Twitter was atwitter yesterday, about a big story expected in today's The New York Times. It has five parts; I've only read one so far, and it's well worth your time.
It's a story about Dasani. She's a talented 11-year-old whose parents can't afford rent in New York, the most economically unequal city in the country with the second-highest child poverty rate in the developed world (only Romania neglects more kids than we do).
Dasani and her family dream of moving up in the world into the projects. In part one of reporter Andrea Elliott's story, Dasani starts school at LaGuardia Arts. Almost all the students there are on free or reduced lunch, but they mostly live in the projects. It isn't long before Dasani is exposed to her fellow students as stuck living in a shelter. Six of the middle school's 157 students live in shelters.
At the bottom of part one, you can watch short videos of Dasani dancing and being interviewed by her mother. You can also read the source notes behind Elliott's story, which have been separated in order to keep the main narrative moving—it's not gummed up by "according to"s and statistics, but the notes reveal tremendous amounts of research behind Elliott's descriptions of the conditions and the stories she shares.
To follow talk about the story on Twitter, it's under #InvisibleChild. Interesting questions are arising already.
This is a New York Times story, but it's not a New York-only story.
I would really love it if in honor of all the kids in need of some help, you'd join me in making a donation to Slog's Charity Challenge this year, which we've tried to make fun by including Pearl Jam and Macklemore and whatnot, but which really is a way to keep kids like Dasani hooked up with the most basic needs through YouthCare's Orion Center at Denny and Stewart.
From this week's I, Anonymous:
Okay, Seattle (I'm talking to you especially, Ballard): Enough with the merchants and others who want our money being SO NICE AND FRIENDLY to us seniors, when the rest of the known universe looks down their noses or looks away at shades of gray. (Hey, sorry I'm a boomer able to retire on a pension, ha-ha.) Anyway, what's with this "How's your day going so far?" question I get from checkout people at different stores? Well, my day goes about like yours—schlepping around doing this and that and trying to avoid phony checkers at the store (yay for self-checkout). I guess what I mean to say is that when it comes to customers, honesty and genuine human behavior wins, so stop with the stroking of the seniors. Stroking is not something we like.
And from the comments section:
Naturally, I decided to interview him with a few hard-hitting questions about TV and movie discoveries while on tour. Here’s what he had to tell me:
What are some memorable movies that you've ended up watching on tour? Which ones do you find yourself repeatedly re-watching? It changes from tour to tour. Sand, for example only watches No Retreat, No Surrender. With Cursive, there was a tour where Step Brothers was really resonating with the group of us young men. I think my favorite is on one Icy Demons tour, we got totally immersed in Some Kind of Monster, but not in a healthy way at all. Our tour manager started referring to us by the names of who he thought each of us was acting like, and guess who I got? The fucking producer! I thought I'd be an obvious choice for Kirk, in the role of master steedsman/shredder. Or at least the drummer.
Last night, I happened to stop by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, where I learned a few things.
One, there is a notable collection of black-and-white photography displayed in a spacious hallway at the Hutch, labeled as the Ida Kay and Walser Greathouse Collection.
These names rung a bell because of the Frye Art Museum. Walser was director of the Frye from its founding in 1952 until his death in 1966. Ida Kay took over, governing the place from 1966 through 1993. For most of its existence, in other words, Seattle's most unusual museum was under the care of the Greathouses.
Who were photo collectors??
When Samuel K. McDonough allegedly stole the Victoria Clipper this past Sunday, he was cranking one of two possible songs on the ship’s stereo. (The song has not been confirmed, because I’m completely making this up. Roll with me.) What song do you think it was? And hey, theoretically speaking, if you’re going to steal a boat to go to West Seattle, it might as well be the Victoria Clipper.
Breakups are a bummer, but breaking up in Seattle, in the winter, is a goddamn nightmare. A few years ago, I became friends with Sarah and John—a couple who'd been together three years and majorly had their shit together, as they say. They were engaged and good at mowing the lawn and cleaning out the fridge and planning for their future; they juggled grad school, two dogs, teaching jobs, and car payments. I squeaked into their lives just in time to be invited to their wedding, and I always thought of them as a couple, an entity.
