Laugh tracks.

Are we feeling sad these days? I know I am. Not stick-my-head-in-the-oven sad, but more like gray-bowl-of-Michigan-winter sad, mixed with I-need-to-read-more-novels-and-less-Twitter sad and orange-elephant-in-the-room sad. If I were wealthier, I’d book a flight to Havana and do the major change of scenery thing. Can’t do that either? Then maybe this will help, a two-parter from New York magazine on the jokes that shaped modern comedy.

It’s not actually a two-parter, just a piece that was published last year, and the new one, dropped in the last couple of days. I like both, because you can really get lost in them, and then you find yourself laughing, and soon it’s as though you aren’t living in the first months of 2017, but in some bubbly comedy land.

Until you hit 1988:

The most influential magazine of its era left a mark on every other: complicated tiny typography, kitschy clip art, little floating heads as illustrations, charts and graphs analyzing everything it covered, and big memorable stories told with an ironic sensibility and unironic rigor. But clearly its single device with the longest legs was the compound hyphenated pejorative epithet, an update of the old Time house style. “Churlish dwarf billionaire Laurence Tisch,” “sex-kittenish Vanity Fair model Diane Sawyer,” “musky, supersuave love man Billy Dee Williams”: Spy’s editors had a knack for summing up an entire person in three or four words. Including one “short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump,” whose rage at this characterization continues to this day, and who now has his tiny, tiny finger on the button. (Sad!) Their glib irreverence would continue well beyond the magazine’s final issue in 1998; it’s almost impossible to find a funny blog that doesn’t at least somewhat depend on Spy’s voice and tone.

Oh, well. Nothing lasts forever. It’s still funny.

I remember that era at Spy. Tisch had his lawyer send a letter that explained Tisch was not “medically, technically a dwarf,” and cease calling him one. So they started ID’ing him as “Churlish billionaire Laurence Tisch, who is not medically, technically a dwarf.” Good times.

We need more use of the word “churl” and all of its variations.

So, what else happened today? The president got into a pissing match with a department store, that’s what. Something I didn’t know:

Last week, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores sent a note to employees — a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times — telling them to throw away signs for Ivanka Trump products.

“Effective immediately, please remove all Ivanka Trump merchandise from features and mix into” the racks where most products hang, the note read. “All Ivanka Trump signs should be discarded.”

The instruction was to eliminate special displays for the merchandise, “not to remove it from the sales floor,” said Doreen Thompson, a spokeswoman for the TJX Companies, the retailers’ parent corporation.

And no one even called the first daughter an escort to wreck her brand. Maybe something else is at work here. Hmm, what could it be?

Finally, no less a writer than Hank Stuever decreed this story the best feature story about life in 2017, an account of Milo Yiannopoulos’ visit to the University of Washington, and the events that flowed from it. I’d say it’s right up there, and totally worth your time, Sherri and others.

Who’s ready for a measles outbreak? Because it’s coming.

Posted at 8:34 pm in Current events, Popculch | 101 Comments
 

The world’s longest to-do list.

Every so often we all wonder if we’re in the right place, job-wise, right? Don’t you look at job listings from time to time? Sure you do, even if you like the one you have. Grass is varying shades of green, so we’re always looking on the other side of the fence.

So here you go: $125-150K per year for running six separate estates, all owned by the same family (or LLC, most likely), in three different cities (Franklin, Mich., Aspen and Palm Beach). Basically, you’re at the beck and call of Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags and their adult children, as a combination event planner, food and beverage manager, diplomat, maintenance supervisor, human resources director (“in an environment where everyone is given clear expectations and loves coming to work daily”) and six or seven other full-time jobs, all rolled into one. And you have to be able to travel at the drop of a hat and pay the bills and, and, and…

That sounds like a fat salary until you consider that it’s really a bargain for a family that apparently needs six houses to encompass all their money. On the up side, you’ll learn a lot of interesting things about the Trumps.

