Everything Is Terrible

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If you’ve been reading my ramblings since my LJ days or we’re friends IRL, you’d know my background is in journalism—not in the “I studied it in undergrad then went into marketing” kind of way but in the “I studied it in undergrad, became editor of the school paper, interned at a bunch of small daily newspapers in small Virginia towns until one hired me when I graduated, got laid off in the recession, moved to New York City jobless until an international trade publication hired me to write about mostly US intellectual property law, felt stifled by the lack of post-non-IP-law options that didn’t involve writing five 300-word articles a day, or writing listicles, or moving back to a small town to be the only person not of a certain hue in a five-state radius, went back to school to study the dark side, THEN went into marketing” kind of way.

It’s a special kind of crazy. Not only can I read a sensational article and know it’s sensational; or question the veracity of an article (and be totally excited by the opportunity to use “veracity” in a sentence); or know the difference between a well-informed opinion piece, an investigative piece, a shit blog post, and a tweet by a troll (even when that troll runs for president); I can also say that my first instinct when some weird shit is going down is to go check it out and take pictures.

Because what’s the point of weird shit going down if you can’t tell people about it?

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Journalism, of course, has been getting a lot of crap from His Royal Cheeto (also known as: The Dictatingest Orangey Dictator, He Who Can’t Read Or Speak Good, and Damn He Racist). But to be honest, journalists didn’t really help themselves leading up to what is now what I call the Everything Is Terrible era.

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First, there was the sense of complacency during the Obama era, as if all was well and good because we elected a black president (go us, amiright?). Second, fluffery was so encouraged that listicles became a thing and even reputable newspapers started running blog posts masquerading as articles that often made me want to yell on a crowded train: “Et tu, WaPo?” Third—and this is a big third—journalists willfully ignored the basics, all for the sake of amassing clicks for His Royal Cheeto’s latest fuckery.

Like how you’re not supposed to broadcast some crazy comment some famous person said without context (A headline that says “‘Everyone’s an alien,’ says His Royal Cheeto” is different from one that says “‘Fringe presidential candidate His Royal Cheeto says everyone’s an alien, which is clearly not true and WTF why are we covering what this dumbass says anyway oh right because we’re like totally getting all the clicks, bye integrity, bye soul that I’ve discarded in the recycling bin a while back but yay recycling”).

That said, there are a few not so terrible things in the Everything Is Terrible era:

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It’s forcing journalists to get their shit together—I’m looking at you, WaPo, NYT and a Bernsteiny (he of Watergate creds) CNN.

People are starting to pay attention to what makes this country run.

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So much so that courts even trend on Twitter sometimes.

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And bills don’t go on the chopping block without someone somewhere raising a big stink about it.

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Even better, people are getting off their asses to raise a big stink (I’m talking about they of the non tiki torch-wielding, white-hooded variety, of course. Those folks can stay on their asses, thank you very much).

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Which, for our typically complacent selves, is a big deal. After all, it’s much harder to ignore actual masses of people on the street than it is to ignore viral RTs. IRL protests do what tweets can’t, just as a tweet thread can articulate what a quippy line on a poster can’t.

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Together, they empower those in power who still have a soul to get their shit together.

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Which is why public opinion is the most powerful thing there is. Without it, journalism just doesn’t matter.

Ultimately, it’s the public who can force politicians to pivot, companies to delete ill-timed tweets, a show runner to write unrealistic happy endings for their characters (I’m looking at you, PLL), and for Taylor Swift to finally release a song.

It can even topple shitty leaders.

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So,

if I had to sum this post up in one tweet:

Let’s keep on keeping on.

Fist emoji.

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The Days So Far

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Been going through the archives and decided to share a few pictures from the last couple of months. No cohesive theme here. Just random moments.

I’ve been capturing things a bit differently now that Instagram has become my default channel. But this is still my favorite space for posting pictures.

It’s a lot quieter.

Which means, fewer people see what I post.

Which means, I feel more free.

Which means, this is really how I take pictures.

Funny how that works.

Let’s do dis.

IMG_6409 (1)Quite proud of this rug and its dust bunny friends.

IMG_6463One night Franco and I watched these guys change this sign to an identical, much cleaner sign. We were on our way to a distant bar in Brooklyn late one night to pick up the credit card I’d left behind a few days before (yes, I’m an adult). It was an hourlong slog. When we got there, the place was closed.

IMG_6476Whenever possible.

IMG_6541My super glamorous studio. See that mic stand over there? Swivels 360 degrees to and from your mouth. Patent pending.

IMG_6584A friend and I stumbled upon this cute little park right after this asinine dialogue courtesy of me:

Friend: What’s this?
Me: Ugh. Probably one of those rich-people parks you need a key to get into.
Nice old lady holding open the gate on her way out: Come right in, you cynical asshole.

