Good evening. It is 6 p.m. This is the first time I’ve tried to write my letter to you before midnight. Perhaps this time I shall be more coherent? As I write this, we are 15 hours, 22 minutes and 37 seconds from deadline. #24MAG is almost one year old. As an organization, I feel that this is about right for us. We are precocious. We are learning how to keep on our feet. I have big plans for #24MAG this year, and many questions. My inbox is overflowing with creative people who want to join our team—how many people can work on a single issue without overloading us? We are applying for grants and taking on new partnerships—how do we become sustainable? We have been invited to do flash publications at museums and public spaces around the country—how do we put this show on the road? In the past year I have spent only 4 days in production of this magazine, but each of those days has been a glorious adventure. As it turns out, the production experience is the best part of this idea; sleep deprivation, caffeine headaches, sunrise strolls, sugar rushes and all. How can we make that experience more real for our readers—for you? I hope that 2013 brings answers to these questions. One year in, I remain both gratified and amazed by the talented people who keep showing up to do this with me, and by the audience members who come along with us on the ride. With affection, gratitude, respect and love, thank you.
Editor-in-chief Managing Editor Editor-at-large Art Director Photo Editor Transmedia Chain Editor Editors Designers Illustrator Videographer Photographers Writers
Sara Eileen Hames Jack Cavicchi Rose Jasper Fox Lucia Reed Johanna Bobrow Casey Middaugh Ben Cordes, Emily Kadish, Aida Manduley, Steven Padnick Molly Macdonald, Leila Taylor Emily Lubanko Ian Danskin Johanna Bobrow, Jack Cavicchi, David Dyte Jack Cavicchi, Kevin Clark, Ben Cordes, Rachel Cromidas, Ian Danskin, David Dyte, Rose Jasper Fox, Meg Grady-Troia, Rose Ginsberg, Emily Kadish, Aida Manduley, Casey Middaugh, Victoria Nece, Steven Padnick, Danielle Sucher Chef Kevin Clark Sous-chef Meg Grady-Troia
Special thanks to Allyson Van Houten, Mohawk, Kate Donahue, Sara Rabin, Dave Turner, Mike Develin, and Martin DeMello.
All content & documentation by #24MAG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. For supporting documentation, sources, and additional content, please visit http://24mag.org/issue-4
Letter from the Editor Sara Eileen Hames Can We Cover Tragedy with Tact? Rachel Cromidas Illustration Emily Lubanko Secret for Nobody Meg Grady-Troia Performing Health, Live and In Person Emily Kadish Materials Matter Jack Cavicchi and Leila Taylor Paper Sculpture Staff “You Suck, Ref!” Ben Cordes Ten Commandments for Sports Fans Ben Cordes, Rose Ginsberg, and David Dyte A House Divided Rose Ginsberg
Putting Games in Places Where Games Weren’t Ian Danskin Teen Feed Casey Middaugh Valpo Surf Casey Middaugh Magazine Fuel Kevin Clark An Edible Audience Meg Grady-Troia Transmedia Chainain Staff Polaroids Lucia Reed A Moment of Your Time Rachel Cromidas and David Dyte Six Simple Steps Steven Padnick Male Glaze Emily Lubanko
Welcome to the Decadent Donut Glade Rose Ginsberg #24MAG Logic Puzzle Rose Fox Cryptic Crossword Danielle Sucher Captive Audience Audience Jack Cavicchi Intimate With Strangers Aida Manduley AngryJack Ian Danskin Interviews with #24MAG Contributors Sara Eileen Hames Haiku Haiku Staff [?] [Dawn] [?]
Can We Cover Tragedy With Tact?
Illustration by Emily Lubanko
When Sammy, a nine-year-old, and many of her classmates google their names for years to come, the top results will likely include the fraught news stories of a hometown tragedy they’d sooner block from their minds. This knowledge weighed on me while I was writing one of those stories, on deadline for a national paper, just days after a mass shooting in a suburban Connecticut school took the lives of twenty young students and six adults. The story was the shooting, its perpetrator and victims, but another, less obvious villain-victim narrative quickly emerged. In that story, the journalists were vultures—unsympathetic, news-hungry, inescapable—and the townspeople were their targets, virtually unable to leave their houses without facing probing questions about how they were coping. Like scores of reporters, photographers and television producers from newsrooms up and down the East Coast, I rushed to Sandy Hook, a picturesque village in Newtown, Conn., hours after news of the shooting broke. We came for the first memorial services, held at quiet local churches too small to contain the swell of mourners, and many of us stayed for days and weeks later. We needed facts—but reports following the shooting were filled with misinformation—so we sought out feelings instead. That meant knocking on doors, intruding on church services, and approaching children and parents as they knelt before a Sandy Hook Elementary School road sign to pray. It meant asking everyone we met to answer questions about how they were coping with a tragedy that many of them may never really feel ready to talk about. We had deadlines to meet, but we couldn’t do that without waving our cameras, notebooks and tape-recorders before countless townspeople as they walked the streets, dazed with grief. Most averted their eyes, shook their heads, and refused to speak. I met Sammy at a church service two days after the shooting. She didn’t want to leave her mother’s side, even when it was time to perform in a Christmas pageant in front of the congregation. I was looking for the families of children who were in the school during the shooting, heard the gunshots, and, like Sammy, hid in a closet until it was over. Her mother, Diana, agreed to talk to me in the church meeting room. But when Sammy heard us
The journalists were vultures—unsympathetic, news-hungry, inescapable—and the townspeople were their targets. talking and saw my notebook, she covered her ears with her hands and then waved them in the air, screaming at us to stop. I thanked Diana, put my notebook away and left. The moment nagged me as I walked to the town Starbucks, where more than two dozen journalists were crammed, re-caffeinating and typing away on laptops and phones. But it did not stop me from sending the quotes to my editors. Some journalists—including me—argue that telling stories about the people impacted by an event like the school shooting is a good thing. Talking is therapeutic, we tell our subjects. It is an opportunity to tell the world about the children you love and the town you chose to raise them in. Good stories have the capacity to increase compassion in the world. But most people just wanted to be left alone, even at times when photographers outnumbered them ten to one. Jonny Dymond, a foreign correspondent for the BBC, reported that one man told him, “Go home, please, go home, all of you.” And when ABC News producer Nadine Shubailat reached out to a Sandy Hook resident for a comment over Twitter, he tweeted back, simply, “eat a dick.” The responses I personally received to my interview requests ranged from despondent to outright hostile. One evening, as I approached the house where one victim’s family lives, a state trooper pointed a flashlight square in my face and threatened to arrest me if I didn’t leave immediately. “Thank you for understanding,” I said apologetically as I hurried back to my car. “No, I don’t understand,” he shot back. “I don’t understand what you’re doing here at all.” I had hoped that mindfulness and courtesy would be enough to get me through Sandy Hook. When three men—from three generations of a Newtown family—leapt at me from the dark to block my path to the front door of a house where a victim’s parents lived, I apologized to them immediately for being a bother. And I kept apologizing as I asked them three times to tell me about the child close to
them who died, and they refused three times. As I turned to leave, one man found a few words to say. He told told me I was one of the nicer journalists they’d met so far. But that’s not really a compliment in my world, where prickliness and persistency are considered as valuable as accuracy and clean writing. What do you do when the needs of your editors, your publication, and your audience directly clash with the needs of your subjects—the people you really depend on to bring life, context, and meaning to your work? Some journalists and media researchers proposed partial solutions, like a moratorium on interviewing children, who may not be capable of fully consenting to talk, especially when cameras are already pointed in their faces. Slate’s Emily Bazelon suggested stories like Newtown should be covered using a press pool—a system by which multiple news outlets send just one reporter, photographer or videographer to an event, and then share the results. My advice might be too simple, or incomplete. What I’ve learned so far in my fledgling career is that covering tragedy requires balance. Go to the scene, but don’t bring three vans, heat generators, and a tent with the company logo, as one media outlet did. When people are visibly praying, crying, or engaged in a moment of silence, hang back. When they politely decline to an interview, politely thank them. When they raise their hands or voices, apologize for taking up time and space in their lives, even if it was just for a moment. Yes, the sidewalk is public—but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still a guest, in the cosmic sense, even if no one invites you into their living rooms. Journalists are used to being beholden to their readers and beholden to the truth. But when it comes to tragedy, everyone should remember that the people involved never asked to be.
Good stories have the capacity to increase compassion in the world.
We are naturally fascinated by death, destruction and tragedy. We’ll slow down to stare at car crashes, pause to watch the goriest crime dramas, and skim for the headlines with the highest shock-value. Whether it’s out of fear, horror, sadness, or just morbid fascination, we tend to give a story with death and destruction more time than a story about everyday kindness. That being said, there is a terrifying viciousness to the way the media exploits tragedy and trauma in the name of selling more papers. Meanwhile, the victims are badgered for “a good story” before they’re even able to begin mourning. I don’t begrudge journalists their jobs, nor do I envy them the dilemma of mixing tact with the process of extracting the truth, but I imagine it’s pretty hard to look humanity in the eye when it’s breaking down your door looking for the next headline. Words and illustration by Emily Lubanko
Secret for Nobody Meg Grady-Troia
When I was a child, my mother tells me, I used to come home from school very quiet, and, when asked how my day had been, I would reply “It’s a secret for nobody,” before walking into my room and shutting the door. My family members have adopted the phrase, using it when they need to declare not just that they may not feel like talking, but that the subject at hand is closed for good. We say it with good nature, but also with force. A secret for nobody is like a Zen koan. Saying something is a secret for no one at all feels like declaring that a subject is off-limits twice: not only that it’s a secret, but that it is an unknowable one. Sometimes, that’s an overstatement because we do know the facts that we’ve declared secret, but more often it’s the things we don’t know but are expected to, and the things we wish we didn’t know, that become secrets for nobody. As a child, I used the “secret for nobody” defense as a heuristic, separating what information was mine to share, with whom I could share it, and under what kinds of circumstances. Decades later, running a restaurant, I often found myself wanting to invoke that phrase again, both for myself and for my guests. There is no formal code of conduct for restaurant servers to keep us from crowing to news sources when a celebrity appears at our door, or when we overhear sensitive business information. People live their lives in public at restaurants, but, looking for the pretense of privacy, they perform as if they don’t realize they have an audience. Holding on to those overheard facts, knowing that the person who told you might not be aware that you know, can be surprisingly stressful. I’ve wrestled with things I shouldn’t know that were about my friends and acquaintances that I overheard while they dined with me, and I’ve heard completely trivial-to-me news that might be a revelation to someone else (I once overheard the details of a player trade in a local sports team a good month before it became public as a finalized deal). I often wish there was an established culture
that allowed the negotiation of secrecy at restaurants, the same way that medical providers and legal advisers promise to uphold confidentiality. More than once, I brought bread while two businessmen secured a high profile deal, while a solo diner gave an interview to a journalist by phone, or while a first date went so well that they took an intimate break in our bathroom (loudly). More than once, I brought dessert as a couple broke up, as Junior learned that her parents were getting a divorce, or as two friends discussed betrayal and intrigue. These scenes are hard to witness silently, but the intimacy of the experience for my guests, the charade that they are alone, is part of what people go out to eat for. There’s a logic in breaking up in a public place, one that hopes to curtail emotional outbursts. There’s also a logic in courting in public, even if the noises that emerge from the bathroom when all goes well aren’t meant to be shared. Soon after I started working in a restaurant, I did engage with a couple’s breakup, bringing the jilted woman tissues, and offering to call her a cab. Involving myself to that extent turned out to be scary and hard, as the woman asked me for my opinion of what her lover had said. I declined to ask and barely slept that night, trying to figure out what I had owed that couple besides the meal they ordered. I wished I had not chimed in,because until I did,I could pretend it was a secret for nobody: something to compartmentalize and ignore. Once I engaged, the emotions that coupe felt, as well as the social impact of other breakups I’d witnessed, lodged itself firmly in my head. It was easier to keep those overheard dramas firmly in the category of “secret for nobody,” allowing myself to be excluded from the weight of them, too. There are other risks in breaking the fourth wall and risking the transition from silent and unobtrusive server to active human being. guests will sometimes expect a level of complicity and engagement beyond what a server can actually offer. They would entreat me to
pull up a chair and have a drink, to settle a dispute, or to discuss my own experiences at length. The more I did that, the less I did my job and the more I became drawn into the social sphere of the guests. It wasn’t just that food might go cold if I sat down, but that what and who a guest imagined I might be had more to do with what they wanted at that moment than with me. A server, when they are silent and unobtrusive, when you don’t mind spilling your secrets in their earshot, is more like a mirror than a person. The server is there to read and meet your needs, rather than interact. As soon as I was asked to interact, I had to face becoming a whole person with needs of my own, that often conflicted with what the guest wanted. If what I wanted out of a social interaction was the chance to put down the performance of being a server, what guests often wanted was instead to see the veil lifted and peek under the mask of the actor. I’d find they’d almost always ask about my work first, about my love or hatred for it. They’d almost always ask for the “bad customer” stories, or seek proof that they were somehow different than other guests. They were seeking a different kind of intimacy than the couples breaking up or the businessmen negotiating deals, but it was intimacy nonetheless, and a kind that I could not provide. Walking out of the restaurant in lulls to take a quick five minute break often felt remarkably like walking itno my room and shutting the door did as a child: revelatory and freeing. I could leave information and experiences in the place where they had happened, rather than carrying them in myself. Somtimes I wished I could slam doors at a restaurant the same way a child does to punctuate her point. I taught some of the servers I worked with to use the phrase “it’s a secret for nobody,” too, and they all used it. It had a different meaning at the restaurant, though, it wasn’t as final: it was often the preface to sharing a story that we felt we weren’t supposed to know. Nobody is who we were when we served those tables, and those secrets were for us.