The weekend turned out to be 50 percent of one. I’m working pretty much all day Sunday, writing a story and doing other chores, so I can leave early on Friday — I’m hoping to attend the Columbus Dispatch alumni holiday party for the first time in a few years. I’m also hoping not to be detained by the weather; a polar vortex is headed this way, with “frigid air tied up (that) has its origins in Siberia and northern Canada.”

As if Russia hasn’t fucked with us enough as of late.

A story I’m not getting into, because I feel the top of my skull is just barely holding on.

Although you should read this.

This Twitter account is mainly for comic relief.

I have to start writing other things now. It’s snowing like crazy, too. Hello, winter.

Posted at 11:55 am in Current events, Popculch | 38 Comments
 

Brandy, you’re a fine girl.

I don’t know why, but I think this belongs here:

rock3c

It’s one of those nights, folks. Too much work, a trip tomorrow — to Kalamazoo, perhaps my favorite city name in the whole state — and too much miscellanea in the One of These Days file. Like this list, not the top 100, but the first 81. So many songs that should never be played again, and yet, I probably know every word, because if there’s ever an effective memory-cementing device, it’s a 14 year old and a transistor radio. Alan digs up “Troglodyte” on YouTube every few months, just to torture me. “She was one of the Butt sisters!” he crows, and justlikethat, the song is re-embedded in my frontal lobes, along with…pretty much everything else on this list. There may be two songs here I couldn’t sing beginning to end, and I don’t think I want to learn them.

More fun fotos! The royal family before the annual Diplomatic Reception:

royalfamily

I love the fam’s official photographic record. Those knickers, the heir, the heir’s heir, the consort and the young commoner-turned-duchess. Do you ever wonder if, while getting dressed, maybe Bill and Cathy Cambridge sing “Duke of Earl” to one another?

And when I hold you
You’ll be my Duchess, Duchess of Earl
We’ll walk through my dukedom
And a paradise we will share

I hope so, anyway.

Finally, pro tip: “Pumping Iron” is on Netflix this month. You should watch it. I did, the other night, for the first time since the 1970s. It holds up, with young Arnold Schwarzenegger displaying all the charm that took him to fame and riches. He’s smart, confident and a real competitor in this bizarre sport. Plus, it’s 87 minutes long, which strikes me as pretty perfect for a documentary.

Into the weekend we go.

Posted at 9:56 pm in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 91 Comments
 

Pimping iron.

I don’t know what got me thinking about the Mr. Olympia contest the other day; probably saw a reference to it in the zillions of words that fly past my face in a typical crazy-ass day. The contest was held in September. In Vegas, natch, but for years it was held in little old Columbus, Ohio. In the early ’80s, before the internet, when personal fitness was barely getting started and bodybuilding was a weird subculture with a seriously gay vibe, I attended one. Alone. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I was working at the Dispatch, a rookie, in the women’s department, when the press people for Mr. Olympia came calling. I’m sure they’d started with the sports department, and struck out, because as far as the sports department was concerned, bodybuilding was not a sport. It was a weird subculture with a seriously gay vibe! No one wanted to be associated with that; no one in sports, anyway. And so somebody with Mr. Olympia called my editor in the women’s department and pitched a really crazy idea: Women who lift weights and train and do bodybuilding contests. It so happened that the reigning Mr. O, Frank Zane, was married to a beautiful woman named Christine, with whom he trained. We could interview them both at the Sheraton down the street that very evening. I got the assignment.

Thinking back, I’m amazed at how strange this idea seemed — a woman pumping serious iron. A friend of mine was working at the time at a fitness studio called Spa Lady. She wore tights and a leotard and leg warmers to work, as did all of the customers. They had dance classes and a few pieces of equipment, and if any weight was lifted, it was no more than one or at most, three pounds. You’d move more pounds putting away your groceries. Women didn’t lift anything heavier because, conventional wisdom maintained, she would get grotesque, Popeye muscles, just like the guys in Mr. Olympia. And if she for some crazy reason wanted such things, and then quit, all those muscles would “turn to fat.”

