“Purely from a financial standpoint, parenthood has always been a terrible deal. Mom and Dad fed, clothed, housed, and educated the kids, but received little in the way of tangible return. Ever since humankind began acquiring property, wealth has flowed from older generations to younger ones. Even in those societies where children herded cattle and tilled the land for their aged progenitors, the older generation consumed so little and died off so quickly that the net movement of assets and services was always downward. “Of all the misconceptions that should be banished from discussions of aging the most persistent and egregious is that in some simpler and more virtuous age children supported their parents.”—The Coming Death Shortage (2005)
“The first time you hear it [Sound Opinions podcast] you think: Why haven’t there always been programs like this on the radio? Intelligent and funny discussion about music, interviews with articulate musicians who play on the air, long and careful dissections of classic albums. A show will begin with five minutes about the greater significance of current teenybop sensation Justin Bieber and proceed to a half-hour analysis of London Calling, the great Clash album that helped mark the punk era of the early 1980s. “When people hear it, what they hear is two excitable guys who are almost nerds about their music and aren’t afraid to let it show.”—All Programs Considered
“What the Mission has decided to be—beyond the expected creative, ambitious, PC, yadda yadda yadda—is functional. No more keying SUVs (all the rich techsters ride bikes, anyway). No more waiting around for city hall or Sacramento to solve anyone’s problems (not that they ever really did). Bit by bit, the neighborhood has developed its own communal Wi-Fi system that delivers what Gavin Newsom and Google could not, loans and training programs for single immigrant mothers who need a way to support their fam ilies, nonprofits that help send poor kids to college, and—smack in the middle of the traditional media meltdown—its own alternative news source: a vast network of blogs that obsess over schools, crime stats, food carts, house fires, and all the other daily minutiae that bind communities together.”—The Mission goes boom
In the early days of his entrepreneurship, there were awkward exchanges with white-collar guys trying to relate. “In the beginning it was ’ ‘Sup, man!’ ” he says in his soft speaking voice. “But at this point, it’s pretty much accepted that I walk both worlds naturally.”
And yet, he chafes at the lack of respect for a genre that some people still dismiss wholesale because of ugly words and violent imagery. When he shares strawberry malts with Warren Buffett, confers with the president, or even vacations in St. Tropez, he does so on behalf of “the culture,” he says, by which he means hip-hop.
“Paz de la Huerta, 25, is a master of social manipulation and a very fine actor, by which I mean she excels at creating, and causing, drama. In 2003, she shared the cover of The New York Times Magazine, which, in a feature on downtown artists, called her a “model and muse” and noted that she had already made a name for herself as an indie-film actress. She has spent much of the last decade a fixture of the downtown creative scene, modeling (and musing) for her high-school friend Zac Posen and playing some version of the same character—often sex-starved and/or deranged, and sometimes naked—in more than twenty feature films.”—Are You Ready for Paz?
Another emerging talent, J.A. Yang—whose recent young-adult novel, Exclusively Chloe, feels like the Asian American response toGossip Girl—frees himself from the ethnic lens altogether. As the author of a how-to man ual on blogging, followed by Chloe and a humor book on relationships (in the proposal stage), the 32-year-old Yang insists, “My work has nothing to do with being Asian, except I’m Asian and my character [in Chloe] is Asian. I feel uncomfortable holding that torch on any level, but not because I want to distance myself from it—it’s just that I’m not responsible for holding any part of it.”
I’ve heard this hesitation before, a result of the undue pressure placed on minority writers who are expected to speak for an entire demographic. I can only imagine how Amy Tan feels. But Yang has another angle: He fully embodies what might be called post-identity Asian America. While he recognizes the political dimensions of race, he feels no need to go into contortions to make a point about his ethnicity.
Yang grew up in Southern California, where the Asian American population is big enough that identity politics don’t require constant attention, and his writing captures that undogmatic spirit. Exclusively Chloe, a conversational page-turner that’s partially ripped from the headlines, chronicles the personal dramas of 16-year-old Chloe-Grace, who was adopted from China as an infant by an A-list celebrity couple. Chloe-Grace is not preoccupied with questions of identity and assimilation at first—it’s only when her parents’ high-profile divorce gets splattered across the tabloids that she starts asking questions about her roots. But her untroubled attitude toward race is refreshing to me and, apparently, to Yang’s teen audience. “It’s something that Asian girls definitely latch on to,” the author says of meeting his fans at readings.
