Saturday, October 4, 2008

You Know, They Say Abe Lincoln Was Bi


Ugh. Queerty, stop telling me depressing anti-gay-rights news and just give me more pictures of hot scantily-clad guys. K?

58 percent of Floridians support a ban on gay marriage. Obviously, there's a lot of gray area, in that the poll didn't cover, say, civil unions or visitation rights or fucking donating blood*. Still, that's hardly a comforting figure, and the fact remains that more than half of people in Florida--which, being a swing state, can be considered a microcosm of the entire country--don't want gays getting hitched. They want to make it actually illegal.

The ban still hasn't received enough support to get passed, but that support is still in the majority, and that's just really disheartening. It's not the first time in this country that marriage rights have been restricted for a certain segment of the population, but I'm convinced because of polls like that in Florida that this country is way more homophobic than racist. They're both awful, but it took so long for blacks to achieve equal rights--and that struggle continues today in many respects--that I doubt I'll live to see people like me have equal rights as well. Because while it's nice to see our political leaders reach across the aisle, when that party unity involves saying no to gay marriage, and it becomes a fucking punchline at the vice presidential debate, and everyone's laughing "Oh ha ha the economy's going down in flames and we'll be stuck in Iraq forever but at least the gays won't get married in the next four years," you know, you may just think it's all politics but guess what? Gay kids are still being killed. And yeah, unfortunately school shootings still happen to children of all races and sexual orientations, and gay crime is a hate crime in this country, but it's still not really because people say things like:

""Going from being on the beach to being locked in a cage until he dies, it's hard for anyone to contemplate that, much less a 14-year-old," Quest said."

Like, oh, this kid didn't know what he was doing, he was just confused, he just shot this fag in the back of the head, it's all too much for him to grasp. Well fuck you, Brandon McInerney. And fuck you, Sarah Palin, and even you, Joe Biden (even though I'm still going to vote for you.) Why can't I get married? Someone give me one good reason that doesn't involve the fucking Bible. I can't get married, I can't donate blood, I'd have to go through a ton of paperwork to visit my boyfriend (ha!) in the hospital, and I'm sorry to whine but I just don't like being a second-class citizen.

Maybe I should choose to be straight instead.

-Josh

*Which, by the way, I feel for the guy who wrote that piece, but I hate how he says that he "understand[s] the need for that policy," because I don't. How about the Red Cross just tests for HIV before taking your blood? 68 percent of those living with HIV are gay; that means 32 percent of those infected can, apparently, give blood without a problem. Plus, it's not like 68 percent of gay men have HIV. 68 percent of me hates the FDA for such discrimination. It's totally a late-80s mindset, and I'd think that by now we would have moved passed that as a culture, but I guess not.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Stan Bam Thank You Ma'am

Last night I finally went to Stan's, the new club-beneath-a-club on the West Side Highway. I had a good time, don't get me wrong (alcohol usually guarantees that), but, to quote Madonna, "I've seen it all before." To wit, I share with you now the Official Guide to Running a Hipster Party:

1. Your DJ's playlist shall consist of ironic 90s rap songs clumsily mixed with Motown classics. Don't worry if the beats don't sync; direct people to the bar at all times.

2. You will promote your club as an underground, grassroots kind of thing, complete with faux-ransom-note-style flyers, yet you will still charge six dollars for beer and ten dollars for well drinks.

3. For every man, there will be at least two high-school girls.

3b. For every high-school girl, there will be at least two grams of coke.

3c. For every gram of coke, there will be at least three people who actually have to use the fucking bathroom, just cut your lines in a corner or something, nobody cares.

4. DJs shall not take requests, ever, except when their coked-out-high-schooler girlfriends run behind the booth and take hold of their laptops.

5. There will be at least one girl at your party who gets really pissy and condescending if you accidentally bump into her on the dance floor, even though she's not dancing and there's plenty of available seating.

6. At least six people at the party will complain that it's not fun, yet they will not leave until 3am.

7. At least six people at the party will wear this.

7b. They will have paid too much for it.

