Watch a handful of corporations race to a million dollars, and try to keep from throwing up.
All this and more in Last Days: The Week in Review. For now, here's Tuesday.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 4 Speaking of terrible stories, the week continues in Colorado, where tonight a man took the easy way out in the hardest way imaginable—committing suicide by nail gun. Details come from the Denver Post, which identifies the self-harming handyman as Richard Talley, the founder and CEO of American Title Services in Centennial, Colorado. "Talley, 56, and the company he founded in 2001 were under investigation by state insurance regulators at the time of his death," reports the Post. "Talley died from seven or eight self-inflicted wounds from a nail gun fired into his torso and head." As notable as the method of Talley's death was the weirdness left in its wake: "Talley's 1989 wedding announcement in the Chicago Tribune noted he was... 'a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic swimming team,'" reports the Post. "A spokeswoman for USA Swimming on Thursday said Talley was not on the team."
Proceed here to read the full Last Days: The Week in Review.
Via Jezebel, a video that is making Stranger headquarters melt into a pile of awed laughter: Russian figure-skating darling Evgeni Plushenko in a routine that, apparently, will not be performed at the Olympics because for some stupid reason they don't allow you to strip down to gold underpants and/or kiss the judges. (Whyyyy??!!) Oh, yeah, and also, someone switched out his original soundtrack—Tom Jones's "Sex Bomb"—for '90s slow jam "Pony," by Ginuwine.*
I CANNOT GET OVER IT. Someone tell me if at 2:15 he loses his penis? What is that move? Apparently this man will be skating onto your televisions—and into your hearts!—later in the week.
*The Jezebel post astutely notes that "ironically enough, the only thing made worse by the addition of a 'Pony' soundtrack is actual sex." Real talk.
By posting a video of himself dancing to Beyoncé and Katy Perry. You're welcome.
Last week, Grantland writer Caleb Hannan outed Essay Anne “Dr. V” Vanderbilt, the transgender subject of his story, in the course of reporting about the golf club she invented. Dr. V committed suicide in October—while Hannan was working on the piece about her that she was begging him not to write—and people have been asking how a story as dangerous, disrespectful, and callous as this was published by Grantland at all. Bill Simmons, Grantland’s editor-in-chief, posted an apology letter five days later. ESPN writer Christina Kahrle, a transgender woman, wrote about what Grantland got wrong. But what about privilege?
One of the premises of the piece seems to be that Hannan is “normal” and other people, like Dr. V, are not, and that’s where the glimmer of privilege slips in. This story is as much about Hannan’s ignorance as Dr. V’s duplicity—her being transgender was so foreign and unbelievable to him that it consumed the narrative. Choosing to conceal your gender identity is not duplicitous, but the story he was uncovering about her shady business background totally was, and, as a person with evidently no training around or interest in gender identity issues, he conflated the two to a disastrous degree. Hannan already portrayed Dr. V as other by using language “mad scientist” to describe her and questioning what he classified as the strangeness of her deep voice; he sort of showed his hand when he said that a “chill ran up his spine” when he realized Dr. V was transgender. Grantland editor Simmons also uses Dr. V’s “quirkiness” as a defense of Hannan, like we’re all supposed to understand that she was essentially different. And then Hannan went so far as to refer to his story as a eulogy, which is laughably untrue. (Look up "eulogy.") Hannan's privilege is on overdrive in this story—he’s the focal point, his feelings are what matter most, words mean whatever he wants them to, and ignorance trumps his willingness to protect his subject.
The first picture in this series, Life in Russian, is one of the most beautiful images I have ever seen. Look at her and you can finally feel these words by Oscar Wilde: "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
As for our drunks? They have nothing on the Russians.
This is how they do it in Russia. More pics: http://t.co/XO326lqiOe pic.twitter.com/40mrhW7MLH
— Raving George (@RavingGeorge) January 21, 2014
The Russian has unlovely feet...
