Our Classless Society

Heartbreaking Story About Homelessness in San Francisco

The myth of the “good poor” kills me, the idea that people should have to point to their accomplishments and credentials to make clear that they don’t deserve to have to live on the street. No one should have to live on the street.

---

Link Roundup! “Breaking Bad” Dolls, Men’s Watches, Last Call for Holiday Flights

+ Sorry, guys. Since a Florida mom complained, you can’t buy “Breaking Bad” action figures at Toys R Us anymore. Note: the NPR article about this story uses “dolls” and “action figures” interchangeably, but I feel like I read something in the New Yorker once delineating the subtle but fascinating distinctions between the categories — which matter a lot for import tax reasons. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Did I dream it, like I dreamed last night that I got mauled by someone’s pet tiger? (“He’s usually very friendly,” the person said, cleaning my wounds.)

+ Remember those happy days when there was a clear hierarchy to men’s watches?

If you’re scaling your way up the ladder of rich douchiness, you start with a middle-class-friendly Casio or Timex. After your first six figures in the finance industry, you move to an “entry-level” luxury watch, like a Rolex, by 30. Then, in your 40s, if you’re lucky, you park your annual bonus on a high-end Swiss number. And in your 50s, feeling both flush and the literal press of time, you rock the equivalent of a Porsche on your wrist, before passing it on to the next generation as a family heirloom.

But since 2007, the whole system has been disrupted by something called “the Ice-Watch” (??), at least in Europe, where everyone, even rich people, wants the cool fun watch that costs only $200. The best part of this article is that it says the Ice-Watch “cock-blocked Swatch.” Wow. Mike would wash our mouths out with soap if we talked like that.

+ Haven’t purchased your flights home for the holidays yet? There’s still time, maybe! A little time, not much. Some years the cheapest flights appear 10 days out, right before prices spike. And holiday flights are actually super expensive in July and August, to punish those of you who might otherwise feel good about being on the ball.

---

I Don’t Get Las Vegas

Las Vegas Boulevard, commonly known as the Strip, is a singular example of government and private industry working together to extract every last dollar from every last man, woman and child in America. The sidewalks themselves are in on the scheme.

---

A Drunk Stole My Kale. You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!

Today’s Link of the Day, a gripping tale of tragedy, redemption, and kale, comes from the vibrant, increasingly yuppie Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC.

About two weeks ago, my Tuscan kale plant disappeared. … we wrote it off as lost, a casualty of the urban environment in which we knew fenceless gardening to be a risk. And then, over the weekend, we found this wet note sticking out from under a flowerpot. [Note reads: "To: Wonderful Gardener. From: A Remorseful Kale Thief (I was drunk & I'm very sorry."] Attached to the back was a $25 gift card to Ace Hardware, where we plan to restock our gardening supplies in the spring. Never has my faith in humanity been more emphatically restored. Kale thief, if you’re reading this, all is forgiven and then some.

Back in the early days of our relationship, Ben borrowed my laptop and left it attended for a moment in the law school library. Some other enterprising law student, no doubt bound to be one of those shysters who advertises on billboards using dollar signs, made off with it. Ben was devastated — so upset, in fact, that I ended up calming down so that I could calm him down. (Good trick, btw, if you can pull it off.)

What’s the most valuable thing anyone has ever stolen from you? Did the thief make recompense somehow? Or have you ever had to express your remorse for taking something that wasn’t yours?

Photo via Washington City Paper

---

Working While Pregnant

Sometimes the Gray Lady does a good deed. I mean, she spends a lot of time preening, and baiting us with the travails of the city’s most obnoxious, narcissistic 22-year-old as he searches for a $3700-a-month apartment big enough to decorate like an Orientalist bordello, complete with a huge oil painting of himself. But sometimes she also manages to help an unfairly fired pregnant woman get her job back:

Ms. Valencia, who earned $8.70 an hour as a potato packer for Fierman in the Bronx, was told by her supervisors in August that she could not continue working unless her doctor gave her a full-duty medical clearance. (Ms. Valencia, who had a miscarriage last year, was told by her doctor that she should work only eight hours a day, no overtime.) Lawyers for Ms. Valencia said the company had violated New York City’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. Her story was the subject of a Working Life column on Monday.

My god, what employers will try to get away with when they think nobody’s looking. Sadder still is that most of the time, nobody is looking. If you’re working while pregnant, know your rights.

 

---

On Keeping a Clean Home

Almost two years ago, upon, once again, moving back to New York, I subleased a studio apartment on Essex Street from a friend who was leaving town. When she gave me a brief rundown of things-to-know about the apartment, she told me that every two weeks, a cleaner came to the apartment.

The cleaner has a key, my friend said. There’s no phone number for her, but there is a phone number for her nephew, Angel. She does not speak English, but Angel does. Just leave $20 on the table every other Tuesday morning.

---

How Taylor Swift Does Money

Swift has moved to New York City and bought a Tribeca apartment in a premiere apartment building. Well, she bought two, but one’s merely a parenthetical.

---

Buying Power

I spent the summer working full-time for my old college with the bright promise of my new job around the corner. I calculated what I still needed to purchase, the expenses I would have before my first check in September, and I realized I had $500 to spend on new school clothes for the kids.

To say this felt like a miracle would not be an overstatement.

---

Being a good girl did not work for Lilly Ledbetter. It will not work for you.

If your boss believes that your superpower includes 1) doing A+ work, and 2) having no needs — being serene in your knowledge that, however unfair it may be that you earn 75% of what the guy next to you takes in, everything will come out in the wash eventually — then of course you’re going to be hesitant about approaching him for more money. His good opinion of you is tied to his assumption that you are non-threatening.

---

Here Is Your Open Thread

From Gothamist: “Life Inside a Brooklyn Squat.”

---

Who’s a Real Artist? Ask the IRS

The New York Times reports felicitous news for working artists with day jobs: they can deduct the expenses associated with creating their art from their taxes, even if those expenses exceed the profits derived from the art. This is good news in the most limited of ways, because it lays bare just how difficult it is to make art profitably, and presents a victory that only a small minority of artists will likely benefit from, but still, the existence of tax benefits for fine artists takes a bit of the sting out of the usual news about tax loopholes.

In a case involving Susan Crile, a tenured studio art professor at Hunter College, the IRS asserted that her art activities were merely ancillary to her teaching, and couldn’t be treated as an independent money-making venture. (“[The IRS] agrees,” the tax court ruling reports, “that petitioner has been a successful, though rarely a profitable, artist.” Thanks, IRS!) The tax court disagreed, affirming that in fact, Crile is a real-life artist, even if only three of her 40 years as an artist were profitable.

But! This does not mean that I can start deducting the costs of cooking rice and beans and buying beer for a twenty-person band rehearsal every week.

---