8. DJs shall play at least one hipster anthem that people will pretend to be over but will be surreptitiously dancing to anyway.

Despite all this, as I said, I had fun. But, you know...it gets formulaic after a while.

-Josh

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pop Quiz

This will be up on NYU Local soon, but I'll share it with you now. Remember--cheating is an automatic disqualification. Unless you don't get caught, in which case, welcome to New York!

Welcome (potentially) to New York University, Class of 2012! You have reached the final portion of your admissions application. Considering that we are now a highly selective "new Ivy, we feel it is important to weed out the weaker applicants, ensuring that only the best, brightest, and most pretentious will walk the hallowed halls of...the various buildings we've leased in lower Manhattan. Please answer all questions honestly and, where applicable, thoroughly. We will heavily consider your answers when reviewing the rest of your application.

You have twenty minutes. Good luck!

PART I: MULTIPLE CHOICE

1) If you are hanging out with a group of friends and want to impress them, what music would you play?
a. It doesn't matter; my friends wouldn't judge me based on my music taste.
b. Something ironic, like the Backstreet Boys! Because I'm original and clever.
c. Vampire Weekend B-sides and tracks from Beck's first CD.
d. Choices (b) and (c), and choice (a) is ridiculous.

2) What do you list as your favorite music on Facebook?
a. Every band I've ever listened to ever.
b. Whatever my older sibling listens to, because he goes to a liberal arts college in Ohio and therefore has better
music taste than I do.
c. "I like them all! Try me! =D"
d. Vampire Weekend B-sides and tracks from Beck's first CD.

3) Now that they've stopped producing Polaroid film, how will visually convey your depth and sophistication?
a. Making every picture of me black-and-white.
b. Not looking at the camera.
c. Something funny, like tagging myself in a picture of the cast of Muppet Babies! He he!
d. Going to some Web site and using the "Polaroid" effect on all my pictures.

4) New York's an expensive place to live. To acclimate you to this financial environment, we ask: How much money do your parents make each year?
a. Over $1 million.
b. Over $2 million.
c. Over $500,000, but we also own property on the Hamptons.
d. If none of the previous three choices apply to you, put down your pencil. Thank you for applying to New York University; unfortunately, we don't feel that you would be a proper match for our school at this time.

5) When is an appropriate time to wear Uggs?
a. All the time, even to class in late April!
b. All the time, tucked into my high school cheerleading sweatpants.
c. All the time, but I'll also wear a pair of neon sunglasses so that I still look indie.
d. Never. Oh god, never.

PART II: SHORT ANSWER

6) Do you have an impressive internship yet? If not, what are you waiting for?

7) Are you so naive as to think that only the elderly have to choose being buying food and affording medication?

8) When you're throwing up in your friend's bathroom in Hayden after yet another Sex and the City marathon, what strategies do you employ to make sure you don't miss the toilet?

9) Do you want to dress like a high school freshman forever? If so, we remind you that ripped jeans are frowned upon at this school and that the nearest Abercrombie is in the Financial District.

10) Do you have that internship yet? If not, thank you for applying to New York University; unfortunately, we don't feel that you would be a proper match for our school at this time.

PART III: ESSAY. PLEASE ANSWER TWO OF THE FOLLOWING THREE QUESTIONS.

11) In a minimum of 500 words, explain all the reasons why Rubin is the best freshman dorm without mentioning the phrase "Fifth Avenue address."

12) How will you walk the tenuous line between pretentiously being "so over" television and secretly loving I Love New York?

13) In addition to completing your MAP courses, in order to graduate you must have your heart broken at some point in the next four years by a poet/actor/DJ/creative "personality" whose picture comes up when you search for him or her on Google Images. Which Bright Eyes song, drink, and romantic comedy film will you rely on to help you manage the pain? Why?