After they married, they moved a few times and finally bought a house. When I went through a breakup, I felt lucky to remain a part of their rock-solid lives. While I still felt like a teenager who couldn't properly make a bed, they were making their own concrete countertops for their kitchen in the house they owned. Because that's something you can do, MAKE YOUR OWN COUNTERTOPS. They wrote their initials in the wet cement so underneath the counter it read S + J = ♥.
It's hard to know exactly how it happens. Couples fight. Sometimes a lot. And no one ever knows how much fighting is normal. S and J seemed to have the healthy relationship bases covered—they squabbled, sure, but went to counseling on the regular. In their eighth year together, the house was coming along and plans for babies were in the works. But then one day late last November, without warning, John told Sarah he was leaving. He made her some ravioli and left.
Tell us about your crazy Black Friday experience http://t.co/kgTh65ZDkQ
— Gawker (@Gawker) November 29, 2013
Wake up. Make tea. Do a shitty job on Morning News. Read paper. Feel bad for the donkeys. Make eggs for the boys. Post a picture of Terry's epic bed head to Instagram. Read Krugman and feel better about Obamacare. Read Egan and feel angry, angry, angry. Make more tea. Get on Twitter. See Gawker tweet about Black Friday. Try to remember last time I stepped foot in a big box store. Can't.
UPDATE: Read comments, release nose, go to spa.
There's a new app, according to the AT&T Insider magazine-advertorial-thingie that came free in the mail last week. This app, Refresh, is designed to help you "make small talk":
I will never-ever-never need some cell phone app, to help me talk to my family. In fact, I played "pass-the-phone" with them just minutes ago. My family tree definitely has some nuts in it, but I can handle them just fine.
For This I Am Thankful.
All the usual stuff that can't be ignored: arms and legs, friends and family, my man and our dog.
But my feature selection of gratitude is the work of someone I don't know at all—Steve Kardynal, who, with the help of wigs, Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe," and a bunch of unsuspecting Chatrouletters, created this inexhaustible and enormously popular three-minute masterwork. It is my Love Actually. I watch it at least once a year and am healed.
Today, let’s be thankful for what we have, and mindful of what other people have not. Northwest Harvest has been helping to feed hungry people in Washington State for 45 years, distributing food to 325 food banks, meal programs, and (heartbreakingly) high-need elementary schools. They provide more than 1.6 million meals every month to those in need in our state...
I had no idea that my father cried about things until I saw him cry at the Sixth Floor Museum on Dealey Plaza in Dallas. I was more than 20 years old by this time, and I was working at a newspaper near Dallas, and he was visiting. It wasn't only that he cried as we walked through the museum in the old book depository. He was devastated. It was as if he took every sad thing he'd ever felt and collected it up under the title "November 22, 1963." I think things have continued to accumulate there.
Waiting for me in my email this morning was an unsolicited remembrance of that day, from him. He said it would be okay to share it with you in case you want to read it.
November 22, 1963 began as any other day in the life of a relatively happy and somewhat optimistic high school junior. The day filled with classes and academia was merely a steppingstone to the best part of the day — basketball practice at 3 p.m.
We hadn't yet started the season of playing games, but we were about a week away from our first real game and my first as captain of the team. It was a great time to be young.
We were sitting through another boring chemistry lesson with Miss Reid and I was barely able to keep my eyes open. She knew it. My days were long — school, practice, work at my father's bowling alley, homework at around 10 p.m., then finally bed. Up at 7 a.m.
Then came the announcement over the PA that the President had been shot. Young people like me idolized him and there was genuine hope in the air — rather unlike today. Later would come the announcement we all feared — Kennedy was dead.
I can't even describe the sorrow and futility I felt at that moment and for days to come. It really was the loss of innocence for most of us. I had been a naive kid who probably benefited from the absence of Internet, Facebook and all that brainwashing technology. I really was pretty innocent for a kid that age — 16.
Practice was canceled, unless individuals wanted to practice on their own. I found solace on the basketball court and went out there for an hour of two trying to comprehend what had just happened. I couldn't. A couple other guys showed up, but we hardly talked and a few tears fell onto the court. It was awful for an impressionable teenager.
I never really got over that and some of the tragic losses to other political figures who lost their lives subsequently. Now, 50 years later, it's still fresh in my mind. It never goes away.
A description of what it is and what it means, from the International Transgender Day of Remembrance website:
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
Here's TDOR founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith's new piece for the Huffington Post, Transgender Day of Remembrance: Rita Hester and Beyond.
