Sunday Bloody NYT Sunday: Special Painfully Obvious Advice Edition
Let’s start with the best Sunday New York Times news of all: Thomas Friedman has the week off. There’s also news about how there’s no news about the missing plane and a reminder that your March Madness bracket is a mess with Syracuse losing to Dayton. The Times also covers Fred Phelps’s death and reminds us that the virulent nonsense cause of his church — full time gaybashing — is a lost and dying cause, thank skygod.
Even as the church Mr. Phelps founded — about 70 people, most of them related to him by blood or marriage — maintains a furious pace of public picketing, it has been overtaken by a rapidly changing social and political landscape. The United States, despite dire warnings from Westboro that tolerance of homosexuality is provoking God’s wrath, has become increasingly supportive of gay rights. More and more, Westboro’s antigay demonstrations generate not only pushback but also mockery. Even worse for the church, they are often ignored.
Sometimes, even though America can be a bunch of fuckwit nonsense, we manage to march forward in spite of ourselves.
Also in homosexxican news, there is some breakneck-paced gay stuff happening in Michigan and the New York Times is on it. On Friday, a federal district court struck down Michigan’s ban on letting the gays enjoy married bliss, and Saturday about 300 couples got themselves hitched, only to find out that a federal appeals court issued an injunction until Wednesday to give it time to consider a longer injunction. Two takeaways here: Gays, as tempting as it is, probably you do not want to get all gay married the very first second the first court domino falls in your state, because there will inevitably be legal wrangling after that which may leave your marriage in a weird married/not-married limbo for quite a while. States: stop being assholes and fighting gay marriage. This is not how you want to be remembered. Stopping people from engaging in a perfectly routine and ultimately small-c conservative process is not the hill you want to die on.
The Times is also all over this modern world with its internetting and online grieving and Facebook-stalking. First, a surprisingly touching piece on grieving in the online era and what those bits of fleeting connectedness can mean as you mourn. Far and away the best part of the story: the improbable Lisa Frank Mixtape.
Another mourning site speaking to the younger generation is Lisa Frank Mixtape, promising “90s Music, 21st Century Grief.” Its founder, Zoe Feldman, 29, solicits essays about human loss (sorry, no pets), sending her contributors a mix tape in return for submitting an essay about a human loss they have experienced. Named after the company Lisa Frank, known for its brightly colored products that Ms. Feldman said are to her the antithesis of grief, the venture was inspired after her former girlfriend and Smith College classmate, Rebecca Rosenthal, known as Becca, died in October 2012 at age 27.
Do not hate on this in the comments, we demand and beg of you. People work through their grief in their own ways, and if youngish (or oldish!) types want to do that by getting a mixtape from strangers, we are all for it.
We are less enthused about the incipient creepiness of ostensibly benign internet stalking. The Times’s piece starts out with a very Times-esque exploration of the fact that sometimes you text the wrong person or autocorrect mangles your message, but then takes a hard hard right into the kind of Fatal Attraction behavior that the Internet sometimes seems geared for.
The dividing line between playful and aggressive behavior is even murkier in the case of a woman whom Thomas Thornburg, a professor at the University of North Carolina, met online. “I had a profile on a dating site last year,” he said. “As is the norm, I didn’t share my real name or any directly identifying info. I included a photo of myself, along with photos of flowers and architecture that I’ve taken and liked. A woman contacted me through the site’s mail system, telling me who I was and where I worked. She was proud of her sleuthing and wanted me to be as well. She had recognized a column on a building in one of my photos, and knew the organization in that building. She went to the employee directory of the organization on its website and, looking for someone who matched my dating photo, found me. Voilà. She told me about it. She didn’t mean to be sinister. I was creeped out enough by the thoroughness of a complete stranger to take down that photo of columns. I meekly congratulated her on her detective work. We never met, however. Her sleuthing was a red flag.”
Dude, we would avoid that lady as hard as possible. We would likely quit our jobs and move to another state after that lady found us. That is just the type of helpful advice we are here for!
If you won’t listen to us, why not listen to the New York Times and their advice in the weirdly narrow social etiquette column and the work advice column. Were they THAT terrified of getting romance/domestic spat questions that they had to create their entire advice column structure around ensuring those things can never be submitted?
First up, social etiquette! Most of this week’s questions are disappointingly harmless, so the best we get is the person who likes to buy secondhand but is also too a worried little snob.