BONUS QUESTION

14) Have your parents donated a significant amount of money to our institution? If so, welcome to New York University! We can't wait to see you on campus. PS- You can totally use the financial aid portion of this application as toilet paper if you ever run out.

-Josh

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Class I Didn't Have Today Still Cost Me Lots of Tuition Money

I'm supposed to be in class right now, but we all waited 20 minutes for our professor to show up and he never did. So we left! He's totally Irish so he can't use the Jewish holiday as an excuse. (That said: happy new year, fellow Chosen People!) He's really old; I sincerely hope he's okay, since I've had him as a professor before and I know he's a good guy.

Anyway, now I'm biding my time until my lunch date (platonic! Of course.) I just have a few things I'd like to say:

1. To those who caught my diatribe yesterday...forget what you read. I mean, I believe what I said, and I'm sick of the way certain aspects of the blogosphere are going (enough already, Jesus Christ) and I still hate Twitter, partially because I don't understand it and partially because I don't understand why some people love it so much. But, you know, I don't want to make any enemies because I felt the need to blog about them. Consider my tongue held.

2. Seriously, can we put a moratorium on caring about polls? I know they're kind of important in determining how a candidate's campaign is going, but at the same time, I just don't see the point of them, besides giving talking heads something to blabber about. The red states and blue states are not going to change their minds about who they're voting for in this election, and the swing states won't make up their minds until late October, at the earliest. Obama gains another two points! McCain's catching up! Guess what--they'll probably go back and forth, each hovering around the fifty percent mark, until election day. At the very least, don't take them too seriously, folks!

3. To my friends in Prague: it's burčák season! Burčák is a delicious, partially-fermented wine that tastes like orange juice and "actually gets more alcoholic as it sits on the table." So order up a carafe or three! And maybe send some back to me, because Lord knows wine is cheaper by you. Just saying. No pressure.

4. To my friends here with me in New York: Britney's in town! Let's look for her.

-Josh

Monday, September 29, 2008

Note to Self

I had a huge long thing up here a couple hours ago that lambasted the Internet and everyone in it. Then I realized I was being whiny and overreacting (typical!) so I deleted it. Note to self:

QUIT BITCHING.

-Josh

Things The Intensely Shy Part of Me Will Probably Regret

It's up.

Cue severe panic attack.

The article is apparently all about my inability to find soy milk, by the way. Don't you love selective quoting? Granted, my lactose intolerance is vaguely asshole-ish in a country that loves cheese so much. But seriously, France, it's nothing personal! I love the way the Seine looks at night, and I hear your yogurt is to die for.

-Jess

The Problem with Publishing


So the entire Internet seems to agree that book publishing is dead. As someone who works for the Library Journal--a publication whose existence relies on the strength of the publishing industry--I feel that, despite my age and lack of experience with, well, everything, books included, I can offer some insight.

Along a dusty back shelf of my office, behind the snack tray and past the copy room, the complete archive of the Library Journal sits like an old person in a retirement home; long past its ability to be useful, it simply bides its time until that time is up. (Which, in the case of the archives, will mean being sent to the 18th floor, bound in giant binders, and stored in an even more out-of-the-way shelf in some back room.) The oldest issues still on our floor are from the mid-80s.


Earlier today I decided to actually look inside a few of these older issues, to see how the magazine has changed and what, if anything, those changes say about the evolution of the publishing world. I know our current issues well; my job consists of preparing the materials that will be used in those issues, and I always take a look through the finished copies anyway, to see the fruits of my labor, so to speak.


Those older issues are exactly what you'd expect from a niche-market trade publication: tiny font; obscure ads; entirely black and white. I noticed some key differences between our current issues and their 80s brethren. Whereas ads nowadays are just as likely to be for Web services or audio books as they are for actual publishing houses, all of the ads in older issues were for new books and the imprints that distributed them. Obviously, there was no Internet in the 80s--at least as we know it today--but still, the shift in ads from books themselves to other forms of literary technology speaks to the decreasing importance of books in today's world, including today's libraries. Indeed, our cover story for the October 1 issue talks about "the challenges of innovation."


