Our Adult Wardrobe

“Bill may have told you that my beloved wife has recently died,” he said at one lunch. “I’m wondering if you would be kind enough to accept one or two new things she had just bought, that I think would probably fit you. I’m afraid she never got to wear them.” A black princess-style coat with a velvet collar from Best & Co. and an astounding blue wool suit by Pauline Trigère both fit perfectly. Until then, most of my clothes were sewn by my mother or by me, and although my mother sewed well and precisely and had taken a tailoring class, she did not line the skirts or put small covered weights in the hems of coats.

It took a few years before I actually dared to wear them.

Mike: So, that’s an excerpt from Diane Johnson’s lovely essay in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine about becoming an adult and acquiring some grown-up clothes that she eventually passed down to her own daughters.

Logan, do you have a similar memory? Acquiring some grown-up clothes that made you feel like an adult when you put them on?

Logan: Haha, um, no. I remember buying some clothes from J. Crew right after I graduated college, some wool pants and nice shirts, for uh, “interviews.” And then later when I worked at J. Crew I bought some silk shirts and some other wool pants and a wool blazer. All that stuff is trashed now. When I first wore it, I felt like a little kid wearing someone else’s clothes. Then I trashed it, and now I feel like a little kid who can’t take care of nice things. And you, Mike Dang?



All the Drama of the Super Bowl, None of the Sports

If those interstitial background stories and interviews about where professional athletes came from are the only interesting thing about sports to you, too, then listen up. J. Ryan Stradal is back at the Rumpus with his annual Super Bowl Preview For People Who Don’t Know Football, and it is excellent:

In 2014, Richard Sherman has made himself known, and we should be thankful for this. His story is a quintessentially American one; it’s banal and heartbreaking to say it couldn’t have happened in any other place or time, but some of what sets Richard apart in his rags-to-riches trajectory is how deeply he wants to be representative of a much larger group of men and women like himself. He is not, as they say, simply along for the ride.

Richard grew up in Compton, California, a place known to most Americans through rap songs, violent films, and piqued news footage. Afflicted by such media, it may be difficult for many to imagine the vast majority of Compton citizens who are simply trying to get by, attend work or school, and feed their children. Kevin and Beverly Sherman are two such people. Kevin rises at 4 a.m. daily to drive a garbage truck, and Beverly is a senior clerk for California Children’s Services.

He highlights a handful of other football players I have never heard of, such as Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Russell Wilson, and Peyton Manning (okay, I have heard of him), and writes about them in a tone that sounds just urgent enough, with material that is just human enough, I can almost squint my eyes and forget we are talking about sports.


Odd Job of the Day: TSA Agent

It was May 2007. I was living with a bohemian set on Chicago’s north side, a crowd ranging from Foucault-fixated college kids to middle-aged Bukowski-bred alcoholics. We drank and talked politics on the balcony in the evenings, pausing only to sneer at hipsters strumming back-porch Beatles sing-a-longs. By night, I took part in barbed criticism of U.S foreign policy; by day, I spent eight hours at O’Hare in a federal uniform, solemnly carrying out orders passed down from headquarters.

I hated it from the beginning. It was a job that had me patting down the crotches of children, the elderly and even infants as part of the post-9/11 airport security show. I confiscated jars of homemade apple butter on the pretense that they could pose threats to national security. I was even required to confiscate nail clippers from airline pilots—the implied logic being that pilots could use the nail clippers to hijack the very planes they were flying.

Oh man, Politico published a long confessional essay from a guy named Jason Harrington, a former TSA agent who’s now headed to grad school to study creative writing (get in line, buddy). It is, uh, definitely worth a read!

Photo: kalleboo


A Videogame You Should Play

Last year, a videogame creator named Tim Schafer, who was best known for a handful of games back in the 90s, got about a bazillion dollars on Kickstarter to make another one of those games. And now the game is here! I’ve been playing it and it is GREAT. Oh man.

So the game is called Broken Age. It is a point-and-click adventure, a very old and now-basically-extinct genre which is more like an interactive comic book than anything else. You click on a spot to make your character go there, you click on another character to talk with them, you click on objects to interact with them. The interactive part is in puzzles and conversation; you need to get certain information from other characters to figure out what’s going on and what to do next, so you’re presented with a list of responses so you can participate in the conversation. You generally have to pick up objects, sometimes combine them, sometimes “use” them on stuff in your environment to solve puzzles, after which you can progress in the story. Timing is hardly ever important; you don’t have to make precise jumps or press a button at a certain time or anything like that.