PERFORMING HEALTH Emily Kadish
I have type 1 diabetes, which means that my dayto-day life involves a lot of jargon, and a lot of tiny yet important choices. I use an insulin pump—I sometimes call it my strap-on pancreas—to deliver the hormone that my body does not produce, dosed according to my food intake and a dozen other variables. I test my blood sugar regularly, and sometimes I use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to get a different perspective on the way my blood sugars fluctuate throughout the day. I am also medicated for anxiety. I am also fat. I am also outgoing, and sort of clowny. Which adds up to a complicated relationship with health, and with its visibility. I want to talk about my health. I want to have well-informed people around me in case I have an emergency. I want to clear up popular misconceptions. (Yes, I can eat that. Yes, I can have a baby if I want to. No, I have not seen Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters yet.) I want people like me to know that they are not alone, and that they do not have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to self-care. I want everyone to remember that not all health conditions are visible. And I want everyone to remember that they are in charge of their own health, and that I am in charge of mine.
BLOOD SUGAR (MG/DL) 10AM-10PM, 2/1/13, DURING THE CREATION OF #24MAG
Funny story: thanks to Stacy McGill, a character in Ann M. Martin’s “Babysitters’ Club” series, I diagnosed myself with diabetes when I was seven. Sure, I cried, but I also took lots of pleasure in being clever enough to do that, and as a result I’m very comfortable talking about having diabetes—it’s pretty neat. But when a family friend shouts “Emily! What are you doing eating cake?” across the room at my mother’s 60th birthday party, I reconsider being so open. When did others’ health become a topic for public consumption? It is scary for me to put this graph in this magazine. I know that it doesn’t pose much real danger—and that it’s just a representation of one day’s data—but my performance hasn’t been stellar today, and it shows. I should have tested more often; I should have stopped writing a piece about my health long enough to take care of it. I spend so much time presenting myself as capable that it’s hard for me to be open about my roadblocks. So: hello, world. Sometimes I don’t manage my blood sugars well. There are aspects of my health that frustrate me and that I really want to change. Sometimes I am not okay. But, like it or not, I am always in charge.
Why can’t I write? ... Oh, that’s why.
Magazine begins! Breakfast meeting.
LIVE AND IN PERSON
Oh god, my mother is going to see this.
Damn, I overcorrected.
Materials Matter This issue of #24MAG benefits hugely from a new partnership with Mohawk. Mohawk is North America’s largest privately-owned manufacturer of fine papers and envelopes. We’re printing this issue on their Mohawk Superfine Ultra-White Eggshell with i-Tone, including one of their Dimensional Products as an insert for you to play with, and sending print editions to you in Mohawk Britehue Vellum Yellow envelopes. We’ve worked with them in this issue on creating a better physical experience for the print magazine, on documentation of our production, and on the following piece about the influence that materials have over the design process.
Leila Taylor is an art director and designer for a graphic design and branding agency. Jack Cavicchi is a producer for a marketing agency. They both know paper. Jack Cavicchi: Leila, do you work primarily in print or web? Leila Taylor: I used to work in print almost exclusively, but now I’m doing a lot of web stuff. A lot of that has to do corporate sustainability, which is often about using the least amount of paper possible. JC: Do you miss working in print? LT: I do. People still want something to hold. I like to open a book. I like ink on paper. I like the physical satisfaction of turning pages. You lose that with digital. The web is a completely different experience from print. You use each of them for totally different reasons. Digital is ubiquitous now—print has become a medium saved for special messages. That’s why these days when you are going to use paper you should use the best you possibly can. JC: What is the value of having a printed piece? I mean, why are we doing a printed version of this magazine instead of just making a digital thing? LT: There is permanence in ink and paper. The web is something you need to go to; to log in to. A printed magazine has a physical presence. You can walk by a coffee table and see it there, it can catch your eye. That’s one of the main differences between print and web. Browsing through a bookshelf is completely different from browsing though Amazon. A colorful cover can catch your eye or an interesting design can seduce you. Online you are looking
for something specific. You type what you want in the search bar and there it is. When you go to someone’s house and see the books on their shelves and the magazines on their coffee table you get to know their personality. There is something important about seeing someone’s stuff, seeing their things. It tells you a lot about who they are. JC: Do you think the prominence and ease of digital is making it so printed materials need to be better? Have print mediums become sort of fetishized? Are they now more collector’s items? LT: Yes! Look at Beck; he just put out an album that is sheet music. People are thinking about printed materials differently now. They are not just about containing the text of a book or packaging an album, they have to be a work of art valuable enough to entice someone to go out of their way to purchase them. JC: I agree, from piracy to the ease of buying single songs instead of a whole album, putting together unique packaging and something artistic is valuable. It gives people a reason to buy more than just a download. LT: In the last few years in graphic design everyone started coming to interviews with their portfolios on iPads. JC: Oh, yeah and before that it was USB drives. LT: Yes! That was annoying. At first the iPad thing was cool and new, but after a while it all looks the same. A few months ago woman brought in a print portfolio with some amazing stuff and it was beautiful. We were all amazed.
JC: It’s similar with print books versus ebooks. It’s changed the face of book printing. If I can just download a novel, it means when I actually buy a book I want a beautiful object. Now when I buy a book it isn’t just because of the words. If I want to read a book I will download an ebook version for my Kindle. When I see a book that is a thing a beauty, something with a beautiful cover and gorgeous type, that’s when I want to buy it. Magazines and papers are starting to be nothing but things to wrap glasses in when you move. That’s why it’s exciting to work with Mohawk. We are trying to make something precious, something where the physical product we are creating is just as important as the content. This paper is beautiful and archival quality, so it is going to help
create something that is more than just a way to get our words to our readers. LT: I use Mohawk Superfine all the time at work. It’s seriously one of those sheets designers think of first. When you work so hard to create a beautiful design, good printing on a quality paper enhances that work. It’s the final touch that can make all the difference. JC: Exactly, that’s why when Sara told me they were sponsoring us I was really excited. We’ve had pretty good printing for the first three issues, but I think this can make issue four (and beyond) something even more spectacular.
Paper Sculpture This sculpture has been made possible by the generous application of Mohawk Dimensional Products, thread, glue, and 3am compulsive creative jitters.
The crowd is deafening. It’s nearing the end of the championship game for the local league. I’ve just made a call that’s unpopular with a certain large and vocal segment of the audience and they’re letting me know exactly how upset they are. The head referee calls a timeout so the officials can talk it over and make sure we got the call correct, but it’s so loud in the arena we can barely hear each other speak. After a quick huddle, the original call stands, the managers go back to their benches, and the players line up. The whistle blows to restart the game, the crowd roars, and we’re back into it. I could tell this story 10 different ways. I’ve volunteered as a roller derby referee for four years now and in that time I’ve worked with brand new teams playing for the first time all the way up to a national championship game. I’ve been booed off the track after games. I’ve been screamed at by managers, players, and fans. I’ve heard insults, epithets, physical threats, and unpleasant insinuations about family members. I’m ashamed to say that I used to be that guy in the stands. I’m a hockey fan, and I spent a large portion of my youth screaming at the referees on television as one penalty call after another demolished my hopes of seeing my team win a championship trophy. I knew the referees’ names, but only so that I could remember which ones I didn’t like because they had wronged my team in the past. I’ve said my share of unpleasant things in the direction of professional hockey referees. But now I’ve also been that referee, hearing the fans yell at me as I call penalties on their favorite skater. This sort of behavior is accepted and even expected at sporting events. Sports arouse passions in people; that’s why many fans go to the game in the first place. They care about their team, they want the team to win, and they want to be there to witness it and share in the joys of victory. When a player does something astonishing and helps their team inch closer to a win, the crowd swells with excitement. And when their team doesn’t come out on top, it’s equally expected that their emotions will swing the other way. Those frustrations spill out in all sorts of directions: at opposing fans, at the teams, or at the referees. As referees, it’s our job to keep the game as fair and as safe as possible for the players, no matter what else is going on around us. It’s a job that we take very
seriously. One part of that job, and something that we focus on in training, is to make sure that we are emotionally removed from what we do. We’re trained to call what we actually observe, not what we think we might have seen, and not what we believe should have happened. When the game gets intense and the stakes get higher, it’s hard to maintain that wall between being an official and being a person who can be affected by the emotions of the crowd. When I first started officiating, keeping that distance was one of the hardest skills I had to learn. I was already pretty good on skates. I’m sort of obsessive about sports rules, so even though the roller derby rule set is well-known as a quagmire of murky meaning (see sidebar), I really enjoyed digging into its intricacies. But I still struggle to keep a blank, neutral expression when a bench manager is in my face arguing a call. And the first time I worked a hotly contested game where the outcome changed (and the home team lost) because of a call I made, I had to spend 20 minutes in a corner of the locker room by myself and process what had just happened.
I’ve heard insults, epithets, physical threats, and unpleasant insinuations about family members. I’ve gotten better at handling that pressure as I’ve gained more experience. The close games don’t make me as nervous as they once did. Loud crowds don’t affect my focus as much. I can laugh off an angry manager arguing my call (never to their face, of course). But referees are humans, not robots. Even the most experienced referee feels the heat of the crowd. We hear the crowd yelling; we’re just trained to tune it out so it doesn’t affect our job. Sometimes I can even hear what that one guy in the stands is saying, but you’d never know it by watching me. However, that same distance that a referee establishes in order to separate themselves from the game and keep their focus also affects the audience. It’s
What is Roller Derby? Ben Cordes easy to see traces of mob mentality in crowd behavior at sporting events. The psychological and physical separation of referees from the crowd makes it easy for the referees to become a target for the crowd’s frustrations. There’s a dehumanization effect where the referees become the enemy: they’re not on the same side as us, so they must be the opponents. It’s not that a player on our team did something illegal and drew a penalty; it’s that the referees clearly have it out for us and penalized our team because they don’t like us.
It’s easy to see traces of mob mentality in crowd behavior at sporting events. Never mind that those same referees are people who do a job and are evaluated on their ability to call the game fairly and according to an established set of rules. Roller derby isn’t a professional sport, so referees generally don’t get paid and are only loosely responsible to the various governing bodies, but the principle is the same. My experience as a derby official has changed the way that I behave when I’m in the crowd at other sporting events. I still yell and scream, sure. I go to sports events in the first place for the experience of being in the crowd and getting swept up in the emotion. But I don’t hurl insults at the referees and I don’t blame them for how poorly my team is performing that day. It’s easier for me to remember that the referees have a different perspective on the play down there on the surface, and what I saw up here in the stands might be very different. And of course, referees make mistakes, because referees are human. I should know; I am one.
Roller Derby is a full-contact racing and point-scoring sport played on an oval track between two teams of five on classic “quad” roller skates. Each 30-minute period is divided into plays, called “jams”, that run up to two minutes each. In each jam, four players from each team serve as Blockers, and the fifth serves as the Jammer. The Jammer’s job is to pass the opposing Blockers; for each opponent the Jammer passes, the Jammer’s team scores one point. The Blockers’ job is to knock down the opposing Jammer, and hit the opposing Blockers out of the way to allow their Jammer to pass. The team with the most points at the end of 60 minutes wins. Referees skate both on the inside and outside of the oval, count points, and call penalties. Additional non-skating officials keep records of the game. Legal contact in roller derby follows rules similar to hockey. Dangerous contact is illegal, including using your hands or elbows to hit an opponent, hitting an opponent in the head or in the back, or tripping an opponent. Other prohibited actions include passing while out of bounds, and any action taken while too far away from the “pack” of other blockers. Illegal actions result in a penalty, which removes the offending skater from play for one minute. Roller Derby was invented in the late 1800s as an endurance event, not unlike all-night dance marathons. Through the middle and latter part of the 1900s, it evolved into a full-contact game, but one which was designed to emphasize theatrical elements and whose outcomes were largely pre-ordained by promoters, similar to professional wrestling. In the early 2000s, it was revived at a grassroots level as a women’s sport, and since then has evolved to be a serious (and unscripted) athletic endeavor played by men and women across the world. For more information about Roller Derby, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roller_Derby, www.wftda.com, and www.mensrollerderbyassociation.com.
