Oct 8, 2019
Sunday Bloody NYT Sunday: Special Legitimate Righteous Anger Edition
Today’s Times is lighter on coverage of the Michael Dunn trial than we had hoped. There’s only a dispassionate bit that so dryly recounts the inexplicable verdict — guilty on attempted murder charges of the kids he didn’t kill, but not guilty of murdering the one he did — it isn’t even worth quoting here. We weighed in on this matter yesterday, and don’t have much to add at this point except to send another hearty “fuck you” to a jury that couldn’t bring themselves to admit that Michael Dunn just fucking murdered Jordan Davis in cold blood, but were also such cretinously vain creatures that they didn’t want history to look upon them poorly, so they found Dunn guilty of something else entirely. Hope you never sleep well again, fuckers.
Let’s somewhat soothe our really legitimately angry savage inner beast by flipping on over to read chef Marcus Samuelsson’s piece on Harlem, where his famous Red Rooster Harlem restaurant is located. Samuelsson’s piece is a lovely little epistle to the place he loves — the food, the heritage, the vibrancy, and the longstanding tradition of people helping each other — and you should read it. The piece isn’t only pretty words about a pretty place, though, and reminds us that people still have some bullshit ideas (we said it would only somewhat soothe you, people) about “good” places to live.
I travel all over the world for work and I am constantly asked to define Harlem. What’s it like, people ask. Is it cool? Is it safe? When I go to places like the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to speak among celebrated thinkers and leaders, I’m often asked: Is Harlem good now? I always have to pause before answering. Good compared with what? To when? These questions all miss the mark. Is Harlem good now? That is a question loaded with long-held ideas about race and class, one that dismisses the complex, vital history of this neighborhood and its people, their contributions to civil rights and art, under one word: “bad.”
Good or bad doesn’t begin to describe this neighborhood I love. The beauty of Harlem is that it isn’t definable as one thing or another. It has always been a place for the strivers: immigrants of all races and nationalities, artists and musicians and entrepreneurs. People have sought refuge here and have felt the need to seek refuge from here. It’s been brought to its knees by poverty and drugs and unemployment and has been pulled up by its art, its music, its food and its people.
People would do well to read Samuelsson’s letter before writing some idiot piece about how because of George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn we should lop off Florida and send it into the briny deep. Like every other place in America, Florida has good people and terrible people, acts of kindness and acts of horror, and shut up before you call for the state’s head.
Hopefully some of this good feeling will linger when you try to make it through N. Gregory Mankiw’s meditation on how ultra rich CEOs are deserving because you don’t hate Robert Downey Jr. for having tons of money do you, hmmmmmm? Gotcha there! Jesus, this thing is dumb. Mankiw’s thesis, which is far too charitable a word for it, is that we don’t hate movie stars or writers for becoming super duper rich, but we do hate CEOs and that’s irrational. The entire time you read it, you are shouting at the page “yes, you fucker, but Robert Downey Jr. did not bankrupt my grandmother or scam me out of my life savings or BLOW UP THE FUCKING ECONOMY.” Relax, relax, says Mankiw. You’re failing to see the big picture.
A similar case is the finance industry, where many hefty compensation packages can be found. There is no doubt that this sector plays a crucial economic role. Those who work in banking, venture capital and other financial firms are in charge of allocating the economy’s investment resources. They decide, in a decentralized and competitive way, which companies and industries will shrink and which will grow. It makes sense that a nation would allocate many of its most talented and thus highly compensated individuals to the task.
In addition, recent research establishes that those working in finance face particularly risky incomes. Greater risk requires greater reward.
Hahahaha fuck you, Mankiw. The crucial economic role of venture capital firms is moving little pieces of computer code around that represents kazillions of dollars and doing it in a way that maximum screws over everyone but themselves. And if you really think those people are the best and the brightest, rather than rapacious motherfuckers, we don’t even know what to say to you. And the part about how finance is risky, therefore you need big incomes to absorb that risk? Do you know what is fucking risky, N. Gregory Mankiw? Risky is working for $7.25 an hour at McDonalds and having what we like to call “spatula health insurance,” which means it is just enough insurance to scrape you off the pavement. Risky is working that shitty job and knowing you could be let go tomorrow for any fucking reason at all. Risky is knowing that you’ve already been to the food shelf this week and can’t go back until next week. There is no risk in worrying about the fact that you made $10 million last year and may only make $1 million this year, unless the way you define risk is “but darling, what if we can’t buy another yacht?” Fuck you for writing this apologia on behalf of these undeserving masters of the universe.