And the older issues are thicker. This is because there were probably twice as many ads in our magazine back then. Seriously, LJ must have been like Vogue for librarians; I could see some dressed-up professor, sitting at her desk before her next lecture, flipping through the ads and admiring what she saw, yearning for that new Stephen King, that mystery series now in paperback, that fall lineup from HarperCollins. There were but a few articles in these older issues; the bulk of their weight was made up of ads and book reviews. Today, editorials and interviews make up almost half of our issues, and book reviews now include audio books and DVDs. We also run a lot fewer ads.


Today, one of the editors mentioned to me that we were possibly in the process of being sold. A quick Google search yielded no results for me, but I figure that in-house discussion is just as reliable as a Mediabistro blind item. I don't know what such an sale would entail for the future of our magazine, but I can't imagine we have a ton of eager buyers. Our ad space has gone down dramatically; this isn't a fault of our magazine itself, but rather the result of the simple fact that books just don't sell like they used to. So the industry is losing money, libraries are losing money, and we're losing money; the vicious cycle will complete itself, again and again, but I don't think it'll eventually hit zero. There is still a place for books in modern culture: art books, for instance, provide a method of viewing that even the clearest computer screen can't match; there is something satisfying about marking a line or passage on a page that goes missing when you use the highlight function on Microsoft Word; and, quite simply, it's still easier to read things on a page, which explains why I always print out online reading assignments, even those of just a few paragraphs' length.


I do think that the book publishing industry is going to have to change the way it markets itself. As my Internet-bred generation gets older, we're going to increasingly influence the way media shapes our culture. My friends and I, Millennials in arms, have long since rendered libraries obsolete in terms of academic research; at best, we might go to one to fill a requirement of the assignment, but for the most part, to many kids like me, libraries exist as fun relics of a bygone age, a place to browse for obscure titles about teen angst and familial melodrama. Books are increasingly becoming a niche commodity themselves, losing the necessity of their use that perpetuated their popularity and dominance throughout the world over the past, oh, 300 or so years. Computers and the Internet are taking their place in that respect. But as fans of sports, cinema, and fashion can tell you, there is a very real place for niche interests in our society; in fact, if the Internet has done anything at all to our culture already, it's splintered our knowledge and made it easier and more practical to study and enjoy what you want, no matter how esoteric.

I'm not saying books will be relegated to the level of ham fanaticism, but I am saying that the publishing industry must prepare itself now for the shift in books' function that will take place in the not-too-distant future. My predictions: textbooks will go digital; most new novels will be available online for cheap, in a way akin to iTunes, but for literature; and the Library Journal will find a buyer somewhere on the Internet. That latter prediction might already be happening; the Computer Media section of our magazine is going to be turned into a blog.


-Josh

Sorry To All You Haters, But...

I almost died today but didn't. Yes, I'm being serious. I was in the 4e arrondissement after having picked up a bunch of books, and was walking towards the St. Paul metro station. There's this little cobblestone street that runs in between the sidewalks, which are also made of cobblestone. It's impossible to tell that it's actually a street unless you see a motorvehicle on it, because people walk in the middle of it and it just generally looks like a giant walkway. But it's not. Cuz like, buses drive down it. And today I was walking while reading Nadja by Andre Breton and I stepped onto this "street" without looking and right into the path of a bus. It honked and I jumped back just as it whisked by. The air blew right in my face, it was so close; I think it may have even grazed the tip of my boot. People rushed over in a flurry of French and worry to make sure I was okay. I was more embarrassed than anything. Dying while reading surrealist bullshit like Breton is probably the most pretentious, inexcusable way to die ever. My parents probably wouldn't even come to my funeral.
-Jess

Nuts in NY

Thanks to David Donnell for pointing out how fucking crazy I am (hopefully in a good way).

-Jess

The Fame Game

I guess Mike really wanted his own tag on Gawker.

UPDATE: Ugh, it worked.