Then we got chased by a chicken. It was glorious.

IMG_6609One day I dug up my cheapo watercoloring set that I’d bought about seven years ago and completely failed at but still lugged around through my many, many moves. I learned that when you’re bad at colors and coloring, you can get away with picking and choosing what to color.

IMG_6614Office permapup. Fully grown and pocket-sized. Want.

IMG_6699This is how Franco watches sports. You might think it’s really awkward to have a big ol’ window with no curtains. You would be right. But… we’re too lazy to ask the landlord if we can drill holes, so fish tank living room featuring a singing-dancing duo it is. You’re welcome, neighbors.

IMG_6762One of the first nice days of the year we decided to hang at Central Park at the last minute. That blanket is actually a plastic tablecloth from the dollar store.

IMG_6773A book about the joys of spinsterhood. Franco gets nervous whenever I read it around him.

IMG_6781Times Square After Midnight, one of my fave places in the city.

IMG_6785Another creep session. These guys had a synchronized routine. They marched to a spot, lifted some things, hammered some other things, and did it all over again.

IMG_6825Pretending to read the Times, but really we’re about to watch “Gossip Girl” while lunching.

IMG_6827One of those perfect days in the neighborhood.

IMG_6932Best wings in the biz and nicest people ever.

And with that,
~20 pics down, thousands more to go.
Until next time, friends.

New Year’s Eve, Party of Two

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I’ve had my share of extravagant New Year’s Eves.

But this year was the craziest one yet.

There was booze and wild dance moves and fisticuffs and A ROUSING GAME OF SCRABBLE.

OK fine.

Franco and I stayed in because we’re old and that’s what old people do.

And you know what? It was awesome.

All you Olds out there know what I’m talkin’ about. As for you Youths, stay wild. Wear warm undies.

IMG_0877Franco wanted to try out the new cocktail toolset his brother and sister-in-law got us for Christmas. We got the table ready for some serious mixing.

IMG_0886Our go-tos:

IMG_0887IMG_0890IMG_0894IMG_0895IMG_0898IMG_0900IMG_0902IMG_0910Dirrrrrrty martinis!

IMG_0917IMG_0918IMG_0919IMG_0923IMG_0932And Manhattans.
Dental toothpicks included.

IMG_0945For dinner, we made another go-to:

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FANCY PASTA FROM A BOX!

IMG_0960IMG_0967IMG_0970IMG_0976IMG_0979With sauce fresh from the jar straight to our mouths.

IMG_0982Let’s get the party started, shall we?
By the way, why yes that’s an airbed in our living room. We had guests a couple weeks back and kind of just never put it away. Because, AMAZING.

IMG_0987Cracked open the Scrabble set also gifted by Franco’s brother and sister-and-law. It’s like they know us really well or something.

IMG_0995Though we’d played with Scrabble sets as kids, we’d never played a real game before. Shocker, I know.

IMG_1006Modeling our new toy, totally aware of just how fucking cutthroat we, er, I would soon become.

IMG_1013With tunes from the record player I got Franco for Christmas. My dad, by the way, was in awe of this thing. When Franco unwrapped it on Christmas, my dad went from shock (“They still make those?”) to skepticism (“That won’t work!”) to straight up kneeling on the floor to take out the manual from the box before Franco could even get to it. His verdict? “Sounds better than the one I had.”

IMG_1020Round Two.

IMG_1022IMG_1030Don’t let this calm scene fool you. At one point we had to stop the game after I lost my shit when Franco used the tiles I was gunning for. He said something about “You’re too competitive why can’t we just play a fun game of Scrabble wah wah wah.” Rude.

IMG_1034IMG_1046Times Square countdown times.

IMG_1051HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
Franco ended up winning 299 to 247.
Then he won 267 to 237.
After we both studied some two-letter words he again won 312 to 280.
Yes, we’re obsessed. And yes, I’m pissed. One day I’ll prevail.

IMG_1053IMG_1058Lauryn Hill sounds great as ever on vinyl. The only lame part is this version doesn’t have the hidden tracks. I mean, that was only like 90% of why we got it but whatever. Still good.

IMG_1061IMG_1062Texting loved ones is soooo hard.

IMG_1066The aftermath.

Angela Chase Is My Homie

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I’m always in my head.

Whenever something big happens, I imagine Future Me reflecting on that very moment years later in full-on Angela Chase mode, narrating every furrow of the brow, out loud and angst-filled—all while I’m living it.

That’s what happens when you grow up on The Wonder Years. And Blossom. And Clarissa Explains It All. And, the great overthinker’s bible, My So-Called Life.

It also does a couple things to a young person’s underdeveloped brain:

One, you decide talking to yourself, out loud and often, is acceptable.

Two, overanalyzing becomes your default way of thinking.

And three, you kind of miss out on some things.

