For years I worked with a guy I’ll call Tom. He was a gentle 32-year-old touring musician with an oddly professorial look for someone with a ponytail and perpetually ripped t-shirts. In the fulfillment of his lifelong dream, he’d opened a recording studio a few blocks from the coffee shop where we worked, an endeavor that landed him, as far as I could tell, deeply in debt. He worked mornings at the coffee shop and booked recording sessions late into the night, moving into the studio with its mini-fridge and shag rug when he couldn’t afford his apartment anymore. I was pretty sure he lived exclusively on the bagels he’d come by the shop on a nightly basis to collect. For all of North Brooklyn’s book groups and websites and meet-ups dedicated to alternative monetary systems, the solidarity economy is, for the time being, at its best in the service sector. I can barely remember paying full price for anything. Checks for Negronis, artisanal spicy pickles, hand-roasted coffee beans, and sometimes entire locally sourced meals disappeared with a wink and a nudge reminiscent of Fight Club’s ominous waiter scene. At the very least, it allowed us to participate in a culture we couldn’t really afford. At its vilest it felt like a neighborhood of people working for slightly more than minimum wage in exchange for a chance to play-act at brunching in a nice neighborhood.
Rarely spoken aloud, the tendency of Greenpoint’s service class to take care of its own was one of the only outright gestures of solidarity I witnessed, the only place where a distinction was made between the server and the served. I suspect the rarity of that admission has something to do with the fact that, for most intents and purposes, our jobs relied on completely erasing that distinction from public view.
You can go to great lengths to curate an Internet experience for yourself that is pure pleasure and someone will try to get in your lane and ruin it. BAN THOSE PEOPLE!
In theory, it should be really easy to not come across as a jerk online. It’s all performance theater, just be your best person!
You’re an unpleasant, argumentative asshole? Great! Save that shit for your family and irl friends, aka people who really care. The Internet? We’re not a family, we’re a community. It’s all about conditional love out here.
“We are all refugees from our childhoods. And so we turn, among other things, to stories. To write a story, to read a story, is to be a refugee from the state of refugees. Writers and readers seek a solution to the problem that time passes, that those who have gone are gone and those who will go, which is to say every one of us, will go. For there was a moment when anything was possible. And there will be a moment when nothing is possible. But in between we can create.”—How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid (via)
How can we say that the leading name in online tax filing is, in fact, the smartest pick for most people? I spent more than a dozen hours clicking through each step of the online tax suites, as did Mark Francis, EA, a professional tax preparer with Lapidos, Leung & Francis, Inc. in San Francisco. Not as ourselves, but as four fictional individuals (the “Four Fake Filers,” as we called them) we designed to represent a comprehensive variety of possible tax-filing scenarios. We created them to test out different variables and conditions in the suites and represent the complexity in modern tax filing.
Katherine Dunn worked on the book for more than a decade. She also worked as a waitress, a bartender, and a house painter. In 1981, she started writing about boxing for local newspapers. (A collection of her boxing essays, One Ring Circus, was published in 2009.) Dunn also wrote an advice column for a local newspaper and did some radio and local TV commercial voice-over work. (Her voice is a scotch n’ cigarette alto that resonates warmly.) Occasionally she’d tell friends about her work in progress, Geek Love. “They would groan and say, ‘For Christ sake, Dunn, no one’s going to publish that, no one’s going to want to read that kind of crap.’ I figured, well, that’s probably true.”
Geek Love is a novel to be cherished, more so than most.
What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?
I have not read most of the big 19th — century novels that people consider “essential,” nor most of the 20th-century ones for that matter. But this does not embarrass me. There are many films to see, many friends to visit, many walks to take, many playlists to assemble and many favorite books to reread. Life’s too short for anxious score-keeping. Also, my grandmother is illiterate, and she’s one of the best people I know. Reading is a deep personal consolation for me, but other things console, too.
“The internet has made everyone into a reviewer, and while everyone knows the vernacular of the critic, they often employ it to different ends. A good critic is trying to tell you what she has learned about herself from the reading of a particular piece of literature. A bad reviewer is often trying to tell you how smart he is by declaring whether or not he liked a particular book. If he liked the book, then this is the kind of book a superior person likes, and vice versa. He might try to explain why he didn’t like it, but the review is really just a tautology. “I didn’t like this book because it is bad,” is equivalent to “This book is bad because I didn’t like it.””—Kevin Guilfoile in the commentary on Round 1 of the Tournament of Books. God bless the ToB.
“KING AZAZ: You must rescue the Princesses of Rhyme and Reason
MILO: no i mustnt
KING AZAZ: Please, my dear boy!
Without these sisters, our kingdom will decay into chaos
MILO: sisters eh
nice”—We couldn’t get enough of Mallory Ortberg’s “Dirtbag Hamlet,” and now she presents “Dirtbag Phantom Tollbooth.” (via millionsmillions)
Television has never known what to make of Andy Daly, though he’s been a regular small-screen presence since his run on MADtv in the early ’00s. One of the funniest performers to emerge from the training grounds of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, Daly excels at fully embodying comedic personas, a chameleon-like commitment to character that’s made him a favorite guest on podcasts like Comedy Bang! Bang! and Superego. Most TV shows aren’t built to sustain Daly creations like lecherous theater producer Don DiMello or cowboy poet/probable murderer Dalton Wilcox, personalities with detailed biographies whose hysterical darkness seeps forth in accidental admissions and blackly comedic non sequiturs. That sensibility meshed well with the early seasons of Eastbound & Down, but two-faced school administrator Terrence Cutler couldn’t steal scenes from a force like Danny McBride’s Kenny Powers. For Daly to earn the proper TV spotlight, he needed to find the show that let him be the Kenny Powers—or the fallen baseball star’s more secretly dastardly equivalent.
Enter Forrest MacNeil, a bookish, perpetually khaki-clad critic who’s broken from the confines of reviewing the arts to instead critique everyday life. His dedication to the discipline is unwavering, his demand to find profundity in all subjects absolute. And so it is that Daly was finally able to find the TV character worthy of his talents, a man who slowly reveals his insanity by doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results that he can then rank on a scale of one-half to five stars. If anyone is going to make Job-like misfortune and soul-wrenching desperation some of the funniest stuff on TV, it can and should be Andy Daly.