These are some of the things I knew to be true as I walked to my interview with the Zanes.

A publicist opened the door to their hotel room. This is approximately what they looked like, only they had more clothes on. In street clothes, she was a slender beauty and he, a guy with really broad shoulders. Charming, down-to-earth people. They told me what we now know about women and weights — that we lack the hormones to put on bulk, that a muscle cannot actually turn to fat, etc. And so on. I took notes, the photographer took pictures. As I left, I asked Frank to “make a muscle,” as people said then — flex his bicep. He did, and a bowling ball rose on his upper arm. I gave it a little squeeze. It felt like a bowling ball, too. The publicist handed me a couple passes to the event that upcoming weekend.

My story was just a lame advance for the contest, on a page that approximately zero people who were interested in it would read. But I started noticing more broad-shouldered people around town that week, of all colors, speaking languages I could only guess at, as they arrived to compete and watch. Probably a few thousand of them all told, from all over the world, and my dumb story on page D6 was the only notice the paper took of an internationally famous event.

When the contest came, I asked some friends if they’d come with me. None were interested. So I went by myself, carrying my Nikon with the longest lens I had, a paltry 135mm. Veterans Memorial was sold out. Let me tell you, it was an experience. The gay vibe became a full-throated roar during the pose-offs, hundreds of muscle freaks screaming like banshees as Frank and the others turned and flexed their lats and delts and so forth. Real appreciators of the human form, this crowd. I walked down the aisle and took a few shots as close as I could get, most of my new friend Frank. Who repeated as Mr. O, in the end.

The next day, the photo editor came out with a worried look on his face. The AP was calling, wondering why the biggest paper in town hadn’t covered this international sporting event, and could we give the co-op anything in the way of photos? It so happened I had the roll of film I’d shot, and handed it over, black-and-white Tri-X, my favorite. They ran it and brought me a contact sheet. Is this the guy? the editor asked. Yep, that’s Frank.

And that, my friends, is how young Nancy Nall got her first and only photo on the AP’s sports wire. Or any wire.

The Zanes are still together, and are still adorable.

I think this is what got me thinking about Mr. Olympia; I must have glimpsed a promo when it ran a few days ago, but just got around to reading it today, a profile of Phil Heath, who is …startling-looking, at least in the performance photos. This guy trains, eats and sleeps. Just like Michael Phelps, only his food bill probably isn’t $1,000 a week. And like Zane, he seems more or less normal. Not crazy, anyway.

What draws people to such things? The same instincts that push us up mountains, I imagine.

No more links today, because everything good I read today was posted by you guys in the comments yesterday. After you guys went off on a tangent about barfing, I was going to link to Atul Gawande’s magnificent 1999 essay on nausea, but it’s back in the paid archive. I reread it a few years ago, when Kate Middleton had hyperemesis of pregnancy — that’s the through line — but they locked it back up.

So no politics today! Woo! Just a few more days…

Posted at 6:12 pm in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 56 Comments
 

Oh, grow up.

I’m relearning, in my recent enthusiasm for podcasting, something I’ve long contended: If you really want to know who’s reading/listening to a media outlet, check the advertising.

When I first started reading right-wing political magazines, I noticed the back-of-the-book ads were for things like The Great Courses and Increase Your Word Power flimflams, the intellectual equivalent of Charles Atlas’ don’t-get-sand-kicked-in-your-face-by-your-liberal-friends pitch. The lefty mags had personal ads for what sounded like a whole lot of lonely academics with nose hair, handmade jewelry and leather elbow patches on their blazers. And from what I’ve been able to tell, millennials (who are the natural audience of podcasts) simply can’t do a damn thing for themselves.

Caveat up front: Every time I’ve ventured an opinion that maybe young people need to brush up on their adulting skills, I get one of them jumping down my throat about the five jobs she works for practically nothing, and “we’re not all Lena Dunham, you know!” Noted. Noted, noted, noted. I’m just saying.