“Rolling through New York City in the back seat of his black Maybach, Jay-Z touches a button to let more light through the translucent roof, then tugs back a window curtain to peek out at the rainy streets of his hometown. The rapper went from a Brooklyn housing project to a top corner office near Times Square, a path traced in “Empire State of Mind,” his anthem to the city that has taken a place next to Sinatra’s.”—The State of Jay-Z’s Empire
“What intrigues me about stand-up comedy – what makes me delight in it, apart from the (to me) self-evident joy of laughing one’s ass off – is that stand-up makes an art form of “look at me, look at me!” while simultaneously making it harder for the viewer to disassociate the attention-seeking from the human being who is vulnerable, who wants to share with someone else, to laugh at the specter of death.”—Stand-Up Comedy Seems Chill
“At first I was skeptical of Biddle’s piece. Being unemployed and living in the super-gentrified East Village seems like a contradiction, but I guess he’s funded by his parents. If he lived in Bethlehem and received the same amount of money, he could go on being unemployed indefinitely and write all day. Once I got past that, though, I found I could relate to his amusing confusion and indignation over real-world terms like “networking.” More than that, he makes a valuable insight about what kind of community college offers us, where we may be around lots of idiots, but at least we can define ourselves in relation to them. The real world has plenty of idiots, sure, but they don’t really know who we are, we don’t really know who they are, and feeling smarter or superior to them affords us little comfort as far as our own identities are concerned.”—Dan Hoffman, College Graduate (Part 2)
“How do songs actually make it onto Glee and how does the show make its motley mix of melodies work? After all, it’s not often that both Sisqo’s “Thong Song” and “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady share the same stage.”—How Does Glee Choose Its Songs?
My enthusiasm waned. A hot guy in an indie band waved me hello and/or re-hello mid-spazz-out? And he’s leaving in a few days to make a rock album? How old is he: 40 going on 19? I rolled my eyes, but they only landed on those cheekbones on my computer screen.
I wrote back and made it easy for him. I even used all lowercase, mirroring his casualness. “hi. let me know if you ever wanna get a drink sometime. it would be fun to meet up.”
A relationship book I once read told women to use the word “fun” whenever possible. The author claimed it had a subliminal aphrodisiac effect on men, who want a relaxed girl attached only to good times — the human equivalent of Diet Coke. This is not me.
“It’s not news that sci-fi and fantasy are about wish fulfillment. Nerd-dom—which we’ll define, generously but maybe not widely enough, as the ability to escape into one’s own obsessive interests, to claim realms of expertise and map them with care and detail and a certain degree of detachment from the reality that no one else cares as much as you do and everyone would like you to care a little bit less—has long been one of the culture’s most valuable escape hatches for the brainy, the young and the frustrated. Speculative fiction is aimed at nerds, and nerds want to find a place they belong. On the Enterprise, no one cares that you’re into space travel. It’s also not revolutionary to note that speculative fiction is basically sociology’s dream journal; when people tell stories about places and societies that might be, they tell us what they think societies are. What changes, what doesn’t and what should. But when girls get involved, stuff gets weird.”—The Fantasy of Girl World: Lady Nerds and Utopias(via campatron)
“Beyond the perimeters of Pizza Island there is still an abundance of comic community action to be had, not just in Greenpoint, but all over Brooklyn. While the comics community as a whole is small and informal, there is a definite cartoonist scene consisting of cartoonist parties, book releases and conventions.”—The Greenpoint Gazette Takes a Trip to Pizza Island
“Moving to New York is an unparalleled experience that you only get to do once, and you either make it or don’t. There’s no shame in not making it; this city isn’t for everyone. In fact, I still entertain the thought of leaving it at least once or twice a day. The only advice I can really offer someone who is moving to New York is to just stick it out and eventually it’ll all fall into place. And if it doesn’t, fuck it, you can always go home.”—Julia Wertz, “Drinking at the Movies”
“But when our professor figured out what we were discussing, he was immediately disturbed; I thought his voice was almost angry. “What are you all so afraid of?” he demanded. “You all have degrees from a great school, and you grew up in a first-world country with perfectly nice parents. Get it into your heads that nothing really bad can happen to you. You’re not going to get into such deep shit that your parents can’t get you out. Don’t dive straight into your careers and prepare for retirement, for God’s sake: travel for a while, get a grant or work at a bookstore, make rent, learn a language, fall in love!”—GENERATION GAP #6: An Advice Columnist Asks For Advice
“Jason Fried hates lame meetings, tech companies that don’t generate revenue, and companies that treat their employees like children. A peek inside his typical workday.”—The Way I Work: Jason Fried of 37Signals
Ninety-nine percent of what I write is never published. I’m 38 years old, and I’ve published seven books. I live in San Francisco for the weather, and the people, and the sexual freedom, and for 826 Valencia, and Litquake, and the Writer’s Grotto, and the natural beauty. It is, as most everyone agrees, as gorgeous a city as exists anywhere on the planet.
But the rent is high. For the last few years I’ve shared a one-bedroom with two roommates, one of whom sleeps in the pantry. I’m poor, though not devastatingly so. I make around $25,000 a year in royalties and such. There are no sick days, no health insurance, no paternity leave. I’m not upset that I don’t have much money. Why would someone pay me to do whatever I please? I’m not owed anything.
“I hate Roger Ebert. This may not be the most tactful time to say so, what with his genuinely brave fight against cancer, his inspiring display of spirit and endurance, and the endless adulation all this has encouraged in the press (most notably this moving piece by Chris Jones in the March 2010 issue of Esquire, reverently entitled “The Essential Man”). But I’m highly skeptical of revisionism, and the fact is that Ebert has always been more durable than insightful as a critic, and more prolific than eloquent as a writer. More to the point, Ebert represents most of what’s wrong with American film criticism, and I won’t pretend otherwise, no matter how much of his face they have to remove or how many adorable cookbooks he writes.”—All Thumbs: Roger Ebert and the Decline of Film Criticism