind her caught the shoe and with both hands perfectly slipped it back on the stranger’s foot. This happened as if choreographed, and under 4 seconds.A man was sitting on the subway with his daughter in his lap, a water bottle full of coffee at their feet. A woman handed him a plastic bag, saying “it’s going to spill.” He said, “You’re right, it is!” And he tied the bag around his coffee. — EllaA lady was walking the opposite direction of me and [a man who kept blocking the path on the sidewalk] as he stopped completely, in my direct path again, so I had to stop right behind him so that I didn’t walk into him. He started walking again, and I just stood there for a second, to give him a chance to get several steps ahead, with what I thought was an exasperated look on my face. As the lady walking toward me and this gentleman passed, she said to me in a low voice, without even making eye contact with me, “Are you okay?” At that moment, I just replied, “Oh, yes, thank you,” but as I walked on, it occurred to me that she may have thought that this man and I were together, and that the look I had on my face was me trying to signal her that something was wrong/I needed help. I thought it was wonderful that she saw a stranger she thought might need help, that she actually made the effort to ask if things were okay, and that she did it in a way where no one else would notice her asking in case it really was a situation where things were not okay. It made me think that I need to pick up that habit in the future.a bagel shop cashier abandoned his post and ran across the store to help a woman with a stroller with the heavy door.Today I was sitting on a ledge waiting to go to a meeting. I laid my umbrella next to me. After reading something I stood up and walked away leaving my umbrella behind. A man yelled out “Hey,” and I turned he pointed to the umbrella and asked if it was mine. I said yes and walked back and he walked over and handed it me. I thanked him and continued on. This is the second time I’ve forgotten this umbrella and the first that someone has noticed and returned it to me. — LindaMy husband and I were having lunch together at a deli. A woman two tables over from us was eating by herself and received a phone call on her bluetooth. She began crying from what appears to have been bad news. She was fairly quiet about it and kept it to herself, but she was obviously crying. Another patron in the restaurant stopped, patted her shoulder and mouthed “Are you OK?”. She nodded through her tears and continued with her phone call. He and a few other patrons continued to monitor her out of the corner of their eyes, but gave her her privacy. It seemed a small gesture — but I felt all of us in the restaurant sending her strength through the man’s small pat on the shoulder. — LGThis week I saw a struggling small business owner take the time to send a personal note of thanks, encouragement, and acknowledgment to each of her minimum wage-earning seasonal employees when she etransferred them this week’s pay. — Kate S.I was on a very early flight with a lot of people who should have been cranky and impossible to deal with, but instead waited their turn, apologized when they needed to, complimented shoes, shared outlets, and were respectful of others’ space. A lot of tiny kindnesses turned a potentially shitty situation into an altogether pleasant one. — Maggie C.I was about to cross a side street in Brooklyn when a concerned-looking man crossing in the opposite direction stood in the middle of the street and began frantically waving a tshirt in front of the cars that were about to get a green light. I quickly realized that he was stopping traffic so that a blocked ambulance with its sirens on could make it through further down. It worked — the traffic cleared and the ambulance moved. When I got a few blocks down in the direction he’d been coming from, EMTs were on the scene, attending to an unconscious, apparently homeless person on the sidewalk. I think most people would call 911, but this guy went the extra mile. He did what a family member would do.My family moved into a new home in a new neighborhood and FOUR neighbors all dropped by to welcome us with baked goods.I had a small solstice dinner and invited two friends. They’d never met before, it just so happened that their husbands were both overseas. We were chatting over pasta and I asked my friend how her mother-in-law was doing. She explained to our other guest that her mother-in-law had been recently widowed. He apologized and put his fork down right away and turned his face and body towards her to give her his full attention and empathy. It was subtle and simple and beautiful to witness. — Sonya G.My boyfriend and I were delayed for 5 miserable hours (until 4am) on our way home from a lovely rare holiday. We were sat on the cold stone floor trying to get comfortable and wait it out. We must have looked as hungry and tired as we felt, as two cleaning ladies who had been busy around us cleaning the empty first class lounge nearby brought us out leftover sandwiches and chocolates. It felt like they were angels! Their kindness brightened our spirits and even now I’m home I’m still feeling that brightness. — Maki

That’s all for this week. Scully says thanks.

From Everything Changes, the Awl’s newsletter. Subscribe here.

> Tiny kindnesses was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Fri, 2017-06-23 11:01
Notes on life

Liana Finck has been trapping wild birds since 2003.

Birdcage was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Area, “Rlgl”

Fri, 2017-06-23 10:20
At the end of every week it’s another week.Photo: Michelle Robinson

Remember the last week when you weren’t like, “Ugh, let’s pretend this week didn’t happen?” When you didn’t even want credit for making it through? When even just thinking back to the events of the week didn’t feel like it took an entire week itself? Me neither. Here’s some music. Enjoy.

Area, “Rlgl” was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

New York City, June 21, 2017

Thu, 2017-06-22 18:26

★★★ The wet air gave minor but steady resistance. A cooler pocket lurked outside the canopy of the Union Square subway but it wasn’t clear why. “Does my hear look less frizzy today?” a woman asked a man. “No,” he said. Fecal smells had carried improbable distances in the neighborhood uptown, and now downtown the soap smell from a sidewalk being hosed down was acrid and overwhelming. The shady cross-street sidewalks remained pleasant, but crossing the avenue in the open meant wading through stagnant heat. The lines of light coming sideways through the blinds toward evening were a little too amber to match the emoji beach ball being batted around through them. The sun wrapped up its long day by putting a pink rim on the top of the western clouds and sending a purple luminosity up from below.

New York City, June 21, 2017 was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Lowkey Casually Dancing One-Shot Music Video

Thu, 2017-06-22 14:00
Who did it better?


Francis and the Lights ft. Bon Iver and Kanye West?

Francis and the Lights feat. Chance the Rapper?

Chance the Rapper?

Just kidding guys, they’re all directed by Jake Schreier, who directed Robot & Frank and Paper Towns, neither of which I have seen, as well as the forthcoming Showtime series, “i’m Dying Up Here.”

The Lowkey Casually Dancing One-Shot Music Video was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.