Anyway, the ‘casts I subscribe to offer some truly weird services, like various incarnations of the Clothes of the Month club — these are services where you fill out some online forms, and every month, a box of outfits appears on your doorstep. You try everything on, pay for what you like and send the rest back. How mystifying, and yet also seductive. Also, a waste of money; of course everybody has “no time to shop,” but seriously, find time to shop if looking good is important to you. It’s not that fucking hard.

Blue Apron is a similar one, only for food. Blue Apron delivers pre-portioned food boxes with easy-to-follow recipes, for those who want to cook at home but pay the same price they would at a restaurant, or at least I assume so. I honestly don’t know how you put together boxes featuring everything individually packaged, including the spices, all refrigerated, all with the usual buzzwords (“sustainable,” “locally sourced”), and deliver it to someone’s front door without charging an arm and a leg. Seriously, folks, have you considered the alternatives at your local fast-casual restaurant? You might be surprised.

It turns out keeping people from the necessary adult step of shopping for food and figuring out how to cook it themselves has a price beyond mere dollars and cents. It’s driving their employees insane:

August 26, 2015, was, by all accounts, a stressful day at Blue Apron’s facility in Richmond, California.

As the sun rose over what would be an unusually warm Wednesday, a 21-year-old employee made a phone call to a supervisor at the $2 billion food startup’s Bay Area fulfillment center, where tens of thousands of meal kits are packed into cardboard containers and shipped across the continental United States. The supervisor didn’t pick up the phone that morning, so he left a message.

In it, he said he planned to quit his job at Blue Apron later that day. He also said he planned to bring a gun to the warehouse and shoot his manager, as well as other people at the facility. In two messages, he named three people specifically who he wanted to put bullets into when he got there. Around 8:30, en route to work, the supervisor called the police.

Police apprehended the man, who did not have a gun, later that morning. But at Blue Apron, the day was just getting started.

While company security and a Richmond police officer on patrol monitored threats outside the warehouse, inside, Blue Apron management was meeting with representatives from California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health at the conclusion of a two-week inspection by the agency that would result in nine violations and proposed penalties totaling $11,695 for unsafe conditions that put workers at risk for fractured bones, chemical burns, and more. This penalty came on top of $13,050 following a forklift accident earlier in the year, giving Blue Apron the most OSHA violations in the fast-growing, $5 billion meal-kit startup industry, and among the most in perishable prepared-food manufacturing in California. (Like many companies, Blue Apron appealed these findings, and had some of its violation classifications downgraded to “general” or “other.” One of its cases is still open.)

Just after 4 p.m. on the same day, the police were back at Blue Apron for the third time, following a noontime patrol. They were prompted by yet another call from a security guard, concerned that “a weapon might be brought.”

This time the problem was a 26-year-old man who, after being fired earlier in the day for groping a female co-worker, had then threatened the person who let him go. He was later arrested for sexual assault, as well as for violating his parole on an earlier robbery charge.

“I definitely remember that day,” said David Reifschneider, who was general manager of the facility at the time. “It’s not what happens on a typical day in a typical warehouse.”

Forgive the extra-long excerpt; it’s well worth reading the entire piece. It’s the classic story of our century so far: “Disruptors” have a big idea, regular old people suffer in its incarnation. I wonder when “disruptor” will give way to the more accurate “motherfucker.” What’s wrong with learning about food in your own way, eating out, eating in, learning what you like, what it takes to make it appear on your table? What is the need for this packaging-heavy, labor-intensive step? If your life is so busy that this is what it takes to put a home-cooked meal on the table in your house, maybe you need to reconsider your life. Or maybe I’m full of shit, but man, the thought of human hands in a California warehouse putting one tablespoon of vinegar or soy sauce into a tiny bottle just makes my heart sink.