Russian socialite sparks outrage with 'racist chair' photograph published on fashion website http://t.co/V10zWvqgV7 pic.twitter.com/xuLt3qmbWH
— The Guardian (@guardian) January 21, 2014
I give advice for a living. I go to a lot of weddings. But I don't get many questions about weddings; wedding Qs are more Dear Prudence than Savage Love. So here is my unsolicited wedding advice in the form of a list of don'ts. My wedding advice, offered here in no particular order, is binding. So skip this article unless you intend to follow my advice to the letter.
1. Don't make people travel any farther than necessary to attend your wedding. Everyone hates destination weddings. Live in the city? Get married in the city. Live in the middle of fucking nowhere? Get married in the middle of the nearest big city. Remember: The farther people have to travel, the more they have to spend on airfare, hotels, meals, etc.; the more they have to spend to get to your wedding, the less money they're willing to spend on the crap on your gift registry. Unless you're willing to pick up the full cost of the airfare, hotel rooms, and meals for all of your invited guests, be normal human beings and get married someplace that's convenient for your friends and family to travel to and flee from. Pick a venue with some decent bars on the same block and some hotels within walking distance. Only assholes get married on cruise ships, islands, or mountaintops.
2. Don't drag it out. Unless you're a Windsor, a Hapsburg, a Bourbon, or a Wittelsbach, your actual marriage ceremony shouldn't last much longer than a better-than-average blowjob—20 minutes, tops.
3. Don't wait for marriage. Ask any advice columnist, sex therapist, or sane (read: non-Christian) couples counselor, and they'll tell you: Waiting to have sex until after you're married is a terrible idea...
Two years ago, I got a job at a catering company that specializes in weddings. Sometimes I'd see two a day. It was surreal and a little disconcerting to lay out one couple's polished rocks and bags of monogrammed candies and then chuck them into a dumpster halfway through the day to make way for the next couple's color-coordinated napkins and shot glasses. I served enough champagne to fill a Cadillac and enough hors d'oeuvres to bury one. I saw weddings that seemed meant to be, and ones I'd give about two months. I saw blow-up dolls dressed as cowboys. Then gay marriage passed, and I started writing a column for The Stranger called Wedding Crasher, which I got paid for, if you can believe it. I went and ate free food and danced with people I didn't know, and then I wrote down my thoughts about how it went in exchange for cash. I saw things I'll always remember, and I cried at every damn wedding. I also saw things I would recommend no one ever replicate. But let's focus on the positive. If you're planning to get married, I offer my observations and my lust for revolving beverage fountains as assistance.
Even if You're Madly in Love, Don't Get Married Until You're Thirty
Okay, I guess that's not a very positive way to start, but it must be said: People change a lot during their 20s. When I look back at who I might have married when I was 19, I cringe—a tall can of Rainier wouldn't look good in a wedding dress. I've dated two women who were dissolving domestic partnerships that began in their early 20s, and the paperwork weighed about five pounds. The most worrisome weddings I've witnessed were those of teenagers who looked either like they just wanted a party or, worse, like relatives had pressured them into it...
It's been exactly one week since Gawker's Rich Juzwiak alerted the world to the singular weirdness of the Vine videos being produced by Westboro Baptist Church. "Make no mistake, this family-cum-cult does and says awful things," writes Juzwiak. "If you are very sensitive, you will not see the humor in this. But oh my god, their timing."
Here's but one example.
For a full overview, see Juzwiak's Gawker post.
Are you afraid of babies? Get ready for your worst nightmare:
Wanna guess how many black acts topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2013? If you guessed ZERO, give yourself a high five! And maybe a slap in the face!
Chris Molanphy at Slate points out these uncomfortably bleak stats, as well as the fact that white acts topped the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart 44 out of 52 weeks. This year was overflowing with culturally appropriative musicians rocketing to number one (Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, Macklemore), but it's not like there weren't any black acts to choose from—Jay Z, Drake, Kanye and other established popular acts released successful albums in 2013. So why didn't any of their songs reach number one?