And here is the Seattle band Your Heart Breaks playing their trans anthem "Could One Letter Save Your Life" at the Plan It X Fest in Indiana. (For a clearer experience of the lyrics, here's the studio version.)
UPDATE FOR SEATTLE: A Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony will take place tonight at the Ravenna United Methodist Church, 5751 33rd Avenue NE, at 7 pm. All are welcome.
My son Joseph and his girlfriend, Nicole, asked me to watch their dogs, Haley and Moose, a mother-daughter twosome, to give their landlord time to make fence repairs. They arrived a little late; they had already managed to get themselves pregnant. Mom had 10, and daughter had 12! My son and his girlfriend did great in finding homes for 20 puppies! There were two "runts" in Moose's litter, with the smaller of the two looking half the size of its siblings. The bottle-feeding we gave her saved her life, but she looked pretty homely and wasn't getting adopted. I ended up keeping both the runts—sisters. The bottle-fed runt was homely indeed, and I wanted her to feel pretty, so I named her Tiffany. Her sister I called Emma. Grown, Tiff sometimes stands as if she's posing in a Mr. Universe competition. She would stand in front of a grizzly bear for me; she'd get taken out by one swipe, but she would do it. They were born on Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s birthday: April 29. Tiff may yet see her ninth birthday; Emma will not....
San Francisco—and the whole internet—stopped today to bask in the adventures of Batkid. The Daily Beast has a roundup of the day's events.
Get out your perfumed rice satchels, for Dow Constantine, owner of the finest head of hair in local politics and our King County executive, married longtime girlfriend Shirley Carlson, a fashion-industry strategist, in a private courtroom ceremony on October 31, he announced today. "Shirley really likes Halloween and the humor of it appealed to us," he tells The Stranger. Here's a picture of the lovebirds about to get hitched:
They picked a fairy-tale officiant—Judge Mary Yu, pronounced "marry you"—to preside over their intimate, low-key nuptials. "We wanted to wait until all the election business was behind us before telling folks (meaning, ultimately, the press)," he said in the e-mail to colleagues, which he's since sent to the press.
The couple met as undergrads at the University of Washington but decided that they wouldn't tie the knot as long as marriage laws excluded same-sex couples. "This was was the first Halloween after marriage equality... we thought this was really legitimate now," says Constantine, who issued the county's first same-sex marriage licenses, while Judge Yu presided over the first services.
How long did the lovebirds wait? "I am 52, and she is younger than I am," Constantine says.
Rumors buzzed yesterday that this was a requisite stop in Constantine's journey toward higher office, a rumor Constantine put to rest today. "It doesn't have anything to do with higher office," he says. "I think people are well past that now; one of our two US senators is single. Our mayor-elect is gay and married. I don't think sexual orientation or marital state is relevant anymore in this corner of the country." That may be true, but never put it past a few small-minded trolls to be assholes. Congratulations again to the charming couple, who we can only hope is swimming in well-wishes and wedding cake (BRING US SOME) this weekend and into eternity. Together. As One. Amen.
My living space is 460 square feet and I LOVE IT. It's small enough to discourage house guests, and as a woman with healthy hoarding instincts, I appreciate its lack of closet space, which keeps me from accumulating more dried chicken's feet and bedazzled reptile heads than I actually need. Also, it takes five minutes to clean (10 if I actually use cleaning fluids).
But fuck, my place seems opulent when compared to this couple's home, that they share without killing each other.
At approximately 128 square feet, this tiny house cost the couple who calls it home a mere $33,000. By building a tiny home on wheels, they sidestepped municipal zoning and permitting—plus moving is a breeze.
Worth your time.
Take issue with Senator Paul's characterization of Kentucky in the comments over here.
In other news, our new columnist recently lost his job as columnist for the Washington Times. Condolences.
As we make our way through the first year of legal marijuana in Washington State, it's important to remember the world we're leaving behind. There's the soon-to-be-lost language of pot-related euphemism, designed to foil eavesdropping authorities, which the passage of Initiative 502 rendered instantly unnecessary. (RIP, "fuzzy green sweaters," "puffy salad," and "arijuanamay.")