My daughter Kate is living in a co-op house at school this year. Basically, it’s a commune with some structure imposed by the university, which owns the house. It’s a vegetarian group, and all the residents share cooking duties. She’s eaten more vegetables in the past month than she probably did the 18 years she lived here. But she’s learning how to do all this stuff I tried to show her over the years and she either ignored or didn’t care to learn: How to cook rice, plan a meal, etc. Good. Life is full of challenges large and small, and mastering rice is one you need to learn. The failures teach you plenty. I have no idea what Blue Apron teaches you; maybe how to make it all a lot more complicated than it needs to be.

Let’s give these poor hard-working kids a break, maybe? A night off from work, maybe a cooking club with their friends. They can figure it out together.

OK, then, back to the topic of the hour and many hours before and to come. If nothing else comes of this fucking election, I hope it leads to the utter flushing down the public toilet of Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie and much of the right-wing media-sphere. Guys, you had a good run, but the party’s about to be over. Hope you saved your money.

Hello, Tuesday, dead ahead. Dentist appointment and deadline for me — how about you?

Posted at 8:18 pm in Current events, Popculch | 64 Comments
 

Splitsville.

The mail is so exciting in campaign season.

trumpnote

Do you think it’s an invitation to the inaugural ball?

Alas, he just wants some money.

I’m so OD’d on you-know-who that I’d like to talk about something else: Brangelina, kaput, at least temporarily. Am I the only one who thinks Jennifer Aniston is still pretty hot, while Angelina Jolie has starved herself into a bundle of sticks and a jawbone? And while Brad Pitt is still capable of being kinda sexy onscreen, when I see him I mostly imagine he is the sort of guy who has near-constant B.O., but no one around him will say anything.

Jen, on the other hand, while extremely thin and no slouch at jawbone projection herself, at least looks like she had maybe half a sandwich — cucumber, on extra-thin bread, with low-fat cream cheese and just a tiny bit of it — in the last 24 hours. And she has those great blue California-girl eyes, plus excellent comic timing. Who doesn’t like a girl who can be funny more than one who is obsessed with saving the world?

Meanwhile, this guy:

Sorry, I was looking for a picture of Brad looking all scruffy, but even then, he’s still pretty cute.

Whenever celebrities divorce, somebody always expresses disappointment and the belief that these two were “for real.” I’m reminded of something Anna Quindlen wrote, I believe about the severing of Brigitte Nielsen and Sylvester Stallone, who were briefly married. She was said to have met him after she sent a nude photo of herself up to his hotel room. After they split, Quindlen wondered how people could express the slightest surprise. You want to be surprised? How about a man who walks into his kitchen after 15 years of marriage and three kids, announces he’s leaving because he just now realized he doesn’t love his wife and never did. Now that should be news. And it never is.

I’m sure Brad will land on his feet, maybe after spending the fall with his buddy George Clooney, at his Italian villa. And then Clooney will get divorced, too.

Wednesday is looming, and I have no bloggage, because I was Truth Squadding all day and will continue tomorrow. You guys always have better ones, anyway.

Posted at 12:10 am in Popculch | 131 Comments
 

Old Familiar H.S.

Recognize this place? You should. It’s the go-to high school when the script calls for one. Most notably, it’s the rock ‘n’ roll high school of the great b-movie of the same name. It’s also the alma mater of one of LAMary’s sons, and the highlight of the tour she gave me yesterday.

Unfortunately, it’s the only picture I took. Sorry about that — a bit jet-lagged.

On to San Onofre today, which my reading material says is one of the best places on the globe to learn to surf.

Good thing, too. Catch y’all later.

— Gidget

Posted at 2:28 pm in iPhone, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments
 

Clips.

I was reading a story about the ongoing Penn State/Jerry Sandusky affair. It turns out – stop me if you find this simply unbelievable – that more people might have known, far earlier, that something terrible was going on between Sandusky and the young people he was supposedly helping through his charity.

One of them was a member of the coaching staff. Supposedly, he “came into his office white as a ghost and said he just saw Jerry doing something to a boy in the shower.”

I thought what I’ve thought often since that story broke: This is the difference between men and women. A man scurries away and turns white as a ghost. A woman, pretty much any woman I know, especially the ones who are mothers, walks up to that asshole, grabs him by the ear and starts twisting.