We get the best e-mails here at The Stranger. People think that putting us on conservative e-mail lists is some sort of punishment, but it's really the best and brightest source of entertainment that we have around the office. Yesterday, we received maybe the best conservative e-mail we've ever gotten. It's from a group called GrasstopsUSA (motto: "Give Your Values a Voice") and here's the online version. It begins normally enough for a fringe right-wing e-mail, with demands that President Obama be impeached. But then it turns into something beautiful. Here's the deal:
Join The Impeach Obama Campaign Today And We Will Send You (Via Immediate Download In PDF Format) Our Ground-Breaking 32-Page Report: Why Barack Obama Needs To Be Impeached In Order To Save America. But That's Not All...
Bonus 1: We'll also send your urgent and personalized Blast Faxes to each and every member of the Republican Leadership of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives calling for the immediate Impeachment of Barack Obama!
Bonus 2: We'll subscribe you to the GrassTopsUSA Action Alert, our daily email alert of news that the liberal media refuses to print, for FREE!
The groundbreaking report and the bonuses are a $97.00 value but they're yours today for a one-time payment of $34.95. And if you don't like our groundbreaking 32-Page report: Why Barack Obama Needs To Be Impeached In Order To Save America, you have 60 days to request an unconditional refund... no questions asked... and you can keep the report and the bonuses as our gift to you... YOU'LL GET YOUR MONEY BACK... NO QUESTIONS ASKED!
Okay. So for thirty-five bucks, you get a PDF, you get signed up to an e-mail newsletter, and you get your name on a "Blast Fax," all in the name of impeaching Obama. Seems legit to me. If you have any conservative relatives, I encourage you to pass this bargain on to them. I salute the business acumen of whoever it is that came up with this idea. I wish I'd thought of it first.
I have an quick candy announcement regarding Valentine's Day. You may or may not have noticed (or been as outraged as I was) about Sweethearts conversation hearts switching to a gross new recipe after more than a century of reliable, chalky, delicious service. Wikipedia tells us how it all began:
Oliver R. Chase invented a machine in 1847 to cut lozenges from wafer candy, similar to Necco Wafers, and started a candy factory. Daniel Chase, Oliver's brother, began printing sayings on the candy in 1866. He designed a machine that was able to press on the candy similar to a stamp. The candy was often used for weddings since the candies had witty saying such as: "Married in pink, he will take a drink..." The heart-shaped conversation candies to be called Sweethearts got their start in 1901.
In 2010, I was confused, and then disgusted, to find that while Sweethearts kept their packaging similar, they'd unexpectedly "updated" the old flavors (aka dipped them in something similar to aspartame-flavored hairspray), even adding blue raspberry to the mix. Are you kidding me? Don't EVER go blue raspberry on your candy fans after 109 years. That winter, I wrote to Necco many times about their poor judgment, and to see if there were any warehouses full of the old candies that someone could theoretically purchase (I was in a real state). They never responded.
I bought a bag and LAAAAAA [beautiful harp noise], they are they same! Exactly the same! As I type this, I have already taken down every orange in the bag. I'm wondering if maybe Necco let this Mayfair company re-sell their old stock (they don't go bad, right?) or just allowed the recipe to become public because they hate me, and you, and love, and Cupid himself.
But if she doesn't stop spying on her son... she's gonna see him coming. (Via JMG.)
What would you do if you were a small brew pub owner suddenly confronted with a demand from giant Starbucks' attorneys to respond to a cease and desist letter? Well, if you're Jeff Briton, owner of the Exit 6 Pub and Brewery in Cottleville, Missouri, you send "Mr. Buck" a $6 dollar check for the profits earned on the three "Frappicino" beers sold, along with a satirical letter promising never to use "the F word" again:
The whole thing is pretty funny. Especially the PS's. You can read the whole legal exchange here.
It happens sometimes in the multiverse...
Not in order.
10. "Elizabeth Smith [curator, Art Gallery of Ontario]: 'I have learned more and more to trust my instincts about what stirs or moves me as an indicator of what might also have a strong impact on others. Earlier in my career, I would not have had the same kind of confidence about balancing the intellectual and the intuitive.'"
