Culture

The IKEA Furniture We Live With That Inevitably Ends Up on Craigslist

Two years ago, in a fit of mania and a deep desire to live in less hideous surroundings, I went to Ikea and bought a bunch of shit. My boyfriend and I lived in a one-bedroom on the first floor of a dumpy street, where we had a view of a blindingly bright auto repair shop that used more fluorescent paint than a rave. The apartment was stuffed with ugly hand-me-downs given to my boyfriend by his mother, and I’d occasionally wake up and gaze at my surroundings and think, “Am I 32? Is this what 32 looks like?” This crippling rumination often resulted with me on the couch on a sunny day, unable to do anything more than watch back-to-back episodes of Haven while eating gummy bears.

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The Beach: A Bargain or A Bummer?

In this weekend’s New York Times, Roxane Gay gives a litany of reasons to hate the beach.

In Haiti, beach bodies are simply bodies, and beach reads are simply books, because the beach is all around you. … But for the rest of us, the beach exerts a different kind of gravitational pull. Sixty-one percent of Americans don’t live anywhere near a beach. We spend a surprising amount of time hearing about this place we will hardly ever see. We watch commercials, TV shows and movies in which nubile young women and their strapping male counterparts frolic on sand, their hair golden and sun-streaked. Long walks on the beach are the supposed holy grail of a romantic evening. The beach becomes a kind of utopia — the place where all our dreams come true.

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Concerning Eschewing Ivies and Raising Working-Class Heroes

On the heels of Ester’s exploration of trust fund kids (my position: don’t trust ‘em), I came upon this rather wide-ranging indictment of elite colleges and the admissions process in the New Republic: in short, the author avers, the Ivies squelch creativity, channel thinking and energy into a narrow set of endeavors, reinforce privilege, and perpetuate the illusion of a meritocracy: “This system is exacerbating inequality, retarding social mobility, perpetuating privilege, and creating an elite that is isolated from the society that it’s supposed to lead.”

And the cause (aside from, you know, how rich people always set stuff up to benefit themselves)?

Not increasing tuition, though that is a factor, but the ever-growing cost of manufacturing children who are fit to compete in the college admissions game. The more hurdles there are, the more expensive it is to catapult your kid across them. Wealthy families start buying their children’s way into elite colleges almost from the moment they are born: music lessons, sports equipment, foreign travel (“enrichment” programs, to use the all-too-perfect term)—most important, of course, private-school tuition or the costs of living in a place with top-tier public schools.

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On the Purchase of New Pillows

When we moved in together, PT and I combined our pillows without thinking about it. We just put pillowcases on them and piled them on the bed. Two of them went to the bed in the furnished extra room that we rent out as often as we can (n.b. we have not used Airbnb yet!). Some were mine and some were his, but all of them—save for the one Ikea pillow I picked up at some point in the past seven years in New York—were of unknown provenance; and they were gross.

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Tear Down This Paywall: The New Yorker Opens Its Archives

Yesterday, in addition to launching a redesign of the New Yorker “Web site” — that’s how they say website in exalted magazine-speak – the famed, august, taste-making institution also threw open the gates to its archives. Well, sort of, and for a limited time:

the New Yorker announced plans to massively overhaul its website and to significantly alter its digital model, at a time when the Guardian and the New York Times are also implementing changes to their online presence. The prestige magazine, owned by Condé Nast, will move to a metered paywall system. It is is also making all of its articles since 2007* available for free for a three-month period, in a bid to entice new subscribers. After that, a limited number of articles will be available for free, before readers are required to subscribe. The current print circulation for the magazine is about 1 million, with 12 million unique visitors to its website.

In a “letter to readers” introducing the new website, the New Yorker joked that “editorial and tech teams have been sardined into a boiler room, subsisting only on stale cheese sandwiches and a rationed supply of tap water” in a bid to get the new site up and running.

Gather your rosebuds while ye may! This profile of Janet Yellen from the most recent issue is available in full for free. So are lots of features by two of my favorite contributors, Elif Batuman and Burkhard Bilger, as well as others. Before you know it, the new metered paywall will descend and we’ll all have to figure out whether or how to pay for our fix. My method, as I’ve mentioned, is to subscribe to public radio at the $120/year level and get a subscription as my thank you gift. But everyone has their ways.

The article originally said the archives went back to 1997, but that was a mistake on their part, and we have both now corrected it. 

Image via the New Yorker and Beyond The Times

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The Postsecrets We Keep

The anonymous thought-sharing app Secret, which is strong enough for a man but PH-balanced for anyone with a smartphone and opposable thumbs, raised a huge amount of money for expansion purposes by branching out beyond the tech world.

the company also announced on Monday that it raised an additional $25 million in venture financing from a number of esteemed firms and angel investors, including Index Ventures, SV Angel and Fuel Capital. Previously, it raised $10 million. The new funding puts the valuation of Secret, a six-month-old company, at higher than $100 million.

The news reminded me of, and made me nostalgic for, Postsecret, the wistfully adorable mechanism through which people made art out of short, intimate confessions sent through the mail. Scrolling through the site, I was struck by how many admissions relate to money, one way or another:

Yikes.

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Weed Sells Like Hotcakes! Who Knew?