Or maybe not. Women can abuse children as terribly as men can. But we’re hard-wired to protect them, and every time I hear one of these stories, I think of what a terrible thing fraternity can be, how loyalty to a team can lead otherwise good people to ignore something so evil, literally right in front of their faces.

Not to start with a bummer, though! Comedy, dead ahead!

Here’s my old newspaper, on the prospect of Mike Pence behind Trump’s veep choice:

At the risk of sounding like knee-jerk cheerleaders for the favorite-son candidate, we think Pence would be a good choice because he complements Trump in so many ways. He will balance Trump’s flamboyance with his quiet and even-tempered thoughtfulness. He has all the political experience Trump lacks, bringing both executive and legislative experience to the ticket. He has impeccable conservative credentials that would immediately add to Trump’s support from that bloc of the GOP.

As the kids say: Facepalm.

Now here’s Politico, on the same subject:

A firestorm around a 2015 law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act placed the state center stage in the culture wars, leading to intense backlash from the business community. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce called the law “a tremendous hit” to Indiana’s “national identity as a welcoming and hospitable state,” and Pence delivered a memorably bad performance on ABC’s “This Week,” in which he declined to answer whether or not it should be legal to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

He was also embarrassed by — and forced to abandon — a plan to create a state-run news service, an idea that drew national ridicule. All of it took place against the backdrop of rumblings that Pence had ambitions of his own for the Oval Office.

…He’s facing a tough rematch against Democrat John Gregg, a former state legislator who lost to Pence by three percentage points in 2012, even as Mitt Romney won the state by 10 points.
Pence’s job approval rating is underwater at 40 percent, according to a May poll, and even among Republicans only six-in-10 supported his re-election.

And people wonder why my resume now has a line that reads: “1984-2004: In a coma.”

Finally, this, from this year’s Nordstrom anniversary sale catalog. I love this sale; I usually buy one or two trinkets to jumpstart the fall wardrobe and feel, in my old-hag skin, just a touch…fashionable. But not at this cost:

B9292EFD-2460-4536-BBDE-7B1BDFD13CEB

Can you believe this ugly-ass shit? Whose idea is flared denim cropped pants? Not mine. Ring me up next year.

Finally-finally, an oral history of “Magic Carpet Ride.” Because the world was waiting for this, right?

Happy hump day.

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events, Popculch | 93 Comments
 

Some last notes.

This will be the last you hear from me for a while. But when I resurface? I hope to be in the land of midnight sun. Wendy will be home with her sitter — who allows her to sleep in bed with him — and we’ll have an ocean between us.

As well as the Greenland Sea. Current temperature in Reykjavik: 48 degrees.

So just a link or two, and some requests:

Talk about whatever you want in my absence, but be advised that I don’t have much email access, or only intermittent access. So if your comment gets kicked to moderation, it’s likely to stay there a while. Try resubmitting. Please be kind to one another. I hope I get some good pictures.

Meanwhile, an interesting story on the Jonathan Weisman anti-Semitic tweet storm.

And then there was Hillary’s rather splendid throwdown yesterday:

She said she imagined Mr. Trump was “composing nasty tweets” about her even as she spoke. And indeed he was: “Bad performance by Crooked Hillary Clinton!” Mr. Trump wrote. “Reading poorly from the teleprompter! She doesn’t even look presidential.”

But Mrs. Clinton sought to turn Mr. Trump’s prolific Twitter habit into an additional bullet point demonstrating that he was “unfit” for the presidency, as she put it. She twice referred to the scene in the White House Situation Room where as secretary of state, she advised Mr. Obama on the raid on a compound in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.

“Imagine Donald Trump sitting in the Situation Room, making life-or-death decisions on behalf of the United States,” Mrs. Clinton said, eliciting cries of “No!” from her audience. “Imagine if he had not just his Twitter account at his disposal when he’s angry, but America’s entire arsenal.”

Woo. Who wrote that?