TEN COMMANDMENTS for sports fans Ben Cordes, Rose Ginsberg & David Dyte I Thou shalt stand by thy team, in foul weather and in fair. II Thou shalt stand by thy team’s players, no matter how deep the slump or how long the drought. Thou shalt not abuse thy team’s players, no matter how bad the fuck-up. III Thou shalt not abuse thy opponent’s players by commenting on their race, nationality, sexual orientation, or other personal characteristic. Thou mayest only give thy opponent shit for their inability to play the game well. IV Thou shalt not abuse thy opponent’s fans. When they are present in thine home arena, thou shalt show them the respect thou wishest to receive when thou dost visit their arena. Thou shalt also remember what it feels like when thy team loseth the big game, and not rub it in. V Thou shalt not abuse the referees, for they are doing their job to the best of their ability and deserve thy basic courtesy and respect. VI Thou shalt honor thy team’s traditions. Respect thy retired numbers and mark well the dates of thy last championship victory. If any. (Sorry, Buffalo.) VII If thou drinketh, thou shalt drink in moderation. Thou shalt keep thy drink to thyself and not spill it on thy neighbor, neither on purpose nor by accident. VIII Thou shalt not physically threaten anyone. Even if thou art “just kidding.” IX Thou shalt stay until the game is actually over; thou shalt not leave early to “beat the traffic.” If thou leavest the game early, thou shalt not then pretend that thou wert there to see the incredible play that happened at the end. X Thou shalt not cut the bathroom line by going in the “Out” door.
A House Rose Ginsberg
People tend to be surprised when they find out I follow professional hockey. I suppose it’s because, as an artsy, feminist, theater-loving lady, I don’t precisely fit the profile of the stereotypical sports fan. But I am a Philadelphia Flyers fan to my bones, so no one who follows pro hockey—or any sports team with a major rivalry—will be shocked when I say that attending a Flyers/Rangers game in New York just a few days ago was an intense experience. This wasn’t the first time I’d shown up at Madison Square Garden to cheer on the visiting team, properly decked out in Flyers t-shirt, jersey, scarf, and even necklace. My boyfriend is a devoted Rangers fan (yes, we’re clearly remarkably mature to be able to bridge this deep divide and also teasing each other is fun) and we’d had great times attending games together in past seasons. I’d felt sneakily subversive and yet protected, infiltrating enemy territory on the arm of one of their own. Our regular seats were surrounded by longstanding acquaintances of his who greeted me without looking (very) askance at the logo on my jersey, and I was careful to be a respectful, though enthusiastic, visitor. I didn’t come into their house to make trouble. We were all there to enjoy the game. This time, however, whether due to pent-up energy from the lockout that had canceled half the season or just the redesigned sections of the newly renovated arena, the atmosphere was radically different. We were no longer seated with familiar faces and I overheard some startlingly racist and sexist conversations. The ribbing of opposing players and fans was not all in good fun. The man seated behind me accidentally smacked me on the shoulder and didn’t apologize—I don’t think he even noticed. As we left after the game, two guys behind me heckled a couple in Flyers T-shirts for the entire duration of a slow walk down four levels of stalled escalators. Their insults were loud, personal, and aggressive, and continued until they were out of earshot. My jersey hidden under my coat, I listened in silence, dying to respond but wary of causing trouble or becoming a target. In the end, I kept my mouth shut until I reached the safety of the train and could vent my fury to my boyfriend. I know that the decision not to engage with either the racism or the hostility around me was smart. Being a woman, even a five-foot-tall woman, will not
necessarily prevent some drunk bro from getting in my face, especially when I’m wearing the rival team’s colors. I don’t know for sure that I would have been in any danger, but I felt threatened enough to be careful. All the same, I was furious at myself later for not speaking up, for not defending my fellow Flyers fans. I had allowed those jerks to get away with their awful behavior without even the smallest of consequences. I also felt betrayed by my fellow hockey fans, which I discovered is worse than feeling let down by your team. We were all supposed to be there to enjoy the game together, but instead of camaraderie—even competitive camaraderie—I saw baiting, attacking, and contempt. There was no fun in it. It was just mean. I’d never felt that way in an audience before, at any kind of event. I’ve seen bored and restless theater patrons, at productions I’ve created and productions I’ve attended. I’ve heard Patti LuPone yell at an audience member for illegally recording her performance and I’ve given death stares to a fellow playgoer for allowing his cell phone to ring at the quietest, most dramatic moment of Sweeney Todd. But I’ve never seen an audience so divided against itself that what was meant to be enjoyable competition became ugly. I’ve seen shows disappoint audiences, but I’d never seen an audience ruin a show. Audiences have power. When we go to see a live performance, whether it’s a game, a play, a concert, or anything else, we don’t go just to see the live spectacle. We go to connect with a large group of people who all want to have that particular experience. The audience becomes a community based on their shared interest, and that community shapes the experience as much as the performers do. The space is crowded, emotions run high, and everyone is a part of the event. Each of us has the potential to salvage or spoil the enjoyment of the person sitting next to us. We owe it to each other and to our community to be generous. #dontbeadick
Words by Ian Danskin Photographs by David Dyte
Babycastles cabinets can currently be played in the following locations: NYU Game Center The Silent Barn Secret Project Robot …and possibly Death By Audio. We’re not sure.
That pretty much sums up Babycastles in a sentence, and serves as a good answer to “What the hell is Babycastles?” which several of my #24MAG contributors have asked me. I don’t think I had a satisfactory answer before visiting them. Babycastles began in around 2009 to foster the New York indie gaming scene. There are a lot of independent developers in New York, but wisdom said if you wanted a community you had to move to San Francisco. Future core member Kunal Gupta simply asked the Silent Barn, where he was living at the time, if he could add some arcade cabinets to their performance space. Babycastles, the arcade and the collective, grew from there. For some time, the Silent Barn was Babycastles’ base of operations. Bands played, and fans played indie games in refurbished arcade cabinets. Over time they expanded into additional projects: a massive multi-screen space exploration game in the planetarium of the Natural History Museum, a cardboard jungle with an enormous 3D game of Pac-Man at the Museum of Art and Design, game designer and writer Anna Anthropy’s book release party. Their numbers expanded as well, though pinning down by how much is tricky; being in or out of Babycastles isn’t exactly a binary. Weekly meetings usually consist of seven core members—among them Kunal, Syed Salahuddin, Stephen Clark, Joe Salina, and Ben Johnson—many of whom manage arcade cabinets in different parts of the city. But there are any number of additional people involved, some of whom love Babycastles but don’t particularly care about games. Babycastles is less about games and more about the people
who grew up playing them; about fuzzing the line between where “games culture” ends and where “normal” culture—or a New York idea of “normal” culture, anyway—begins. Much of the New York indie gaming culture that exists today can trace itself back to the NYU Game Center and to Babycastles. Currently Babycastles has no designated space. After leaving the first Silent Barn they set up at the 42nd Street Showpaper Gallery, then 285 Kent, but have since left those spaces as well. Their cabinets—each hosting a different indie game like Enviro-Bear, Monaco, or Nidhogg—are scattered around the city. Babycastles is fiscally sponsored by Flux Factory, making it functionally a non-profit, and has generally managed to clear expenses. But nobody’s making any money. Many of the core members pour 40 hours a week or so into the collective on top of part- or full-time jobs. After moving more-or-less nonstop for over two years, the group is taking a break for reflection. Do they want a new designated space; and, if they pay the rent for one, can they afford to maintain it? Or do they want to continue on as something more nebulous? Meantime, the spirit of Babycastles mostly hovers around the new Silent Barn, host to a few core members and a couple of gutted arcade cabinets, waiting for new games and new homes. They’re still the kind of group whose breaks look suspiciously like being busy. They just closed a show where they converted a space into a pizzeria where free pizza—and, of course, arcade cabinets—were the art. Rather than ask what it is, it’s better to define Babycastles by what it does: make connections for people who grew up with games, whether or not those connections have anything to do with games.
It’s important to remember at Teen Feed that during the program, this is the youth’s space. In Auburn, a suburban city south of Seattle and the home of Teen Feed’s new satellite location, it’s easy to remember. The space is a small, a one story house. The food is served in the kitchen and eaten at a pair of long tables in the living room next to a brown, cushy couch, a TV with a vintage Nintendo playing Super Mario Brothers 3, and murals on the walls with the rules of Teen Feed: “Welcome. Show respect to everyone. No drugs or alcohol. No violence. Keep food in the dining area. Check your weapons.” These rules are consistent through all of Teen Feed’s programs: the outreach they do on the streets, the daily meal program around the University District in Seattle, now known as “Teen Feed North,” and the case management they do for the youth who want it. Teen Feed began twenty-five years ago, founded by a group of nurses from the University of Washington who noticed that homeless youth who were accessing the emergency room were often severely malnourished. Teen Feed now serves warm meals every day of the year in the University District and connects with around 700 individual youth in need annually. The staff of Teen Feed, along with over 600 volunteers, provide consistency, resources, and—most importantly for youth on the streets— trusted relationships. Suzanne Sullivan, Teen Feed’s one-woman development department, emphasizes that Teen Feed serves “young people first, at every turn.” The community outreach, the volunteer coordination, and the fundraising all exist in order to serve the youth’s needs. Teen Feed is an organization run with remarkable efficiency; their 2011 annual report states that 91% of Teen Feed’s expenses are programs. Only 3% is management and 6% is fundraising.
Teen Feed develops its presence within the community of homeless and unstably-housed youth through on-the-street outreach to meet the young people who haven’t yet accessed resources. The staff has also found their ‘in-reach’ program, Wednesday afternoon open office hours, when youth can come and visit the offices and hang out, to be effective. Any opportunity to spend some time with caring, accepting adults can reacquaint these young adults with what trust looks and feels like, and ultimately lead to re-socialization. Living on the streets can be an incredibly dehumanizing experience. Through volunteer development and community engagement Teen Feed aims to demystify youth homelessness, educate the wider community, and encourage compassion. There are many reasons for youth homelessness, and they are not about laziness or unsociability. There is a higher rate of GLBTQ identity amongst homeless youth than there is in the general population. For some, being on the streets is safer in many ways than being at home. Some have simply fallen on difficult economic times, or are struggling with mental illness, battling addiction, aging out of foster care, or any number of other reasons. As the development department, Suzanne is very aware of the need to share compelling stories for the community to relate to, and also to protect the privacy and individual agency of the guests. It is important for the community to understand their struggles, and also recognize them as individuals, the way anyone would want. Out of necessity, they are survivors; they are profoundly resourceful, but they are not any better at navigating the complex and confusing world of social services than a 18-year-old with stable housing would be. Suzanne says, “While we’re sharing the challenges of the young people we serve, we’re also stating the case of need [to the community] so they can go, ‘Oh! I’m buying razors so the young man can go to a job inter-
By Casey Middaugh
view looking the responsible person that he is. I get it.’” Teen Feed has an excellent track record. One guest has said, “This is the only place I’ve been to where the people who cook your food don’t look down on you.” Evening meals are frequently punctuated with welcoming hollers across the room and sometimes piano music when Teen Feed is at a location with an instrument. Advocates, adult volunteers who eat with the program once a week, know the guests by name and have in-depth or silly conversations, depending on where the youth lead them and what they need. Many former guests are now volunteers, staff, donors, and even board members, and they offer perspectives that others simply can’t. Teen Feed has a proven model, and through their partnerships with other services in the area, is now testing an expansion location. The neighboring community of Auburn has a clear need, and Teen Feed is running a pilot program down there. Once a week, they bring their staff, advocates, and meal teams to a location they share with Auburn Youth Services. It’s a different community from their University District location, and in the six months that the pilot program has run, they’ve learned a lot. In Auburn, Teen Feed is realizing that they have a chance to do some preventative work and maybe catch some of these kids before they get accustomed to the streets and end up at Teen Feed North. Back at tonight’s program, two of the boys are slinging insults across the table. “Why are you guys being so mean to each other?” says Alexis, Teen Feed’s program manager. “All guys are meaner than girls. It’s a guy thing.” Alexis rolls her eyes and tries to point out that all-or-nothing thinking is a bit specious: “How many people are there on the earth?” “Over 7 billion!” One of the boys says, swaggering a bit with
his trivia knowledge, and clearly completely missing her point. “Uh huh. How old are you?” “Fourteen and a half.” “Oh, that explains it.” She says, kidding around, smiling, and modeling how caring adults can interact with youth. In Auburn, the average guest is under 18, as opposed to Teen Feed North, where the young people are often in their early twenties. With the younger population in Auburn, Alexis says part of the job is to model “healthy boundaries from loving adults.” At Teen Feed North, conversations focus on finding housing and work, writing resumes, and dealing with adult relationships. The guests are older, more entrenched in their homelessness, and a bit savvier. At Teen Feed Auburn, the boys are flinging paperback books around. “Yeah, well have you read this??” they jeer, one-upping each other. Shouting “YOLO!” excitedly and falling all over each other in puppy piles. The way fourteen year old boys do. Suzanne says, “The young people we serve are remarkable.” She’s right. The respect that Teen Feed has for its guests is also the reason the organization that serves them is remarkable.