You preoccupy yourself with trying to figure out what everything means before it even has a chance to become anything.

You even set some ground rules.

Big moments, you decide, come with symbolic tchotchke like streamers and cake to let oblivious you know that THIS IS A BIG DEAL, IDIOT, PAY ATTENTION.

Little moments, meanwhile, have an easier time slipping by unnoticed.

In most cases, it’s fine. I mean, they’re usually boring and lame and why waste brain space on what kind of pants your neighbor was wearing this morning unless he was wearing, like, MC Hammer pants, because, AMAZING.

What complicates things is when big moments disguise themselves as little moments, only to reveal their true selves long after they’ve passed.

I’ve tried to remedy this by always carrying a camera or a notebook and pen. It helps me relive everything, over and over, the good and the bad, with the benefit of hindsight that I use to craft neat narratives in order to make me sound much wiser and well-adjusted than I actually am.

Those otherwise inconsequential MC Hammer pants? Now they’re a symbol of my lost youth and spontaneity and inability to say, “Fuck You, slacks. I’m wearing MC Hammer pants to work today.”

But just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, a transition rears its ugly head.

Neither big nor small, transitions are merely preludes to either.

Nowhere are transitions more apparent than in New York, where your favorite noodle joints, jobs, and friendships dissipate overnight, sometimes without saying bye. The city conditions us not only to accept it all with a stiff upper lip but also to expect them.

It’s why when the rare transition that you recognize as a transition passes by, in its really fucking beautiful kind of way,

you go outside

and take a picture.

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A Queens Kind of Party

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A friend asked what Franco and I do these days.

I said, “Nothing really. Just read and drink coffee. Sometimes we see other humans, but mostly we just read and drink coffee.”

Gone are the days of drinking until 4 a.m. (though we’ve had nights like that). Or lying around recovering from nights like that (I guess one can’t exist without the other). Or riding planes, trains and buses en route to and from each other (because, hey, we live together now. WOO.).

Which means we have more time to do the things we do by ourselves, together.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re in New York! Aren’t you supposed to have lofts and go to parties in lofts and know people who know people who have parties in lofts?

Sorry, my friend. It’s not that kind of story. This is a Queens kind of story. An I’m-livin’-in-the-same-apartment-as-my-invisible-Greek-landlord-who-lives-next-to-some-gruff-but-nice-older-Greek-Italian-gentlemen-who-hang-out-on-the-stoop-all-day-talking-all-kinds-of-politics-and-societal-situations-but-still-remember-to-say-hi kind of story.

And in my story, we party, all right. We just do them alone. Or with one other person. Preferably somewhere quiet. Definitely air-conditioned.

At our parties, instead of drugs, we got sandwiches. Instead of kegs, we got coffee.

And for entertainment, we got them all. Fiction! Nonfiction! Sometimes with pictures.

So, hang onto your trousers. I’m about to show you a weekend in the life of us.

It doesn’t get any more exciting than this.

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After two years of writing, I’m in a period of consumption.

Often, it involves super important current events. Like, did you know Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen are dating? And Andy and April got married? And Miguel exists?

What a hoot.

When it comes to writing non-work-related stuff, though, I’ve totally hit a wall.

Hence, the DSLR.

It makes me feel like I’m making stuff.

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On this day, we’re about to watch Guardians of the Galaxy.

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After growing up reading 800-page books about dragons and saving his lunch money for comic books, Franco’s 11-year-old self is finally vindicated.

Take that, super cool classmates with your super cool social lives! When you’re 30, you too will enjoy these delightful works without all the angst.

Hm. Well.

Moving on.

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After buying tickets, we sat across Kaufman Studios.

We sipped coffee. We people-watched.

Then we lined up 30 minutes early.

At 3 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, I thought it was excessive.

gotgI was wrong.

In a distant theater, my brother was also watching the movie.

The following conversation took place some days before, but it gives you an idea of just how big a deal this was.

(He’s in grey.)

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The movie, by the way, was awesome.

I loved it. So did Franco.

We wanted to discuss.

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IMG_0247We Yelped.

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But ended up stumbling upon a quiet bar on a quiet street, and decided to go inside.

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With a name like Snowdonia, how could we not?

IMG_0271We had a table by the window I didn’t want to leave.

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So we stayed until the sun went down.

IMG_0274The next morning, we walked by the swankiest laundromat on the block.

IMG_0276And waited for a very special person.

The lady at the counter told us she’d be there at 1. Maybe.

It was 12:50.

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Eventually, she did roll in. The maker of delicious sandwiches.

“You look 18!” she told me.

“You must get carded all the time!”

If she weren’t so damn delightful, I’d still eat her banh mi.

But I wouldn’t be happy about it.

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OK, I’d still be happy.

Because look at that banh mi.

Just look at it.

Happy Tuesday, friends.