More poignantly, there's the loss of The Dealer and the entirety of pot-dealer culture. For decades, the acquisition of marijuana has required the help of an intermediary, who shouldered the risk of larger-scale marijuana possession for light profit and the right to spin endless soliloquies about Sasquatch sightings to his or her pot-seeking customers/hostages, who offered forced-smile forbearance and tried not to squirm on the dealer's weird sofa—a battle greatly aided by the dealer who welcomed you with a humongous bong hit upon arrival... And so the beautiful dance progressed, until now, or whenever the hell actual marijuana products will be available in stores (see the timeline for legal pot here).
But there's at least one old-school stoner relic that'll probably hang around for a while, especially with Washington State being a relatively tiny island of legality in a nation that still considers marijuana a highly controlled substance: the stain of counterculture criminality. In theory, I-502 put recreational pot smokers in the same class as citizens who enjoy alcoholic beverages. But after decades of Cheech & Chong/Bill & Ted/Dazed and Confused "cannabis culture," can even the most responsible recreational pot smoker fully escape the stigma of stonerism?
Mostly this is just a matter of accumulating enough real-life examples of regular old high-functioning pot appreciators to offset the decades of cartoon stereotypes, and upon posting a call for such citizens on Slog, I found a good, sturdy, respectably wary test subject...
Inside the newly-discovered Higgs boson lurks a flaw that could foretell the end of the universe, according to a new scientific paper. It's a complicated bit of business, but it all boils down to this: "Eventually (in 10^100 years or so) an unlucky quantum fluctuation will produce a bubble of a different vacuum, which will then expand at the speed of light, destroying everything.”
Which The New York Times, helpfully, boils down to this:
The idea is that the Higgs field could someday twitch and drop to a lower energy state, like water freezing into ice, thereby obliterating the workings of reality as we know it. Naturally, we would have no warning. Just blink and it’s over.
Yikes. And happy Election Day! It's a long way to 10^100 years, so vote, vote, VOTE!
From the FCC:
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta today announced that the FAA has determined that airlines can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight, and is immediately providing the airlines with implementation guidance.
As Luke Burbank Tweeted a couple weeks back, "The printed book industry is being kept alive by those 90 seconds during takeoff where you have to turn off your electronic devices." Condolences to the printed book industry (and wherever the hell SkyMall comes from—the SkyMall fields of Estonia?), congratulations to me getting spend the rest of my flying life finding perfect songs to blast into my head during takeoff.
This website claims to visualize those who are entering and those who are leaving this very brief crack of light between the voids in real-time. But what's interesting about this is it brings to mind a point Vladimir Nabokov makes on the first page of his most Proustian memoir, Speak Memory: The void before is not the same as the void that follows. The void before is the region of possibilities and the one after is only a big and unthinkable impossible. The source of the terror we feel about the second void, and what makes it so impossible, is when we enter it, it not only annihilates the inner world of the individual but also the first void from which he/she emerged. What we always end with is just one void in which nothing ever happened. To die is never to have lived at all.
A well-written bitchfest sent to I, Anonymous.
When is a laugh not really a laugh? When tt crashes down on you through the ceiling and it's a desperate thing. The physical exertion involved, the almost operatic level of projection—you can picture the spine drawing up into a grotesque arch, the air being siphoned from the room, the beat of hesitation, and finally a blast of hideous guffawing reports that paints the walls and makes the little hairs on your cochlea shudder at 90 paces. You can picture all of this, this explosive dance, because it would be impossible for a human to achieve such volume without it. The volume; my god, the volume. She's belting it out to the last row, the concession stands, and the waiting cabs lined up in front of the house, and it has no relation to what must have been JUST SO FUNNY I CAN'T EVEN. She needs more than anything for you to know that this is the most fun place you could ever be and she's on your side and we're all in this together, violently thrusting our heads back to propel ourselves through the workweeks like these merry spasmodic outbursts are the jet fuel for our tanks.