Mike Vilensky
Sep 29, 2008 12:03

And in a totally fitting ending to this story, I’m suddenly so relieved that Gawker is no longer snarky enough to actually say something totally mean about me.


THERE WE GO. They're not snarky enough but too snarky when your name gets brought up? Yeahhhh, sounds about right.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

!

My Tao Lin interview got linked to by The New Yorker.

Dream realized, much? Ok, so it's just a little linkback in the context of Tao understanding that his audience listens to Vampire Weekend and wears solely things described as "thrifted," but still! I remember reading The New Yorker in middle school at the swimming pool during the summer. I must have been 14. I probably didn't understand it fully but I got what a cultural beacon it was, perhaps not in the new media way I've come to love and revere, but it's arguably still a highly important literary institution, and I totally respect it for that (even if the poetry sucks).

Cool!

-Jess

Paris is not New York

A friend's Facebook status:

Paris is a very old city, which is what contributes to its beauty in this profound way that places in the US will never be able to capture or understand simply because we're still kind of a fledgling nation. There's not that sense of history, that ancient architecture, that lackadaisical, nonchalant approach to life that lends itself to a painfully lacking sense of urgency. People actually amble when they get off the Metro here! If you do that in New York you get run over or verbally abused. But I think all these things contribute to an attitude that is in contrast to one that people used to living in New York have cultivated. I have no patience, a strikingly entitled outlook (I don't care how Catholic you are, stores should be open on Sundays!), a hurried, intense way of living and an arbitrary sense of safety even in the most dangerous situations.

The no 24 hour metro thing is a problem in the sense that I am broke and can't afford to take a cab home every time I go out. (Not to mention it's not like cabs swarm the streets like in New York) It's Sunday so the grocery stores and Monoprixs are closed, so I will eat nothing today but "coffee" (my 1 part espresso, 5 parts water recipe) and two slices of whole grain bread, maybe a piece of cheese.

One good thing about Sundays is that I spend them at the Cinémathèque Française or other movie theatres that play undubbed, old Jack Nicholson movies.

It's not that I hate Paris: quite the contrary. I love it here. It's just that New York has been so woven into the person that I am that the very idea of it existing without me makes me homesick. My friends here from NYU and I talk about it constantly, and Parisians or people we know from different schools stare at us like we are legit insane. Perhaps we are. We get this dreamy look in our eyes like we are reminiscing about some long ago high school romance that has had time to ferment into something remembered only by its good times..... a high school romance with a 24 hour subway system and an intense delivery network that can allow for anything your heart desires to appear on your doorstep within the hour.

I was browsing through friends' Facebook albums this morning and saw a picture of someone walking up Astor Place towards Broadway. I suddenly experienced this dramatic lurch in my stomach and felt like I might cry. It's almost as if I'm in this one sided long distance relationship or something, wherein I desperately miss this place and it just ignores me and continues to spit out pollution and embarrassingly pun-laden Post headlines. That's the annoying nature of the way I am though: when I go back to New York I'll probably feel that same delicate nostalgia when I look at pictures of Paris.

-Jess

Paris is Apparently All About Being Drunk on Random Bridges

Yesterday we went to the bridge where Carrie and Big had their final scene in the series finale of SATC. Naturally, it's a haven for young, beautiful French people to drink wine and smoke hash until they are running up and down the planks singing the French national anthem at the top of their lungs. It is a cool spot, right near Pont Neuf - the oldest bridge in France. I'm not sure the name of this bridge, but it only allows pedestrian traffic, and it's made of these rickety wooden planks despite the fact that it's huge. It stretches across the Seine, with the Eiffel Tower in the background, and everyone just sits on it and drinks wine. Some people play live music or bring cheese plates or roll joints. It's incredibly beautiful and the vibe is just so vivacious and chill: we made instant friends with the people sitting next to us. It's the perfect place to get drunk and have those, "ahh I'm actually in Paris right now!" moments.

"Candid"

-Jess