Here Is Your Open Thread

Two years ago, Mac McClelland wrote a piece for Mother Jones about her time working as a “picker” in an Ohio warehouse. Many people don’t realize that when they order products from a website, the order is often filled by third-party logistics contractors. Radiolab revisited the story this week along with additional commentary from Brad Stone, a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek and the author of The Everything Store, a book about Jeff Bezos and Amazon. (Warning: There is some profanity and many mentions of dildos, which I felt compelled to mention here since Radiolab has been getting some guff about it).

Photo: Mark Hunter


Budget Super Bowl Snacks

Throwing a great Super Bowl party doesn’t have to mean shelling out for expensive, brand-name snacks. Your guests will “snap” up these fun and affordable treats. We guarantee there will be NFL (No Food Left) at the end of the night!

OT Tortilla Taquitos (Total cost: $6)

These Tex-Mex-inspired delights are suggestive of handcrafted tortillas made with fresh corn masa.

• 2 24-packs corn tortillas (6” diameter or smaller) ($3)
• 6 cups Canola oil ($3)

Roll up one tortilla inside another. Cut in half. Secure with toothpicks. Deep fry until golden brown.

Makes 48 taquitos. Vegetarian and gluten-free.


SeaBronco Unity Tartare (Total cost: $15.54)

When all is said and done, a Super Bowl party isn’t about who wins the game. It’s about sharing the experience with good friends. With this dish on the table, even the most fanatical fan won’t lose sight of that essential fact.

• 600g horse haunch (£9.28)
• Seawater
• 1 egg yolk ($0.25)

Cut horse haunch into ¼” cubes. Mix with a generous splash of seawater. Top with yolk.

Makes five large handfuls of tartare. The yolk symbolizes rebirth.



The President Swears There is Nothing Wrong With an Art History Degree

On a trip to Wisconsin this week to talk about his proposal to revitalize American manufacturing, President Obama took a little swipe at art history majors:

“[A] lot of young people no longer see the trades and skilled manufacturing as a viable career. But I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree. Now, nothing wrong with an art history degree — I love art history. So I don’t want to get a bunch of emails from everybody. I’m just saying you can make a really good living and have a great career without getting a four-year college education as long as you get the skills and the training that you need.”

Honestly, I am not offended by this. The world would be a very sad place with no art historians (I mean, arguably), but I don’t think they are going anywhere, and we do need to make sure we still have skilled tradesmen around to you know, build stuff and fix things and keep us functioning as a society. READ MORE


Batgirl c. 1973 Discussing ‘Equal Pay For Equal Work’

This week marked the fifth anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, an update to the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which “made it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sex when determining pay for employees doing the same work” and expanded workers’ rights to sue when unfairly discriminated against in the workplace.

The National Archives resurfaced this video from 1973 in which Batgirl explains the concept of “equal pay for equal work.” Would the U.S. Department of Labor air a video like that today?


The Cost of a Trip to Iceland

One of my favorite lunch-break activities at my office job this summer was clicking around airline websites, trying out dates for imaginary trips and trying to calculate whether I could afford to actually go on any of these excursions.

I’ve tried to make traveling a priority in my life ever since I got my first passport for a high school trip I went on when I was 15, posing for a bored Rite Aid manager in front of one of those portable white backgrounds. I took out loans to study abroad during college, and shortly after graduation, went to France for a teaching job. Since then, I’ve been back home in New York, enjoying my neighborhood, my job, and the abundance of large, to-go drip coffees.

I was fine with having no immediate plans of traveling internationally, but I still wanted to get away for a week—I had vacation days to use up, and a bit of money in savings I could use on a planet ticket. I eventually found flight on the Icelandair site for $605, taxes and fees included. It was more than I’d hoped to spend, and the trip would be from Wednesday to Monday, but most other date ranges I clicked on had flights in the $800 range, so I took it as a sign to bite the bullet. After the trip was booked, I chatted with my friend online: “I think I’m going to Iceland in October?”