We will admit to not having yet read the eleventy-thousand word piece on Wendy Davis in the Times Magazine because jesus, let us have some coffee first, would you? However, regardless of its content, we will again beg of writers everywhere to stop using headlines like “Wendy Davis, Can She Have It All?” because those articles are just the worst. There has been much hullabaloo about whether the Times’s framing is inherently sexist, but we do not know because again, people, not enough coffee yet. If it is about how ladyparts = maternal feelings = juggling too many things = are we ready for Wendy Davis, then yes, that is dumb and sexist. Oh, go read the whole thing and decide for yourself.
We cannot urge you strongly enough NOT to read this column from a woman who is a writer and a wannabe grammarian who fell in love with a dude that did not use excellent spelling or punctuation. She details her struggles with whether or not she could date such a horrible creature and her relief when she finds out he was often texting from his iPhone and that may have accounted for much of the language oddities. We would have advised this dude to run far, far away, but apparently they are already married. Sorry dude.
Speaking of advice, this week’s social etiquette column thingy gets to deal with the most delightful of modern difficulties: what happens when you see your boss on the same hookup app you are using.
Whenever I flip through Tinder (a matchmaking — or let’s face it, hookup — app that uses the geography, “likes” and other components of our Facebook accounts to find us frisky partners), my boss is nearly always suggested to me as a potential match. I know that talking to him about our sexual exploits would be inappropriate. But he’s chosen a very public app for his search, and I would like us to be better friends. Don’t you agree that talking with him about our Tinder experiences might be a great way to bond?
Oh, kitten. Chatting with your boss about sexytimes is not a good move for your career advancement, and social etiquette guy tells you so, thank god. Mutual assured destruction silence is pretty much the way to go with this situation.
We forgot that Ross Douthat had spawned because that is just the sort of thing you need to block out to survive. He reminds us of the fact that he helped make a babby at length today with a textbook Douthat piece that starts out morally neutral — some people have kids! some do not! — and takes a hard right into stern moralizing about how having babbies is the glue that holds society together
In an earlier column, I described this retreat from childbearing as (in part) a symptom of cultural decadence, in which modern comforts crowd out intergenerational obligations. This idea was not well received by many readers but I think it’s actually the unacknowledged worldview behind a lot of the parental griping you find online and elsewhere: The “look how impossible my life has become since I had kids” genre is a way of passing judgment, not all that subtly, on people who have opted out of the parental mission altogether.
There was actually a glimmer of self-awareness there, right? That whining about how hard your child-infused life is all the time is disguised as cautionary tale to the childless but is actually bragging on how great you are? If it was, Douthat merrily steamrolls right over that glimmer of consciousness.
And though I agree with the implicit message — that parenting is tough, necessary and praiseworthy — a brag disguised as a whine about your own un-decadent hardships is probably not the best way to hold decadence at bay. Better for parents to be cheerful warriors, to emphasize the joy rather than the misery, while also extending tolerance and understanding — rather than judgment infused with envy — to friends and neighbors who choose a different path.
Which is what I pledge to do from here on out. Enjoy your lingering brunches, my childless friends, and I’ll enjoy my rushed meals and puree-stained fingers. Dirty diapers for me, dirty martinis for thee! Let peace and tolerance prevail!
Ross, that is still whining about your child obligations, though to be fair, you are probably biologically incapable of not whining.
Just like Douthat will always whine, Thomas Friedman will always fellate business leaders. Today he does so by first letting you know that he talks to big cool people, people you don’t get to talk to, like the heads of LinkedIn and Box and and Airbnb and then moving on to his usual big finish.
What a contrast. Silicon Valley: where ideas come to launch. Washington, D.C., where ideas go to die. Silicon Valley: where there are no limits on your imagination and failure in the service of experimentation is a virtue. Washington: where the “imagination” to try something new is now a treatable mental illness covered by Obamacare and failure in the service of experimentation is a crime. Silicon Valley: smart as we can be. Washington: dumb as we wanna be.
Oh, go clean yourself off and shut up, Tommy.
We would have bet every last meagre dollar in our pockets that Maureen Dowd would write about French president Francois Hollande and his propensity for loving multiple ladies and oh look here it is. It’s an incoherent little bit of burble about how the French are all loosey-goosey about affairs but it is bad form to have more than one mistress and French people are now mad at Stephen Colbert for making fun of them and maybe also too mad at Michelle Obama for letting Stephen Colbert sit next to her in lieu of having a random French person fill in for the missing mistress. We were surprised to find that MoDo didn’t use the column as a way to longform write yet again about Bill Clinton’s penis, limiting her remarks on the matter to quoting Colbert.
Before the dinner, Colbert joked that if the first lady were just the last person you slept with, America’s would have been Monica Lewinsky in 1998. He later crowed about the significance of his placement, yelling “I’m the first lady of France! Merci!” as he was showered with roses. His project, he said, would be “bringing Jean Valjean to justice.”
A humble nation thanks Maureen Dowd for her restraint on this matter, and now the humble nation really really needs coffee. See ya.