Valpo Surf Casey Middaugh
Three boys from Bates College in Maine started a charity in Chile in 2010. They did this because the economy was shot in the U.S., because they loved surfing and wanted to share that passion, and because making a difference is a way of life. Starting a charity from nothing is not easy. It’s not always obvious how to square what is important to you with what is important or necessary for the community you’re working in. When starting work in an unfamiliar community, it is important to have buy-in and to make sure that what you want to do is something that the community wants, or at the very least is something they’re interested in. Wiley Todd, one of the three boys from Bates College, explained that a lot of people fail to realize this, “and by ‘a lot of people’ I mean the three of us when we were starting this.” The Valpo Surf Project, or VSP, is an after-school and weekend program in Valparaiso, Chile. They use surfing instruction as an incentive to encourage English language skills, personal character development, and environmental consciousness amongst their underprivileged and at-risk student population. VSP has only been around since 2010, but so far they have a 100% rate of graduates who move on to higher education. Clearly, starting out clueless has not stopped these guys from creating something extraordinary. Wiley spent his college year abroad in Valparaiso and was drawn back there when considering founding a charity. One of his best friends from that time, Andres Ponce Morales, helped immensely with understanding the community. Andres grew up in Valpo, knew the area, and, crucially, had an aunt who ran a community center in one of the poorest parts of town. In addition to providing the first community contact for VSP, Andres also pointed out that VSP needed to provide a service that was valuable to the community’s schools and parents. Sure, the kids were excited about surfing, but there was something the Bates students all did naturally that would be an easier sell to the adults: speaking English. Andres was the fourth person the Bates College guys needed to found VSP. With Andres’s points in mind, VSP developed beneficial programs around surfing. It’s been working. All of their students are required to take English lessons and do community service projects like cleaning trash off the beach. VSP is the only charity in the city that offers after-school programs, and it’s one of only a handful that isn’t affiliated with a religious institution. Not being used to organizations like this, many parents initially feared surprise charges and didn’t quite trust that the Valpo Surf Project would really stay a free (or secular) program for their children.
Now, VSP is well integrated into the community. Wiley told me about visiting students’ homes where his photograph with the kids hangs on the wall with the rest of the family photos. The teachers at VSP get to know their students’ teachers at school as well to create a collaborative safety net. The program has moved beyond simply recruiting kids from the community center. Students have brought their boyfriends and girlfriends to join their siblings and friends in the program. Last year, VSP expanded their mission to include a partnership with SENAME, a center for juvenile rehabilitation and child protective services in the area. SENAME has integrated VSP’s program into their rehabilitation process. The relationship started a year ago, during the swimming lessons the local Naval Academy hosts for VSP and SENAME. The staff met and started to build a relationship. Now, good behavior and interest will get SENAME’s kids into VSP’s English classes, and continued good performance earns them coveted surfing lessons. VSP’s community service projects integrate the two groups together. Wiley says, “We want our boys on the inside to feel like they’re part of the larger family.” Wiley Todd, Henry Myer, Jon Steuber, and Andres Ponce Morales, the four founders of VSP, are devoted. For the last several years, the Americans of the group have been travelling back and forth between their homes and Chile every few months on rotation, so that they can work at home and earn money to support themselves while living and working in Chile. Recently, however, VSP has managed to gain official charity status in both Chile and the U.S. Wiley is hopeful that this will allow them to raise enough funds to sustainably run the organization without the need to constantly send one of them home. The founders are feeling secure enough in both finances and staff to expand their reach to more young people. VSP currently has a board in Chile that is charged with finding other communities that would welcome them. Wiley thinks another community center, or maybe public schools, might be the right partners to approach next. A U.S. board is being developed this year to focus specifically on fundraising. VSP is run with a cadre of volunteers. Many volunteers are at VSP for short stints, volunteering as an alternative vacation experience. Other volunteers are there for 6 months to a year, or are local college students. Wiley is happy to have service vacationers in the mix with the more long-term volunteers because, he says, it helps to open the eyes of both his students and his volunteers. It’s a mutual learning experience. VSP is still a young organization, and there is a great deal of excellent learning occurring on every side of this endeavor.
This is the recipe I am really hoping you’ll try, but without the extra steps. Masa Harina is the nixtamalized corn flour that you use to make tortillas, tamales, etc. It’s treated with lime (the rock) like hominy is, and this makes the corn much more nutritious. Eat only corn as your staple grain without doing this, and you’ll get pellagra, just like much of 18th century Europe and the American South just before WWI.
5 / Reduce the poaching liquid, and when it’s down so low you think it will barely moisten the shredded pork, taste to see if it’s too salty to use. Ask Meg, together decide to risk it, and put all the pork back in. Leave the pork at room temperature because it doesn’t need any more reduction, and anyway you’re out of burners.
I chose this dish for dinner because it’s incredibly cheap, it’s incredibly fast, and it’s incredibly filling. It’s also susceptible to as many condiments as pasta without being, itself, pasta. Since I’m tired from cooking by now I’ll allow myself the offensively polyglot name I’ve been using:
6 / Take some of the roast chicken leftover from lunch and ask Meg to shred it, along with the cooked pork, while you scrub pots and deal with other, frankly less important, parts of the job. 7 / Strain the chicken stock and degrease it. Save the chicken fat, or Schmaltz, for later. It’s delicious. I promise.
By Kevin Clark
8 / Combine the strained stock and the shredded chicken in a pot and put it on to simmer through service. 9 / Take a little rest, then make a small amount of polenta for Johanna when she asks, partly to test out the recipe. Put on about a cup of water to boil. Season with salt and thyme (or whatever strikes your fancy). Forget that you’re seasoning one portion of polenta, and not pasta water, thus over-salting. Once the water hits a boil, turn down the heat to medium, and add the masa harina that you bought at the Latin grocery (2 kg for $2.69), one spoonful at a time, whisking all the way. 10 / Add more water and masa until it’s not too salty anymore. 11 / Pour half into a bowl for Johanna; eat the rest yourself. Garnish with the contributor’s choice of: pork stew, chicken stew, cheddar cheese, vegan mozzarella cheese, roasted broccoli, roasted cauliflower, and tomato sauce.
e night before service, take twenty chicken legs that are still Th attached to a segment of the back and ribcage of the bird, and separate them into drumsticks, thighs, and pieces of carcass destined for the stockpot.
S tart the stockpot immediately, and roast the thighs and drumsticks at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, instructing Sara and Steven to pull the chicken and put it into the refrigerator when it’s cooked, and to turn off the stockpot before bed.
3 / Return the next day, bring the stock back to a boil before dropping it to a simmer to continue cooking. 4/ Consult with Meg Grady-Troia about seasoning for the pork, then simmer it in seasoned water until it falls apart to the touch (this happens at an internal temperature well beyond “well-done”).
12 / Accommodate the rolling requests for two portions here, three portions there, by making lots of polenta in small batches in small pots instead of in the giant pot you brought from home specially for the purpose of making one giant batch of instant polenta instead of spending three hours whisking. 13 / Spend three hours whisking. 14 / Forget entirely about your plans to poach or fry eggs until Meg calls you on it after you serve her what turns out to be final portion of polenta garnie. Stir stock from the chicken into Meg’s polenta, as a way of saying a silent thank you for all the competence, cheerfulness, and skill she contributed to your frankly kind of stupid day of cooking.
I decided to do cold sesame noodles to get calories and protein into our vegan contributors, but I decided to make a TON of it because it’s so filled with protein and salt and carbs that even omnivores will be full in about two bites. And then they’ll keep eating because it’s super addictive. And then they’ll go for hours because they’re full of protein. It’s a sneaky trick and it’s a very, very cheap dish to make, but it isn’t very creative.
HERE’S WHAT I DID:
By Kevin Clark
1 / Th e night before service, boil four pounds of spaghetti in a too-small pot, because you’re pressed for time. You could do it in smaller batches, but you need to get this dish done so you can get out to do the big shopping trip at Trader Joe’s. 2 / While the pasta is cooking, discover that one of the vegans can’t eat the peanut butter you have, and that you have to hold the pasta after it cooks until you can get the right peanut butter before you can make the sauce. 3 / Drain the pasta and toss it with sesame oil to keep it from sticking and becoming a massive starchy blob-knot. 4 / G o shopping and get the right peanut butter, along with everything else you’re picking up. 5 / Empty 2 jars of the right peanut butter, 1 bottle of soy sauce, and about a half a cup of rice vinegar into a very old blender and hope that it will work. 6 / A fter a half an hour of the blender not working, dump it all into a bowl and try stirring it with a spoon. 7 / Curse loudly over all the time you wasted because the spoon works perfectly. 8 / Mix a small bowl of noodles with the sauce, to test the texture of the sauce. Discover that the sauce is way too thick, and add a lot of water. Eat the bowl with the horrible texture yourself, because with all this cooking and shopping you forgot to eat anything yourself. Just because you are near food does not mean you remembered to eat food.
9 / Mix some of the finished sauce with a third of the pasta, and notice that it seizes up a bit. Consult with Rose Fox, and decide that you’d rather combine the finished sauce with the noodles tomorrow. 10 / Go home and sleep in your own bed, before returning the next day. 11 / Trim the ends of the noodles that stuck together through cooking in an undercooked bundle because you had too small a pot and went for it anyway. Do this using a paring knife. Your hands will get greasy, but the contributors will think you’re a lot better at cooking if they don’t see undercooked pasta stuck together. 12 / Consult with Meg Grady-Troia about the final seasoning, the texture of the sauce, and the knottiness of the pasta. 13 / Ask Meg to chop scallions for garnish while you do something else you can’t remember now that probably wasn’t very helpful. 14 / S end the noodles out the door in a giant pot in a handcart for other people to walk a mile in the cold to the studio where most of the contributors are. 15 / Watch people eat your food on the live stream, which is being projected on a giant television, but is on mute. Realize that you live both in the future, and in a special kind of hell for cooks.
MAGAZINE FUEL By Kevin Clark
One of my professors has a story about his grandmother’s funeral. She had been a large woman, but was very thin when she died. Her casket was made of untreated pine wood, a Jewish tradition. My composition professor was one of her pallbearers. As he was helping to carry the casket he was overwhelmed by the lightness of his load, the rough surface of the wood, and the smell of the sap. It wasn’t just grief, but the combination of grief with all of those other sensations. And in the back of his mind a voice was saying, “Pay attention to this feeling, right now. Remember every subtlety of emotion. You can use this feeling in your music.” For me, and I think for a lot of people, being an artist means always hearing that voice tell you to stop being in the moment, to stop living your life to the fullest, and to turn all of your experiences into new and wonderful things to share with the world. I live my whole life that way. I don’t like to have hobbies that don’t create art. I go to trivia with my friends, but now we have our own podcast, Actually Happening (featuring #24MAG contributors Victoria Nece and Steven Padnick), so we can be funny as a polished, finished product. My social life is networking with other creative people, and turning friendships into collaborations. I don’t even like to play complicated video games—with that energy I could be making something for everyone! Except in the kitchen.
I get tremendous creative satisfaction from my food. I feel that sense of accomplishment when a dish goes well. My eyes light up when I’m analyzing a dish, and I can always find a little more energy to cook with if I have to. But even so, my food is mostly for myself, my partner Victoria, and occasionally for other people who come visit, or who invite us over. I cook all the time. I’ve always made time for food, and I think about food a lot. I get grief about planning all my leisure activities around food, specifically seafood, specifically clams. (Mmm, clams.) But my food isn’t for everyone. I don’t cook in a restaurant. I don’t blog more than the occasional cocktail. I don’t write cookbooks or review restaurants or do any scalable, internet-distributable, career-building creative work with food. It’s an anomaly in my creative life. It just doesn’t scale. Today I’m feeding the crew of #24MAG, writing about food, and thinking about food and how it fits into my creative life. Yet I haven’t had time to do much thinking, and I shouldn’t be as surprised as I am. I knew that this project would involve bumping into a lot of things that I already know about professional cooking, but have never experienced myself: most of what you do is determined by circumstances instead of your creative vision, the hours are incredibly long, and you are going to be very, very tired. I wasn’t expecting to bump into those things quite this much. I should have known. I did know, but I hadn’t done it. There are restaurant professionals working on the magazine, and the way they looked at me after I finished dinner told me they knew exactly how I was feeling. And they knew that before today I’d never experienced it.
I wanted to do some creative cooking, and have lovely photographs from these great photographers we have on staff. It turns out I have no time and no energy to do that sort of thing. Just getting the meals planned, shopped for, prepped, cooked, transported, and served is plenty of work. I’m surprised I’m still writing this, honestly. I wanted to make food I care about, and that satisfies some creative impulse, like I do when I pick up something interesting after work and play with it in the process of making dinner. But the entire menu wound up being determined by a few factors: budget is limited, lunch has to move at room temperature, and a bunch of our contributors have strong food preferences and dietary restrictions. I had basically zero room to maneuver. It’s hard enough to just feed these people. I’m trying to explore how the creative satisfaction I get from cooking creatively at home can transfer into cooking for others on a larger stage, and so far the answer is “not at all.” I’m just trying to get through this. At home, cooking amazing things feels like composing music, or any kind of making art. At the end I’m proud, excited, looking for smiles on faces, and dancing around as I do the dishes. Here it feels like drudgery. I think we call that “negative evidence.” You’d think from how I’m writing that the food was a failure. It wasn’t. Everyone got their meals on time, and they really liked what they were eating. I watched them eating lunch remotely on a live stream, and then I got emails like “omg noodle crack!” and “SESAME NOODLES!!!!” and big colorful text in an email from a professional graphic designer saying thank you. It was a lot of appreciation. It was the same for the dinner I did of polenta garnie (a cheeky French/Italian name for putting meat on corn porridge made with flour designed for tamales). I cooked. I was grumpy, but polite. It was unrewarding, but done well. People really liked the food, and I didn’t care that much.