It’s high time that potheads get some respect. Turns out, when you make their vice of choice legal, they will indeed turn out to buy it on the open market, even for a higher price, instead of working the old, familiar backchannels. According to Mic.com:

When Washington became the second state to allow legal sales of recreational marijuana last week, Seattle only had a single store, Cannabis City, open for business. It ran out of weed in three days. Cannabis City opened its doors for the first time on Tuesday with 4.5 kg of marijuana ready to be purchased. By the end of Thursday, it had all been bought. It’s even more impressive when you realize that customers were only allowed to buy a maximum of 6 grams each, which means the store made at least 750 individual sales. …

Seattle wasn’t the only city whose store was a (limited) success. Top Shelf in Bellingham, which made the state’s first ever legal sale, set a new record with first-day sales of more than $30,000 thanks to serving more than 1,200 customers. It may be a surprise given how well stores did with their limited product, but not everyone is totally sold on the future of recreational marijuana in Washington. Retailers like Cannabis City have competition, both from medical marijuana (which is cheaper and often relatively easy to obtain) and old fashioned illegal marijuana (which is just cheaper). In addition to the in-state growing restriction, Washington applies a 25% sales tax on recreational weed, making it pretty pricey when compared to those other options.

The Western states aren’t the only ones making news on the subject of recreational drugs.

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Here Is Your Open Thread

Are you a working out before work kind of person? (I am!) From Quartz, a guide to working out before work: “Ultimately, the goal is to make this a habit—to rise and work out without thinking. A habit has three parts: a cue, a routine, and a reward.”

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The Hair Classifieds: How I Put My Hair Up for Sale

t was late May, nearly three weeks after I received a layoff notice from my newspaper reporting job that I held for five years. I had already hawked everything worth anything on eBay and Craigslist. Financial anxiety seized its grip on me after I moved to New York from Los Angeles to pursue greener journalism pastures. That’s how I ended up at 1 a.m. on a hair classified website, where hairwork artists bid on strands to be incorporated into their art—or so they claim.

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My 1st Job: Magazines in the ’60s

It was a dream of mine back then to make $10,000 a year, something I did not achieve until after I married; my husband, also in publishing, had just hit $12,000 a year then: 1970.

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1st Ever Film Club! TIME TO WATCH A MOVIE GUYS

Perhaps you are aware of a certain blockbuster out now called Snowpiercerwhich has a Metacritic score of 83. In the site’s parlance, that translates to “universal acclaim.” For comparison’s sake, the ape movie everyone’s been waiting for has an 81.

Salon.com calls Snowpiercer “the movie of the year so far” and the NYT is similarly rhapsodic. It’s a sci fi action-adventure epic, of course, because it’s summertime, and that’s what we get in summer; but it’s also very much supposed to be a challenging, interesting, sporadically violent movie about class, in an #EatTheRich kind of way:

A few thousand survivors live in railway cars, sorted into a rigid and ruthlessly enforced social order. In the back are huddled masses fed on gelatinous, insect-based black protein bars and kept in line by a combination of propaganda and brute force. Toward the front, the more fortunate enjoy access to schools, nightclubs, fresh food and the reassurance that they deserve everything they have. An unseen, quasi-mythical entrepreneur is in charge, and a group of rebels have decided to challenge his power and the extreme inequality he represents.

Perfect for the Billfold’s first ever film club? Seems like a yes! So, the question is, what is a good time frame for us all to enjoy this allegory about the 99%? Should we reconvene to discuss it in one week? Two weeks? Should we choose something else instead? Let us know in the comments.

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Would You Pay $375 for A Night at the Museum? ANY Museum?

Having refused to subject myself to Ben Stiller’s particularly noxious brand of simian energy, I know very little about Night at the Museum or its sequels. [Sidebar: actors we'd pay money to never see again in movies. Go!] From the trailers and the reviews though, heck even from the poster, I’ve gotten a pretty decent idea: it’s like Toy Story, only instead of toys coming to life, it’s dinosaurs, right? Less charm, more rampaging?

Ever since the movie drew more children’s attention to the American Museum of Natural History, the AMNH has been hosting family sleepovers; and now, for the first time, the museum is hosting one for adults. For $375 per person ($325 if you’re a member), you can get a once-in-a-lifetime taste of Nerd Nirvana.

  • The overnight adventure will begin with a champagne reception and music (courtesy of the 12th Night Jazz trio) in the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall.
  • A three-course dinner will be served.
  • Explorers can roam through the nearly empty halls of the Museum (including the spiders). There will also be a flashlight tour.
  • Participants will be invited to attend a special presentation in The Power of Poison exhibition with Curator Mark Siddall.
  • There will be a midnight viewing of the Dark Universe Space Show, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson.
  • Participants will also be invited to “enjoy wild creatures up close during a live animal demonstration in the Kaufmann Theater”!
  • You will sleep in your sleeping bag… under the big blue (clean) whale! When you wake up there will be a breakfast snack.

I’m all for this, but personally, for $375, I’d like a bed. At least a cot, or an air mattress that slowly deflates over the course of the night. Flashlight tours are always tops, though. Like flashlight tours of old cemeteries? Worth every penny. Speaking of pennies, though, what is a “breakfast snack”? Is it more or less than an Egg McMuffin?

Do you think camping out near the Planetarium stars is worth $375? Or would you pay that amount cheerfully for a different institutional location: the Louvre, the Uffizi, the Confederate Museum?

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