9. "Pigeon Fancier: ...'I have to ask you—and I'm being deliberately vague here—should we celebrate the achievements of great artists who are bad people?'"
8. "Eric Fredericksen [curator, Seattle Waterfront, Western Bridge]: 'I decided years ago that I'd rather work with artists I liked. I figured there were plenty of other curators around who didn't mind working with the nasty ones. But beyond simply wanting to enjoy myself, and contrary to the modernist myth, I do, somewhat embarassedly, believe that the best art is now made by good folks."
6. "Pigeon Fancier: 'Is there anything that curators can do to counter the perception of art as a luxury asset?'"
5. "Glenn Adamson [curator, Victoria and Albert Museum, London]: ...'Walter Benjamin's famous observations about the effects of reproduction continue to be worth considering...I think it's easier and easier for a work of art to function democratically (through replication or display) while still being owned by some fat-cat investor whose politics you might well find revolting.'"
4. Nicholas Frank [curator, Milwaukee]: 'The whole point of the thing, for me, is to keep complexity alive and breathing, resolutely and defiantly..."
3. The sandwiching of Robert Storr's self-important Rules of Order with Jenifer Papararo's anti-individualism and Helen Molesworth's questions.
2. "Helen Molesworth [curator, ICA Boston]: 'Have I adequately thanked and compensated all of the people who have worked to bring a project to fruition?'"
1. "Ralph Rugoff [curator, Hayward Gallery, London]: 'While organizing Psycho Buildings: Artists Take on Architecture...[the artist group Gelitin had] a brilliant idea that would have created a very uncanny atmosphere around the gallery each afternoon as thousands of pigeons began circling the building, awaiting their scheduled dinner. ...While shitting on the museum might have had its ideological points in an artwork, it didn't seem fair to the people who would have to clean it up. So I asked them to come up with another idea...which they did.'"
The book is called Pigeons on the Grass Alas: Contemporary Curators Talk About the Field, published by Pew, and you can get a copy by calling 267-350-4900 or emailing.
Slog tipper Simone thinks this LA Times story by Jessica Guynn is worth your time:
Veteran technology investor Tim Draper wants to reboot California...Here’s how it would work. California would be split up into six states. Jefferson would be to the north, with North California below it. Central California would be in the middle east of the state, while Silicon Valley would be to the West. West California, including Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, would be in the south, with South California at the very bottom of the state.
There's apparently a big push in Silicon Valley to secede from the rest of California right now. Which isn't surprising: Many venture capital people are big Ayn Rand fans, which means they hate the idea of paying taxes that might wind up benefiting someone besides themselves. This is their way of going Galt, of breaking free from the perceived leeches who do nothing but feed off the fruits of their genius. The end of the article notes that Draper wants to put "as little" of his money into this effort "as possible," which is definitely a line that would make Rand smile.
People are always proposing to break states up along ideological lines. My home state of Maine has always had a schism between the northern half of the state, where the "real Mainers" live, and the south, which has become infested with liberal yuppie scum from Massachusetts. The attempt to make North Colorado into a state fell apart earlier this year. And eastern Washingtonians are always talking about their desire to be freed from the shackles of Seattle. I don't expect this idea to get any further than any of those other ideas, but I do applaud Draper for his restraint in not trying to name his imaginary Silicon Valley state "Galt's Gulch."
Yesterday on Slog, I mentioned the historian Alan J. Stein, and today I have another gift from him: Have you ever heard of the epidemic that hit Seattle's cars in 1954?
The sheer number of damaged windshields ruled out hoodlums, and experts were at a loss as to the cause of these strange pits and holes appearing out of nowhere. On Whidbey Island, Sheriff Tom Clark postulated that radioactivity released by recent H-bomb tests in the South Pacific was peppering windshields. Geiger counters were run over windshield glass, and also over persons who had touched the pit marks, but all were free of radioactivity. Still, the sheriff held firm that “no human agency” could have created the scars left on the glass.