In everything else I do, I care about the audience reaction a lot. At performances of the music I write I live and die by the audience reaction. This week I’ve had two emails about new performances, and I’ve been thrilled. But even though everyone loved my food (with special thanks to Meg Grady-Troia for refinements, improvements, competence, calmness, and the dishes), it’s just not that important to me. I’m always trying to make something finished, public, and worthwhile out of everything I do. This article is my attempt to do that with this cooking experience, but really it’s been a creative disappointment. And I think it’s important to acknowledge that. Not everything we do works, and knowing that this didn’t satisfy my artistic impulses tells me something about myself, and about where to put my energy next. When I was at conservatory, I wrote a piece called Les Privations that set an excerpt from Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s classic book, On The Physiology of Taste. That attempt to combine my food-loving side and my art-making side didn’t work either. It was an okay piece, but it wasn’t great, and it didn’t really get at the things I love about food. In the end, it was just music, not a good fusion of these two things I do. It didn’t capture the taste of a really briny oyster that just stops the world for a moment. It was a goofy piece of classical music with an old French text that the audience didn’t understand. I’ve thought about other texts involving food and rejected them (there’s a particularly tempting scene in The Odyssey with Achilles refusing to rejoin the fight while he serves his guests the finest food and wine). They seem to combine my art and my love of food, but really they aren’t about food at all. Because food feels so much like part of my creative life, I keep trying to make it part of my art-making. Today was another attempt that didn’t work. While food is definitely part of my creative life, it isn’t always. Sometimes it’s just a chore.
Each time I hear someone offhandedly mention their hatred for blood sausage, cucumber seeds, runny egg yolks, or gin, I make a note.
I have a friend who keeps an amazing address book, filled with pertinent information about colleagues, family members, and friends: their birthdays and anniversaries, the names of their children and partners and parents, their addresses, their job titles, and all sorts of other notes. My favorite has always been the little annotations my friend keeps, the ones that say “vacations in Maine,” or “loves Sondheim.” While her address book is a literal view of her social network, it is also a great insight into her own understanding of her friends. Inspired by her address book, I created a spreadsheet that I still keep, listing my friends and the foods I associate with them. Each time I hear someone offhandedly mention their hatred for blood sausage, cucumber seeds, runny egg yolks, or gin, I make a note. Every time someone speaks lovingly of a particular dish or flavor, I write it down. Once in a while, I look for patterns in the data, wondering if I should introduce the three people I know who dislike watermelon or who have a particular fondness for candied ginger, wondering if theres a rhyme or reason to why the people I know who hail from Virginia all prefer hard cheeses. The friend who keeps the address book is the kind of friend who always knows what introductions to make when you’re looking for a new job or a new doctor, or for any other networking need. Similarly, I am the friend people go to for food advice. In the last week alone, I fielded questions about oyster shucking and freezer safety guidelines, helped a friend perfect her chicken soup by phone, taught someone to make Swiss meringue frosting over IM, and consulted on several brunch and dinner menus. Making food for my friends is one of the great pleasures in my life; feeding people is a rare chance to communicate in ways that they need. Knowing the allergies and favorites they nurse means I know where to rummage in my spice cabinet, and what colors, temperatures, tastes, textures and combinations might make them feel loved and nourished. Some of my favorite projects in life have been about food traditions: researching and hunting for a recipe to make the pignoli cookies my dad grew up eating at Christmas, making a crazier and more complicated birthday cake for a friend every year (this year’s had no cake in it!), making pierogi with my husband’s great aunt before she died.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE PROJECTS IN LIFE HAVE BEEN ABOUT FOOD TRADITIONS. It’s taken me a long time to accept that I can be fluent in food the way a friend of mine is fluent in German. Today, as Kevin and I have cooked for the staff of the magazine, we’ve debated the utility of whisk shapes, the domestication of teosinte, the best way to strain chicken stock, and the value of serving and plating food rather than letting people help themselves. We’ve succeeded in getting food into everyone’s bellies, and in the process, we’ve also set off the smoke alarm, crashed into each other, and nearly fallen asleep on our knives. Kevin has found the time to live-blog the cooking process, but I have found that I can’t shift tracks so easily—I can think about the connective tissue in pork shoulder, or about the naming problems between chili powder and chile powder, but I can’t seem to find the words. My friend’s specialized knowledge and social networking skills remain incredible, but her annotated address book is almost obsolete, since we can find out more than we need to know about each other online. My spreadsheet is similarly lacking. Sometimes I long for a future where I can give you scratch-and-sniff discourses in flavor, and where I can form an online social network that focuses on food preferences, allowing cilantro-haters, bourbon-lovers, and what’sthe-difference-between-custard-and-pudding-ers the chance to connect and to share.
An Edible Audience Meg Grady-Troia
kumquat Edited by Casey Middaugh
What better way to start this “Audience” themed issue 4 transmedia chain than with a bit of crowdsourcing from our own audience? @MsEnScene: Hey #24MAG audience! We need a word from which to start our transmedia chain. Give us a word to get the creative ideas flowing! And.... GO. @YourFangness: @MsEnScene Kumquat. Thanks, Twitter!
Kumquat, the ridiculous tiny citrus fruit, spawned an equally ridiculous transmedia chain, where each piece was passed on to the next contributor, working in a different medium, to inspire a further link in the chain. Kumquats stoically watch the neurotic narrator in Steven’s story. They are anthropomorphized to cheer affirmatively with Victoria’s cutting edge app. Rose dropped the kumquats in favor of childhood precocity, while Aida evoked them (and the Flyers!) with her color scheme. The silly tone continued with David’s tale of rubber elk, and culminates in Molly’s delightfully wry manipulated photo and Emily’s handdrawn art.
The Kumquat Steven Padnick
The kumquat sat there, squat and round and accusing. Its silence spoke volumes. I was speaking too fast, repeating myself, running over my lines. It begged me to slow down, to relax. Or maybe it was bored. I started again from the top. “Hello, my name is Ethan.” The kumquat refused to acknowledge me, so I started again. “Hi guys! You all know me. I’m Ethan.” I think the kumquat nodded, and I went on. “If you elect me student counsel president, I promise to–” But I had lost the kumquat to a passing fly. I brushed the fly away and tried again. “Being student counsel president is a big responsibility–” But the fly returned. One quick swat, and I had the kumquat’s full attention. “Look, our school is in trouble, and you all know it. We don’t have enough funding. We don’t have enough teachers and state testing is driving us all insane. We can wait for our teachers to do something about it. We
can wait for the principals, or our parents. We can hope the adults to do something, but they aren’t the ones suffering. They aren’t the ones whose futures are being sold so the rich can have lower taxes today.” The kumquat sat there, rapt. “What we need is a voice. One voice, a single voice to speak up for us, for the students of Roosevelt High. Someone who speaks clearly, and loudly, and persistently. Someone who demands attention. Someone who gets results. “With your support, I can be that voice. With your support, I can call down the powers that be and make them listen. With your support, we can change our school, and then change the world. “My name is Ethan Jones. And I want to be your student body president!” The kumquat sat there contemplatively. It had been awed into silence. And I knew. I knew I was ready for today. So I ate the kumquat. It was delicious.
2 Victoria Nece
For my link of the Transmedia Chain, I built a small interactive application (not quite a game) in which a group of friendly kumquats cheer you on while you’re working on something new and difficult. They believe in you! You control Kumquat Cheering Section by waving your hands -- or a pencil or pen -- in front of the computer. The kumquats follow your fingertips, so in a sense you’re actually cheering yourself up. It’s a very simple program, just a few lines of code and a single public-domain kumquat image. The underlying technology is the fun part (although it’s unfortunately also the reason why you can’t yet play along at home): I’m experimenting with
A Memory Rose Ginsberg
a new kind of computer hardware, the LeapMotion. It’s a sort of motion tracker for hands, able to capture virtually anything pointy in 3D with millimeter precision. The consumer version should go on sale in a few weeks, and has the potential to change the way we interact with devices. You’ll be able to move through space with gestures, play virtual instruments, and interact with mobile devices without smudging your touchscreen. The software library I needed to build this didn’t exist this morning, and now I have a bunch of grinning kumquats staring back at me. This is the future. Note: The application is available on 24mag.org/issue-4
I am nine years old. I am sitting on the floor watching an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with my family. The episode is almost over. A Klingon character, dying but victorious, says, “It is a good day to die.” Jadzia Dax–my favorite character because she is both really cool and female–replies, “It’s never a good day to lose a friend.” Nine-year-old smartass me says, “It’s never a good day Toulouse-Lautrec.” My entire family cracks up. I don’t think I’ve ever made them laugh so hard, before or since. I am a nerd from a family of nerds, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Model and Concept: Aida Manduley Photo: Johanna Bobrow
In the Valley of the Elks David Dyte
Deep in the deepest part of the Valley of the Elks, beyond the homes of the Wood Elks and the Paint Elks and the Rust Elks and the Glass Elks, lived the Rubber Elks.
The Rubber Elks belonged to two clans: the Pink Rubber Elk Clan and the Green Rubber Elk Clan. Some time in the dim, distant past, before any of the elks could remember, a feud had erupted between the Pink Rubber Elks and the Green Rubber Elks, and they had not spoken to each other since. Not a single one of the elks even knew why any more, but still the two clans would not speak. Then one day, a masked woman ventured into the Valley of the Elks. She strode past the homes of the Wood Elks and the Paint Elks and the Rust Elks and the Glass Elks, and she arrived deep in the deepest part of the Valley, where the Rubber Elks lived.
The masked woman wore magenta boots. Magical magenta boots. But they are not important in this story. What is important in this story is that the masked woman spoke to the Rubber Elks. She spoke to the Pink Rubber Elks and the Green Rubber Elks. And she said, “My name is Aida, and I bring peace to the Rubber Elks. No more need you divide yourselves into Pink and Green factions. Your burden is lifted. Go in fellowship, and may prosperity and happiness forever follow the Rubber Elks.” And Aida was right. The Pink Rubber Elks and the Green Rubber Elks made peace, and prosperity and happiness forever followed the Rubber Elks. But what of the Wood Elks? That, children, is a whole other story…
The Elkenqueen a bromage to Noelle Stevenson Molly Macdonald
St. Party Hard
Patron Saint of Saturday Night Emily Lubanko
A Moment of Your Time Words by Rachel Cromidas Photographs by David Dyte
You can always find an audience in the big city, even when no one is putting on a show. We visited two of Manhattanâ€™s most bustling places, Grand Central Terminal and Times Square, and spoke to a few people who had some time to take in the scene around them.
MOONDOG David Dyte People come to New York for many reasons. Sylvain, Anne, and Max came from France, carrying a movie camera and looking for “a dead musician.” In a conversation hampered by both language barrier and bitter cold, the following facts were gradually teased out of the visitors: The dead musician’s name was Moondog. There is a book about Moondog which we were urged to read. Moondog used to perform at a nearby street corner. The visitors were taking notes and film for a fringe festival show. Who, then, was Moondog? We haven’t read the book yet, but Wikipedia tells us he was Louis Thomas Hardin, a blind man who performed his music and poetry at the corner of 6th Avenue and 53rd Street. Furthermore, he dressed as a viking. Such a performer’s biography is too wonderful for a mere sidebar. We can only urge you to read the book.
How did Grand Central Terminal’s centennial celebration fare among harried commuters? “Most people were confused,” Kyle, an event administrator, said as he stood in front of a multimedia exhibit about the history of Grand Central Terminal’s chandeliers. “I don’t think most of the people who came were even aware it was the 100th anniversary.” But if the historical facts didn’t get them, he said, the food did. “They heard there was cheap food. We’re selling food downstairs at 1913 prices.”
“This is our first day in New York,” Sy, a tourist from Hong Kong, said after snapping a photo of her friend, Michelle, against the backdrop of Grand Central Terminal. “Times Square is most interesting to me. It’s a place that draws peoples’ focus.”
A crowd of people faced a large television screen that alternated between commercials for clothing and shows and a livestream of their activities. Every few minutes the video would focus on three faces in the crowd and then use a green screeneffect to transpose them onto a cartoon drawing over the Statue of Liberty. “I’m trying to get my kids on this, and every time they have a commercial,” Marcelle said in exasperation as she motioned for her sons, Bryce and Owen, to move closer together. She and her family are visiting New York from New Hampshire, she said, where the weather is usually colder than Friday’s bitter 20 degree wind-chill. “It’s actually not that bad here,” she said.
How to be a Good Audience Member in Six Simple Steps Steven Padnick Your enjoyment and appreciation of any art, any work or performance, will vary based on the inherent quality of the piece. But you can improve your experiences, and the experiences of the artists themselves, by becoming a better audience member by following these six simple steps.