Finally, a longer read I’m not done with yet, but it’s interesting, on the genetic origins of dogs.

Bye! Wheels up for Reykjavik on Sunday. Back here eventually.

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events, Popculch | 50 Comments
 

The reaper.

As I think I’ve mentioned a time or ten, my link-wrangling on a day-to-day basis goes like this: When I find something interesting, I toss it into a draft post, a process that goes on all day, between other things.

I think it was the third item when I found they had a common theme today:

death

Honestly, though, the kickoff item is almost joyful. And it so happens that one of my Facebook friends was there when it happened: Bassist Jane Little, who only recently became the longest-serving orchestra musician in the world, collapsed on stage during a performance of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Sunday. She never regained consciousness, and died later that night. At 87, after 71 years with the ensemble.

Which would merely be sad, but not when you consider what they were playing at the moment she went down: “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” Which was their encore, in fact. And as one of her fellow players scooped her up and carried her offstage, they kept playing, so she actually left the limelight as the song reached a climax: So let’s go on with the show! A WashPost account of the incident, and her life, here.

A friend once told me he despised the platitude we so often say after someone dies: “Well, at least he died doing something he loved,” because most people don’t want to die, much less screaming toward the earth at 32 feet per second when a parachute malfunctions. In this case, though, I think we can make an exception. You couldn’t have scripted a better death; in fact, if you had scripted this, the director would have thrown it back in your face and called you Mr. Obvious.

Then, mid afternoon, I checked Twitter and found this:

Once you find the eyes, it’s just mesmerizing.

And on an animal theme, there are these outdoorsmen:

The weather at Yellowstone National Park on May 9 was fairly temperate: The low was 39 degrees Fahrenheit; the high was 50.

Nevertheless, when two tourists saw a baby bison, they decided it looked cold and needed to be rescued. So they loaded it in the trunk of their car and drove it to a ranger station.

Over the weekend, their action was widely mocked online as evidence of extreme anthropomorphism, not to mention stupidity. On Monday, the park revealed that it was also deadly — for the bison. The newborn calf had to be euthanized, the park said in a statement, because its mother had rejected it as a result of the “interference by people.”

My eyeballs just sprained themselves, they rolled so hard.

Finally, an astounding long-form project from the NYT, on the city’s century-old potters field on Hart Island. It’s very long, and I haven’t gotten all the way through it, but what I’ve seen is remarkable: Deep history, a slow burn of anger over the policy that dumps so many people in mass graves there, impressive enterprise (when the city wouldn’t let the media observe or photograph an interment, they hired a drone). And great writing:

New York is unique among American cities in the way it disposes of the dead it considers unclaimed: interment on a lonely island, off-limits to the public, by a crew of inmates. Buried by the score in wide, deep pits, the Hart Island dead seem to vanish — and so does any explanation for how they came to be there.

To reclaim their stories from erasure is to confront the unnoticed heartbreak inherent in a great metropolis, in the striving and missed chances of so many lives gone by. Bad childhoods, bad choices or just bad luck — the chronic calamities of the human condition figure in many of these narratives. Here are the harshest consequences of mental illness, addiction or families scattered or distracted by their own misfortunes.

But if Hart Island hides individual tragedies, it also obscures systemic failings, ones that stack the odds against people too poor, too old or too isolated to defend themselves. In the face of an end-of-life industry that can drain the resources of the most prudent, these people are especially vulnerable.

Indeed, this graveyard of last resort hides wrongdoing by some of the very individuals and institutions charged with protecting New Yorkers, including court-appointed guardians and nursing homes. And at a time when many still fear a potter’s field as the ultimate indignity, the secrecy that shrouds Hart Island’s dead also veils the city’s haphazard treatment of their remains.

The best single detail is about the AIDS row: Buried 14 feet deep, instead of the usual three. Just 16 bodies, but it brings back an era in a way few other memories do.

Have I bummed you out enough yet? Just think of Jane Little. On with the show!

Posted at 12:04 am in Popculch, Uncategorized | 51 Comments