This weekend, the Wall Street Journal published a think-piece by Joseph Epstein about the downfall of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants and what that's done to America. Epstein complains about meritocrats (like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, he sniffs) who go to good schools and achieve great things, but don't have the character of people who were raised in the WASP tradition:
Trust, honor, character: The elements that have departed U.S. public life with the departure from prominence of WASP culture have not been taken up by the meritocrats. Many meritocrats who enter politics, when retired by the electorate from public life, proceed to careers in lobbying or other special-interest advocacy. University presidents no longer speak to the great issues in education but instead devote themselves to fundraising and public relations, and look to move on to the next, more prestigious university presidency.
A financier I know who grew up under the WASP standard not long ago told me that he thought that the subprime real estate collapse and the continuing hedge-fund scandals have been brought on directly by men and women who are little more than "greedy pigs" (his words) without a shred of character or concern for their clients or country. Naturally, he added, they all have master's degrees from the putatively best business schools in the nation.
Thus far in their history, meritocrats, those earnest good students, appear to be about little more than getting on, getting ahead and (above all) getting their own. The WASP leadership, for all that may be said in criticism of it, was better than that.
This is some classic bullshit: People were better back in the good old days, things were better back then, and everybody is a lot worse, now that the people who used to be in power are out of power. Never mind that the good old days were only good for the people who look and behave like the people in power—straight, white, Christian—and never mind that the scales are still tipped heavily toward WASPs. Kids these days don't understand dignity, goddamnit, and Epstein is very sad about it.
A thousand dolphins have shown up dead along the Eastern Seaboard between New York and Florida this year, the New York Times reports—eight times the historical average. What's killing them is a mystery but seems to have something to do with the "health" of the oil-spilled, polluted, plasticked waters we humans are keeping.
I don't care that this is a signal for humans, too.
I care about DOLPHINS. Here is the story of my 2009 dolphin conversion experience.
To be clear, the reason I do not care that this is a signal for humans is that this is OUR FAULT.
'Tis the Season: Remember to give to our Holiday Charity Challenge!
They'll Help People When They're Damn Good and Ready: Why isn't the city council helping homeowners?
A Week of Art Heists: A truck full of Whiting Tennis paintings was stolen this week. Jen Graves talked to Whiting Tennis about the theft and she also took issue with the language the local media uses to describe art heists. In other stolen-art news, Stranger Genius Rodrigo Valenzuela's equipment, footage, and papers were stolen in Costa Rica.
SALAD SALAD SALAD: Seattle Men's Chorus is sticking with a sign language interpreter that Seattle's deaf community calls "unqualified."
In Praise of the Post-It: Brendan Kiley has a message for tech support people: Who's paranoid now, motherfuckers?
A Good Poet Left Us: Beloved Seattle poet Kim-An Lieberman passed away.
Dead-Tree Media Praises Dead-Tree Media: The Nation called The Stranger "The Most Valuable Newspaper." Aw, shucks, guys.
Selling Grey Gardens: Buy some Little Edie Memorabilia for Christmas and help Walter Newkirk pay some health care-related expenses.
It's the Little Things That Make a City: Some of my favorite Slog posts are the ones that are just little thoughts about day-to-day life in Seattle. Jen Graves put up two great little slice-of-life posts this week, about car horns and about a raspberry almond scone she enjoyed.
Aloha, Friends: We welcomed new Suggests editor Krishanu Ray to Slog this week. He's going to be a great addition to Slog. Unfortunately, we also said goodbye to Cienna Madrid. Cienna sat at the desk across from me for four years. She would sometimes sneak up behind me and hug me for an uncomfortable amount of time while I was trying to work. She loves to get drunk and embarrass me at parties. On the other hand, she let me pile uncomfortably high stacks of terrible books on her desk, and she also let me wipe my Romney-cootie-infested hand on her head after I shook Mitt Romney's hand in Bellevue. I'll miss having Cienna around on a daily basis, but I'm so excited for the day when she publishes her first book. Hopefully, it'll be good, because things will get awkward if I have to write a negative review of it in The Stranger. Either way, I'm looking forward to embarrassing the hell out of her at her book launch party.