Know Your Tastes Think about why a particular piece appeals to you. Think about why you like it, and what it has in common with other pieces you like. Do you like a movie because of its over-the-top humor, or because of its heartfelt core? Were you drawn to this painting for its vibrant brushwork, or for its sensuous imagery? Apply the same thinking to why you dislike some art. Did you hate that jazz combo because they played discordant songs, or because the bass player was a jerk? Understanding what you like and dislike will help you find more works that you like. It will also help you enjoy the works you like more, because it allows you to focus on the parts that attract you. That will make you happier, more excited and more enthusiastic, and that energy will feed back to the artists.
Pay Attention If youâ€™ve chosen to be an audience member, if you are interested in a painting, or a band, or a T.V. show, you ought to give that art your full focus. More than your money, an artist needs your attention in order to do their work. If you are not listening to them, then they are talking to no one. If you are distracted, you are also doing yourself a disservice. If you busy yourself with your phone, or a conversation, or paperwork, you will miss something, and you are denying yourself the full experience of the piece. So donâ€™t skim, or half-listen. Absorb the whole thing. Look for details. Let the work consume you, and lose yourself to the work.
Engage Art Critically Apart from why you like a piece, think about what it means. Think about both what it means to you and what you imagine it means to the artist who created it. If thereâ€™s a difference, think about why that is. Think about why you think this song about a break-up might be so upbeat and peppy. Think about why this crime drama includes absurdly funny melodrama. Did the creators fail to achieve their goals, and if so, why? Thinking so deeply about any piece may seem like a lot of work, but it will greatly improve your experience as an audience member. Even so-called mindless entertainment develops and grows with critical engagement. You might find nuanced satire in a sex comedy or impressively complex techniques in a pop song. Alternatively, critical engagement can find toxic elements hidden in the art you do like, the prejudices embedded in the entertainment you consume. Undetected, these destructive thoughts can creep into your consciousness, subtly shifting your worldview for the worse. Critical engagement can protect you from these ideas by helping you identify and avoid them.
Support Art Vocally Be loud. Clap. Cheer. Laugh. The more engaged you are, the more comfortable you are with expressing your emotional responses, the more you’ll feel and the more you’ll enjoy the work itself. Your vocal support will also encourage fellow audience members to cheer, and your enthusiasm will spread and grow. And this new, collective enthusiasm will reach the artist, letting them know you are there, and that you support them. They, in turn, will be inspired to make more and better art for you. Obviously, it’s easy to vocalize support at live performances: plays, comedy acts, rock bands. But it’s only a little more work to applaud non-synchronous works like books, movies, and comics. Write to your favorite artists, and tell them how much you like their work and what you like about it. Post a review to let others know how you feel. Tell your friends. Share your experience and build the audience. Not that a good audience member is relentlessly positive. When you dislike a work, especially from an artist you usually enjoy, you should express that too. Artists, good artists, are always trying to improve themselves. Constructive criticism, especially from engaged fans, can show an artist where they need to improve. The world needs critics. That said, it’s important to distinguish between vocal criticism and heckling. The critique has to be more than “this wasn’t to my taste.” The critique has to be about a real flaw that the artist might want to correct. And even if the critique does have merit, its worth does not give you the right to be a jerk. Which brings us to step 5.
Respect Everyone Remember that artists are human beings, just like you. They have feelings. Remember that you can always express your displeasure without insulting or dismissing anyone. And on the other hand, you can express your enjoyment while respecting their personal space and time, and not imposing yourself upon them.
You must also respect the rest of the audience. Respect that they may love the same art that you do for completely different reasons. A painting that may represent eternal love to you may mean ephemeral passion to someone else, and neither of you are wrong. And if someone likes a piece that you don’t, or hates a piece that you love, they are still not wrong. They simply have different tastes. Listen to others. Learn why they like what they like. Talk about their tastes with them. Maybe your opinion won’t change. But maybe it will, and you’ll discover a new band, or dance, or clothes. At the very least, show the opinions of others the respect they deserve, and your opinions will be respected in return. And finally:
Understand the Art is Not About You With very rare exceptions, the artist did not have you personally in mind when they created their work. They were trying to express something about themselves. As an audience member, you don’t have much control over a work. You can support it, or reject it, but you can’t change it. You can only make your own artwork in response. In fact, you are pretty much encouraged to. You can’t make the art about you. Heckling the comedian, singing over the singer, spray painting over a statue, steals attention away from the artist, disrespecting both the artist and the other members of the audience who chose to give their precious attention to someone who is not you. If you want that attention, become an artist yourself and earn it on your own. So be a good audience member, know what you like, seek out what you like, engage critically, support loudly, respect others, and respect the works as things outside yourself. You will inspire more work, and better works, and you’ll enjoy the works that already exist more fully. You will learn more about people and the world, and if you lead by example, and everyone starts following these rules, then as an artist, you yourself will have better audiences and everyone will be happier.
Welcome to the Decadent Donut Glade Rose Ginsberg
It all started when Jack brought the donuts. It was about noon, and we were starting to get down to actual writing, which meant that the day’s first sugar rush was more than welcome. As we dug into the pastries, someone said, “Remember ‘Women Laughing Alone with Salad’?” referring to the collection of stock photos assembled by thehairpin.com. “Can we do ‘Women Laughing Together with Donuts’?” As Lucia snapped a Polaroid, Jack deadpanned, “That’s too Male Glaze for me.” That pun inspired Emily Lubanko to create this image. Both the artist and the editorial team hesitated to publish the drawing. #24MAG has an editorial policy of creating a responsible space of accountability and anti-oppression, which includes a delicate treatment of sexualised imagery, and sensitivity to the accidental use of male gaze. Could that space include a potentially objectifying illustration? #24MAG’s culture is steeped in goofball humor and bad puns. How does a sexualised male image fit within our struggle against heteronormativity and the male gaze? How do we stay silly and still have serious discussions about hard topics? And is there a place for humor within these serious discussions? We ultimately decided to publish the piece, primarily because we concluded that humor, in context, makes complicated conversations richer and that it plays an essential role in these conversations and this magazine. “Women Laughing Alone with Salad” pokes fun at the diet industry, its depictions of all women’s experiences as identical, and the ways in which advertising uses women as props to sell products. “Women Laughing Together with Donuts” presents a contrasting idea, showing a community of women revelling in the decadent, fatty treats we’re instructed
to shun. Finally, Emily’s drawing subverts the accustomed heteronormativity of the male gaze, replacing the typically female naked object with a male but preserving the passive, sexualised pose—and once again incorporating those naughty forbidden donuts. Mmmm, forbidden donuts. This illustration uses cheeky humor and gender bending to break from the consuming dominance of the male gaze. It acknowledges the subject/object relationship and critiques it through its punny title, its absurd preponderance of eroticised pastry, and its playfulness with traditional gender roles. It takes on serious issues with a sense of fun and joyfulness—which is, actually, a lot like the whole experience of creating #24MAG.
Sincerely, Mrs. Trellis of North Wales.
3 The managing editor and the photo editor prepared by taking a day off and doing nothing (not necessarily in that order). 4 The designer and the managing editor got the most sleep, since neither of them had to buy supplies. 5 Neither the editor-in-chief nor the person who slept 7.5 hours attended a martial arts class.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF MANAGING EDITOR PHOTO EDITOR DESIGNER COOK BOUGHT SUPPLIES DAY OFF FROM WORK MARTIAL ARTS CLASS NOTHING WROTE TO-DO LISTS
WROTE TO-DO LISTS
MARTIAL ARTS CLASS
DAY OFF FROM WORK
6 The two people who slept least are the cook and the person who wrote to-do lists.
I apologize if I am putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. It’s of course possible that the novel hasn’t yet been widely released. If this is the case, I would so like to read your review copy. Even if there are no maps or images, which I am sure I would need to follow the story, I would be very grateful.
2 The editor-in-chief is not the most or least underslept.
Is “Edward Flaherty” a real person? Is “Kevin Clark” a real person? Is Dark the Years Between a real novel that I can read, or should I suggest that you appear on the Oprah Winfrey program to apologize to her, as well as to me, my friends, and my bookshop?
1 The person who took a day off from work got the most sleep.
I have tried repeatedly to locate and purchase a novel reviewed in your last issue, Dark the Years Between. My bookshop has never heard of it. My friends have never heard of it. The novelist and ‘folk musician’ named as the author seems to be an entirely invented personage. I have not yet contacted the publisher named in the review, but I doubt that they have ever heard of this novel, or maybe even that publisher exists at all!
The day before #24MAG, many of the people involved prepared in various ways. Can you figure out who did what?
Dear the editors of twenty-four magazine,
LETTER TO THE
Just to warn you, Cryptic Crosswords are a bit different from the usual sort! Each clue actually has two parts: a meaning clue, and a wordplay clue.
Common forms of wordplay used in Cryptic clues include (but are not limited to): anagrams, hidden words, double definitions, containers, and homophones. Oh, and you’ll never see the meaning clue in the middle of the wordplay clue, — it’ll always be at the beginning or the end.
Here’s a great example from this year’s MIT Mystery Hunt:
Charge or no charge, rotten root must be extracted (3) You can deconstruct it as follows: “Charge” is the answer’s definition, and “no charge, rotten root must be extracted” is the wordplay clue. “No charge” is FREE, from which R (“rotten root,” the first letter of ‘rotten’) is “extracted.” “FREE” minus “R” gets you to the answer: FEE.
ACROSS: 9. But of course, Warsaw Pact foe trades ring for German submarine before protest (9) 10. Ralph swaps initial element for iodine at its lowest point (5) 11 Latex doctor —for instance, Sara Eileen Hames— is grand (7) 12. Blend of trauma, glam, and introspective hindsight (7) 13. Red spice bag full of... filler? (5) 14. Beating down Roger? It’s criminal (9) 16. Unpleasant ruling family lost two heads (5) 18. Wolf down the ravine (5) 20. Seductive insult brings a Republican to Chinese dynasty (9) 23. Finally pleased, we’ll linger (5) 24. For each green freak (7) 25. Peter leads the first three ensnaring the devil (7) 26. Chief follows virgin, heads back to working girl (5) 27. For instance, kangaroo upsets pumas’ lair (9)
DOWN: 1. Confirmed: duo snorted crack (10) 2. Scarecrow can put words in others’ mouths? (8) 3. Titillating emergency room circle jerk (6) 4. Walk slowly, in the midst of exploding (4) 5. Power source makes any dom twisted? (6) 6. Hazard Director Lee to stab Orson Scott Card protagonist (8) 7. Slowly notice one living in the past (6) 8. Slim heart of matrimony (4) 14. I hear you consider a path (3) 15. Drives without mishap, from the sound of things, however carelessly (10) 17. Shrill bloodsucker is beheaded: inside, divine (8) 18. Joke in the middle of lollygagging (3) 19. Explanation (after ecstasy) old lover comes up with: “Jesus said!” (8) 21. Psychiatrist’s quiet arena (6) 22. Promptly - that is, filled with crushed mint (2,4) 23. Something said to cut carelessly through fog (6) 24. Queen’s understudy is a foot to the north (4) 25. Scud missile (4)
CAPTIVE AUDIENCE Words & Photos by Jack Cavicchi
When stepping up to a urinal, I am often unprepared for the disembodied dialogs before me. Being a captive audience, I am unable to stop myself from being pulled into these fascinating conversations. From the sexual, the scatological, the familial, and even the profound, these crude communiquĂŠs invoke primitive responses in me. A chuckle, a shake of my
head, memories. They are barroom cave paintings. They are modern epitaphs on the walls of Roman Pantheon. They are the id of the city. They are little performances. Public banter broadcasted in Sharpie and in a bizarre way making me feel a little more connected to the world around me.
