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September 14, 2013

more slow degradation for the awl

Hey yo, I got a new piece up at the Awl and I have good feelings about it.

It's about being quiet in movies and being young and about joining the conversation.  I sat staring at it for a long time, because it's one of those things that would be easier to discern with a little hindsight, How We Do Things Now.  Young adapters have no idea how things are changing because they don't kinow what's things are changing from, and the olds as usual have a hard time seeing how things are going in media res because of the forest tree problem.

Also it was hard not to turn the thing into one big long Get Off My Lawn, but I have the editors to thank for that, who as usual make me look smarter than I am.

So give it a read.  "Join the conversation!"

Posted by mrbrent at 9:57 AM

September 11, 2013

how bloomberg changed the city, sicha edition

As long as we're looking back, not just for 9/11 Day, but also in light of the impending departure of Michael Bloomberg, have a taste of Choire Sicha's thought on the decade that was:
Everyone's been styled for their Instagram shoot-a-thon for a while now. Bloomberg's first term was trucker hats; the second term was men buying women's jeans. The third term was Uniqlo slimly smothering everyone, except for the waiters and the beer-gut junior-dad brigade all in their suspenders and stupid hats--the hot-immigrant-wharfie look. Retrograde masculinity retrograded back. And bedbugs replaced muggings. Bedbugs are a private experience, something that happens just between you and your bloodstained sheets. Muggings require human interaction, in public.

Actually, when historians look back at "The Aughts," it's going to be a period that begins with 9/11 and ends with whoever the new mayor is going to be, isn't it?  Well, maybe I'm extending NYC out into the rest of America.  I guess that's what the Aughts will be for me, complete with the fear of bedbugs.

But go read that thing.  Sicha's spot on as usual.  In fact, just read everything Sicha writes, all the time.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:07 AM

apologies in advance; 9/11 day

Boy, I'm growing to hate 9/11 Day.

I don't know if it's all the bad photoshops, each with the towers as they stood and the phrase "Never forget" shoved in there somewhere, or if it's...  Actually, yes, that's exactly what it is.  It's like a big contest, Most Florid Meaningless Gesture.  Finally someone's found a Demonstrative Act more trite than the bumper sticker.

Know what?  The act of creating and sharing one of those cheap little things is pretty much tacit admission of having already forgotten.  Yeah, you.

Americans can't even do solemn without getting their heads stuck in the bannister.  Not to mention all those patriotic types who somehow think their deep seriousness on this day is somehow separate from their political beliefs.  Hell, the Tea Party movement didn't start in 2009; it actually was born on 9/11/2001.  It was the first time that white conservatives could experience victimhood.  (And they haven't stopped ever since.)

It was a unmatchably shitty day.  "Patriot Day"?  Wasn't nothing patriotic about it, unless you think being scared then bereft is patriotic.  Oh, maybe it was the sanctimony?

Posted by mrbrent at 9:09 AM

September 10, 2013


I hinted last week at endorsements, which is not something I've ever really done, but why not?  After all, here in NYC it's a primary primarily among Democrats who are all but guaranteed victory, so there is much room for disagreement between people who generally agree.

And yeah, this is purely for the Five Boroughs, but surely you people have your own primaries that will be but a faint memory after tonight?

Mayor:  Duh.  Duh is what I say, as at this particular point in history, when a candidate with an unabashedly progressive platform is gaining traction, how can you vote against that?  John Liu is nakedly corrupt in his fund-raising, Bill Thompson is a lot more wily than his beige persona would tell you, and Chris Quinn?  You know, you want to support her, but she's just too shackled to Bloomberg.  I don't need more luxury condos.  (And a friend made an excellent point: give Quinn four or eight years to lick her wounds and get better at taking the temperature of the city.  Maybe if she didn't run like it was her turn, she'd have a better chance.)

Bill de Blasio, all the way.

Comptroller:  Well now, this one turned into some weird referendum on, what, celebrity?  Morality?  Spitzer is equally reviled by people obsessed with other people's personal lives and Wall Street.  Scott Stringer, current Manhattan Borough President, has all but campaigned on the fact that he was never outed as a client of an infamous prostitution ring.  Frankly, I'm voting for the financial steward of this enormous city, and not for potential boyfriend for my sister, so put me down for the Steamroller.

More people care about this race than actually know what a comptroller does.

DA (Kings County):  This is one of those races that is more about prying someone from office than about installing a new guy.  Charles Hynes, Brooklyn's District Attorney for twenty-three years, is entirely a creature of the Brooklyn machine, and is as dirty as they come.  A few years ago, after voter outrage, he prosecuted a Orthodox Jewish child abuse case, and then, as election time approached, he trumped up charges against the whistleblower to regain Orthodox Jewish support.  And he has presided over a D.A.'s office that has relied on the "closing" services of Detective Louis Scarcella, recently and vigorously outed by the NYT as a cop that would routinely suborn and coerce bad confessions, instruct witnesses, etc.  Consequently, it's been a very nasty race (good explainer can be found here).  I doubt opponent Kenneth Thompson has a chance, and I wonder if he'd be a good D.A. of just wriggle himself into control of the Brooklyn machine.

Borough President:  Hey, I wonder if the city of Philadelphia gets to vote on who gets to be the Phillie Phanatic each year?

So get out there, have some fun.  Find some precinct that gives you a cookie when you vote.  And make sure not to stand in line behind a blind, illiterate, barely comprehensible nonagenarian.  Love that urge to vote, but seriously, let's speed it up, here.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:40 AM

September 9, 2013

dinosaur bar-b-que [sic]

So someone somehow had convinced me that the food at Dinosaur Bar-D-Que (Gowanus edition) was "good."  I do not know how that happened.  But last Friday night, after rolling down a list of possibles for dinner out ("I had sushi last night."/"I can't do spicy."/"Don't wanna go all that way."), we gave it a shot.  Wait was a healthy fifty minutes, which we spent at the very crowded bar.  My food was "good," I guess.  I did no backflips, but I could taste the smoke; I cleaned my plate (spare ribs and pullued pork).  Kellrod was less pleased (I think she was thinking the catfish would tend more towards blackened than gloppy?).  So, meh, but more of a shrug than a frown.  It is priced competitively, or at least it is not highway robbery.  Maybe for lunch?  Or, as it is quite spacious, maybe if you are accommodating out-of-towners who like a certain distance between the tables?

Having said that, it is a fascinating place.  Nine thousand (!!) square feet, seating, what, 250? 300?  It was mobbed, parties of eight and ten waiting on the sidewalk, and they turn tables over fast — our app was out in four minutes, and the entrees were dropped as we had the last bite of the app.  If you want to watch a bunch of money being made and fast, wander around inside that place.

And to be fair, with regards to the wait-time, I would bet you a spare rib that there was not restaurant on that downhill side of Park Slope that did not have a wait of some sort.  We still may be in some mild recession, and cost-of-living in the Big City is just ridiculous, but all the boys and all the girls are going out to eat, a lot.  There is something to scry from that.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:01 AM