But not us, of course. We're downstairs, typing quietly. We grimace upward and curse these obnoxious heaving raptures that invade our space every day, as if trying to suggest that the party is just out of reach. Of course, there's no party, and we're not reaching. Could she simply "keep it down?" No, that would be contrary to the fundamental nature of her entire deranged being. The truth is that it's not that funny. Nothing has ever been that funny (especially, often, dozens of times in a single day). The laugh is a plea for acceptance that will never be answered, because it's been delivered in the wrong language. A hearty HAHAHAHAHA bellows out, and what responds? From our vantage, nothing. Maybe a sympathetic coworker smiles a smile of tolerance, even lets a consolatory sigh escape, but we certainly don't hear any of that. You can't blame them for not responding in kind, because that amount of noise would be crazy. So what can they do up there? When someone has a laughing fit—even a disturbing and mechanically ecstatic one—would you reassure them? Do you say "You are known, and you are loved, and I acknowledge your unique presence in the world?" That would make no sense! You play along like the whole thing was normal behavior, ultimately ignoring the yearning it both cries out to convey and belies with its grandiosity. This voice of sheer panic that screams out has no counterpart. It is a lone flare, a solo performance, one hand flailing to affect a clapping sound. The maniac upstairs doesn't just annoy me while I'm trying to work. She haunts me daily with bombastic reminders of what it means to be truly alone.
The installation party is today, from 4-9 pm at the Old Rainier Brewery. There will be music from BLUEYEDSOUL, games, prizes, and lots and lots of beer (of course), and it's free to get in! Get more info here (but watch out for the auto-playing noise when you click through).
Welcome back, R! We missed you.
I love Mother Jones's photo essays—they're the perfect way to divert your brain from its hamster wheel for just a few minutes. Today's photo essays, excerpted from Phillip Toledano's Phonesex, focus on phone sex workers and their most memorable calls:
Just last night I received possibly the most disturbing phone sex call I’d had in a long time. A caller shot himself with me on the phone. Things like this always scare me. My current track record stands at one confession of incestuous sexual abuse, and two other suicides.
They're not all that bleak.
A letter sent to Last Days by a hot tipper/furloughed federal employee Laura:
Thank you for once again getting it right. Last Days is piss-your-pants hilarious and a therapy session of comedy for the injustice and stupidity that we humans churn out endlessly. But you also inevitably focus in on the real core of the story, as in the case of October 1st story. You got it right in one paragraph. I have seen no other media outlet get it so right.
I came home from my federal job on Friday evening, having worked for three days for free. (I was furloughed for the first week, then called back to work without pay and told I would be subject to discipline, if I refused to come in.) I had an extensive vent session with my husband, furious over why the main media story of this ostensible "partial" government shutdown is not the fact that federal employees, regular working people, are either being forced not to work or being forced to work without pay (making them ineligible for unemployment). I ranted that this should be the main headline for every story and every politician's statement, "Federal employees have no paycheck through no fault of their own. Regular people who live paycheck-to-paycheck cannot pay their bills. Some will be evicted. Some will go hungry. Some will have ruined credit. Some will be forced to work without pay." End of story.
I turned to Last Days for the cathartic horror into humor it provides, hoping to distract from my fury. And what do I see? A story about the shutdown, with the real bottom line of the shutdown highlighted-"800,000 federal employees on indefinite unpaid furlough and requiring another 1.3 million federal employees to work without pay until our elected officials figure this shit out." End of October 1st entry. As it should be.
Thank you. I think if this were the bottom line being emphasized to the public, this nonsense would never be allowed to go on and even teaparty-anarchists might grasp that such tactics are not in their political best interests.
Dear Laura: Thank you for reading and writing and I sincerely hope you start getting paid to your job again very, very soon.
From this week's I, Anonymous:
I can't help but take it personally when you talk about how horrified you are at the weight you might gain if you eat more than your allotted two tablespoons of hummus for lunch or skip a workout at the gym. When you spit out words of disgust at the sight of a person who is heavy, I'm honestly shocked at why it is such an affront to you personally. You are so convinced that you possess an above-average intelligence, so it cannot slip your notice that I am fat when you make these comments in front of me. It pisses me off that your bigoted, shallow attitude puts me on the defensive and I feel compelled to silently list my attributes as proof that I'm indeed a person of value and substance. Meanwhile, you're a sad, shallow person. The evidence that supports this conclusion: You have no old friends or long-lasting friendships, your relationships with men are abysmal failures, and other than an obligatory holiday visit every two and half years, you have no relationship with your own family. Here's a tip for free from a fatty: If you stopped obsessing over your BMI and started working on what's on the inside, you could have real friendships with quality people, and you might cultivate enough genuine warmth so that you don't repel every decent man with your reptilian coldness.
P.S. Heavy people are battling their own demons, and they sure as fuck don't need a trashy booze-swilling bitch like you making things worse. Thank god my brother got the fuck away from you.
Enjoy the clamor in the comments here.