I bought my dad a beautiful navy pique blazer for his birthday. He tried it on, looked at the Hugo Boss label and asked me where I got it. The truth? Goodwill. What did I say? “A vintage shop.” Was it wrong to twist the truth this way? And is it gross to buy someone a gift from a secondhand store, no matter its condition or the considerable time spent finding just the right object among the morass?
Social etiquette dude mercifully reminds this person that Goodwill is actually a vintage shop and therefore no truth-twisting happened. We could have told this person that! Give US a column in the Sunday New York Times!
Work advice guy is stuck answering a boring yet petulant question as well.
It started when I returned from my break five minutes early; I stood quietly behind the reception desk because the colleague who was filling in for me was taking a call. When she hung up, I said something like, “I’m back, thank you.” She seemed flustered — I think it was because she was logged on to her personal Gmail account. She seemed to be having trouble logging off, and I offered to do it for her. She became even more flustered. I stood waiting while she finished and gathered her purse.
Later, she sent an instant message, saying in part: “I was having a really happy day until you rushed me out of there. I know you have work to do, but you don’t have to be bossy about it.”
The letter writer would like to have a massive discussion over this with his or her coworker, and the work advice person helpfully dissuades them from such a course. Again, this is advice we are qualified to give! Letter writer, stop being such a worrier. Object of letter writer’s concern, stop being such an oversensitive git.
This week’s real estate section affords us an opportunity to mock/be annoyed by all over again the Cadillac commercial that seemed to run on a continuous loop during the Olympics. It stars “hey it’s that guy!’ level actor Neal McDonough as he stomps through a nice house explaining that Americans are driven, while Europeans are sissified wusses who take August off, and that is presumably why they do not have this nice house.
Of course, the house is even more repugnantly opulent and one-percent-y than even the ad manages to convey.
With a main house, a guesthouse and a “wellness center” covering 13,000 square feet, the compound features several living rooms, eight bedrooms, nine bathrooms and a large pool. (Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls basketball player, also shot an Adidas commercial there.)
On the market since early last summer, the property is listed for $28.8 million.
The Cadillac commercial was tightly shot to give the impression of wealth while cropping out a great deal of extravagance — parking for 30 vehicles, garage space for up to five more, and safe harbor for about 800 bottles of wine.
Yes, all you need to do, Americans, is just work harder and you also too can afford a $28 million home, and if you can’t, it is probably because you’re a lazy French slacker.
After that much conspicuous consumption, it is almost a relief to turn to the peevish thoughts of Maureen Dowd, who interviewed Jerry Brown this week and tried SO HARD to turn it into a Hillary-bashing session, but Brown was having none of it.
In the governor’s office over coffee, I ask a more mellow Brown how he would feel about a Hillary coronation. “The polls say that she’s in an extremely strong position,” he says. “So prominent in her husband’s administration, then a senator, then secretary of state. Those are powerful milestones. I don’t see anyone challenging her at this point.”
So how does he reconcile what he said in 1992 and now? Have the Clintons changed, or has Brown changed?
He crosses his arms and gives me a flinty look, finally observing: “In retrospect, after we see all the other presidents that came afterwards, certainly, Clinton handled his job with a level of skill that hasn’t been met since.”
Jesus, can you just imagine how hectoring Dowd must have sounded in that interview? “Jerry Brown, on a scale of mild hate to lighting her on fire, how much do you hate Hillary Clinton? ANSWER ME GODDAMMIT.”
Ross Douthat tackles Crimea this week, which is a problem for us to mock because you know our stance on geopolitical tension is that we know fuckall. We comfort ourselves with the fact that Ross Douthat also knows fuckall about Russia and is the kind of person, as memorably described by Fran Lebowitz hypothetically years ago, whose grasp exceeds his reach. Ross has Big Thoughts and Big Feels about Russia, most of which boil down to his belief that if we could just follow some middle ground — not too sweet, not too sour, not too bellicose, not too wussy — then we might not end up blowing the world all to kingdom come. Thanks for that, Ross. None of Obama’s advisers have probably thought of that at all. We’re sure they’ll be calling you shortly.
Again, if this is the caliber of advice-giving it takes to be a columnist at the New York Times, there is simply no reason for us not to have jobs there. Kickstarter for NYT advice column starring yr Wonkette and Happy staff begins now.