It was Buzzfeed who brought Phil Jones to the world's attention. On his own web site, Jones simply wrote, "I have a deep respect for anyone who is willing to put their face on a bus stop bench knowing what people do to them. I thought it would be fun to do my own take on our local realtor advertisements."
He's not claiming it's art, but in some ways it is. When the results rise above fun it's because of a combination of his totally strenuous commitment to meticulously congruent composition, as in the photo above, and the total wrongness of the pairing despite that. It's also that he seems so damned friendly. Realtor photos are unilaterally soul-killingly horrible, and why the hell is that? Is there a worse genre of portrait photography than the realtor ad? Then there's the gender studies aspect... Have at them.
UPDATE 2: The truck has been found, according to SPD spokesman Mark Jamieson, but the art was not in it. The truck was parked on the 3400 block of SW Walnut Street in West Seattle yesterday morning. The FBI will post the art to its stolen art database, but SPD is handling the case. Detective Hiro Yamashita is the contact; call him with tips at 206-684-8945. (Kucera is offering the reward; see below for his contact.) There are seven artworks missing, all by Whiting Tennis, the largest a woodblock print and oil on paper mounted on panel that's 72 by 96 inches and titled Document (aka New England Prospect). Jamieson will be posting images of all the missing art on the SPD Blotter today.
A 16-foot Budget rental truck containing seven paintings by Whiting Tennis was stolen at 145th and Aurora on Thursday morning sometime between midnight and 2 am, according to an email from Greg Kucera Gallery, which represents the artist.
The truck was parked at the Holiday Inn Express parking lot. It was a Ford 350 model with the Oklahoma license plate 2TM878. All of the paintings, on canvas and wood, were wrapped in cardboard and plastic.
With any information, call SPD Detective Sargent Backstrom at 206-684-8948, or Auto Theft Detective Tracy Puffner at 206-684-4762. Or call Kucera at 206-235-0525.
UPDATE: No leads yet. Greg Kucera Gallery is offering a reward. He believes the thieves had no idea this truck contained art when they stole it. "The question now is what do they do to the art," he said in a phone conversation just now. "We are simply trying to get the word out that we fully expect that these paintings could be just sitting somewhere in a parking lot having been dumped out by these guys thinking, 'What are these crazy things?'" They're not in fancy gold frames. ...We're offering a reward in the hopes that maybe they would sense there's something to be gained by letting us know where these are, or maybe leading us to them. Or that somebody peripherally involved who hears about this will think, 'I'm gonna get that reward.' We don't care who comes forward."
Here's Stranger Genius Rodrigo Valenzuela, describing being robbed while sleeping in Costa Rica, where he's shooting a project called Maria TV:
He emailed the full sorry and scary story—sorry because of the art and equipment loss (I'd really like to see Maria TV completed), scary because he's stranded:
When we arrived to Costa Rica, After 6 days of solid buses riding and immigration searches (Nicaragua-Costa Rica border is the worst!) we felt sleep really fast. The house has 12 people, Anastasia, Zane and me sleeping on the living room they broke in during the night taking 4 mac books, 3 iphones, my cellphone was 10 inch from my face! my backpack had every Cameras, passport, credit cards, etc... they even took time to unplug the chargers and take them. When we woke up the door was wide open and everything gone. The police is shitty.. there is like 3 "kind of police services" the locals, the police for tourist, and Investigation police....that is like 1 hr away. We went there and they still use type writers ...paper work is piling up from floor to ceiling (walls of it!) so I dont have too much hope for them. I call this weekend and they dont work saturday or sunday!
I wanted to take like 15 day to get back and shoot more but now I have to wait for the USA embassy (the chilean consulate can do nothing)!
Valenzuela specifically lost 5D and Pentax 67 cameras, all his audio gear, memory cards, and Green Card—"all of my worldly possessions, as well as my livelihood." He is stuck in Costa Rica at the moment. For ID, he has his driver's license and nothing more. I'm imagining he'll get approximately zero of his stuff back. Donate to his Indiegogo campaign here and send out some kind of prayer for, um, compassionate border guards? We are so sorry, Rodrigo.
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