Intimate with Strangers By Aida Manduley
Some people pop Ambien or drink chamomile tea before bed, but I’ve taken to watching YouTube videos of women tapping on wooden hairbrushes and whispering about their day. Other nights when I come home from work, I put my headphones on and listen to hour-long videos of someone chewing gum, doing their nails, and then slowly pouring water into differently sized glasses. It relaxes me immensely, sometimes to the point where I feel like an “off” button has been pushed in my brain; I can barely think about anything but drifting off to sleep. For someone who’s addicted to productivity and is never truly “done” with work (the very idea is unfathomable), this deep level of relaxation is rare. Beyond that, there are select instances when watching these clips does something more than just calm me down. Sometimes they make my head tingle from the inside out, sending chills down my back. There are many of these videos to choose from, ranging from depictions of static images with accompanying audio to complex role-play scenarios that engage multiple senses. I find the latter incredibly intriguing, though also unnerving...and thus not always effective at the whole “helping me sleep” thing. Most of these videos where “seemingly nothing happens” feature women, regardless of their style and their approach to this online niche. Is this because women are so often the objects of our collective gaze? Is it because we construct women to somehow be “inherently” soothing and non-threatening? Is it simply because a lot of women get these tingles too and want to make videos about it for others? While I don’t have a definitive answer to these questions, the truly salient issue for me is the sexualization throughout the process of creating and consuming these videos. As someone who does sexuality education, it’s hard for me to not immediately relate the idea of role-play to fantasy and sex. But most of these videos are not explicitly sexual in nature! In fact, most people go out of their way to emphasize that this phenomenon is not erotic for them (though that’s not the case across the board). So why is it hard for me to untangle the two and shake the voyeuristic feeling? Tingly, physiological responses
aside, these videos have elements that create a sense of intimacy between the viewer and the creator. Those privileged enough to own 3D microphones create binaural recordings that increase the level of realism when the viewers wear headphones, pretending to be doing things like getting a haircut or filling out forms at the DMV. Many of these complex role-plays involve facial closeups, constant, narrative whispering, and phrases like “just let me soothe you.” They remind me of fantasies formulated by phone-sex operators, who carefully describe entire scenarios for the gratification of others. Thanks to my friends (and the Internet!), I realized I’m not the only one with an affinity for these visual and auditory stimuli. There is a growing online community of folks who say they also experience these sensations, and have coined the term ASMR (short for “Auto Sensory Meridian Response”) to describe this phenomenon of “pleasurable tingles” that begin at the scalp and sometimes extend down to other areas of the body. One of the most popular ASMR YouTubers (with over 65,000 subscribers) characterizes the feelings as “bubbles in [her] head,” and others use the term “braingasm.” While this feeling doesn’t always require an external catalyst, it seems most people experience it due to triggers, like the sound of crinkling bags, or watching people complete tasks in a careful, diligent manner (e.g. tracing images on paper, opening a wrapped gift). Though not sexually stimulating for me, the scenes in the innocuous role-plays still evoke an underlying air of eroticism. The fact that many of the role-plays involve the protagonist “touching” the viewer only heightens this further. It makes me feel as if I’ve walked in on someone, and even though the person on screen is talking directly to me, it feels like an intrusion. As a feminist, there is inherent tension in the process of engaging with this material; questions of objectification and unwanted sexualization pop into my head. How would these women feel if they knew some people fetishize what they’re doing? By making this video intentionally intimate, are they giving viewers permission to sexualize it? Is their intent to straddle that line? How would
I feel about this if I were the one making the videos? Then there’s the added unsettling element of intimacy vis-avis the realism of the scenes. While the scripts in these videos intend to represent reality with some degree of accuracy, they also seem like something out of an alternate world. I’ve never had my dermatologist almost-seductively whisper that they want me to feel so comfortable that my troubles melt away, so the soothing, personal whispering and very sustained eye-contact make the setting bizarre. They also trigger discomfort because, while I could happily read this as a kinky doctor/patient roleplay, due to the non-sexual framing of these videos, the idea of these power dynamics playing out non-consensually “in reality” is disturbing. As someone who has been harassed in public and sexualized against her will in a variety of ways, the idea of perpetuating something like that horrifies me. From what I’ve read, though, many of the current “stars” of the ASMR YouTube scene are aware of this potential for sexualization, and they don’t seem to be bothered by it. While some experience ASMR themselves and view their creation of content as a way to nurture their own community, the ones that don’t get the tingles see it as a service to the community, a way to give people something that they want, and are happy to do so. This is not to say we should stop looking critically at questions of subjectivity, representation, and consent, though! In fact, the complete opposite. Because not every ASMR video-maker feels comfortable with the sexualization of their work and image, we should strive to have nuanced understandings of the interplay among audience, authorial intent, and potential harm to the involved parties. For something dismissively described as “a series of videos where nothing happens,” this ASMR online phenomenon can give us a glimpse into the large and often “invisible” oppressive forces some of us confront on a daily basis.
ANGRY JACK Ian Danskin
“Why are you so angry?”
I ask this question a lot. I wondered it in high school when I would watch someone cross a room at lunchtime to lecture the only vegetarian about how canines are sharp for a reason, and I wanted to yell it at that one dude that camped out on the #1reasonwhy hashtag1 for over an hour to tell women how wrong they were about discrimination in the tech industry. It’s a contagious kind of anger. I’ve been guilty of it myself; at my ninth or tenth birthday party, I found out my friend Matt was an atheist, and demanded for him to explain why. I went on to stop him while we went around the ice-skating rink to ask him what he got for Christmas, making a point that an atheist who celebrates Christmas is a hypocrite. (I took it for granted that Matt being a hypocrite would prove that God existed.) It’s a very specific anger. It’s not the same as trolling—trolling is its own beast2, making trouble for the sake of making trouble. This is something knee-jerk, something not easy to reason with, and coming from a deeper place. In high school, we used to yell “Why are you so angry?” at this one kid as he drove past. We found out at a party that his name was Jack. He drove a baby blue 1960’s Volkswagen Beetle with a glasspack on the tailpipe that made his engine blast like a Jaguar. He would drive down the hill revving his incredibly loud engine and scowling at all us pedestrians, and just generally being the epitome of inexplicable anger, weirdly directed. Since our mysterious anger is not trollishness, for the sake of language let’s call it AngryJack. And, in fairness, let’s try to divorce the term from its white male origins and think of it instead as a kind of genderless distillation—think of it like applejack.
Now: where does AngryJack come from? The atheist who has to defend their (dis)belief, the woman calling out sexism in the tech industry, the blogger discussing race, the vegetarian trying to eat lunch — what do they all have in common? Their very existence seems like a critique, and people get defensive when they feel they have to justify themselves. This phenomenon shows up in the documentary No Impact Man. The film is about writer Colin Beavan and his family, who commit to having no impact on the environment for one year. Only local food, no electricity, no toilet paper. When the announcement goes public, several sectors of the blogosphere jump on it. Colin and his wife, Michelle, are baffled by the vitriol—they meet the fury of angry bloggers, brutal commenters, and hate mail, all for something that does not affect anyone outside of the family. Michelle discovers she knows one of the bloggers tangentially, and ends up paying her a visit. The blogger, who by all outward appearances is a perfectly calm woman, talks rather apologetically about the way Colin’s project makes people feel. If shutting off your power is morally right, what does it say of the rest of us who leave it on?
It feels awful for people to consider that things they’ve done all their lives, with the best of intentions, could be bad. Most people consider themselves good people. The person who doesn’t drink is a person who’s taken a stance on drinking. For most of us, drinking isn’t a stance; it’s just what grown-ups do. We do it because it seems perfectly natural, and we get pissed off when people imply that it isn’t. Maybe they aren’t judging us, but they’ve passed a judgment on something we do.
sion, and why are you still trying to have one? This isn’t someone who refuses to know how the sausage is made. This is someone who denies, while they eat it, that the sausage is even a sausage. It doesn’t seem fruitful to engage with people in this state. But I’m going to suggest we engage with them anyway, especially when there is an audience.
Take the Internet, for example. It isn’t just a forum; it’s a document. At any given time there are dozens, If you’re a teetotaler, an atheist, or a vegetarian, this hundreds, sometimes thousands of people reading, behavior has probably annoyed you. If you’re an some of them young and new to the medium. What environmentalist, it has probably gotten in the way of happens when somebody makes an unwittingly-bigyour work. But if you’re queer, female, or non-white, oted statement and nobody picks it up and unpacks it has probably been personally damaging. Take the it? What are we saying about its appropriateness? example of Anita Sarkeesian, who was reported to YouTube as a terrorist because angry people didn’t If you choose to pick it up, you can’t hold much hope want her to make videos about feminism. These same that you’ll convince your detractor. They’re not genpeople sent her daily rape and death threats and made erally in agreeable moods. Even if it happens from a video game about beating her.3 time to time, you can’t frame your argument for that purpose. So frame it for the audience. Use it as an Sometimes it can be scary for a white person to opportunity to talk to the people listening. Let them consider that they have profited off of racism, for a know that if they choose to make statements like man to consider that what he likes and how he acts is these, someone will hold them accountable. damaging to women, for straight people to consider that gender is not as simple as they may have thought. The thing is, if you are seeking to make the world, or Some people wrestle with this, and reconsider what at least the web, a safer and more accepting place, you kind of white, straight, or male person they want to don’t need the permission of the people who disagree be. I’d wager this is where most allies come from. with you. But some people get angry instead. Of course, nobody wants to consider themselves sexist, racist, or transphobic. So it is absolutely imperative to believe that the things being critiqued are not actually sexism, racism, and transphobia. The people bringing these things up must be wrong or lying. Because if they’re not, what does it say about us? People drunk on AngryJack have the only goal of proving to themselves that the other person can be dismissed, hence the willingness to leapfrog between contradictory arguments or to ignore a body of arguments because they find the speaker unserious. Engaging with a person in this state is not the same thing as having a discussion, because only one of you is having a discussion. The other is explaining that there is no discussion, there has never been a discus-
The intent is to bring that world about with or without them. 1. #1reasonwhy was dedicated to women, mostly those in the games industry, sharing stories about the ways women get treated in tech that discourage them from entering the field. Every single woman in gaming that I follow on Twitter had something to add to it.
2. Jay Smooth addressed the differences between trolling and actual anger in his video Why You Should Feed The Trolls If You Damn Well Need To: http://www.illdoctrine.com/2012/06/why_you_should_feed_ the_trolls.html 3 http://www.feministfrequency.com/2012/12/ tedxwomen-talk-on-sexist-harassment-cyber-mobs/
We asked our contributors â€“
What is your most memorable audience experience to date
I have so many memorable moments as a musician. I think the one that probably is the most specific is at my wedding. Eric and I came up with a plot. The people— the band who was playing at our wedding are friends of ours. And so, we arranged for them to say, “And now, Johanna and Eric will have their first dance.” And then we jumped up onstage and got out our instruments. We made everybody else dance and we played. That was suddenly making people an audience in a way they did not expect, and making the audience participate in a way they didn’t expect. They expected to be watching us dance; we made them dance instead. Of course, it was an audience that was very focused on us, because they were all there to see us get married. And it was a really awesome experience. Jack Cavicchi
I think, in a lot of ways, my most memorable experience is this magazine. Mostly because there’s a big part of my life that my family doesn’t really see—the creative side of me. This is one of the first things that I’m sharing with different people in my life, and that’s really interesting for me, and kind of complicated. Kevin Clark
Oddly, it was in a high school play. I dearly love comedy, and I think about it and I write it and I make it, but it’s always been a side thing, since I was trained in classical music. Once, in a high school production of Twelfth Night, I completely forgot
where I was in the middle of Malvolio’s big, long speech where he quotes a letter and then he has to go back in at different places. It’s weird. And I just made this weird shivery thing and went, “Brr.” And I got a riotous laugh. So, I did it even bigger. And I got a bigger laugh. And then I did it a third time, and I got a smaller laugh, but by then I’d remembered basically where I was and I went back into the speech. It is the most people I’ve ever made laugh in a room with me ever. It felt awesome. I have never had that feeling from anything else. I had totally forgotten about that, actually. Ben Cordes
One of my most memorable experiences was getting to work the Men’s National Championship game in roller derby last season, in an extraordinarily close game that came down to one point, in the last jam of the game, where I was one of the referees scoring points. And the home team lost. They were up by three, and the other team came back and scored four points and won the game. And the reason that it was so memorable was because the home crowd was so into it, because their team was winning. They were vocal, cheering, and super excited and super into the game. And then there was this dramatic reversal of fortunes at the last minute. You’ve heard the expression, “All the air was sucked out of the room.” That was what happened. It went from super energetic to nothing; the crowd just went silent. All of the referees sort of looked at each
other, like, “Did we get that right? I think we got that right. We’re going to get out of here now.” Being in the midst of that and feeling the energy, and then just feeling it all vanish in a heartbeat, was really, really interesting. Rachel Cromidas
I was thinking about this question earlier, while I was working on the essay I’m writing, and I feel bad that I have a kind of really depressing answer. But I guess I’ve been not just writing about a heavy subject now, but thinking about a lot of heavy subjects in my professional life. So, the most recent memorable moment would be when I was out at a public housing project on the Lower East Side, and I was covering a homicide and talking to the cousin of a boy who was shot and killed. And she told me I was the least offensive journalist that she had met so far. I was definitely not the first who had been knocking on her door. And I felt terrible for her, but also a little bit relieved that she didn’t think I was a monster. But it didn’t make me feel any better about having to be among those people who’re knocking on her door, asking her to tell me about this thing she probably didn’t want to talk about. Ian Danskin
I grew up doing community theater. When I was in high school, we did a production of Lord of the Flies, and I played Simon, the one who has the seizure and the pig’s head talks to him and then he gets killed
by the other kids. We were pretty proud of the production, and every night we got standing ovations. Then then it was the final weekend, and two nights in a row we didn’t get standing ovations. We were very, very unhappy about this. I and the kid playing Piggy have both been dead for most of the second act, so we’re backstage, and we decide that we’re getting a standing ovation. We’re going to go out in our underwear with things written on our chests in makeup. So we went out and, completely stone-faced, took our curtain call bow in our underwear. Of course, everybody cheered and stood up and gave us a standing ovation, which is what we wanted. My dad and my acting teacher gave me a big lecture afterwards about how you do the show the same way you’ve done it every night, even on the last performance. But I got what I wanted. David Dyte
As well as doing all the other things that I do, I’m an extremely part-time musician. My friend Neil is a much less part-time musician and plays occasional gigs as a folk singer/songwriter around Brooklyn, and he invited me to guest on one of his shows. So I played a little slide guitar on a few of his songs. And it was terrifying. I had been in school concerts and in front of hundreds and hundreds of people, but you’re in a large group. You’re almost an audience to the crowd as well; there’s almost as many of us as there are of them when 300 school kids are on a stage. But, in a tiny little bar in Williamsburg, when there’s an audience of about 20 and two of us onstage, I felt very conspicuous indeed. I got through it, and it was okay. And that was really gratifying and a lot of fun.
I think the most memorable experiences for me of being in an audience were when I saw the movie Boys Don’t Cry and when I saw a stage production of Cabaret, because I went into both of them knowing basically nothing about what was going to happen. I was entirely unprepared. And I spent both of them awash in tears. And it was just—I don’t allow myself to experience theatrical productions very often, because I react to them very strongly. It’s like taking heavy drugs, basically. And that’s not an experience I want very often. And those are the two strongest examples of how things like that can hit me. But it’s funny, because I know a lot of people who are very involved in theater and are very involved in the performing arts, and I love being onstage. I actually really like performing. And I kind of miss it. I haven’t been onstage in a long time. But I can’t—like, I really like whiskey, too, but you can’t drink much of it, you know? I want to be able to go along with these people and share their experiences, but I can’t maintain any kind of emotional distance from them at all, and I just have these very raw emotional experiences and I’m completely undone by them. So, I have to measure it out. I go to about two movies a year in the theater. I remember coming out of the Tim Burton remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Willy Wonka movie, and I was, like, talking to lampposts. I was high. It was incredible. I was just high on Tim Burton’s design and the fundamental, bizarre weirdness of that film. I was with a bunch of friends, and they basically just sort of left me sitting somewhere while they went off into a bookstore, and I just kind of came down, because I was not in any
shape to just go off into a bookstore and just look at books. I mean, I had just come out of a movie. I feel like I’m from some other era, I guess, where these incredible new performing art technologies have been developed, or there’s this new way of mainlining the theatrical experience that just hits me incredibly hard and that everyone else has an immune system for, and I don’t. Rose Ginsberg
I was at a live broadcast of the Met Opera, with Carmen, which is a great opera. It was Richard Eyre’s production, which was stunning. But there was this moment at the end, where Don Jose has just killed Carmen, with whom he is in love. But she was leaving him, and so he kills her. Earlier in the scene she had taken off the ring he had given her and thrown it at him. And at the end of this production, after he stabbed her, she’s dying, and he’s cradling her, he puts the ring back on her finger. It was so creepy, this ownership he feels and all of the power dynamics that run through their relationship, and I thought the moment was this incredible distillation of what their relationship is about, and a beautiful, single gesture in this show. That has very much stayed with me. Meg Grady-Troia
When I was in college, I started myself a little webpage. I acquired a digital camera, back when they were gigantic things that recorded onto floppy disks. And I had friends all over the world, because people had gone away all over the place for college, or after high school they had gone off to see the world. I was like, “Oh, okay, this is the way you keep in touch with people.
You make this homepage thing.” So I made myself a homepage. And I didn’t really have any sense of who was going to look at it or what I was going to do with it. What ended up happening was, one day, a friend of mine in Germany said, “I miss your face,” so I took a picture of myself. And then, every day for the rest of college, I took a photo of myself every single morning. And I posted it on the internet, on my little homepage, on my college’s little, tiny web server. And I discovered that referrer logs were the awesomest thing ever. There were people looking at this thing from all over the world. There were people re-blogging photos of me, which was really creepy and weird. And there was one person, this guy in Brazil, who’s still a friend of mine, who used to send me requests for cool photos to take. He would say, “Oh, okay, well, if you don’t feel happy today, then I would like to see a picture of your big toe.” He would come up with these challenges for photos to take, because he wanted to keep up a conversation. It was really cool to have this sort of fun, artistic collaboration; he’s now a graphic designer and he does all sorts of really, really cool stuff, and he’s been taking photos of himself every day for, I think, 10 years now. And it’s all my fault. That makes me really happy. Sara Eileen Hames
When I was 10, I saw Miss Saigon on Broadway. I remember walking down the street to the theater and being mesmerized by the sidewalk glittering under my feet. I remember the helicopter—because everyone remembers the helicopter—and I remember sitting with my mouth open for the opening bars of “Why God,
Why?” This glorious story and sound was just pounded into my head, and it was distinctly the first time I had been carried away by the power of performance. That experience inspired wee Sara to many things, some of them misguided; it led me to try and act, which I was not very good at, and it led me toward singing, at which I was slightly better. But most successfully, it convinced me that some day I wanted to move to New York. When I was 10, New York was a mythical place of song and glitter that I would travel toward in my far-off adulthood. As a woman in my 30s New York is just my home; it’s simple, it’s solid, and it’s right for me. But I am still a theater nerd, the sidewalks still glitter, and sometimes I am still mesmerized. And I’m glad of that—so glad.
down upon me.” And he’s, like, clutching his heart. And then, from his back, he kind of gives us a little twinkle in his eye, because he was kind of like, “Look, if you guys are going to stand in the rain for me, I’m not going to do this under my original Globe architecture.” There’s a covering over it. He scootches himself down into the rain, kind of gets himself settled, starts the monologue again, and is like, “Rah, let the rain wash over me like this pain, ah.” And it was just incredible, just screaming up at the sky. And then the rain stopped. There was, like, one final gust of wind, and then that was it. And then he just kind of smiled at us and kept going, like he was like, “Yeah, I really am that good.”
I saw Titus Andronicus at the Globe, and it changed my understanding of everything—no, of the way Shakespeare worked. A friend of mine and I got tickets to go be groundlings, and it was raining that night. And so we stood there, huddled in our raincoats, trying to stay dry, while these very, very sweet actors did a full-out production of Titus Andronicus for us. There were approximately 15 of us there. And so it was very intimate, because they would look at you and deliver their monologue to you. And, when the actor playing Titus—like, a legit old guy—he gets the news of, I think it’s his daughter’s death or something, and it’s the last straw. And he is supposed to fall down and, “Oh, God,” and have this big monologue. And he does. And he’s center-center. But they had built an apron onto the stage, and also all the imagery is about rain and storms. And, “Oh, my troubles, let them rain
Most of my dealing with audience is online, because most of my art gets translated into a digital format. I went home for the Chrismanukwanzumas break—as one calls it—and decided to just do really self-indulgent art for about two or three days. I did this watercolor piece, essentially this sort of she-wolf. I put this online, and there was this huge response; people actually re-blogged it and started following my stuff and looking at my other stuff. And I realized that I had this audience of both teenage girls and people of my own age, but also that there were people of all ages engaging with this piece. And teenage girls were becoming a much more vocal audience. As someone who remembers being that age and remembers being told to shut up all the time, to make something that was basically engaging myself at that age and then having that conversation was really,
really meaningful. I think teenage girls are getting so much more of a voice than they used to have. Because they’ve been told to shut up in so many other instances, they’ve just decided to go to the internet and make their own little forum. And that just makes me so happy. Molly Macdonald
My most memorable and probably one of my favorite experiences was when I was both the designer and my own audience. I had an internship, and we were making truck wraps, to print all the way around trucks that would go out and do sampling events. Sometimes the truck would unfold, Transformer-like, and it would have a bar inside, or it would have videogame consoles, or something. So, I had wrapped a truck in ye olde-fashioned Coca-Cola advertising. It looked like an old truck on its way to the malt shop. Then I was back in school the next day. I was having a bad day, and I wasn’t liking anything I was working on. I was like, “Oh, what am I doing? Nothing is working out. I’m never going to get anywhere in this biz.” Then I went downstairs to the print shop across the street. I opened the door and there was my truck, rolling down the street. And I was like, “That turned out really good. You know, I think I’m going to be okay.” That was one of the best brightened-upmy-day, changed-my-mood-around kind of things that had ever happened. It was awesome. Aida Manduley
I was thinking of when there was someone in my audience who was not friendly; when someone took me out of context
and started basically defaming me and trying to get me fired from my job. This was mainly things that were taken from my Twitter account. I was just writing for shits and giggles, and then, suddenly, I get a call from my boss, telling me, “Hey, someone’s emailing us about an event that we’re running. They’re concerned about you.” As backstory, this person had been kind of problematic while I was in college. They had already been doing some of this, taking things out of context from my Twitter, sending them to a professor, sending them to administrators. You know, “This person’s talking about sex and sexuality in really damaging ways.” And this came to a head at my job now, because I work at a domestic violence agency, and they were trying to link me to kink and to BDSM. I’m pretty open about that. But they were saying that they should rethink my position and my inclusion at our agency because I was going against the core mission of the agency, which was to prevent violence against women. So they were basically saying, “These are examples of how this person is promoting violence against women and promoting gender-based violence in general.” Thankfully, my boss was very nice, and she understood that this person was just trying to cause trouble. She understood the difference between kink and violence. And these were things that I had already talked to her about, so this wasn’t a secret, like I was hiding and now outed. But the person, when they sent those emails out to my boss, didn’t know that. They didn’t know that my job would not be at stake. And I think that they were hoping that I would be fired. So, fortunately, it ended up pretty well. I consider myself really lucky. I’ve heard
so many stories of the same thing happening, and having it go so poorly. Usually it’s the person gets fired; the person gets outed; they call their family; someone loses their kids. And in this one, more or less, I had my boss and my entire agency backing me up and saying, “No, this person is just out to cause trouble. We stand behind you 100%.” Casey Middaugh
When I was in second grade, the first ever report that I wrote was for Black History Month and was about Alvin Ailey. I decided he was the coolest man who ever lived, and desperately wanted to see him dance, but he died in 1989, and this was 1992. My parents got me tickets to see the Alvin Ailey dance theater perform. Jesus, that was the best thing I’ve ever seen ever. It was a retrospective, so all of his most famous works—many of them with his original dancers. Here’s the thing: the final number? The whole, packed audience stood up and sang and clapped along. And then they did an encore of the entire last movement. That never happens in dance performances. It was phenomenal. And clearly, all for me, because I wanted it so badly. And that was the first dance performance I ever saw. Steven Padnick
My father has a very loud laugh. He worked in television, and people who’ve worked with him can identify shows he’s worked on because they can hear his laugh on the show. When I was in 10th grade, I went to see the high school performance of Guys and Dolls, and one of my friends was a chorus girl. I waited for her after the show, and she came right up to me immediately and said “Steven, I heard you in the audience. I heard your laugh in the
audience. I knew you were there.” I don’t have his laugh; I have my laugh. People can tell the difference. For some people, it’s just like—boom—they’re actors and they’re completely thrown. But for others it’s great when they hear that laugh, because they’re like, “Oh, one of my friends is there, and I like him!” Lucia Reed
For me, it wasn’t necessarily a single moment. but the experience of becoming an adult and the way people view you as you’re growing, and how that changed with social media and the fact that there is a greater audience as you’re going through those changes, and how incredibly daunting that is, and how much more aware you have to become as you’re growing, because you have so many more people, such a bigger audience, watching you do it. I developed very early, and it was impossible to hide that I was physically growing up very quickly. I found having an audience incredibly difficult from that point of view, whether with my classmates or just strangers in the street. Puberty is a confusing time for anyone, and it’s hard enough when you don’t have a clue what’s going on, without other people making comments and expecting you to behave like a grown up just because you look like one. It has affected my entire life, and is a huge part of why I’m where I am now, but ultimately, everyone catches up in the end! Danielle Sucher
The thing that comes to mind first, which may or may not be relevant, is I was spinning fire one time, late at night, with a few friends over in Fort Tryon Park. There was no one around, and it was highly
questionable whether or not we should be doing it, but we figured what the hell. It was a lot of fun. And a stranger just came up, watched us for a while, and when we were done he insisted on putting 10 bucks right next to our stuff and walking away. It was just totally delightful to have a random person wander by and appreciate what we were doing. I think I told you this before; I don’t really think about audiences. It’s not a thing that interests me. I like doing things because they are fun; I like inspiring other people to do things with me or on their own. The idea of people who just sit and watch is not really an exciting thought, as far as I’m concerned. Leila Taylor
I was 13 and was being confirmed into our church. I had to give a little speech about what God or the church or religion meant to me, or something like that. I have no idea what I said, but I knew it was bullshit. As I stood up there, in front of the whole congregation, I knew I was just telling them what they wanted to hear. I didn’t believe a word of what I was saying, but I knew it was easier just to fake it. They all seemed to enjoy it and I remember getting a lot of compliments. My name was spelled wrong on the Bible they gave me, which seemed fair.
prompted lovely male gaze
Haiku based on prompts from Twitter Thanks!
â€œWhat a lovely girl, If only she would lose weight!â€? Stop being a dick
Collection of parts Soulless Barbie doll Male gaze dehumanizes
Downy white blanket Engulfs the street in quiet Snow for the new year
Writers, designers, Artists, photogs, editors It takes a village
impractical jackalope elbow
Impractical thought Leads us to wintry Midtown Talking to strangers
Hark majestic jackalope Thy noble visage Jazzes my acid trip
Floppy elbow skin Between fingers of my love Toyed with lazily